I abandoned this story. I wrote most of it a long time ago, back when I was overly hyper, my grammar was terrible and I still had 'muses' I talked to all the time. (As you have noticed from previous chapters.) And I wasn't going to write it any more. It was done.

It has been almost two years since I last updated.

And then I mentioned it to my room mate, Katie, and we came up with lots of ideas for the story. Lots. Actual serious ideas instead of just goofing off, like I always did with DVD. Mostly having to do with the events that take place during the seven year gap.

I really wish I had enough time to write all of the ideas that we have, but I don't.

But I wanted to write something for it anyway. I made several attempts at starting this chapter before I finally came to the conclusion that the main thing that was holding me up on completing it (besides a sheer lack of time to be writing anything at all), was that I was bored with the point of the story where I was, and that what I really wanted to be writing was the bit later on.

So, instead of going through the whole story, I'm skipping part of it. Here are summaries of the skipped parts:

Link goes and saves the Gorons by completing Dodongo's Caverns, and he gets the spiritual stone of fire. You get how that goes; nothing's different.

Ryou finishes saving Zora's Domain from the evil within Lord Jabu Jabu, and he gets the spiritual stone of water. You pretty much get how that goes, too; the only thing that's different is that Ryou refuses to carry Ruto around. XD Bakura pushes all the switches and stuff that you normally need Ruto for. Ruto follows Ryou around rather indignantly, and so the whole engagement thing still happens. Poor Ryou. (Poor Bakura, too: she doesn't know there's a difference between them.)

Ryou actually completes his part of the quest before Link does, because Link went on so many random side quests in Kakariko before heading up the mountain, so Ryou goes to Lon Lon Ranch to wait for him to get done, and to visit Malon. Malon teaches him Epona's song while he's there.

Then, when Link's done, he calls Ryou using Saria's song, and they meet up again in Hyrule Field. As they approach Castle Town, there's that bit with Zelda escaping with Impa and throwing Link the Ocarina of Time, and then Ganondorf shows up. That also goes pretty much the same as in the game.

So, now they're going to the Temple of Time. Sorry for that huge jump in events, but this is to prevent the story from merely dying.


The temple was almost deathly quiet when the two boys stepped inside, their footsteps resonating hauntingly through the single, large room. Anxiously, they looked around, trying to determine whether or not it was safe to continue.

When it became fairly obvious that there was no one else around, they both let out sighs of relief. "Good, Ganondorf didn't think to send anybody in here," Ryou breathed thankfully.

Link nodded with a grim expression and began walking towards the altar on the far end of the room. Navi flew quickly over to check it out as well, her inner glow lighting up the inscriptions carved into the stone.

"Hang on a second," Bakura called to Link, appearing in his physical form. The Millennium Ring glowed as he stalked around the borders of the room, checking every corner for magical influence. Finally, he stopped at the altar itself. "Fine. No traps, as far as I can tell. It should be okay."

Navi huffed at him. "I could have told you that."

Bakura scowled back. "And just how many traps have you already led Link straight into?" he demanded.

"Shut up," Navi sniffed.

Ryou and Link ignored their arguing and hurried to the altar. "So, now what?" Ryou asked.

Link was already digging in his bag for the spiritual stones he had collected. "The stones, along with the ocarina and that song, should open the door to the Sacred Realm."

"Right. Then we can get to the Triforce before Ganondorf does." Ryou pulled out the spiritual stone of water and held it out for Link to take.

Bakura was keeping his attention on the entrance to the temple suspiciously. "Yeah, let's hope it actually goes that smoothly. Something's still not right, here. If that had been me, I'd have never let us go so easily."

"Then let's move quickly," Link urged. He held the other two spiritual stones up towards the altar, and all three of them sailed out of their hands and into the air. They emitted a flash of light and then descended to hover just above the three grooves within the altar, rotating slowly with a soft hum.

Ryou blinked at it. "That's cool," he commented.

"Hurry up and play that song," Bakura snapped irritably. "We don't have much time, and I don't like this place."

"Right." Link pulled out the Ocarina of Time, paused a moment to let the notes come to him, and then began to play the Song of Time.

The three spiritual stones began to glow softly, their light increasing with each note that Link played until Ryou had to squint just to look at them. Even the song itself seemed amplified, almost as if Link had a backup choir of some sort as he played along.

When the last notes faded away, the stones released their newfound glow, flooding the temple with light as a symbol of the Triforce above the door lit up. Link and Ryou winced, shielding their faces, and Bakura flinched visibly, taking several steps back. There was a grinding noise, and the Door of Time began to slide open, revealing another chamber beyond.

For a long moment, nobody moved, instead staring, transfixed, at the open door.

"Is... is that...?" Ryou finally spoke.

Link started forward, stashing the ocarina back into his bag. "The entrance to the Sacred Realm! It's gotta be! Come on!"

Bakura frowned. "Link, wait! Be cautious. Make sure there aren't any-"

Navi flew into his face, flashing warningly. "There aren't any traps in there, moron! That door's never been opened before!"

"As far as you know!" Bakura said emphatically. "We don't know how strong the enchantments on that door are, and for all we know, someone could have-"

"Guys, quit arguing and get in here!" Link called back to them. "Check it out!"

Ryou hurried in. "What? What's there?"

"It's a sword!"

Navi flew past them, streaking into the room to check it out for herself. Bakura caught up to Link and Ryou, looking somewhat put off. He glanced around, taking everything in.

Navi was currently fluttering around a pedestal that stood in the very center of the room. Embedded in the pedestal, illuminated by colored light that was filtering in from a single, stained-glass window high above them, was a blue and gold sword.

"It... It's not just any sword," Navi informed them, her voice filled with awe. "This is that legendary blade, the Master Sword!"

Bakura looked bored. "The what, now? What about the Triforce?"

Link stepped up onto the low platform that held the pedestal and began walking slowly towards the sword. "The Master Sword?" he asked Navi. "Really?"

Navi nodded hard. "It is! This is the legendary sword of the Hero of Time, the Sword of Evil's Bane!"

"Sounds Legendary," Bakura noted sarcastically. "How do we get to the Sacred Realm and get the Triforce?"

"Give me a minute!" Navi snapped back at him. "The Master Sword isn't something you just ignore! This is important!"

Bakura rolled his eyes. "So is the Triforce. Where is it?"

"Bakura, knock it off," Ryou sighed, also getting up onto the platform. "Look, Ganondorf doesn't know we're here. We've got time."

Bakura scowled. "We don't know that. There's something not right with all of this."

Link was ignoring Bakura's protests. "Maybe the sword itself has something to do with the Triforce. Look, the pedestal has the Triforce engraved on it, and the platform up here's got the Triforce on it, too."

Ryou crouched down, examining the pedestal. "He's right. Maybe if we pull the sword out of the pedestal?"

Navi shrugged. "Only the Hero of Time can do that," she warned.

"Oh. So, it's a 'he who pulleth this sword from this stone becometh king of all England' sort of deal?" Ryou asked jokingly.

Link and Navi stared at him in confusion. "What? King of what, now?"

Ryou laughed nervously. "Eh, never mind. Old legend where I come from. So, you going to try pulling the sword?"

Link shrugged. "I guess so." He turned back towards it and rubbed his hands, preparing himself.

Bakura scoffed, leaning against the wall of the room. "Wait, you're going to pull it out? That sword's nearly taller than you are! Let Ryou do it."

Ryou shook his head. "Nah, I know I'm no hero. And I am supposed to be helping 'the hero'. Who's to say that's not Link?"

Bakura just shook his head. "This is ridiculous."

Link ignored him, grabbing the hilt and stepping up onto the pedestal itself to get some leverage. For a moment, he paused, taking a deep breath. Then, in one swift motion, he yanked the sword up and out of the pedestal.

Abruptly, the mark of the Triforce on the platform began to glow a deep blue.

Bakura grinned as a rush of magic flowed over them all, and he stood straight again, beginning to walk towards them. "Here it comes!" he called over the sudden rush of sound.

Ryou looked nervously down at the glowing Triforce mark underneath his feet. "Um. M-maybe I should get down?" he stammered.

But then, it was too late. The blue light spread out, encompassing the entire platform and then shooting upwards, creating a column of burning blue, blinding them all instantly.

All around, there was nothing but blue. Someone screamed. There was a sharp cracking noise. And then everything faded away.


"Bakura? Bakura, are you all right? Bakura?"

Ryou groaned, reaching up to grip his throbbing head, keeping his eyes squinted closed. Someone was holding onto his shoulders, supporting him in a standing position, and shaking him lightly.

"Bakura?" whoever it was asked again.

Slowly, Ryou opened his eyes and looked up. He was startled to find a pair of blood-red eyes very close to his own, and he flinched backwards with a short cry, nearly falling.

The person supporting him steadied him again. "Are you all right?" he repeated.

Ryou looked around quickly, trying to determine exactly where he was. He appeared to be in the Temple of Time, still back in that chamber beyond the door that had opened before. So, he couldn't have been unconscious long. Though, why he was still standing was beyond him.

He glanced back at the young man who was hanging on to him. "I... I'm fine," he said. For some reason, his voice sounded somewhat muffled, but he continued. "Y-you can let go now."

Looking unsure, the young man let go and stepped back, and Ryou was able to get a good look at him. He was wearing what looked like a skin-tight blue outfit with a white piece of cloth draped around his shoulders and pulled up over the lower half of his face. The part that fell across his chest was decorated with the symbol of a large, bleeding eye. Wraps around his head nearly obscured his short-cropped blonde hair, which fell just long enough to hide most of the rest of his face.

"You're sure you're all right, Bakura?" he asked again, sounding concerned.

Ryou nodded, wondering suddenly how the other boy knew his name. "I think so. Head hurts a bit. What... what happened?"

"I was kind of hoping you could tell me." The teen shrugged. "You walked in here and collapsed."

Ryou frowned. "Walked in? But that doesn't make any... Where's Link?" He glanced around the area again.

The other boy just watched him curiously. "Hasn't woken up yet. Should be soon, though."

"Okay." Ryou's frown deepened as he tried to puzzle through that one. Unable to make much sense of it, he asked the next obvious question. "All right. So. Who are you?"

The boy's expression changed, as far as Ryou could tell, to one of confusion and suspicion. "What are you talking about? Why-" He cut off as a look of dawning understanding crossed his face. "Wait... Ryou?"

Slowly, Ryou nodded. "Yeah, that's my name."

"Oh! I'm sorry. That makes more sense now." The boy coughed and tried to look composed. "I am Sheik, survivor of the Sheikah. Nice to finally meet you."

Ryou nodded again, giving him a hesitant smile. "Nice to meet you too, I suppose."

Sheik's next question threw Ryou off again: "How's Bakura?" he asked seriously.

Ryou stared at him. "Um... I don't really... What?"

"Bakura," Sheik repeated slowly. "How is he?"

Awkwardly, Ryou cleared his throat. "I-I don't think you understand. My name is Ryou Bakura. Both names are..." he trailed off nervously.

Sheik looked unsure of himself, one hand half raised as he examined Ryou carefully again. Finally, he gestured down at Ryou's chest. "No, I mean... Bakura. How's Bakura?"

Still very confused, Ryou looked down to see what Sheik was pointing at. But besides the fact that Ryou seemed to be wearing some very unusual, dark blue clothing, the only thing there was the Millennium Ring on its normal cord.

It hit him suddenly what Sheik was referring to, and he glanced up at him in surprise. "W-wait, you know about Bakura? But nobody knows about... How do you know him?"

Sheik still looked uncertain. "Ryou... You've been... unconscious for a while."

Ryou gave that some time to sink in, and then he let himself drop to the floor, burying his head in both hands with a groan. "Oh, no. No, no, not again..."

"Ryou? Ryou, hang on, calm down." Sheik was suddenly right beside him, his hands on Ryou's shoulders. "I know this is a bit unusual, but-"

Ryou interrupted him with a slightly hysterical laugh, still not looking up. "Unusual?! No, see, the problem is that this isn't unusual! He promised this wouldn't happen again!" He moaned. "He promised!"

"Ryou, it wasn't his fault. Let me explain."

Ryou stared back up at Sheik with a haunted expression. "How long?" he asked, almost dreading the answer.

Sheik hesitated. "If I tell you, you have to promise not to freak out until I can explain, okay?"

"How long?" Ryou simply asked again.

There was a long, awkward pause. Finally, Sheik sighed. "Ryou, it's been... It's been seven years."

Ryou gaped at him. "Seven years?! But that's not – I can't be – No, that's not-" Ryou took several short breaths, trying to take in this new information. "Years? But that's-! He wouldn't-! Not even-! Augh!"

Sheik was trying hard to calm Ryou down. "Ryou. Ryou, it's not what you think. Bakura was only-"

Ryou waved him off. "E-excuse me for a moment." He leaned his arms against his knees and put his head down on top of them, then he retreated to his soul room. One thing was certain: he had to talk to Bakura about this.

Soon he was storming down the main hallway between his and Bakura's soul rooms, thankfully back in his own clothes now that he was in his own head. Bakura's soul room door was slightly ajar, so Ryou didn't bother knocking before going in.

The room seemed a lot tidier than it had been the last time he'd been in here, though of course shadows still lingered in every corner. Bakura himself was lying against the wall opposite the door, wearing what looked like a variation of the outfit Sheik had, along with a dark blue cloak. He looked as though he'd been thrown against the wall rather violently.

Pushing aside a sudden worry for Bakura's well being, Ryou quickly crossed the room, took hold of Bakura's shoulders, and jerked him up into a sitting position. Bakura groaned and slowly opened his eyes. "Wha?"

"Seven years, Bakura!" Ryou ranted. "Seven years! You said this wouldn't-"

Bakura groaned again, bringing one hand up to hold his head. "Quit yelling, Ryou. Not so loud," he said quietly. "What in the..." He seemed to notice, suddenly, that Ryou was there, because he looked up in surprise. "Ryou? Ryou! You're back! Thank Din, you're back!"

Ryou's eyes widened in shock as Bakura abruptly threw his arms around him and hugged him. For a moment, he didn't move, not quite sure what to do. Then, he shoved Bakura away. "Hey, wait, hold it! I'm not done freaking out over the last bit! I'm not ready to deal with you being huggy all of a sudden! What in the world is going on, Bakura?!"

Bakura backed off. "Sorry. I just haven't seen you for seven years."

Ryou sputtered at him. "A-And whose fault is that?!"

"Huh?" Bakura's eyebrows knit in confusion, and he was probably frowning under the face mask he wore. Then he seemed to get what Ryou was talking about. He gave a short laugh. "Oh. Actually, for once, I had nothing to do with this. See, you remember Link pulled the Master Sword, right?"

Slowly, Ryou nodded. "And then I woke up here."

Bakura nodded as well. "Right. Well, when I woke up, you were gone. Then there was this Sheikah named Riplakish, and, well—You know, this'll be easier if I just let you see my memories of it all."

Ryou took a step back with a frown. "Bakura, if you try to send me seven years worth of memories all at once, my brain will break."

"Oh. Right." Bakura contemplated this. "Well, just the first bit, anyway, so that you'll believe me when I tell you."

Ryou still looked unsure, but eventually he nodded. "All right, I suppose."

Bakura held up a hand in front of Ryou's face and closed his eyes. "Okay. This is the first thing I remember right after that blue light from Link pulling that sword."


Darkness. All around, there was darkness. After the blinding, painful light that had been burning through me, though, darkness was welcome, especially after the two additional hits to the head I had somehow taken in the middle of all that.

Slowly, I became aware that I was sitting up against something, probably a wall. My head was throbbing, but through that I began to register voices near me. I was instantly alert, trying to take in my surroundings as quickly as possible and starting to get to my feet.

I was still in the Temple of Time, though instead of being in the back chamber where that stupid sword had been, I was in front of the Door of Time, which was closed again. Apparently, I'd been forced out of the room somehow, and until just a moment ago, I'd been sitting up against the back of the altar.

I could hear the hum of the spiritual stones, so they were obviously still in their slots on the altar. I guessed that if I wanted the door open again, I'd have to play the Song of Time again.

Standing near me, I noticed a split second later, were two people: a man and a small boy, both wearing very strange blue clothing with white cloth that almost looked like bandages effectively covering most of their faces. The man seemed to have noticed that I was awake, because he began to walk quickly towards me.

I watched him suspiciously, trying to decide if I needed to pull a Ryou, or if he was going to fight me. He stopped a short distance away and began examining me critically, his eyes narrowing.

Finally, he spoke. "You are not Ryou," he informed me.

I couldn't help but stare in slight surprise that he had somehow noticed this, but that wasn't the important part just then. How did he know Ryou in the first place?

"Who are you?" I demanded.

He answered without missing a beat. "I am Riplakish, survivor of the Sheikah. Who are you?"

I frowned at him, not about to give him any answers he didn't already have before I'd gotten my own questions answered. "I'm Ryou Bakura. How do you know me?"

He watched me without answering for a long moment, and then turned to glance at the boy behind him. In response, the boy softly shook his head, gazing at me curiously.

Before I could even begin to wonder what that meant, or what the boy was doing there in the first place, Riplakish turned back to me again. "You are not Ryou," he repeated. "Who are you?"

"I am Ryou," I insisted. "What gives you the right to be questioning me, anyway?"

Riplakish pondered this for a moment, as if deciding whether or not it was worth telling me, and then answered. "Impa, leader of the Sheikah, sent me here to protect Ryou. You are not him. Who are you, and where is he?"

I frowned. "Impa? Zelda's attendant? She's your leader?"

Riplakish nodded, but didn't say anything more.

Well, that at least made a little bit of sense. Impa saw us as she left with Zelda, so it'd make sense for her to send someone to see if we made it out okay. Still, why send protection for Ryou and not for Link?

I decided I'd better make sure. "How do I know Impa sent you? For all I know, you're just one of Ganondorf's minions."

It was hard to read Riplakish's expressions through the facemask that he wore, but it was easy to tell that the question offended him. Without a word, he reached down and began looking through a bag, pulling out what looked like a short, wooden recorder. He tugged the facemask down to his chin and began to play.

I quickly recognized the notes to Zelda's Lullaby and waved at him to stop. "All right, all right." Only messengers of the royal family could learn that song, so it was pretty safe to assume that Impa really had sent him. Still... "Why send protection for me, and not for Link? Where is he, anyway?"

Riplakish had replaced his facemask by now, and his expression was once again nearly unreadable. "Link no longer requires protection," he answered in a monotone. "You have not answered my question. Who are you? Do you have proof that you do not work for Ganondorf?"

I considered my options for a moment, then simply grabbed Ryou's bag, pulling out his ocarina. It almost seemed silly to play the same song back at him, but then, the song did have magic, so it would be proof. Starting at exactly the place Riplakish had left off, I played the rest of Zelda's Lullaby for him.

Riplakish finally relaxed a bit. Not much, but enough so that his posture wasn't practically screaming "I'll kill you" at me. The little boy who was with him relaxed as well, looking almost sleepy, although he continued staring at me curiously.

It was enough to draw my attention to him, and I was about to ask Riplakish who he was when the older Sheikah interrupted me, repeating his questions again. "Who are you, and where is Ryou?"

The questions had been asked often enough to irritate me, now, and I rolled my eyes as I stashed the ocarina back in Ryou's bag. Ryou was obviously unconscious, or else I wouldn't have been in control when I woke up, but it was about time to go wake him up and let him deal with this.

Waving off Riplakish's annoying questions, I put my head down and mentally dropped down into the hallway between our soul rooms. Automatically, I turned to enter Ryou's room.

Only to stop abruptly and gape at the scene before me: Where Ryou's soul room door should have been, there was instead a solid wall of blue, flaming light.

"Holy... That's that same stupid light from before!" I exclaimed, reaching out to touch it.

Immediately, I jerked my hand backward as pain shot through it. Light spell. The whole thing was one enormous light spell.

Getting as close to it as I could, I tried to peer past the light into the room itself. Was Ryou in there? Could he see me?

But no. There was nothing but emptiness beyond the light, though whether it was white or black, I couldn't tell. Absolutely nothing. Ryou was gone.

What was going on here? Link pulled that sword out of the pedestal, and everything erupted into blue light, and now both of them were gone, and I had that same blue light in my head instead of Ryou. How did that make any sense? If they were taken somewhere, how had I gotten left behind? This was Ryou's body, how could he not be in it while I was?

The last thing Ryou had said suddenly ran through my head: Maybe I should get down.

Was that it? Had I gotten left behind somehow because I was the only one not stupid enough to be standing on the platform when the whole thing had exploded?!

Angry and confused, I sent a burst of shadows at the wall of light, which, of course, did nothing to it. It didn't even waver a little. Whatever this light magic was, it was powerful.

One of the Sheikah outside was shaking me lightly, and I returned to full control of Ryou's body, struggling to get to my feet. I was forced to stop abruptly as a headache of massive proportions suddenly split through my head. Involuntarily, I let out a hiss, bringing one hand up to apply pressure to the spot where the pain was focused.

"Here." I looked up to find that Riplakish was holding out a bottle full of red liquid towards me.

Suspiciously, I took the bottle, examining the contents carefully, both physically and magically. It wasn't anything I'd seen before, but the only spells on it seemed to be healing-based. "What is it?"

He gave me a strange look, as though I should know this already. "Red potion," he informed me. "It will make you feel better."

Scoffing, I handed the bottle back to him without drinking. "I'm fine. Look, you want to know where Ryou is. I'd actually like to know that, too. You said Link no longer needed protection. Why?"

Riplakish wordlessly stashed the bottle back into whatever pocket he'd been keeping it in before speaking again. "There are legends of the Hero of Time passed down by the Sheikah that give us a good idea of where Link is. Ryou is not part of those legends, though, so we expected him to be here."

"What's your 'good idea' of where Link is?" I asked curtly. Wherever it was, that had to be where Ryou was.

Riplakish was apparently becoming just as annoyed by my questioning as I'd been by his. "That is unnecessary information. I still don't know who you are."

I rolled my eyes. If he'd just answer the one question...

"Look, all you need to know about me is that protecting Ryou is my job. Now, he was standing on the platform with Link when he pulled that stupid Master Sword whatever it was. Near as I can figure, wherever Link is, Ryou's probably there, too. Now answer my question."

Riplakish looked as though he wasn't sure whether or not to believe me, but he answered anyway. "Very well. As you may be aware, only the Hero of Time can pull the Master Sword from its pedestal. Link pulled the sword; however, it's possible that it didn't consider him ready to be the Hero of Time yet. If that was the case, it would have sealed him away in the Sacred Realm to wait until he was."

Now I was the one who wasn't sure whether to believe him. "Not ready? What's that supposed to mean?"

"I believe it means that he will be sealed away until he comes of age," Riplakish clarified.

Oh. Sealed until he became of age. Okay, so... Wait.

"Until he comes of age?" I demanded. "But Link's a Kokiri! They don't get any bigger than that! They don't age!"

Riplakish nodded, letting out a small sigh. "We estimate that he will return somewhere between six to eight years. Or never."

I stared at him, trying to decide if he was being serious. Finally, I was forced to come to the conclusion that he was telling the truth, and I let out a growl of frustration. "So, Ryou may never come back?! He and Link are just stuck in the Sacred Realm for eternity?! Great! That's just great! What are we-"

Suddenly, I had another realization of something that was very very wrong with this and I turned to stare at the closed Door of Time. "Wait. Wait, if the door to the Sacred Realm was opened... What happened to the Triforce?"

Riplakish didn't answer for a moment, and I glanced over at him impatiently. The boy beside him appeared to have found a particularly interesting tile on the floor to stare at, scuffing one foot against the ground guiltily. Riplakish himself was watching me carefully, as if trying to judge my reaction before telling me.

Finally, he spoke, bowing his head and closing his eyes sadly as he did so. "The Master Sword was, indeed, the final key to opening the Sacred Realm. Once the sword was pulled, and Link and Ryou were pulled inside the Sacred Realm, the door was left open. Ganondorf followed them in and..."

I sighed harshly, rubbing my head in an attempt to ease the still-growing headache. "And now we're all screwed," I finished for him.

"Pretty much," Riplakish sighed as well. "Still, there is still hope. He doesn't have the entire Triforce. When he touched it, it split into its three pieces, and the pieces of Courage and Wisdom went to their destined holders."

I rolled my eyes. "Oh. So, he only has a third of the entire power of the goddesses. That makes this much better, then. Totally makes up for the fact that Link and Ryou are gone. Perfect."

Riplakish looked as though he didn't know how to respond to that. The kid looked even guiltier than before. Both remained silent.

Ignoring the both of them, I pulled myself to my feet and went to stand by the closed Door of Time. Scowling, I placed one hand on the stone. "Great. Now what am I supposed to do?" I murmured to myself.

"You could stay with the Sheikah," Riplakish suggested from behind me. "We have plenty of room and you would be well taken care of. That would, of course, require that we have something to call you."

I almost laughed. Of course. They couldn't find Ryou, so they had to bring somebody back to protect.

Well, I certainly didn't need their help. It shouldn't be too hard to convince them that I was a bit too much trouble to keep around, though. With a smirk, I turned towards him and introduced myself. "I don't have a name—only titles. I have been known as the Darkness within Bakura, a Thief and a Stealer of Souls, a Master of Shadows."

Riplakish didn't even look surprised. A magical barrier of some sort went up around the kid, but other than that, there was absolutely no reaction to my words. "I see," he said calmly. "In that case... you should fit right in."

Wait, what?

Abruptly, there was a swarm of shadows around me, swooping in to attack. This triggered my defensive spells, and a swirling clash of shadow against shadow formed in the air around us.

A Shadow Magician?! I'd somehow run into a Shadow Magician?! Hardly anybody in this land was a spellcaster of any sort. I'd been watching out for people who could actually cast magic rather than just use it. And now I'd just run into one accidentally?

I grinned, sending more shadows back at him in a counter attack. Just how good was he, anyway?

Very good, apparently. He didn't even flinch as the shadows flew around, dodging and blocking each other violently. The kid, on the other hand, looked absolutely terrified, obviously able to sense the shadow magic, but unable to follow it.

Riplakish spoke again, seemingly unaffected by the effort it must have been taking to control the shadows in the strange way that he was. "Allow me to reintroduce myself. I am Riplakish, second in command of the Sheikah, the People of the Shadow."

I laughed. People of the Shadow? I'd run into a whole people of Shadow Magicians? This was perfect! "All right, you've intrigued me."

Riplakish nodded. "And you, me. I have never seen techniques quite like yours."

"Never seen yours, either," I said with a grin. "Very nice."

"I propose a trade," Riplakish offered. "One of... information."

I laughed again. "You teach me, I teach you?"

He nodded. I considered for a moment. He did have a very unique way of handling the shadows, probably a result of the differences in magic between here and home. If I was going to be staying in Hyrule indefinitely anyway, I might as well learn to use the magic here as well as I could use it at home.

The hang up, of course, was my teaching him in return. There could be problems with that – namely, the differences in magic between here and home. It was possible he wouldn't be able to learn. The question was, did I tell him this?

"You would, of course, still be welcome to stay among the Sheikah whether you accept this exchange or not," Riplakish added. "We would like to stay in contact with you until the time that Link and Ryou return."

Okay, he'd pretty much just offered me limitless room and board along with the magic lessons. I might as well mention the problems that could arise. "I should warn you, I may not be able to teach you my methods for controlling the shadows. Most of my magic comes from an ancient magical item."

Riplakish merely nodded calmly. "All right. I should warn you, I cannot finalize this exchange until it is discussed with Impa when she returns."

I shrugged. "Fair enough. So, the Sheikah live in... Kakariko, right?" I asked, trying to remember what Impa had said when we'd met her before.

Riplakish nodded again. "We do. We should leave right away. Are you coming?"

"Sure. How we getting there? Walking?"

"We have a few horses," Riplakish told me. He began walking towards the entrance of the temple. "Sheik, come along."

For a moment, I wasn't sure what he meant by that last comment, and then I realized he was talking to the kid, who was still just standing there, watching me. When he didn't move, Riplakish glanced back at him and repeated himself. "Sheik. Come."

The kid jumped and scurried over to him, walking as close to Riplakish as was physically possible. With some amusement, I followed the two of them.

"So, the kid's name is Sheik?" I asked curiously. "Why'd you bring him along?"

"Sheik is under my protection," Riplakish answered curtly, placing a hand on Sheik's shoulder as they walked. He didn't say anything more on the subject, and I shrugged. All right, so it didn't have anything to do with me. That's all I needed to know.

The first thing I noticed once we were outside was that it was dark. I had apparently been unconscious for quite some time before Riplakish had come for me.

The second was that right outside the temple, there was a small group of people waiting. Some were on horses, and the rest holding the reins of theirs and looking impatient. All of them were wearing the same kind of skin-tight, blue clothing that hid their faces that Riplakish and the kid had on.

As soon as they saw us coming, they were all instantly ready to leave, those who weren't already on their horses quickly mounting them. Riplakish directed me to one of them. "You'll ride with Abimelech," he told me. He helped Sheik up onto the only rider-less horse, and then got up behind him.

I went to the Sheikah that Riplakish had pointed out and, ignoring his hand up, got onto the horse behind him. "All right. Let's go."

Riplakish nodded and led the rest of the group out of the courtyard and into the abandoned marketplace.

As we made our way towards Castle Town's main entrance, I glanced around at our little group. It wasn't particularly huge; there were six of them besides Riplakish and the kid. None of them said a word to me or to each other as we traveled, so the only noise was the sounds the horses made.

Soon enough, we reached the gates, which were closed. I was about to comment on that unfortunate bit of luck, but before I could, one of them jumped down from his horse and jogged to the side of the gate. He fiddled with something just out of my sight for a moment, and the gate clattered open.

I let my mouth fall shut and just watched as the group continued forward, the horses stepping lightly out onto the drawbridge. Of course the Sheikah would know how to open the gates. They worked for the royal family. Duh.

Thankful that I had narrowly avoided embarrassing myself with stupid commentary, I went back to observing our group, trying to determine as much about them as I could before we got to our destination.

I wasn't able to figure out much. Even now that we were all alone out in Hyrule Field, none of them said a word, simply leading their horses in a line down the pathway. They didn't look around, and none of them seemed even remotely interested in me at all. They obviously had a mission they were accomplishing, and nothing was about to distract them from that.

It occurred to me suddenly that we were out in Hyrule Field at night, and that we should be having Stalchild problems. I started keeping myself alert just in case, but nothing happened. The Sheikah seemed to have some way of keeping the Stalchildren away, too.

Getting to Kakariko from Hyrule Castle Town wasn't that long of a trip, especially on horseback. Except when you have absolutely nothing to do, nothing to look at, and nobody to talk to. It's probably actually worse when there's somebody there to talk to, and they just won't.

So, we continued traveling in silence. Looking around at my companions, though, I got the idea that it wasn't just that they were ignoring me, or that they weren't talking merely because I was there. I think they just didn't talk much in general.

Which made sense, if they were used to wearing those things that covered their faces all the time. That would make talking rather annoying.

Still, it made for an incredibly boring journey. Slightly unnerving, too. You don't often get a group of people of any size that can go for such long periods of time without having something to say.

By the time we made it to the bridge that crossed the river in front of Kakariko, I was kind of wishing that those Stalchildren would attack, just to make the trip more interesting. Oh, well. We were just about there, anyway.

We came to a stop in front of the large staircase that led up to Kakariko and everyone got off of the horses, handing all of the reins over to one of the Sheikah. Riplakish headed over to me.

"There is something I should mention."

I raised an eyebrow at him. "Oh?"

Riplakish nodded. "You see, the Sheikah do not live amongst the Hylians in Kakariko Village. The location of the entrance to the home of the Sheikah is a secret well guarded by the Sheikah." He pulled something out of his pocket and held it out to me. "I hope you understand."

Oh. The thing was a blindfold. I shrugged, reaching out to take it. "All right, fair enough."

"Good."

WHUD.

Huh. That wasn't a normal noise. The pain shooting through the back of my head and the black spots in my vision weren't good signs either.

Riplakish was looking rather smug. I glared at him. "Why you little..."

Everything went black again.


"He knocked you out?!" Ryou cried in dismay. "Why would he do that?"

Bakura laughed. "It wasn't anything personal. You heard him. The entrances and exits to the Sheikah Caverns are top secret. There's not a single non-Sheikan who knows where they are. He'd have knocked you out, too."

Ryou sputtered for a moment. "But, but... You mean, you lived with the Sheikah for seven years, and they knocked you out every time you went outside?"

"Well, for the first few years, yeah." Bakura laughed again, seeming to find Ryou's reaction to this highly amusing. "I just didn't go outside much."

Ryou frowned. "For the first few years? What happened after that?"

Bakura shrugged. "Well, obviously, I'd been training with them during that time. They started to trust me enough that I began going on missions with them, trying to fight against Ganondorf's rise to power. And once I'd saved their lives enough times that the entire tribe owed me life debts about three times over, they made me an honorary Sheikah. Hence, the outfit." He gestured down at the blue clothing he was wearing.

Ryou gaped at him. "Wait. You're a Sheikah?!"

Bakura nodded, still amused. "Yup. Have been for the past four or five years, now."

"But. But. But what about my clothes?!"

Bakura stared at him for a moment, and then laughed again. "Of all the questions you could ask. Your clothes are dead. We even buried the shirt." Ryou looked absolutely horrified, and so Bakura continued. "See, I took a pretty nasty hit to the chest, once, and it wasn't even worth wearing after that. As for your pants, they got cut up and used for bandages. Denim makes surprisingly good bandages."

With a groan, Ryou buried his face in his hands. "I liked that shirt."

"Me, too," Bakura said with a shake of his head. "Oh, well. Any other questions?"

Trying to remain as calm as was possible under the circumstances, Ryou considered this, trying to take deep, slow breaths. "I... Is it hard to talk with that mask on?"

Bakura laughed again, reaching up to pull it down and then grinning at him. "Actually, not really. You get used to it pretty fast."

Ryou stared at him, noticing something off now that all of the cloth was away from his face. "Did... did you cut my hair?" he asked with some horror.

Bakura frowned, running one hand through his hair at that. "Well, yeah. I happen to like it shorter. It's easier to keep up that way."

"But... but my hair!"

Bakura sighed. "Look, if I'd known you were coming back, I'd have grown it back out for you."

Ryou whimpered. "I liked my hair."

"It'll grow out," Bakura said with exasperation. "Come on, of all the things you could freak out about, you chose that? Don't you have any non-appearance-related questions?"

Knowing he was right, Ryou chuckled nervously, trying to calm down. "S-sorry... Um... So, you've been fighting a war for the last seven years?"

Bakura nodded. "Been doing a pretty good job, too. Ganondorf's pretty much taken over everything, but he's not touching Kakariko," he said proudly.

"And Link and I have been asleep," Ryou continued.

Hesitantly, Bakura nodded again. "Something like that."

"So, that makes me... twenty-two years old, now?"

Bakura thought about this for a moment, and then shrugged. "That, I'm actually not sure about. See, while seven years have passed, I—well, we, I guess—don't seem to have aged at all. Or at least not much."

Ryou looked back up at him in slight confusion. "What do you mean?"

"Well, my friend Ashkenaz, for example, was about your age when I first met him, and now he's twenty-two. But now I still look about seventeen, and Sheik looks like he's about my age. You saw how young he was when I met him." Bakura shrugged again. "We've never quite been able to figure that one out."

"Oh." Ryou frowned, trying to wrap his head around what Bakura had said. He was fifteen—or had been at the start of this mess—but whenever Bakura took control of his body, he looked slightly older than that. If Bakura still looked seventeen, that meant that Ryou was...

He hazarded a guess. "So, I'm still fifteen? Or am I seventeen now, too?"

Bakura nodded. "Near as I can figure, yeah. One of those."

"Okay. I'm going to pretend that makes sense and just go with it."

Bakura laughed. "Sure."

Ryou frowned and went back to trying to decide if he had any other questions to ask about this. "So, if I woke up, that means that Link's waking up, too, right?"

Bakura nodded again. "Should be. Don't ask me how that works, but hey, if it means we've got the Hero of Time on our side, I'll go with it."

"How did you know that we'd be waking up today? Why were you back at the Temple of Time?"

Bakura shrugged. "Well, Ididn't know. As you may have noticed, I was under the impression that I was never going to see you again. Sheik, however, must have been keeping track or something. He rather rudely woke me up at noon, and practically dragged me out the door to bring me here. You'd have to ask him."

Ryou's eyes widened in sudden realization. "Oh! Speaking of Sheik. He's out... I mean, I left him... out..." He pointed up.

Bakura got what he was talking about and began scrambling to his feet. "Right! I'd better go tell..." He paused, glancing over at Ryou. "Uh. You'd better go tell him we're okay."

Ryou frowned at him. "He's your friend, right?"

"Well, yeah, it's just..." Bakura looked uncharacteristically uncomfortable. "You've been out of control of your body for a while. I figured you'd want to..."

"Oh." Ryou shrugged. "Well, sure, I guess. But still, you must have eventually told them that you're a spirit, right? Why not just come out in your temporary physical form?"

Bakura hesitated. "Um. Right. Just... You go on and tell Sheik I'm okay. I'll just be a minute."

Ryou stared at him in confusion for a moment, and then he got it. He laughed. "Don't tell me. You don't remember how?"

Bakura scowled at him. "It's been seven years, Ryou. Just give me a minute."

Ryou smiled. "Good to know I'm not the only one completely thrown off by all this, then." With that, he turned away and went back to his body again.

Opening his eyes, he pushed himself back into a sitting position. Sheik was immediately by his side. "Oh, good, you're awake."

Ryou smiled at him hesitantly, getting to his feet. "Ah... Y-yeah. I..." He trailed off as he realized just why his voice had sounded muffled before: He was wearing that same face mask thing that Bakura had on.

Awkwardly, he reached up and tugged it down to his chin, decidedly not liking the feel of fabric on his face. It was like trying to speak with a scarf on, making it hard to breathe and obscuring nearly all of his words.

He willed himself to ignore the fact that he could feel just how short his hair was and he took a deep breath of non-mask-filtered air. Then, noticing that Sheik was looking at him in a shocked sort of way, he gave him an apologetic look. "Sorry. It bothers me."

Sheik didn't say anything, so Ryou hesitantly continued. "Um... But yeah, I'm okay. Bakura's okay, too. He's been explaining everything to me."

Sheik nodded, still watching him unsurely. "Good. Is... is there a way for me to speak with him?"

"Yeah, he'll be out in a minute," Ryou assured him. "He just has to, uh... remember how."

"I see." Sheik looked somewhat confused by the statement, but apparently decided not to ask, instead falling silent.

Ryou was suddenly struck by just how awkward this was. Sheik had known Bakura for seven years, and now Ryou being back was going to be even weirder to him than having Bakura around had been for Ryou's friends.

Or, well, a better comparison might be Yugi's friends having Yami around, since Ryou's friends still thought Bakura was evil. Yami having to pretend to be Yugi on a constant basis in an attempt to avoid general confusion had been weird enough. This was way beyond that. Was he going to have to pretend to be Bakura while he was here in his own body? That was just so... backwards.

Yup, this had awkward written all over it. What exactly was he supposed to say to Sheik?

"So..."

Thankfully, he was saved from having to figure out any more after that, because the Millennium Ring began to glow brightly and Bakura's temporary physical form started fading in.

Sheik looked somewhat startled by the sudden appearance, but he didn't say anything, just watching curiously.

Without looking up, his eyes closed in concentration, Bakura spoke. "Don't touch me just yet," he warned. His physical form slowly grew more and more solid, until finally the Millennium Ring went dark again and Bakura smirked up at them. "Okay, got it. See, I told you."

Ryou just shook his head in amusement. "Took you long enough."

Bakura glared at him. "Hey, I'd like to see you try liv-"

Whatever Bakura had been about to say was cut off by Sheik. "Bakura, look. Link's getting here." He pointed up at the altar where the Master Sword had once lain.

Sure enough, there were sparkles beginning to fill the air, growing more and more numerous as they watched. Ryou blinked. "That's a good thing, right?" he asked uncertainly.

Sheik nodded. "This will be bright."

Immediately, Bakura shielded his eyes with one arm, looking annoyed. "More light magic," he grumbled.

Before anyone could respond, there was a brilliant wave of blue light, completely filling the area. Ryou had an odd sense of déjà vu as the light washed over him, blinding him momentarily. Now what was happening?

Quickly, the light faded. When Ryou could see again, he looked around to see what was different.

Bakura was rubbing his eyes with both hands, snarling quietly to himself. "Stupid bloody light magic. Ra, that hurts. I hate this place!"

Sheik had backed off a bit, but he looked completely unaffected by the flash of light. He was now standing some distance back from Bakura, up against one of the walls.

As Ryou continued his examination of the room, his eyes quickly fell upon the most important change: Standing on the platform before the empty pedestal, holding the Master Sword and gazing down at it pensively, was Link.

Or, at least... it had to be Link. He was wearing his usual strange outfit: green tunic, green hat, and he had the Hylian shield slung over his back. But it couldn't be Link, could it? The Kokiri never grew up, and Link now looked like a tall, well-built teenager.

As Ryou stared, a fairy suddenly flew up into view, beginning to circle the area. "Hey! Hey, Link!"

Link shook himself lightly and glanced up. "Huh? What?"

"Look!" Navi flew over to Ryou, circling his head. He grinned as he slowly realized that it really was her.

Bakura scowled up at Navi, waving one hand to keep her out of his face. "Oh. Great. You."

Navi stuck her tongue out at him. "Well, you haven't changed."

Link had, by now, turned and spotted what Navi was pointing out. Immediately, he beamed, sheathing the Master Sword on his back and beginning to walk forward, nearly skipping. "Ryou! Bakura!"

Ryou smiled. Definitely Link. "Hey! Long time no see, apparently! You got... big."

Link nodded excitedly. "I know! I couldn't believe when Rauru told me what had happened! I just—Whoa!" He stumbled suddenly, having reached the edge of the platform and misjudged the distance down in the step.

He paused until he was sure of his balance again, and then he laughed. "I'm still trying to get used to it."

Ryou laughed too. "I can't even imagine. Wow."

"So what about you?" Link wanted to know. "What's with the outfit?"

Ryou shrugged. "Ask Bakura. I've been the same place you have."

"Really? Oh." Shrugging, Link turned and walked up next to Bakura. "Okay, Bakura. What's with the—Whoa. Hey, you got short." With a baffled look on his face, he placed a hand on Bakura's head, effectively demonstrating that he was now several inches taller than both Ryou and Bakura.

Bakura glared at him, brushing off his hand. "Shut up. I did not."

Navi snickered spitefully at him. Bakura directed his glare at her instead.

From his spot still standing against the wall, Sheik suddenly cleared his throat to get their attention. At the sound, Link immediately whirled, his hand going instinctively for his sword. Before any of them could react, he had it drawn and ready to attack, glancing around the room warily. An instant later, Navi was circling Sheik's head quickly, flashing red and drawing Link's full attention to him.

Sheik had absolutely no reaction to this, simply watching Link with a deadpan expression. "We have been waiting for you, Hero of Time," he said simply.

Bakura smirked. "Oh, sure, scare him half to death. Nice job."

Sheik gave him an annoyed look, but said nothing.

Link frowned, glancing back at Bakura and lowering the Master Sword slightly. "You know him?" he asked warily.

Bakura laughed a little. "Yeah. Link, this is Sheik, who is trying to do his best to be as dark and mysterious about this as possible. I, however, am ruining everything, and will probably receive a harsh scolding once you're out of earshot."

Navi seemed unsure about this, but reluctantly faded back to her normal blue. Link relaxed.

Sheik rolled his eyes at Bakura's words, and then proceeded to ignore him, keeping his attention on the Hero of Time. "Link, I am unsure how much of an explanation you have already received, but I am here to give you the rest of it."

With a shrug, Link sheathed his sword. "Rauru told me that Ganondorf had taken over, and that I needed to find the sages to defeat him."

Sheik nodded. "There is a legend passed down by my people, the Sheikah. It goes like this: When evil rules all, an awakening voice from the Sacred Realm will awaken those destined to be sages, who dwell in the five temples. One in a deep forest, one on a high mountain, one under a vast lake, one within the house of the dead, one inside a goddess of the sand. Together with the Hero of Time, the awakened ones will bind the evil and return the light of peace to the world."

Bakura looked vaguely impressed. "Very nice. How long did it take you to memorize that?"

Continuing to ignore Bakura, Sheik watched Link carefully. "Because of the evil power in the temple, the sages cannot hear the awakening call from the Sacred Realm. If you believe the legend, you must go to the temples and awaken them yourself."

Link nodded firmly. "I'll do it."

"What about me?" Ryou spoke up suddenly, looking confused. "What should I be doing?"

Sheik frowned at him. "I... will be honest, Ryou. The legends don't speak of you."

Bakura shrugged, waving him off. "Eh, the legends don't ever mention anyone by name. For all we know, we've got some mystic title nobody's ever heard of, and once we find that out, the Sheikah will know all about it."

"That's about right," Sheik agreed with a glance at Bakura. "Ryou, I suggest you continue to travel with Link. Bakura, you are to accompany him."

Bakura rolled his eyes. "That an official order?" he asked sarcastically. "I don't exactly have much choice."

Sheik ignored this, although he had what almost seemed like an amused expression on his face. "Now, the first place you should go, Link, is the Forest Temple. The sage there is a girl I am sure you know."

Link looked surprised. "Really?"

Sheik nodded. "Unfortunately, equipped as you currently are, you cannot even enter the temple, so you should first head to Kakariko Village. Do you understand everything I've told you?"

"No," Bakura answered boredly.

With a somewhat annoyed look at Bakura, Sheik sighed. "There is a legend-"

Bakura cut him off hurriedly. "Not that part! I get that! I meant, what do we need to get in Kakariko that I couldn't have just grabbed before we left?"

Sheik watched him for a moment, as if debating whether or not he should say. Bakura glared at him, and eventually, he sighed again. "You need a hookshot," he said finally.

Bakura's jaw dropped. "No. You're joking. We have to go see Dampe?"

Sheik nodded silently.

"And you're certain we need a hookshot?"

Sheik nodded again.

"But that's... There's gotta be another hookshot somewhere in Hyrule, right?" he asked almost desperately.

"There might be," Sheik allowed. "But the only one we happen to have the location of is the one in Kakariko."

Bakura swore under his breath. Ryou looked at him in confusion. "Why? Who's Dampe?"

Surprisingly, Link answered for him. "He's the grave keeper in Kakariko," he said slowly. "Right? What's wrong with talking to Dampe?"

"He's dead," Bakura answered dryly.

Link's face fell. "He died?"

Ryou was still confused. "And we're supposed to talk to him? How?"

Bakura rolled his eyes. "Being dead isn't stopping me from still hanging around," he pointed out. "Apparently, ghosts are a much more common occurrence in Hyrule than at home."

"Oh."

Link frowned. "So what's the problem with going to talk with him, then? He was perfectly nice to me when I met him. A little scary looking at first, but..."

Bakura growled to himself. "Never mind. It's just... personal problems. We should get going."

Ryou shrugged, giving Bakura a half-smile. "All right, I won't pry. Sheik, are you going to come with us?"

Sheik merely shook his head.

Link smiled at him. "Well, it was nice to meet you. See you around?"

For a moment, Sheik hesitated, and then, expressionlessly, he nodded. With a grin, Link turned and began to walk towards the door. Giving Sheik a quick bow, Ryou quickly followed him.

Bakura continued to stand by Sheik as the two walked away, watching him with confusion. "If you're not coming with us, where are you going?"

"Staying here," Sheik answered curtly.

Bakura smirked. "Here? Why? Guard duty for an empty temple?"

Sheik nodded. "Something like that."

"Sucks to be you. How'd you—Ack!" Abruptly, something seemed to jerk Bakura backwards. A look of surprise appeared on his face for a split second, and then his physical form vanished.

Startled, Sheik started forward, as if to attempt to catch him somehow. "Bakura!"

At his call, Ryou whirled around. "Wha?—Oh!"

As soon as he stopped, Bakura reappeared, kneeling on the floor a short distance from Ryou, clutching his chest. He glared up at Ryou. "Pay attention to where you're going!" he snapped.

"Sorry!" Ryou apologized hastily, his eyes wide. "I didn't mean to!"

Sheik hurried to Bakura's side and offered him an arm up, looking confused. Grumbling to himself, Bakura took it and got to his feet, still rubbing his chest.

"What happened?" Link asked worriedly. Navi circled Bakura's head, trying to check him over.

Bakura pushed away from Sheik, waving Navi out of his face, and stalked over to Ryou's side, reaching out and grabbing the cord of the Millennium Ring from where it hung around Ryou's neck. He held it out for the others to see. "I hate this stupid thing," he said simply.

"He can't get too far away from me," Ryou explained with some embarrassment. "I'm sorry, Bakura. I didn't realize the room was big enough to..."

Bakura shook his head, letting the Ring drop back to Ryou's chest with a sigh. "Never mind. I've gotten too used to having my own body. I forgot I have chains."

Link gave Bakura a sympathetic look. "I'm sorry."

Bakura rolled his eyes. "Never mind," he repeated irritably, obviously disliking the sudden attention on him. "Let's get going. See you later, Sheik."

Sheik's expression had returned to totally neutral and he nodded, folding his arms and standing back.

Link and Ryou also offered hesitant second goodbyes to Sheik, and then the three of them all headed towards the door, walking together this time. As quickly as they could, they exited the temple.

They didn't get very far outside when first Link and then Ryou came to a dead stop, gaping around at the scene before them. Hyrule Castle Town was in ruins, several of the buildings barely standing. A shroud of darkness covered everything, and there wasn't a sign of life anywhere. The only sound to be heard was their own breathing and the faint whistling of the wind as it blew through the abandoned alleyways. There was simply nothing left.

Looking back, they could see that the outside of the temple had become nearly as black as the burnt remains of Castle Town, a stark contrast to the bright white that was within. Behind the temple, Death Mountain loomed ominously, the strange cloud that always hovered around it now burning red.

Slowly, Ryou turned to look over everything, his eyes wide with shock and horror. "This... this is..." he whispered.

"Horrible," Link finished, just as shocked, if not more, than Ryou. "What...?"

Navi was uncharacteristically quiet, sticking close to Link.

"Will you hurry up?" Bakura called back in annoyance from up ahead. Ryou looked over at him to see that Bakura appeared to be leaning on nothing, looking irritated. Ryou blushed as he realized that he'd obviously reached the end of his 'leash' again.

Immediately, he started forward. "Sorry!"

Link hesitated, still looking around at the destruction around them. "What happened?" he finally asked.

Bakura also glanced around at the rundown buildings. His irritated look didn't fade, but it didn't seem to be focused on them anymore. "Ganondorf happened," he growled. "He happened to a lot of places around Hyrule. Lake Hylia, Death Mountain, Lon Lon Ranch; I've even heard rumors that the Lost Woods are in bad shape. The only place that isn't, in fact, is Kakariko Village, and that's only because the Sheikah have done everything we can to keep Ganondorf from happening to it."

Link frowned at him worriedly. "What happened to Kokiri Forest?"

With a sigh, Bakura shrugged. "Not a clue, to be honest. The Sheikah can't be everywhere. Rumor is that a lot of monsters moved in."

Link didn't seem to have a response to that. Navi landed on his shoulder and placed a hand reassuringly on the side of his face. "We're going home as soon as we're done in Kakariko," she reminded him.

Slowly, Link nodded. "Yeah, it's just... how could all this have happened?"

Bakura scowled and turned away. "That's a pointless question, Link. It doesn't matter how it happened. What does is that we move on, and stop it from getting worse. We can take Ganondorf down. Now, come on."

With a determined look, Link nodded again, finally walking towards the entrance leading to the town's old marketplace.

"Go quickly through here," Bakura directed. "The place is crawling with Redeads and who knows what else."

"Bakura, where's my sword?" Ryou looked down at himself, searching for weaponry of any sort and not immediately finding any.

Bakura just kept walking. "The one we bought when we first got here, you mean? Not a clue. There's a better one that's kind of like it sheathed at your waist."

Ryou frowned. "Sheathed where? I don't see a sheathe."

There was a pause, and then Bakura rolled his eyes, facing Ryou and reaching for his own side, pulling out a blade from seemingly nowhere. "Here. And there's a dagger sheathed here, so don't twist around too much. And a few more blades there, there, and there." He demonstrated, pulling out each blade as he mentioned them and then sheathing them again.

Ryou's eyes widened. "How many swords am I carrying?" he asked in shock. He patted himself down, trying to locate the ones Bakura had just showed him and wondering how he'd managed to hide so many in this nearly skin-tight outfit, even without the cloak he wore with it.

Bakura grinned. "They say it's impossible to completely unarm a Sheikah," he mentioned mysteriously. "We've always got another blade somewhere."

Ryou looked somewhat horrified. "Bakura, if I don't know where there are sharp things on my body, I'm going to kill myself on them."

Waving him off, Bakura laughed. "Most of them are in pocket space. You can't hurt yourself. I already pointed out the ones you have to be wary of. Now, come on, both of you. Keep your swords out and ready, but don't stop and fight or you'll get swarmed."

Fumbling a bit, Ryou finally located the hilt of the sword Bakura had recommended for him and unsheathed it.

Bakura was right about there being Redeads in what used to be the marketplace. All of them were careful to keep their eyes averted from the Redeads as they passed, but only one even bothered to get up and Bakura quickly took it down before it even realized he was there.

Soon, they made it to the main gate. The drawbridge was down, and once they reached it, they saw that it had been snapped in half, lying mostly submerged in the half-drained moat. The chains previously used for hoisting it up and down now hung uselessly from the walls.

Jumping lightly over the water that covered the bridge in a failed attempt at keeping his feet dry, Ryou tentatively followed the other two into Hyrule Field.

As soon as they were out of Castle Town, the very air seemed to get lighter as the mists of darkness faded. Link took a deep breath, a look of relief on his face. "Man, am I glad to be out of there."

Bakura just nodded, continuing to walk towards Kakariko village. "Ganondorf uses a very strange brand of magic," he mentioned. "It's dark, but it's not shadow magic. It's more like..." he shrugged, unable to describe it. "Well, whatever it is, it's not natural. Even I don't like it. And it's left its mark all over that place."

Ryou followed him at a slower pace, trying to figure out how to put his sword back into a sheath that he couldn't see. "How long ago did Ganondorf attack Castle Town?" he asked without looking up.

Bakura pondered that. "It was a few years after you and Link were sealed away. Nobody's really quite sure why he waited so long. Some say that he was looking for something."

Link frowned. "Looking for what?"

"For the other Triforce pieces, of course." Bakura shrugged. "The Sheikah already know the location of one of the two missing pieces, and Impa says she's got a pretty good idea as to where the other one is, but she's not telling."

"So where's the one you know about?" Ryou asked.

Bakura shook his head. "Not discussing that in public." Looking around the wide, open field, Ryou opened his mouth to protest. Bakura interrupted him. "Ganondorf has spies everywhere. I'm not taking any chances."

Link nodded firmly. "We've already made too many mistakes."

Ryou fell silent and somberly went back to trying to relocate the sheath for his sword as he walked.

"It's not all doom and gloom nowadays," Bakura reassured Link. He gave him a look that clearly stated he didn't believe him, and Bakura went on. "It isn't. You'll see Kakariko village when we get there; the town is doing great. That girl, Anju, was able to switch to a pocket cucco trade, which is good, 'cause those cuccos of hers kept getting into everything, before."

Link slowly nodded. "Any progress with the Skulltula family?"

"Not a whole lot," Bakura answered with a shrug. "We kill the things when we see them, but we suspect most of them are-"

He was interrupted suddenly by a shriek from behind, and both Link and Bakura whirled around, automatically drawing weapons. Behind them...

Was nothing. Ryou was gone, and the only trace of him was the sword he'd dropped, lying by itself in the grass.

"Ryou?" Link's eyes were wide as he dashed back to where the sword lay, looking around frantically. "Ryou?"

Bakura scowled. "He's gotta be close, or I'd be having problems. Ryou? Where are you?"

Ryou's voice answered faintly from somewhere below them. "Down here..."

Bakura sighed. "Ryou, did you fall in a hole or something?"

There was a short pause, and then an embarrassed "Yes..." came floating up.

Link glanced around. "What hole? I don't see anything around here. Navi, can you find him?"

"I can see light up there," Ryou reported. "I don't see a way up, though."

Bakura wasn't finding anything more than Link was. "There's no hole, Ryou. Not that I can see, at any rate."

"Here!" Navi seemed to have spotted something, turning green and hovering over a spot that was apparently somehow different than the ground around it.

Bakura stalked over. "I still don't see anything," he reported sullenly.

Navi glared at him. "Well, there's something there," she insisted. "It's being hidden by something."

"An illusion of ground over the hole?" Link guessed.

Bakura stood directly over the spot that Navi had indicated, stamping his feet to demonstrate that the ground was perfectly solid. "There's nothing here," he repeated.

"I think you're directly above me," Ryou said unsurely from below. "I can hear you better now."

Bakura stared at the ground with a scowl. Navi gave him a smug look. "Told you so," she bragged.

Link frowned at it. "So, what? The ground closed up once he fell through?"

"No," Ryou answered. "I can still see light. It's open."

"What else is down there, Ryou?" Bakura asked impatiently.

There was a pause. "Um... There's kind of a tunnel leading off somewhere, but nothing else where I'm at. Should I follow the tunnel?"

"No. Stay there," Bakura directed. "Navi, since you're so convinced there's something there, any brilliant ideas for getting it open?"

Navi huffed at him. "I don't know! I can just sense it's there!"

"Sometimes that means playing certain songs makes stuff happen," Link mentioned. "Or, since we know there's a hole here, I could try just bombing it and seeing what happens."

"Don't bomb it while I'm underneath it!" Ryou protested.

Bakura looked contemplative. "That'll probably work, actually. The bombs don't have that big of a range, so you probably won't get caught in the actual explosion. Move down the tunnel a bit so you can be out of the way of any falling debris."

"Okay," Ryou replied unsurely. A few moments later, he called out that he was ready.

Link pulled a bomb out of his bag and lit it, setting it on the ground and then scurrying out of the way. Bakura also stood back a ways, though he didn't need to. The bomb exploded, and sure enough, when the smoke cleared, a hole in the ground had been revealed.

Navi sniffed disdainfully. "I told you so," she repeated.

Bakura ignored her, peering down into the hole. "Ryou? You all right?"

"Y-yeah," came the reply from the darkness. "Guys, you better come see this! It's really cool!"

Link and Bakura exchanged a short glance, and then Bakura shrugged, dropping down nimbly into the hole. Link and Navi followed close behind.

As soon as their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they could see the tunnel that Ryou had mentioned and they quickly entered it. They walked along it for only a short distance before it opened up into a large, decidedly un-cave-like eight-sided room, the door they'd just entered forming the eighth side. Each of the other walls held an intricately decorated panel in seven different colors: green, blue, purple, black, orange, red, and yellow. An unlit torch had been set in the middle of each panel.

Ryou stood near the center of the room, where a low, eight-sided platform had been set into the ground to match the walls. In the middle of the platform, giving them all a strange sense of déjà vu, was a pedestal with a sword.

Bakura immediately spoke up, his eyes trained warily on the sword. "Don't touch anything," he warned.

Ryou was also examining the sword, but the look in his eyes was one of wonder rather than suspicion. "Why?" he asked vaguely, taking a step closer so that he could see better. "It's..."

Quickly stepping to where Ryou was, Bakura took a rough hold of his shoulder. "Do you not remember what happened the last time we pulled an obviously magical sword out of a pedestal? Navi, do we even know what this one is?"

Navi circled the hilt of the sword warily. "Well, I don't," she said unsurely. With a shrug, she went to examine the panels. "Maybe these say something about it..."

Link slowly walked over to join Ryou and Bakura at the edge of the platform, looking around the room interestedly. "It's pretty in here," he commented. "Peaceful."

Bakura scowled. "I don't trust it."

Ryou didn't seem to be listening to any of them. "Look at the sword," he said softly. "The hand guard looks almost like the wings on the royal family's crest, and it's got the Triforce in the center, there... But it almost seems... inverted, somehow."

Link took a step forward, leaning down to check it out himself. "You're right. The outside triangles are darkened, and the inside one is lit instead. What's that supposed to mean? A fourth Triforce piece?"

Bakura shook his head. "Impossible. That's just empty space in the middle of the other three triangles."

"Look," Ryou pointed at the bright center section. "Isn't that...?" Without looking away, he grabbed the Millennium Ring, holding it up upside-down in comparison.

Bakura stared. "No," he breathed. The middle section of the Triforce on the sword had the Eye of Horus symbol etched into it, making it look almost exactly like the triangle in the middle of the Ring.

"The Blade of the White Magician," Navi read from off of the black wall. "The Keeper of the Balance."

As if in response, a sharp grinding noise from behind suddenly caught their attention. Quickly, they all whirled, just in time to watch in horror as the entrance they'd just come through closed, leaving only a wall of brown stone.

Link and Navi both hurried over to it, checking for a way to open it back up again. Link pounded a fist against it a few times. It was no use; they were all trapped.

Bakura turned slowly back to the sword, examining it with distrust. "I guess one of us has to take this stupid thing to open it back up again?"

"Probably," Link answered hesitantly. "Though the torches around the room probably have something to do with it, too."

Ryou stepped towards the pedestal. "I'll try it," he offered.

Bakura shook his head. "Let me try first," he suggested. "I'm a spirit, so it'll be harder for it to do anything horrible to me if it decides I'm not the right wielder. And besides, if it's got the Eye of Horus on it, then maybe..."

It seemed to be a fairly logical conclusion to make. Ryou moved aside to let Bakura try.

Confidently, Bakura grabbed the hilt and pulled. This turned out to be a very bad idea, and a split second later, Bakura jerked away, hissing in pain as electricity crackled up his arm.

"Bakura!" Link hurried to his side. "Are you all right?"

Bakura let out a few choice curses, massaging his arm slowly. "I'll be fine," he growled. "Figures, the one thing that actually hurts me as a spirit, and that's what they booby trap the thing with."

Link frowned at the sword. "Whoever 'they' is... Should I try next?"

Ryou glanced back. "Why? You've already got a sword."

Link gave him an embarrassed grin. "I just don't want to see you get zapped, too, if you don't have to."

"I dunno," Ryou replied, his gaze returning to the blade. "It just seems... Right, somehow." Without waiting for any protests, he stepped forward and took hold of the hilt.

Immediately, a soft, yellowish light flooded the area. It blocked off everyone's view, but it wasn't a harsh glare; none of them had to shield their eyes from it, they just suddenly couldn't see. Bakura yelled Ryou's name, but there was no answer.

A few seconds later, the light faded slowly away, revealing a strange sight. Ryou still stood on the platform, holding the sword loosely in his hand as he examined it, but he now looked quite different. Bakura's Sheikah outfit was gone, replaced with loose, white clothing—a long sleeved shirt and slacks. On his head, he wore a very familiar-looking white hat.

They all stared at him for a long moment, before Link finally broke the silence. "It's like your clothes just went completely opposite of what you'd just been wearing," he commented.

Ryou glanced up at him. "What?"

Bakura smirked. "I can't believe it. That ridiculous hat is just going to keep haunting you, isn't it?"

Swiftly, Ryou reached up and snatched it off his head so that he could see what Bakura was talking about. "What?" he repeated. "What do you...?"

As soon as he caught a glimpse of it, he understood Bakura's comment; the hat was almost identical to the one he'd worn during Bakura's Monster World game, when he'd been playing as a white wizard. The main difference was the symbol on the front. Instead of a cross, the Eye of Horus lay within the center of a thin outline of the Triforce.

Link grinned at him. "I like it. It looks kind of like mine, but white and fancy."

Bakura rolled his eyes. "I'm just glad that for whatever reason, whatever just happened didn't change my outfit to match that. The whole thing's ridiculous."

"Guys, we've got a problem," Navi informed them suddenly. Turning to her, they all quickly realized what the problem was: the door was still blocked off.

Ryou frowned, putting the hat distractedly back onto his head and placing the sword in a sheath that was now tied at his waist. "Maybe I've gotta do something now?"

"Dunno." Link shrugged. "The torch on that black wall is lit, now. Maybe you have to light the others?"

"That might do it," Ryou agreed. "How?"

Bakura shrugged. "Anyone got a deku stick?" He looked to Link expectedly.

Link was already digging through his bag, searching for one. "I might. I don't know. Been a few years since I've checked," he joked.

With a smirk, Bakura shook his head. "Right. Ryou, while he's looking, mind checking your bag? You do still have all my weapons, right?"

Ryou blinked, and then did as he was told, pulling his bag open and peering into it. Unable to tell just from the first glance, he reached in and began moving things around, trying to see further into the bag. Almost immediately, he froze, his eyes going wide. "Bakura, how many weapons do you have?!" he asked in dismay.

Bakura grinned. "Oh, good. I was worried they'd all disappeared in that flashy outfit change you just did. If you've still got possession of them, though," he pulled a dagger of some sort out of nowhere and twirled it around in his fingers, "then I'll still be able to use them from here."

Ryou continued staring at his bag. "Is that a mace?!"

"Could be," Bakura admitted.

"Why?!"

Bakura laughed. "Don't worry about it," he suggested. "Link, where's that deku stick?"

Link had long since found what he was looking for, but hadn't said anything in favor of watching the amusing sight of Ryou freaking out over Bakura's weapons. At Bakura's words, he jumped, and then came forward, holding up the deku stick. "Here."

"All right, then. Try lighting the torches."

Link nodded and went over to the black wall, placing the end of the deku stick into the flames. Immediately, it caught fire, and he hurried to the next closest wall, the orange one, and touched the flaming end of the stick to the unlit torch.

Nothing happened. For a moment, Link continued to attempt to get the torch to light, to no avail. Eventually, his deku stick torch sputtered out.

"There's gotta be a switch, then," Link concluded immediately. "Or something else we have to do. Maybe the torches light to indicate that we've completed a task?"

Bakura examined the white wall's torch, holding his hand over it as he checked it magically. "I can't really tell," he murmured, almost to himself. "But there's a spell of some sort on them. Either that, or they're... supposed to hold magic?"

A look of understanding dawned on Ryou's face. "They're supposed to hold magic? Like magic flames?"

Bakura shrugged, still eyeing the torch with a frown. "Possibly. Which would be great, if we actually had a way of casting said magic flames."

Ryou slowly unsheathed the sword, turning to face the green wall. With a strange expression, he held the sword out in front of him straight up and down.

The center triangle on the hilt glowed green for an instant, and then a spell shot out of it, heading directly towards the wall. There was a shower of green sparks, and when it stopped, the torch was lit, green flames crackling away as if that color was normal for flame.

"Forest," Ryou said softly, lowering the sword.

Link stared. "How'd you know you could do that?"

Ryou didn't respond, instead turning completely around to face the wall opposite: the orange one. "And its balance, Spirit." He raised the sword again.

Link ducked out of the way as the sword glowed orange, shooting a spell at the wall. Like with the green, once the spell faded, the torch remained lit with orange flames.

Bakura frowned as Ryou turned almost mechanically to another wall. "I get it. It's teaching him how to use the spells somehow."

As if in response, Ryou raised the sword again and it glowed red. "Fire," he intoned as the spell hit the wall. The torch lit, this time with normal-looking flames, and he turned completely around again. "And its balance, Water." He repeated the move, and the blue wall's torch lit with a strange, wavering blue flame.

Ryou hesitated as he turned to the next wall. "Sh-shadow," he got out as the sword glowed purple, and then shot out a burst of shadows.

Bakura smirked a little as that spell lit the torch on the purple wall. "Well, what do you know. You can use Shadow magic after all."

With a vague shrug, Ryou finally faced the last wall, the yellow one. He smiled as the sword glowed. "And its balance, Light."

Unlike the thin spells that Ryou had been firing before, the Light spell unexpectedly exploded, flooding the whole room with a blinding white. Link cried out in surprise; Bakura snarled in pain.

A second later, the light faded again, revealing the last torch to be alight with yellow-white flames. The door leading out slowly ground open.

Ryou rushed to Bakura's side. "Bakura! I'm sorry! Are you all right?"

Bakura had dropped to the ground, holding his eyes and growling to himself. At Ryou's question, he snapped, "What did you do?!"

"I don't know!" Ryou cried, wringing his hands worriedly. "I did it exactly the same as I did the others! Even the Shadow spell was the same strength as the other elemental spells! I don't know why it did that! It was like something was amplifying my spell!"

Link stepped closer, rubbing one eye. "You okay? That was bright..."

Bakura responded with a growl and several choice curses, remaining on the ground.

Navi rolled her eyes, hovering over him. "You don't have to be rude," she sniffed. "It was just a bit of light. Hurry up. The door's open now."

"Navi, hang on a second," Ryou hurriedly put in, cutting off Bakura's sharp reply. "It's not that simple. Light magic is..." he trailed off as he tried to think how to put this.

Bakura struggled to his feet, one hand still over his eyes. "Light magic," he growled, "is the opposite of Shadow magic, which is what I'm almost purely made out of right now. Light cancels out shadow, same way water puts out fire. Ryou, if you've blinded me..."

Link frowned in worry. "I didn't even think about that. Are you going to be okay?"

"Oh, probably." Bakura removed his hand from his eyes, opening them slowly. For a moment, he just stood there blinking, and then he scowled, letting out a few more curses. "You lot can still see, can't you?"

Hesitantly, Ryou nodded. "Yeah... Can't you?"

"No." Bakura replied harshly. With that, he turned suddenly towards the room's exit and stalked towards it. "Come on, let's get out of this hole, while we still can."

Link hurried to walk beside him. "Bakura, if you can't see, maybe you should-"

"I can walk without being able to see," Bakura snapped. A swirl of shadows rose around him dramatically as he pushed on ahead.

"If you're sure..." Link said, not sounding at all sure himself.

Navi rolled her eyes, flying ahead. "Oh, just let him be. If he wants to walk into walls, he can."

With a snort, Bakura suddenly shot a thin burst of shadows at her. They hit her squarely and she yelped. Bakura smirked. "I don't need to see," he repeated.

"Bakura!" Ryou protested.

"Oh, come on. I didn't even do anything to her."

Navi shook herself indignantly. Ryou noted with some relief that, as Bakura had said, the spell didn't seem to have actually done anything; just showed off Bakura's ability to aim, like a tracer. Navi huffed, but stayed silent, going to sulk in Link's hat.

Soon enough, the tunnel brought them back to the room they'd first dropped down into. To Ryou's surprise, there was now a blue, glowing pedestal in the center, with a faint light shining down on it from the hole up above.

"There's the way out," Link pointed out. He stepped up onto the platform, and a humming noise started. Ryou gawked as Link was lifted up into the air and out of the hole.

"W-wait!" he called, starting forward.

Bakura rolled his eyes. "Don't worry. It's just a hover mat. They're built specifically to help idiots who fall into holes get back out of them. Frankly, I'm not surprised to see one here."

Ryou was a little disgruntled by Bakura's obvious implication that he was an idiot, but he decided not to say anything. It would just encourage him.

Instead, he stepped up onto the platform himself, Bakura following behind him. Both of them were lifted upwards, and they soon found themselves back in the bright, cheery field of Hyrule.

Bakura immediately started forward towards Kakariko. "Don't fall in any more holes," he warned irritably.

Link laughed, and Ryou looked embarrassed. "I didn't mean to!"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Bakura waved him off. "Come on."

Link and Ryou hurried to catch up.

After a minute or so of walking, Ryou spoke up, still feeling bad about Bakura being blinded. "I really am sorry about the light thing," he apologized again. "I don't know what happened."

Bakura shrugged. "Should have expected something like that. You are hikari, after all."

Ryou shook his head. "But it really felt like something outside was amplifying it, not something part of me... If that makes any sense," he added sheepishly.

Link looked contemplative. "Something that amplifies a light spell..."

"That's it!" Navi made a sudden reappearance, fluttering around Link's head. "Link, didn't Rauru tell you to give that yellow thing to Ryou?"

Link smacked his forehead. "Of course!" He set about digging through his bag.

Bakura stopped, glancing back at him curiously. "Yellow thing? What yellow thing?"

"This!" Link pulled out what looked like a large, yellow disk, handing it to Ryou. "Rauru said this was a Sage Medallion, and that it meant that he'd added his powers to mine, or something. He told me you'd find it useful."

"Rauru is the ancient Sage of Light," Navi explained. "I bet that's what amplified your Light spell: the powers of the Light Sage!"

Ryou looked the medallion over thoughtfully. "Yeah, I guess that would do it."

"That would have been nice to know earlier," Bakura grumbled. "So, as we rescue these sages, they'll give us these medallions and Ryou's spells will get more powerful?"

Link nodded. "That sounds about right," he agreed.

"Well, that's kind of cool," Navi mentioned. "Hey, now we know your title, too, so the Sheikah can look it up in their legend books or whatever they have!"

"Joy." Bakura turned to start walking towards Kakariko again. "I'm sure Ashkenaz will love the reading assignment. Come on, let's get going. I assume you all want to get there before it gets dark?"

Ryou looked upward to see that the sun had begun to set. "Oh, you're right."

Link shrugged. "If it gets dark before we get there, I can always play the sun's song. Then it'll be day again."

Bakura shot him a frown. "Look, Hero of Time or not, let's not go messing with the space/time continuum if we can help it, all right? Besides, we need to act quickly, and that song jumps us forward in time."

"Oh. Right." Link gave him a sheepish grin. "I guess we should hurry, then."

The conversation dropped into silence, and they all continued onward.

Thankfully, the steps that led up to Kakariko weren't that far away. Once they made it over the bridge, it took hardly any time at all to reach the village, and so despite Bakura's warning, they entered with plenty of time before the sun finished going down.

At the gate leading into the village, a teenage boy in a dark green tunic stood guard. When he spotted the group approaching, his hand went quickly to a sword sheathed over his shoulder, but he let his arm drop as soon as he saw who was leading them. "Hey, Bakura!" he shouted cheerfully, heading towards them. "Welcome back."

Bakura barely even looked at him, continuing to walk towards the gate. "Hi, Mido."

"Where's Sheik been?" the boy inquired with a smirk. "I beat his score the other day, and I haven't been able to gloat to him yet."

"He's on a mission," Bakura returned shortly. "And so are we. Scram."

His grin growing wider, the boy started to respond, "Mission, huh? What kind of-"

Suddenly, he noticed Navi as she fluttered over his head and he stopped dead. For a moment, he merely stared at her, his eyes wide and his mouth open. Then, in almost a panic, he looked down and seemed to see Ryou and Link for the first time.

Abruptly, he turned around and took off. "All right, I'll get out of your way then, Bakura. See ya!"

"Hey!" Bakura scowled. "Mido, what's up with-" But the boy had already scampered up a low ledge and disappeared around the corner. Bakura scoffed. "Crazy kid."

"Who is he?" Link asked curiously, staring after him.

Navi, looking somewhat unnerved by the reaction the boy had had to her, flew over to ask the same question. "Yeah, who is he?"

Bakura grunted, beginning to walk again. "That's just Mido. He's one of Sheik's friends."

Ryou frowned as he followed slowly. "He seemed familiar somehow. Have we met him before?"

Bakura shrugged. "He gives everyone that impression at first. He's not important, though. Just ignore him. Most of us do."

Link continued watching the corner where the boy had vanished, as if he would reappear at any moment. "He seemed really familiar, though. His name's Mido?"

Ryou glanced at him. "Isn't Mido the name of that Kokiri boy you grew up with?"

Link nodded, but Bakura just shrugged again. "Different Mido," he said shortly. "Although that explains where I've heard the name before."

"Very strange," Link murmured, almost to himself.

Ryou shrugged. "I just find it strange that he knew you," he said to Bakura. "I thought the Sheikah were pretty secretive. I wouldn't think the normal villagers would know you."

Bakura rolled his eyes. "Well, the Sheikah do prefer to stay where we don't have to associate with Hylians. But Mido's a weird kid. Made friends with Sheik somehow several years ago, and he's been getting his nose into Sheikah business where it doesn't belong ever since."

Link nodded. "I see..."

With a sigh, Bakura admitted, "Of course, unfortunately, most of the villagers know who I am. See, they have this ridiculous notion that I-"

"Hey!" As they passed through the center of town, someone yelled from a doorway. "It's the Great Bakura!"

"Really?" another villager asked in awe, appearing suddenly at the doorway. Waving wildly, he called out to them. "Hello, Bakura! Good to see you!"

Ryou stared in wonder as more villagers gathered, either calling to them or merely talking in excited whispers amongst themselves.

"-the Great Bakura! He's back!"

"-really want to get his autograph!"

"Who's with him? I wonder-"

"-really cool! The Great Bakura!"

Before Ryou and Link could say anything, Bakura grabbed both of their wrists and pulled them along, trying to get out of the center of the town as quickly as he could, looking highly irritated.

Once Bakura had dragged them out of the sight of most of the villagers, Ryou whirled on him with wide eyes. "What did you do?!"

Bakura scowled. "Nothing."

"What did you do?!" Ryou repeated, ignoring Bakura's claim.

"Yeah, why are they calling you Great Bakura?" Link added his two cents into the fray. Navi hovered impatiently, awaiting a response.

Bakura rolled his eyes, folding his arms. "It was nothing," he also repeated stubbornly, still looking annoyed. "I might have, at one point, saved the town, and they all got wind of it, and now-"

There was a laugh, and suddenly a tall, dark-skinned girl with long, red hair stood beside Bakura, draping one arm across his shoulders as she leaned casually against him. "Why, Bakura! Are you, perhaps, being modest, for once?"

Bakura's eyes narrowed. "Get off, Nabooru."

"Nice to see you too," she returned with a smile, not moving. "You're looking rather transparent today."

"Get off," Bakura said again, sounding dangerous.

She laughed at him again. "Rude and obnoxious, as always. I'm serious, what happened to you? Die recently?"

Ryou realized that she was probably referring to Bakura's temporary physical form. "Oh, that wasn't recent. That was..." he trailed off awkwardly as she glanced over at him interestedly.

"Bakura, how incredibly rude of you!" she scolded, finally releasing him. "You haven't introduced me to your friends!"

Bakura merely glowered at her, not about to say anything.

Nervously, Ryou spoke up. "My name is Ryou Bakura. Er, well. Just call me Ryou." He glanced at Bakura and then shrugged. "And this is Link. Nice to meet you."

Nabooru gave Link a polite nod, but her attention was clearly on Ryou. "Ryou Bakura, huh? So! You must be Bakura's long-lost, kind-of-twin-brother he's mentioned!" Ryou laughed a little, but before he could say anything, she had turned back to Bakura. "You're right, he does look a lot like you. I can see how I got you two confused before."

Bakura rolled his eyes. "You've never met him before."

She waved him off. "So you say. And this one seems familiar, too, now that I think about it." She smiled at Link. "Nice to meet you, kid. Name's Nabooru. I'm in charge of the Gerudo here in Kakariko."

Link looked curious. "If you don't mind me asking, why are there Gerudo in Kakariko?"

Nabooru shot Bakura a pointed look. "Because someone couldn't keep his nose in his own business."

Bakura looked as though he was about to answer this, but then didn't bother, merely rolling his eyes again.

Nabooru didn't seem to mind his moody silence. She turned back to Ryou. "So, I'd hope that you at least know why Bakura appears to be a ghost today. Mind filling me in?"

Ryou shuffled his feet, glancing up at Bakura. "Er... That's not really mine to tell."

"He's so sweet!" Nabooru exclaimed suddenly, leaning against Bakura again. "He's like a polite, nice version of you! This is making it rather hard for me to get the information I want, though."

"Nabooru, if you don't get off," Bakura hissed threateningly, "I'm going to seal your soul into the smallest wooden doll I can possibly make, and paint the whole thing purple."

Ryou was somewhat horrified at this statement, but Nabooru just laughed. "Touchy, touchy. Seriously, though, what finally finished you off?"

"Nothing," Bakura seethed. "Get off."

She ignored him, her attention now on his eyes. Thoughtfully, she waved a hand in front of him. "Hmm, you're having trouble seeing, aren't you? What, get hit by a Light spell? If I'd known that was all it took..."

"The Light spell was my fault," Ryou admitted shyly. "I didn't mean to."

"I did not get killed by a Light spell," Bakura growled. "And I can see just fine. Would you get off already?" For an instant, he vanished from view, just long enough to cause Nabooru to topple to the ground.

Nabooru yelped a little in surprise, but recovered quickly. She rolled back up to her feet again, turning around and leaning against Ryou instead. "Hmm, interesting. If not the Light spell, then what? You sure you can't tell me, Mini-Bakura? How about you, kid?" She looked from Ryou to Link with a raised eyebrow.

A cloud of shadows began to appear around Bakura as he scowled at her. "Leave us alone, Nabooru. We're kind of busy."

"What could possibly be more important than telling me what in the world happened to you?" Nabooru asked with a smirk.

"Oh, I don't know," Bakura returned sarcastically. "Maybe saving the world? Perhaps I should reintroduce you to Link, here, since Ryou conveniently left off his title. This is the Hero of Time."

Abruptly, Nabooru stood up straight, seeming to see Link in a new light. "Really? You're the Hero of Time?"

Link hesitated a moment, and then nodded. "Yeah, I am."

Nabooru's face lit up. "Oh! Very nice to meet you. Well, in that case, I should get busy, too! I'll go inform the other Gerudo you're here."

Link blinked. "Um. All right, then."

With a smirk, Nabooru turned away. "I'll see you later! Just know, anything you need us for, we'll do. If it means taking Ganondorf down, the Gerudo here will fight for you."

Link nodded again. "Thanks."

"No problem. And Bakura, don't think you're getting off the hook!" She shot a mock-glare at him over her shoulder as she walked away. "I will get that story out of someone eventually!"

Bakura rolled his eyes. "Get out of here."

Nabooru just laughed, and then disappeared into one of the nearby buildings.

In irritation, Bakura turned and began stalking towards the entrance to the graveyard. "Come on."

"Wow," Navi spoke up for the first time in a while, sounding amused. "She's rather good at pushing your buttons. How'd you meet her?"

Bakura scowled. "We were fighting Ganondorf's forces once, and I attempted to Change of Heart the commander of the Gerudo troops, only to find that she was already under mind control. I used a Despell to free her from it, and have regretted it ever since."

Ryou looked surprised. "You rescued her?"

"Her, and a few other Gerudo who'd been brainwashed. I've never seen a group more obnoxious, chatty, and complaining as they are, either. Every time I see them, it's: 'Why must it be so cold in Kakariko?' or 'I want to have white clothes!' or some other stupid thing they do in that desert of theirs that they want here. I don't know why I bothered in the first place!"

Ryou smiled. "Because annoying allies are better than enemies?"

Bakura sighed. "Pretty much."

Soon, they reached the graveyard. Bakura didn't even stop, walking purposefully towards a grave in a corner near the front. Without saying a word, he walked around behind the gravestone, took hold of the sides, and began to pull.

"What are you doing?!" Ryou stopped him, looking horrified.

Bakura rolled his eyes. "Opening the grave so we can get inside. This is a cave entrance."

"It's a grave! You can't just-"

"It's a cave entrance," Bakura repeated in irritation. "We told them not to dig here, but no. They wanted to put the grave here anyway. So they did, and within the week, the whole thing collapsed right into an old Sheikah tunnel. We had to seal the whole tunnel off so that Dampe couldn't go exploring where he shouldn't be. He's thrilled, though. Thinks we made the grave just for him. Irritating..."

Link frowned at the headstone thoughtfully. "Why don't you like Dampe?" he asked curiously. "He seemed really nice when I met him before."

Bakura let out a sigh, going back to pulling the stone away from the entrance. "Did you ever play Dampe's little 'Midnight Grave Digging Tour' game? The one where he'd hide stuff around the graveyard and make people pay him to dig for it?"

"That sounds terrible!" Ryou exclaimed.

Bakura shrugged. "He did it because he knows there's not actually anyone buried in this graveyard. Well, nobody except for him."

"Nobody at all?" Link sounded amazed.

"The Sheikah don't bury their dead," Bakura acknowledged with a nod. "They cremate them."

Navi looked appalled. "Then why have a graveyard at all?"

Bakura smirked at her. "To hide Sheikah stuff, of course. Nobody would dare disturb a 'graveyard'. Just for example, the entrance to the Shadow Temple is up there. And, as Link has discovered, the Royal Composer Brothers hid one of their songs down in one of the 'tombs'. There's also a fairy's fountain here."

"Wow. I didn't know that before," Link mentioned, glancing around the place interestedly.

Bakura shrugged. "Of course you didn't. Anyway, Dampe knows about it because he likes to dig. And he'll dig pretty much anywhere. Apparently, he discovered some of our stuff in here a long time ago, and Impa gave him a map of places he was allowed to dig, and places he wasn't. And at that point, they made him the official grave keeper, to keep anyone else from digging in those places, too. But he's been fascinated with the Sheikah ever since, which is really annoying."

Ryou nodded thoughtfully. "So, you don't dislike him because of anything he did to you personally. You just find him annoying because the rest of the Sheikah do."

"Not exactly," Bakura stated, rolling his eyes. "He's also just flat-out annoying. Come on, let's get this over with. We have a hookshot to retrieve." Without waiting for a response, Bakura jumped down into the hole that had been revealed when the gravestone was pulled back.

Quickly, Ryou followed him. "W-wait!"

Link hesitated for a moment, glancing at Navi. "Well, Déjà vu, huh? Only, I guess this time we actually are grave-robbing..."

Navi shrugged, flying down to land on his shoulder. "Hurry up, or you'll lose them."

With a nod, Link jumped down into the hole.


... Whew, I think I'm done. XD That only took forever. Seriously, there were really only like... five, six events that actually happened, and yet it took 46 pages to write it. =P I've got to stop making everything I write so freaking long.

Also, I apologize for the first-person Bakura scene. D= It's been a long time since I've written a first-person story, and I wanted to try it out again.

Anyway. So, as far as potential updates to this:

I love this story. I love Bakura's adventures with the Sheikah. I love Mido and Sheik. I love each one of the many ideas that Katie and I have come up with for this story. I love it all.

But I don't think I'll continue it. At least not in the same way that it's currently being written.

If I write anything for the story at all, it's going to be merely a collection of short stories portraying events occurring during the seven year gap. Stuff with Bakura, stuff with Sheik, stuff with Mido, etc. (I may even actually tell you guys who Mido is. XD)

So, yeah. This is the last of the actual chapters, portraying current events with Ryou. Wave goodbye to Ryou! (waves)

Anyway, keep an eye on my profile for update statuses for this and all of my stories. I'll be working mostly on writing my original novel (wish me luck on that!) and also on my Bleach stories, mostly Day Before Tomorrow, but eventually Feeling Hollow as well. But when I have free time (or I just get sick of writing other stuff) I'll definitely work on some of those short stories. =D

So, I'll see you all later. Byez!