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-Here is an account, told by me, of the day when Hyrule ceased to be...

~~*Victory Means Life*~~

A Legend of Zelda fanfic by Lord Augustus

Haunted Wasteland

On the vast, arid desert southwest of Hyrule, a white stallion stood in the sands. Atop the graceful steed was a rider bedecked in shining armor. Though the armor was made of the highest grade of steel, it did not look as if it were. Instead, it was tempered for strength and painted a brilliant blue color, an unusual choice for a knight.

The rider held a shield with the Royal Family's crest emblazoned upon it. This man was obviously a knight of the realm, and of very high rank. Surely this person was a great warrior and commanded respect from everyone he should meet.

Only the knight was not a man, but instead, appeared to be a woman.

Lifting her helmet visor, she stared across the barren wasteland. All the way on the other side of the great desert was the enemy's position. She could see the entire line of troops, standing shoulder to shoulder, weapons in hand, slowly advancing.

There were thousands of them, all dressed in a brilliant orange that blended with the desert sands almost perfectly. The knight, finished with her reconnaissance, grabbed her horse's reins, turned, and galloped off in the opposite direction.

Headquarters of the Royal Army of Hyrule

Riding for only a few minutes, she reached her destination, the camp of the Hylian Army. In the center of the Haunted Wasteland was where the commanding general had chosen to make camp. The terrain was perfect for maneuvering a large army, as there were no hills and only a few large dunes.

Unfortunately, that meant there was little high ground.

Nevertheless, a great number of small tents, aligned in a perfectly regimented way, housed forty-thousand of the King's soldiers. Larger tents, scattered here and there, belonged to Knights of Hyrule, some of whom were visible polishing their battle armor.

Finally stopping her horse in front of a bright, scarlet colored tent, the rider dismounted. This was the general's field headquarters, and at this time he should have been inside. She stepped up to the entrance where two soldiers were standing guard.

Both stepped in front of her, brandishing their spears.

"Lord Von Rachteld must not be disturbed!" said the soldier on the left.

"He is in conference," said the one on the right.

Quietly sighing, the knight shook her head. Reaching up, she took off her helmet, revealing her identity. Her pure white hair was tied back into a small ponytail, and her eyes were a scarlet color. It looked as if her irises were ablaze with anger, but she was completely calm.

She simply stood there, no emotion showing whatsoever.

"Oh my, Mistress Impa!" the soldier on the right exclaimed. "I apologize for the confusion milady, please…go in."

Impa shot them both a vicious look as she was granted access to the tent.

* * * * *

Inside the burlap tent, the Sheikah found there was no floor, only the desert sand. Battlefield maps and troop dispatchments were hung all along the red fabric walls, adding slight variety to the otherwise drab interior.

A few men dressed in unusually thick robes for a climate such as the desert were pouring over maps and history books. Ever so often, one of them made a breakthrough. That man would write it down on a strip of parchment and hand it to the nearest orderly, where it would make its way up the chain of command.

Impa's initial displeasure was gone when she saw the man in the golden armor standing at a huge round table.

This man was Jarek Von Rachteld, the King's most trusted general. He was a powerfully built man and a brilliant tactician, but his physical presence hid his true form. Unfortunately, Von Rachteld was getting older and older and his health had deteriorated as of late. Steel grey replaced the dirt black that had once been the color of his hair, and he felt and looked tired and wrinkled.

Luckily his military mind was still sharp as a tack.

He had conquered much territory for His Majesty and was given land grants to the east of Hyrule City after the Fierce War of years past. When many of his peers had retired to lives in Hylian politics, he remained a loyal soldier of the King.

Sensing her presence, Von Rachteld gestured for Impa to step closer.

Walking around to his side of the table, she shook hands with his subordinates. All of them seemed pleased to meet her, and the general quickly finished the meeting.

"Greetings, my lady," he said, his voice deep. He did not kiss her hand as was customary, since Impa was under his command now.

"My lord," Impa replied curtly.

"Your final report?"

"'Tis as conformed my lord, two divisions of the enemy await us."

Von Rachteld placed two red, square wooden markers on a map he had unraveled earlier.

"This is where the Gerudo are," he announced. "We will sweep down from the north. Our forces will divide, smash their flank, and annihilate them. It is that simple…"

Impa frowned a bit, and spoke up, taking an immediate dislike to the simplicity of his statements.

"Is it really my lord?" she asked. "Ganondorf is a big man. He should not be underestimated."

A Hyrule Knight with a bright red plume atop his helmet glared at Impa.

"Ganondorf is a fool. He dared to attack our city and now he will pay the price!" he said, clenching his fist. "His army is made up of nothing but sickly, human females. If they move against us, they will die."

"You realize he has twenty thousand of these sickly humans, don't you?" Impa countered. "He's planning something, I'm serious."

"Be serious all you want," said the Knight. "All this means is that just about every Gerudo in the entire world is out there, and we have a excellent chance of destroying their foul race once and for all!"

Lord Von Rachteld saw how this could quickly degenerate into a pointless argument. He knew his officers well and put a stop to it then and there.

"Lady Impa, Sir Thoronsil is right," said Von Rachteld. "Gerudo women are weak. They're not like Hylian girls. They can be cunning warriors, yes, but they are still very fragile."

"But my lord…" Impa started to say before being cut off.

The general had raised a hand to silence her. Impa was wrong in his opinion, and he was right. Ever since Ganondorf had attacked the City of Hyrule he had been very tense. The Gerudo ruler had somehow found the audacity to try to kidnap the King of Hyrule's daughter. That incident had since flared up into open warfare. There were reports of Gerudo attacks and raids on all of Hyrule's territorial possessions, and the King had decided it was time to strike at the enemy's heart.

Sir Thoronsil continued to make his point.

"As a Sheikah you know how strong we can all be. Princess Zelda is what, four foot seven? She could lift ten of them with her bare hands!" exclaimed the Knight. "Every last one of them will die!"

"Both of you be quiet," the general said calmly.

Impa and the Knight crossed their arms and turned their backs on each other. This was starting to become counterproductive. The general would have to separate them in different divisions, lest their rivalry cause needless casualties. He needed to separate them now too.

"This meeting has ended. All of you go," he said, pointing to the exit.

Von Rachteld paused for a second, then added, "Impa, you stay…"

* * * * *

As the other commanders left, the general seated himself in his favorite armchair. He had brought it up from his home, and it was made from very plush felt. Impa seated herself on the table right across from him.

"Why are you skeptical?" asked Von Rachteld.

Impa had to think hard before replying.

"Sir, we…we can't afford to underestimate that man," she said. "He has something up his sleeve, I can feel it. We should at least be cautious…"

Von Rachteld rubbed his chin and furrowed his brow. He truly felt that she was mistaken.

"You said there were two divisions. Twenty thousand soldiers, correct?" he inquired.

"Yes, my lord," Impa answered.

"Then what are you worried about?!" Von Rachteld exclaimed. "We have two-to-one numerical superiority over them. Every last Knight of Hyrule in the kingdom is scheduled to take place in this, our most glorious victory. What does the enemy have, I ask you? They have women, on horseback, with bows and arrows for heavy cavalry. We have over a thousand armored horses."

He paused again to let his words sink in.

"And we will annihilate them…"

Still, Impa had a look of disbelief on her face. The Gerudo had time and time again betrayed the Hylians. All effort towards peace had been shot down because of their fanatical leader's lust for power. Ganondorf was a deceitful, hate-filled man who would stop at nothing to gain control of the kingdom.

The upcoming battle would be hard fought, and the general needed Impa's help.

"I value your opinions Impa," he said softly. "But this is something we have to do, His Majesty demands it."

"Yes, I understand…" Impa replied.

Suddenly, Von Rachteld's age started to show. He struggled to stand, and Impa could hear his bones creaking from where she was sitting. Quickly, she stood and helped him up. Shrugging her off, he slowly walked over to a plain wooden chest on the other side of the tent.

Opening the chest, Von Rachteld pulled out a longsword. This sword had obviously been in battle more than once. It still had a shiny golden handle, but the blade's edges were rather dull.

"I've seen four kings come and go in my time, did you know that?" Von Rachteld asked.

Impa shook her head no.

"I used this sword all the time when I was younger," said the general, looking fondly at the blade in his hands. "We forged an empire for His Majesty. Its borders are being tested now day after day because of that man's foul treachery. The Gerudo raid our shipping and murder our citizens! And yet they expect us to play down to them!? It ends today…"

Von Rachteld sighed deeply. He went back over to his chair and collapsed into it. Taking the blade, he stuck it into the soft ground as if he would be leaving it there for eternity.

"I'm an old man my dear. I can't fight like I used to."

Again, Impa shook her head.

"No, my lord! Don't say that! You're th…" she started.

The general silenced her. He could feel the years bearing down on him. Impa didn't want to believe it, but there were fewer years ahead for him then there were behind.

"I am old!" he exclaimed, suddenly feeling sick. Coughing a few times, he felt his strength leaving him. The general's voice became much softer, and was now rather light and scratchy.

"Will you fight, Impa?" Von Rachteld asked.

"Yes, my lord, of course I will. The Princess is safe, and I'm at your disposal."

Von Rachteld cleared his throat, then continued.

"Perhaps you and I will meet on the battlefield today. I will fight, and I will likely not live to see tomorrow," he said weakly. "You shall lead the first charge Impa. The men love the Princess, and you represent her. They will listen to you, and they'll follow you. Make me proud…"

Before Impa could object, Lord Von Rachteld waved his hand through the air. She had been dismissed from his presence, and that meant the debate was over. Now, she had no choice but to lead the army into the fray, and left to prepare herself for combat.

Exiting the tent, the general prayed to the goddesses for her safety.

On the battlefield: one hour later

The sands were very soft on that day. The sun blazed overhead, sometimes making the soldiers hallucinate. All the men stood there, side by side, row upon row, waiting to meet their fate.

Forty thousand Hylians simply stood, waiting for the signal to attack.

Very few of these men wanted to be in this wretched place, a barren wasteland devoid of life and yet filled with the lost souls of foolish travelers. The desert ensnared all who entered it, but today, it seemed, its wrath was subdued. The raging sandstorms that frequently swept over the landscape were nowhere to be seen, leaving nothing but skies of blue and the scorching heat of the bright, midday sun.

The upcoming battle would decide many things, most importantly, the fate of the Kingdom of Hyrule.

From behind the lines, Lord Von Rachteld rode up to the front. He dismounted, slapped his horse to make it run, and took his place on the field. The general clenched his sword tightly in his hand, and waited silently with his men.

* * * * *

On the other side of the field, hidden from sight by a large sand dune, the cavalry stood ready. Impa, atop her now armored white steed, patiently waited for the signal to attack.

Von Rachteld had placed her in command of the XXII Lancer's Brigade, the most decorated cavalry unit in all of Hylian military history. The men behind her were veterans of many wars and border disputes, career soldiers so to say. Along with them were many of the Knights of Hyrule, men of noble birth and lineage who had sworn to protect the King's realm.

Impa didn't know if she, one who was not even of their race, would be able to lead them into harm's way.

Her stomach was in knots, and she felt ill. This was something she had never done before, herself only being involved in light skirmishes during the Fierce War, and she didn't know if her courage would hold in the chaos that was to follow.

The time was drawing very near, so she grabbed her shield and slowly unsheathed her sword. Like a three foot long razor blade, it was only sharpened at one end, designed for slashing and cutting, and was light and well balanced, as were all Sheikah weapons. This one had been in her family for many generations, yet had never seen service in war.

It would soon recive its first coat of blood.

Riding to the front of the cavalry line, Impa, swallowed the lump in her throat and recited a short prayer.

"Oh, Goddess Farore, grant unto me the courage to accept the things I cannot change. My Goddess Din, giveth me the power to change the things I can. Dear Goddess Nayru, allow me the wisdom to know the difference…"

Suddenly, the right words came to her in a flash of light.

"Boys!" Impa yelled. "No…no, not boys, men!"

All those under her command instantly turned their heads to listen.

"Right now, as of this moment, I am dead…"

One of the soldiers interrupted her.

"No, my lady!" he yelled back. "Never!"

Impa raised her hand to silence the men who were now distressed at her words. They did not yet understand.

"It is said that the Goddesses alone give life, and they take it away," she continued. "Well I say that is untrue! Our lives belong to us, not to some Gerudo warlord, and by Din's Fire we will take them back!"

Something unexpected happened then. The soldiers began to cheer wildly, filled with the spirit of her words. Men beat their swords against their shields, a traditional show of respect, whilst others simply yelled randomly.

But Impa wasn't finished. Something still weighed heavily on her mind.

"Men, I am Sheikah," she stated. "I am not one of you, but just for today, may I have the honor of leading you, of fighting with you?"

"Yes! You stand with us here now milady, that is what matters," one of the men yelled out.

Impa pulled on her horse's reins, and it spun in a circle. She gestured with her sword to the enemy on the other side of the dune.

"Good! Because as of this moment, we are all dead! We go into battle today to reclaim our lives. We do this proudly because we are all Hylian!"

Stopping her horse, Impa felt the hot sun on her back. The heat implored her to turn around. As she did, a red flag appeared over the top of the dune.

The sign had been given, they had to go now.

* * * * *

Over the sands and across the desert the heavy cavalry charged the Gerudo lines. The sand just over the crest was not loose, but was hard and gritty. This was solid ground, and it shook under the weight of the armor that thundered over it. As they got closer and closer, Impa could see how many there were.

Hundreds of the brilliantly colored warriors stood, brandishing curved, deadly scimitars.

The Gerudo might have heard the pounding of hoofbeats, but they wouldn't see them until the last second.

At the front of the charge, over the deafening roar of battle, Impa gave one final order.

With all the air in her lungs, she screamed, "Gentlemen remember, victory means life!"

The Fog of War

Just as the infantry went in, a thousand armored horses slammed into the side of the enemy lines. Swords and lances impaled dozens of enemy Gerudo. Vengeance was taken to the highest degree as each Hylian soldier held a personal hatred for the Gerudo.

The sands turned to a bloody mush as the King's soldiers struck down scores upon scores of Gerudo warriors. The girls they were fighting were nimble and quick, but were absolutely no match for the hardened steel plate armor that the Hylians wore. Three Knights of Hyrule galloped full speed through the enemy lines, lances held firm, sending bodies flying everywhere.

None of the Hylian soldiers seemed to have any qualms about killing these women. They had dared to challenge the King's authority and now they were paying the dreadful price.

In the thick of battle, something struck Impa, and she was ejected from her horse. She hit the ground rather hard, but was not injured in the slightest. Standing, she found that her horse had gone missing, lost in the chaotic sea of fighting men and women. Impa was now grounded, so she made the best of it.

Screaming loudly, she hurled herself at the nearest Gerudo, and instantly killed her with a sharp blow to the face.

Almost instantly, four of the Gerudo Elite surrounded her. Dressed in white robes and wielding the best scimitars, they attacked the Sheikah. But however fast the Gerudo were, Impa was twice as good. Her sword was a deathly length of steel that could slice through the hardest armor as if it were warm bread.

And of course, Impa was a master swordsman.

The first Gerudo jumped at her foolishly, her arms raised high to deliver a powerful blow. Impa's sword was in her gut before she even knew it, and the desert woman fell dead on the spot.

Mere seconds later, two more rushed at her. They both attacked at the same time, so Impa bashed the one on her right swiftly with her shield and ducked out of the way. The Sheikah watched in amusement as the Gerudo who had been on her left, unable to stop the motion of her heavy scimitar, impaled her comrade through the heart.

Shocked and dismayed by this, the final Gerudo soldier could do little more than stand there and watch her friend hit the ground and observe her blood be absorbed into the sandy soil. The death of her best friend at her own hands was too much for this young woman to bear, and she bent down in tears to cradle her fallen comrade until death came to her as well.

Filled with rage, Impa struck down the last of the four with ease. By the time she was done, the Shiekah had left her enemy in five or six pieces.

Finished with the Elites, Impa eliminated twenty more Gerudo. She sliced off heads and severed limbs. Again and again, Impa brought her bloody sword crashing down upon her enemies. Those she could not kill, she swiftly knocked to the ground with her shield. The Gerudo had never seen another person fight with such fury, such power. Suddenly very frightened of the warrior in blue, they began to turn and flee.

The cavalry had already destroyed this flank, and some of the orange fighters were retreating.

The Hylian infantry had ripped through the enemy life a knife through butter. Corpses were now almost knee high in every direction, and the remaining Gerudo folded immediately and started running for their lives. Arrows flew from somewhere behind the Gerudo lines, but they plinked harmlessly against the steel armor of the Hylians.

Very few were injured and none severely.

Now there was nothing that could stop His Majesty's wrath from coming full circle.

Somewhere in the course of the raging battle, Impa found her horse. It had miraculously not been slain, and stood out like a white beacon. The Sheikah mounted and rode off, wiping out as many Gerudo as she could. The enemies were beginning to lose their nerve, but most of them still remained to fight on.

To her great dismay, she witnessed Lord Von Rachteld's demise. He had shown himself as a sliver of gold, awash in a sea of gray metal and bright desert colors. Dying with twelve spears in his body, he had fought valiantly, and had died bravely. A true warrior, he would be remembered, as all heroes are.

In the midst of mortal combat, Impa noticed someone, a wide shouldered man, wearing dark colored armor, riding on a black stallion. She knew who he was, and he disgusted her. This man was Ganondorf, and even now with his army being destroyed in front of his face, he was smiling.

The embodiment of all things evil, he needed to die.

Impa would personally wipe him off the face of the planet.

She charged at him.

She got very close.

First, two hundred yards, then a hundred, then fifty...

Impa got within ten yards of the King of Thieves. Filled with anger, she raised her sword to strike a blow. Ganondorf, finally noticing her, raised his fell hand.

He simply pointed it at her, palm out.

A lightning bolt of pure dark energy came from within him, lashed out, and struck Impa's white horse.

She and her steed were lifted off the ground, then blown back almost to where they had started.

Impa hit the ground with a dull thud. Quite severely injured, she was pinned to the ground, her white stallion lying on top of her. The poor thing was crippled, and was kicking its front legs wildly, while its back legs were limp and unmoving.

Using all her strength, Impa managed to pull herself out from underneath the horse. The only thing that had saved her life was the blue armor, which was now dented and jamming into her side. Collapsing onto the desert ground, she crawled away from her steed. Impa winced at the pain it brought when she tried to touch the left side of her body. She was in extreme pain and began to feel rather light-headed.

All around her, the supposedly fearless Gerudo warriors fled to their master. They did not stop when they had reached his position, and instead just kept running.

None of them slowed down, halted, or even acknowledged Impa.

Sitting up on the hard, cracked ground, she looked again at Ganondorf.

He was still smiling.

* * * * *

Ganondorf, Gerudo King of Thieves, brought both of his hands into the air. He waved them once, and something truly amazing happened.

All the Gerudo warriors, alive and dead, vanished into smoke, then returned to the nothingness from whence they came.

The army had never existed. None of them had truly been real, not even the one who had grieved for the death of her friend.

The Gerudo king pointed to the Hylian Army, which was simply befuddled as to what had just occurred. The men were confused, and began to search aimlessly for the enemy and their fallen comrades.

Then, something incredible happened.

The earth shook violently, and split open in almost million different places.

From the gaping holes in the ground, creatures arose. Thoroughly disgusting beasts of all shapes and sizes rose from the ground, all were menacing and had thick, heavy weapons. Skeletal beings, taller than a man, and twice as powerful, appeared. Giant lizard things with razor sharp claws materialized from out of nowhere. Goblins, wolves, and demons revealed themselves after hundreds of years of dark slumber.

Thousands upon thousands of these savage things reared their ugly heads. The sun glinted off the steel of their swords and shields, and for a moment, blinded the Hylians.

Quickly, they formed a large army of evil.

Then, they attacked the Royal Army.

* * * * *

Impa, wounded and now bleeding, managed to stand. A wall of dark flesh was charging toward her. She found her sword quite a distance away, stood her ground, and prepared to face her destiny.

Before the creatures could do her in though, she passed out amid the screams and shouts of the dying, having already lost too much blood.

Within the next few minutes, thirty seven thousand Hylians would perish, and the first and last great battle of the Imprisoning War came to an end.

Days and days later…

Impa woke up to something she had not expected, the sound of birds singing. Over her head, several sparrows flew. The little birds landed on the branch of a tree some distance from where she was lying. Impa smiled to herself as they took to the wing and disappeared into the deeper part of the forest.

Suddenly, a wonderful fragrance wafted through her nostrils. It smelled like daisies, tulips and roses. Impa could even smell some lilac, and the grass and wildflowers made everything serene. She felt weak and tried to move but couldn't. Surrounded on all sides by trees, Impa found that she was lying in the middle of a small meadow.

Quite truthfully she believed that this was the afterlife.

When a stabbing pain in her side reminded her of how alive she truly was, she quickly found the energy to move around. Sitting up, she noticed the white bandages around her stomach. Her splendid blue armor was gone, and Impa was quite confused.

"Ahh…" Impa groaned. "Where am I?"

From out of the blackness of the woods, a small figure approached her.

"The forest," said the figure.

Impa recognized the voice, and suddenly felt her strength return.

"Zelda!" she exclaimed.

The Crown Princess of Hyrule stepped into view. The young girl wore a pink headdress, and a few strands of her light blonde hair were sticking out from beneath it. Her normally dazzling royal gown was now dirty and slightly torn.

With her, Zelda had a jug of water. Giving some to Impa, she sat down beside her caretaker.

"You got hurt real bad. It was hard to get you here," she softly said. "We're in Kokiri Forest."

Impa was overjoyed to see the Princess, and gave her a big hug. As soon as she was better, they would return to the castle and report to the king. However, things needed to be answered first.

"Ugh…what happened to me?" Impa asked.

"Your horse fell on you," the Princess answered.

"I know that. What news of the army?"

"Most of them are dead. That man has the Power of Gold."

"I know, Zelda…I know."

The Princess stared at the ground for a moment, then stood and walked away. Impa turned to see where she was going and saw at least twenty other people lying on the ground around her. They were soldiers, indeed the very ones who must have brought her here.

Had Zelda cared for them all? How many people were left to defend the princess? Was this truly all that was left of the once magnificent Hylian Army?

These questions and many more passed through Impa's mind. It did not matter though, as the Princess was safe here for the time being.

All of a sudden, Impa felt fatigued again. She knew now in her heart that everything was lost. Surely Ganondorf, with the Triforce in his hand, would conquer the entire world. On her back, looking up at the sky through the trees, Impa saw black storm clouds billowing over the land.

The army destroyed, the King surely dead now, Hyrule was descending into darkness.

And there was nothing she could do about it.

"At least there's the boy," she thought aloud. "Yes, that boy is our last hope...."


Legal disclaimer: I do not own The Legend of Zelda. If I did, I'd be rich, but I'm not, so that sucks.

Author's note: This was my first Zelda fic. I used the Jem'Hadar Battle Proclamation from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Impa's inspirational speech and a serenity prayer. I just thought they fit well. I changed the words to make it apply.

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