Decided to do one little bit more. A few scenes that aren't really essential to the ending, but I wanted to do to close up a few more threads.
Epilogue: A Funeral and a Wedding
The sun had sunk below the trees surrounding Ordon, the feasting finished, and it was decided that the story would have to be finished later. Link at last returned to his house, and noted that Epona had already been fed, contentedly eating the hay in her trough, and the black stallion Ebony stood next to her, though he did not require food, at least not of that kind. Link climbed the wooden ladder onto the deck built among the branches of the tree. When he opened the door, he saw Kilishandra already there, sitting at the table in the center of the room with a lit lamp and book opened in front of her.
"You slipped away on me," Link said as he shut the door behind himself.
"You were doing fine, and there was something I wanted to check," she replied.
"What's that book?" Link asked, walking over.
"This is the copy of 'Signs of the Black Art, Abridged Edition for Witch Hunters' that was given to us by the queen," Kilishandra said, "Have you ever stopped to read it?"
"I think I skimmed it," Link said, "If that Sibette's any example, it shouldn't be too hard to spot a witch."
"We were given this specifically because we were supposed to keep an eye out for her," Kilishandra said, "Remember, if she sets foot in Hyrule again, she's to lose her head. Aside from being a child-killer, she also abandoned us during the battle five years ago after promising her aid."
"I remember," Link said, moving behind her and putting his hands on her shoulders, "So what were you checking?"
"Signs of victims who have had their memories altered," Kilishandra said, "Here it is, like I thought. One of the surest signs of memory erasure, while victims will not be able to recall the actual memories, they can experience a strong sense of deja vu when encountering significant persons or locations that they had strong bonds with before their memories were altered."
"And why's that important?" Link asked.
"Think about it," Kilishandra said, turning in her seat to look at him, "It was seeing us fight Cain, or more specifically you, that set Shaklator off and made her transform like that. She was inspired by the strength of another in the moment. Then we erased her memory of the event. But I think, however, that sense of deja vu this mentions might explain why the Shaklator we encountered in our time was so obsessed with you."
"Maybe," Link said, "That's ancient history now, though. I'm not worried about it."
"I was just thinking about it," Kilishandra said, "Was curious enough to see if I was remembering correctly."
"Was that it?" Link asked, "Or trying to keep your mind off something else."
Kilishandra closed her eye and took a deep breath and let it out as a long sigh.
"If it seems like I'm being cold to my father's death, that's not true at all," she said, "But the fact is I watched him be executed five years ago. It may have been his phantom but understand what that's like.
"I already mourned him once, because I thought I'd never see him again. But now it's come full-circle."
She looked up at Link where he stood next to her chair. "I'm not going to cry and I'm not going to need comfort. In the end, he gave his life for us. I'm proud of him."
"Okay," Link said, "You know I'm here, in any case."
Kilishandra smiled, putting her hand on his. "I do," she said.
"You said you wanted to make a grave for him at the Collossus," Link said, "I think we can call in a favor with the Sages to help us get there and back. They us that much."
"They owe us more than that," Kilishandra said.
"Like a vacation somewhere we can't be interrupted?" Link said with a chuckle.
"That might be a start," Kilishandra said, turning back to the table and closing the book, then rose to her feet, moving the lantern from the table and taking the book over to a trunk near the bed.
Link's old bed had been something that had to be replaced when they started staying here together, as it simply wasn't big enough for two. The new bed was much larger, and unfortunately the interior was already fairly cramped. There certainly couldn't be two people living here if they weren't comfortable with each other.
Zelda did give them a generous stipend for the work they did, as well as quarters in the castle for when they were in the capital, but when it was time to rest, this was still home for Link, and Kilishandra liked the village as well. The villagers were very friendly, and the first time she'd come here with Link on leave, she had been offered somewhere to sleep by several of them with spare space, but they'd just nodded and smiled with understanding when Link told them she'd be sharing his house. Some of them were initially surprised, but that may have been because up to that point, they likely still expected Link would have settled down with Ilia one day.
And now she was working the capital, apprenticed to a doctor she had met during the battle five years ago, when she was helping him with the wounded.
Life had a way of surprising people, that much was true. Like how five years ago, if someone told Link he'd be getting married to the daughter of Ganondorf, he'd have laughed in their face. He had sometimes wondered what his life would be like now if Midna had stayed with him, but when everything was said and done, he was a "here and now" kind of person. Midna was an important part of his life, and he'd never forget her, but that was the past and he needed to put it behind him. He wished her nothing but happiness where she was now, and he knew she'd wish nothing but the same for him.
And right now, it was one of the greatest feelings he'd ever known that this woman in front of him had agreed to stand with him for the rest of his life. Kilishandra was far from a typical woman, as physically strong as most Hylian men, and commanding magic that could raze entire cities. She was not someone who would wait patiently at home while he was gone.
But then again, would he be satisfied with a woman who was? To just raise their children and take care of the home while he was gone for weeks or even months at a time? That was a question he couldn't answer at this point. But he knew he was happy to have someone who could be with him even in the danger and trials.
And she was a woman who knew what she wanted as well. And now she sat the lantern one top of the dresser by the bed. She didn't want to focus on the bad right now, there would be time for that later. With a practiced hand, or perhaps preparation in advance, she undid the lacing of her trousers, dropping them to the floor in a smooth motion and kicking them off over her feet, then turned and sat on the bed with her knees spread wide.
"You ready for another round?" she asked.
"Like you have to ask," Link said, quickly kicking off his boots and undoing his own trousers.
He moved to her, and they kissed fiercly as she put her hands on his shoulders, and Link slid his hands under her shirt and up her back. He lay her back on the bed, climbing up on top of her, but then suddenly pulled away.
"What's wrong?" she asked as he looked toward the front window.
"Listen..." he whispered.
Kilishandra waited, her ears straining. Then she heard it, a rapid and heavy thumping on the path outside, coming rapidly closer.
"Horses," she said.
"At least half a dozen," Link said and quickly moved off the bed to grab his clothing.
"You think it's bandits?" Kilishandra asked, sitting up and getting her own trousers.
"If it is, they'll regret picking this village," Link said as he grabbed his sword.
The hoof beats came closer, and the two moved to the door and out onto the deck as they came into the clearing in front of the tree house.
Then it was clear they were no bandits. Eight armored Hylian royal knights filled the clearing on horseback. The tall wings on their helmets, along with the wings crossed across their breastplates made their identities clear to all who saw them. But there was one in the group whose armor was different. The wings of the helmet, as well as those crossed across her chest, were gold in color instead of the polished steel of the others. It was a deliberate design so she could be identified by the others, made into her newest armor. Not actual gold, as that was quite poor metal for armor, but Balthazar had figured out a way to dye the metal during the creation process, even with his relatively new crafting method to produce lighter and stronger steel than any before.
This one took off her helmet, revealing the face of none other than Zelda, the queen of Hyrule, and she hung the helmet on her saddle-horn as she looked up at the two on the deck.
"We have a problem," she said with no preamble.
"Oh," Link said, and chuckled, "If this is about Cain, we already took care of it."
"How could you have..." Zelda started, then she paused when she noticed Link's black eye, "What happened and why do you look like you tried to kiss a battering ram?"
There was a rustle of tree branches on the other side of the small clearing, and the knights all turned to see Silviana drop to the ground from the branches, her bow in-hand, though without an arrow, which she had doubtlessly already returned to her quiver after seeing the group.
Before anyone could speak, Silviana pursed her lips and let out a piercing whistle that strained the ears of all those in the clearing.
"What was that?" Zelda asked.
"Just letting Alex and Rusl know it's all clear," Silviana said, "When we heard your horses, we took precautions."
"I see," Zelda said, then turned back to Link and Kilishandra, "So what is this all, then? You already 'took care' of Cain?"
"Yeah," Link said, "It involves time travel and crap, so it's complicated, but it's all settled."
Zelda was tapping the side of the helmet on her saddlehorn with one finger as she thought, but then decided even though it was Link saying it, she needed more than that.
"You'd best tell me the whole story," she said.
Link sighed. "It's going to be a bit of a tell," he said, "You want to come inside and sit down?"
"You expect me to climb that ladder in full armor?" Zelda asked.
"We both know that armor weighs less than one of your court gowns," Kilishandra said, and turned to go inside, "I'll put a kettle on."
With a sigh, Zelda dismounted from her horse. "All of you get comfortable," she told the knights with her, "We might be here a while."
And they were. Though the rest of the village had been content to wait for the rest of the story on another day, Zelda listened patiently, only interupting to ask an occasional question, while Link and Kilishandra related to her the story. They were there well past midnight before finally reaching the point of the tale in which Shaklator slew Cain, and Ganondorf gave his life to make sure Cain wouldn't come back again.
"And this other Cain, you just left him with Sheila, then?" Zelda asked.
"I don't think he's going to be a problem," Link said, "He has strong convictions, at least."
"I'll talk to Sheila about that later," Zelda said, "It seems I came all this way for nothing more than a cup of tea and a long story. I'll take your word for it, and I'll go back to the capital. Once you two have rested, I'd like to see you there."
"That was something we were discussing, actually," Link said, "Kili and I..."
"Want to retire?" Zelda asked as she rose to her feet, "I don't blame you, honestly. I've put you two through hell, and this recent event shows that if anything, I'm too reliant on you."
"Not exactly," Link said, "But we do think we need to be here more, less on the road. Might be time to try training some other folks to take our place, or at least have more than one group out there doing what we do."
Zelda nodded. "I agree. Though I am curious what brought on this change."
"Link asked me to marry him," Kilishandra said.
"Oh, finally?" Zelda said with a smile, "You two have already been together much longer than most couples before they do."
"So you expected it, then?" Link asked.
"I never saw it as a matter of if," Zelda said, "Only when. And in that case..."
Zelda turned toward Link walking to him where he sat on the bed.
"What is it?" he asked.
"This might be the last chance I have, so what the hell?" Zelda leaned down, grabbing Link's shirt to keep him from pulling away, and kissed him full on the mouth.
"What the hell..." Kilishandra said from where she sat at the table.
"What was that?" Link asked as Zelda pulled away from him.
"Thank you, Link, for everything," she said, "I'd have lost my kingdom several times now if not for you. And I'm grateful for everything you've done, and you as well," she added, looking back at Kilishandra.
"Don't do that again," Kilishandra said.
Zelda laughed. "If you're jealous, I can kiss you too."
Kilishandra put up one hand in refusal. "I'm good, thanks."
"All right, I'll be going then so I'm back in the capital then, so I'm back by noon," Zelda said, "You two get your rest, and when you're ready, I'll be waiting for you."
"Since when does the queen travel all night?" Link asked.
"Since Cain left a hole in her castle wall that needs masons contracted to fix, and a hundred other things waiting for her on top of that," Zelda said, "Trust me, ruling a nation is not the life of luxury that many think it is."
"For what it's worth, I think you're doing a fantastic job there," Link said.
"Well, that's up to the history books," Zelda said, "So someone will see in a century or two how good a job I did."
Link and Kilishandra followed her out of the house, where Zelda descended the ladder, and with an order, the knights who had taken up posts around the clearing in various states of relaxation rose to their feet, and made ready to return to the saddles.
With final farewell, Zelda mounted her horse and put on her helmet, strapping it tightly under her chin, then with another shout, all eight riders kicked their horse into a trot, departing down the path leading back to the north.
With so late, and the pair tired now, Link and Kilishandra went back inside. Link sat down on the bed while Kilishandra went to blow out the lantern next to the stove, and she set aside the pot of remaining tea from the evening. It wasn't the special tea to prevent pregnancy, just a normal batch for the three of them.
Link sighed as he pulled off his shirt. "Well, so much for this evening," Link said.
"Yes, we need to get some sleep tonight," Kilishandra said, dropping her trousers again and walking to the opposite side of the bed, then pulled off her own shirt as she sat down with her back to him.
Link turned to lay down, lifting the blankets, but couldn't stop his eyes from roaming over the line between Kilishandra's posterior and the top blanket, then with a smirk climbed up onto his knees behind her and reached around, wrapping his arms around her stomach as he kissed her shoulder.
"Let's just sleep in tomorrow," he whispered.
"You read my mind."
A few days later…
With the help of the Sage of Spirit, Link and Kilishandra returned to the oasis lost in the Haunted Wasteland, and they selected a location to the right of the pond, in between two large boulders for their task.
Without a body to bury, it was simply a matter of placing the grave marker. Kilishandra had only one possession of Ganondorf's, which had been left behind when he entered Limbo, and now she leaned it against the wooden cross. It wasn't much of a sight, a wooden cross with the glowing white blade of his sword, but it was all they could do.
And once it was standing, they stepped back to stand a moment in silence. Neither of them spoke, but when Link looked up at Kilishandra, he saw the tears in her eyes, and she had bitten down on her lip as if to keep from crying out.
For all she said she had already mourned him once before, this still was a final goodbye, but she didn't speak, and neither did he. For several minutes, they just stood there, and she never took her eyes from the marker. Link didn't ask what she was thinking, deciding that was for her.
The first sound to break this silence came from behind them, causing them both to turn suddenly, and the sight being something neither expected.
The Sage of Spirit had returned, and with her were ten others. It took a moment for Link to realize they were women. Each stood about eight feet tall, and several carried long spears just as tall as they were. What was truly beyond belief, though, was the combination of their red hair and dark brown skin, same as the Sage, and same as Ganondorf.
"Gerudo..." Link said, though he didn't take his hand off his sword, "I thought you all were extinct."
"Maybe that's what we wanted the world to think," said one, stepping forward from the others. She was not armed, but her figure was imposing enough. Woman or not, she was built like a brick wall. She wore loose fitting white trousers, and a white top that left her midriff exposed, and her stomach was a solid mass of rock hard abs. Her arms were also nearly twice as thick around as Link's, with similarly rock hard biceps. Her face was concealed by a white veil, hanging over her nose and mouth, leaving only her eyes visible.
The others in the group were all dressed similarly, and of close if not exactly builds as well.
"Tell me who you are honoring here," the woman who stepped forward said, her voice hard, but no threatening.
"My father, Ganondorf Dragmire," Kilishandra said.
"Ganondorf… So, as our Sage spoke, the King of Darkness is dead," the woman said, "This has been a long time coming."
"What's going on?" Link asked, looking toward the Sage of Spirit, the old and decrepit Gerudo woman merely shrugging in answer.
The first woman did not look away from Link and Kilishandra, but shouted over her shoulder in words neither of them could understand.
Two of the others approached, carrying an iron crate between them.
"Don't take offense, it's not that the others are unwilling to speak," the woman said, "It's that I'm the only one here who knows your language."
"What is this?" Kilishandra asked, looking at the crate.
"Ganondorf was the last king of the Gerudo," the woman said, "Legends speak of his villainy, and his eternal life made it seem we'd never be free of him. A bastard he may have been, but he was still our king."
The two set the crate down and one opened the top. Inside lay a suit of armor. It was old and rusted, but still clearly evident whom it was made for. Black plates and heavy chain, larger and heavier than any Hylian could wear, and a large sword nearly as long as Link was tall and almost a foot wide.
"With no body, we shall bury this," the Gerudo woman said, "and other tribes shall come here to mourn his passing. Only one male Gerudo child is born each generation, and he is destined to become king off the Gerudo. There have been no other male children since Ganondorf, so he was our final king for millennia. And so long ago, the decision was made that while we would not aid his villainy, neither would we fight him, and so the Gerudo went into hiding, only venturing out to acquire the food and males of other races we needed to survive.
"Perhaps now, all this can be put behind us, and we can come out of hiding."
Kilishandra moved closer, looking at the armor in the crate. "When was this made?" she asked.
"Four thousand years ago," the Gerudo said, "According to our legends, it was the first armor made for him."
"Incredible that it's in such good condition, considering," Kilishandra said.
"If we may begin?"
"Oh, yes," Kilishandra said, stepping out of the way, and the two with the crate closed the lid, picking it up and moving toward the grave marker.
More of the group approached, these brandishing shovels, and they set to digging a proper grave.
"You said he was your father, right?" the first Gerudo asked Kilishandra.
"Yes," she replied.
"But all Gerudo breed true," the woman said, "No matter the race of our partner, the child will always be Gerudo, and you are not. The hair and skin might fool Hylians, but no Gerudo would see you as one of our own. You lack the physique and stature."
"I was adopted," Kilishandra said, "But he was still my father, regardless of blood."
The woman laughed. "Then you have that as well," she said, "To us, the tribe is our family, regardless of bloodlines. Perhaps he did not stray as far from us as the legends say."
"He died saving all of us, including you," Kilishandra said.
"So our Sage informed us," the woman said, "That is why we are here. We honor his sacrifice, but neither will we forget the monster he was. To forget history is to be doomed to repeat it. Hopefully the next male Gerudo will be a good and honorable king."
"Hopefully," Link said, and glanced at Kilishandra. On this day, neither of them would bring up the child they knew lived in the castle, the son of Ganondorf and Sheila. Time would tell what kind of man he would grow up to be.
"You said other tribes would come?" Kilishandra asked, "How many of you are there?"
"I think that's too much to give right now," the woman said, "At the next moot, the tribes will decide if it is time to rejoin the larger world. And if they do, then you'll learn how many of us there are."
"I see," Kilishandra said.
It was a fairly uncomfortable meeting, but the Gerudo did as they planned. The grave was dug, and the crate filled with Ganondorf's ancient weapon and armor lowered into it, then filled again. Then the Gerudo left their offering. One left her spear, another a bow and quiver of arrows, and another left behind a simple water-skin, which may have seemed like nothing, but to a desert people could be a difference between life and death.
Once they were finished, their leader said farewell, and the group left Link and Kilishandra, who were then returned to Ordon by the aid of the Sage of Spirit.
A day they expected to be so simple came with revelations neither could have expected.
About three months later…
Uli pulled together the fabric and slipped the last button into place, then took the needle from between her lip. "Arms up," she said.
Kilishandra raised her arms to her sides so Uli could pull the fabric into place on her midsection, and use the needle and thread to finish the alteration to the dress to accommodate her growing figure.
"If you and Link had any self-control, this wouldn't be necessary," Uli said.
"Sorry, neither of us expected it to take so soon," Kilishandra said, looking down at her three-month pregnant belly, which had grown too large for the wedding gown, which Uli had been forced to let out for her.
"Well, it will still look better with a proper fit than leaving it loose," Uli said.
"At least the wedding is happening before the birth," Kilishandra said, "You were the one getting on Link's case about having a bastard. You're the traditionalist after all."
"If I was so much of a traditionalist, I wouldn't be letting you wear white," Uli said, "Only virginal brides are supposed to wear white. Tradition says you should be wearing blue. Okay, you can put your arms down."
Kilishandra lowered her arms as Uli stood up behind her. Seeing herself in the mirror, Kilishandra could still hardly believe it. A white wedding gown was something she never expected to wear in her life, and yet there she was, staring back at herself in that pristine, almost glowing gown.
"But you look amazing in white," Uli said, "Blue would not go nearly as well with your skin tone."
"Maybe I should have gotten a white eye-patch to go with it," Kilishandra said, looking at the black patch covering her missing eye.
"There's no one here who is going to judge you for it," Uli said.
The two of them were alone in Uli and Rusl's house, both to finish getting the dress ready and wait for the call that everything else was finished. And looking at herself in the standing mirror, Kilishandra's gaze was drawn to her rounded stomach, and she couldn't help but smile as she ran one hand over its shape. It was a long way from time yet, and it would grow much larger yet, but she was looking forward to meeting their child.
"Thinking of names yet?" Uli asked, walking around in front of her, holding a makeup box in one hand.
"Not yet," Kilishandra said, "We don't even know if it will be a boy or girl yet."
"Well, what do you want it to be?" Uli asked, opening the box.
"I hope it's a son," Kilishandra said, "Someone who will grow up brave, handsome, and strong. Like his father."
"With parents like you to look up to, I think we'll have another hero on our hands before long," Uli said, "Close your eyes, uh, eye."
Kilishandra patiently waited while Uli tapped the brush to her face, applying just a bit of blush, then a second brush ran across her good eye for the shadow. Makeup was still something beyond Kilishandra, but this time she was glad to have a more practiced hand to help.
"Just one last bit," Uli said, "Purse your lips a bit."
She felt the smaller brush run across her upper lip, then back across her lower. "Okay," Uli said.
Kilishandra pushed her lips together, helping spread the paint evenly, then opened her eye to see herself in the mirror. A dark red eye-shadow was visible around her good eye, and just a hint of blush to her cheeks, but the most prominent was the bright red paint on her lips, making them stand out from her darker skin tone.
"So what do you think?" Uli asked.
"It's amazing," Kilishandra said, then let out a small laugh, "I actually look like a woman."
"Don't sell yourself short," Uli said, "You've got a natural beauty that doesn't need makeup. This isn't even all that much compared to what some women wear. It's just enough to help draw it out a bit more."
"Trust me," Kilishandra said, lifting one hand to her forehead and then moving it over Uli's head, showing she stood nearly a foot and a half taller, "I don't think I'm in danger of anyone calling me short."
Uli sighed. "And Link's sense of humor is rubbing off on you," she said, "Not the best trait you could have picked up from him."
There was a knock at the door, and Ilia leaned inside. "Everyone's ready if you two are," she said.
Uli nodded and turned to the table, picking up the bouquet that waited there, and handed it to Kilishandra, and they walked toward the door.
Ilia had come back from the capital for the wedding, and a little bit earlier Kilishandra had asked her if it was awkward considering the past relationships, but Ilia had assured her she had put all that behind her. Link was family still to her, just not that kind of family. And she had also implied she had met someone in the capital, but requested that be kept a secret for now, as she hadn't told her father yet.
Even as ready as she had told herself she was, Kilishandra still felt her heart pounding in her chest as she stepped outside and saw what was waiting for her. In the center of the village, seats were arranged for all the villagers, and a few other guests. And there was Queen Zelda sitting at the front near the wooden arch that had been erected, with the waiting priest who had come to the village for the occasion.
And there was Link, waiting by the arch. He was also cleaned up, dressed in a royal blue jacket with a white shirt and matching white trousers. And he smiled as he saw her emerge from the house, and those seated turned toward her.
It was just a ceremony, an exchange of words, to make official what she and Link had practically been living for the past three years anyway, and it still seemed like such an enormous change to their lives.
Rusl was waiting for her close by, and with a nod, Uli and Ilia left them to find their seats.
It was tradition for the father of the bride to walk her down the aisle, but it was obvious why that wasn't possible, and Rusl had offered to stand in for the role. Now he offered his arm and she took it.
"You nervous?" he whispered.
"Is it that obvious?"
"No, you look fine," he replied, "But every bride and groom are nervous on their wedding day. I remember mine."
"Do you think it was worth it?" she asked.
"Absolutely," Rusl said, and they started walking together.
Kilishandra could feel all the eyes on her, and the royal trumpeters the queen had brought with her sounded their song during the slow walk down the aisle.
It was a walk that felt like an eternity, but at the end of it, as she and Link looked into each other's eyes and priest recited his script, she realized Rusl was right.
Unbeknownst to all gathered there, the was one present who was not on the guest list. Had someone looked toward the trees on the south side of the village, they might have seen him.
A solitary figure in a dark cloak, hood pulled up over his head and faced, silently watching the wedding. And when the vows were exchanged, and the priest gave permission to kiss the bride, that solitary figure nodded to himself, then turned and walked alone into the forest, and none gathered would even know he had been there.
The wedding celebration continued uninterrupted as the food was brought out, and Link and Kilishandra enjoyed the event that had been put together just for them.
A wedding was just ceremony in essence, making a public declaration of what they'd already felt for one another for years, and yet there was something wonderful about it, and what it symbolized for their lives going forward, and it was a memory they'd take with them for the rest of their lives.
It was absolutely worth it.