Stairway To Heaven

By DeadeyeDave, extra-special thanks to Mr Crash

***

~~~There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold~~~

The Master Sword clashed with the Lizfols' scimitar. Sparks felw as the blades danced, gleaming in the sun. The sun shone down brilliantly that day, as if mocking the bloodshed taking place benieth it.

The Lizfols hissed, flickering its forked tounge. It seemed that with each strike, the reptillian creature came one step closer to succumbing to the bloodlust boiling under his skin. It bubbled over then, screeching, he flung his sword aside and pounced. Link tried to stop the creature with his shield, but the monster's reach was enough to let it tear into Link's face with its jagged claw.

That was the last action it took. Bringing his sword about Link stabbed cleanly into the creature's side. It gurgled, fell from Link's shield, taking the sword with it. Link stood over the creature, stepped on its face, and levered the sword from its side as the Lizfols noisily expired.

~~~And she's buying a stairway to heaven~~~

Link had little time to wipe the ghastly ichor from his once-pure blade. Before he could even turn to find another target, an arrow streaked by his head and buried itself in the wall of Lon Lon Ranch. Whirling around Link saw the archer, another Lizfols with a bow some 200 feet away, in a tree.

Darting behind a fallen wall of the ranch, Link redied an answer. Drawing his bow he nocked an arrow and sprung up, drawing a bead on the reloading Lizfols archer. The bow sung. Scarcely had his hand released the string did the archer fall, peirced through the neck, to the ground, adding its blood to the growing potluck that was Hyrule Field.

Link strapped the bow onto his back and scanned the battlefield. This was unlike any other war he had witnessed. There were no ranks, no companies, no sides of battle charging to meet each other, only crowds and masses, a thousand seperate struggles taking place in a thousand places. He saw two Hylian royal guardsmen fending off ten Lizfols, their pikes goring each one by one. But the Lizfols had numbers. As one pikeman stabbed, two Lizfols fell on him from behind, tearing his flesh to pieces. His friend tried to run, but was struck down before he had taken a single step.

~~~When she gets there she knows if the stores are all closed~~~

Link laughed, cruelly, as he saw the man's armor being torn apart and his flesh going with it. "This is no place for a hauberk, better to wear light leather," he thought. The fact that the two were being eaten, still living, before his eyes bothered him not at all. He was preparing to nock another arrow but thought better of it: the last thing he needed was more foes, more than he could handle.

He saw a wounded one, gasping for assistance as the rest of its troop marched on. A Hylian archer had pierced its leg, a deliberating and effective strike, but not deadly. Link fell back behind a pile of rubble, and stalked silently as the company moved on. Then emerging from his cover he approched the wounded Lizfols.

~~~With a word she can get what she came for~~~

The creature blinked uncomprihendingly at the dirty, torn figure before him, arms caked with dried blood and clothing ripped with countless claw- strikes. Five deep trenches were dug from his once-fair face, and these wounds, freshly made, bled down and spotted his dirty white collar with droplets of red. But the Lizfols had only to look for a moment to know who he faced.

"Mercy..." it hissed, writhing and gasping, coughing blood onto the dusty ground.

Link decided to heed its request. He pierced its windpipe cleanly with a single quick stroke. The creature had not suffered in death, he figured. He tore the arrow out of the reptile's thigh and put it into his own quiver, the blood coating the first three inches of it still warm.

~~~And she's buying a stairway to heaven~~~

It had little time to rest there. From the horizon Link say a burning body fall to the ground, and flames gouted from an unseen source. Link drew his bow and ran head-on to meet the new threat.

Before Link had faced death unflinchingly, brave in the face of any danger. He then knew that his bravery was the hope of the world, and that his mission was one of the highest honor. He walked to meet death from the front, knowing the rightiousness behind him.

Now, Link fought just as unflinchingly, but for a different reason. Now Link did not fear death because he was valliant, but because he had nothing left to live for.

~~~There's a sign on the wall, but she wants to be sure~~~

He knew where the flames were coming from. Dinofols, the Lizfols' backup, were the only cause. They disdained the use of weapons, instead preferring to answer a strike with a searing breath of fire. They were often deployed in cruel shock troops, since even a small number can anhilliate an entire company of soldiers unequipped to handle them. They were weapons of fear as much as anything, and Link saw guardsmen in front of him throwing down their weapons and running, usually only serving to test the Dinofols' aim.

Link ran past the burining bodies unthinkingly. Now his thoughts were on battle, the enemy, his last stand, not of the death surrounding him. If he thought of the death, the destruction of goodness and love around him, surely he would have thrown down his weapons himself and welcomed his own death with open arms. His thoughts were not on the past, nor the future.

~~~'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings~~~

The past was too much. He'd seen too much of what he once knew and loved crumble to ashes and blow away on the winds. He'd watched his dreams and his life crushed to dust. He didn't even care about revenge. When he began fighting, they asked him why. They assumed it was to get revenge on the armies of Lord Gannondorf who had taken it all away, but he didn't even care about that anymore either. All he knew now was battle; he fought simply because his alternative would be to fling himself on the pyre of his past life, burning with it in a last defiance. He wasn't ready for that, yet.

He knew that someday it would come. The war with the forces of the Lord Gannondorf was going worse and worse by the day. The defeat was inevitable. The troops had marched on Hyrule Castle, laying siege to it and finally bring it down, with all the Royal Family inside...

Can't think of that, he thought, as he continued to run towards the now- visable batallion of Dinofols. Before them lay a confused mass of guards, rushing this way and that into the Dinofols' ranks, turning the well- orderded ranks to confusion.

Gannondorf's millitary precision was unmatched and since his soldiers' lives were in the hands of the tyrant, they were made all the more disciplined. At least, in drills. But on the battlefield their ranks would stay together until a lookout spotted an enemy soldier, or until the sounds of combat were heard. Then the ranks disappeared and the only discipline still left was the tradition of awarding the trooper who took the first life of the battle with another ceremonial scar. The longest-lived veterens had faces covered with deep claw scars, as did their arms and chests. Fear and respect eminated from them.

~~~In a tree by the brook there's a songbird who sings~~~

Now was the moment when the Dinofols, more prone to rages and berzerker tactics than even other minions of Gannondorf, snapped. Breaking ranks with a savage warcry, the beasts let fly an inital fire storm, then fell upon the remaining Hylians with a great leap, raking the guardsmen with their powerful legs and clawed hands.

Now, Link thought. He nocked the arrow from the slain Lizfols, whispering, "Taste the blood of your kin" softly. Letting the arrow fly, his whisper became a shout, filling him with the memories of his past and fanning the flames of his anger.

"For Zelda and the Royal Family!"

The Dinofols stopped their assault. They looked to the source of the oath, only to see a dirty, ragged man on the crest of a hill. He was battle- scared, looking more like the corpses they left behind them than any warrior. But there on the hilltop, bathed in light, he looked knightly, kingly, like a long-forgotten paladin whos spirit had been awakened. He held to his lips the last thing he posessed that had not become tainted by the evil he had slain, even through this final battle.

The Ocarina of Time.

Like a jewel it shone across the battlefield, and as Link played, tears ran down from his eyes, washing away the grime and blood that coated his face. The notes rang with supernatural volume, and yet were sweet, bitter, soft as a kiss and mournful. They hearkened thoughts of a bygone time, of innocence, love, not just for the one who played them, but for all who heard them.

Zelda's Lullaby.

~~~Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven~~~

The Dinofols gasped. Hissing at the purity of such music, they snarled in defiance. The gasps of the dying one, whose throat Link's arrow had pierced, ceased. The Hylians stopped. Their own pasts rushed back to them, making them brim with emotions. Tears welled in their eyes as well, and each knew in his heart that the name of the Princess was a name of courage and love. They knew now they had a purpose, to preserve the memory of Hyrule as it once was, and their spirits rallied behind them.

Link played, but he did not know it: he was lost in thoughts, forgetting all else, immersed in a dream, the memory of the last time he and Zelda had seen each other.

Night. The stars shone, he walked from the courtyard of Hyrule Castle. He had volunteered. After a retirement of sorts, his blade was needed again. And so he had come back to say one last goodbye...

A kiss, sweet and endearing, and he had to leave.

He turned to take one last look at her. Her skin was soft in the moonlight, eyes glistening. A tear rolled down her cheek as she whispered a farewell. Link turned, then, and walked off. He never would return to that place, and now, he knew, he never would see her again. Gone. Forever.

~~~Ooh, it makes me wonder...Ooh, it makes me wonder~~~

He awoke to find himself finishing his song, its last notes dying like his life had that night. He didn't think he could weep---in the last few days he had seen bodies piled to the sky and not blinked---but now he did, softly, bitterly, tears for a life never to be finished.

He turned to his allies. Tears flowed hot down his cheeks and mixed with the blood on his tunic.

"In the name of Zelda, the Princess," he cried to the heavens, issuing from his soul his last remorse, his will and testiment. "You shall not destroy what we have left. For Princess Zelda! May she be never forgotten, her name released to take its rightful place amongst the stars. I fight in her name, though she be gone, I will never forget..."

~~~There's a feeling I get when I look to the west~~~

The Hylians wept freely now, remembering the name of their beloved princess. They raised their shields on high, crying aloud the name of the Princess and the Triforce. On each of thier shields that symbol was painted, and now it became more than their standard, it became an icon of the death of the war.

Link raised his sword, a righteous strength welling in his heart. His cry became strong, now a last resolve to preserve what he could. No longer a bitter lament, now his voice rose to the commanding power it usually had. Tears still warm on his face, he charged to engage the Dinofols. "For the Princess! For Hyrule!" The shout was echoed by the Hylians, who charged with equal fervor to meet death head-on.

Link, for the first time in months, had purpose. He fought now to avenge his past, to preserve the present, and secure the future. His emptiness was filled. He charged, feeling brave, as he once did, long, long ago. This battle, he would fight with nothing to lose, but with a cause more noble than any he had ever faced danger for before.

~~~And my spirit is crying for leaving~~~

The Dinofols panicked. This new bard was something they had never seen before. They knew of the Ocarina of Time, but no one among them knew it would be there to hinder them. Most of them thought Link had died in the castle...

Even faced with the reality of his presance, many Dinofols could not believe that the man bearng down on them was the same hero who defeated their master years before. Seeing him bathed in light, yet looking like a corpse of some great catastrophy, many secretly concluded it was his wrathful spirit, dead but returned to see the end of his only mission, then to return to the earth after his service was done. In a sense, they were right.

He came charging down the hill like liquid fire, tearing throught the group of lizards. The Hylians flanked them, and in the confusion, many Dinofols simply couldn't deal with the two threats at once. Disheartened, the troop tried to scatter, but by the time they saw an opening to escape most were dead. Hylian losses were equally severe, proving the reputation Gannondorf's troops posessed of fighting like cornered rats when outnumbered. Link, wiping the blood from his sword and the grime and tears from his face, smiled.

"Good job boys, let's move out!"

He felt a feeling he hadn't felt in ages. A feeling that he last felt, perhaps, when he was fighting the monsters of Hyrule years before. He finally felt glad to be in the battle. All else was forgotten but the joy of combat, the feelings of courage that took over him.

He turned to lead the army, and his joys were dashed forever.

~~~In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees~~~

The Dinofols he had slew were not alone. Already others had made quick work of other platoons of Hylians. Burning bodies lay beyond the crest of the hill. Looking down into the basin of Hyrule Field, Link saw for an instant what seemed to be the aftermath of a forest fire. Like a great blasted crater it stood open, fires burning left and right and the moans of dying soldiers, and the screeches of dying lizards, were the only sounds.

The forests were burning. Kokiri Forest, his homeland, was alight, sending great columns of smoke and searing heat into the sky. The Deku Tree, the once-mighty protector of the magical realm, burned of mundane flames. Kokiri, once the last protector of all of Hyrule, burned. The flames spread quickly, consuming other parts of forest.

~~~And the voices of those who stand looking~~~

He was stunned, overwhelmed, and dispirited once more. Unsure what to do, Link scanned the fields for any activity. He felt an overwhelming sense of dread in the air. Something tangible was creeping over the blood-soaked battlefield. Something evil.

He had faced this evil before, in a time that now seemed to be eons ago. It was the very evil that once ravaged Hyrule and conquered its throne. It had now returned to reclaim the throne it had lost by his hands.

~~~Ooh, it makes me wonder...Ooh, it really makes me wonder~~~

All around Link the corpses of the fallen Hylians and minions of Ganon began to change. Dead flesh began to seethe and roil, bubbling into a nausiating putrid goo that sloughed off the bones of the fallen. Black energy permiated the air and the ground, feeding off of the suffering and death that was reigning over the world. Elsewhere, Hyrulians and monsters alike stopped battle to stare amazedly at the nexus of vile magic that was beginning to swirl at the center of the battle.

Link knew all to well what was happening. He had seen it happen before. Ganon was a resourceful master. He knew that a corpse can be as valuable as a living warrior, with a liberal dose of necromantic magic. Link ran head- on towards the storm of energy, which was growing by the minute and sucking into its vortex the bones of the dead. The Master Sword in his hand glowed bright, and the caked blood and ichor of the vile beasts it had slain fell off of it in its new glory. The blade of evil's bane was ready to battle the greatest evil that had ever despoiled the fair face of Hyrule.

~~~And it's whispered that soon if we all call the tune~~~

He was too late to prevent the terrible transformation. The vortex burst forth on itself in a deafening blast of foul power. Link was knocked to the ground, and the sword's light dimmed in the hurricane of black force.

This energy dispersed all over the battlefield. Wounded were blown away, those still standing were knocked back and stunned by the blast. The black mists, with almost sentient movements, dispersed into the bones of the dead whose flesh had been sickeningly liquefied.

~~~Then the piper will lead us to reason~~~

The skeletons of the fallen would lay in peace no more. The vile energy imbued their empty eye sockets with smoldering red pinpoints of light. The spirits of darkness inhabited the bones and gave them the gift of undeath. All around Link, the Hyrulians, and the forces of Ganon, skeletal Stalfols began to rise. Some clawed their way from crude battlefield graves, others from where they fell. Thousands began to animate, and Link's worst fear had come to pass. With every death, from now on, a new, undying warrior will be born.

~~~And a new day will dawn for those who stand long~~~

The skeletons turned their burning gaze on the forces of Hyrule, as the minions of Ganon cheered. With renewed fury they set upon the guardsmen, hewing their armor and their flesh to pieces. The Stalfols picked up the weapons that they once held in life and marched out to do battle.

Link was beyond fear. He was beyond hope or care or rationality. The Master Sword infused him with holy fury. His every nerve tingled with the power of the light. Unheeding of the deadly blades he ran with supernatural vigor into the battle.

~~~And the forests will echo with laughter~~~

He first met a small group of Stalfols, perhaps once part of a company of troops. Leaping into the fray he struck one from behind and severed its skull from its rotting body. The headless horror turned to engage him, but Link deftly chopped it in the midsection. But by the time he had hacked the monster into pieces, the others had turned to maul him.

Holding his sword behind him, he charged the blade with magical essence and prepared to swing. Gripping the hilt with two hands he released the energy in a wild circular strike that slashed the decaying bodies of the Stalfols. They fell to the ground, disintegrating from the power of the magical strike.

~~~If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now~~~

The Stalfols Link had slain would not rise again- the power of the Master Sword banished their animating forces back to the world of darkness they came from. But other Hylians were helpless to stop the unkillable husks of life. They could only battle desperately to save themselves for a time before their adversaries rose once more.

Link realized this, and dispaired, for he knew that he would be dead before even a fraction of the Stalfols had been slain, and his body would become another warrior to serve the evil Ganon. Link's blood boiled with the thought, and he knew then what he had to do. Ganon, his ancient nemesis, would have to fall once more.

~~~It's just a spring clean for the May-Queen~~~

He knew where to find him. Ganon knew all along that he would fight Link once more. He knew that he would confront his old foe, and where. Where? The same battleground that he had once, so long ago, been defeated on. Link knew this too. It was destiny. No one really could tell if the prophecies of Hyrule would be fulfilled before, but now, during this Ragnarok of the world, it seemed that the fulfillment of the prophecies would be certain. The war of the world and the final battle were the culmination of the whole of Hyrulian prophecy.

Link ran towards the smoking wreckage of Hyrule Castle. He would be saddened to return to the site where his life had gone up in flames, but now his mind was solely on the defeat of his enemy. No Stalfols tried to impede him, almost as if they knew that this warrior was not destined for battle with the likes of them.

~~~Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run~~~

Link did not fear death. No matter road he chose to tread, death would come to him in due time. He thought of himself not as a martyr, not as a glorious hero. He charged headlong into the icy embrace of death with nothing but righteous fury in his heart. Truly, he had been redeemed.

For all the death and destruction that had been caused around him, he was redeemed. His soul shone bright as a shining star in the black nebulous darkness of space. The Master Sword shone like a beacon of goodness and hope.

This was the path he had chose, and he, the holy warrior of the light, plunged into the darkness to light the way for the innocent.

~~~There's still time to change the road you're on~~~

As he reached the once-glorious gates of Hyrule Market Town he saw they were collapsed and broken. Icy winds blew across the plains. He took a final look back onto the battlefield, where black energy was spreading like a cancer across the land. This was the last hope for Hyrule. All of the world rested on his shoulders.

He thought of the refugees in Death Mountain and deep in Kokiri. He remembered their ashen faces as they poured into the woods and onto the giant mountain, streaked with grime and soot from the firey end their homes had met. Kariko Village was once again in flames. Before the flames had come from a dark power, and now they came from the same darkness. That time seemed so long ago that it was unrecognizeable. Link's quest in Hyrule...his journey to Termina...all seemed lost in a blur behind him. He turned and entered the gates of the town, and the past disappeared behind him.

~~~And it makes me wonder...~~~

The sky darkened with malignant power. The sun was blotted out by the black clouds of rain. These were no ordinary storm clouds, but harbingers of death that the dark lord Ganon rode on his conquests. As the rains began to fall Link was undeterred. He passed the gutted guardhouse, moving carefully through the crumbled mortar and torn-up cobblestone street. The last time he saw this place, the sun shone brightly, children laughed, and the sounds of music wafted through the air.

In the town square he saw horrors beyond imagination. Bodies lay everywhere, crushed and mutilated by the collapse of buildings and houses. The fountain ran red with blood even weeks after the attack on the city. Death crept and slithered and stalked the city like a shadowy thief. Link cautiously moved through the city. There was one thing that he saw that assured him if he died, it would not be in vain.

~~~Your head is humming and it won't go, in case you don't know~~~

The Temple of Time was still standing. The symbol of all Hyrule and of the light of purity was unscathed by the carnage and death that surrounded it. Deserted and abandoned, it still stood as a testement to the power of goodness. There he had, so long ago, placed the stones of spirit into the Pedistal of Time and opened the door. He had ascended into a world plagued by evil, and now the plague was upon the world again. The Master Sword glowed vibrantly, and he found renewed strength.

Pressing on, following the giant plume of smoke that had once been Hyrule Castle, Link was unfazed at the horror around him.

~~~The piper's calling you to join him~~~

Up the long and winding road he walked confidantly, then ran, towards his objective. He was objective himself---objective all the time, closer and closer to an unescapible termination, a final destination for his life. He didn't know how it would end, but he knew only that it would end there. An end, perhaps in death, perhaps in victory. A difference? He saw none. He cared not whether he would live or die now, but only that he would reach his goal.

He looked back on the carnage and the death that was sprawled out beneath him as he climbed the hill that, in happier times, he walked up to go the castle and meet his princess.

He saw the city anhiliated and the whole of Hyrule Field consumed by black energy. As he kept running he guessed that by now, every last one of the soldiers of Hyrule was dead, their bodies turned into more dire and evil warriors to fuel the war machine of Ganon's conquest. They were probably going off, scaling Death Mountain, invading deep into the Zora's Domain, through the sacred trees of the deepest parts of Kokiri, slaughtering anyone they saw, survivors of the war, refugees, the children, the old, the wounded. He cared not for them.

He knew that the world was no longer worth saving.

~~~Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know~~~

He hoped to defeat Ganon---of course he did. But if he didn't...how would it be different? Would he wish to live on in a world destroyed by evil, its population all but gone, he, the last survivor of evil? Would he wander the blasted wastes of the world, shouting to the souls whose ghosts lingered on the scorched battlefields that he was the savior of the world, the hero who had defeated the menace of Ganon and saved the pitiful remnants of the once- great civilization? Would he want to go on, the pain of loss and death in his heart, drifting throught the world, a relic of the past? Visiting the sites he once loved, seeing their ashes blowing away on the cold wind, hearing the voices of his friends and his love on the breeze but knowing that they were only in his mind? Would he wish to live in this desolate world until the slow and torturous death of age, sickness, and heartache took over him?

No, he decided. He considered ending it all, forgetting about his doomed quest and embracing the sweet peace of death now, instead of later. But he felt a weight in his pocket.

The Ocarina of Time. He knew what he had to do.

He had made a vow to her, silently as he left, to keep fighting with all the strength in his heart until the world was safe from the evil, as he walked from her, not looking back, off into certain death. He had never seen her again. Her body was consumed in the ashes and the crushing stone of the castle as it fell. He would never see her again until he had ended it all, until at last he could rest. But he could not rest now. He swore that he would defeat the evil, and that when he at last could embrace her again in the clouds or in the air as the light of peace shone over them, it would be in triumph. He could not bear to die in combat and meet his love in failure, the world ruined for good, the reign of Ganon beginning. He would meet her having won against the powers of evil and having saved the world...

No.

The world could not be saved. But he could save himself, and he could save the memories of his life and enter the arms of his beloved in happiness.

He broke into a sprint now, charging over the crest of the hill towards the smoking ruins of Hyrule Castle, his spirit renewed with a desire to die gloriously and be truly at peace.

~~~Your stairway lies on the whispering wind~~~

He saw it at last: the rubble of the castle. He stepped across the charred and broken bridge and onto the circular battlefield that it seemed to him he had fought on once before, when he had defeated Ganon and returned to his childhood, thanks to his beloved Princess...but it would never happen again.

The icy wind blew around him, twisting the smoke and ash and fire of the palace's rubble into strange and dark shapes. He did not shiver in the cold, the bitter and numbing cold of this wind of death itself. His inner fire burned as bright as ever.

From his lips issued a challenge, one that spoke of his desperation and his determination in the face of certain doom.

"I have come! I am here to end my journey in peace and in victory. I fight with the knowledge that I cannot accomplish what I set out to, but my goals have changed. I fear not death, but only that I will never be able to show the world, you, and my Princess that I am ready. Show yourself, so that I may end this miserable journey with your death and mine, so that I may finally be at peace!"

It echoed on the bitter wind, and no reply came. But it seemed, almost as though the rubble had shifted and brought forth some new view of the world, that his sight changed. Out of the gloom of smoke and ash emerged a tall, brooding figure, his hand fisted, back turned, face smirking grimly.

"Brave words," said Ganondorf, stepping forth and drawing a massive Gerudo falchion. "It is a pity you say them without knowing what they mean."

Link snarled, drawing the shining Master Sword, its blade ready to drink the blood of his only true foe, ready to redeem himself before it all ended.

The Gerudo continued to advance. "You act as though you have anything to gain from victory." His smirk widened as he swung his heavy sword about.

~~~And as we wind on down the road~~~

He gestured out over the burning, black fields of the world, their ashes and smoke rising to join the nexus of black clouds in the sky. "Does this world look worth saving to you?"

Link gritted his teeth. He knew, of course, it was not.

"You wish to slit my throat, make the dust here run crimson with my blood. You hate me for what I did to your life. But I have won. What will you gain when you defeat me? Will the world return to as it once was? Will your shattered life return to how you once enjoyed it? It is too late for you."

He paused as the wind whipped the two combatants garments about. Link locked eyes with his implacable foe.

"Give up!" the Gerudo lord shouted, his voice echoing across the windswept wastes of the world and the rubble of the castle. "You cannot save the world this time."

"I cannot save the world," Link cried back. "But I can save myself. I can end my life knowing that you will never return to threaten the land. I can know that even if the world is ruined, I shall not have died in vain. I will ascend knowing that I have succeeded, and that is more than you can ever know."

Link ran, thinking of nothing but his Princess and the blood of his foe, and the light of his heart shone through the blackness of death and decay.

~~~Our shadows taller than our soul~~~

The Gerudo charged as well, sword back, ready to destroy the nuscance once and for all.

Link's blade and his clashed with tremendous force as the light of his heart met the darkness of the Gerudo's. A series of clashes pierced the howling wind.

A chop from the deadly blade of the desert man sliced across Link's chest. Blood began to gush from the wound onto his blade. It was bright, pure, not like the foul ichors that the monsters of the Gerudo's army spilled. He wiped the blade on his bloodsoaked shirt and pressed on, heedless of his wound.

The Gerudo backed away, Link's thrusts and hacking slices becoming dangerous and hard to stop.

~~~There walks a lady we all know~~~

In Link's mind there stood the Princess, bathed in a holy nimbus of light, ready to embrace him in her arms as he died. The warmth of the blood on his body, and the dripping of it with every beat of his heart, reminded him of his fate. Death, inevitable, but not pointless.

With a slash he had knocked the weapon from the Gerudo's hands, and with another the man's blood also stained his sword. The Gerudo backed away.

~~~Who shines white light and wants to show~~~

Link stabbed forward---he felt himself moving forward into Ganon's body, but he did not see the blood gush from the Gerudo's mouth, the end of his blade burst forth from his back, he did not care to see or hear the dying gasp of his foe. The bloodsoaked Master Sword had drawn its last, and it fell from his grasp as he approached the staggered Gerudo.

He did not see himself approach the man, though it was what his mortal eyes beheld. What he saw, in his mind's eye, was his footsteps towards the Princess high in the clouds as they were after he defeated the evil the first time, closer and closer with every step...

~~~How everything still turns to gold~~~

He thought he heard music---the sounds of a song he loved and the singing voice of the woman he missed so dearly.

Zelda's Lullaby...

He heard it fill the air of his cloudy world, and his heart, as it beat desperately and soaked his front with its liquid, was filled with joy.

His attention was drawn earthward, the dying gasps of the Gerudo piercing his sweet vision.

"You...cannot...win," he gasped as he sank slowly to the ground, facing the dark sky that he had created.

Link's head appeared over his, and he spoke words that he had longed to say.

"I already have."

Ganon's breath rattled and stopped, and Link breathed once more.

~~~And if you listen very hard~~~

He felt his shield clatter to the ground of the palace's ruins. He felt his arms without the weight of war, and death, and killing, at long, long last.

As his knees hit the ground he heard the music begin faintly again, as he looked to the sky.

The blackness began to lift, and tears streamed from his eyes---he had finally done it.

He did not know it, but all across the ruins of Hyrule the Stalfols stopped and fell to the ground lifeless once more, and the men of Hyrule who still lived cheered for their unknown savior who had at that moment hit the ground.

Link saw above him the clouds parting, and light, the light of day and purity, streaming through. He didn't know if it was his dying vision or if it was what was really happening...

~~~The tune will come to you at last~~~

Then he became sure that what he saw wasn't real, but in his heart knew it to be the truth, greater than any mortal truth that he had ever known. He saw her-the radiant form of his Princess from beyond the sky, beyond the heavens and the black gulfs of time and death, and he reached for her-and touched her hands as she began to speak.

"Link...you have succeeded. Now we can be at peace at long last."

Link smiled as his body hit the ground of the palace wreckage, but he did not feel the jolt of the impact. He felt the softness of the clouds and he felt not as if he was on the ground. He felt as if he was standing alone, in the sky with Zelda at last, the warmth not from his own blood that soaked the ground but from the radiant rays of the sun above and the warm embrace of the Princess.

He saw it with eyes that were not his own. He lost sight of the death, the ruin, the body of the evil Gerudo lord, and all was calm and bright.

~~~When all are one and one is all~~~

He now was there---mind and body, there in the clouds with his beloved as they rose ever higher. The sweet notes of the Ocarina playing drifted throughout the sky as they kissed.

He looked into her eyes, and it seemed that she was once again alive. He held her to himself, knowing that now he had won, and he was at last at peace.

He spoke to her. "I am with you again. The world is safe."

She answered, "In time, Hyrule will recover, and all will be well. I will be with you always, my darling, my hero. Now at last nothing can separate us."

~~~To be a rock and not to roll~~~

Link's smile persisted as his last breath left his body and the blood that gushed from his wound began to stop. He was not on the ground of death, but ascending into the light. It was his darkest hour and his brightest.

"We will climb the stairway together, my love, and we can at last be together...forever," she whispered to him.

"Forever," he whispered back, and, taking her by the hand, began to rise to the light above, at last with his love forever and on the last leg of his long and tiring journey. It was at last over and he had won, against all odds. He had fulfilled his oath to his Princess and now, as they embraced the light together, he smiled.

He was at last with his love, and together they climbed their own stairway.

~~~And she's buying a stairway to heaven...~~~