((LEGAL STUFF: Link, Zelda, Impa, and the other game-based characters are property and copyrights of Nintendo. No infringement intended. No profit made--these stories are purely for reader enjoyment. The new characters introduced here are mine, purely fictional--do not use them without my permission! Any similarities to events and persons in reality or other peoples' stories are purely coincidental. Thank you for your patience.))
The Legend of Zelda: Journey to the Past
by Becky Tailweaver
Chapter 15: Leonine's Treasure
Link waited anxiously in the hallway outside a locked door--the door to the room he'd been told to meet Duke Lyon at first thing after breakfast. Hardly able to sleep the night before due to his excitement, he'd been up well before the official breakfast hour and had grabbed a hasty meal from the kitchen. He could hardly hold in his eagerness, almost dancing from foot to foot as he tried not to pace in the hall.
Today was the day; Duke Lyon had informed him that they would begin his first sword lesson two days after their thrilling spar in the courtyard--and Link had nearly burst from impatience, the time in the interim passing like slow honey dripping from a bucket. He had spent his two days of waiting in anxious eagerness, talking with Lyon over meals about how the swordsmanship practices would go. Even Jared was excited about the prospect of at last spending regular time with his father.
In his hands, Link held Captain Armand's fine steel blade, the sword that Lyon had generously given him for use. It was sheathed in a new leather scabbard, freshly polished and cared for; he'd also spent his waiting hours familiarizing himself with Armand's old sword--getting a scabbard for it, cleaning it, practicing with it. Beneath the years of dust, the hilt was set with small golden foxes with jeweled eyes, and the grip was bound with rough black leather perfect for a good handhold. It was no Master Sword, but it was one of the best common blades he'd ever come across. Balanced, strong, and light, it was truly a beautiful weapon.
The half-Sheikah looked up from his new sword, seeing Jared running up the hall toward him, blue eyes alight. "Good morning! What took you so long?"
Jared skidded to a stop beside him, eager and breathless. "Goodness, it's not even breakfast yet! I'm not that late, am I?"
"Not at all," said a new voice. Duke Lyon himself was striding up the hall behind his younger son, his face much brither than it usually was. "I see that all three of us are too anxious to wait through a long meal."
"Sir!" Link jumped to attention alongside Jared, both of them wide-eyed and enthusiastic.
"Shall we?" With a patient smile, Lyon produced a ring of keys, one of which he used to unlock the door of the room they waited by. "I haven't been in this room..." the older man said softly, pushing the door open. "Hm...since Armand died..."
Somewhat awed, the two boys furtively slipped inside after the Duke, gawking around the great room like peasants in a palace.
As large as a ballroom, it was a magnificent place, though it was dark, dusty, and the drapes were closed over the windows. All about the walls hung swords, axes, pikes, and other weapons; in the alcoves between pillars rested tables, most covered by sheets to protect what lay beneath. There were other shapes covered by sheets, some that looked like practice dummies, others that Link had no clue what they might be. Stairs on either side of the door led up to an upper balcony that extended around the entire room, except for the window wall, and it was set with seats like an observation gallery. The center of the floor of the room was not tiled, however--it was a large section filled with dirt or sand, like an arena.
"Indeed, it has been a long time," Lyon said, breaking the awed silence of the two youths. "I shall have to set the servants to cleaning this place up once again--this is far too much disrepair if we are to be holding regular meetings here."
"It's...it's amazing," Link uttered at last. "A whole room...devoted to swordsmanship...!"
"Not just swordsmanship, young Link," Lyon corrected as he strode across the expanse toward the windows on the far wall. "This is the place where I was taught to become a warrior. There is more to battle than merely sword skills."
Link nodded, half to himself, remembering Impa telling him something quite similar. Beside him, Jared was bright-eyed, soaking up every word his father said; truly, the boy was delighted to have this chance.
Gripping the heavy drapes, Lyon began to draw them aside, throwing back the thick material on the lower windows and letting in the cool winter sun. The windows were huge, and each one was paned with glass--an expensive commodity here in the South, Link knew. The room was suddenly brighter; though the upper windows still remained curtained, even this much sun seemed to give the place life.
"There, that helps a little," Lyon announced, smiling back at the youths. "It shall have to be enough for today."
"It's wonderful!" Jared breathed, the first words he'd spoken since he'd entered the room.
Now, Lyon was proceeding to the head of the room, where most of the sheet-covered oaken tables waited. There was a wistful shine in the Duke's eyes as he began to pull aside the cloths, uncovering weapons lying on tabletops that were padded with velvet. The eyes of the two boys grew wider and wider as more and more swords, knives, axes, and others were revealed. On the center table, the largest, rested the swords; there were many types of blades--sabers, broadswords, rapiers, and some that Link had never seen before. Each weapon was gleaming and beautiful, untouched by dust beneath the sheets; Link knew at once that the same master smith that had created Captain Armand's blade had indeed forged quite a few of these--along with many other expert weaponsmiths that had contributed their expertise to the manufacture of these highly effective works of art.
"They're beautiful," Link commented softly as Lyon drew aside the last coverings. "Were they made here? You must've had three...maybe four master smiths working for you!"
Lyon smiled at him, brows raised in some surprise. "You've a good eye, Link. Yes, several different weaponsmiths created on these swords, all of them geniuses in their craft...though I'm sad to say that I have none working here now. The last smith--the creator of Captain Armand's sword and some of these here--left in my father's time, before I became the Duke." He gestured to another set of swords, of a different style than Armand's. "Some of these blades are very, very old--such as these, made in my great-grandfather's time."
"I've never seen so many blades like these..." Link gazed about the tables like a child in a wondrous new toy store, unable to choose a favorite. Some of the blades, though still no comparison to the Master Sword, astonished him with their beauty. Even without touching them, he could see their excellence.
"Link...would you like to see the finest sword in Leonine's collection?" Lyon asked quietly, an almost-eager sparkle shining deep in his blue eyes.
Link whirled to stare at him. "Would I...? Could I?"
"Can I see it too, Father?" Jared asked from beside him.
"Of course you can!" Lyon replied with almost a laugh. He led them both to the other end of the room, to the wall hung with various weapons more common than those on the velvet-covered tables. Set into the wall was a vault, which Lyon brought out his ring of keys once more to unlock. "Only I have the key to this vault," he informed them, "for what lies within is the heart and pride of Leonine."
Jared and Link leaned forward to see, as Lyon reached into the dark interior of the vault to bring forth his treasure. He brought out the box and set it on the adjacent table, running a hand almost lovingly over its smooth surface.
It was a long, thin chest made of some pale, brilliant, beautifully-polished wood that seemed to shine as if it were burnished gold itself. The metalwork was simple and understated, plain gold with elegant scrolling carved into its surfaces.
"Jared...this has been in our family since before Leonine began," Lyon said. "Even before our forefathers became the rulers of this country...this sword was theirs, handed down from father to son. It became our namesake, our center, and our source of power." Carefully, he unlatched the chest and drew back the lid. Inside, a sword rested in the padded interior, which was covered by a strange, beautiful fabric that glimmered a golden color, supple like silk yet as soft like velvet. "This..." Lyon went on in a whisper. "This is the Lion's Blade."
The sword itself took Link's breath away.
It was absolutely magnificent. Larger than most swords, it appeared to be heavy but by the grip of the hilt he knew it to be a one-handed weapon and therefore lighter than it looked. The blade was so smooth and shiny that he could see himself in it; it had to be steel if it was as light as he thought it was, but the metal gleamed with a slight golden sheen, as if made of some unknown alloy. The hilt was simple as well, made of what appeared to be pure gold--but again would have to be some kind of steel if it were to have any kind of strength. The hilt was formed with a lion-claw look to it; though there were no designs to the metal itself, it still seemed to bear the mark of its name.
Link hadn't seen a sword like this since... And his own thought made him catch his breath: ...since the Master Sword.
Somehow, impossibly, the Lion's Blade was on par with that gods-forged weapon. His eyes could pick out the places where the quality of the two swords intersected--in the sharpness and straightness of the blade-edge, the soundness of the hilt's mounting, the simplicity of the hilt's design, the straightforward strength both weapons exuded. Even the designs bore similar earmarks, as if both swords had been forged by the same man...
He caught himself reaching out to the blade, as if to touch it--and jerked his hand back, casting a careful, apologetic glance toward Lyon.
But the Duke only smiled at him. "Quite a weapon, isn't it?"
Mutely, Link nodded. Beside him, Jared too was speechless.
Lyon's fingers traced the carvings on the inside of the chest's lid. "I know that this sword is very special," the older man informed them. "According to the legends passed down, it was forged in the Old Times--do you know of the stories, Link? The Old Times when the Golden Power was left behind in the mortal realms, and men still lived who had walked with the Elder Ones and learned their secrets--secrets like those which gave birth to this sword of legendary mystical properties. It is said that the Lion's Blade was forged of a forgotten metal called Earthgold, created by one of the Four Swordsmiths who were students of the Master."
Master...could that have anything to do with the Master Sword? Link wondered to himself, still staring at the Lion's Blade. They're enough alike...if this weapon was created by an apprentice of whatever made the Master Sword...!
"Are you sure that's the story, Father?" Jared asked hesitantly, almost skeptically. "Really, a magic sword? I know there's a little magic in the world, like the Shining Sword Attack...but I thought that sort of thing had died out a long time ago, long before Leonine."
"I'm sure most of the secrets of the Old Times are lost to us," Lyon replied. "Things such as the manipulation of the elements, musical lore, the rivers of Time, true magic that isn't merely blood-power..."
Link started a bit, somewhat surprised that the folk of the South knew so little of such things--though even in his homeland of Central Hyrule, the older magics grew more and more rare.
"Legends speak of many old secrets even here in our home country," Lyon went on, as if chiding his doubting son. "And as for the Lion's Blade, I'm inclined to agree with the inscriptions on the chest and the stories I've heard. This sword is far older than Leonine Castle, yet it shows no hint of age; no rust, no tarnish, nor has the blade ever once needed sharpening. Even the chest in which it rests has not aged--no moths have touched the strange material within, no mildew has marred the wood's surface. What can that be if not some kind of magic?"
Subdued, Jared stared at the sword again, wide-eyed.
His eyes strangely bright, Lyon reached into the chest and gently laid hold of the ancient sword's hilt, drawing it out of its resting place and holding it up in the sunlight. It was even more beautiful as it gleamed in the wintry brilliance. "Besides..." The older man continued. "I can feel it when I touch this blade. I have not used it but once, in the first wars...but when I hold it I know that something great lies deep within it."
Link clenched his fists, finding that his hands itched to hold the magnificent weapon. If it was anything like the Master Sword he'd wielded...!
Lyon's blue eyes caught his gaze, and the older man smiled at him--a strangely knowing smile. With a flick of his wrist, the Lion's Blade turned over in his grip, and he was holding the hilt out to Link, offering it to him. "Would you like to test the heft of it?"
Link's jaw dropped--and Jared eyed him enviously. "I...I...I'd love to...!" the half-Sheika stammered, stepping forward to wrap trembling fingers around the grip of the Lion's Blade.
Lyon released the sword...and Link found himself holding the awesome weapon in his own hand. It thrilled him; it was just as light as he'd thought--light like the Master Sword--and the balance was utterly perfect as he turned it over in his grip. It felt keen and quick, strong and solid yet seemingly weightless despite its size--even lighter than Armand's fine sword.
This sword...it felt like the Master Sword--though heaver and rougher, it was still familiar. A younger brother of that gods-forged blade, different yet the same. It had power in it too--he understood, now, what Lyon had spoken of. That same energy, that same tingle that came when he touched the Master Sword, though the Lion's Blade felt different in this as well. There was a sense that this weapon recognized him--as the Master Sword had recognized him--but where the Sword had been coolly impartial with its acknowledgement, the Blade felt warm and welcoming...as if it knew him.
A sudden thrill of apprehension spun through him as he realized that somehow, this blade knew who he was--it recognized him as a scion of its legacy; it knew what bloodline he carried, whose son he was...and it received him openly, accepted him as one of its own...
Swallowing hard, Link quickly offered the Lion's Blade back to the Duke, frightened of how easily the beautiful golden sword welcomed him. He was relieved when Lyon again took posession of the weapon, yet he still felt a strange longing to hold it again. Somehow, the Lion's Blade pulled at him more deeply than the Master Sword once had...and that in itself was strangely alarming to him.
The Master Sword had recognized him as worthy, as the Hero of his generation, and allowed him to wield it...but the Lion's Blade knew him like a friend, like a brother, and made him feel so much like he belonged...
"Link? Are you all right?"
Jared's voice so close beside him made him jump; taking a shaky breath, he put on a smile and nodded. "Yes! I-I'm fine," he replied quickly, as Lyon put the Lion's Blade away and gently closed the chest's lid.
"A magnificent sword," Lyon said, turning back to the youths. "It truly does rob one of speech."
Both Link and Jared nodded vigorously, earning a sudden humorous smile from the Duke.
"Well then, we have a swordsmanship lesson to commence, don't we?" Lyon announced, clapping both of them on the shoulder and turning them back toward the waiting arena. "Shall we begin?"
To Be Continued...