EPILOGUE: A NEW DAY
It was morning on the edges of Hyrule's borders, as Caspian, on horseback, finally crossed the borders, escorted by several of Hyrule's Knights, sent to make sure he left. "And don't come back!!" the lead Knight shouted. Scowling, Caspian rode off.
He'd been riding a few minutes when he saw a large shape, up in the sky, far away in the distance, up in the clouds, heading toward Hyrule. He snarled in disgust as he recognized it. It was Aldarus, the capital 'Sky-city' of the Aldarian Empire. So, Link's parents had decided to visit their unnatural son, and had brought their city with them.
Everything about Aldare sickened him; its unnatural way of life, where the people had a say in the rule of the country; its use of magic and science; its technology...the Empire was an abomination.
Just like its Prince.
The Empire was a blight against his family honor. Caspian was of royal blood; he was the grand-nephew of the Emperor of the Anacreonian Empire. Anacreon had long since wanted to annex Hyrule, and it had even less love of Aldare than he did. Before Aldare had arrived, Anacreon had been the unquestioned dominant power in the world, with the strongest sea-fleet ever constructed. But then, 5000 years ago, something changed; there were things seen in the sky. At first, Anacreon was indifferent to these 'cities' in the clouds; what did it matter if people lived in the sky? Anacreon dominated the earth. If those people wanted the clouds, they could have them.
But then the cloud-people began to come to the earth, building colonies in territory that Anacreon had coveted. They were also building outposts and bases on the water, and even in the far north, where no wooden ship could go. Their colonies were shining cities, with no apparent nobility or peasantry.
Their technology was enabling them to do what Anacreon, the rightful ruler of the world, could not. And that had been an insult to the honor of the Royal House.
When the cloud-people began to settle in an area that Anacreon had needed for national defense, the Emperor sent the mighty fleet to drive these sky-born usurpers out, to show them why Anacreon was the dominant power of the world.
It had been a disaster.
The fleet had fired on the colony with their cannons...but the cannonballs had no effect; they simply bounced off an invisible wall around the colony.
And then the Aldarian warships came.
Anacreon had been outmatched; these warships were huge, gleaming colossi, invulnerable to cannon-fire, and with weapons that no man of Anacreon had ever conceived before.
Anacreon's fleet was nearly wiped out. Less than a half-dozen ships returned to the capital.
When the word of Anacreon's devastating and humiliating defeat got out, every single country that Anacreon had annexed rebelled against their rightful lords, leaving only a handful of island around Anacreon itself under the Empire's control.
And so matters had remained for the last five millennia. Aldare prospered, with colonies around the world, while Anacreon remained beaten, stagnant, static. Aldare had occasionally attempted to open trade relations with the islands around the Empire, but the Emperor had rightfully refused; Aldare's efforts were a continued insult to the greatness of Anacreon. It was the great hope of the Royal House to one day strike back against Aldare, and reclaim the Empire's former glory.
And that day would come soon, if Caspian had anything to say about it.
He would travel to Anacreon, and send for his forces in Hyrule, those soldiers still loyal to his family. He would rejoin his kin in the Empire, and plot Aldare's downfall. And he would personally bring down that accursed nation, as well as its freakish Prince...and claim Zelda, and Hyrule, as his own.
'Enjoy these happy moments, Link.' Caspian thought. Then, he spoke his next thoughts aloud.
"For they will be your last."
The morning sun was strong in the sky over Hyrule Castle, as Link sat in the Castle infirmary, his weapons set aside, and his cap, tunic, and white undershirt removed, as Zelda, still in her Fairy-form, tended to him.
He'd nearly collapsed on his way down from the ceremonial tower; the exertion of his Master Magi powers, combined with the beating he'd taken from Majora before he'd used them had taken its toll.
Link was sitting upright on a medical cot, with Zelda sitting at his side, her hands in his, as she poured her healing magic into him. "Zel, that's enough." Link said gently. "You're going to tire yourself out; really, I'm fine."
"Link, you nearly fell right off the stairs on our way down; you are not fine!" Zelda sweetly admonished. "Now, you just sit there and let me help you."
Link smiled, and nodded. "Okay, Zelda; I guess you're right."
"Of course I am!" Zelda teased, smiling. "I'm your future wife; I'm always right!"
Link arched an eyebrow. "Doesn't that rule only start after we get married?"
Zelda put her hands on her hips. "Link," she said, her tone flirtatious, "are you going to start disagreeing with me now?"
Link laughed. "Okay, okay!" he relented. "I don't wanna argue with such a lovely lady…especially when she's agreed to put up with me for the rest of our lives."
Zelda nodded, smiling. "And you'd be hard-pressed to find another woman who would, given all the hare-brained stunts you're so fond of pulling!" she teased.
"Hey, when have they not worked?" Link laughed, causing Zelda to giggle. Then, his tone turned serious. "Zel, in the few moments when Majora hit me with that fire-blast…I saw something…I'm not exactly sure what it was, but…I think I saw…the Three."
Zelda's eyes widened in surprise. "Are you sure?"
Link nodded. "They were worried about my powers, so they tested me. I passed their test, but…" he looked at Zelda, his eyes haunted, "…I saw Hyrule, Zel, but it was a Hyrule that…I had destroyed; my powers had driven me off the deep-end. I had destroyed the Town; I had killed everyone; I had…" his voice became a whisper, "…I had hurt you."
Slowly, Zelda sat in his lap, lovingly straddling him, her lovely sapphire gaze meeting his. "And now you're afraid of yourself." she said. "Link…I'm not afraid of you." At that, Link looked at her, confused. Zelda smiled. "I'm not afraid because I know you; I know that, whatever shadows there are within you…the light within you, the goodness in your soul…is ten times stronger."
Link smiled. "I guess that whole 'being right' rule does start working, now." he said. "I have to be the luckiest guy in Hyrule, to have such a wise, beautiful woman in my life."
Zelda nodded. "But only the first tidbit of wisdom is free, Link." she teased.
Link smiled slyly. "Well, I always pay my debts." he said, as he lovingly embraced Zelda, holding her close, before kissing her, savoring Zelda's light squeak of surprise, which turned into a low, contented sigh.
After a few minutes of kissing, Link released Zelda from the kiss. "Well?" he asked, smiling. "Are we even?"
Zelda smiled radiantly. "Not quite." She whispered, as her eyes closed, in blissful anticipation, as she leaned closer to him. Link was only too happy to indulge his bride-to-be, as his arms wove around her waist, pulling her close…
Link paused, as he and Zelda recomposed themselves as a Castle steward walked into the infirmary. "The King and the Emperor wanted to talk to you for a few moments, whenever you were ready." he said.
"Ah. Yes. Thank you." Link said, as the steward left.
Zelda sighed. "Now that the moment is completely ruined…"
Link chuckled, before lightly kissing her. "We'll have a lifetime of moments, Zel; don't worry." he said. Quickly, he re-donned his cap, shirt, tunic, and weapons. "Now, I'd better go see what our parents want."
Zelda nodded, returning to her natural form and outfit. "I'll just go speak with your mother in the Courtyard." she said. Link nodded, and they both headed out of the infirmary.
Link found his father and King Andreus in the King's study. "Ah, Link, there you are!" the King said. "The Emperor and I were discussing the installation of additional defenses to the future Shadow invasion."
Kondar nodded. "With your permission, King Andreus," he said, "we would like to install several Ion-Cannon Turrets around Hyrule. When the Shadows come, some small fighter-craft may slip by; the Cannons would be programmed to automatically shoot down any such craft, as well as being programmed for long-range fire, to assist the Fleet in battle above the planet."
"Of course." the King agreed.
Kondar nodded, and then turned to Link. "So, Son, where did you and Zelda want to get married?"
Link smiled. "We haven't discussed that, yet." he replied. "With Majora gone and Caspian banished, I hope that whenever we do decide to get married, it'll be peaceful."
The King looked troubled. "I hope you're right, Link." he said. "But there was another reason why I allowed Caspian to remain as long as I did. You see, Caspian is a relative of the Emperor of Anacreon."
"Anacreon?" Link repeated, confused.
"The Anacreonian Empire was the dominant world power before Aldare came to this planet, Son." Kondar said. "Their interests were so different from ours, we initially had no contact with them; we were looking for colonies for research purposes, and for space for our people, while they conquered land for wealth and power."
"Eventually, we established a research outpost in an area that Anacreon was interested in; they had wanted to build a base for some petty war they had started." Kondar continued. "Apparently, their Emperor took our settling there as a personal insult, and attacked it." He lightly chuckled. "Their bark was much, much worse than their bite. They had only powder-based cannons; they couldn't even scratch the outpost's shields. A few Paladin-Class Heavy Cruisers took out most of the ships that were harassing our colony; we only planned to disable the ships, but their vessels were so flimsy, even the lightest fire was devastating. Fortunately, we managed to destroy the bulk of their fleet without causing any serious loss of life. After that, much of Anacreon's empire rose in revolt...and they never forgave us for it."
"Anacreon is very close to Hyrule, Link; only Aldare's Atlantis Base lies between Anacreon and Hyrule." the King added. "Even though Anacreon has lost its former might, it is still much stronger than Hyrule. I was initially concerned that punishing Caspian without proof would incite a response from Anacreon, and since we were allied with Aldare, that would only give Anacreon further reason to attack. I'm surprised Anacreon hasn't sent word for us to cease our dealings with Aldare."
Kondar nodded. "Anacreon has been notorious for pressuring our allies to break off relations with us." he said. "If Anacreon tries anything, Hyrule will have our support."
Link nodded. "I see." he said. "But it seems a bit silly; Anacreon is upset about something that happened 5000 years ago. It's stupid to hold a grudge that long!"
Kondar nodded in complete agreement. "You're absolutely right, Son." he agreed. "But the Anacreonian mind-set is very rigid; Anacreon is very old-fashioned, from a philosophical standpoint. They've been trying to develop some new technologies, but their society is stagnant; their people are divided terribly. The disparity in wealth is great; the nobles there have everything, and the common citizens have next to nothing. The Anacreonian Empire is one of the most despotic regimes I've seen, Son. It's next to impossible to get those kind of people to see reason." Then, his expression lightened. "But that's enough talk of such serious matters. Why don't you go see your future bride, and talk of happier things?" Smiling in agreement, Link bade farewell to his Father, and to the King, his future father-in-law, and went to see Zelda.
Link found Zelda outside, in the Inner Courtyard, with his Mother and Aryll; he smiled as he saw that Aryll had asked Zelda to braid her hair, and Zelda had gladly agreed, and had woven Aryll's hair into a braided ponytail, with a smiling Varila watching them.
When Zelda finished her braiding, she smiled, and said, "All done, sweetie. What do you think?"
Aryll hopped off Zelda's lap, and looked at herself in the little pool of water...and squealed in joy. "Oh, thank you, Big Sister!" she exclaimed, giving Zelda a hug, before darting over to her mother. "Mommy, look how pretty Big Sister made my hair!"
Varila smiled. "Oh, it looks lovely, honey!" she said. Then, noticing Link, she added, "I think we should go for a few minutes; Link and Zelda have grown-up stuff to talk about."
"Okay!" Aryll chirped, and she followed Varila out of the Courtyard, giving Link and Zelda their privacy.
Zelda smiled at Link. "I always wanted a little sister." she said.
Link smiled back. "Well, Aryll just adores you."
Zelda's smile grew. "She's just the sweetest little thing, isn't she?" she said. "I'm...so glad that your family accepts me, Link."
"Zelda, how could they not accept you?" Link exclaimed. "My family just loves you! And all of Aldare will be thrilled to know that you'll be their future Empress!"
Zelda's smile grew. "I just...can't believe this is happening, Link. I feel like I'm dreaming!"
Slowly, Link sat down with Zelda at the edge of the fountain, where she was sitting. "I feel that way, too." he said. "But this is real, Zelda. We're going to spend the rest of our lives together." Smiling, he added, "Now, sweetheart, tell me all of your dreams, everything you hoped your wedding would be; I promise, I'll make every single one of them come true."
Blushing lightly, Zelda said, "Well...I always wanted to be a spring bride, to be wed in the season of new life, since I'd be starting a new life with the man I loved. Also, I've wanted my wedding to be on the day of the Carnival of Time, so that the Goddesses would bless our union, with all my friends and loved ones there." Zelda's blush intensified, as she added, "Sounds silly, doesn't it?"
Laughing lightly, Link lovingly kissed the backs of her hands. "No, sweetheart, those are lovely dreams." he said. "So, how would you like to get married a year from today?" He was rewarded with Zelda's joyful smile...seconds before she pounced on him, kissing him with all the love in her pure, loving heart; a kiss which Link gladly returned, with equal passion.
When their kiss ended, Link said, "So, I assume that means 'yes'." He was rewarded with Zelda's lovely, melodious laughter. "Now, why don't we go to the Carnival?" he suggested.
"Yes, let's." Zelda cooed. Then, they stood up, holding hands, and headed out of the Castle, to join their old friends and their new ones, and to enjoy the rest of the day.
It was a new day for them all.
Author's Note: And it's finished. This took longer to post than I thought it would. Sorry about the slow updates, everyone; I had a combination of writer's block, university classes, and a research paper to distract from my writing time. I plan to do a sequel to this story, but I'm not sure when, yet; my Zelda-story muse seems to be on holiday. Hopefully, playing Twilight Princess will get my creativity back in shape. Thank you all for the reviews! I hope to hear from you all again when I get the sequel up! So…until we meet again!