The air whipped past Link's face as he flew toward his goal. The dark, corrupted Triforce grew ever larger as he neared it. Link kept his eyes trained on it, unblinking. He would get only one shot at this, and there was no way he was taking any chances. The Master Sword was held firmly against his chest, both of Link's hands gripping its handle so that when the time came he could thrust the sword forth with all his strength.
The target neared. This was it, the end of everything no matter what happened. If Link succeeded, his life would be ended in the process, but if he failed, then everything would be lost. Minerva's teachings kept resonating through his mind as the understanding of it all finally sunk in. Minerva had known this would happen, or at the very least assumed it. She had known the truth about Gerik and the Triforce all along, but said nothing, giving Link merely the tools to come to the realization alone. Of course, he had thought that he was going to have to deal with losing Zelda, which in a way he still was, and not Zelda losing him and having to deal with his loss, which made the decision all the more harder for him.
The time to strike was now. The Triforce was within striking distance. As Link started to thrust his arms forward, time seemed to still around him The Master Sword shot forth toward its center where the Triforce's magical energies coalesced and bound the triangles together, but before it made contact a fireball slammed into Link's back. The force of the hit curved Link's back inward and sent him flying away from the Triforce. The shock and force of the hit caused Link to toss the Master Sword behind him back toward the balcony he had jumped from. Despite being hit with a fireball, however, his back burned only slightly.
With the pain of the blow still racking his body, Link opened his eyes and saw the floor several stories below him rapidly approaching. He looked about him, but he was falling down the center of the room away from any walls. Even if he had been close to a wall, it would prove pointless as the walls were just smooth marble, not even the tiniest niche to grab hold of. Zelda had seen the hit from where she stood below and watched as Link was plummeting to his death. She quickly ran over to where Link would crash and immediately used her magic to stop Link's descent. Now frozen midair, Zelda then lowered Link's body slowly down into her arms.
Once in Zelda's arms, Link's body collapsed, sending them both sprawling to the ground. Zelda shifted Link's weight off of her and then examined his back. His tunic was burned from where the fireball had hit, but his flesh was barely more than simply reddened. She thought it strange, but Link beginning to stir snapped her thoughts straight back to him.
"What the hell?!" Link said, obviously pissed, as he spun around getting up on one knee and looking up toward the balcony.
Zelda followed suit, looking straight up toward the balcony from which the fireball had originated. Neither her now Link could believe their eyes when they saw whom it was. Standing there on the edge of the balcony, the Master Sword gripped in her hand, was Navi. The Master Sword continued to hold its golden glow in her hand, and if Link wasn't mistaken it seemed to be glowing slightly brighter than when he had held it. Navi was staring straight at the two of them, but she was too far away to discern whatever emotion her facial features were displaying.
"Navi?!" Link said in disbelief. "But . . . why . . . how . . . what are you doing?"
"Link," Navi said, her voice somber, "your entire life has been spent protecting Hyrule. Even as a little kid, you answered destiny's call without question, your noble heart guiding you. After all you have done, after all you have sacrificed, this is not how it's all going to end. You deserve to finally know what peace is."
"Navi, what are you . . ." Zelda began to say.
"Don't you dare!" Link shouted, cutting off Zelda. "You'll die. This is my job!"
"No, it's mine!" Navi shouted back. "I am the Guardian of the Triforce remember? It's my sworn duty to protect it from all who would use the Triforce for evil, even if that means destroying it. My time is over Link, but you have much more to live for. Your job now is to rebuild Hyrule. The two of you, together."
Navi looked over toward the Triforce, which had expanded in size and was pulsating at an ever increasing rate. "There isn't much time," she sighed. "Zelda, Link, I wish you guys the best of luck, and always remember; Gerik and I shall be watching over you two, so you better behave yourselves." Navi allowed herself a small smile as she said that last part.
"Navi wait, no . . ." Link started saying as Navi raised her hand toward them and teleported them out of the tower.
With Link and Zelda gone, Navi turned to fully face the Triforce, a few lone tears running down her cheeks, yet still she smiled. The Triforce had now grown to twice its size, and was pulsating quite rapidly.
"My duty was always to protect the Triforce, and now here I am about to destroy the very thing I swore to protect with my life," Navi laughed to herself. "Gerik, you of all people would've appreciated the irony in this."
With that said, Navi readied the Master Sword and leapt off the balcony.
With Lord Arcana dead, the magic animating the Stal-warriors had dissipated. The Hyrulian soldiers simply stared in puzzlement as their skeletal opponents abruptly stopped fighting and collapsed into nothing more than piles of bones upon the ground. There was silence at first as the confused Hyrulian Army worriedly anticipated the arrival of an even more dangerous enemy, yet as the realization of what actually occurred started to sink in cheers began erupting across the battlefield. Swords and fists were thrust into the air triumphantly among shouts of 'Victory,' the battlefield now awash with a sense of relief and accomplishment.
It was not all joy and rapture, however. More than half of the Hyrulian Army lay dead upon the battlefield. Of those that survived, few had escaped unscathed, while nearly half were seriously wounded. What made matters worse was that all of their commanders were still missing. Without hesitation, the survivors quickly organized. The more seriously wounded were all put onto horses and sent back to regroup at Lon Lon Ranch. Everyone else who was still combat worthy prepared to march toward the Black Tower.
No sooner did they begin their march than they stopped as they caught sight of a group of figures off in the distance heading their way. The soldiers readied their weapons believing the figures were enemy reinforcements. Once they had gotten close enough for the Hyrulian Army to see who they were, however, they lowered their weapons as relief washed over the troops. It was Darunia, Ruto, and Nabooru. Their commanders had returned, and they weren't alone.
Walking beside the three Sages was Saria and the rest of the Kokiri survivors. Now freed from their prison, some of their vigor had returned allowing them to walk under their own power, albeit more sluggishly than normal. The were a few who needed to be assisted by their fellow Kokiri, but overall they kept pace. With her ability to walk gone, Impa was being carried on Darunia's back. Ruto and Nabooru, meanwhile, were carrying a makeshift stretcher between them on which rested Captain Huntley's body. His cape had been removed and used to cover his remains, his golden helm resting on top.
The Hylian troops became disheartened to learn that one of their commanders was dead while the other two, Link and Navi, were still missing somewhere inside the Black Tower. They were fully prepared to charge forth and offer whatever assistance they could, but Darunia and the others convinced them that their part in this war was now over, that everything now rested upon Link and Navi and for them to just trust in them to succeed. With nothing left to do, they began heading back toward Lon Lon Ranch.
They didn't make much progress before the ground beneath their feet began to shake. Everyone stopped dead in their tracks, looking around bewilderedly for the source of the earthquake. With every second that went by the vibrations increased more and more. It was like a wave, spreading out and engulfing more and more of whatever was in its path and causing the ground to shake while subsequent waves merely increased in intensity causing areas it had already hit to grow worse and worse.
The soldiers all turned toward the Black Tower, knowing it to be the epicenter of whatever was happening. Even from this distance, they could see how horrible things were at the tower, as they could see pieces of it breaking off and plummeting to the ground below, and it was only growing worse. Around the remnants of the Hyrulian Army, the ground was now beginning to split and crack, and the soldiers were finding it increasingly difficult to remain standing. In fact the Kokiri, who were still in a pretty weakened state, were no longer standing at all.
Darunia, Ruto, and Nabooru were growing concerned. Something had happened, and if things kept up the way they were Hyrule would soon tear itself apart, that is unless some worse disaster was on the horizon. As they tried to determine what they should do, there was a bright flash directly in front of them. As the flash vanished, Link and Zelda were now left in its place. Link was down on one knee, an arm outstretched toward the Black Tower while Zelda stood by his side, her hand upon his shoulder.
"Navi!" Link shouted out, "Noooooooo!"
Just as Link shouted, there was a tremendous flash, as bright as the sun, at the top of the tower. The light grew bigger, the sonic boom of the explosion rushing past the Hyrulian Army and beyond. The light stopped growing and then immediately collapsed in upon itself, the entire Black Tower imploding into a single singularity that then exploded into a powerful shockwave that surged forth knocking everyone on their feet to the ground.
As everyone slowly got back to their feet after the shockwave had passed, they looked at where the Black Tower had once stood. There was now nothing more than an empty landscape. The silence that followed was eerie, unnerving even, yet at the same time brought with it a sense of peacefulness. Almost as one everyone let out a sigh of relief that their troubles were now over, though not without great sacrifice. The silence was then abruptly ended as the soldiers cheered out in victory even louder than before, their cries echoing far into the distance.
Amidst the cheering, Link slowly got to his feet and stared off blankly toward the barren landscape that once housed the Black Tower. Next to the Kokiri, Navi had been his oldest friend. They had been through a lot together, facing numerous dangers side by side from the Imprisoning War to the War of the Triforce and even now, during this War of Darkness. She had given her life so that he might keep his, so that he could live on. Link felt lost.
Next to him, Zelda had stood up and stared at Link. She didn't need to read his mind to know what he was feeling. Another war and another friend lost, yet it was different this time. Navi had literally traded her life for his. As princess, Zelda had learned to live with the fact that her people would sacrifice themselves simply to keep her alive. It didn't get any easier to live with the fact, but Zelda had yet to lose someone as close to her as Navi and Link were in the same fashion. Sure, close friends such as Gerik and even her own father had died, but they fell in battle. Zelda could only imagine how hard it truly was for him, but she would be there for him nonetheless. As such, she took a step forward and wrapped an arm around his shoulders and stared off into the distance with him.
"She's really gone," Link said after a while, turning to look at Zelda, his eyes wet with moisture. "It's no trick; she didn't somehow manage to escape at the last second. She succeeded, and gave her life in the process."
Zelda turned to stare into Link's eyes, unsure of exactly what to say. "She did her job," Zelda finally replied. "She fulfilled her duty to the Goddesses and to Hyrule, and for that she will always be remembered as a hero. She's with Gerik now, and I'm sure that the two of them are now happy, relieved, that peace has finally returned. Now let's do what Navi told us to do and rebuild Hyrule, together."
With that Zelda leaned in and kissed Link. Link hadn't expected it, but didn't pull back; rather he kissed her back. Darunia spotted the two, smiled one of his giant smiles, and walked over to them. By the time he reached them Link and Zelda had pulled apart and were just staring at each other, completely unaware that Darunia was walking over. It came as a surprise to them both when Darunia wrapped the both of them up in his huge arms.
"Now don't you two go starting the celebration early," Darunia said with a smile, causing both Link and Zelda to blush and smile themselves. "Let us return home first. Then we can feast and drink, celebrate and mourn."
As the Hyrulian Army regrouped with the others waiting at Lon Lon Ranch, little did they realize that they were being watched from above. Floating high above the plains of Hyrule Field, invisible to all mortal eyes, was Minerva, the Queen Fairy. There was the slyest of smirks on her face as she watched the events unfolding below her.
Malon and the others left behind in Hyrule Market had come out to welcome back the survivors, as well as tend to the wounded. There were many cheers for the victorious heroes, as well as many tears being shed for their fallen brethren. As the survivors regrouped, they brought with them the bodies of their fallen brothers and sisters in arms, their bodies laid out so they could be honored for their sacrifices.
Malon in particular was making her way through the throngs of the arriving troops as if looking for someone in particular. She spotted Link nearby and headed in his direction, but her pace slowed as she noticed where he stood. Link was standing beside the body of a fallen soldier, the cape covering the body and golden helm resting atop it all too familiar to the farm girl. Her lighthearted mood dropped, yet she slowly walked over toward the body, almost as if an invisible force was pulling her. She wasn't alone either. Zelda was standing there as well, along with many members of the Royal Guard.
Rauru was out walking amongst the troops as well, eventually making his way over to where Impa, Saria, and the Kokiri were. Saria was attempting to heal the damages to Impa's body caused by Gerik, while the Kokiri rested from their ordeal and mourned their own fellow brethren whose bodies still lied unburied within the Kokiri Forest.
The civilians who were hidden off in safety would eventually learn of their victory and join in on the celebrations, but for now it was a time of regrouping and appreciating all that they had gained as well as lost. Minerva simply watched it all. She could have just as easily watched everything from within the confines of her Fairy Fountain, as she had the final battles between Navi and Gerik and Link and Arcana, but for times like these she preferred to be present herself.
There was suddenly a light behind her, and Minerva turned around to see the sun. Lord Arcana's final bits of magic were finally dissipating, and his eclipse of the sun was finally ending. The warmth and light of the sun quickly spread across every corner of Hyrule, signifying not only the end of the darkness gripping the kingdom, but the beginnings of a new Age, one filled with peace and hope for an even brighter future. Everyone down below looked up and cheered as they finally saw the sun again after so many days of darkness.
"Good and evil, light and dark," Minerva started saying to herself as she flew down closer to be among those gathered below, "they shall always be apart of this world, always living in balance. A great light has been lost from this world, the Triforce, but with it so has a great darkness. The greed, power, and corruption of those who would use it for evil has been extinguished with its destruction, but it is not the end of evil itself. It will return again in some shape or form, though when and where even I cannot predict."
Minerva had flown over toward Link and finally landed upon the ground. She walked around him so she could stare into his face, though he and everyone else were still unable to see her, nor were they able to hear her.
"You mortals are far from predicable," Minerva mused. "You're free will is your greatest gift, though at the same time your greatest weakness as well. The future is always in motion, not just one path but an infinite number. Still, I suspect, Link and Zelda, that your rule shall be a long and prosperous one. Here's hoping the rest of your days are full of peace."