Of Fickle Fates and Eternal Vows

by Orcus

Chapter 1: Prologue: Drifting

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Calamity Ganon had been defeated at last. Struck down by Link, the Hero of Hyrule and wielder of the evil-destroying Master Sword, his accursed presence had been wiped away from the world.

The ancient Divine Beasts - four magnificent, magical constructs that this land's four champions piloted - had been cleansed of his foul presence and aided Link in his mission. And there he now stood, victorious and with the brave princess, Zelda, standing beside him. The two Hylians were currently walking away from the foot of the purified Hyrule Castle, watched unwittingly by five, noble spirits.

The apparitions were of the four champions and the deceased king of Hyrule; each killed a century prior in Calamity Ganon's initial strike, yet still possessing enough life within their souls to guide the amnesia-ridden Link in the journey lasting from his recovery, to his confrontation with Ganon. One of them, a princess of the aquatic, fish-like Zora people, was named Mipha. She was a small individual of a shy personality in life, but was as brave and willful as any of them.

Before Link and Zelda could become aware of who was watching over them, she and the others began departing at long last for whatever afterlife awaited them in a haze of greenish energy; their duties fulfilled and peace restored to the world they all adored and vowed to defend. Even as she felt her essence begin to weaken now that her purpose had been completed, the still-young Zora felt a twinge of heavy sadness at this fact, knowing that she had to leave behind so very much. Her father, King Dorephan, and her younger brother, Prince Sidon, mourned her death alongside their people with the utmost sadness. But still, with the memory of her sacrifice clinging to their minds, they all kept hope in their hearts. A glimmer of hope that in the end proved to be of fantastic and instrumental use in what would come to be the Calamity's downfall.

As she vanished into the aetherium, Mipha allowed her very last thoughts to turn from her treasured family to Link. To the Hylian whom she loved more than life itself; enough to keep him safe in his gravest of times with her healing hands, now long behind both of them. He had fought Ganon and emerged the final victor, survived the ordeal, and now had the rest of his life to contemplate. It left a smile on Mipha's face, knowing that he would carry on and help rebuild that which was once thought lost forever in the hard-fought struggle. And it was a grand and happy smile that rolled over her small lips, replacing what little melancholia she had with enough contentment to last an entire lifetime.

Mipha closed her eyes and held her head back. Sighing mirthfully, she could feel herself drifting blissfully away. Drifting away without a worry to plague her mind any longer, like a freed plank of wood floating down the soft current of a river. Drifting... Drifting...

A gentle spring breeze drifted past the motionless form of Mipha, brushing over where she laid and rustling the nearby vegetation with a near-silent rattling of their leaves and branches. She could unconsciously sense its serene presence pass over her sleek, but rough and vividly red skin, and the fins that protruded from her head. Though light and soothing, it was still just enough to disturb the princess from her slumber, and soon the Zora's limbs became the first to animate and groggily shift in their positions; a weary groan escaping her mouth as she breathed in her first genuine lungful of air in over a century.

Mipha inhaled and exhaled several more breaths of air before consciousness fully returned to her and her eyes opened. The first thing she realized upon this sudden moment of awareness was what sight showed down on her from up high. A blue sky, peppered with the occasional white cloud, loomed above her like a vast ocean. Instantly remembering how her last memory was... well, supposed to be her last memory, Mipha's hands clenched into anxious fists. Her fingers wrapping over what she detected was grass in the process, she sat up in a quick motion. She felt very much alive, but that fact failed to coincide with the distinct memory of her attempt to combat the twisted creation of Ganon; the same one that infected the Divine Beast Vah Ruta she piloted when he first returned to the world. In spite of her bravery, honed skill and effort, it overwhelmed her and proved to be her demise.

No... no, she wasn't alive. She had been dead for one-hundred years! But... this wasn't the afterlife. Or was it? Those who lacked life also lacked a pulse, so she pressed a hand to her chest, if only to confirm her wild suspicions. Yes, she could feel her heart beating; quite rapidly right now with this swelling intake of incredulous information, in fact. Deciding to calm herself, so she could stew upon this perplexing revelation with a clearer mind, her breathing gradually slowed, as did her heart rate.

Realizing that she was laying amidst a thick deciduous forest upon a firm inspection of her surroundings, Mipha stood up at a swift pace. Head spinning about, her amber eyes looked around and blinked twice, spotting a wide river with a slow and tranquil current a short distance from where she lay. The forest encompassing both sides of the river was vast and green, with only the silhouettes of birds twittering away in the treetops being the only other life there was to be witnessed.

Where am I? Mipha thought to herself with nothing but worry and utter confusion running through her mind. She tried to think of how it was she was here - wherever here was. Fidgeting as her brain worked, she ran a hand past the blue scarf that rested over one shoulder and wrapped around her waist; the type of cloth that symbolized her role as a champion of Hyrule. Alas, nothing came to her head that could describe what she was experiencing now.

A sudden bout of motion caught her view before she could decide on what action to perform next, and her head turned to it, spotting a creature in the treeline a short distance away. Seemingly undetected by it, the young Zora watched as it went about its business; doing said business with a wicker basket it carried in one of its legs.

It was a small creature walking on four hoof-tipped legs, with a furry, light red hide and a long, curling, dark crimson mane running down from the back of its head and down its neck. As short as it was, it bore an immensely close resemblance to the horses and ponies that roamed Hyrule, but just by looking at its face, it also seemed to have a more... somewhat sentient aspect to it. She, as Mipha assumed based on its outward appearance, appeared to be plucking pale-brown mushrooms from the base of a tree with a hoof without a care in the world, dropping each one she collected into the nearby basket she allowed to lay there. The pony creature soon finished and lifted the filled basket up, preparing to walk away with what it had harvested. However, in the process of turning, the pony witnessed Mipha's crimson shape observing her from the corner of her eye and stopped to stare at what she now saw, nearly causing the unprepared Zora to stop breathing in surprise and fear.

As she silently scolded herself for not hiding somewhere, the being just stared at her with what looked like an equally astonished expression. Her visage, unlike Mipha's, slowly turned from shocked to curious. "Um... hello, there?" the being greeted after nearly a minute of staring in an inquisitive, and clearly feminine voice. Mipha was far too speechless to respond; her expression blank and eyes wide. Sensing that it wouldn't gain a response, the creature went on.

"I don't think I've seen anything like you before. Who're... you, if I might ask?" she asked in what sounded like a polite tone, taking a few steps forward on its hooved feet and getting that much closer to the skittish Zora. Mipha, grabbed in the clutches of cautious trepidation, looked from the equine being to the river for but a split second and then suddenly bolted for it with barely a warning to heed the action, breaking into a sprint. She fled to the bank of the river and dove into the clear water without so much as a splash; her small, red shape disappearing from sight as it swam off, just as the pony dropped her basket of mushrooms and speedily followed to the stream's edge to investigate what she had just witnessed. Reaching the riverside, the pony looked into it, spotting nothing but water.

She stared for a minute longer, hoping to find the being again, but to no avail. It was slightly longer than a minute after that when she gave up and hummed in confusion.

"What in Celestia's mane was that thing?" she asked herself in a small whisper. Seeing nothing left of interest, and betting that the strange creature she witnessed would not return, the pony slowly turned away from the bank and began making her way back to her basket over the short grass. With it back in her grasp after a few seconds' worth of a journey, and casting a final, but fruitless glance for the creature that had long since fled, the pony left the area to resume and eventually finish her duties.

Next Chapter: Formulations and Tribulations Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 55 Minutes
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