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Yoto and Gohan! by The-Boundless

All in all, I believe this was a very well perceived piece of artwork. You did excellently on the shading, as you did on the original c...

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By the time the sun had risen once again on the stretch of forest and the road beside it, Beshka had finished covering the surrounding area in snow and was already back inside, ushering the heroes up and awake alongside her sister, Sheba. Both gnarly old women herded them like cattle (Princess Zelda excluded) and out into the open air to the stables, where Juniper had been tending to Epona and exchanging a rather voiceless conversation with the mare. "There's no time like the present to get started with a plan," Beshka called. "And there's hardly any time for you lot to waste as it is," Sheba added, "and we're not going to be in this place for long."

Artima looked at the witches, "What will you two do?" Beshka cackled, "Once you head back to Salty Quartz, I'll finish covering your tracks and meet you there, my younger twin included." Sheba threw a heated glare at her sibling, and both began to squabble like buzzards over a carcass. "Let's get started while they're distracted," Avian muttered, and the rest of the group silently agreed and huddled closer to the stables. Epona poked her head out as Link stroked her muzzle and spoke soft words to her. Annabelle didn't bother to approach the two, giving them plenty of space, and looking over her shoulder to see Princess Zelda striding to the group gracefully, a hand clasped around the brooch that held her cloak together. Even in the waking hours she had an inner beauty that Annabelle both admired and envied, but she hosted nothing against the princess; she was royalty, after all. "I suppose we are leaving soon, then?" Annabelle nodded to the elder sister, "Yes, Your Highness; we'll be moving to Salty Quartz as soon as we make a plan as to what we're going to do after we get there."

Princess Zelda nodded, "I agree; it would be a waste of privacy if we didn't take the time here and now to collaborate and discover what resources we have with us. I have an idea as to what the Royal Armada will be left as, in these times of chaos and greed." Annabelle looked to Artima for answers, who waved her hand without looking as if sensing the girl's question. "The Royal Armada," she explained briefly, "is the entirety of the Royal Family's military forces; that includes Dusk Kingfishers, the Sheikah Tribes, and the Royal Guard. It's been said that the other races dedicated small amounts of forces in the past, such as the Komalian Naval Fleet, and the Darunian Siege Force, and that one was made of the rock-like Goron individuals that could carry a singular cannon in their massive arms at a time, and made up the bulk of breaking down enemy fortresses by barreling into them by rolling. Now, in times like these, neither of those races can be seen, and it's pointless to look to anyone else for now. With the numbers thinned, we can barely scrap together a platoon that will trust one another, now with the massacre at Royal Square and this sorceress meddling with everyone's head."

"What about the Sheikah? If they're anything like you, it's likely that maybe some of them survived." More than likely, Ourana voiced in Annabelle's head as she spoke, and Artima took a moment to pause and think over the suggestion. She looked doubtful. "It's possible, but the Sheikah have been gone for a while now, and my sister hasn't seen a single one since a little while before the attacks in Royal Square. If they're out there, they might stay hidden up to months at a time before bothering to show their faces again. Absolute secrecy is their best trait, and anything that remains undiscovered is a weapon for them to wield." Avian was nodding in agreement, however Ourana's spirit caused Annabelle to have a sense of hope, however she chose not to pursue it with the others. "We do not have a substantial force to call it an army, however every able ally and friend is one-man stronger to conquer the darkness," Princess Zelda said, and the others seemed slightly-emboldened by her determination. It's easy to agree with her; I'm glad she's not corrupted, Annabelle thought, and Ourana agreed, Indeed. One might think that her charisma is uncanny of a mortal, but she is touched by the gods, so it is not a surprise to me.

Link finished watering Epona and joined the group, standing next to Avian and pulling out the map he had of the countryside. "Salty Quartz is a good place to start for more information, since we've been here for a few days," he stated, "however there's little else we can do in this region. We might opt for heading to the south, see if the settlements around that area may know a thing or two." Avian and Artima exchanged looks and Princess Zelda's face clouded with a troubled mind. Annabelle remained clueless, however Ourana filled in the gaps. The region to the south is the Dropless Sea, as the spirit Valoon mentioned. That is where the next spirit to awaken should be, according to its words. Annabelle blinked; she had forgotten about their quest to not only recover the spirit's memories, but to awaken the spirits as well. She looked to Link and nodded. Princess Zelda commanded the attention of the group to her by placing an index finger on the portion left mainly blank. "We are at war with the tribes to the south," she explained, "it will be impossible to gather anything of use there, as far as allies go."

Avian looked to the princess, "What exactly are we gathering an army for at this time, Your Highness? We do not know of our enemy's whereabouts, and it would draw more attention than we need and put you and Arty in danger--mostly you, but still..." He trailed off and the others found wisdom in his statement, Princess Zelda nodding sympathetically. "I understand that, Darkcaster, and I'm thankful that you mentioned it. I am operating blindly as it is and with too few allies that can take up arms in case the sorceress is planning for a full-on siege of Hyrule. She has conquered the Circle's bureaucratic mind, and has successfully brainwashed a massive portion of the Royal Guard into believing that the only way to save the world is to topple the government and build a new system. However, this system is not several minds working together. It will be a singular, tyrannical ruling and it will crumble to dust. However, our adversary is not interested in the concept of ruling and holding onto it. I believe she wishes to wipe the slate clean and start anew in the ashes of the fallen."

"For what purpose?" Annabelle asked, however with Ourana's thoughts she felt she already knew the answer. Princess Zelda looked to the silver-haired girl and sighed gently, "Control, revenge, anything to mark the world and reign supreme in however she sees fit. I do not know the endgame to her plan, but this is the best hypothesis I can come up with, as I have traveled from area to area, town to town, seeing the aftermath of her storm. I do know that she hates Hyrule and what it represents, but that does not explain her persistence with you specifically." All eyes turned on Annabelle, who face their gaze equally and slowly as she brooded over Zelda's words. "It is possible that by devulging her brainwashing technique she hopes to win over all resistance in this land for equal measure, until the point of which you cannot turn to anyone for help, and you will be defenseless."

"I'd have no choice but to give in," Annabelle stated and Ourana followed it up with her privately, She aims to break my spirit, however that will be impossible to do. I am not mortal; I can wait longer if I must, and I can keep running.

In my body? Annabelle inquired, somewhat afraid that Ourana would plan to run anytime soon, and the spirit replied, If I must. There is very little other option, and I've already proven again and again that I can assume direct control at any given time I wish. Annabelle turned her purple eyes back to face the others, who were looking at one another for answers. The girl sighed and shook her head, "It isn't easy, and so far everything has been falling apart wherever I go. As far as I'm concerned, her plan is a crafty and effective one; there are times when I really feel like giving in so everyone else can be safe."

"Annabelle," Artima began, but Avian cut her off. Link's eyes were focused on Annabelle, and Juniper had joined the crowd to stand at her side, concern reflecting in his gaze. "Still, all this death and destruction can't have been for nothing; I have a brother, alone and possibly dead, somewhere out there because I failed to protect him. I owe him sanctity and the biggest apology a sister could ever give the last of her family. Something has to be done so that this villain doesn't have every piece fall into place, that much I can do." She looked to Link, Ourana's words echoing in her mind, and she looked back to the map. "If the Royal Family has been at war with the settlements to the south, then it's best if the princess doesn't tread there. Instead, she should probably remain incognito and go alone, with someone who can protect her." She looked up at Link, "I think you should take her wherever she feels is safest, and hosts the best ears for rallying support." Princess Zelda nodded approvingly, looking to the hunter. Link looked taken aback and surprised, about to voice his objection, however everyone else seemed in favor of Annabelle's wording. "I am the only one that can wield the blade at this point in time, and perhaps I can find a way to undo the spell that you are cursed by," Zelda explained, and the hunter submitted to her words in defeat. Artima nodded, "Yeah, Bee has a point there, Link; you're the best swordsman we've got here, and my sister could use all the protection she can get. He may have to change his look to keep anyone from recognizing him, but I can take care of disguises. I'll be with Annabelle, so don't worry!"

All were in for a shock as Annabelle once again shook her head, "I'm afraid I can't have you with me either, Artima; even though the Royal Family is at war with the south, we need contact there to see if there truly are any allies that will support the Princess' cause. You're part of the Royal Family, but nobody has heard of you yet, so you could mix with the crowds or hide wherever you can and gather intel and then give it to Sheba through the amulet." Annabelle could feel Ourana betray a hint of smugness as the girl's eyebrows went up, "H-How do you know it does that?" Sheba looked equally interested and began to burst into laughter as she and her sister watched from a short distance. "I didn't, but Ourana mentioned it to me before. It didn't seem relevant at the time." She pointed back at the map, "Artima can take Juniper and close the distance there; there's enough landscape between the Dropless Sea and here that Artima wouldn't have to go very far on her own without his support, and I can't help but feel he would draw attention if he uses either form."

Juniper nodded, "I would be foreign enough to likely be seen as something to be hunted, or to be bargained for. I am unfamiliar with the customs as they are today with the people in the Dropless Sea, however the ancient Deku Tree hosts a wisdom that stretched before I was a thought, and from what I know, they are barters and traders and have a one-track mind when it comes to valuables. I would be very much at risk of being attacked or kidnapped and held for ransom for the highest bidders in this form, or hunted for game in my animal guise." Artima voiced her concerns on other forms he could take, to which they both agreed they would solve it later. Annabelle was surprised that they had agreed so quickly, and she thought she could feel a presence pulling deviously at her conscience and guiding her words to convince the others. However, whatever she attempted to focus on vanished and she found herself speaking almost immediately after. "I'm sure that Artima could use her skills and find ways to obtain information without upsetting the natives or alerting them to her presence. Perhaps they've been touched with all that has been happening and may need assistance from outsiders."

"Whatever it is, I'll find out," Artima stated and Princess Zelda nodded, however she looked worriedly at her sister and bit her lip. Link looked at Annabelle, "Where does that leave you?" Annabelle turned around and faced the mountains. "I will be going to the Frost Heights to see if there's anything up there that can truly help me in gathering Ourana's memories. It wouldn't help anyone if I kept wandering around in any other direction, and since we're already here, it's the best option to take." She turned around to face the others, "Once I am finished in the Heights, I may need to descend and see what the facility on the other side will be all about; it's the best chance for finding William and seeing what the sorceress is plotting there."

Princess Zelda narrowed her eyes, "Absolutely not! It is far too dangerous and could be crawling with any sort of dark minion she has put into play, perhaps even new creations that we have yet to discover." Annabelle shook her head, "I didn't suggest infiltrating it, Your Highness; I'm implying that I scout it from a distance to see what it is made up of, and then retreat back here to Salty Quartz. I'll head south to find where Artima and Juniper are and group up with them."

Avian stepped forward as the princess began to sift through Annabelle's plan to look for flaws. He placed his hand on Annabelle's shoulder, forcing her to meet his gaze. "While I'm sure that Ourana has more surprises than she lets on to allow you to do extraordinary things, Bee, it's ill-advised you take on this task alone. You're going to need someone who can navigate terrain and survive the cold in the mountains while remaining virtually unseen. I'll be going with you." Just as I planned, Ourana said, and understanding dawned upon Annabelle: whatever she had been thinking was a subtle hint that Ourana had planted in the back of her mind, assuming a minimal amount of control over the girl's mind to concoct a plan that would have everyone agreeing with it, all for the sake of getting what she wanted. Anger surged through Annabelle, however she couldn't stop herself from nodding her head and speaking her consent. "We're going to have to get some furs from Salty Quartz and more supplies to keep warm," Avian added and the others nodded mutely. Zelda took a few spare moments to herself before nodding, "Very well. We can't afford the enemy to capture Annabelle, so a scouting mission should be everything that you two decide to do. Just make sure you make it back down the mountain safely."

Juniper looked to Annabelle, his thoughts mingling with hers. I could feel her presence pushing against your thoughts; you are reluctant to leave the others, but at the same time, you feel conflicted by staying. Was your fight to protect Link difficult?

Annabelle looked at the earth, feeling a small pang of guilt for her anger with the spirit. In truth, I can't afford to depend on anyone anymore to protect me or to let themselves be a shield for me. I have to know if I have it in me to stand alone, strong and confident, like the rest of you. This could be the opportunity that I need to break away and find where I fit in with this quest. So far it's been mainly about protecting the princesses, securing the peace, and finding Ourana's memories. If we split up and find separate goals, we could settle everyone's problems in the end, and I can't help but feel we're running out of time. I'm getting anxious with every passing hour.

The Kokiri tilted his head to the side. It could be, he suggested, that the spirit is coaxing your emotions into feeling anxious so that you move quicker towards its agenda, however I understand your own reasons for doing this. I'll speak with you again before you go.

I'd appreciate that, Annabelle replied with some relief and faced the group again. The group had agreed with Ourana's plan, unbeknownst that it was the spirit pulling the strings, however that hadn't kept the two twin sorceresses from coming closer and each having a keen eye on Annabelle, uncomfortable grins across their faces when the girl chanced a look. Princess Zelda was deducing minor details that would help each in their quest, and she turned once more to Annabelle. "I do have a suggestion as to your method of transportation, Annabelle; Link and I need to remain hidden, and if he should have Epona with him, anyone that we cross paths with could potentially guess the riders' identities, so we will need to give Epona to you."

A fierce whinny of protest blasted from the mare's nostrils behind them and the group flinched at the clear message behind it. Annabelle looked at Zelda, "While that's understandable, maybe it's best if someone else take Epona." Avian looked at the girl, "But nobody else can use her, Bee; Artima has Juniper and Link will have a different horse." Zelda looked up at the mountains, "It's granted that she is not as sheer-footed as Juniper, however the mountains would be the last place anyone would look for her, and by extension, us. Her saddle and supplies can be traded to our steed while the supplies you need to climb can be given to her. She is strong and fierce, and more than capable of making the journey. It isn't the first time a horse would have crossed the Heights." Juniper and Link both nodded and went to calm the horse while Annabelle conceded with defeat at Zelda's point. Artima frowned, "Juniper would be a better choice, but the fact remains that his deer form doesn't have a coat thick enough to brave the cold up there, not to mention he can't transform into anything that usually lives in that portion of the region." Annabelle nodded, finding wisdom in the pairing of the two sisters and smiled to herself. They may have had a rocky reunion, but one can't deny with a choice that they both support.

"Well, if you're done wasting daylight," Sheba's voice sneered behind them and forced the remaining party to face her. "You kids need to get a move on out of here, if you're going to save anything," Beshka voiced and both witches hobbled towards the road. "We'll be waiting for you in Salty Quartz," they synchronized and disappeared into a cloud of steam as the ice and fire mixed together. When it cleared, not a trace was left. They're even more effective when they're together, Annabelle realized and surveyed the others. Artima and Zelda were talking, Avian was keeping watch on the road, and Link was calming Epona with Juniper's help. She went back to the hut and began to secure their provisions, rolling up blankets and taking the last of the provisions they had left in the hut. Her eyes fell on her bag and she felt a tug at her midsection as she thought of the tome and tablet that both sat huddled together in it. She picked it up and placed it over her shoulder, carrying out supplies and roping them together into manageable bundles with the others as they prepared to move out. Link had gone back to the map and rolled it up, placing it within his tunic. He turned slightly as he heard Annabelle coming and ushered he privately over to the side. "I have to say, this plan of yours is almost unbelieveably-sound," he stated. "It almost doesn't make sense that it actually works," Annabelle admitted. He placed a hand on her shoulder and offered an intent but friendly gaze, "You can't continue to look down on yourself all the time, Annabelle. I'm sure that even without the spirit speaking its thoughts through you, you could still come up with someone that would suit everyone's needs." Annabelle blushed and hung her head with shame, "You knew about that too?"

The hunter forced her to look at him, concern in his eyes. "I couldn't sense or feel it, and I had to take a guess at what was going on. You've been so concerned with pleasing us that you're forsaking yourself to the whims of this spirit, which I sense may prove more than it seems when you've found what you're looking for in the Heights. You have a mind of your own, Annabelle, that much I saw when Ourana reached out to me."

"She did?"

He nodded, "She understood that she can't afford to lose you and broke me free of my mental chains with your help and determination. She may have a quest, but you make up the integrity to do it. Don't sell yourself so short, and don't throw your life away. You've changed a lot over the course of our travels together, and you mean a great deal to everyone here. You have that effect on people, Annabelle, despite what the enemy tells you." Annabelle felt tears coming to her eyes and she blinked them away, breathing smoothly to calm herself. "I know, and I want to do my part and help everyone out. You've all done too much for me already, and I've caused so much trouble that I feel that this is also a way for me to make up for my mistakes and stupid outbursts in the past. I'm so sorry, Link, I really am."

"The past is the past, Annabelle; we're all still here, and we all trust one another. You've been a reason to bring us together and to further discover what limits we can test in ourselves. These challenges are brought to us for a reason, and when this is over, they can be put to good use. Just make sure you keep us in mind while you go off into the Heights, Annabelle; it's the most dangerous road that any of us would have to take, and we're worried for your safety. That's what led me to think that it was Ourana's influence that was causing you to come forward with a plan that would suit everyone's needs, but pull you out of our safety."

The girl shook her head, "But that's just it; I need to find another way to defend myself! Ourana won't extend her power to me anymore unless she's the one in control." Link's expression was blanketed with confusion and held a small trace of alarm, "What happened? Are you hurt?" Annabelle sighed, "No; I had a bit of an emotional outburst when I went looking for you, and I pushed myself beyond my limits to get you back. It almost feels like a sort of spiritual scarring, and Ourana doesn't trust me to make wise decisions without endangering herself too. I feel like she has a point, and she advised I seek your help before I head out on my journey."

"What do you need?" Link took his hand off her shoulder as she explained the necessity of learning to fence. He nodded, "I'll see what I can do to teach you the basics of swordplay, though even I didn't have a teacher for it. It came to me naturally, so I'll teach you what I know. We'll get you a blade of your own for you to work with until you can use your powers again and remain in-control with Ourana. We need you, Annabelle, and we need the spirit's power. We still don't know much about the spirit and it hasn't done anything to give us a reason to trust that it will make the best decision for us." Annabelle nodded in agreement and looked down the road as the group began to form and move out. Link looked at the rest of the party and then back at the girl, taking her wrist as she was distracted and led her behind him. "I'll do whatever I can for you, Annabelle, before I let you go venturing into the unknown without me," he promised, and Annabelle raised her head to look at him. A warmth spread through her as the hunter led her to the group, saddled up, and led the way down the path and back to Salty Quartz.
:Dependency: - 60
The Legend of Zelda .:The Vanished Force:. -- Chapter Sixty

<-- Chapter Sixty-One

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Annabelle could feel a presence, and when she came to, a face came into her view. "Ourana," she said and began to sit up. Ourana had been standing over her counterpart, wearing a cold, soured expression. "You have much to answer for, mortal."

Annabelle blinked, "I'm afraid I don't understand."

The spirit shook her head slightly, "The reckless act of bravery you committed in attempts to save that boy has cost you much, and in your misfortune, that cost could very well pay for any safety measures I can grant you specifically." Annabelle nodded, feeling that Ourana was speaking the truth and wasn't entirely surprised by the fact that the outburst of power that she had demanded for would have side-effects. "What sort of cost, exactly?"

"We can never reach that level of power again; you strained yourself past your breaking point and that left us with little to no defense against the creatures of darkness that the witch countered us with. I cannot trust a feeble-minded simpleton such as yourself to command my gifts for such miniscule desires."

"If I recall," Annabelle countered gently, "you went along with me on that one."

"I sensed the witch was near, and you have become more of a nuisance to me in matters of control; you resisted me in the forest, and had the struggle continued, there was a chance that the witch would have caught us both. Her target wasn't the boy--it was me."

"So you're saying it was an intentional trap?"

The spirit nodded, "Yes; it was simple enough to make, since you are very predictable in regards to the boy, and something she could pull the strings on rather well. The boy is tied to her as well, but not in the same way." Annabelle frowned, "You mean that the witch had something to do with Link's transformation? I thought he was cursed when he was a child."

"And who might have existed at that point in time? This sorceress has vast amounts of knowledge and has an unfathomable length to her life to rival that of two of your companions."

"Sheba and Beshka? What do they have to do with it?"

"Must I explain everything to you?" The spirit folded her arms crossly, "The two witches we have associated ourselves with have a connection to her as well; it is unlikely that there is a single life existing in this land that has not been touched by this woman. There are many things that I sense, and one thing in particular is her power, her taint; the witches do not have a direct tie to her magic, but they understand how it works. This suggests that they, too, have dabbled in this dark ritualistic magic, and this in turn connects directly to your mortal boy and his curse. The signature of the magic cannot be denied; that woman is directly responsible for the foul creature that the boy takes form of." Annabelle felt a wave of sadness and sympathy covet her heart, but the spirit was shaking her head again, "This cannot be said to him; he will either discover it on his own, or not at all. It will be best that he not discover how you understand this knowledge. Should he understand that I can convey this knowledge to you, he will prod and poke more than is deemed necessary, and I will be forced to take action."

"You mean...?" Annabelle questioned the spirit. Ourana's eyes narrowed slightly, "...No, the boy is still useful to me. But if I must, I will forcefully erase his memories; his power to the gods is strong, but that is nothing compared to my capabilities. With each passing memory and meeting with that woman I grow stronger, and so do you. However, there is little you can do now; my powers are sealed off from you and must be replenished if you are to be able to use them again in a wiser fashion."

Annabelle felt a slight jolt in her being; having no magic was like a blow to her core. She sensed Juniper's words echoing from her mind, and the spirit nodded, "You will need to have the mortals teach you how to properly wield a weapon; they each hold a different kind of arsenal, and so it will not be difficult to select one. I strongly suggest that you ask your mortal boy for lessons in fencing."

"Do I have much of a choice?"

"You never have a choice; I allow you to be your own downfall." Annabelle sighed and shook her head, accepting her fate. No magic and no other options, her path seemed clear to her. She stood up to stand directly even with Ourana, "I'll do what I can to keep us both safe until I can master myself again; I don't think I should use your powers again, as much as I've been depending on them for my safety. I don't want the others to keep forcing themselves to protect me, either."

"That is what they are there for; they are a means to an end."

Annabelle frowned and stared angrily at the spirit, "If that's the case, why did you warn Princess Zelda of her death? If she was meant to die, you would have let the Circle take care of her before she had evacuated Artima and herself from the castle."

"Divine intervention is made for many purposes, and in this case, the princess needed to be in the land of Hyrule and close to our next destination."

Annabelle blinked, "The Frost Heights..." The spirit nodded, "In order for the scenario to work, as everything fated will come to pass with the passing of time, the fulcrum of Hyrule's destiny needed to be shifted and moved elsewhere. That being said, the princess must survive long enough for me to regain my memories and assist me in achieving my fullest potential. At that point I will be renewed, and I will be able to cast down the witch that hunts me."

"And what about the others? Where does everyone go after they've made their sacrifices for you? What's so special about you?"

"None of us know that, except the sorceress. Which is why we are going to meet her."

Annabelle gaped, "You've got to be kidding; we've spent all of our time running from her, and now you're saying the only way to get your memories back is by seeing her? We don't know if she'll be telling the truth!"

"She is a vengeful and angered spirit, as I am, and she will not be so keen to hide the truth. She wants revenge for something that occurred in the past, and she will not rest until she is justified. However, the attrocities she has committed goes beyond any justification she wishes to envoke upon herself, and I will be the one to cast her down."

"She'll probably kill us."

"That's a risk we're going to have to take."

Annabelle looked back and forth, conflicted and confused. "I suppose this means that we can't head back to Salty Quartz with the others; the princess can't make the climb in the Frost Heights, and I'm not even sure the others can." The spirit agreed, "Indeed, which is why we will be taking a small assortment of companions with us into the Heights, and leave the others behind. My destiny awaits in the mountains, and it needn't concern them. They would slow me down, and likely become useless over time. They would better serve guiding the princess and prolong the inevitable." Annabelle held her arms and bit her lip, "This is happening so quickly, Ourana..."

"You sense as much as I do that the sooner we reach the Heights, the closer we'll come to discovering the truth...not to mention getting closer to the location of your brother."

Annabelle's head snapped up, "William..."

The spirit nodded, "There is a facility on the other side of the Heights. As to what lays within it, none can say, but it directly ties to the sorceress that is pursuing me, and according to what the guard located in the Royal Square conveyed to us, those that had fallen in the fires will be located there in addition. The answer is clear, Annabelle; we cannot delay and we cannot detour. This is our destination." The spirit watched the mortal girl sigh and cave in with defeat. Splitting up wasn't favorable, but it made the most sense. "...How soon?"

"I will take the lead when we are ready to depart; you need some time with your companions, and I must rejuvenate the powers you recklessly depleted. That will take you with them wherever they go until I so choose otherwise. Until then, I suggest you talk to the woodland spirit Juniper; I suspect he will be accompanying you as well on this journey." Annabelle nodded and looked around herself, then back at the spirit. "You're always so cold and calculating, but you've warmed up since we've met," she said to Ourana. Ourana said nothing, and Annabelle found herself asking a question she had asked again recently before. "Who are you, Ourana?"

"If I knew that," Ourana replied, turning away from the girl, "I wouldn't need you."

And with that, Annabelle was dismissed.


~

Annabelle opened her eyes and felt warmth all around her. She turned her head over and saw Sheba's toothy grin glinting over to her, orange in the firelight. An involuntary chill went down her spine, and she looked elsewhere around the cabin. Link was against the window, sleeping with his head propped against the glass, and Artima was sharing the bench with him, curled up into a ball. Avian was using his usual bow as a support as he slept standing up, and the princess was resting on the opposite side of the bed from Annabelle. Sheba made some noises that drew the girl's attention back to her, and she saw a gnarly finger up against the crackled old lips of the sorceress. "Sssshh," she crooned gently, "we musn't wake them." Annabelle almost thought she could hear a cackle following, but none of the others had registered the sound. The girl forced herself to gingerly sit herself up without upsetting the bed and sat on the edge of it, facing Sheba.

She sighed gently. "I met Ourana again," she said in a low voice.

"You're the only one that seems to, my dear."

"She's upset."

"Keeheehee! Well, my dear," Sheba pointed at her, "you went on quite an adventure with her, and from what I could see, it was a wild ride!"

Annabelle was shocked. "You were watching?" she hissed and Sheba chuckled, "I would have brought candy if I had known it was the drama you two made it out to be!" Annabelle felt her face heat up and she balled her hands on her knees into fists angrily, "Why didn't you do anything?"

Sheba smiled, "Where would the fun have been? We do too many things for you kids as it is, but only because we know that we'll get the pleasure of seeing you go along your journey, lost little lambs, until ol' Sheba and Beshka come to the rescue. And besides," she said in a softer tone, "you needed to develop a deeper connection with your spirit. Whether she acknowledges it or not, she has more use for you than just mechanics alone; you give her humanity."

"I do?" The crone nodded, "Think of it this way; the more society an animal is subjected to, the more tamed it become. Now I'm not saying that the spirit is tameable--" Hardly, Ourana's voice sounded in Annabelle's head, dividing Annabelle's attention. Sheba was still speaking, "--am suggesting that you influence the more relatable qualities in who she used to be."

"And who might that have been? Surely have you have some idea now, after seeing what was happening out there."

"Her tie with our adversary is undeniable; my best guess is that the spirit Ourana was a powerful wielder of magic, enough to rival the enemy. How she came to be in you is a mystery, and the fact that the enemy still lives is enough to prove some theories...but now is not the time to relay that information to you. I know Ourana wishes to know more, and my sister and I may have a few leads as to what her true past was like and the connection it has with the sorceress, but we know it is best that you both discover it for yourselves in the snowy mountains we sit at the base of."

Annabelle nodded, and Sheba added, "Without any form of proof, we'd only give you more questions, and once Ourana regains her memories, there truly would be no more use for you, my dear." The girl felt touched, "This is your way of protecting me?" The witch grinned toothily, "I wouldn't go as far as to say that, my dear, but whether you realize it or not, your companions too also are held on-course by your influence. You are a charming young lady and easy on the eyes for some of the men here, even so far as to charm a Kokiri. A Kokiri! Legends are being uprooted by you, my dear, that were long-buried for centuries. It would be a confusing world if everyone couldn't tie the pieces to you specifically." Sheba nodded to the ground, and Annabelle's eyes sought her pack. "Is the tome still with you? And the tablet?" Annabelle searched her possessions and nodded in confirmation, seeing both of them nestled together like eggs in a nest. "You will need those if the Frost Heights will be a worthwhile journey for you," Sheba said as Annabelle secured the pack again under the bed. She looked up, seeing Sheba's eyes in the firelight; they danced sincerely with red and orange flames, almost as if they were made of glowing embers. She speaks truthfully; these are the keys to my past, Ourana said and Annabelle found surprise in the sudden statement ripping into the silence. Sheba grinned, "I know that spirit wants to talk to me and make me spill the beans, but she doesn't quite trust me as she once did before she lowered her guard and I tore open a hole in the barrier to her memories. In all honesty, I'd think she'd be thanking me. But spirits aren't prone to being entirely honest with how they're influenced by feelings."

"Sheba...the spirit mentioned that you and Beshka rival the sorceress. If you don't mind me asking, what exactly do you share with her?" Sheba sat back and smirked, "I see she catches on quickly; she may just be the shrewdest of the bunch here combined." She fastened her claw-like fingers on her thighs and began to massage them slowly as she contemplated. Her long crooked nose tipped up and she hummed softly. "The practice of magic has long been out of date, even in this age and in years before. All sorceresses have to dabble in the black arts now and again; we can't help ourselves. Beshka and I were researching this magic well into our youth, so it isn't surprising that there's a sort of link connecting us to that sorceress.

"She makes herself too predictable; her vengeance is making her sloppy, but even still, she isn't one to be underestimated. Sorceresses can take on different forms in the workings of illusions, or transport themselves over long distances. If there's magic still in this world, you're seeing some of the most powerful wielders of this age. Your spirit is no small feat, either; it seems that she possesses a rather raw, feral magic. It is most illusive and something neither my sister or I can fully comprehend. If that woman has a score to settle with your friend, then she'll be the best source of revelation you can find." Annabelle nodded, and when she looked up, Sheba was suddenly in her face. She yelped with surprise, but Sheba's hand was over her mouth and muffled the noise to keep it from upsetting the rest of the group. She felt Sheba's other hand on hers and she looked into Sheba's eyes, fixated on them. Annabelle blinked with surprise as she saw genuine concern reflecting for the first time in the prankish-crone's twin orange orbs. "My dear," she uttered gently, "this will be the most fearsome trial you have faced, and if you are to make the journey, you will need to be able to defend yourself. The time has passed for you to allow these poor souls to burden you any longer, and the time will come soon that you must be separated from them. To what end, I am not sure, but secrets lie beyond the Frost Heights, and you, my dear, are the only one that can breach them." She removed her hand from Annabelle's mouth. "She is not to be underestimated, as prepared as you may become," she continued, "and there is no guarantee that you will return to us the same as you once were. I know we will see you again, and if anything is awry, ol' Sheba will know...as will Beshka."

"I feel like I was waking up in that forest just yesterday," Annabelle breathed, and Sheba grinned, "The passage of time is a fickle thing, my dear, and the journey never truly stops where we think it will. You're never too old to feel grown-up, and you've had a lot of doing that without your parents to guide you. You truly are an unfortunate wielder, little one." The girl looked down, feeling her eyes burn with incoming tears, and Sheba snorted empathically, "We can't choose which road we start off on, but as for the direction we take, that is always in our grasp. What the Circle and society taught you, my dear, shouldn't apply now; honor is held in the hearts of the courageous. It is fine if you wish to cry for the fallen, child; there is no shame in that." Annabelle felt the restraints on her tears fall away and thick, heavy and endless waves of tears poured freely from her eyes. Self-consciously she kept her sobbing silent, and Sheba held her hand the entire time. "You're still just a young woman, mixed up in the ending of an era," Sheba said, "and you have duties, but you're still human. So do as the mortals do." As Annabelle found comfort in her crying, Sheba took her hand off of the girl's and hobbled back to her seat, sitting down. Annabelle dried her eyes with her sleeve and sniffled, nodding her appreciation. Sheba smirked, "I've lived too long to watch the foolishness of the Circle become what it is today; the princess will have some work to do in order to fulfill her role. There will be a future, if these old bones can help it."

Annabelle nodded and looked at her pack, feeling the call to Ourana's destiny more strongly than before. She looked back at Sheba, "When are we leaving for Salty Quartz?" The witch smirked crookedly, "Well, my dear, there was only a bit of small talk of heading back there, however I would assume we shall be departing tomorrow morning. Beshka will have stopped playing in the snow by then." Annabelle blinked and looked out the window, seeing a cackling old mass leaping around like a child, kicking up snow and blasting the air with flurries. "Senile old dog," Sheba muttered and wrapped her shawl around her even more tightly, as if to keep warm, and Annabelle grinned at the strange behavior of the sisters. The girl lay back down on the bed and stared at her pack, and then at the fire, soaking in all that had been said to her. It was a lot to process, and she sensed that her path hadn't been laid entirely before her yet. Now is not the time to dwell on that. You need to rest so we can get my strength back, Ourana directed, and Annabelle sighed in response, submitting to the lulling of sleep with the sounds of the crackling fireplace popping in her ears.

Sheba sat back and frowned one more, staring at the girl before looking at the fireplace. "...Oh yes, deary...this will be your greatest trial yet..." She grinned, "Oh what fun this shall be!" The hut was swallowed in silence after a small chain of cackles emitted from the fire-wielding sorceress.
:Plotting A Course: - 59
The Legend of Zelda .:The Vanished Force:. -- Chapter Fifty-Nine

zelda206.deviantart.com/art/De… <-- Chapter Sixty

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Avian stepped out into the chilled, early morning air and took in the sights. The sun was close to peeking over the range of the Frost Heights and a light coating of snow blanketed the ground. The Dusk Kingfisher sneezed and shivered; never before had he known one place to be so cold, and he found a new form of respect for the inhabitants that resided within it. As much as it was tempting to go back inside to the warmth, Avian knew that the time his companions would use would be spent preparing to pack up and head back to Salty Quartz to devise a plan and find any knowledge concerning the facility that was rumored to be located over the Frost Heights.

He smiled, looking at the windows of the small building; Artima was watching him. He waved to her, signaling that he had seen her. She didn't move from her position, but merely gave a small wave in reply. Avian knew that she was remaining vigilant since the night prior; the noises had been unsettling, and Sheba had returned with a rather-exhausted princess on her shoulder. Beshka had used her magic to create a snowstorm that would prevent travelers from coming up the roads, much less keeping anyone else from following the tracks that the team had left in their wake not a day ago, and Sheba had placed the princess to rest and imbued the fires with her magic. With those two, Avian mused, anything seems possible; they're the perfect duo of sorceresses...twice the power, and twice the creepy. Even the Kingfisher revered their powers and seemed to plot more deeply than his other companions. The twins were more than they seemed and knew a lot about the magic that had cursed Link into the form of a beast under the moonlight, and they seemed to be one step ahead of their adversary. The one key to unlocking the twins' secret was knowledge that they didn't possess, and that was Annabelle's connection to Ourana, the strange mystical and powerful spirit that dwelt within her.

Avian turned away from the window and looked back to the forest. He hadn't come outside for the leisurely walk. He had to make his move before his companions would get started packing up; he would need to be there to assist them in planning their moves, and to keep an eye on any lucky trespassers; the sorceresses were good, but imperfect, that much he did know. He withdrew a rolled parchment from within his coat and held it close to him, pulling his hood closer to over his head and covering his nose and mouth with the lower portion and walking into the storm. He entered the treeline, and although many a mortal would be lost within the trees with an unclear mind, his destination was set and his goal pure; he would find the greatest treasure he had longed for as a boy.

His journey was not far, and his steps strong and fueled with a determined heart. His red eyes settled on a small clearing, a healthy light emanating from the sun rising in the east and casting fragments of birthing-gold upon a written stone sitting at the head of it. He advanced towards it in a reverent silence, and began to feel hesitant. He turned his head back, questioning himself, but as his fingers flinched in retort against the cold they clasped tightly on the scroll and the creasing of paper sounded. He looked at it, and then at the stone, and knew his answer was certain; he had to do this. He knelt quietly before the stone and sprawled his upper body onto the grass, his hands folded at the head and holding onto the parchment.

"Mother..." He cleared his throat and said nothing else. Not a single spot of snow was seen in the clearing, and the grove looked as fresh as a new spring. Overwhelming emotions swallowed any words he might have said to the gravestone, and he rose up to sit upon his knees, reading the inscription. He blinked; it looked like it had been tended to recently. Father must have come here not long before he caught me in Kelloch... He placed a hand on the top of the stone and smiled. "This won't help save the world, but...I have something to thank Dad for. It was good to see you, Mother, and I wish I could stay longer, but I have to go help my friends. I'll come back and take care of your resting place...it's beautiful, and it's because of you. Thank you." He rose, leaning on the stone.

The stone shifted and his heart jolted in fear of having upset his mother's resting place, but instead a noise sounded behind him. What? Confused and uncertain he turned around to see a stone structure rise from the bushes surrounding the grove. His mother's gravestone sank into the ground and elevated the stone chest. Avian approached it and brushed the roots and dirt away to look upon it. This chest must have something to do with Mother... He carefully shifted the lid, allowing the trapped air within to gust out after pulling his head away safely. Whatever was inside was preserved well. He pushed the lid off and looked into the chest, gaping in disbelief of the contents:

The armor was top-notch and had been preserved intentionally for a later date; the shoulder guard and the shin and knee guards were made out of rethilium, but the substance was purified. Mother wore this? Wait...no, this is too large for Mother...then again I didn't know what she looked like...but this style isn't Sheikah... He took up the shoulder guard and observed it; it had an impenetrable shielding of rethilium to encase the shoulder with a tough, leather strap to wrap around the body and fasten the guard in place. Placing the guard to the side he looked inside the chest and discovered treasures were still to be discovered.

Next he pulled out a set of gloves with the extensions of solely the pointer and middle fingers; the rest were fingerless. This style...it's specific to archery.. He caught on immediately and felt his spirit tug to something that laid further into the chest, and as he felt for it, he reached in with both hands and lifted out the treasure. It was one of the most beautiful bows he had ever seen; it was etched with designs of the Sheikah with a massive all-seeing Eye of Truth at the sight window and lighter etchings snaking up and down the riser. The bowstring was unstrung, and Avian found it interesting to note that the string was woven out of Gold Skulltula silk, which was a pure-black despite the belying name of "gold" in the owner's name, and was harder to cut through than steel due to the light coating of rethilium. The bow's wood quality was unknown, but as Avian tested the bow, he found himself in awe; it was resilient and would survive many-a-draw, including many blows to the bow itself. What it took to make this...it's... Avian dried his eyes and found himself turning around to look at where his mother's grave lay.

It was clear; his step-father had led him to the gravesite of his mother, who had prepared for her son's arrival and suited him for battle with irreplaceable gifts. But...how? Why? He looked back into the chest, sensing it wasn't over yet. The sense pulling at him was too strong to be his gut instinct, and something he couldn't explain, but before he realized what was going on he found his hand hitting the bottom of the chest, and the last treasure residing at the bottom.

He pulled out an oval object with the Eye of Truth etched upon it and blinked. A medallion? Is this Mother's badge? A signet? Why does she have this here and not in her grave with her? This doesn't make sense... He narrowed his eyes back at the treasure and pocketed it. I'll ask Arty later. He replaced the lid and closed the chest and looked at the gifts his mother had kept for him so preciously. The most curious piece was the medallion, and many questions had risen within his mind, but he conceded his mother had been a Sheikah and that particular tribe had always been mysterious. Everything's made out of smoke...except you, Mother. As he stepped away from the chest it suddenly sank slowly back into the ground, and the gravestone rose back up to reveal the stone etched with the name "Sarutere" across it. He smiled faintly at it and used his cloak as a means to carry the treasures his mother had bestowed to him, even after her passing. I'll put these to good use, Mother. I don't know why or how, but these were just what I needed. I'll come back, I promise. He wrapped up the treasures in his cloak and secured them to his back, keeping his cowl up and his face covered from the chill of the early morning. The atmosphere seemed warmer and he took comfort from finding a hole in his heart being filled. "I love you, Mother," he said gently, and held the medallion in his hand before heading back the way he came, his goal set on returning to his friends.

As he cleared the treeline, the air turned much colder and he shivered. I best get back to my friends. He turned his head to see a figure emerging from the forest behind him, and he recognized the blue-eyed hunter, and the one he carried in his arms. "...I take it everything went well?" Link looked at Avian tiredly and glanced at Avian's new bundle. "...I could ask you the same, but now is not the time for small-talk; she needs medical attention." Avian looked down at Annabelle and nodded, "We can figure all of that later, but for now, let's get inside. I'm freezing!" The trio of heroes moved away from the treeline and back into the snowstorm for a short journey to the hut, where their friends would be waiting as well as their destiny.

What shape their quest would take was yet to be discovered, and Avian sensed he had a singular purpose of his own, the medallion tight within his grip.
:Greatest Treasure: - 58
The Legend of Zelda .:The Vanished Force:. -- Chapter Fifty-Eight

zelda206.deviantart.com/art/Pl… <-- Chapter Fifty-Nine

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MLP Concept Art - Gilded Aegis by Zelda206
MLP Concept Art - Gilded Aegis
Commission: :iconprincessluna2424:

Art: :iconzelda206:

*This art piece was initially intended for the requester within the comment section, however due to discrepencies in the business-arrangement it was regrettably striked and no longer is applicable to the requester. The idea was theirs, the design was brought into bloom by your's truly. It was a good piece to work on, and it has made me even more saddened that the lack of diligence came between the art piece and its idealist. I am hoping that it won't drive a wedge in future business dealings, and I hope that an amount of grace and understanding can be found here, as I have had in the overall completion of this piece. (for those of you wondering)
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Light in the Darkness by Zelda206
Light in the Darkness
The Vanished Force

No matter how far away you are from the surface,

There's always something alive in the depths.
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At long last, Specialis has been laid to rest. The final two chapters, concluding the series at forty-five chapters in total, are being withheld until conclusion-etchings are made for them! I'd like to, again, thank :iconsoniclink137: and :iconevanescentideas: for their support and comments in the chapters; that truly helped me keep going when I felt like I wanted to give up on the story entirely! Your support worked wonders, thanks to the both of you!

There are a few series I put on hold to finish up Specialis, one of them being The Vanished Force. I might continue on with that one and pick it up again, or I might go back to Team Hope. Either way, more chapters of other stories will be coming out! I don't foresee me starting an entirely new series just yet, but if an idea strikes me, then by golly, I'm going to go ahead with it!

Let me know what you all think in the comments below!
  • Mood: Optimism
  • Listening to: X Ambassadors
  • Reading: World War Z
  • Watching: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
  • Playing: World of Warcraft / Dragon Ball Xenoverse
  • Eating: Thin Mints
  • Drinking: Vitamin Water

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Zelda206
Caitlin
Artist | Hobbyist | Traditional Art
United States
Current Residence: A big monster-filled field
Favourite genre of music: Instrumental
Favourite style of art: Manga/Anime
MP3 player of choice: Broken Ipod Shuffle...or Old Fashioned CD Player.
Shell of choice: Blue Spiky...or maybe just Roshi's.
Wallpaper of choice: A Piccoloshi wallpaper! Or the Space-Duck! OR A MUFFIN-BUTTON!!!
Skin of choice: I'd rather keep my own on. How about 'Super Saiyan Awesome'?
Favourite cartoon character: Gohan
Personal Quote: "Fire Against Fire? .....YOU IDIOT!"
Interests

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Comments


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:iconprincessluna2424:
PrincessLuna2424 Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2015  Student Artist
Hey friend! Thank you so much for the picture. How much do I owe you?
Reply
:iconzelda206:
Zelda206 Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm going to redirect you to your email account to see what was posted there.
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:iconprincessluna2424:
PrincessLuna2424 Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2015  Student Artist
Okay.
Reply
:iconsoniclink137:
Soniclink137 Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2015
And here's another PMD fan lyric: fav.me/d8oki33

Once again, if you feel like singing it, just let me know and I'll help you with the timing on it.
Reply
:iconprincessluna2424:
PrincessLuna2424 Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2015  Student Artist
Hello friend! I was wondering, how much do your horse commissions cost?  I forgot. Thank you for your help!!!! ^^
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:iconzelda206:
Zelda206 Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Eh? I honestly don't remember--I think you gave me points last time lol. I don't recall the transaction XD
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:iconprincessluna2424:
PrincessLuna2424 Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2015  Student Artist
^^ It's okay. I just going to ask if you could do another horse picture for me.
Reply
:iconzelda206:
Zelda206 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Go ahead and give me all the details you can muster in a Note format, and I'll send my response as best as I can.

Please keep in mind that it may not be completed as quickly as the Princess White Star commission was due to the fact of a belated request several months ago from a dear friend, and I must get that completed. Still, I will take your recommendations and discuss details with you and log that away for my next priority!
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(1 Reply)
:iconkingghidorah2007:
KingGhidorah2007 Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Here you go,
As usual, my everyday low price for full detail drawing is 20 bucks, please transfer the money through when you get the chance, also refer to...

www.mediafire.com/view/xedf6qt…

It will help us both

kingghidorah2007.deviantart.co…

Here ya go
Reply
:iconzelda206:
Zelda206 Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
All right; just send me the proper email Paypal transaction account I'm sending it to, and we'll call it a day! Glad I could help!
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