You understand what it means to be used at the whims of a higher power.

You were human once, when the stars had just been hung in the sky and the land was still rich with the magic of its creation. When the races of the world were young and free, and the goddesses of the world even more so. Before your King whispered into your ear, and you discovered the sweet sublimation of servitude to him.

You were human no longer at the beginning of the Great War- your dark lord had seen fit to elevate you far above anything you could have imagined, honing your mind and spirit until you were a weapon fit to serve at his right hand. And when that dog of a goddess managed somehow to seal him away, your lord entrusted you with the keys to his revival.

You haven't been human for thousands upon thousands of years.

And yet you are alike, you and this milk-fed youth the goddess sent to oppose you.

It's laughable, almost pitiable, how he stands before you, grim-faced and determined with his sword clenched tightly in his fist. You introduce yourself, and though he sneers you see apprehension lurking behind his eyes. When he steps forward to attack you his swings are less wild than they might be- clearly he has had some sort of training, but you've had millennia of battle experience, and you catch the tip of his blade between your fingers with not a small amount of condescension.

And you see her, hovering over his shoulder, blank eyes fixated on your face.

The fact that the goddess you abhor saw fit to raise another to your stature makes you furious.


Sick with anger.

It leaves you quite a strong appetite for bloodshed, and yet you cannot bring yourself to slaughter this child like you should. Instead you taunt him, mock him, send him sprawling with lazy sweeps of your hand. He gets back up each time, wiping the blood from nose and cheek and mouth. His stubbornness is almost endearing, and even though most of you screams with the need to break through the door that loathsome servant of the goddess sealed behind her you stay.

Though you aren't touching that blade anymore, you still feel her gaze upon you.

He lands one hit, then another, and what was an interesting diversion becomes tedious and irksome in a flash. With that comes the realization that the girl has somehow fled from this place, accompanied by the goddess' wench, and your mood sours further.

"You put up more of a fight than I would have thought possible out of such a soft boy," you say, and watch his expression shift from focused determination to confusion. "But don't clap for yourself quite yet. That sword of yours is the only reason you still live."

His hand tightens on the hilt. You imagine her shape, floating cold and empty-eyed over his shoulder- an ever-present protector, with barely any free will of her own. She may be like you, but she is magnitudes weaker, it appears- a bothersome presence, but nothing that could stand against the might of a Demon Lord at full power.

You wrap that thought around you like a cloak, secure in your superiority, and turn to your opponent once more.

"Goodbye, sky child," you tell him. "Run and play this time. Get in my way again, though, and you're dead."

With that, you depart. You have so much to do, and so little time.

Your minions capture her on the heat-hazed slopes of Eldin Volcano,but by the time you arrive the servant has snatched her away once more. Your fury is uncontrollable as you stand before the door she sealed behind her, hands clenching into fists as a growl bubbles behind your teeth.

The door at the bottom of the long sloped path opens, and the boy from before steps through. He is burned, tunic scorched to the chainmail beneath in a few places. His eyes are harder, expression sterner than when you last met, but he is still so terribly young, and you laugh as you turn to face him.

He listens to you vent in silence, and for some reason that drives your fury to unfathomable levels. "There's someone special I'd like you to meet," you hiss, and when he takes a step back you are filled with malicious delight. "Oh, don't be shy! I need to vent all this unhealthy anger, and your agony is such a great stress reliever."

You snap your fingers, calling forth the pyroclastic parasite you have been nurturing in this temple for years upon end. "It won't take more than a few moments with my friend before you're charred to a satisfying crisp," you tell him, teeth drawing back from your lips in a rictus grin as you feel the rumble of its consciousness flaring to life. "And let me tell you, that will put a spring in my step!"

You do not have the time to stay around and watch him die, alas. You swirl your cape around yourself and depart.

You are subdued. The spirit maiden has escaped your grasp in a most thorough manner, and for the first time in a long time you know the meaning of despair.

For some reason you feel yourself drawn to Faron Woods, and you walk through the sunlight in silence. The foolish jewel-bright birds scatter when you approach, which is only proper. As always, you feel the deep thrum of your master's presence just beyond your reach.

Until it isn't any more.

Some great beast's cry splits the air like a peal of thunder, and you feel your dark lord's presence surge to the forefront of all of your senses, dropping you to your knees. His rage is incandescent, lighting you up from the inside, and it has been so long since you have felt the sweet relief of pain and pleasure and pride and loyalty all wrapped in each other until you can no longer discern them separately-

-you see through your master's eyes, ignoring the tiny presence darting around you, so close to the sacred temple-

-for one glorious white-hot moment you feel his freedom, and giddily think you won't need the spirit maiden after all-

-then a single crystal-clear note echoes through the forest, and astonished outrage burns through your veins like wildfire, scorching you from the inside out as your master's presence fades. Pain like this you haven't felt since the Great War; it takes you longer than you would like to gather your scattered consciousness enough to drag yourself to the nearest log and prop yourself against it.

You no longer need sleep, haven't needed sleep in an untold amount of time, but occasionally you still need to bring your thoughts together- and so you meditate. You expend more effort than you are willing to admit arranging yourself properly- legs folded, elbows firmly on knees, curve of your spine complementing the bow of your shoulders and the set of your hips- and breathe.

You only come back to yourself when you hear footsteps crunching through the leaves.

You're standing before you realize it- the pride of a Demon Lord demands at least some form of decorum, and that does not include sprawling on the ground for anyone to see.

Especially the goddess' chosen hero.

He walks along the beaten forest path as if he doesn't see where he's going and doesn't particularly care either- his tunic is torn and soiled, grass stains and bloodstains spotting it liberally. Though it hasn't been that long since you faced him at the broken Gate of Time, he seems…diminished.

He is not broken- this one will never break, you are certain, and more's the pity for it- but he has never experienced loss before, and he is fragile.

You take a step forward and he halts, lifting his head up as though it weighs more than he expected. His gaze slowly focuses on you, and rather than the surprise or fear you were expecting there is nothing.

He is resigned to his fate, it seems, and though you haven't been human for a very long time something twists inside of you.

"I see you have met my lord and master," you murmur, taking another step forward. "Awe-inspiring, is he not? His true form, though… ah, now his true form is the very definition of glorious." He stays where he is, and you step right up to him, merely inches away. He looks down and away, and you bend to whisper in his ear. "If you had only given me the spirit maiden, you could have seen it so much sooner," you purr, frustration leeching into your tone.

He does not move. You unbuckle the belt holding the sword to his back, and he lets it fall unimpeded.

His shoulders are slumped. His sword lies at his feet. He is vulnerable, open to attack. You could reach out and snap his neck, plunge your hand through his breastbone and rip out his still-beating heart, run him through six times before he could even blink.

You sweep him into your arms instead.

He stiffens, shocked, tenses to pull away. You do not move, simply stand there with your arms around him. Though he opposes you and all you stand for, though he may be the first opponent you may truly call a nemesis, he is still a child in the eyes of the world, and children should never be forced into games between gods like this.

A minute passes. Three. The panicked beating of his pulse slows, he gradually slumps against you. Slowly, hesitantly, his arms come up to encircle your back.

"Such an odd place to confide in, foolish boy," you murmur, and find yourself idly stroking his hair. He shivers in your grasp, head pressed firmly against the hollows of your collarbone. You find yourself surprisingly reluctant to acknowledge how well he fits there.

He cries without sound, a man's pain forced through a boy's spirit. You remember the trials your lord put you through, the utter agony you endured to become as you are today, and yet you were a man grown, you chose it. You were not forced into your role.

Others have stood before you in their time, and all have fallen before your might- but not him, not this sapling of a youth with the determination of an entire race behind his eyes. He has your respect for that.

The sun has begun to set when he has cried himself dry. You release him, taking a few steps back. The afternoon light wreaths his hair in gold. His eyes are bloodshot, yet clear and purposeful.

You pick up his blade. Once again you see her, empty-eyed and silent, powerless against you. You laugh under your breath and hand it to him, and he straps it to his back in silence.

When he turns to leave you raise a hand to stop him.

"Link," you say, rolling the name thoughtfully in your mouth. "Make no mistake. I should have reprimanded you the last time we met, but instead I was… soft. I'd take pleasure in punishing you now, but I have no time for recreation."

He doesn't flinch. He doesn't step back. He's not afraid at all anymore. You give him a smile that's not very far from a sneer, and the piece of you that was once human is proud. "Next time, I'll do more than just beat you senseless," you murmur to him, taking his chin in your hand, your thumb brushing along his jawline. "I'll make the affair so excruciating, you'll deafen yourself with the shrill sound of your own screams."

He sucks in a breath. His pupils narrow to pinpricks. Before he can react further, you're gone.