AN: It's baaaaaack!


Chapter Le GET THE SHAD!

Termina field was extremely reminiscent of Hyrule Field, and yet somehow wilder. Overgrown grass dominated the field, and so did many strange monsters Shadow had never seen before. Shadow was happy to be away from the scorching heat of Ikana, but he missed it as well. Probably due to the fact that his soul knew it as home, even if his mind couldn't remember it. Zelly slept on his back in a makeshift sling made from a large piece of cloth. He found her presence a comfort, as he hadn't been on his own quite like this since he had banished himself to the Dark World with Ganondorf years ago. He felt her take in a shuddering breath and then sigh contentedly.

She's probably happy to be out of the heat, too, he surmised. Their friends in the Music Box House had said to head west, and that was just what he meant to do. However, it was beginning to get dark, and one thing Shadow was hopelessly bad at was survival in the wild. The dead desert was one thing. There were actually animals here, possibly hungry ones—those were a thing, right? Animals that ate you?

Sometimes being mortal wasn't as attractive as he thought.

Also, food. He'd forgotten all about that. He used to think you could just grab random stuff and eat it. He learned the hard way. He still remembered the wretched taste of the potion Zelda had made for him to fix his poisoned blood and foaming mouth and heaving stomach and . . . and other uncomfortable bodily upsets.

Don't eat underripe scoot fruits!

His stomach growled again. Zelly stirred. "Daddy, your tummy is noisy."

"I'm sorry, pretty girl, did I wake you?"

Zelly rubbed one of her eyes. "Yes."

An involuntary smirk crossed his features. "We'll find food somewhere, don't worry. Then you won't have to hear Daddy's tummy make noises." He was beginning to feel weak, actually, like his body wouldn't much respond, and his legs were beginning to shake. He was vaguely aware this was the effect of fatigue and hunger, but that didn't make it any less uncomfortable OR frightening. He tried to keep calm, even if he couldn't control anything else.

His stomach growled again, and Zelly leaned away from him. "I think I want to walk on the ground."

Truthfully, that would help a lot. "Alright, then."

They walked side by side, and a few minutes later a large structure loomed in the distance. I wonder if that's Clock Town?

As they got closer, the structure turned into a large, twenty foot tall wall that circled around a huge area. In the center of this large structure was a skyscraper of a clock tower. They approached the east gate and were greeted by a portcullis. Shadow tried to look through it, but the wall itself must have been at least ten feet thick, and there was very little to see on the other side of the short tunnel. "Hello?" he called.

Zelly wasted no time. She shadowed beyond the gate and walked in.

"Wha—Zelly!" Shadow half-scolded in a gravelly voice.

Then he followed suit.

They walked into a cobblestoned area surrounded with buildings both brick and wood, some with thatch roofs. A giant metal bell sat hanging above one building. Another building was shaped like a giant treasure chest. A set of wide stairs led to another open, cobblestoned area.

And it was all completely and utterly empty. The sun was still an hour from setting, and yet no one was outside. There were brambles in the street, and porches that would normally be well swept were covered in dust and debris. Some of these buildings looked like businesses, but they were devoid of any business.

A large BONG sound startled Shadow and he cried out, hiding in the nearest shadow. A melodious, mischievous laugh filled the air. Shadow frowned. The source of the noise was in fact that giant bell. Zelly, who had shadow melded up there while her father looked around, was hopping up and down in amusement at Shadow's reaction to her hitting the bell with a big stick.

Shadow returned to human form and put his hands on his hips, but he only barely managed to keep his own mischievous grin off of his face. "Zelly, come back down here!"

"Okay, Daddy!" she replied, and suddenly looked behind her. A door into the building's upper floor had opened up slightly, a figure looking out at them. Suddenly doors everywhere began to open.

Muddled voices began to discuss things huskily.

"Who rang the bell? It's not time to eat, is it?"

"Are we in danger? Is someone attacking?"

"Has something else gone wrong? What is it?"

Zelly, thoroughly spooked by the sudden appearance of so many strangers, shadowed to her father's side and grabbed his hand for security. Shadow squeezed back automatically.

A woman with straight, red hair appeared through the door by the bell, and she looked down. "Hello there! Do you need assistance?"

"Uh . . ." Shadow moved his mouth, trying to form words. "My daughter and I are passing through and she was naughty and rang the bell." Zelly giggled. "I was wondering if there was a place to stay?"

The woman's eyes widened. "You mean . . . you made it through the gates? You're not infected?"

"Infected?"

"Quickly! I'll open the first floor door. I'll be right there." She disappeared back in through the door.

What a strange question. Infected with what? Was everybody in this town sick? He looked around. Every person waddling out of their houses seemed confused, bumbling about. Their skin was covered with sores. Shadow tightened his grip on Zelly's hand and dragged her to the door the woman had indicated. Within moments, the woman had opened the door and Shadow and Zelly hurried inside.

They were in a lobby. A counter sat on one side, and couches sat near the door for guests. "Is this an inn?" Shadow asked.

The woman nodded. "The Stock Pot Inn, actually! I'm Anju." Now that they were close enough, Shadow examined her features. She had uplifted eyes, like she smiled a lot, a straight but happy seeming mouth. Her red hair was shoulder length and uneven, like it hadn't been trimmed in a while. Pock-mark scars dotted her face and lips, and even her hands and arms showed some marks. She had a slightly curved nose and a delicate chin.

"Are you . . .?" Shadow asked, gripping Zelly's shoulders tightly and unable to look away from the marks on her face.

She grinned bravely. "It's alright. I'm not contagious anymore. It leaves terrible marks, but . . . once it's left your system completely there's no chance of getting it again or giving it to someone else."

Shadow's grip relaxed, slightly. "I see. Sorry."

She shook her head. "Don't be. I'm sorry you ended up in here. We thought for sure we had locked all entrances."

"Ah, about that . . ." he started, then decided against telling her they'd snuck in. I'm an idiot. A closed gate likely means a bad thing! Duh! "So anyway, any chance we could . . . get some supplies? And leave?"

She looked concerned. "I'm afraid that won't be possible. At least until the next rain."

"The next rain? Why?"

"Outside of what I told you, we don't know how the disease spreads. It could be through the air. If it is, there's no point risking your life to leave town at this moment. Townsfolk are wandering about breathing into the air. You don't want to risk getting the infection from them. However, when it rains, all those toxins are washed out of the air, and most people stay inside. It's quite a bit safer."

"Okay," Shadow responded unsatisfactorily. He figured he and Zelly could simply shadow-meld out of the city . . . but that would require that Zelly didn't get playful and unmeld in front of someone infected. "What do we do until then?"

"You'll be safe here. This place is for those of us who have never caught the disease . . . or did and lived to tell the tale." She shrugged her shoulders and clasped her hands self consciously.

Jeez, a valley full of ghosts and now this! I remember Link saying Termina was tragic, but not THIS tragic. It's like these people have been forsaken by all of their gods . . .

Anju smiled again. "I'll take you to your room." Shadow took Zelly's hand and they followed Anju upstairs. A few people peeked out of doors of other rooms, but no one tried to speak to them. "They're afraid you're carriers," she explained. "They'll come around in a few days."

"A few days?" Shadow exclaimed. "I'm sorry . . . I just hope we're not here long . . ."

"Don't worry, I hope the same. For both your sakes."

Shadow couldn't help but think Anju was somehow familiar . . . and then he realized he'd seen someone who looked just like her before—a lady by the same name who lived in Kakariko. Link talked about her sometimes. Apparently she had saved his life once, back when Shadow first awoke after Ganon's defeat. Shadow had been confused and only knew he was supposed to kill Link, so he tried. And failed. Happily. Link had ended up at Anju's . . .

"Here it is!" Anju said as brightly as she could manage, opening a door into a quaint, tidy room. It was nothing much, but it was better than the outdoors Shadow and Zelly had been sleeping in.

Shadow turned after they entered and faced Anju. "Thank you. You didn't have to help us."

She smiled. "Of course I did." She shut the door. Shadow heard her footsteps down the hall as she returned to whatever she'd been doing before they ran into each other.

He shook his head. The resemblance between this Anju and Hyrule's Anju was uncanny, and he couldn't help but think how Sashira had his wife's eyes, and looked extremely like her. What IS Termina? An alternate world? Why are there people here who look exactly like the people in Hyrule?

There was a water basin in the room, and as Zelly explored the room singing to herself, Shadow decided to splash his face. He caught his own eyes in the mirror behind the basin and felt more than the cold water shocking his system.

He was from Termina. Termina. Who was HE? Who was his double?

The question already had an answer.

Link.

This was why they were so evenly matched, him as Dark Link and Link as the Hero of Time. This is why they shared characteristics, looks, and even some personality traits. And yet . . . they were different, all the same. Shadow was very clearly from Termina, and Link was very clearly from Hyrule. Their heritage was in their bones, their very makeup.

How had Shadow ended up in Hyrule? And why? What had happened to him?

He dried his face just then so he wouldn't have to stare into the mirror and contemplate how he and Link were doubles. His questions could only be answered once he and Zelly reached the coast . . .


Malon decided riding a wolf was not as comfortable as riding a horse—but it was a lot more fun! Link spent so little time with his paws on the ground that Malon wondered that they weren't flying. With the world covered in darkness as it was, however, she could almost imagine they were running in a sea of dark eternity. If not for the ranch ahead getting closer, she'd believe it.

With a warning grunt, Link latched onto the side of the wall around the ranch and began climbing up, Malon clinging to his neck, trying not to shriek as the ground got further and further away from them.

At the top of the wall, Malon clambered off Link and they tried to understand the chaos.

Belshad had returned, angrier than ever. However, there were slim lines of light on his neck. "That mus' be where ya hit him with light from the axe b'fore!" Malon stated.

Link morphed back to human form, axe in hand, and nodded.

The bulbin army was mostly lying motionless, but a few legions were carrying desperately on. A large hole in the ground sat where the cellar used to be. Malon clenched Link's arm. "The kids', the cellar!" Her hands flew to her mouth as she fell to her knees.

Link slinked an arm around her waist and pulled her up. "Don't lose heart on me now, my love!" He pulled out his hookshot and carried them to the top of the windmill, the last undamaged building. They walked in through a hole in the roof and hurriedly made it to ground level. Malon looked around frantically. Then pointed, "There!"

With Ilia, Talon, and the moblin priest who had helped Malon before standing in front as protection, the children were huddled next to each other in a tiny hollow in the wall. Link and Malon ran to them quickly. Malon grabbed as many of the children as she could possibly fit in her arms and cooed over them.

Link turned to the moblin priest. "Tell your forces to retreat! Take my family and get out of here!"

The priest's face lines deepened. "But the darkness . . . your family will not survive."

Link placed a hand on Malon's shoulder. She looked up, and at Link's gesturing, handed him the Fairy Sword. Link held it in his hand and close his eyes. Suddenly the Fairy Sword began to glow, and it returned to its full glory. In this darkness, it was almost as bright as the sun. "Take this," he said, handing it to Malon. "It should protect all of you. Keep you out of the darkness."

"What about you?" Malon asked. Not this again.

"I have to destroy that thing! I have to save Shad."

She wanted to tell him no, wanted to say let the monster have the ranch while they all disappeared—but that wasn't something the wife of the Hero of Twilight could say. She nodded, trying to be brave, but her voice caught anyway. "Alrigh'. But don't you die on me!"

Link grinned. "When have I EVER done that?"

Malon shot forward and kissed him.

"I'll find you, my love," Link said when she pulled away, then he morphed into a wolf again, the axe on his back, and galloped toward Belshad, leaving a trail of light.

"Alrigh'!" Malon turned around. "We're headin' out now!"

The priest nodded and ran to mobilize the rest of the moblins. Talon, Ilia, Malon, and the children hurried to the gates. The moblins caught up and gave them bulblins to ride, and soon the entire entourage was on its way away from the ranch.

Belshad noticed when the ranch became quieter, glancing around at the dead moblins around him. Link the Wolf growled at it, hackles raised, fangs bared, saliva dripping from them.

The darkness had encroached past the moblins' safeguards and began enveloping the ranch. Belshad lifted its snout and gave a sickening roar in victory.

Not so fast, nerd brain! Wolf Link raised his own snout and uttered a deafening howl. The soundwave blasted through the air and hit the darkness overhead, briefly parting it so the blue sky could shine through.

Belshad shrank, in surprise or fear, Link didn't know. Then it turned its gaze to Link, the last remaining Light figure in the entire ranch. Belshad bent low to the ground, parted its jagged mouth, and bellowed.