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Alright, so this is the last story that we have to do in Creative Writing as a part of our Pod Project, and this one is part of the Fantasy genre.

It actually started off as, if you can believe it, something of a Zelda fanfiction.

Let me explain.

There was a rumor going around a few years after Twilight Princess came out that the next Zelda game was going to be a lot darker. The popular theory was that you don't play as Link at all, but rather, as a guy who thinks he's Link and vows to save the princess even though she isn't in trouble.

I discussed this theory with my friend Katie, and we came up with some interesting ideas for how that would work. A man living a very normal, happy life with his family, running a bakery and everything, one day snaps due to some trigger setting off something in his mind, and he believes that he is the Hero of Time. He believes that his family and everyone around him are all working for some great evil and therefore must die. Using a bread knife as his weapon and a cutting board as his shield, this non-Link kills his family and several other people and makes his way to Hyrule, and disaster quickly follows.

This is something of that story, though de-Zeldafied and starting with a Hero trying to live a far simpler life.

I realize, like my previous stories, that there are some problems, and again, those will be addressed when I revise the story again a few months from now for our final grade.

Feedback is encouraged and appreciated if you do read the story! 
 


 The Hero’s Return
On cold and rainy nights, the warmth of a well-lit tavern is always welcomed. Wet and weary travelers, and townspeople looking for a drink after a long day of work, flocked to the Hungry Hound, eager for the flow of beer down their throats and good conversation. Hearty laughter filled the room as some of the patrons shared stories of their day, or spread local hearsay. But the big topic of the night was the sudden assassination of the Queen only weeks before, which one animated group hustled near the fire place were currently arguing over.

“I hear her was an old lover of the Queen’s. Got jealous once she married and wanted revenge,” one man suggested, tracing his finger along the edge of his flagon.

The portly man across from him snorted. “Nah, I heard he was an assassin, posing as a palace guard. Finally got the Queen where he wanted her, and ran her through.”

The waitress of the tavern, filling up their drinks as a chance to eaves drop, now cut in. “You all certainly sound uncertain. Didn’t they catch ‘im?”

A young man who had been eyeing the waitress from afar now approached the group and cleared his throat. “I heard he killed all the guards in the room, then escaped through a window.”

The portly man spoke up. “Look, I have my sources, a cousin in fact, who’s a guard at the the palace, and he says that it was this news recruit that killed her. He got close, stabbed the queen, and then took out some guards. The rest of the guards managed to overpower the killer, but by order of the king, did not kill him on the spot. They locked him in the dungeon while everything calmed down. Then when they got organized, they checked up on the man – but he was gone.”

“Gone?”

“Gone. Just like that. The door hadn’t been picked and there wasn’t a window or other opening of any kind for him to sneak through. Even the guards placed at his door said that they hadn’t seen or heard anything.”

“He must have transported out,” said the young man. “Perhaps he was a wizard.”

The man who had proposed the lover theory shook his head. “That makes no sense. The palace cells are protected against magic of that kind. If he was a powerful enough sorcerer to transport out of there, then he would have done right after committing the act, wouldn’t he?” There was a small chorus of “ayes” from some of the surrounding customers, who were now listening on the debate. “He must have found another way to escape, and the only way I can see him doing that would be by plowing through a number of guards first.”

“I think you’re all wrong!” exclaimed one of the eavesdroppers. “I think it’s a cover up! The King wanted the Queen dead, so he hired someone to kill ‘er and then smuggled the guy out all quiet-like. Yeah, he’s probably still runnin’ around out there, bathin’ in money and waitin’ for his next hit job.”

At that, the group broke out into a loud quarrel, with people supporting and debunking all theories proposed. The barkeep tried to split it all up but to no avail.

It was then that a cloaked figure, who had been silently sitting in a dark corner of the bar, smoking his pipe, stood up and approached the arguing mass. No one noticed him until he spoke.

“My friends, I am willing to tell the whole story, if you are willing to listen.” The man’s voice, while not particularly loud or booming, had an authoritative tone that silenced the crowd. The stranger was shot a few dubious looks.

The portly man, standing now as he did when the fight began, was the first to speak. “And who are you that knows so much?”
Though his face was obscured by the hood of his cloak, one could make out a small smirk on the man’s face. “A wandering traveler who happens to pick up quite a bit of information. May I have a seat, gentlemen?” His request was met by dubious glares. The portly man and his companion exchanged a look, before the companion nodded, and kicked the free chair out from under the table. The portly man sat down. “Thank you,” said the traveler, pulling the seat out more and sitting down.

Without any hurry, the traveler removed a container from a pouch on his belt, revealing two daggers at his side. He removed a substance from the container and filled his pipe, delicately placing it back in the pouch once he was through. He was no quicker at retrieving his matches either, and the listeners were getting impatient. “Well? Out with it!” the portly man demanded, banging his palm on the table. The traveler did not flinch nor react in any way to the outburst as he finally lit his pipe. He drew in a deep breath from the pipe, letting the smoke pour out slowly as he seemed to stare off into the distance. Then he began.

“It’s a rather tragic tale, actually, and to understand it fully, I must start from the very beginning. I suppose you all remember the Grand Hero, who saved this land from evil no more than three decades ago?” A few of the men raced their drinks at the mention of the Hero of Legend, as was the custom.

“You may want to hold back on the praise, friends, for this story is not an admirable one. You see, the Hero had fulfilled his destiny, but his fate was yet to be decided.

“We all know the story. Our land was in chaos. The King and Queen had been murdered, and their beloved prince held hostage. An evil sorcerer, the Dark King as he called himself, claimed the kingdom as his own. Many tried to oppose him, but few could even enter his castle before their lives were taken. After a year or two, the opposition was little, and all hope seemed gone. Then, from the West came a nameless young man, quick with a blade and with a piercing gaze. He had little problems in entering the castle and reaching the Dark King’s chamber. The duel was a long one, but the stranger prevailed, rescuing the princess and our kingdom from darkness.

“The princess, now proclaimed Queen, offered the stranger all the riches in the kingdom, an official position in the palace military force, and eternal glory, dubbing him the Grand Hero. But the hero denied all of this, not even giving his name to the Queen. Instead, he left the castle town, with a modest sum of money in his pouch and a letter of recognition from the Queen, and made his way to a distant edge of the kingdom.

“And that is typically where his story ends. No one ever heard from him again, it would seem, and his whereabouts remained a mystery. But that is only the end of his chapter as the Hero. Now begins his chapter as a Man.

“The Hero settled in the small town of Nabir, where no one recognized him. He changed his name to Banson Tuck, and wooed a young woman named Mara, who he would later marry. They opened a bakery on the first floor of their home, and busied themselves making breads, pastries and tea cakes. He years passed, and his wife gave birth to a pair of twins, and they watched happily as their children grew, and had their own children. And life was happy for them

“But they lived in ignorance. You see, Banson Tuck had abandoned all memories of his previous life, never telling his own wife or children about his origins, about what he had done. He threw away his dagger, and hid his letter from the Queen, eventually forgetting its location entirely. There were questions about his childhood, and he was able to answers those just fine. But when asked what he had done before arriving to Nabir, he had nothing to say. And in his family’s acceptance of his silence, he found no need to reflect on his past life, and in doing so forgot about it entirely. Yes, that is what became of our grand Hero – a modest baker, hoping to spend the rest of his days with his beautiful family. His second life became his only life, and forgot about having ever been the Grand Hero. But the Grand Hero did not forget him.

“Now then, tell me friends, do you know of the town of Nabir, and the tragedy that befell it no less than two seasons ago? Of course not. Nabir was a quiet town, frequented more so by residents of neighboring kingdoms than of our own. The people of Nabir were a tight nit family, and did not mind that they received very few visitors. The surrounding world was of little concern to any of the residents, and the world around them cared little of Nabir. And that is why you did not hear of the tragedy.

“It was on a day like any other. Banson Tuck and his wife rose with the sun and set about making the day’s stock of breads. They did so quietly, taking care not to disturb their sleeping grandchildren, who were staying with them for no particular reason other than to be with their grandparents. The house was quickly filled with familiar scents and the comforting warmth that accompanied a bread-filled oven, and those scents wafted out to the streets of the town itself. A small group of townspeople waited outside the bakery, as was part of their morning rituals before heading to the stables or fields. And Mara, hearing the crowd gathering outside, would wipe her hands upon her apron, after having set out all of the goods for display, and unlock the bakery door. She would greet the customers all by name and fill their baskets while Banson Tuck continued to tend to the oven, speaking over his shoulder if a conversation should start.

“It was on this very normal day that two customers arrived, both native to the castle town. They were a young man and his older father, aged and gray, looking for a place to restock their food bags before continuing their journey. The son busied himself with requesting breads from Mara, while his father stood to the side and idly gazed around the room. And then his eyes settled on Banson Tuck. He squinted and tilted his head, before his eyes widened. ‘I don’t believe it!’ he exclaimed. ‘My eyes may be old, but I would recognize you anywhere –You are the Grand Hero!’

“I suppose that was a trigger of sorts. Something broke in Banson Tuck at that moment. Whatever mental dam he had built up to hid away the memories of his past life suddenly crumbled, and everything he had locked up in the dark corners of his mind came flooding out. He remembered it all – all the lands he had seen, the face of ever creature and human he had killed, but most of all he remembered the glory. And the force inside him, the essence of what he was when he had been the Grand Hero felt that the glory was abandoned far too soon. It craved that feeling again, the praise it never received. It had resided in Banson Tuck since he left the castle, waiting for the moment when it would once again be remembered, and hat moment had finally come.

“Banson Tuck, now possessed with that extreme craving for glory, grabbed the bread knife off the counter and brandished it at the old man, and in a savage voice, asked: ‘Where is the princess?’

“The old man was too stunned to respond, while his wife screamed. ‘Tuck, what are you doing?’

“‘Quiet, woman!’ Banson exclaimed, the knife now aimed at her throat. ‘Tell me where the princess is or I’ll make those your last words!’ While he spoke these words, he moved around the room so that he was positioned at the entrance, blocking the way out.

“‘She is safe at the castle, why must you know?’ said the son of the old man, placing a protecting arm in front of his father and moving gradually towards the stairs. Mara was backed against the counter now, gripping its edge.

“Banson Tuck let out a short chuckle. ‘Safe? That’s quite a lie. She’s in danger, and you’re hiding that fact from me. That makes you the enemy!’ He lunged forward at that moment, stabbing the son in the side and dragging the blade across his stomach. The boy’s father tried to catch his son as he fell, but had no time as Banson Tuck’s knife slit his throat. He crumpled on the ground, sprawled across his son.

“Mara let out a muffled scream and desperately looked around the room for something to protect herself with. She grabbed a wooden cutting board as Banson Tuck moved slowly towards her. ‘What are you doing?’ she whispered, her voice trembling.

“Banson Tuck approached her, hardly flinching as she bashed the cutting board into his shoulder. He ripped it from her grip and threw it on to the ground, and grabbed Mara’s neck, pinning her to the counter. ‘Why?’ he said, blade clasped tight in his hand as he raised it above his head, watching with delight as she squirmed under his grasp, tears filling her eyes. ‘To rid the world of evil creatures. Like you.’

“In one swift motion, he brought his hand down, burying the knife deep into his wife’s chest. She let out an agonizing scream as he twisted the hilt, until finally she let out her final breath, dying with her eyes frozen wide.

“And then there was another scream coming from the stairs, this one softer. Banson Tuck turned to find his granddaughter and her younger brother looking down on the bloody scene before her, while the boy stared directly at his grandfather. ‘More demons?’ Banson Tuck said aloud, pulling the knife from his wife’s corpse. The girl tugged at her brother, breaking his trance and they raced up the stairs. But they could not escape the Hero, and he caught them just as they reached the top step.

“I know what you all are hoping I’ll say next. And believe me, my friends, if this story was one of my own invention, if I could change the outcome, I would. But I am a seller of truths and must tell the tale as it happened.”

The stranger paused and listened for the sound of someone getting up to leave or turn away, but the tavern was still. They looked down at their hands and drinks, wanting to hear the rest of the story, but not wanting to acknowledge the outcome.

“The hero killed the children, his own grandchildren. Kicked the girl down the stairs and slit the throat of the boy. You see, Banson Tuck had no control over his actions, and the Hero who did saw the children and everyone else in that room as the enemy. They were trying to prevent him from finding the princess; they were an obstacle on his path to recognition. And they had to be eliminated.”

The waitress sniffed and wiped her face. “How could we ever have admired such a monster?”

The traveler turned to the waitress, and for the first time people got a look at his eyes, though his face was still in shadows. They were piercing blue eyes, lined with age. He was alert, starting on the waitress and then looking around to the other faces. “No, you must understand. I am not telling this story to discredit our legendary hero. His original actions should still be admired – none of us would even be here in this tavern, having an open conversation, without him. He rescued us all from tyranny. No, we should not hate him for what has happened. It was not in his control, and Banson Tuck had no desire to end so many lives without reason. We should not hate him, only pity him.

“You all must realize that while the monster that lusted for glory was free, Banson Tuck still resided alongside. And it was in the moments after murdering his family and two strangers that Banson Tuck reemerged, standing in the middle of the bloodstained floor and witnessed what he had done. He was overcome with devastation, confused at who had done such a thing, when he realized blood that covered his clothes and the knife he held tight in his hand. You cannot begin to understand how Banson Tuck felt when he cradled the body of his wife and grandchildren. It destroyed him to the point where he couldn’t even think properly. If you had only heard the cries that emitted from him as he quivered and shook, full of fear and regret. And he remembered it, too. The images that were now embedded into his mind were pure and crisp – the fearful eyes of his wife that now stared coldly up at him, the confused gaze of a child who could not yet comprehend what was happening, and the regretful look of the old man, who somehow knew it was his fault that this monster had broken out. Banson Tuck positioned the knife before his heart, planning full well to end his life right there, while the bodies of those dead by his hand were still warm.

“But in that moment of weakness, the evil found opportunity to once again emerge. Slowly, the Hero rose to his feet, stepping over the bodies of the damned creatures he had banished from this world, and locked the bakery. He found the note from the princess, knowing that that was the way into the kingdom. You see, there was a mental bond between The Hero and Banson Tuck, and The Hero had used what he had gathered from this mind to mold the world around him. Things were different now – the princess in power but only as a mere puppet. The Hero was placed under a spell that made him believe that nothing was wrong, and for him to go about living a normal life. But now the Hero was free, and he understood everything. He would return to the kingdom and destroy the evil that ruled no matter what the costs.

“He changed out of his bloodied clothes, and snuck to the stable. He silently killed a stable hand and stole one of the horses, then made away before anyone knew of what had happened. He traveled across the land and made his way to the kingdom, killing anyone he believed was the enemy, working to prevent him from his ultimate goal. He slit the throat of a weapons dealer he believed to be selling weapons to the adversary’s military, and stole daggers similar to those he carried when he first arrived in the kingdom all those years ago. He killed shop owners, drunks, whores, guards, civilians. He left a trail of blood and bodies behind as he approached the castle gate. At times, Banson Tuck would awaken and reclaim his body, only to cry out in agony once again, asking the gods why this happened to him. ‘What did I do to deserve this?’ he’d shout to the heavens. ‘I saved this world from darkness, and I am rewarded with being the murderer of my own family?’ And each time he would try again to end his life, but the Hero would not allow it.

“When the Hero reached the gates of the castle, his strategy had to change. He had to be cunning if he wanted to get to the princess (now Queen, as he had observed). He presented his letter from the princess as identification to the guard at the gate and demanded a council with the Queen.”

“Why didn’t anyone stop him?” the young man interrupted.

The stranger’s tone suddenly shifted, become cruel, almost mocking. “Because this is a time of peace, is it not? Had any of you heard of these events before recounted them to you? Did you hear of several murders throughout the kingdom and realize a trend, or did you believe them to be isolated events? I have no doubt it was the latter. We are an ignorant society, and in such a society, there is no need for communication! No one was warned of this danger, so no one was prepared when it struck. And disaster finally did come down on some village or town, they believed it had only stricken their community. Rumors spread, yes, but they were hardly met with any attention. No one felt the need to alert the true officials, the ones running this damned place, as to what was occurring right under their noses.

“This lack of preparation and awareness is what permitted Banson Tuck to enter our kingdom’s heart. It is why the guard who presented him to the court did so without a clue as to the crimes that the daggers along the Hero’s belt had committed. And our ignorance is why our beloved Queen, gods rest her soul, greeted the Grand Hero with open arms, full of trust and admiration.

“‘O, Grandest of Heroes!’ she proclaimed, moving towards him slowly, unsuspecting, unknowing. ‘How please I am that you return at last to our kingdom, no doubt to collect your rewards and receive the honor you always deserved.’

“And the Hero bowed deep and exclaimed “Yes, dear Queen! It is I. But I do not return to this kingdom seeking riches and rewards that are false. I see the truth, my princess, and I am here to destroy the source of the evil spell that has tricked us for so long into thinking that we were living in peace. The evil that holds you captive and makes you give out his evil commands.’

“And the Queen looked upon the Hero, confused, her arms now to her face. ‘But Hero, there is no such evil about, not since you destroyed it three decades ago. What makes you believe that it is anything but?’

“And then the Hero’s thinking changed. He understood the situation from a different light. He laughed aloud, a laugh that echoed off the walls of the throne room and hung in the air even when he was through. ‘I get it now, princess. I understand all of it. It was you all along, wasn’t it? You are the darkness that plagues this land. The dark force isn’t enforcing its rule through you – it is you! And the darkness must be destroyed.’

“There was no time to react. No time for the guards to draw their weapons or the Queen to back away. She was too close, and he was too quick. In a flash, the daggers were drawn, and in a flash they were dug into her body, on through her heart, the other into her spine, as the Hero gave her a deadly embrace. There were no words of triumph or announcement of his success. The Hero simply removed the weapons and let her body fall to the ground. He turned to the guards who were now rushing towards him, weapons drawn out, and downed them all, one by one. He suffered only one blow – a deep cut that ran from his forehead down his nose, and he quickly snuffed the man who did it. There was no time for the guards to even call for backup as the Hero raced to the window and jumped through the glass to the courtyard below. He climbed the wall and made his escape before the guards even had time to arrange themselves.

“The Hero rushed through the town, knowing that praise would not come easily. He would have to cleanse everyone’s mind, everyone who thought that their land was in peace and that all was well. He had to leave now, but he’d be back, once word had spread of his bravery.
“When Banson Tuck awoke once more, he found himself in a forest. There was no energy in him left. He was exhausted. He knew what his hands had done, but he did not have the energy to regret it. ‘I do not know why this is happening to me,’ he said to the void. ‘But I am tired, and I am alone. I cannot change what has happened, and I hardly have the power to even control myself. So I am giving up this body.’ He lifted his hands upwards towards the trees. ‘I relinquish this body to whatever force resides inside of me, and pray only for mercy in the next life. None of this was of my doing. I did nothing wrong.’ And his arms fell limp to the ground as he closed his eyes for the last time as Banson Tuck.

“Now, my friends, you have heard the story of our Grand Hero, and I hope you now understand why the Queen was murdered.”
The tavern was silent, as it had been for most of the story. Everyone, even those not involved in the initial conversation, had turned their heads and listened to the stranger’s tale, and they knew not what to think of it.

The portly man was the first to speak. “Tell me, stranger,” he said, slow and deliberate. “How is it that you came to know all of this? How did you know what was going through this man’s troubled mind, and the looks that defined the final moments of those who he killed?”
The cloaked man leaned back in his chair, placing his pipe in one of the pouches on his belt. “Before I answer you, I must as you this: do you all truly believe that we are living in a time of peace, especially after the story I just shared?”

Without thinking, the young man proclaimed “Of course!”

The traveler turned to the man, a crazed expression on his face, piercing eyes boring into the very soul of the speaker. “And who here agrees with him?”

There were a few isolated calls of agreement, then more as people throughout the tavern ensured the stranger that this was a peaceful town.

The stranger now stood at full, his cloak falling off of his head. He turned so that the entire bar could see him, and a collective gasp emerged from the crowd. From his forehead down his nose was a gnarled scar, and in his hands he now held the dagger from his belt, readying them for attack. “Then you are all tainted with a deep seeded evil, and therefore must die!” And he lunged himself at the young man, with an aim to kill all the demons that surrounded him.


It was the bitter cold of the night that made the warmth of the Herald’s Inn so inviting. Travelers and townspeople alike gathered to discuss the day, but the popular topic was on the recent murder of the Queen. As one group argued the legitimacy of the stories being told, a cloaked stranger approached and with a sly grin said, “My friends, I am willing to tell the whole story, if you are willing to listen.”
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einahsketch

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