The Rotting Earth

By Charlie Lemmink


"King Harkinian! A messenger from Calatia has arrived at our palace gates. Will you hear his plea?"

"Of course, of course. Bring him in."

The guard flees the room, and a few moments later, opens the throne room doors, entering with a tired looking man wearing tattered, worn - out clothes. King Harkinian nods at the man, in approval to speak.

"Oh, great King Harkinian, I am a representative from the city of Calatia. We need your help."

"Oh? What do you need?"

"Our land, it is rotten."

"What? I was there just one moon ago. That cannot be!"

"Yes, it is true. One day, our land was fine. We were farming fine, our animals had plenty of grass to eat, and the next day we woke up, most everything was dead."

"Do you have any idea how this could have happened?" King Harkinian questioned, with a very confused look on his face.

"We think it may be that an evil has risen to the north of our village. Old tales have said of many caverns in the entire region of Calatia, but no one, to my knowledge, has found anything."

"It seems that those ancient tales may hold a bit of truth in them. That is all I can think of from what I have heard. It is possible that an evil wizard has discovered them, and is using his powers to destroy the land, but why? Why would anyone want to? Your city has always been known as very peaceful. I don't understand why anyone would want to do anything to your village."

"Lately we have had strange people in our inns. People I have never seen before, that I have never known. That I would never want to know. These people had an evil air to them. I could sense it. They stayed at one of our inns for just one night, then traveled to the north. Other than those mountains, there really isn't much to the north of Calatia..." The messenger trailed off.

"I will have Link called forth immediately. Gantlin!"

Another of the King's guards opens the throne room doors, quickly walks up to the king, and kneels. "Yes, my lord?"

"Gantlin, I would like you to set forth to retrieve Link at once."

"Yes, your magnificence."

Shortly after Gantlin leaves, another servant to the King comes into the room and offers to take the messenger's cloak. After that, the servant makes the Calatian messenger more comfortable in another room.

Before long, Gantlin returns to the throne room with Link at his side. They both bow on one knee at the sight of the King. The Calatian messenger is brought back into the room, and Link is informed of the predicament.

"I'll help," Link quickly stated after the re-telling of the problem, "But I need a day or so to get ready."

"Yes, anything you desire, most noble Link."

"There is no need to glorify me with titles of nobility, just call me Link. That is all that I ask."

"Yes, Link." The messenger then directs his conversation to the King. "Oh great King Harkinian, I believe that I must ask your permission for the use of such a great warrior. Does Link have permission to help us?"

"Link is a Hylian knight, a knight of all of Hyrule. He is not just a knight of Hyrule City. This is just where he dwells, where he calls his home. The only permission you need is from Link, and you already have that. I will provide you with a place to rest inside the palace gates until Link is ready."

"Thank you, sire. You are too kind," He again turns to Link. "Link, I shall await your arrival wherever I am placed in this great palace. Until then!"

Link walks out of the throne room, on his way home, and the Calatian messenger is directed to a place of rest.

The next morning, Link awoke as the sun drifted in on his young and rested face. He sat up in bed, yawned, and exited his little cottage. He traveled north for a few minutes, until he reached the ocean. After dipping his toe in the water to find the temperature, he stripped his clothes and ran in. He bathed for ten minutes or so, and ran out. He returned the brownish - green tunic to its normal spot on his body, and returned home. He grabbed his sword and shield, and his trusty brown hat. He again returned to the ocean, and searched in a nearby cave. There he found his good old rowboat. He dragged it out to the lake, and hopped in.

Link traveled northwest for a few hours, and finally came to the shores of Northern Hyrule, the capitol city of Corneria. Immediately, he traveled to the great palace of this land, where his best friend Erdrick lived. He walked up to the front door, and gave it three big knocks. After a short while, Erdrick's older sister, Princess Liza, came to the door.

At first glance, Liza broke in, "Link! What a pleasant surprise! Come right on in!"

"Thanks, Liz. How are you?"

Liza answered, "Oh, I'm fine. And you?"

"Fine here. Is Erdrick home?"

"Not at the moment. He's out hunting."

With a slightly annoyed look on his face, Link responded, "To the northeast, or northwest?"

"He said he was going to his `special area'. If you know where that is, you can find him there. If not, you can just wait here until he gets back."

"Yeah, I know where that is. Do you have an extra bow and a quiver of arrows I can take with me? If I'm going up there, I might as well help him out with the hunting."

Excitedly, Liza responded, "Yup! I'll go get you one." She ran out of the room, and came back about thirty seconds later with a beautiful bow, and a quiver with what looked to be twenty arrows.

"Thanks, Liza. Well, I'll see you later."

"See you, Link!"

Link opened the door, walked outside, and began traveling north. After an hour long walk, he went west for a half hour or so, and an arrow whizzed right over his head. Luckily he heard it coming and ducked. He hid behind a tree, and without being seen, climbed up. After a moment of surveying the situation, he saw Erdrick, with his bow pointed in his direction. Link jumped out of the tree.

"Hey! Erdrick!"


"Yeah! It's me!"

Erdrick loosened his bow, and slowly walked over to Link. "Sorry, Link. I didn't realize it was you. I could have killed you. I'm really sorry."

"Oh, Erdrick, forget it. You didn't hit me, and that's all that matters. My brownish - green tunic does look a little like a deer... Sort of... Well, anyway... Erdrick, have you had any luck today?"

"Nope. Not a single thing. Not even a rabbit. I saw you there, and I really thought that you were a deer. You would have fed me for a week or two." They laugh. "Anyway, Link, what are you doing here? An adventure? I've been feeling kind of bored this past week, not much to hunt, and just nothing to do. So I certainly hope so."

"Man, Erdrick... You can read my mind! That's exactly why I'm here!" Link continues to tell Erdrick all the details of the upcoming adventure to the south. Of course, Erdrick decides to venture with Link.

The duo hunts for a few hours, and when they realize that they won't be finding anything, travel back to Erdrick's home.

They stay the night at Erdrick's place, and the next morning travel back to Southern Hyrule in Link's old boat.

They arrived at the shores, and returned the boat to it's hidden spot in the cave. Then they walked to the Palace of Southern Hyrule. The guards at the gate instantly knew who Link was, he didn't even have to say anything, and they opened the gate. Erdrick and Link walked up to the palace door, and Link gave it a big knock with the hilt of his sword. After a minute or so, a servant of the king opened the door.

"Welcome Link! Welcome Erdrick! The King awaits you two. Follow me!"

Without another word, the servant took off with Erdrick and Link close behind. After walking almost all the way to the other end of the palace, they came to the throne room. The guard opened the door, and signaled the duo to enter. They walked up to King Harkinian, and kneeled before him.

"You may rise. So, Erdrick, Link, are you ready for your travels to Calatia? You have had 2 days, you shouldn't let those good citizens wait any longer."

"Yes, of course, your majesty, we are ready," Link said after standing.

"Yes, I am ready also," Erdrick added.

"Good." The King then calls out into the distance, "Gantlin!"

      Almost immediately after the King called this name, the door to the throne room opened and in came Gantlin, the King's servant.

"Yes your majesty?" He kneeled.

"You may rise. Gantlin, would you escort these warriors to the room of... Of..." The King had forgotten the messengers name.

"Finrad." Gantlin helped the King out.

"Thank you. Yes, would you take these warriors to Finrad's room?"

"But of course, your majesty."

Gantlin signaled for the party to follow, and walked to the door. He waited for Erdrick and Link to exit the throne room, and shut the door behind him. Then he turned left, and to the guest room wing. The third room on the right was Finrad's.

"Finrad is in here."

"Thank you, Gantlin," Link replied, "Here's something for your troubles." Link reached into his pouch, pulled out five rupees, and gave them to Gantlin.

"Ahh, thank you kind sir. I don't get... Oh, never mind." Gantlin quickly scurried away.

The friends turned to each other, shrugged their shoulders, and again turned to the door of Finrad's room. Link knocked on the door three times.

After a few seconds, Finrad opened the door.

"Link! What a relief! Come on in! And your friend, too."

"Oh, I'm sorry Finrad. This is Erdrick. He is coming along with me on this journey."

"Oh," Finrad replied. He then turned to Erdrick and put out his arm. "Nice to meet you, Erdrick."

Erdrick took Finrad's hand and answered, "Nice to meet you too, Findrad."

After shaking hands with Erdrick, Finrad walked over to the table in his room, pulled out two chairs, and motioned for the partners to sit in these. Once they did, he went over to another chair, and sat down himself. "Now, guys, are you ready to begin travel today?"

Link took the liberty of speaking for the duo and said, "Yes, we could go right now, if you'd like."

"Really?" Finrad implored.

"Yes," Erdrick approved, "We're ready to go. We don't have anything better to do today."

"Oh," Finrad replied, quite surprisedly, then continued after a short awkward pause, "Well then I guess we really didn't have to sit down. We can leave right now then?"

"Yup," the pair replied simultaneously.

"Then let's go!"

Finrad quickly gathered his things, and the triune left the room, and off to the stables. Once they arrived, Finrad got his horse, Link got his, and Erdrick, well, just sat there. Quite awkwardly, as a matter of fact.

"Oh, Erdrick, you can pretty much pick any of the horses against the eastern wall." Link got off his horse and pointed at the horses to the east. "Sorry I forgot about you."

"That's ok, Link." Erdrick then went over to the eastern area of the stables and picked out a strong brown horse. "This one looks ok." He then took it out of it's individual chamber, followed the other two men out of the stables, and hopped on.

The party traveled south until the sun melted below the horizon. Then they set up camp. Their camp was a perfect spot, about a ten square foot clearing in the forest. The party slept well, and awoke when the sun began its return to the regular spot up in the sky. They had a few old cakes for breakfast, and set off again.

Another uneventful day for the party, they caught just three rabbits during their travels, and ate them entirely by the time the sun sank.

Travel continued similarly to this for the next week, when they eventually rode through the gates of Calatia. The first stop was the stables, to rest the horses, and then to the inn, to rest themselves. After a full night's sleep in comfortable beds, the trio left to the palace of the town's king. Finrad led Erdrick and Link to the throne room of the city's King, and the three bowed before him.

The King smiled, motioned for the threesome to rise, and cackled, "Finrad, I see you have returned from Hyrule City with Link and another warrior. Good work." He then faces Erdrick, and babbles, "So, what is your name? Any friend of Link's is a friend of mine."

Erdrick smiled, and confessed, "I am Erdrick, son to King David of Northern Hyrule."

Confusedly, the King replies, "Erdrick? THE Erdrick? You must forgive me! I had no idea it was you."

"That's all right. I'm just an ordinary person. I don't really like to put myself on a level above the less fortunate than I. I'm just your average guy."

The King thinks about it for a moment, then agrees, "Ok. I can understand that. If that's how you want it..."

"It is."

Sitting himself up in his chair, the King continues, "Do you, Erdrick and Link, know of our predicament?"

Taking action for the two, Link responds, "Yes, we know slightly of what we have to do. We must travel to the mountains to the north, discover what is causing the rotting of your land, and stop it. Is that correct?"

"Yes. That is exactly correct."

After the last remark from the King, Link asked, "Do you have any information on the legends of the caves to the north, your highness?"

"Not offhand, I'm sorry, but I don't. You can visit the library of Calatia, if you wish. You may find something there..."

"Thank you, your majesty. I think we will head there." After Link's last remark, the party left the throne room, and traveled to Calatia's library. Once they arrived, they searched through many books with information on the mountains. They discovered many legends claiming entrances everywhere, but none were proved. After deciding that this was going nowhere, the pair just decided to travel to the mountains and search for themselves.

On the way to the Calatian mountain range, they discovered horse tracks. Instead of the original plan, the duo just followed these. The tracks led them deep into the mountains, and into a small, strange, circular clearing in the mountains. Once into this almost room - like area, the tracks headed north, and ended at a few unusual rocks on the mountainous wall. Erdrick and Link both dismounted and walked over to the wall, and began to examine it very carefully. After seemingly endless searching everywhere in the area, practically nothing was discovered. All that was found, was nothing but a small hole in the area of where the entrance would be. So this did prove that there was some sort of door into some sort of underground passageway. They spent another half hour or so just searching the entire dugout, but still found nothing more.

After giving up the searching, they just decided to set up camp. The choice for where to camp was a good one. They left the small clearing, and set up camp on the cliff right above the door area. They would just wait until someone entered or exited.

The night passed rather slowly, for every five hours they were required to sit at watch, so each only got five hours of sleep.

The morning was rather dull, a few dried cakes for breakfast, and not much else. For lunch the twosome went into the woods to hunt, and came back with three juicy rabbits. They together ate one for lunch, and finished them off for dinner.

This second night started the same as the last -- Link took first watch, while Erdrick slept. At the end of his watch, Link went to wake up Erdrick. Link lay down to sleep, except the twosome heard something. They heard the door opening! After that, a strange man dressed in a black cloak and hat rode out of the hole. Once the man was out, Erdrick jumped off the cliff, in mid air grabbing the strange man by the throat and dragging him to the ground. The impact of Erdrick's fall from above knocked the man of black out, so once Link also jumped down, they tied him up. Unfortunately, the door had fallen shut.

When the strange man again regained consciousness, he was tied up, and a dagger was pressed tightly against his throat.

Seeing that the man was awake, Erdrick began to badger him with questions. "How do we get into the underground tunnel?"

"Umm... What underground tunnel? What are you talking about?"

Link tightened the grip on the mans throat with his knife and barked, "You know exactly what we're talking about. Do you want this dagger any tighter? If you don't talk, it will be."

Knowing he had no choice, the man of black admitted, "Ok, ok, I'll talk. You need to know the password to get in. There is another guy right near the front, and upon hearing the password, he pulls the door open."

Erdrick sighed, and grunted, "And the password would be..."

The man hesitated, "No... No, I can't tell you. They will kill me if I tell you."

Erdrick slapped him -- hard -- and boomed, "And if you don't tell us, we'll kill you."

The man swore, then confessed, "Ok. All right. I'll tell you. The password is `harukal'."

Without another word, Erdrick drew his sword, walked up to the door, and whispered, "Harukal."

Nothing happened.

Again, this time slightly louder than the last, Erdrick said to the wall, "Harukal."

A second time, nothing happened.

A third time, this time slightly annoyed, Erdrick yelled to the wall, "Harukal!"

To the dismay of all three of the men, nothing happened.

Silently, Erdrick turned around, and walked back to the man of black. He seemed very disappointed, and sighed, "Why did you tell us the wrong password? Did you think we would let you go before we got in?"

With a fearful look on his face, the man pleaded, "I swear to you, I did not tell you the wrong password, I swear it! Please don't kill me! He must have left his post! I swear to you, that was the right password!"

Erdrick stopped to think about it for a moment, then comforted, "Ok. I believe you. Do you know when he will return to his post?"

The darkly dressed man sighed in relief, and responded, "I really don't know. Probably tomorrow morning, because that's when I said I would be back. I would guess that he has gone to bed by now."

Erdrick chuckled, "Well, I guess we have to tie you up for a while, unless you just want us to kill you."

The dark man groaned, "I guess then you do have to tie me up."

Link removed the dagger from the dark man's neck, and the duo led him to the top of the cliff. There, they found a tree deep into the mountains, and tied him up to it. They felt slightly sorry for him, but then remembered who they were helping, so they left.

Erdrick returned to his post, and Link returned to his bed for the night.

Once the sun began to show itself, Erdrick walked over to Link and woke him up. He didn't seem refreshed at all, but they had to continue. They each grabbed their sword, and shield, and they jumped down into the small open area. They drew their swords, and Link joked, "Maybe I have the better luck -- let me go say the password."

They laughed quietly, and Link walked up to the door. "Harukal," Link whispered.

After a few seconds, The giant door slowly began to open. On the other side of the door was a giant, muscular man. Seeing the partners there, he dropped the rope to the door (the door fell too), and scurried off into the cavern.

Erdrick swore, and sighed to Link, "He must have gone to get some help. Go to one side of the door, I'll go to the other. Once he opens it and walks out, we can attack him."

Link followed Erdrick's directions, and Erdrick followed his own. After a very short while, the door began to open again. Out walked the man that had opened the door previously, saying to people back in the cave, "I thought I saw..." Then he did see them. Erdrick jabbed his sword right into the guy's gut. He fell to the ground, dead.

With alarmed looks on their faces, two armored knights came out of the subterranean passage, carrying crossbows! They spotted Erdrick first, and shot an arrow right at him. He dove out of the way, but he wasn't fast enough. It skinned his side, leaving a deep, bloody gash. They hadn't spotted Link, so he snuck up from behind, and slit one's throat. Just like the last guy, he fell instantly to the ground. So there was just one guard left. He quickly turned around, and shot an arrow in the direction of Link. Luckily, Link had previously readied his shield, and that stopped most of the blow. But it didn't stop it all. The arrow had so much force that it made it's way through the metal shield, and left a cut in Link's leg. Erdrick and Link were both pressing on the crossbow warrior, so he dropped his weapon and furiously ran to the south.

The partners searched the dead bodies for traces of anything that might be useful, and found three small identical keys (one from each body). After each put one in their bag, they entered the caverns. Upon entrance, Erdrick grabbed a torch, and together they shut the rock door. They walked down the straight hallway until they came to a T - shaped junction. Both looked about the same, so they just turned right. As they walked down, they came to a hallway on the right. They turned into that, and walked for awhile but eventually decided that it just went into the deep, dark caverns and no one would be hiding down there. So, they turned back, and again followed the previous hallway. On the left was a locked door, and being the curious type that Erdrick is, they unlocked it with the keys they had found earlier. The door clicked open, and before them was another hallway. It appeared to turn left at the end, so they followed it. At the end, they turned left into another hallway, and followed that, turned left into yet another hallway, and followed that, until they came to another locked door.

They opened the door, and walked through to find that they were just to the left of where they started -- this had taken them in a circle. Of course, with curiosity for why this was here, Erdrick went back to search it. As time goes by, he eventually discovers a secret passage. He goes through it to find none other than five knights standing in the room.

Erdrick swore, and called for Link. "Link! Get over here NOW! I need your help!"

But before Link could make his way there, he was attacked by another knight. So he lets Erdrick know what's going on. "I'm kind of busy at the moment! I've just been attacked!"

After a bit of fighting, Link manages to get the knight on the ground and stab him in the throat. Then he goes to Erdrick's aid.

"Erdrick! How did you get into so much trouble?" After that, a knight confronts him, and they fight for awhile.

"I didn't know what was in this passage, Link!" Erdrick yells to link as he swings his sword at the leg of a knight.

Link fights his knight, going for hacks at the leg, side, and neck, until he knocks the sword out of the other knight's hand. Link would normally just let him go, but the knight tried to attack with his fists, so the knight of evil was easily taken care of. Then Link took out a small dart gun, loaded it with a poisonous dart, and shot it right at the throat of the armored knight Erdrick was fighting. It hit the knight, and he fell to the ground, writhing in pain. Another knight then began to attack Erdrick, and Link did the same to him, and the knight fell on top of the other knight, killing him. But before Link could load another dart, he was confronted by a knight. Link drew his sword, and with his great skills, was able to slay the knight easily, as was Erdrick with his own. Four of the knights were dead, while the other would be very soon. Out of pity for the human who was being tortured, Erdrick finished him off with his sword. They walked into the room with the secret door, and searched it, but found nothing. Then they searched the bodies, and found five equal keys. They each took one, and returned to the hallway to the right of the entrance.

They walked to the door they had previously been through, and a little more, and were attacked, again, by just one knight. Erdrick turned to him, sword in hand, and began to attack. His attempts to kill were all blocked, and the knight almost had Erdrick's life in his hands, until Link stepped in and stabbed the knight underneath the armor. Link pulled out his sword, and the knight fell to the ground, bloody and dead.

After clearing the body out of the way, the duo continued down the hallway. At the end, they were forced to turn left, so they did. At the end of this hallway, they were again required to turn left. They did, and followed this hallway until they discovered a door on the left. Erdrick took out his key, opened the door, and the partners walked through. At the end of this hallway was a giant room, filled with torches. There were doorways scattered throughout the left and right sides, leading probably deeper into the cave, but these meant nothing now. All that mattered now was the man sitting in a throne in the center of the room. The man dressed in a black cloak holding a black magical staff. The man behind all of the problems.

Erdrick and Link sheathed their swords, hoping to not need to go into violence, and walked up to this man.

With an angry and confused look on his face, the wizard barked, "Hey! How did you two get in here?" He stood up, showing his enormous stature. He walked over to the two newly met warriors, and looked at them crossly. "You should not be in here," he began, "I do not know how, or why you got in here, but you must leave! If you do not, I will have to attack you with my magical powers!"

Link took charge for the duo, and said, rather calmly for the predicament they were in, "We want you to stop harming the land of this peninsula. Many people are suffering because of this, and you need to stop."

The elderly wizard laughs, "And what if I don't?"

Erdrick draws his sword, cackles, "This," and begins to attack the wizard.

Link draws his, and joins Erdrick in the skirmish.

The Wizard laughs again, and hisses, "You have no idea of my powers do you?" After that, he raises his staff above his head and it changes into a sword. Dissatisfied, he chants a few ancient words and another sword appears from nowhere in his other hand. During the assault with his sword, Erdrick takes the torch which has served him well for the journey through the cave, and throws it at the wizard. This starts his cloak on fire.

The wizard turns the sword back into a staff, and to the surprise of the two combatants, just laughs and throws off the cloak -- in the direction of Erdrick. In mid - air, the flaming cloak changes shape into that of a dragon, and flies towards Erdrick's face. Erdrick does manage to not be burned in the face, but his sword is grabbed and charred black. The flame dragon flies right into the wall, and disappears. Erdrick's sword falls to the ground. The previously battered warrior dives to his sword, and again returns to contention with the wizard. Once Erdrick has returned, Link tosses his sword to his right hand, and with his left grabs a dagger and throws it at the wizard.

With a twisting motion of his wrist, the wizard turns the dagger around and sends it right in Link's direction. Link didn't expect this, and it caught him in the right shoulder, leaving a severe wound. Trying to ignore the pain, Link gets up, pulls the dagger out, and grabs his sword from his right hand. Together, both warriors throw their powerful swords at the head of the wizard. Trying the same twist move as he just did with Link's dagger, he drops his staff. To the surprise of the warriors, the swords didn't stop and turn around like last time. They continued, and pierced the brain of the wizard. Without even a shriek of pain, the helpless body of the wizard falls to the ground, totally motionless and dead.

Erdrick and Link walk over to pick up their swords, when Erdrick says, "I guess he was just a normal guy who found the right weapon, huh?"

"Yeah," Link responds, and falls to the ground in pain.

Erdrick drops his sword and shield, and runs to the side of Link. "Link! Are you ok?"

Link groans, "I don't know... I feel... Terrible. Try the... Staff. That might have... Some power left... In it. Erdrick..." Link pauses for a moment, then continues, "I'm dying. Use the staff... To save my life." With that last remark, Link died.

Without the slightest bit of hesitation, Erdrick hops up and runs over to the staff. He grabs it and runs back over to Link, when he points it at him.

Nothing happens.

Erdrick throws the staff to the side, and runs up to the throne. Out of total rage, he kicks it down. But after this, he discovers something. On the wall, about ten feet behind the throne, there is a small button. Erdrick grabs his sword, and goes up to push the button. Out of probably magic powers, a door opens, revealing a cell block. There, on the first cell to the right, is an old man.

Upon sight of the trusted warrior, Erdrick, the old man pleads, "Please! Save me! My magical staff was taken away from me in my sleep a few weeks ago! I was trapped in here afterwards! I need the staff!"

Excitedly, Erdrick asks, "Can you use the staff?"

Without any hesitation, the old man responds, "Yes!"

Upon hearing the first sound of a "Yes," Erdrick gripped his sword in both hands and with great force broke the lock to the cell.

The old man ran over to the door, and ran out. Then he began to thank Erdrick, but Erdrick interrupted, "There is no time for thank - you's. You must save Link."

The old man responded, "All right. I understand." He pointed to the body of Link. "Is that him?"

With tears in his eyes, Erdrick declared, "Yes. That is him."

The old man quickly ran over to the staff, raised it above his head and chanted the Ancient Hyrulian word for "life", which Erdrick recognized.

After a few moments of anxiety, Link rose from the ground. The staff dematerialized, and transferred itself into Link's body. Link's feet shifted to the ground, and Link stumbled, but stood on his own. Link was again alive!

Link looked over at Erdrick, and Erdrick jumped four feet into the air! Erdrick was flabbergasted! He ran over to Link, and announced, "Link! You're alive! I'm so happy, I could kiss you!" Erdrick almost did kiss Link, but stopped himself right before he did. He slapped himself in the face, and Chuckled, "But I won't!"

They laughed, and cried, and Link joked, "You were scaring me for a second there -- I thought you were going to kiss me!"

They laughed again, they cried again, but then they saw the old man. He looked happy for the two rejoined friends, but sad for himself. His previous source of life, the staff, was totally used up to save the life of Link.

Link walked up to the old man, and comforted him by saying, "That was very generous of you to give up your staff for me. I'm terribly sorry you had to lose it. But don't worry, we will help you to re - start your life. Come travel with us to Calatia and we will help."

Sadly, the old man responded, "Thank you for the gracious offer, but I cannot accept. You see, I am a nomad. I cannot settle down in one place. I'm sure you understand this; I have heard many tales of your adventures. I will travel with you two to Calatia, and spend the night, but after that I must leave. Even if I am without my staff. Let us leave now. I must see the sunlight once again!"

The threesome left the room, left the hallways, and left the cave altogether. Once they set out into the sun again, they were blinded by the glorious light.

They went to their previous night's campsite, gathered their things, and went over to the tree of the man of black. He was fine, just a little dehydrated and a little hot. Ok, he was a lot hot. Erdrick untied him and informed him of what had happened. Once he could, he threw off his cloak and all the rest of his clothes, and ran to the ocean for a swim. The party laughed, and hopped on their horses (the old man, who they discovered was named Connor, had to ride on Erdrick's horse). They rode all day, until they arrived at the town of Calatia.

The group dismounted, stretched, walked the horses to the stables, and then walked to the castle of the city's King. They were led to the throne room by a servant, and once the doors were opened, the King jumped up from his throne and ran down to see the heroes. "Erdrick, Link, Other Guy! You have returned; I hope with good news."

Link confirmed, "Yes, we have good news. The wizard who has been destroying your land is dead."

The King was excited for a minute, but then confused. He asasked Link, "If he's dead, how come the land is still ugly and rotten?"

Connor broke in and answered for Link, "Your majesty, the spell has been broken, but there needs to be another spell to bring your land back to normal. The powerful staff that was used to cast this spell has been destroyed, and there is no way to bring it back."

The King was very disappointed after hearing that. He grumbled, "Oh."

Connor sighed, and added, "I can bring it back. Stand aside."

With that last remark, Connor closed his eyes, and raised his arms above his head. He sat like that for a few moments, until he began to tremble. After a few minutes of trembling, he began to glow. And then it all stopped. He fell to the ground. Connor, the nomad, the wise old man, the caring soul, was dead.

Erdrick and Link knew what Connor had done. Without even looking outside, Link assured the King, "Your highness, the land is back to normal. Connor gave his life for your land. His final powers were used for the people of Calatia."

The King turned from the group and ran to the window. The grass was green again, apples were growing again, and birds were singing again.

The King was overjoyed, and yelled, "Connor, wherever you are, thank you." He turned to Erdrick and Link, and said, "Thank you, too. I shall build a statue to honor Connor's death. Do you two have any suggestions?"

Erdrick sighed, "I do. Make a statue symbolizing the gift Connor gave to your people -- the gift of his life for your land."

The King was strangely serious for once, and broke in, "Yes, that is exactly what I shall do." He paused momentarily, then asked, "Won't you two stay for the funeral?"

Link alluded, "No. We cannot stay. It is for the best that we not."

The King comforted the duo by adding, "I understand."

The three pause for a moment of silence.

Erdrick eventually breaks it. "Link -- We must leave."

"Yes. We must. Let us go. Farewell, your magnificence! Good - bye!"

Erdrick added, "Good - bye," as did the King.

The duo left the throne room, left the castle, picked up their horses from the stables, and rode off into the night.

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