“I can’t believe I’m just thinking about this, but you’ll have to meet with the Champions!” Said Zelda.
They had been on their way to Hyrule Castle for many hours now, walking on the sand and riding on horseback, covered in thick cloaks to prepare for the winter air, and to hide from potential onlookers. They had finally decided to rest somewhere close to the Great Plateau. Their horses had nodded off to sleep, and Fuga and Zelda were talking quietly, close to the fire they had started.
“Do you… even know who they are? Or what they do?”
Fuga shook their head.
“I know Urbosa is one, but… that’s all I know.”
“Well, to start at the beginning, the Champions are heroes chosen to help defeat Malice, or- or Demise, depending on the version of the story, and pilot Divine Beasts created by the Sheikah.”
“Isn’t that your people’s technology as well?”
“Yes! But… we haven’t had any… major contact with it since the Sheikah and Yiga separated into two distinct groups, as far as I’m aware. And… whatever, who are the Champions?”
“There’s Mipha, champion of the Zora, controlling the Divine Beast Vah Ruta-”
Zelda looked at Fuga for a second before understanding what they meant.
“Oh, right! I suppose you don’t really get to see much Zora in the Gerudo Desert.”
“I could definitely use a refresher on the species of Hyrule…” they slightly laughed. “I know of Hylians, Sheikah, Yiga and Gerudo, but I haven’t seen much of the other species. I can see them, sometimes, in Gerudo Town but… hm.”
“Well, the Zora are shark-like, they live mostly in lakes and rivers, but are amphibious. You probably haven’t seen them at all. Then, the Gorons, rock-people who live in the heart of Death Mountain, that volcano over there,” she pointed to the glowing red point in the distance. “And there’s the Rito, bird-people living in the skies and mountains up north. Now, you know the species of Hyrule.”
“So… Mipha, what are they like?” Asked Fuga.
“Oh, she’s– she’s overwhelmingly kind and generous, a gentle soul who would do anything to see her friends and family safe. Then, there’s Daruk, champion of the Gorons, who controls the Divine Beast Vah Rudania. He’s loud, and strong, and always puts the needs of others before his. Then, there’s Revali, of the Rito, a little pompous–”
She stopped herself and put a hand to her mouth, getting carried away with her honesty on the Champions.
“I probably shouldn’t say that about a Champion”
Fuga laughed at her blunder, but encouraged her to try again, and would forget her mistake. Zelda giggled a bit, and continued:
“Yes, Revali, champion of the Rito, controlling the Divine Beast Vah Medoh. He’s– he’s fine, really. He’s very courageous, even if he seems to overwork himself to attain perfection. And finally, Urbosa, champion of the Gerudo, piloting the Divine Beast Vah Naboris. I assume I… don’t need to tell you about her.”
“No, I… know her almost like family.”
Zelda laughed to herself.
“We’re the same on that point. She almost became a mother figure to me after my mom’s passing.”
“Right, I never got to give my condolences to you, I’m so sorry.”
“Thank you, but… I never truly got to know her. I think it stings more to not be able to talk to her now than it is to have known her as a child.”
Fuga stayed silent after her statement. They had never lost a parent, at least, not one they knew about, and they didn’t really know loss. Not like she had.
“I’m sorry for bringing this up–” Zelda said. “So, you’ve uh– what have you seen of Hyrule?”
Fuga was a bit taken aback by her sudden shift in tone, but liked talking with Zelda, and thus continued the conversation.
“Not much, I’ve taken the roads on the outskirts of Central Hyrule twice, once to get to the Woods of the Lost, once to get back.”
“By ‘Woods of the Lost’, do you mean Great Hyrule Forest?”
Fuga shrugged, unsure what to respond. That’s the name they had been told. They continued:
“I had never seen that much greenery in my life, it was a little overwhelming.”
“I can imagine!”
“Oh, and– on the way there–”
Their conversation lasted for much longer than they had expected. They both fell asleep, content to have found a new friend in such a ridiculous way. No, neither of them had expected their day to go the way it did, but they were both glad it had.
In the morning, neither of them knowing how to cook with what little ingredients they had, took some apples from a nearby tree and ate them on their way to the Castle.
“You’ll be okay going into town? It’s usually pretty crowded at this time.”
Fuga nodded. They weren’t as ready as they had told their fathers, but they wanted to look like it, in front of everyone.
The Castle Town was, as predicted by Zelda, bustling with activity. Merchants left and right were presenting their wares, people avoided their horses, but, most commonly, people noticed Zelda’s horse, decorated by the royal insignias. They knew she was here, and soon, the castle would too. They stopped at the bridge, the moat before the Castle itself. Two guards stood a little more upright.
“Princess Zelda! We– we’ve had men looking for you for hours now–”
They paused at the sight of the masked figure beside her, the upturned Sheikah eye proving itself to be a bad omen. Zelda took notice, but didn’t comment on it.
“Yes, well, you may tell them that I’m back and that they don’t have to worry anymore. Tell my father I’ve arrived, I need to talk to him regarding the chosen hero.”
“Y-yes, of course, Princess.”
The guard’s eyes wandered onto the other figure once more, unsure on how to proceed with a Yiga so close to Hyrule Castle, and so close to the Princess. Zelda noticed again, and now commented on it, seeing the situation was getting tenser by the second.
“They are a Yiga, and they are the chosen hero. You’d best let them through, unless you want the King to meet them outside.”
“No, of course not, Princess! But, we still have strict orders regarding–”
“And I am ordering you to disregard these orders right now, especially when it comes to the chosen hero!”
“Of course, Princess. I apologise.”
Zelda and Fuga passed through a few gatehouses, until they reached the final gate. There, they left their horses and Zelda gave them specific orders to return Fuga’s one to a public stable, the one near Gerudo Desert. The guards agreed to her orders. Fuga was somewhat surprised at how different her behaviour had shifted since they had entered the Castle, or even Castle Town. She didn’t seem like the same person she had been just a few hours prior.
The interior of Hyrule Castle was large, bright. Light was coming in through large windows, some of them tinted red and blue and yellow. Fuga was utterly radiant coming into such a marvellous place, and thought how long it had been since a Yiga had set foot in these halls freely. How long would it be until another Yiga would step foot in these same halls?
The King stormed into the room, waving away two guards that were trying their best to explain the situation, while he spoke loudly to Zelda.
“I’ve been worried sick, where have you been? Our men couldn’t find you anywhere, did you run off again to study some foreign thing? I told you–”
“I’m fine, father,” she spoke calmly and gestured towards Fuga. “I found the hero chosen by the sword that will seal the darkness.”
The King took a moment to consider the Yiga. His face went through multiple emotions before settling for some kind of anger.
“Yes. If I may recount the events of the past, hm, day or so: I was out in Gerudo Town to meet with Lady Urbosa, but also to follow a trail of eyewitness accounts regarding the legendary sword, I managed to meet the chosen hero- as a rather strange coincidence- and was able to talk with the Yiga clan regarding their status in Hyrule. They then agreed to let me come back to Hyrule without a fuss, along with the chosen hero, if you would consider reinstating them as a trade partner within Hyrule.”
Fuga took notice of her strange choice of words. Words that wouldn’t aggravate a king, words that didn’t exactly lie, but omitted many events. No mention of a kidnapping, of a “being held hostage and as bargaining power”, of what had really transpired.
“They’re dreaming if they think I’ll ever help them again, after what they did,” scoffed the King.
“Then it’s goodbye to our chosen hero, you are aware of that, yes? This might be our only chance to have them on our side.”
Fuga didn’t know if Zelda was referring to them, the individual, or them, the Yiga clan.
The King stroked his beard, pondering the situation and his decision.
“How are you certain this is the chosen hero? You may have been deceived by the Yiga.”
Zelda took a deep breath before speaking for a while again.
“Only those blessed by the Triforce may hold the sword unscathed, said the legend from which we base our beliefs on. If we are to trust it- if- then it is surely proof enough. However, the eyewitnesses all have said similar things, of a person, seemingly a Sheikah, holding the legendary sword on their back and heading south towards the desert. We both know how Sheikah and Yiga look alike, so to the untrained eye, they might as well be the same. Even if this individual is not the chosen hero, we have every reason to believe they are among the Yiga. However… I trust them entirely to be the hero of legends.”
The King took a minute to fully take in what Zelda had said, to look at Fuga, to quietly observe the sword on their back.
“Very well, then. Call the Champions for them to meet their Hero.”
As the King was preparing to leave the room, Fuga took a few steps towards him.
“I hope I’m not too forward with this but– regarding our status within Hyrule–”
He waved his hands in dismissal.
“Yes, I’ll look the terms over. I’ll see what I can do.”
See what I can do? Fuga thought to themself. That might be the stupidest thing you’ve said, you’re the King! You can make anything happen!
They were taken aback by the complete dismissal of their question, of the reason they had agreed to come in the first place. Fuga looked over at Zelda, questioningly, wondering if her father had always been this person, dismissing hard questions simply because they were annoying to deal with, if she had put up with his attitude for all her life. She was still looking ahead, at where the King had exited. Fuga looked there as well. Had they done all this for nothing? They weren’t interested in being known by all of Hyrule as the Chosen Hero, they just wanted their family to be safe, to know that everything would be okay for them.
Both the princess and the hero returned outside, having been told that the Champions would be called for a meeting outside the town walls, at what the guards had told them to be “Sacred Grounds”. Zelda knew exactly where to go, so Fuga followed, slightly demoralised by their encounter with the King. Fuga thought about the distance and time it took between the Gerudo Desert and Hyrule Castle, how long it would be for the Champions to arrive.
“How do you guys communicate with the Champions?” Asked Fuga.
Zelda explained, all while walking to the Sacred Grounds, that four messengers, on horseback, were sent to each location the Champions lived at. They each brought a sealed scroll containing the message, usually “The King of Hyrule demands your immediate presence at this place,” now the Sacred Grounds, outside of Castle Town, regarding the chosen hero, but the messengers would each have memorised the message, in case some unfortunate happenstance could happen to it. Each message would have, at its end, “please return the scroll to the messenger if you cannot come.” The messengers would then make their way to each location on their horses, trained for their speed. Upon arriving at their location, they asked to see each Champion with a message from the King of Hyrule.
“Revali of the Rito!”
“What now?” The bird had landed suddenly in front of the horse, surprising it. He took the scroll handed to him in his beak and he opened it with both his talons on the ground.
“The chosen hero?” He scoffed. “Well, no other choice I suppose but to see him for myself.”
He flapped his wings and was gone as soon as he had arrived, scroll held in his talons.
“Daruk of the Gorons!”
The Goron lifted his head up from his work and saw the messenger, unsure if he and his horse could withstand such heat from Death Mountain for much longer. Daruk led them closer to the Maw of the mountain, where the heat was much more sustainable. He took the scroll that was handed to him and read it quickly. He pointed the messenger to the stable, not much further back, and made his way to Central Hyrule himself, after thanking the messenger.
“Mipha of the Zora!”
The road to Zora’s Domain had been sinuous and long, but the messenger had arrived. Mipha got out of the pond from which she had been floating in, a small Sidon following her. She took the scroll, read it, and turned to Sidon, crouching down to his level.
“I will be gone for a little bit, alright? How about you go play with your friends?”
Sidon nodded, smiled, and went back to the pond. Mipha turned to the messenger and thanked him. She sealed the scroll again and jumped in Ruto Lake, to make her way to Central Hyrule.
“Urbosa of the Gerudo!”
The road to get to Gerudo Town had been the longest, as the messenger had to abandon his horse at the entrance of the desert. Urbosa, now sitting in the palace, got up and took the scroll handed to her.
“Chosen Hero, huh? I’ll go, but I don’t think I’ll be faster than you,” she said, addressing the messenger. “Is it alright if I accompany you back?”
The messenger nodded, and they made their way back to Central Hyrule.
Zelda and Fuga had been waiting for a few hours. Fuga had had the time to see the greenery around the area, see the creatures, animals and bugs that hid within it. Now, they were just waiting for something else to arrive. Someone.
A flap of wings was heard overhead, and a dark blue, gigantic bird landed in front of both of them. A light blue scarf was tied around his neck, obstructing neither his wings nor his face.
“Am I too early?” He looked around.
“No, you’re perfect. The others should arrive soon enough,” said Zelda.
“Oh, that I’m aware of,” added the Rito. “I’m just wondering when the hero will arrive as well. That’s why we were called here, correct?”
“Yes! Um– the hero is here already,” she said, pointing to Fuga, who had just been looking at Revali this entire time.
“That’s the Hero? I thought it was some lost child from the town,” he laughed to himself.
“That’s not a very nice thing to say about the hero!”
The Goron had arrived, flanked by another figure, which Fuga had judged to be a Zora, given their almost alien appearance. Both were wearing a blue cloth, styled differently given their attire, and smiling, happy to be among friends.
“Yes, well, we don’t have to get along, we just need to get the work done, Daruk.”
“What a bleak view of the project you have, Revali,” said the Zora, almost laughing.
Oh, so it was a joke? Thought Fuga. They approached all three Champions. Zelda, seeing their sudden interest in joining the conversation, introduced them:
“This is Revali, champion of the Rito, Daruk, champion of the Gorons, and Mipha, champion of the Zora. Champions, this is Fuga, of the Yiga.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Fuga,” said Mipha. “It’ll be wonderful to work with you.”
Fuga, slightly intimidated by the Zora’s height and royal demeanour, nodded, incapable of formulating proper words.
“Yeah, nice to meet you, little guy!” said Daruk, loudly.
Fuga had seen Gorons before, but none had had such a mane around their head as Daruk had, and none seemed to have matched his energy.
“I haven’t heard about the Yiga in a while, had no idea they even still existed!” Continued Daruk. He scratched his head. “I guess I don’t go in the desert enough.”
“That, you don’t! I haven’t seen you there in months!”
Urbosa had arrived, her eyes scanning the scene, a smile on her face to reassure them.
“Urbosa!” Zelda exclaimed. “It’s good to see you, I didn’t expect you to arrive so soon!”
“And…” she started, seeing the hero. “I didn’t expect a Yiga to be the chosen hero.”
“Urbosa,” whispered Fuga.
Urbosa’s eyebrows furrowed, taking a moment to recognize the voice she had certainly heard before. Zelda continued her introductions.
“Urbosa, this is Fuga, and if I understand correctly, you have met before.”
“Fuga?” Urbosa’s face turned into a genuine expression of surprise and happiness. “Oh, that’s wonderful! When did you find out you were the hero?”
Fuga ran up to her and jumped into her open arms for a warm hug, a hug they hadn’t had in years.
“Less than a year ago! It’s so good to finally see you again.”
“Hope we’re not interrupting a reunion,” said Revali, sarcastically, feeling ignored.
“Hey, let them revel in their reunion,” Daruk said, winking.
“Urgh,” Revali rolled his eyes at the pun. Daruk had made a similar joke earlier that year, and he hadn’t been a fan of puns from the start.