Metal shells fall around our caravan like an unforgiving hail. Years of Sheika training kicks in.
With lithe, swift movements I leap from the wooden bench on the front of my wagon and onto the taut canvas top. Screams reach my ears from the wagons behind us.
“Zelda!” Impa calls after me, from her seat, but I continue running across the cart.
Although we’re in the middle of a metal rain, our caravan continues on it’s way. Normally, I’d be scared.
No matter how many times I’ve run across that tightrope in the Sheika Circus, this is different. But, there’s no time to be scared now.
My legs carry me from wagon to wagon, jumping with all the force I have to clear the spans between. When I reach the final cart, I see where the screams are coming from. A child.
On the ground, fifty feet behind the caravan, lies Cladi.
Without thinking, I jump from the wagon and land unevenly on the ground, tripping and slamming my shoulder into the dirt.
The wagons speed off behind me, but I still climb to my feet and dash for the Cladi. When I make it to his crouched position.
I find him surrounded by a destroyed wagon and the unmoving body of his mother, Selin. A destroyed shell lies next to where I’m crouched and it proves my suspicions.
It’s made of the exact metal and skill that Prince Link uses to create his clockwork experiments. But, imprinted on the side is three triangles, forming a larger triangle.
“Come on, Cladi.” I say as I try to lift him, but I fail. My body, though strong from constant training, is built like a Sheika’s.
I can run fast and long, balance myself and flip into position, but I’m nowhere near strong enough to lift Cladi. “You need to stand up, Cladi.”
“My mom!” He presses his hands to her arm, hoping that she will move. But, I can see that it’s for nothing.
“We need to go.” I shout over the crashing of metal on rock.
Cladi looks up to me with red rimmed eyes. I lean in close and press a hand to the side of his face.
“I’m sorry, but you don’t want us to be like her, do you?”
He looks over at his mother for a long moment, then back up to me. He shakes his head.
“Good.” I grab his hand and stand. “Let’s go.”
He stands with me and we turn back to where our caravan was on the road.
But, we find just an empty dirt road and a barrage of metal shells falling around us. I stand dumbfounded for a long time, before nearby shell knocks us off our feet.
Cladi’s small hands claw at my arms to keep upright, but all he accomplishes is gouging three red lines into my arm.
I push onto my feet and try to pull him with me. With effort, we make it to the side of the road and by an outcropping of stone.
Metal slams into the ground only ten feet from us and I shove Cladi into a crevice. He slips in easily and I follow.
Only slivers of light find their way into the small cavern from the outside, but I can make out the quivering form of Cladi in front of me.
I wrap my arms around him, and we sit without speaking, listening to the shells rain around the stone we hide under.
Whenever, a round slams into the stone roof, we jump, afraid that this cavern will fall on us.
After what seems like hours, a particular shell hits our cave directly and simultaneously dislodges the back wall, and buries us.
The shadow of Cladi looks up at me with no light to make out his features, but I have no answer for him.
Fear grips a hold of me and petrifies me. Cladi shakes me to follow him, but being in this small space, being bombarded by metal, separated from our family, in the dark, has paralyzed me.
“Zelda, please, move.” His little voice pleads with me.
After shaking me some more, to no avail, Cladi just rest his head against my shoulder.
A particular bout of shells fall and he clenches onto me tightly.
“Zelda, I’m scared.” His words are almost so quiet that I can’t hear him.
Instantly, I stand up as tall as I can in this rock coffin. Rocks crumble and sprinkle around us, but Cladi and push forward through the rock opening.
We climb deeper and deeper into the tunnel until the sounds of metal and rock are just muffled booms.
The darkness engulfs us and I can feel the paralyzation setting in again, but the feeling of Cladi’s small hand in mine, keeps me moving. I whisper under my breath that I’m okay, over and over.
A gasp comes from Cladi, behind me. I turn quickly to see the surprised look on his face. But… I shouldn’t be able to see.
Light comes from a small flame the sits in the palm of my hand. It’s warm, but not so hot as to burn. Cladi stares in silence, and I can’t help but mimic his astonishment.
He reaches forward with a finger to poke the flame, but pulls it back quickly, with a gasp. The finger is immediately placed in his mouth, where he tries to suck away the pain.
“Are you okay?” I touch his shoulder, with my free hand. He nods, still staring at the fire.
“How are you doing that?” He says around the finger in his mouth.
I study the flame before answering. I focus on it, trying to make it bigger, to no avail.
“I have no idea.”
He nods and we return to our astounded silence.
After a long moment, I grab his hand and continue our trek through the tunnel.
The flame sits in my palm, lighting my way, like a lantern. It only flickers every now and then, but every time, my heart races in response.
After walking for what has to be an hour, the fire feels like a straining muscle. I can’t pinpoint where it causes soreness, or how to flex and relax it, but it’s starting to feel uncomfortable.
By the time, that the flame flickers out permanently, a dull light comes from down the tunnel, at what I imagine is the end.
“Zelda.” Cladi exciting jumps and points at the light.
I nod and pull him in the direction.
It can’t be outside, but it has to be better than our situation right now. But, when we reach the end of the tunnel, I find myself questioning which direction we should’ve been running.
Cladi rushes beside me to see our destination, but he to is stunned into silence.
The light is being emitted from a one-hundred foot, black, crystalline lantern, situated in the center of huge cavern filled with squat, stone buildings.
And, walking back and forth between all of the low black buildings are hundreds of people, with what look like Sheika clothing.