Whew. Talk about a lengthy chapter! I hope it isn't too dull or dragging, and I hope you enjoy.
Every murder turns on a bright, hot light, and a lot of people have to walk out of the shadows
- Albert Maltz
Raneem heard the Hylian soldiers calling out to her –lying to make her turn around – but no matter what they said, she would not stop running. They made it incredibly hard, though. They knew things that they shouldn't, and they used it to their advantage to confuse and intrigue the Gerudo girl.
"We won't kill you. Princess Zelda just wants to talk!"
"You're not doing your King any favours leaving him behind like this!"
"If you come back, we won't kill your sister! Nabooru doesn't have to die!"
No matter what they screamed out to her, she wouldn't falter, wouldn't even hesitate. She knew that if she did, they would pounce on her like hungry jungle cats. She refused to succumb to the same fate Ganondorf was burdened with. She understood that they were just toying with her mind. What they were saying couldn't be true, of course not.
Raneem seriously doubted that Zelda was even aware of her existence. For now, in the Princess's mind, the only Gerudo left was Ganondorf. And what difference would it make if Raneem was beside him during his execution? How would that benefit him in any way? The last plea was a little tricky for Raneem to ignore, though. How did they even know about her sister, Nabooru? She couldn't possibly be alive; Raneem and Ganondorf were the last two Gerudos in all of Hyrule. She had seen her sisters lying in pools of blood with her own eyes, she knew the Hylians were bluffing.
What she didn't understand was how they knew her sister's name. But she pushed the thought into the recesses of her mind. The more she dwelt on the subject, the more she slowed her sprint – and she couldn't afford to be captured.
Once the daft Hylians realized their lies weren't working on the girl, they kept their mouths shut. The only noise was their panting and heavy boot falls several paces behind her. It remained like that for a while but when Raneem was nearing the Great Bridge of Hylia, she felt the ground beneath her rumble slightly. She wanted to turn around and see what the cause of the movement was but she wouldn't risk it. For all she knew, the Hylians were stomping on the ground to get her to turn around and meet their arrows as they were shot at her exposed face. Only when the rumbling grew closer did she risk a sideways glance. Once she saw the source of the shaking, she gasped.
A Goron was rolling close beside her, swerving dangerously and looking like it was preparing to collide with the girl. It was going so fast that if it were to hit her she'd easily and instantly be crushed under the weight of the rock beast. When it started to lean toward her, she did the first thing that came to mind and latched onto a nearby tree. She clung on for dear life and seconds after she had a decent hold, the trunk shook violently, signalling that the Goron had crashed into it. She peered down past her elbow and saw that the force of the collision had knocked the thing unconscious.
She could still hear the Hylians chasing her, and now their pants were mixed with groans of annoyance once they saw their Goron-plan didn't quite work out. Raneem wasted no time letting go of the still-quivering tree and she resumed her sprint to Lake Hylia.
As soon as she could see the huge bridge she was faced with another problem. How am I going to get to the lake? Her cloak was of no use to her now. Even if she were to enter the small building and talk to that strange clown while pretending to be Hylian, she doubted he would ignore the shouts of the soldiers chasing after her. So entering the lake the traditional way was out of the picture, then. What now?
The whirl of arrows soaring through the air filled the Gerudo's ears and she knew now wasn't the time to stop and think of a plan. Whatever she came up with, it had to be figured out on the go.
She continued her sprint, running straight to the bridge. She paused then, pressing her hands against the stone railing and taking a moment to catch her breath. She turned to her right and saw that the soldiers were close to reaching the bridge she stood on. Quite a few had bows drawn and were firing arrows, but their aim was shameful.
Raneem could just make out the shape of several more Gorons speeding past the Hylians and closing in on her. She looked away quickly, trying to think of an escape route. She turned to the left and saw the other side of the bridge, but following that wouldn't help her at all. She'd just wind up in Hyrule Field, not to mention the Gorons would easily catch up to her and she doubted she'd get away with that tree tactic again. Her eyes darted back to the right and she saw that her enemies were significantly closer than they had been before.
She closed her eyes. Think Raneem, think! The rumbling of the Gorons was becoming deafening. It was stressing the girl out. How was she supposed to think with something as loud as that drilling into her brain? Her fingers clenched around the railing of the bridge and the grip caused a small chunk of stone to detach from the rest of the bridge and fall off the edge. Raneem watched it fall, saw the tiny splash it made in the deep water below.
"We've got you now, Gerudo!" one of the soldiers yelled arrogantly. "There's nowhere to go but down."
Raneem gasped, realizing she did in fact have a way out. I can jump! Land in the water below and swim to safety! She wanted to kick herself for not thinking of it earlier, but there was no time for that now.
She stole one last glimpse at the approaching threats and then climbed onto the railing. She heard the Gorons as they rolled across the stone of the bridge – closer than ever – and she knew she was out of time. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and allowed herself to fall. She was worried that the impact would kill her but in all honesty she'd rather die like this than from the hand of a Hylian.
The drop was exhilarating; it felt like she was flying. Her eyes shot open and she let out a little squeal, half fearful and half thrilled. The plummet could have only lasted a couple seconds but it felt like an eternity to the Gerudo. She angled her body so that she would pierce the water with a graceful dive, free from any danger of breaking her neck or legs.
The coldness of the water hit her body first, but it was a refreshing temperature for her previously burning skin. She sank deep into the water, wanting to fool the Hylians into thinking the fall had killed her, and then – while still under water – she turned around so that she was swimming towards the bridge. She hoped she could hide under it so that the soldiers wouldn't possibly see her. She surfaced when she was sure she was out of their eyesight and then she tried to calm her erratic heart as it pumped the adrenaline through her body.
She waited for a long time. She couldn't hear them, high above her as they were, and she didn't want to be impatient and swim away only to have them see her.
Minutes passed and the refreshing water slowly grew uncomfortable. Too cold. Raneem bit her lip, treading water and trying to inhale and exhale slowly. She didn't mean to exaggerate, but she was afraid she'd freeze if she didn't get out soon. She knew the temperature wouldn't faze a Hylian. Their bodies were used to water this cold, but Raneem was from the desert, and although her body was all too familiar with frigid gales, it had no experience dealing with icy water. There simply wasn't any in the desert for her to grow accustomed to.
She waited at least thirty minutes and then she had to move. Her limbs were stiff and numb as she swam to the nearest patch of land and by the time she reached it, the sun was sinking behind the hills of the desert, disappearing for the night. She pulled herself out of the water and went to remove her cloak, but then she remembered she'd need it to get home. She clenched her teeth and put the soaking hood on her already drenched head, and then she moved toward the strange old man who owned the canon that would return the Gerudo home, where she belonged and planned to stay.
The old clown was standing in front of the entrance to his canon as he always did and when he spotted Raneem in her dripping attire he frowned slightly.
She cleared her throat and reminded herself that this particular Hylian had nothing to do with the death of her sisters, nor did he have the slightest part in the soon-to-be execution of her King. He was innocent, and she couldn't be hostile towards him. She forced herself to smile and put on her best Hylian accent. "Hello."
He relaxed once he heard her voice, soft and silky in the still night air. His eyes took in her dripping state for the second time and a smile made itself present on his pouted lips. "Went for a dip?" He snickered in a friendly way. "You're not from around here, are you?"
She forced a chuckle, although what she really wanted to do was cut the small talk and return to the desert so she could get out of these freezing clothes. She reminded herself to be nice, to play the part of a friendly Hylian woman. "Is it that obvious?"
His smile widened. "Unfortunately for you. But all joking aside, what can I do for you, miss?"
"I'd like to go to the Gerudo Desert, please. I hear it's beautiful there."
The man's smile vanished. "You want to go to the desert? It's dangerous there, you know?"
Raneem shook her head. "No, not since the Gerudos were wiped out. I've always wanted to go there, I'm a real fan of desert weather but I never could because of that ruthless race."
The man was still unsure. "The desert is freezing at night. You're in no state to go there, what with those wet clothes and such. I suggest waiting until morning."
She tried not to sneer. "I have to return home tomorrow morning, you see. I'm from Kakariko Village and this was the only time I could come and see the desert I've always admired. I have the money. Just let me through, please. I came all this way..." She let her voice trail off expectantly, dipping her head as if she were greatly disappointed.
The man stared at her for another moment and then his shoulders slumped, defeated. "I've never been one to ignore the plead of a lady," he began, and Raneem couldn't help but flinch. Was that an innuendo she heard, or was the cold water just getting to her head? "So I'll let you through, free of charge since you travelled all this way. Just make sure you keep warm and safe out there. It isn't as peaceful as it looks, trust me." He gave her a knowing smile and she suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. She knew more about the desert than he did, she'd bet her life on that.
But she smiled instead of scoffing. "Thank you so much."
He moved aside and she entered the canon, waving to him as he closed the lid. Once she was alone inside she removed her hood and allowed herself to sigh in relief. She was almost home. Soon, the Hylians would forget about her and she'd be able to continue living. Though in all honestly she didn't have any plans for her life at that moment... Once Ganondorf was gone, so was any chance of the Gerudo race living to see the next decade. Her depressing thoughts vanished as she was shot out of the canon and she did her best not to scream. She didn't want the Hylians on their way back to the castle to hear her.
She soared through the sky and landed in a heap on the desert ground, taking the time to remove the familiar sand from her mouth and eyes. She stood up and immediately freed herself from her cloak and her shoes. The sand was still hot on her bare feet; the sun's warmth had yet to leave the grains. She looked around and tried to see as much of her lost home as she could in the dim light of twilight. She squinted as she stared at the place where the fortress had once stood. In its place was a differently shaped building.
Raneem frowned. She had expected to see the ruins of the fortress, not some new building! Who had built that? And so quickly, too? The attack on the Gerudos had only happened a few days ago – there was no way a structure that huge could have been built in such a short amount of time.
She shook her head, telling herself that the lack of light was playing tricks on her. She ignored the building and headed for the hidden oasis where she planned to spend the night.
The strange clown had been right: during the night the desert was absolutely freezing, but Raneem knew this anyway. She dragged her still-wet cloak behind her and soon she added her sirwal. There was no way her clothes would dry in this cold air, no way at all. It was fickle to think that her body heat would dry them on its own, as well. She began to shiver, the cold winds slamming into her bare skin with such force it was almost as if Din herself was angry at the girl. She probably was. Raneem had failed to save her sisters against the Hylians, she deserved the deity's wrath.
The sand was the only thing that provided a measure of warmth into the Gerudo's body as she trekked to the oasis – which felt like miles away – and soon she found herself crawling through it. Not because she was fatigued, but because her legs and arms had all but gone numb from the freezing wind. It was strange, she didn't usually get so chilly when travelling through the desert at night... but then again the wind was harsher than normal, and she was half-naked.
When Raneem was about ten minutes away from the oasis, she pulled her wet shirt over her head and added it to the pile of clothes she was weakly dragging behind her. She paused her crawling, opting instead to lie in the sand for a little while. She buried herself under the grains, closing her eyes as the warm sand covered her body like a makeshift blanket. She thought about remaining where she was and sleeping here for the night but the traitorous wind blew the sand away and forced her to continue moving.
By the time she finally reached the oasis she was more than a little relieved. She dropped her clothes in the sand and jogged to the small area of vegetation, once again using her hands as a bowl and drinking all the water her belly could hold. Once she was done she fell onto her back in the balmy sand, covering her body like she had earlier. The wind didn't reach her in the oasis, the shrubs and small trees acting as a shield. For that she was immensely grateful.
She lay on her back and stared up at the sky which was becoming darker by the minute. She watched as the stars began to appear, one by one, and they lit up the night. The moon wasn't present, either hidden behind some of the mountains here in the desert or off shining for the Hylians in Hyrule.
She idly wondered what Ganondorf was doing right that minute. Was he locked away in some smelly dungeon in the castle, waiting for the morning that would bring his death? Was he informed about Raneem's escape? Did the Hylians presume her dead and tell him? She bit her bottom lip, imagining his reaction to the news.
Would he even care if she were to die? Something in her gut let her know he would... something about the way he had told her to run, had called her his Desert Girl meant that he had changed his opinion about her. Perhaps she was more than eye candy to the man now, something worth missing. And although it was too late for him, she closed her eyes and willed him to be okay – to survive the execution somehow and return to her.
Wait... return to me? What is he, my lover? Raneem turned her head and spat into the sand, disgusted by the thought. He's still to blame for the death of my sisters. He's still evil. He's still the King I loathe. I don't want him to return to me, of course not. I want him to survive, yes, but to never pair up with me again. That is what I want.
And that is what she forced herself to believe.
The sun's too-hot rays were what woke the Gerudo girl. She groaned, rolling onto her side and dusting off her sandy blanket as she did so. It was too hot for such things now, anyway.
She moved to the vegetation immediately, drinking to replace the fluids she had sweated out during the early morning heat. Once she was done she glanced up at the sky and saw that the sun was still close to the eastern mountains, so that meant it was fairly early. She moved to where she had dumped her clothes the night before and was pleased to find them damp. Wearable. She pulled her shirt over her head and was appreciative to the coolness the still-wet material provided. It was funny how the body rejected and accepted temperatures at different times of the day and in different environments.
When she was clothed in everything except her cloak she grabbed her glaives and headed off to find some breakfast. She was actually rather excited to hunt again – it felt like eons since she had last snuck through the desert targeting some prey and then enjoying the meal with her sisters. The thought of them instinctively brought her eyes to the strange building she had seen the night before, and now that the sun was up it became obvious that this was not the ruins of the fortress. No, it was something entirely different.
Raneem stared, mouth slightly agape as she took it all in. There were seven large pillars that reached high into the sky, and on the top of those pillars were strange, small shapes Raneem couldn't make out from where she was standing. She could make out the circular structure of the building, though. It looked almost like a colosseum. It was very different from the way the fortress used to look, bathed in the morning sun.
Raneem let out a growl. It had obviously been created using mighty magic, there was no way it had been hand built. It was too large and impressive to have been created by mere Hylians or humans. No, it had to be the work of incredible magic. That was the only explanation.
"How dare they destroy the fortress completely and build something else where it once stood!" Raneem hissed, fingers taut around the hilts of her weapons. She moved to investigate further, to enter the damned thing and find some way to destroy it, but her stomach moaned in protest. She sighed, using her breath to blow a fly-away piece of hair from her eyes. "Breakfast first, then I'll check it out," she murmured, turning away from the building in an attempt to reduce her levels of fury. She needed to concentrate if she wanted to get some good game, so she pushed it all to the back of her mind.
She trekked through the sand like a snake: so quiet in her movements. Years of hunting had turned her loud footsteps to something you had to strain your ears to hear, and for that she was grateful. It made sneaking up on prey all the more easier, especially when she was pressed for time, like she was right that minute. She glanced around, thinking about feasting on some Gerudo Boar – an incredibly easy kill –, but then she realized that it would only remind her of him. And right now, she needed to keep her mind blank, free of all distractions. And thinking about him and his sealed fate was definitely a distraction.
She decided to hunt some camel. They were a lot harder to track, smarter where they chose to rest, so it took a lot longer than Raneem would have liked, but at the same time she preferred that over eating boar and trying to force away the memories.
She started a small fire using bark from the trees that resided in the oasis, her glaives sharp enough to cut into the thick meat of the camel she had killed. When she had sliced the meat into portions she laid them to cook above the fire and then took advantage of her free time by using the water to wash her sweaty body half-heartedly. She cupped the warm liquid with her palms and tossed the moisture at her face, her neck, her back, until she no longer stunk. Then she proceeded to clean her blades, the blood vanishing and leaving them shining with an ominous tinge once again.
She later sat cross-legged in the sand, feasting on her well deserved meal and keeping a lookout in case any more camel showed up. Her back was to the vegetation but her keen ears picked up on the sounds of birds drinking from the scarce water. She wiped her mouth with her forearm and then reached for her dagger. She turned with agility, flinging the weapon in the general direction she had heard the sounds of the birds from.
There were four of them and once the closest one was met with the pierce of the dagger, the others flew off frantically, leaving their friend behind.
Raneem got to her feet to inspect her kill. It was a small Gerudo Roadrunner. Smaller than average. She figured it was malnourished, weaker than the others therefore an easier target for predators as well as less of a threat to its own prey. She frowned, taking in its half-molted feathers and deciding against eating it. It didn't look very healthy and the last thing Raneem wanted was an upset stomach.
She moved to return to her post, wiping her fingers on her sirwal as she went, but then a glimmer of white caught her attention. She immediately crouched low, hidden by the shrubs as she crawled to the edge of the oasis. Her first thought was that maybe an eagle had seen the smoke from her fire and was coming to investigate. Desert Eagles were very protective of the land in which they dwelt and they were feisty, too. It would surely land a few lasting marks on Raneem before she could chop it in half.
Her eyes instinctively darted down to the tiny scar on the back of her right hand. The claws of one of the birds had branded her when she was young and ignorant. She had thought it was a gentle creature, looking for friends. Frowning at the memory, she returned her attention back to the speck of white she had seen ahead.
She stared for a long time, refusing to believe she had seen a glimpse of a mirage. Something had been there, she knew it. And then she saw it again, only it wasn't a fleeting image this time.
Raneem gasped, stumbling back. The seven Sages were dragging an unconscious-looking Gerudo King across the sand and towards the new building that had replaced the fortress. They were moving swiftly, covering a vast amount of terrain in a short period of time. They almost looked like they were gliding, flying through the sand. It was no wonder Raneem had confused them with an eagle.
They paid no heed to their surroundings, weren't fazed by the smoke from the fire. They just raced towards the colosseum, determined to be rid of the man they held captive.
Raneem watched them until they were just specs of white against the red of the sand and orange of the sun, blended into one by the horizon.
And then she reacted. She jolted upright, snatched her cloak from the sand, and sprinted after them. She didn't bother to bring her dagger, still embedded into the Roadrunner. She didn't think she'd need it. Her glaives were enough. Besides, she was in a hurry.
The soles of her shoes sank deeply into the sand and her mouth hung open, gasping for air as she chased the Sages and her King. The sun was beating down on her back, turning her shirt damp with sweat and her fingers began to lose their hold on the hood of her cloak. She tightened her grip and pushed her legs faster in a useless attempt to follow the Sages. She knew it was a futile expedition; she would never reach them in time. Yet she didn't slow. She refused to sit back and wait for them to murder Ganondorf. She needed him to survive, she had made that declaration last night and she didn't plan on dishonouring it.
By the time she reached the colosseum her shirt was as wet as it had been when she had dived into Lake Hylia. She hastily ran her arm across her forehead, biting her lip and trying to slow her pounding heart. She moved cautiously up the sand ingrained stairs – which looked hundreds of years old. It's no doubt this colosseum was created using incredible magic. Raneem figured the Sages had built this place specifically for the execution of the Gerudo King.
She followed the drag marks left in the sand from Ganondorf's feet and tried not to feel fear when she entered the dark place. It had an eerie feel to it, causing shivers to race down her spine despite how hot her body felt. She tried to ignore the odd noises and shrieks of dangerous-sounding animals that dwelt in the place as she continued to follow the marks Ganondorf had left behind.
As she made her way deeper into the almost pitch-black grounds, the goose bumps on her arms grew more prominent. She heard very inhumane sounds, sounds that made her skin crawl. It didn't help that she could hear the scuttles of insects moving around her feet, and she honestly didn't know whether it was her imagination or if she was really feeling the pincers of certain bugs digging into her exposed flesh. She tried her very best to ignore it and focused on finding a source of light instead.
Her eyes had yet to adjust to the darkness all around her, so – needless to say – she struggled to move around the unfamiliar turf. She held her hands out in front of her, feeling for a safe route as she continued to ignore the terrifying calls of the creatures and the scampering of the bugs. Her fingers traced what she imagined was a stone wall and she followed that until her eyes adjusted and she could make out a large room.
Rectangular in shape with doors on the east and west wings and a huge opening right in front of her, she was certain this was some kind of temple. There were torches in this room. Four, to be exact. They were a strange blue hue and they floated above four separate pedestals, obviously magical flames. They cast a dim light into the room but it was enough to allow you to see where you were going. Raneem was grateful for that. Very grateful.
She looked back over her shoulder into the immense and formidable blackness she had emerged from and cringed involuntarily. Glad that's over with... Her eyes returned to the front once more and she let out a long sigh. Where have those damn Sages taken Ganondorf? She stepped gingerly up the ancient-looking steps – afraid they might crumble under her weight – and curiously stared at the blue flame beside her once she was level with it.
It was a uniquely pretty shade of blue, almost azure in colour, and very enchanting, at that. A soft smile seized her lips and she reached out to touch the calm blaze with her fingertips. The false fire licked her skin, tickling her. She felt the bubble of the magic greet her nails and she almost giggled. I would love to know how this was made, she mused, that dreamy smile still set on her lips. Oh, what I wouldn't give to have magical powers... She felt carefree, almost forgetting about Ganondorf and the Sages. It was as if she was a curious child once again, exploring every secret her desert home had to offer.
The flame beside her suddenly jerked away from her touch, startling her. She took a step back and watched as all four flames stirred to life. Then she heard ghostly breaths and the clinking of lanterns. Four lamps appeared from the large entrance in front of her, and she took another cautious step back. They were floating, and with them they carried the noises of the ragged and creepy breathing. The lanterns snatched away the blue flames angrily, as if warning the Gerudo to stay away.
Her smile had vanished and she stood on shaky legs as the lanterns moved in towards her, circling her quivering form. Her fingers locked around the hilts of her glaives as she studied the glowing lamps. What's controlling them? Simple magic? Or something worse?
And as if on cue to answer her question, four ghosts cloaked in white robes appeared, their bony fingers latched around the handles of the lanterns. They all stared at Raneem, their eye sockets hollow.
She screamed, stumbling back and landing on her rear on the sandy floor. The ghosts continued to stare at her and then they let out a chilling noise. It sounded as if they were hissing. Hissing at her.
"You are not the one we are destined to kill," they all said in unison. "You're not the Hylian we seek... you have no purpose here. Get out!" And with that, they vanished, taking the flames with them and leaving the room pitch black.
Raneem's chest rose and fell with panicked gasps, her fingers shaking. She moved to get up, to turn around and leave, but that was when she heard the all-too familiar voice, screaming in anger. The noise was coming from the entrance the ghosts had appeared through. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to forget her fear. I have to help him... Her eyes snapped open and she ran forward, tripping up the stairs in the blackness.
She heard it as the entrance she was sprinting for began to shudder, threatening to drop a door or a cage on her. No. She wasn't going to allow herself to become trapped and useless. She looked up once she was at the entrance and she saw the whiteness of the gate that was beginning to fall. She acted on instinct, drawing her glaive and using it to hold the door open. She was pleased with the result, though admittedly she was a little surprised it had actually worked. She'd need this entrance clear if she planned on returning to the desert later, hopefully with her King alive beside her.
His furious screams of defiance spurred her on and she continued forward, only one glaive in her sheath and her cloak still within her grasp. She followed the sound of Ganondorf's yells and was eventually outside once again, though not in the place she expected. She was climbing the colosseum, and the further she hiked, the louder the screams became. Finally, finally, she reached the top. Slipping on her cloak and drawing her only weapon, she pressed her back flat against the wall and edged around the corner.
She had to fight the gasp that wanted so badly to escape when she saw him, wrestling with the Sages who struggled to chain his wrists with golden shackles.
She saw how five of the seven Sages had to push the massive King against the stone he was positioned in front of in an attempt to restrain him while the remaining two worked to lock both his wrists in the shackles. And even with the amount of force they were using against the man, he was still fighting.
Raneem noticed the blood stains on his armour and the bruises on his wrists where the golden chains were digging into his skin, and she bit her lip uneasily. She wanted so desperately to run out and kill the ethereal servants of the Goddesses but she knew there was no way she could take them all on, especially with her King chained and unable to help her fight them off. So all she could do was watch, dread etched into each of her features.
With one final click of the shackles locking in place, the seven Sages backed away, leaving a fuming Ganondorf to pull at the chains and kick at the stone behind him. Raneem watched the Sages' faces closely; saw how their eyebrows knitted together in worry. Her eyes flittered back to Ganondorf and then to the shackles binding him. He was pulling so aggressively on them it looked like they were going to give away, which was impressive because they were so thick and sturdy-looking.
The Sages glanced at one another before turning back to the Gerudo King and copying their earlier move which was used on the mountain: shooting their arms out and allowing a golden power to slam into the man's body, causing him to go limp instantly. His head dropped, his hands falling slack above him, and it was obvious he was no longer conscious.
Raneem's breath caught in her throat. Was that the execution? Is he dead already? She wanted to kick herself for standing and watching without even attempting to help, but then she caught sight of his chest, rising and falling. It was a weak movement but it was enough. He was still alive.
The Gerudo girl looked down at her feet, trying to think of something to do while the Sages just stood watching the man, most likely deciding on a way to end his life. But nothing came to her. She stood there for about three minutes, thinking and thinking but she was just drawing blanks. If the Sages could knock out someone as huge and as strong as Ganondorf, how easy would Raneem go down? It would be like swatting a pesky fly or grinding their heels into a worm. She heard the Sages move around in the sand and she returned her gaze to them.
Three Sages stood on either side of one who held a glowing sword, the same colour as their robes and everything else on their bodies. Raneem gulped. She had run out of time.
The Sage with the sword stood perfectly still, using his magic to allow the weapon to float in front of his face. His eyes narrowed and then the sword was suddenly protruding out of Ganondorf's chest, hitting its mark with a sickeningly wet sound.
Raneem could only stare. She watched as the blood oozed from the wound and dripped onto the sandy floor, the noise echoing throughout the colosseum. She blinked and something wet slid down her cheek. She wiped it away immediately, almost certain she was bleeding herself. When she saw that it was a tear, she frowned in confusion. Her eyes flicked back to Ganondorf and her gorge slowly rose. Was it her imagination, or was he turning pale?
He hung there limply, the shackles around his wrists the only thing supporting his weight. Raneem could see that his wrists were bleeding as well, no doubt from the bite of the golden chains.
She couldn't bear to continue looking, she felt like she was about to vomit or pass out. Or both. She had to get out of there before the Sages found her and did to her what they did to her King. She cast one last fleeting glance at her fallen ruler and then turned and sprinted back down the way she came. She heard rustling above her and she assumed the Sages were disposing of the body.
The thought made her stomach turn over and she squeezed her eyes shut as her breakfast made a reappearance there on the colosseum floor. Once she was done she spat onto the ground, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. She stood on shaky legs, using the wall beside her for support. She knotted her fingers through her hair and breathed in through her mouth, not wanting to smell her sick.
No matter what she did, she could not erase the image of Ganondorf's lifeless body from her mind. She couldn't forget the sound the sword had made when it met with his flesh. She gagged again, but all that came out was white spittle that burned her throat on its way up.
When she closed her eyes she saw his golden glare instead of blackness. It was terrifying, almost as if he was haunting her, reaching her from the other side of the void and tormenting her with those powerful eyes. She was certain she was hallucinating somehow, because she could hear him. She heard his rich voice in her head, and then heard his laughter. It wasn't the laugh she was used to, though. This one was almost maniacal. And it sounded so real! As if he were alive up there with the Sages, laughing like a crazy person.
Raneem squeezed her eyes shut and slid down to the floor, curling in on herself and gnawing on her lip. "Shut up, shut up!" she whimpered pathetically. "Leave me alone!"
She heard him scream and yell in fury, the sound bouncing around the inside her skull. It was too much for her. She barely felt the tears slide down her cheeks, hardly noticed the blood that seeped from the gash in her bottom lip thanks to her excessive and harsh biting. All her focus was on his voice and trying to get it out of her head.
She let out a scream herself and it mingled with his, echoing around the foreign colosseum where their fortress had once stood and then out towards the vast desert. No matter what she tried, his voice would not leave her. His memory haunted her and eventually it became too much. The last thing Raneem saw was the sandy ground as it came flying towards her. Then she heard the dull thump of her body hitting the floor. A sharp pain greeted her forehead before everything went black.
Even when lost to unconsciousness, his voice would not depart. It stayed with her and tainted her dreams, froze her in place and refused to let her go.