BY THE TIME Ganondorf turned eighteen, he had long since grown into his body. He went from a scrawny, awkward boy to a well-built, charmingly handsome young man. What's more is that he knew it, and took advantage of his charismatic personality. He was aware of his status as a male of royal blood and he took much delight in it as he stalked the streets of the city that would soon be his. He wasn't formal about it in any way however, and would often request that no one bow in his presence. Even when his mothers were walking with him, he would tell the onlookers to get up off their knees. "You're not dogs," was a well-known saying of his amongst the citizens.
Still, people were afraid. Something about the prince was unsettling, even when he was helping a poor old man to his feet. Ganondorf could sense it too, and felt a strange conflict toward his people. He wanted them to feel comfortable in his presence, but realized that making them feel like equals was not comforting for them at all.
There were a select few who embraced Ganondorf's nonchalance, many of them being the young girls to whom he would offer "tours of the palace." Two that stood out however were his sword instructor and current Chief of Military, an older woman by the name of Rumalia, and her daughter Nabooru. Rumalia had been teaching Ganondorf the techniques of Gerudo sword fighting since he was ten, and was already thoroughly comfortable with reprimanding him on his mistakes. Her daughter, Nabooru, was in training to become the next Chief of Military, second in command only to the future king. As soon as she was of age to start training, she joined Ganondorf in his lessons and the two became quick friends. They often sneaked around the city together, when they were supposed to be in their lesson on the history of Hyrule. And being best friends, Nabooru was one of the first to recognize a change in the prince. His parents could not place the strange behavior, and he didn't feel compelled to share with them anyway.
"Why are they so afraid?" Ganondorf asked Nabooru one day while they sat on the dusty ground of an alley, backs against the adobe wall of a market building.
Nabooru tossed a couple "magic" beans that she'd purchased from the market into her mouth. "They're afraid of change," she said. "You're the Gerudo prince. You're practically change incarnate."
Ganondorf watched as people passed by the alley entrance. "But the Gerudo king is supposed to bring prosperity. Why would they fear that?"
"Surely you're aware of the talk all around Hyrule," said Nabooru.
Ganondorf was aware. Now that his reign as king was approaching rapidly, Mother Koume had him sit in on the moonly meetings with the Gerudo Ambassador, Azaroon. The journey across Hyrule Field took about a day and half on horseback, and Azaroon would sometimes send a raven with a report that the information was not worth the trip. But as of a year ago, she had begun travelling to her homeland to report crucial information. The last time she had visited, she informed the Gerudo leaders of the murmurings of discontent both within and without the walls of Castle Town. With the Goron settlement growing larger, developing its own new hierarchy to claim Death Mountain, King Daltus was growing concerned with Hyrule's recently-established borders. Many Gorons and Zoras within Castle Town held secret meetings to discuss reclaiming the region as their own. Just because these Hylians claimed to be children of the Goddess did not give them automatic rights to the previously inhabited land. What concerned Azaroon was the place of the Gerudo in this debate. They were mostly Hylian at this point, but were still considered outcasts by those with pure Hylian blood. Not to mention the round-eared humans that were considered "lower" than Hylians, with no sacred connection to the gods. It was beginning to cast a dark and strange shadow over Ganondorf's prosperous rule.
"What does any of it have to do with me?" said the prince after a brief moment of contemplation.
"Are you serious?" Nabooru said. "You'll be the King of the Gerudo in a few years. If a rebellion does break out, you'll have to choose what's best for your people."
"What if they don't like what's best for them?"
Nabooru looked down at the bag of beans in her hands. "That's a risk you'll have to take. It won't be easy, but it'll make you stand out as a great leader."
Ganondorf closed his eyes. He hadn't seen anything of the strange entity that remained in the back of his memory since it had revealed itself five years ago. His nights had been entirely sleepless, and the strange shadowy figure would not cease to torment his vision whenever his eyes were closed. When night had fallen one evening, after sword practice, Ganondorf lay on his blankets, hot from the desert air. He gazed up at the ceiling of his overly-ornate sleeping chambers deep within the palace walls, breath coming and going heavily. After a long moment of mental preparation, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
He was no longer in his room, but standing atop an endless expanse of water. It was calm, despite the gray clouds above his head. Standing before him was the shadowed version of himself, small black wisps flying off in every direction. This time, a man stepped through the shadow, shaking it off like he would a cloak. He resembled the Gerudo prince, but was much older and had slightly beast-like features about him. What was more, this man was a towering sculpture of musculature, whereas the prince was still a scrawny little thing.
Ganondorf narrowed his thin, golden eyes. "Who are you?" he said coolly.
The man seemed to have a perpetual smirk about him. "I am a legend."
"Why are you here?" asked the boy. "What do you want with me?"
The man observed his hand idly, and Ganondorf noticed that his skin had a grayish pall to it. "I am your namesake, boy. I could be your father. And I want to tell you the truth about this world."
Ganondorf looked down at the water, confused. "How could you be my father?"
"How can you have two mothers?" said the man.
Ganondorf frowned. He always wondered why there were only a few other men in the Valley, but his parents always said it was just the way things were. He certainly didn't know why two mothers were required for his upbringing.
The man smirked. "My name is Ganon."
Ganondorf looked up at him. His schoolteacher had once told him the fable of Ganon and the Beast. Ganon was a mighty warrior who ruled the whole region of Lanayru, having conquered all of its evils with an almost bloodthirsty vengeance. One day, a horrible Beast wandered through his land, wanting to devour everything in sight. Wherever he stepped, the lush greenery died and withered, crumbling into the sand that now filled the Valley. Ganon, having the spirit of a thousand warriors, made a deal with the Beast. If it devoured him, he would have to leave his people alone. The Beast agreed, but when he indeed devoured Ganon, the mighty warrior did not die, but lived on as the Beast. Only then did he discover that this Beast was merely an image of himself, a primal manifestation of the "victorious" conquests that slaughtered hundreds.
"That's just a myth," said Ganondorf.
"Did I not say I was a legend?" said Ganon.
Ganondorf narrowed his eyes, watching the man carefully. "What do you mean by the truth about this world?"
Ganon laughed heartily. "You're still just a boy," he said. "You have much to learn, one step at a time."
Ganondorf smiled. Something about this figure felt comforting. He wondered if it was the feeling usually brought on by having a father. "Are you real?"
"Of course I am," said Ganon. "But I'm not yet strong enough to take corporeal form." His eyes glinted with a grin. "But don't you worry, my son. Open your eyes, and let sleep overcome you. You shall rest well tonight."
Ganondorf opened his eyes slowly to the ceiling once more. They did not stay open for long, as sleep dragged at his whole body. After a brief moment, he finally fell into the most wonderful sleep of his life.
He opened his eyes. "Come with me to Castle Town," he said suddenly, mind back in the present. "Mother Koume and Kotake are taking me for the first time tomorrow."
Nabooru laughed. "You know I can't. It's the perfect opportunity for my mother to show me how things run at the Fortress with you and Koume gone." She paused, smile fading as she looked back down at her hands. "Ask one of your girls to go."
Ganondorf was already beginning to collect a harem, but it wasn't necessarily in his favor. Many girls pursued the prince in hopes of becoming his princess, and possibly the mother of the next leader. It wasn't exactly subtle however that both Ganondorf and Nabooru preferred each other's company, but with her predesignated position among the warriors, a coupling between them would be nigh impossible. They never spoke about their feelings for each other, and were both too stubborn to do anything about it.
The next day, Ganondorf awoke to his personal servant offering him a quick breakfast of toast with purple chu jelly and salted Deku nuts before his journey across the Desert and Hyrule Field. The young prince ate in silence before dressing in the traditional garbs of Gerudo royalty. His robes were a deep blue with golden trimming, and he adorned his forehead with a golden gemstone circlet that held back his chin-length crimson hair. The stone was a symbol of high importance to the Gerudo, even though they were only ever worn outside the Desert as a means of identification.
The carriage couldn't travel across the Desert's unstable sands, so the travelers had to traverse the sand on horseback. Ganondorf was delighted by this fact; he rarely got to ride his dear Wrana, at least for extended periods of time. By the time he had mounted his steed, he had bolted off ahead of the group, much to his parents' frustration. But as long as they were in Gerudo territory, they were confident in their son's ability to defend himself if the need arose.
Once across the monotonous sands, following the red signal flags, Ganondorf came across the Gerudo Fortress, where Nabooru and all the sentries and warriors trained and resided. The huge complex was right on the edge of the Desert, looking out over the Valley that connected to Hyrule Field. It was also frequented by the prince himself for his sword training.
But Ganondorf couldn't stop here now, as much as he'd like to. He strode forward through the Valley, skillfully guiding his horse through the narrow passage. The mountainous region which once housed some sort of mining facility was slightly more elevated over the Field. The mines had long since been deserted when the Gerudo made their home there.
Finally at the bottom of the Valley trail, Wrana stopped. There, where the stony sand gave way to lush grass, was a single Gerudo sentry tower. It was fitted with all supplies necessary for a trip either across the Field or the Desert, including the carriage that would soon transport the travelers toward the heart of Hyrule. The others eventually caught up while Ganondorf allowed Wrana to drink from the temporary stables behind the sentry tower. After a brief argument with his parents, he was eventually given begrudging permission to ride his horse across the Field instead of sitting in the carriage. Koume and Kotake had argued that it wasn't professional having the future king show up on horseback, but clashing with their son's stubborn personality rarely resulted in success. Thus, Ganondorf mounted his horse once again and the miniature caravan set out for Castle Town.