The Legend of Zelda: Legacy of Darkness

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hello everyone! Welcome to my first fic! Anywho, this is a crossover between Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time/Majora's Mask and Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness, though you don't have to have played any Castlevania games to understand. Even though the majority of the fic is Castlevania-ish, I posted it under Zelda because 1) too many Castlevania fans already know the plot and 2) character development reasons. Also, if you have played the games please don't mention any certain "twists" that happen in your reviews-I'll be using a few of them. Thanks in advance!

BTW: I've done some research for this fic and all of my references I used will be posted as my final chapter.

With regards to this chapter, it's a tad dry. That's because there's a lot of explaining about Link's past—so bear with me. This chapter could've been a prologue.

----------Means flashback/end flashback

SUMMARY:

When Link finds himself cursed in the desolate land of Walachia, he learns there is only one way to end it; journeying to the legendary Castlevania itself…

DISCLAIMER: I don't own anything from Termina or Hyrule—nor do I own the minions from Castlevania. And I don't own Walachia, that's some province in Transylvania owned by…whoever owns it.

PRONOUNCITATION KEY: Walachia (wah-LA-kee-uh)

DEDICATION: Katherine, this fic is going out to you because I know how long you've been waiting for it!


Chapter One: The Hero and the Champion


DAY ONE: MORNING

The new day's sun was slouching out from behind gloomy gray clouds. Apparently in a rather lazy mood, even its rays of light seemed to sag with the reluctance to shine. The atmosphere seemed mildly threatening, with a slight breeze grazing past the lands of Termina. Gathering rain, one could see that the clouds would soon pour all over the land at any given moment. For now though, the Terminese were huddled in their warm beds, still fast asleep as the sun was rising over the eastern horizon. Nevertheless the people would dread stepping outdoors once they awoke.

Even on Romani Ranch, not a soul could be seen outdoors doing early morning chores. The old Mama's House stood tall against the light threats, accompanied by the great barn and numerous sheds. Everyone kept to the warmth of indoors. Not that many would dare otherwise; the ranch's vast fields were swallowed in the dim light—one could barely make out anything using it. Which would cause one to wonder—why would a lone figure be creeping towards the hangar at this time of hour?

The figure was indeed hastening; one could tell by the way the lad fumbled with the countless latches and locks using only a single hand. One could observe the way his green jester-like hat shook as he threw back his head in frustration. Taking a deep breath, the young man calmed himself.

"Come on Link, pull it together," he muttered under his breath.

He wore a simple forest green tunic over white leggings and a shirt. Around him though, were several bags and pieces of equipment, all nearly covered by the sturdy brown traveler's cloak he sported. Concentrating harder on the latches, he was able to open them properly this time—even if he only could use one hand.

The young man was careful to keep his hand over the bags, stilling them. Glimpsing around him, he carefully slipped inside. Immediately, he was greeted by the stench of horse dung mixed with fresh hay. Another smell wafted its way through to him—the scent of new oak wood. It looks a lot better now, Link found himself thinking. The barn itself had been expanded significantly; it actually extended to a point where one could barely make out what was on the other end.

Hay lay strewn about the solid floor and hung from the enormous loft. Because most of the animals were still fast asleep, the barn remained unusually quiet. Those that were awake made no sound as the intruder walked amongst them. Sparing a brief moment to run a hand over the walls, the Hero of Time smiled softly to himself. It's strange that I leave with these memories.

Link pulled himself out of his thoughts; he was getting unnecessarily somber. You'll be coming back—you always do. Shaking his head slightly, Link hurried forwards. On a ranch, there was no way he'd be left alone this long—despite the fact that it was the crack of dawn.

He pressed himself past the numerous stalls, all the way to the back. He could feel the gear he bore banging against him as he hurried. For Din's sake, please keep them quiet. This was only eating away at the precious few minutes he had. Damn, Cremia's come to know me too well. She knew perfectly well that he wasn't the type to stay long; and she'd purposely set up every hindrance she could.

Surprisingly, Link found that he actually appreciated it. Even before he had been dubbed "Champion of the Giants", Cremia had always looked out for him. Her concern was forever genuine—even when Link had come here eight years ago as a child. The woman had tried to coax him into staying at the ranch. You're just a child, she used to say. How do you plan on taking care of yourself?

He had answered as he usually did with such questions—honestly. He convinced her that he was merely traveling—he'd be returning home soon, as he had then hoped. Even now, Link hadn't exactly lied to his hosting family; he just…hadn't told them the whole truth. Though he was their Champion—the Romani Ranch still looked out for him.

Champion of the Giants. Such a curious title for him—especially since Link was only ten when he had been dubbed. The title represented the fact that he had championed over the cursed Majora's Moon by summoning the Four Guardian Giants. They had gone through a number of honoraries; eventually the King of Termina had decided this was the most suitable title for such a "divine hero".

Another thing Link found peculiar; these Terminese worshipped him as their Champion. But in Hyrule…not a soul save the Princess and the Sages remembered the Battle once time had been rewound. It was always strange whenever Link traveled between the two countries. The one country in which he technically spent only three days saving treats him like a renowned hero…in the other, where he gave up seven years of his life; he was just another face in the crowd. Yet still, he found he cared for both lands—even if he was in such a hurry to return to Hyrule. But I will come back…

Skidding to a halt, Link threw the bags that had he had been carrying on the floor. He saddled up his chestnut-brown stallion, Epona; his still-sore arm groaning in protest at his quick movements. His goddessed-damned arm was slowing him down. How Link hated setbacks. As he automatically prepared his horse, he allowed his mind to wander momentarily over the past few weeks at Romani Ranch.

He could still remember how long it had taken to rebuild the old barn. No matter what Link told himself, he felt a pang in his chest. It had finally hit him that he was leaving the family and Ranch so abruptly—especially when they'd taken such good care of him.

"It's better this way,"Link reminded himself firmly, as he continued to sling his saddle bags over his faithful steed. He chanced a quick look over his shoulder before continuing This was how he always left: at the first light of morning, gone before anyone could ask any questions. Questions that he most likely couldn't answer.

He had always been a terrible liar—probably one of the drawbacks of holding honesty as a virtue. Besides, it wasn't as though he was leaving Romani Ranch forever, Link reminded himself—he just needed to get back to Hyrule. Perhaps he would be staying there longer than usual, but it would still only be for a while.

The Princess was expecting him—he had to be there.

Stepping further into his Epona's stall, Link reached down to double-check his belt supplies. Link cursed when he realized that he was missing his canteen. Throwing another glance over his shoulder, he did a swift assessment for it with his eyes through the rest of his equipment. Link sighed; fine then, he'd go without fluid. He really didn't want to go back into Mama's House and accidentally wake anyone up—especially this early in the morning.

He had to go soon; the morning wasn't exactly a promising one—unless one counted the day's ominous guarantee. Dreary and grey, it hardly suited the demands of a traveler at all. Resting a foot in the stir-up, Link hoisted himself one-handed atop of Epona. He had just begun to adjust himself into the saddle when something made him stop.

The barn door was creaking open—his body tensed at the sound. Glancing up, he saw a crack of what little sunlight there was spill in past the door. Link froze. A young woman with crimson red hair stepped into full view of the barn door—though Link wondered why by the Giants was Cremia up so early.

On a ranch, one would expect to have to be up early, but surely not a pregnant woman of twenty-five? Striding forwards, she headed towards the delivery cart without sparing Link a glance.

"Good mornin' Link! Well, at least someone's out of bed! I mean, goodness, Romani was supposed to wake up early to watch the cows, but, well—you know how she is, acting all sulky ever since I gave her that talking to, you know,"

Cremia laughed a little as she continued harnessing the carriage, "But I mean really, the things fifteen-year-olds can get into, I mean, doesn't she realize you're eighteen? A whole three years older! Though, I really think you should try talking to her. Maybe then she'll stop avoiding you like the plague!" Cremia chuckled to herself, and then spun on her heel to face a fully mounted Link. Her smile faltered.

"What, Link? Out for an early morning ride? Though, I don't think that's too smart with your arm—" he heard the fond voice stop short. Cremia narrowed her eyes at him—she was probably already suspicious. Link hesitated,

"Er—wouldn't you rather be resting in bed?" Link responded. He shifted slightly—he knew perfectly well that the young woman could see right through him. Cremia snorted.

"I could say the same to you, Link! A fracture like yours doesn't heal in a fortnight. And don't you think I'm just going to let you leave—and on a horse? Honestly! How exactly did you plan on controlling Epona with your arm in the shape that it is?" It was amazing how fast her disposition could change; she was scolding now, as though she was lecturing her baby sister. Link grimaced.

He pitied Cremia's husband, the Ikana knight, Shiro, for having to put up with this all the time. That along with running through Clocktown on his off hours, attempting to comply with his six-month pregnant wife's absurd demands.

Amused, Link remembered her first craving—Shiro had spent an entire day sniffing the ground of the Deku Palace, searching for three-leaved, and only three-leaved, green-speckled purple mushrooms. So Shiro spent every hour of the day searching for the Four-cursed mushrooms. At first they'd all believed they were a figment of Cremia's imagination, before discovering the Gerudo pirates had the whole species. Poor Shiro fought his way through the Giant-forsaken fortress, and returned with the mushrooms three days later only to find his wife's craving had passed. And that was one of the better occasions.

Shiro had officially been exhausted after that event, and had excused himself from the construction. Rubbing his arm distantly, Link thought back to what had happened.

It started when Link was happening through Clocktown. That was when people told him the whole construction team was at Romani Ranch. Gossip alive as ever, they claimed that while the whole team was there, barely anything was getting done. Link had assumed at the time that this was because there simply weren't enough workers—Romani Ranch was big, and who knew how much construction there was?

So Link had come to Romani Ranch, and offered to be of some help; construction couldn't be all that difficult. Though he realized as soon as he got there it had nothing to do with numbers, more of the fact that the entire squad was, well—all muscle and no intelligence. It probably was because their old leader had retired and now no one seemed to have any clue as to what was going on. But Link pitched in anyway; he was always happy to lend a hand. If only he hadn't been so easily deceived, then maybe his arm would still be functional…

-----------------------

That day, the sun was blazing down in a cheerful manner—not at all appreciated by the sweat-stained and tired crew of builders. As of the moment, they were eating a quick lunch before getting back to work. The team was currently working on two projects: expanding the barn and building a few new sheds. Wiping his face on his shoulder, Link sauntered away from the group. Fatigue claimed him. Groaning, he threw himself down with his back on the grass, taking in deep breaths of air. The grass tickled his skin, seeing as to how he'd removed the shirt underneath his green tunic. Link rested his forearm over his eyes. The worn out young man attempted to relax; his muscles were aching from a fortnight of labour. Maybe, he thought wearily, if the team actually knew what they were doing and stopped coming to their "Champion" every two seconds with questions, we'd be done by now. Ah, well. They'd work with what they had. It was a moment before he sensed the presence of someone drawing near him. Slightly raising his arm, he fought back the urge to moan. Grinning down at him was pretty young Romani.

"Hey you! Tired already? Oh, c'mon, you're such a strong man!!" she teased down at him. Sitting up he cocked an eyebrow at her, thus throwing Romani into a fit of giggles. He resisted the urge to roll his eyes. He lay back down—he had a feeling he knew what was coming. This wouldn't be the first time. Link re-adjusted his arm to cover his eyes again.

"Awww! Are you ignoring me, Link? And I had a special job, just for you!" While Link could hear the pout in the fifteen- year-old's voice, he didn't respond. He didn't really feel like doing whatever ridiculous task Romani would put him to. Why me? There were plenty of other people around here. And even more were able young men. He felt a nudge on his side. "C'mon Link! Pretty please?" Sighing, Link got to his feet, pushing himself up with his gauntleted hands.

"What is it Romani?" he asked tiredly as he adjusted his forest-green Kokiri hat. Whatever it was, Link seriously doubted it actually required any extra help. Rather, Romani had recently taken to just flagging him down and dragging him around with her wherever she went. Cremia and Shiro seemed to find this highly amusing. Though Link noticed the couple watching them, he always felt anything but. Link didn't mind Romani; she was a friend, if not a little sister of sorts. At the time he hadn't known what Romani thought—he wasn't even sure if he wanted to know now. Almost as if she had read his thoughts, Romani giggled at him and responded,

"Don't worry, silly! This requires a big tough man to do!!" she winked flirtatiously at him (later, Link realized he would never understand why) and began walking towards one of the almost complete sheds. Against what he would learn was his better judgment, Link followed suit. After all, he convinced himself, what harm can a fifteen-year-old possibly bring? He caught up to Romani and was able to fall in pace with her.

"So what exactly do you need me to do?" He asked, rubbing the exhaustion from his eyes. Pushing sweaty straw-blond bangs from his eyes, he saw Romani smiling sweetly at him.

"You'll see," she answered coyly. Link noticed her attempt to discreetly catch the eye of a small group of teenaged girls. Romani's "secrecy" was the most obvious thing possible to Link's sharp blue eyes however. But that was just him. Sitting in the shade of a large tree, the girls were giggling and—increasing Link's feeling of foreboding—watching and whispering as he and Romani passed. Link recognized a few of them as Romani's friends, others as the daughters of some of the construction workers. Why do girls always do that? Link wondered irritably as he watched Romani stifle a silly laugh. Link really did roll his eyes this time. Romani paused for a minute when they reached the shed. Swiveling around to him, she exclaimed,

"C'mon! Let's go inside!" she grasped his hand as Link allowed himself to be led into the shed. Link swore he could hear the group let out a particularly excited squeal. Not good.Link squeezed his eyes shut. By the peak of the Mountain, he thought to himself, what have I gotten myself into?

Romani stopped in the middle of the unfinished shed and spun around on the spot. After taking but a few steps into the shed, Link stopped short. The dim shed was reasonably large, bigger than the average one for sure. Just by turning around, Link could see his footprints in the thin layer of sawdust on the floor. Around them, discarded pieces of scrap wood and forgotten tools lay. Link glanced up. He noticed a tiny crack in the ceiling, allowing a small stream of light to pour in to the otherwise unlit shack. That's not supposed to be there…Standing aside, he was unsure of what exactly he was supposed to do. Or if he wanted to do anything.

"So, um, what was it you wanted me to do?" the young man asked apprehensively. Romani eyes sparkled. A definite danger sign.

"Oh Link," Romani began breathlessly, "from the day you came and saved our cows from those horrid creatures eight years ago, I just knew you were something special!" Romani had twirled around again. She was now talking to the air around her, hands clasped in front. "I mean, you came, so smart, so strong, so courageous, and you didn't just save the ranch, but all of Termina! And now, you've come back to help the Ranch, just like you have so many times before…no matter how busy you are, you always come to the rescue…" Romani said this all in a dreamy voice, her eyes full of passion and possibility. Link could feel his face colouring. She was greatly exaggerating the truth. And all those times, he'd been acting purely on instinct…he didn't even know why she was saying all these things…

The growing feeling of dread was now threatening to explode.

"Umm…Romani…" he stammered. He wasn't quite sure what to say to her. But she solved that problem by bursting out suddenly,

"Link, I've always believed in true love, and I think I've found it!" Whirling suddenly, Romani beamed at him, taking a step towards Link. She slowly continued to advance towards Link. He countered by walking backwards, and he noticed that their steps fell into sync. "Link, I know you have to feel the same way, why else would you keep coming back? It's okay Link—I feel the same way too!" Utterly confused, words failed him. What did I do to deserve this? He may have conquered dungeons, temples, defeated fiends, monsters, and demons but he had noidea on how to deal with a love-sick fifteen-year-old girl. What in Nayru's name was he supposed to do? He flung up his hands in front of him.

"Romani! I—look, you're mistaken! I, I mean…" Without warning, Romani flung herself at Link. Arms wrapped around his neck; Link's instinctive reaction was to allow himself to fall backwards as he felt her lips brush his.

And everything went crashing downhill from there.

Literally.

The added force of Romani on him slammed him against the wall, and Link literally felt the vibrations ripple throughout the newly-made barn walls. Damn, Link already knew what was coming. In his mind's eye he could see the ceiling crack burst open. Without a moment's hesitation, Link threw his right arm over his head, and grabbing Romani, he dragged her to the ground with himself. He enveloped her in a one-armed bear hug, just as the first pieces of lumber came crashing down. He gripped tighter as the rest of the entire shed came colliding down on top of them. Link prayed his Golden Gauntlets would keep Romani safe. Link felt more weight crashing down on them, and a particularly large piece landed on the raised arm covering his head. A sharp jolt shot through his arm. Eyes watering in pain, he was forced to drop the injured limb and expose his head. Waiting for the last of the debris to fall, Link tensed. When no more sounds were heard, he risked a glance at the wreckage around them. Well, there's a week's worth of work gone to waste…

------------------------

Link remembered all too clearly the after math; Romani's stuttering explanation about the dare from her friends…Romani's burning shame…Cremia lecturing Romani on "controlling herself"…Cremia lecturing the other girls for doing those sorts of things in the first place…Cremia yelling at the workers for not doing a proper job of building the shed ("We ran out of nails!" the louts had protested)…Cremia thanking Link profusely for protecting Romani…Cremia…well, it had been one of the soon-to-be-mother's off days. Link, though irritated, wasn't one to hold a grudge. Romani thought otherwise though; she'd been driven away from him by self-imposed disgrace and embarrassment. Avoiding me like the plague is right.

Snapping back to the present, Link reassured her, "It doesn't hurt anymore." Unfortunately for him, Cremia refused to give up. She glared at him a moment before storming towards him. Bracing himself for her tantrum, he was amazed when it didn't come. Then, without warning, her arm shot out and gripped his tender elbow like a pincer. Immense pain seared through him, it felt like his entire right side was on fire. The fire didn't just stop at his fractured elbow though; all the other wounds he had retained from that day flared up as well. Biting back a yelp, Link realized perhaps it would have been more bearable if he was healed, but he wasn't going to let her know that. The gauntlets had protected his forearms during the cave-in, but the joints had remained weak and exposed. Those and the rest of his body. And worse yet—the builders had used up the entire red potion supply for minor injuries ("Splinter!" a dope had cried desperately as he showed off his splinter-free finger). Gritting his teeth he said determinedly,

"Don't—know—what—your—talking—about—doesn't—hurt—a bit." Shooting him an exasperated look, she let go. Not before giving his arm a final harsh squeeze. A breath escaped him as soon her back was turned, careful not to be too loud. Cremia looked back at the Champion over her shoulder.

"If you want to leave so bad, then the least I can do is come with you and make sure you're all right." Link was about to protest; there was no need for her to strain herself, but Cremia added, "I have to make a delivery anyway, and I wouldn't mind having someone along for the journey—especially on a morning like this!" And with that the expecting mother heaved herself into the front of the delivery cart, gripping the reins. Link frowned.

"I don't think…" Cremia whipped her head around.

"You're in no position to be lecturing me about resting up. And besides Link, I'm pregnant—not handicapped!" Cremia glowered at him, daring him to say different. Then, in a frighteningly sudden change of mood, she added airily, "besides, doesn't the fresh air just smell wonderful?"

Terrified that anything he said would throw her back into a tantrum, Link kept his mouth shut. Women getting together and acting silly was frustrating, but dealing with a moody pregnant one was enough to drive a man mad.


Cremia was riding alongside Epona, chattering away in idle conversation. Though one would hardly call it conversation, considering she was the one doing most of the talking. Link didn't mind though, he had always found just staying silent and listening strangely soothing. The crisp morning air was doing wonders to wake him up; so much that he didn't even mind the forlorn skies above him. They were traveling down the old Milk Road; its trail worn with the groove from the wheels of the trusty delivery horse and cart. Thinking back, Link could remember when it had held together even after traveling through "ugly country". The damned raiders had learned their lesson; Link had made sure of that.

Today though, Link doubted they would have been able to move their cart any faster. The path was becoming steadily muddy. Finally there was rain, but it was only spitting out occasionally. The scent of it only added to the serenity. The scenery itself was a sight to behold; light mist now swirled around the peaks of the Goron Mountains. Link found himself drifting in and out of listening to Cremia. His mind was more on the trip he'd be making back to Hyrule.

"…pity the whole village, you know, living on the Great Bay shore like that. It's only spitting now, but just you wait! By Majora's Mask, I know it'll be pouring soon, like a waterfall…" The Lost Woods are bursting with waterfalls, springs, rivers…Link thought absently.

"…and those folk on Mountain Village, they'll no doubt be freezing as well! Sometimes I wonder what they were thinking, all them moving high up there, honestly! Eight years ago—back when you first came, remember?—no one would have thought of moving up there. Well, at least now that place can live up to its name, it's teeming with people now…not just that old Smithy place up there, with that man and ogre fellow…" Link knew all to well the Lost Woods was swarming with ogres. That and every other beast imaginable.

"…will be so pleased to get this shipment. Stockpot Inn is no doubt packed with travelers waiting out the rain. And now that Clocktown has expanded so much, I wouldn't want to be working to serve the folks there! Though I heard the King himself has a delegation down there—that must be exciting. That's why this shipment is so special! Plus little Taru will enjoy the surprise bottle I have, just for him! Can't believe he's already a whole year old, bet Anju has her hands full…doesn't really matter though, she treats her son like royalty! Can't deny him anything, oh, she'll regret it later…always waiting on him…"

The Princess is waiting for me, Link reminded himself, I have to get back to Hyrule soon, I don't want to make her wait too long…Instantly his mind was filled with memories of Hyrule: the lively Market Town, the cool serenity of the Zora Fountain, the brotherhood of being with the Gorons…and then, as through being dragged through a nightmare, he remembered Ganondorf. The hate, the despair, the fear, the uncertainty…Link shuddered. Even spending four years of his life in Termina and the other four traveling hadn't erased those memories. The rest of Hyrule didn't remember anything from the alternative future, save the Princess, the Sages and himself. It didn't matter though; the Sages resumed their previous duties; sworn to secrecy. And the Princess—the wise, beautiful Princess Zelda—had gone back to her duties as a Royal Heir, whatever it was that they did. She too had sworn herself to secrecy of the Battle of Time.

She claimed that Hyrule as a kingdom would be thrown into a frenzy at the thought of a possible tyrant overthrowing the monarchy. The Gerudos would suffer the most—no doubt an unjust racism would spread if Hyrule discovered the desert king had tried to take over. And on top of that, he made it last for seven years—that alone would be hard for the people to believe anyway. Link had objected briefly, but quickly regained his silence. Princess Zelda was of the monarchy—she probably knew best for the kingdom. Even if that meant they could hardly ever meet. But whenever there was a procession in town, whenever she would address the public…the Princess Zelda would catch his eye and he couldn't help but smile—simply knowing someone else knew with him was comfort enough. Even if the rest of Hyrule forgot what Ganondorf had done to their kingdom.

Ganondorf was the whole reason Link would be returning to Hyrule again. Though he spent most of his time traveling between the two kingdoms, now was the time to stay for a bit longer than usual. In exactly nine days time, it would be the first anniversary of Ganon's defeat. Last year, Link had returned, and Princess Zelda had invited him along with the Sages to a private ceremony. One of the few occasions Link had actually had been able to talk to her privately. It had been to honour that on that very day, seven years into the alternative future, the Hero of Time—Link—imprisoned the great evil of Ganondorf. It had been a very solemn ceremony, as all eight of them reflected on memories of the Battle of Time.

This year though, Link suspected it ought to be a tad more cheerful. This time they would be celebrating the anniversary of Ganondorf's defeat; they would be celebrating a year of prosperity after the King of Gerudo's imprisonment. Maybe the rest of Hyrule didn't realize it, but they were a very fortunate kingdom. They had a wonderful princess, six powerful sages and a young man who could wield the Master Sword to protect them. Termina was lucky too; but no one in Hyrule—and that meant no one, including the Sages and Zelda—knew Link was also the Champion of the Giants. Link hadn't cared to share that bit of information. And he hadn't bothered to share it when he was pledging his allegiance to Hyrule.

Nor did he tell them he already pledged allegiance to Termina.

Ah well, the two kingdoms are on good terms. There's no need to worry.

Life in Hyrule had continued as though the Battle of Time never happened. When Link mused over it, he realized technically it never had happened; it was nothing more than an alternative future—one that the civilians would or could never see. Link called it the Battle of Time because it seemed most appropriate, considering that Time had been the force Link had to overcome in order to slay the monster. Time kept Ganondorf locked up; Time had to pass for Link to draw the Master Sword; Time…Link stopped himself. He didn't know why he even bothered to name the battle at all. No one else would ever know. Link had left Hyrule almost right after Ganonondorf's defeat; he needed some time alone. Termina and the Battle of the Masks had come after. He found he'd grown quite attached to this neighboring kingdom to Hyrule. Maybe that was a mistake. But then…it wasn't like the citizens of Hyrule particularly cared if he left. No one remembered.

Pulling himself out of his thoughts he watched the pretty young mother next to him, and thought of all the Terminese people he had come to care for. Smiling softly, he thought to himself, I'll be back soon; I can never stay away from either country too long…


Finally they reared into Clocktown, making sure to pass through Shiro's gate. Cremia shared a quick kiss with her working husband before carrying on forwards. Link exchanged a grin with him; the once-invisible knight and he had become good friends. Considering Link had been the one to unknowingly introduce the two, it made sense. In all honesty, Link hadn't meant for the two to fall in love; Link had just pitied the lone knight who stood guard at Ikana Canyon for no reason. So Link had brought the fellow with him to Clocktown Milk Bar one night. That had also happened to be the night Cremia was making a delivery. What could he say? It had been love at first sight. That had been a good three years ago, back when Link was still living in Clocktown. And now Shiro was working at Clocktown as a knight—the man who was once invisible was now Captain of the Guard.

When they arrived, Link had to give up Epona to a town stable boy; rules in the town dictated that no one could have a horse unless on special business. It didn't bother Link too much; he trusted the community stables. He knew Epona would be all right. Epona however, hated not being with her master and put up quite the fight against the poor stable boy. Link grimaced to himself as Epona finally agreed to be led away (by five other stable boys)—no doubt Epona would make sure there was hell to pay for that.

Sliding into the cart next to Cremia, he took over the reins. As they entered into the friendly town, Link was welcomed with the usual noise of the lively town. He looked forward to meeting Anju and Kafei again; Link hadn't seen them since he'd arrived.

When he had first come to Termina, at about the age of ten, Link had done his part. He had been prepared to leave. Of course, after saving the kingdom and being dubbed Champion of the Giants, the King of Termina wasn't about to let Link leave. The King himself had offered Link a home, with the best education around, wealth…everything one could possibly imagine. But Link didn't need—didn't want—any of that. But he couldn't exactly go off on his own as a boy again—no one would accept that. In their eyes, he may have defeated Majora, but he was still only ten.

Anju and Kafei, sensing his distress, had offered him a home as well. And though he yearned to travel, he eventually accepted the offer—after all, Hyrule no longer had need of their Hero. He remained with the newly married couple for the next four years, doing odd jobs here and there for the inn and Termina. Task after task, Link found it kept his mind occupied. He didn't spend restless nights because of the tasks; his dreams weren't tormented by the Battle of Time. At the age of fourteen, when most teenagers made the choice between continuing their education or not, Link declined. He left; and to this day he still spent his days travelling between Termina and Hyrule, occasionally wandering outside those two kingdoms. But he always returned—these countries were his home.

Smirking slightly, Link realized that seeing Kafei would probably mean partaking in one of the fool's crazy experiments. Kafei always was an eccentric fellow; never knew what he would do next. Even if he hadn't known anyone, Clocktown would still be an inviting place. Children laughing, cuccos squawking, adults were chattering…it was much like the Hyrule Market town. Closing his eyes for an instant, Link could just taste the fresh home-made cooking, seeping out through open windows. Vendors held their foods up for sale as well, adding spices, sweets and other smells to the aroma. Returning to the task at hand, he deftly steered the horses to the familiar inn residing in East Clocktown. Link had pulled out his cloak and thrown it on before entering. He really didn't want people gawking at their "Champion".

While Link understood their gratitude that he had saved their land, he didn't feel there was a need for all the extravagances placed on him. In the eyes of the Terminese though, apparently there had been. Link still cringed at the dubbing day; all of the ridiculous feasts, clothes and titles….It was all unnecessary and much too elegant for Link's liking. Already content knowing that the Terminese were safe, that was all he really needed. But no, the King of Termina himself felt he had to come down. Link had wanted to refuse, but was afraid he'd sound rude. So he was forced to put up with it all. That was part of the reason he had been so happy to stay at the Ranch to get better from the shed cave-in; he didn't feel much like having to go to the community infirmary and being doted upon.

A sharp smack to his injured arm told Link he was drifting off again. Turning, he saw Cremia glaring at him. It didn't matter though; the horses had made this trip many times before obviously. They had brought the pair of them here without his help at all. Sort of like Epona. Perhaps, but Epona knew more than just a simple milk route. A great much more.

Looking up, it once again hit him how vast the old Stockpot Inn had become. Now the biggest tavern in town, it had made quite a name for itself. Much to the relief of Anju, they no longer had to turn so many customers away.

"Link! Cremia!" a voice hollered from above. Craning his neck, Link could just make out Kafei on the topmost, fourth floor balcony. Link noticed the man had cuccos with him—as to why, Link couldn't figure out. Thinking back to before, Link corrected himself as he watched Kafei, amused. The man is an eccentric fellow.

He waved merrily down at them. "I'll be right down!" Leaning down, Kafei grabbed a hold of what looked like the biggest cucco and stepped up on to the ledge….

Oh no. Alarmed, Link jumped from the cart.

"Damn fool," Link muttered under his breath.

In one swift motion, he whipped his cloak off and hollered, "You!" to the nearest person. Hurling his cloak at the startled man, he nodded upwards. The man grabbed a hold of Link's cloak. For the love of Farore—don't you dare miss, Link thought desperately to Kafei as the man jumped from the balcony without a care in the world.

Kafei, apparently, looked genuinely shocked that the cucco wouldn't support the weight of a full grown man. Kafei let go of his "support" and plummeted towards the stone ground. Link tensed. Everything seemed too fast for most to comprehend. Kafei had already passed the third floor…the second floor…the pair had just managed to spread out…first floor. Lucky for Kafei, Link's aim was true, and the man connected with the cloak—the pair hadn't even had time to brace themselves—generally unharmed from what could've been a fatal fall. Their make-shift cushion hadn't done that much though. As soon as Kafei connected with his traveling cloak, a sharp sensation tore through Link as if someone had dealt a direct blow to his elbow with the Gilded Sword. Link was forced to let go of the material; causing Kafei to tumble off and whack the ground.

By the Four Giants—why me? Link roared inside his head. Fine, so he should have known it was going to happen. That didn't help in the least. His goddess-damned arm was just trying to heal and no one would goddess-damned leave it alone He felt his hand go numb as he clutched the throbbing arm. It wasn't as if it was his worst injury; he'd experienced much worse during the Farore-forsaken days of Ganondorf's hellish reign. It was more of a dull, aching pain that just persisted, nothing more. And it had been awhile since he'd had an injury like this, spending his days traveling had honed his skills in fighting. But the event in which this occurred had been so peculiar; he'd been caught completely off-guard.

Link felt strong hands on his shoulder, steering him into the Inn.

"Guardians!" he heard a familiar female voice curse. "What happened to the poor boy? Kafei, what did you do to him?"

"I'm sorry Anju, but I was in the middle of an experiment—and…" Link heard the eccentric man stammer.

"And nothing! We raised this boy for four years and you go and abuse him…"

"I didn't abuse him! I'm sorry—to both of you! Really, I want Link to be okay as well…see, I'll go get the supplies…" Link distantly made out footsteps padding across the hard-wood floors.

"Get the supplies, honestly! By what tides of the Ocean does that man think he's doing…?" Anju's voice drifted into incoherent muttering. Link, still in a semi-conscious state, merely heard Kafei return a few moments later.

He was vaguely aware of Anju wrapping up his arm in bandages and draping a sling around his neck. Wincing, he looked up at the woman who had been his care-taker for quite the while. He sighed; when he first came to Termina he'd been unaware of the fact that people saw him as a child. In his eyes, he may have looked like a child; but his mind was that of an adult—someone who'd faced evil and come out on the better end. Link lowered his eyes and stared at his left hand, where he knew he bore the mark of the Triforce of Courage. The better end…sometimes Link wasn't sure if that was true. He'd saved Hyrule, maybe…but he'd lost seven years in the process. But the Princess let me regain them, he thought. And he was glad for that. He was—really. At least that was what he told himself.


For the second time that day, Link had snuck into the stables. This time though, he succeeded. Link reminisced on how simple it had been. He'd just had to creep past Anju and Cremia (who had been having tea and gossiping while Link was supposed to be resting). It had taken a bit of stealth, but as soon as he hit the gates he was free. Thinking it would ease the guilt; Link had left a brief explanation that he'd be gone for a while—longer than usual at that.

All of that had been quite a few hours ago. It was late morning by now; the sun was peaking through the forest. He was now deep in the heart of the Lost Woods. After coaxing Epona from the town stables, he's made off at top speed. Or as fast as one could go with one arm wrapped in a sling. The pang of guilt struck him for the second time that day, which was unfortunate because it usually didn't. He assumed it was because recently he had had to leave after they'd been taking care of him; he had depended on them for a while. Usually he took care of himself, and then just up and left…Link smirked slightly at the memory of the first time he had snuck away. Way back when he'd been fourteen and he had left Anju and Kafei's Inn; once again leaving nothing but a note.Link realized as he thought back to the letter he'd left recently, old habits die hard. Anju had let him have it the next time he came around again; she would no doubt do it again, even if he was eighteen now.

The Lost Woods were very beautiful; once one knew their way around as well as Link did. Though heavily forested, the little sunlight still managed to crack through the breaks in the tree. Small rays of light lit up the forest floor, catching the glistening raindrops that clung to the deep green leaves. And on the off chance one entered a clearing, the light broke right through the trees into the center of the clearing. It wasn't just the sights either—all around one could here gentle chirping of crickets and birds all around.

That and the occasional unidentifiable sounds from goddesses-knew-what. But, once more, when one was as accustomed to these woods as well as Link was, there was no need to worry. The last time something had gone wrong had been with Skullkid; and that that had been eight years ago. No one had bothered him since. Though Link suspected it might have had to do with Skullkid; the imp probably told his friends to leave Link alone.

A warm draft played across Link's face, causing his blonde bangs to fall into his eyes. Instinctively he put a hand over his hat. Link was very fond of his green Kokiri hat; it was a reminder of a past life.

"Whoa!" Link whispered urgently to Epona. "Careful, girl—I only have one hand!" As though in understanding, his faithful stallion instantly regained a steady pace. Link smiled softly, he would have stroked a hand through her mane—if he actually had a hand to spare. He knew Epona was being extra patient with him; his horse was a war-horse, after all. Born and bred to run as fast as the wind and stand strong with their masters—and Epona had been the fiercest of the litter. Link laughed gently at his closest friend.

"Poor girl, bet your just itching to buck a cripple like me off, eh?" Whining, Epona threw back her head as if to say, as if. Link chuckled. Leaning forwards, he rested his cheek in her silver mane.

Drifting into a dream-like state, it was a while before he noticed that the wind was tugging at his hat. Waking up, he threw his only good hand over the hat again. The breeze had grown a lot stronger; it was a miracle his hat hadn't blown off. Tensing, Link pulled out his Gilded Sword from its scabbard. He was suddenly very aware of his surroundings. He'd have preferred his bow and arrows, but managing those would be all but impossible with only one hand.

Link sensed it before he saw anything—it was just an ominous feeling in the pit of his stomach. Years of traveling taught him to listen to this sixth sense. Link studied the ground below him, and his eyes widened.

There. A skeleton lay strewn about the ground; its skull still attached. A few others were around, thrown about just as carelessly. Curious, Link urged Epona closer. Epona complied, trotting towards the yellowed bones. He bent forward, scrutinizing the carcass, confused. Looking up, Link realized while dozing off he'd entered unfamiliar territory. Link noticed something else too. Back when he first left Termina, a little light had begun to show. Now everything seemed to have fallen back to the sinister shade of gray. An ominous curtain of mist perturbed the air and clung to his skin; obscuring his far-sight vision.

He was Lost.

No, Epona's smarter that…then what had happened?

The ground began to shake. Slowly at first, then gradually, more violent.

Link was perplexed; it wasn't too often when he was in a position where he was mounted and one of his arms was dysfunctional. Damn. Link tightened his legs around his steed's flanks. The Goddesses aren't on my side today. He had never been more thankful that Epona knew not to bolt. If she had…Link didn't know what would've happened. The ground was shaking so badly now he could feel his legs slipping from the saddle. Something sent a shiver of uncertainty through his back. Glancing downwards, he watched as the skeletons arched forwards, trembling like mad. Eerily, the jaws were beginning to open and close around him, unhinging fully each time. Link realized they were laughing at him. The skeletons were now arched so far forwards they had managed to reach their feet. The shaking had stopped now.

And it wasn't falling back down.

With unnatural speed, the skeletons lunged. Swinging bone clubs, they attempted to knock him off. Epona evaded them all easily, giving Link an opportunity to strike. Finding his center balance, he raised his sword and easily smashed through the first. Reverse-cutting, he whipped through the ones attempting to grab him from behind. Link could smell the putrid stench of rotten bones as they flew everywhere. One of the Skeletons swung a particularly thin club at him—Link met the blow with his Gilded sword and slid the club into his cross-guard, trapping it. Slipping out of the entrapment, he thrust the tip of the blade at the demon. The Skeleton crumpled. More came at him, Epona dancing just out of their reach. Amazingly, Link hadn't fallen off his horse yet. Unfortunately though, quite a few managed to smack him with enormous bone clubs. Grimacing, Link knew that he would pay for ignoring the blows when the bruises formed later. Finally he hacked through the last of them. Link slumped back into the saddle, baffled at the surprise attack.

Until the shaking started again.

An enormous crack ruptured throughout the forest floor. Tensing, Link steadied Epona for a moment as he watched what happened next in an odd fascination.

The loud moan came first. Following that was a creature that made the hoards of Skeletons pale in comparison. A large arm rose from the depths of the crack, carrying one of the most immense clubs Link had ever had the displeasure of seeing. The arm carrying it was a very white arm. A very bony arm. An arm, Link noticed, that looked exactly like the previous Skeletons had, but much, much larger. As the club rose, the rest of the body came crawling out behind it. The body was a Skeleton.

And from the look of it, the skeleton of some vast ape-like creature, towering over Link and Epona.

Damn.

The Ape Skeleton took a massive swing at Link. Epona, unfortunately, seemed to still be in awe of the mammoth being. This resulted in the club meeting the mounted young man, and tossing him off like a rag doll. Groaning, Link hurled himself sideways just as the Ape Skeleton attempted to pound on top of him. Forcing himself to his feet, Link wiped the blood that was obscuring his vision. It was all Link could do to dodge this horrid beast; no distance weapon seemed to penetrate its hard bone. And he could hardly get close enough to attempt slashing it with his Gilded Sword. Epona, Link willed. Stay there. There was no need for both of them to suffer a beating at this monster's hands. Epona seemed to have different ideas though. Galloping forwards, Epona rushed to her master. She was a good distance away though, and the smaller Skeletons beat her to it.

Now they were crawling from the ground, and like Stalfos, they just kept coming. Having just taken a thrashing already—and narrowly dodging many more alike to it—Link wasn't prepared to let the Skeletons slay him. Just as he fended off a pack of Skeletons and rolled through the Ape's legs to avoid getting clobbered, Epona rushed towards him. She didn't just come for him either. She crashed through the Skeletons and swerved around the Ape's legs, confusing it. His steed halted for a fraction of a second before Link. It was fine by him though—he only needed a fraction of a second. Scrambling atop his horse with his arm, Link just managed to saddle himself up. Epona burst forward with renewed strength. Oh goddesses, I hope she doesn't expect me to stay and fight. During the Battle of Time she had learned to stand strong beside her master and even support him in his hours of need. In fact, if Link didn't know better, he'd say she'd come to enjoy fighting. She is a war horse.

Though she did indeed enjoy battling, Epona also could tell when her master was in danger. Sensing this was one of those moments, she headed to flee this area. Good girl. The Skeletons seemed reluctant to let them go though. They continued to drag themselves up from the ground, stalling the man and his horse.

So Link kept fighting, aided by his great war-horse. Slash. Strike. Parry. Thrust. Link continued with the limited techniques he could utilize while mounted and crippled. He couldn't even use his pommel thanks to his bloody right arm. They were coming faster now. And in larger groups. Link's muscles were groaning in the process; they still ached with bruises since the shed cave-in incident.

Somewhere through the garbled noises of the skeletons—he heard it. A soft sizzling sound, growing louder by the second. Link whirled around, nearly too late. A skeleton was coming at him, but this one was different. It was a light bluish colour, but that wasn't what caught Link's attention.

Its skull was a live bomb.

Using his leg, he kicked a nearby Skeleton towards the Bomb-Skeleton. As soon as they connected—when they were mere inches from Epona—the blue Skeleton exploded. Link was shocked. Not nearly as shocked as Epona though. Rearing on her hind legs—Link had to throw his weight forward so as not to fall off—she sprinted off in the furthest direction away from the demons. Crouching as low as he could on Epona, he squeezed his eyes shut. They were watering in pain, and every time he attempted to open them they instantly dried out, Epona was going so fast. Pressing down even further, he felt the weight on his fractured arm. But he refused to care; the important thing was getting his steed under control.

"EPONA!" Link roared. But his horse refused to listen to her master—she just kept running. Link continued to shout uselessly. His throat was burning in pain, but he could care less. If Epona didn't stop, Link would be dealing with a lot worse. Epona was racing alongside a high area of the forest, and as they ascended Link watched the vast ditch below the plateau grow steeper and steeper. As if mocking him, he felt his legs start to slip. He hadn't even had time to sheath his sword, and he didn't dare now. If he tried at this speed, he would probably miss. And Link did not need any more injuries. So it was all he could do to grip his sword with all the strength he possessed. Just as he was gripping Epona with his legs, and pressing his injured arm into his chest with the same amount of strength. He was throbbing all over from the bashing at the battle; he could feel his heart pounding in his throat. He was slipping farther and farther down his saddle. Panic was beginning to course through his veins.

His legs were done merely mocking him.

It happened so quickly Link didn't have time to feel surprise—his legs let go entirely, and Link felt himself plunge downwards. Din, Nayru, Farore—protect me! Link only just had time to throw his sword down ahead of him.He plummeted downhill afterwards, rolling through the ditch. He thanked every deity he knew he managed to lose the sword before tumbling off his horse. Otherwise his suffering would be much greater—and Link didn't think he could handle that at the moment. Sharp rocks and branches stabbed at him in from every direction as he rolled downwards. They pressed against open gashes and sores from the battle and cave-in. Spinning faster and faster, Link wasn't even aware of the new wounds ripping through him.

Just when he thought it couldn't get any worse, he came to a sudden halt.

Staggering to his feet, Link leaned against the nearest tree he could find. Dimly he realized there was no point in the effort—he blacked out as soon as his head connected with the bark.


A/N: Uh, the Cremia's cravings thing…totally random. Don't ask. Hmm…I ought to warn you now, it's only going to become darker from here on out…hope you'll still be interested! And if you are…well, you know how to let me know…