A note from the Hime no Argh herself—
Welcome to the "new" project, Fallen Prophecy—a reposting of the formerly-discontinued fanfiction that was started about eight months ago. So if you recognize this fic, you've probably already seen it! (The first three chapters, anyway.)
In the subsequent months since posting the first three chapters and then discontinuing the fic, this story has bashed about in my brain and finally demanded to be let out—who am I to ignore it? It's also much better planned after eight months in my head. I've written past six chapters and I'm greatly looking forward to continuing this piece until its end, so I hope you'll join me for the ride.
Summary: The story of the first Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf ever to appear in Hyrule—three best friends living in a time of change. War and betrayal will test their loyalties to their nations, their peoples, and one another, and decide the path of Hyrule's fate forever.
Rating: PG-13 for violence and adult situations.
Disclaimer: The Legend of Zelda series and all related characters and concepts are the property of Nintendo. In all other aspects this work is entirely mine and may not be used without my express permission.
Notes: I'm looking for a beta! My first one, Dori, has been…missing. (Are you out there somewhere, Noodles?) Anyway, if you're interested in beta'ing Fallen Prophecy, please contact me by e-mail or IM (TwilightinViolet). Please have a solid knowledge of grammar and a sharp eye for typos.
Without further ado, the fic.
The sky was a velvety midnight blue dusted with stars, and the moon hung full and luminous over the land of Hyrule on a warm midsummer's night. The windows of the marble-white palace in the Hylian Kingdom and the dwellings of Castletown were ablaze with light. Jets of silver shot periodically up into the sky like arrows to explode in dazzling bursts of color. No man, woman, or child slept on this night, the last eve of the ninety-ninth Year of the Goddesses.
In an open bar on Glutton's Lane in Castletown, two young men and one young woman sat at a table under the stars. The woman hid her starkly pale features beneath a plain brown cloak and hood, but the two men dressed comfortably in tunics and breeches, one outfit green, the other black. One, with olive-dark skin and vividly red hair, was Gerudo. The other was golden-haired and blue-eyed; he wasn't Hylian, or even born of Hyrule.
A server brought them a round of drinks and hurried away. "Zelda, take that ridiculous thing off," Ganondorf ordered, reaching across the table to grasp a heavy pewter mug. "No one's looked twice at you."
Zelda, Royal Princess of Hylia, snatched the hood away from her pale blond hair and glared at Ganondorf Dragmire. "You do not know Impa as I do. That woman is a bloodhound. She will find me no matter what I do."
"Nonsense," Link said easily. He draped himself in his chair, propping his boots on the seat beside him. "She's probably out having fun, like everyone else."
"Impa? Have fun?" In a less exalted person, the noise Zelda made would have been labeled a snort. "I laugh at the notion."
"Well, you could always head off back to the palace and escape her wrath." Link exchanged a slow grin with Ganondorf. "Let Lord What's-His-Name charm you."
"Lord What's-His-Name couldn't charm a snake," Zelda snapped. "He's a boorish dull bore like the rest of them."
Ganondorf glanced upright to fix the position of the moon. "Nearly midnight. It'll be the Hundredth year in ten minutes."
"Our birthdays as well," Zelda said excitedly, apparently forgetting dull would-be suitors in the prospect of turning seventeen. "Isn't it grand to be alive? The turn of the century, and our birthdays, and then just a year until we're adults. Then perhaps my father will stop thrusting suitors at me."
"Really, I don't know what you're complaining about," Ganondorf sighed. "I'd be thrilled if someone were thrusting suitors at me. You'd think females decided soldiers all have the plague, the way they avoid the practice yards when the army is training."
"You think you've got it hard?" Link said mournfully. "If I have to hear one more time about the proper conduct of knights—"
"At least you get to see pretty girls, they're always hanging around the knights—"
Zelda banged her mug down on the table. "In case you two haven't noticed, you are in the company of a pretty girl."
The two men looked at her critically. Zelda knew she wasn't beautiful. She was too pale, the features of her face too angular. A pair of sapphire blue eyes might have added much to her countenance, only they were large and wide against her thin face. Grace and character added something, but she wasn't a true beauty. Not like her mother.
"You're all right," Ganondorf offered at last. "You'd do better if you got some color."
Zelda stuck out her tongue at him. "You're no prize yourself, long-nose."
A piercing whistle shot through the air, followed by a ear-splitting crack and the largest explosion of color yet. Dozens more followed it rapidly as firecracker after firecracker shot into the sky above the palace.
Zelda glanced quickly up and jumped to her feet in dismay. "It's midnight!" she cried as the clock began to boom somewhere in the center of Castletown. "We're going to miss the lighting!"
"Not if we run," Link said. "C'mon!"
Zelda tossed a coin purse on the table and the three darted off through the deserted streets of Castletown, counting the clock chimes as they ran. Once the clock struck twelve, the ceremony would begin to light the New Year bonfire and pray for the goddesses' blessing.
They made it just as the last chime sounded, skidding to a halt at the edges of the large crowd packing Castletown Square. In the center of the square, a safe distance from the clock tower, a large pile of wood waited. A red-robed priest stood at the top of a ladder over the pile, torch in hand.
"For the goddesses' blessing we humbly pray," the priest began.
"For the goddesses' blessing we humbly pray," the three friends muttered breathlessly with the townspeople.
"Great Din, defend the peace of Hyrule, and with your flaming sword drive away all who would seek to bring strife to this land," the priest intoned in a voice that carried easily over the crowd. "Wise Nayru, guide us all in honest lives; let us not stray from the path of virtue. Merciful Farore, help us to be warm in our hearts to our brethren. Smile upon us with kindness, and keep us safe in your golden arms."
"Let it be so," the townspeople chanted.
"Goddesses, we beg your blessing upon the Hylian Kingdom and all Hyrule, in the hundredth year of your age." The priest dipped his torch. As fire blazed in the first bit of kindling, he cried, "A happy and prosperous new year!"
The crowd exploded with cheers. Music struck up, cheerful and thrumming, drowning out the elegant strains from the palace. "This is why I love spending New Year's in town," Zelda said happily, grabbing her two friends by the hands. "Come on, let's dance!"
"Princess Zelda!" a new voice snapped.
The three froze. "Uh-oh," Link murmured, eyebrows raising.
They turned, knowing what they'd find. Impa, Zelda's bodyguard, looked as severe as ever, tall and heavily-muscled, silver hair pulled away from her stern face. She was a Sheikah of Kakariko Village, the only piece of land owned by her kind.
She grabbed the princess's arm, tugging her away from her friends. "Do you know how long I've been looking for you? I should have known you'd be out cavorting with rogues and commoners. No offense," she added curtly to Link and Ganondorf.
They both shrugged. "None taken," Link replied.
Zelda glared at her. "I'm not cavorting, and these are my friends. New Year's is a time for gathering, isn't it?"
"Which is exactly why you should be at the palace with your family," Impa said firmly, towing her royal mistress away. "Your mother and father are worried sick."
"Oh please, Father just wants to show me off to noblemen's sons."
"You know perfectly well that is not true…" Princess and bodyguard disappeared up the road to the palace, arguing.
Link shook his head. Once those two got into a debate there was no stopping them. Zelda made the mistake of arguing every time. "So," he said amiably to his friend, "what say you and I go find some pretty girls?"
Ganondorf laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. "You read my mind."
Zelda woke hot, cross, and with a headache. Her head felt as though it was stuffed with cotton. She struggled out of a tangle of sheets and swung her bare feet to the floor, peering blearily at the clock on her nightstand. The ninth hour, she noted crossly. No wonder she felt so groggy, used to waking at dawn to the shouts and clanging of weapons that was the Silver Knights at practice. There were both advantages and disadvantages to having a room that overlooked the great courtyard, but she didn't much mind watching a group of young, handsome men at weapons practice in the morning.
Sadly, there would be none in the courtyard today. It was New Year's Day, and hardly anyone in the kingdom worked on such an important holiday. The palace staff would still go about their daily business, the courts would meet, the healers stay ready for emergencies, but it was a lazy midsummer day for everyone else.
A knock came at the door, and she opened it to admit a brawny maid with arms like a blacksmith's, bearing a large basin of water. A lukewarm bath cooled her off and chased away most of the headache. Feeling clearer, she combed her wet hair, cleaned her teeth, and selected the coolest dress she had, a pale gold silk that left her shoulders bare, with loose sleeves and a full, billowy skirt. It was going to be hot today.
Normally she hated pinning up her waist-length hair, but today she coiled it on top of her head, wanting it off her neck. Once finished, she left her room in search of something to eat.
She found her mother seated in the dining room reserved only for members of the royal family. Queen Leona of Hylia wore a velvet gown in deep purple and coiled her pale hair atop her head much like Zelda had; the style emphasized her slim jaw and graceful neck. She glanced up as her daughter entered, and a smile lit her beautiful face. "Happy birthday, darling."
Zelda smiled in spite of herself and kissed her mother's cheek. "Thank you, Mother, and good morning. Aren't you hot?" she asked, eyeing the velvet dress. "You do look lovely, though. The color emphasizes your eyes."
Leona, whose eyes were an extraordinary shade of violet, answered serenely, "That's precisely what your father said, my dear. He requested I wear it, for ambassadors are coming today from the desert, and he wants his court to look its best. Undoubtedly he will ask that you change to something more suitable. Doesn't that dress bare a little too much shoulder, Zelda?"
"It's hot, Mother. I don't care if it flashes my bosom to the entire court if I don't die of heat stroke." The queen laughed, and Zelda smiled in spite of herself. She was lucky to have a mother with a sense of humor. "As for Father, does he want us to dress well out of respect for our guests, or because he wants to appear imposing?"
Leonie shrugged as a servant appeared with a tray of fruit and set it before mother and daughter. "Thank you. You can ask your father if you wish, but I would advise against it," she added to Zelda, eyes twinkling. "He is still rather irate, I'm afraid."
Zelda sighed. She should have known her father would still be angry that she'd snuck out of the palace last night to attend a New Year's celebration in Castletown. 'Wholly inappropriate,' he'd put it, for a princess to elude her maids and bodyguards, leave the palace without the permission of her parents, and drink and dance in the streets while he'd had to explain to her baffled suitors that she wasn't there for them to meet. One would think she was no better than a milkmaid's brat, he'd told her, crimson with fury, before restricting her to palace grounds for a month.
None of it bothered her much. Zelda was quite proud of herself for pulling off such a daring feat, and she suspected her mother was, too.
They were breakfasting on poached eggs and smoked salmon when the king himself entered, dignified and handsome in a golden tunic over a crimson shirt and full crimson breeches. His dark brown hair was neatly combed; a closely trimmed beard emphasized a strong jaw and chin. The only feature Zelda shared with him was a pair of sapphire blue eyes.
Zelda couldn't help a twinge of pity. He must be dying of heat beneath those clothes, she thought sympathetically.
Harkinian III, Royal King of Hylia, kissed his wife and daughter brusquely and took a seat at the head of the table between them. "Lovely weather we're having. I don't know how the Gerudo stand it every day."
"They wear lighter clothes, Father," Zelda offered.
Harkinian raised bushy eyebrows at her. "I think your gown is a little too light, daughter," he informed her with a scowl. "I bid you change into something more suitable for our guests."
"When are they due to arrive?" Leona asked, tasting a puree delicately.
"By sundown." Harkinian sighed. "I hope they don't come brandishing those scimitars of theirs. They will insult our people. You know how tense things are between the north and west these days. The right push could send us straight into war."
"I hope it won't come to that." Leona laid a hand on her husband's arm. "At least we've a chance to make things right."
Zelda felt a twinge of guilt. Perhaps she was too quick to judge her father. Perhaps he genuinely wanted the peace talks to succeed. But it was difficult to tell, especially with both the army and the Silver Knights training right on palace grounds these days, under her father's eye.
She couldn't blame her father for preparing for war, if it came to that. The women of the Gerudo desert made far too much trouble for the Hylian Kingdom. They continued to raid Hylian towns and lands in Hyrule Field, too important to the kingdom to be ignored; Hyrule Field was, after all, where their crops came from. They attacked caravans on the roads throughout Hyrule, looting and stealing. And their eternal enmity with the Sheikah made everyone sweat. No one wanted to find out what the Sheikah might do if angered.
Zelda understood that a good pounding might encourage the Gerudo to cooperate for a few decades, at least. She only hoped it needn't come to that. One of her best friends was Gerudo, and a very unique Gerudo at that—the first male ever born to their race. Ganondorf was loyal to the king and to Hylia, but it would be a terrible injustice to make him fight his own people in a war.
"If they do come with weapons," Leona began.
"I know, my dear, I know. It doesn't necessarily mean anything. If I were an enemy of all Hyrule, I suppose I'd feel naked without a weapon myself." Harkinian laid his napkin aside. "Will you come to the temple services at noon, my dear? Zelda?"
Leona nodded, but Zelda shook her head. "I prefer to go by myself later, Father." It also gave her the perfect excuse to leave the palace, but her father need not know that.
She could tell by Harkinian's scowl that he suspected her motives were not quite pure. "You are only to visit the temple," he said crisply. "Do not forget your restriction, daughter. Be certain that I haven't."
"Of course not, Father," Zelda replied meekly. She saw her mother hide a smile.
"My lord?" the queen asked, rising. "Shall we?"
Zelda smiled as the king and queen swept out of the dining room. She could survive her father's bad tempers with her mother on her side. It wasn't that he was a bad person, she thought with a sigh as she rose with her plate. Just that he was difficult, especially now that she was at a marriageable age and difficult herself. She wondered if they would ever stop butting heads.
A maid hurried forward to take the plate from her hands. "Let me, Your Highness."
"Thank you," Zelda said vaguely, checking the tiny watch that hung on a chain from her neck. An hour until noon. Once her mother and father were well on their way to the New Year's services at the Temple of Time, she would be on her way as well. She did intend to visit the temple later, as promised. First, however, she had some things to do.
Link didn't like holidays much. It wasn't that he wanted to work, exactly, he just preferred to have something to do. That was the trouble with holidays like New Year's; no one did anything unless their work was necessary, and routines were interrupted. Had it been a normal day he'd have gotten in at least four hours of practice by now. Today he'd had none.
The orchard off Palace Way was as good a place as any to get reacquainted with his longsword. While he waited for his friends to arrive, Link went through the routines of blows and blocks, steadily increasing in speed and complexity. He was just finishing a routine with a thrust and hook good for parting a man with his weapon when Zelda appeared.
"Are you mad?" the princess demanded by way of greeting. "The hottest day of summer and a holiday at that, and you just have to play with your sword."
Link grinned at her as he slid the longsword back into its sheath. "Happy birthday to you too."
Her face relaxed into a smile. "Happy birthday. Where's Ganondorf?"
"No idea. Probably sleeping off last night's drinks."
"You two have all the fun," Zelda complained. "I was privileged to listen to my father's blistering lecture about how I bring shame upon him and the entire court."
"What's the damage?" Link asked sympathetically.
"I'm restricted to palace grounds for a month." Zelda shrugged indifferently. "As if I care a whit. Father is easy to elude. He's at a temple service with Mother right now."
"What about Impa? How'd you manage to shake her?"
Zelda smiled, flopping down onto the grass beneath an apple tree. "I didn't need to. She has the day off. She's visiting Kakariko, no doubt." She shuddered slightly. "I don't envy her."
Link understood her misgivings. He'd visited Kakariko Village once and hoped never to repeat the experience. It was the sort of place that made the hair on the back of a man's neck stand straight up, still and eerily quiet. Perhaps the worst thing about it were the Sheikah themselves, and the way they stared with eyes that saw all yet revealed nothing. But maybe Impa, a Sheikah herself, was at home there.
"Goddesses," a familiar voice groaned. Ganondorf tottered down the path, looking the worst for wear. "Does it have to be so damn hot? Why does the wind make so much noise?"
Zelda rolled her eyes. "Because you drank too much and didn't go to a healer for the hangover cure."
Ganondorf made a face. "What, that bog water they call tea? Nasty stuff." He dropped down onto the grass beside Zelda. "So, now that we're all seventeen, I suppose we must do something spectacular to celebrate this glorious day. Who's up for diving off Death Mountain? Wrestling Stalchildren in Hyrule Field? Scaring the Kokiri?"
"They'd lead you into the woods and you'd be lost forever," Link informed him. "Those forest kids are creative."
"I have something for both of you," Zelda announced, rummaging in the purse at her leather belt. Her friends groaned.
"Zelda, really, we told you not to—"
"Shouldn't have bothered—"
"Well, I wanted to." Zelda glared at them both, daring them to continue arguing, then held up a pair of pendants hung on black cords. The pendants appeared to be made of solid gold, worked into the interlocking-triangle symbol of the Triforce.
Link and Ganondorf exchanged half-exasperated, half-tolerant glances. "What are those supposed to be?" Link asked.
"They're Triforce pendants," Zelda said contentedly, doling them out. "I have one too, see?" she added, producing another. "If you wear them, they'll give you protection, wisdom, and comfort. They're also friendship symbols of sorts. As the goddesses are bound together, so shall we be bound to each other."
"Trust a female to be sentimental," Ganondorf muttered; nevertheless, he put it on.
Link donned his as well. The pendant was cool and heavy against his chest, a solid, reassuring presence. "Thanks, Zelda. I don't have anything for you…"
"Me neither," Ganondorf admitted.
"Don't trouble yourselves," Zelda said happily. "You're wearing them, that's enough."
They spent the afternoon in Castletown playing games and visiting the square, which was alive with music and entertainment in celebration of the new year. A players' troupe staged a mock swordfight for the townspeople's entertainment.
"That's so fake," Link whispered after one swordsman's elaborate flourish sent his foe's sword flying. "The other guy could have stabbed him a dozen times while he was being fancy."
"If that fellow there stopped dancing for a breath he might get in a few blows," Ganondorf complained. "He's afraid of his own sword. He'd never have lasted this long in a real fight."
"Shut up, you idiots, you're drawing attention," Zelda hissed as their neighbors muttered and glared at them darkly. They soon decided it was time to leave, rather than risk a palace guard realizing a princess was among the audience.
Their last stop for the day was the Temple of Time. Link wasn't terribly keen on praying and neither was Ganondorf, but he understood Zelda's reasoning. Rulers who ignored the goddesses were displaced from the throne. Zelda planned on ruling; she didn't plan on any interference.
She prayed for some time before the marble-white altar, for her family, for her friends, for her kingdom. Link and Ganondorf hung back out of respect, but occasionally caught a few words. Hearing Zelda beseech Nayru to help her escape her father's attempts to marry her off before her eighteenth birthday, Link felt a flash of sympathy. She had a year to go, just one year before rulership was passed on to her by law. If the queen didn't conceive a male child within that year, or Zelda wasn't married, she alone with be Hylia's sovereign. Yet her father had made it clear he didn't consider her suitable for reign and seemed determined to marry her off so that her husband would become king, and Hylia's primary ruler. Link disagreed with King Harkinian. His friend had a good head on her shoulders, an eye for politics and the court, and ambition. Lots of it.
It was only when Zelda was done with her prayers that the three realized they had company. A tall figure in a hooded robe stood motionless in the temple's doorway, blocking their way out. A chill ran down Link's spine; he had a feeling the stranger had been there for quite some time.
Zelda was the first to speak. "Excuse me…may we help you?"
"It is as I have seen." A voice, low and faintly female, issued from beneath the hood. "I have known you before only in visions. Now that I look upon you, I know for certain that it will come to pass."
"That what will come to pass?" Ganondorf demanded.
"The cycle," the hooded stranger replied. "The balance."
She appeared unarmed, but she was no ordinary woman. Link gripped the hilt of his sword in a white-knuckled fist. "Who are you?"
The woman slowly reached up and drew the hood down, revealing a face so intensely beautiful that it was difficult to look at her. Her hair was black as a raven's wing, and her eyes were pure white.
"I am Fallen," she replied in that same low, whispery voice, "and I know your fates, children of the goddesses."
To be continued.