Update, August 2010:
So at some point or another our darling fanfiction dot net felt the need to remove all of my breaks, creating a lovely wall of text than was delightfully difficult to navigate. Thanks to Umi for pointing this out to me, and to Torkell for having saved the old files from ff dot net before they decided they hated all manner of page breaks! I will be updating all the chapters with new breaks and hopefully it will work!
ALSO, for those who are unaware, if you finish The Return and decide you like it, there is a sequel in progress – check under my username to find the link (title: Reconciliations).
Hope you enjoy the read!
All right, consider this a test of sorts. It's been a long time since I've delved in the world of fanfiction (and never in the world of Zelda) and I'm incredibly rusty to say the least. If you could read and review or e-mail me, it would be greatly appreciated. If anyone out there likes this enough so far I'll try and continue it. :-) I've got a few ideas for where to take it. I think that's about all . . . no, wait it's not. I'm assuming, for the sake of this fic, that after Link returns the Master Sword and says goodbye to Navi at the end of the game (Ocarina of Time) he forgets everything that happened to him so that he could have the childhood Zelda wanted for him. I suppose (just realizing this now) I'm also completely ignoring Majora's Mask. Whoops. Oh well. Now I'm done (let's hope anyway).
Thanks and enjoy!
Ledgend of Zelda: The Return
Because of the cold? Because of the pain? Because of the fear?
I don't understand . . .
I'm surrounded by whiteness, cold and blank. I spin around, searching desperately for some familiar sight. Some sign that I'm still . . . I don't know, alive?
Alive or not, there's nothing here. Nothing but me and this whiteness. Suddenly, however, I see something, out of the corner of my eye. I turn and look, hope rising up in my chest, then dying still born when I see it. It looks almost like a ripple. A huge, dark, ripple in the whiteness. I swallow hard and take several steps back as the ripple advances, picking up speed as it comes. Some buried alive instinct thumps deep in my chest: this is going to hurt.
I whirl around in an attempt to run from the ripple, but I've take no more than two steps before it reaches me, and knocks me to the ground, sending pain searing through me. Every inch of me burns with a pain unlike anything I've ever felt before . . .
Or have I?
Blurred images run through my mind. A tall, imposing man, with ember eyes glaring at me with a venomous look. I see him raising his hands, and . . .
I scream as the pain increases.
"Hero of Time . . ." A voice whispers. Gritting my teeth I force my eyes open, peering around me. The whiteness is gone, replaced with an absolute dark.
"Who's there?" I cry around the pain. I press a hand tightly to my stomach and work my way up to my knees. "Who's there?"
"HERO OF TIME!" Screams a voice from behind me. I whirl around just in time to see an ebony figure lunging at me, three feet of black steel gleaming in his hand.
"Wha . . ." Without wasting any more time on half formed words, I roll out of the way and attempt to leap to my feet. The pain abruptly increases however and I cry out and crumple to the ground.
"HERO OF TIME!" The figure screams again. He leaps at me again and I struggle to roll out of the way, but I'm not fast enough. His black blade slides through my stomach, impaling me. I gasp and my eyes go wide, even as my hands clutch at the blade inside of me. The figure smiles wolfishly down at me.
He looks so familiar . . .
He looks . . . like . . . me . . .
"Your blood," he whispers, "will open the seal . . ."
"Wake up, kid!" Snarls a deep voice. I cry out and snap upright in bed.
"What? What?" I cry, disoriented. On instinct, my hand flies to my stomach to block the hole and stop the bleeding . . . but there's no hole there. It's all in one piece. I'm all in one piece. I'm not dead. "What?" I whisper again, blinking blearily.
"My sentiments exactly," snarls the voice. I look up at Bruiser, towering above me. I'd recognize that hairy torso anywhere. He's trying his hardest to look angry but is only succeeding in looking concerned. "Are you all right kid?" He demands. "You're late getting up. The Gallery's been open for an hour."
"What?" I cry, reality slowly seeping back into my skull. The black figure with my face fades slowly into the background as I leap out of bed. "Dammit, Bruiser! Why didn't you wake me up sooner?"
"Hey, don't swear at me kid!" He snaps. "I thought you were up already." I grumble something in the way of an apology as I fly around my small room above the Castletown Archery Shop and Shooting Gallery. "I heard you screaming and I came up and there you are still in bed!" Bruiser cocks his head at me. "That must have been some nightmare."
"I'd rather not talk about it," I reply shortly. "Where's my hat? Have you seen my hat?"
"It's on the back of your door where you always put it," Bruiser says, shaking his head and giving me up as a lost cause. "I'm going out for a bit. Talon from Lon Lon ranch is in town today and we're out of milk. Watch the shop."
"Don't I always?" I call after him uselessly as he shuts the door. I glare at my hat as though it's its fault that I slept in. "I don't always put it there," I mutter to myself in self defense, grabbing it off the door and pulling it on. I reach for my boots and fight my way into them. "Sometimes I put it . . . uh . . . oh nevermind." I run out of my room and take the stairs two at a time. I hope Bruiser left me some breakfast. He's not as big as he is because he starves himself . . .
I grin to myself when I see the heaping plate of sausages, eggs and toast Bruiser left for me. I never should have doubted him. If there's one thing he's better at than making money, it's making food, and he makes sure everyone is well fed. I slide into my customary seat at the table and lift up my fork, stabbing the nearest sausage with it . . .
His black blade slides through my stomach, impaling me. I gasp and my eyes go wide, even as my hands clutch at the blade inside of me. The figure smiles wolfishly down at me . . .
My grip on the fork tightens and my knuckles go white as the images from my dream return vividly. I can almost feel his black blade inside me again . . . tearing through me, draining my life . . .
I shake myself free of the images at the sound of a bell from the front of the Gallery.
"A customer!" I gasp, grateful for the chance to busy myself and forget about the dream. I drop the fork – I'm not hungry anymore anyway – and head out to the desk in the next room. I smile brightly when I recognize the red shock of hair coming in through the door.
"Malon!" I cry delightedly. "Long time no see!" She tosses me a flirtatious smile.
"And who's fault is that?" She demands. "Why haven't you come up to the ranch lately, hmm?" "It's not my fault!" I protest. "Business has been really good lately, and I haven't been able to get away." I shake my head. "All those dignitaries heading for the palace keep stopping in here to try their luck. The Gerudos in particular. Man those women can shoot." Malon's face is creased suddenly by an unimpressed frown and she crosses her arms with a humph.
"Really?" She demands in an icy voice. I don't pick up on the dangerous note in it.
"Really!" I insist. "I mean, some of them were better than I am and I've been shooting my entire life! I've never seen anything like it! They sure were . . ." Malon's eyes have narrowed into thin slits and it suddenly occurs to me that I've said something wrong. She reaches into her pocket, pulling out a red rupee and throwing it at me.
"Give me a bow, Fairy Boy, and I'll show you how to shoot." I raise an eyebrow at her. She glares at me. "Hurry up! It's not polite to keep a customer waiting you know!" Shaking my head, I turn around and consider the bows behind me, trying to pick the one best suited to her size and build.
"Why do you call me that anyway?" I ask as I hum and haw over the bows. "Fairy boy, I mean." I finally make my decision and grab a bow from the middle of the rack, handing it over to her. There's a slightly puzzled expression on her face.
"You know, I really don't know why," she says. "I guess because you came from the forest, and the Kokiri and their fairies live there. And you do dress like them." She can't resist a smirk in my direction. I'm well aware of what the Castletown people think of my style of dress. So I like green! So sue me!
"Maybe," I say doubtfully as she grabs a quiver and lines herself up. "But it's not like I have, or have ever had a fairy. And I'm obviously not a Kokiri." I can't help the tint of bitterness in my voice anymore than I can help breathing. My questionable heritage is still a sore spot with me, and Malon knows that. She picks up on the melancholy note in my voice and immediately changes the subject.
"Put it on hard," she says. "I want a challenge."
"Hard!" I cry. "Malon, you can't handle hard." She whirls around and glares at me.
"How do you know?" She demands. "I've never done it before." I give a long suffering sigh.
"Malon, you have a hard enough time on medium. You'll never be able to handle hard. Half the Gerudos couldn't handle hard! And they've been training their entire lives!" Her eyes flash furiously and I realize with a sudden sinking feeling that I probably shouldn't have said that.
"If the Gerudos can do it, I can do it," she snaps. "Put it on hard, Fairy Boy." I sigh and hit the hard button.
"Fine," I say. "Don't say I didn't warn you." She'll never be able to handle this. Which means she's going to lose. And then she's going to get mad at me because I told her she'd lose. And then she's going to challenge me to do better. And then . . . I drop my head into my hands as she begins shooting at the glass, rupee shaped targets that begin appearing; spinning and moving at high speeds. I can't win. I just can't win. It's not fair.
Malon makes a frustrated noise and I look up to see that she has hit two of ten targets. She whirls around.
"This is all your fault, Fairy Boy!"
And we're off . . .
"Are you sure you can handle this?" Bruiser demands gruffly, clutching the package possessively. I sigh.
"Bruiser, how old was I when you took me in?" I ask. "How old was I when you gave me that room and a job and a means of support?"
"Eleven," he says grudgingly.
"Right," I say. "And how old am I now?"
"Seventeen," he says. I raise an eyebrow at him. He sighs deeply. "And a half."
"Right!" I say with mock encouragement. "So that means you've known me for how long?"
"Six years," he snaps. "Is there a point to this?"
"Bruiser if you can't trust me, after six years, to deliver a simple package . . ."
"All right, all right, all right!" He cries, holding out the package gently. "Be careful with it. If this thing gets broken, it's my head." I take it gingerly.
"Look? I'm being careful, see?" I say, then pause to scrutinize the package. It's about a foot long, but only a coupkle inches thick and rectangular in shape. "What's in it anyway?" I ask curiously.
"Nothing that's any of your business," he snaps. "Just deliver it. Straight into Princess Zelda's hands. No one else's, understand?"
"Princess Zelda!" I gasp, staring at him in surprise. "The Princess? Sweet merciful Din!" I stare at the package with new respect.
"Yes, the Princess," Bruiser says sourly. "Make sure you're behaved, understand? And fix yourself up some before you see her. Brush your hair or something. And keep your sarcastic sense of humor to yourself, understand? You make me look bad, and I swear to any goddess who's listening, I'll . . ." He leaves the threat hanging. He always does. He'd never hurt me. He's too much of a softy.
"Relax Bruiser! I understand! Best behavior!" I look at him pointedly. "Can I go now? I'd hate for your package to be late . . ."
"OH MY GODDESS I'M LATE!" I shriek, starting to my feet in a panic. "Oh man! The Palace gates close in ten minutes! I've got to run! Bruiser's going to kill me!" Malon pouts.
"But you weren't done apologizing for beating me at the Shooting Gallery yet," she says. "I was enjoying it."
"So was I," I say with a slight grin. "But I'll never get to finish apologizing if I don't deliver this package. Bruiser will see to that." She sighs then smiles at me again.
"Fine. Go deliver your package," she says. "But hurry back." I laugh.
"Of course," I say. "Have I ever failed you?"
"You don't want me to answer that," she says. "Now hurry. You've already wasted five minutes of your ten minutes."
"Ack!" That said, I whirl around and leap onto Epona's back. "Let's go girl!" I cry. Sensing the urgency in my voice, Epona whinnies excitedly and takes off at a dead run. Goddess, I love this horse. She's the best of Lon Lon Ranch's best. She's fast, furious, and understands me in a way no one else has. Not to mentions she's saved my life on more than one occasion from the monsters in Hyrule Field, and she may yet save me from Bruiser's wrath.
However, fast as she is, she's not fast enough this time. We arrive at the gate to the palace grounds just in time to watch it clang shut. I stare at the closed gate in abject dismay for a minute.
"No!" I whine, burying my face in Epona's mane with a sigh. "No, no, no! I'm too late!" I quickly spring out of the saddle and rush up to the guard at the gate.
"Excuse me sir, if I could just . . ."
"No one in past sunset," the guard says sternly.
"But I have to . . ."
"No one in past sunset," he repeats.
"But this package is for . . ."
"No one in past sunset."
"But you don't under . . ." He leans over and puts his face right in front of mine.
"I said, no one in past sunset," he snarls. "And I meant it." He glares at me until I sigh in frustration and turn around.
"Fine," I mutter under my breath as I stalk back towards Epona. "Let Bruiser kill me! I don't care! You don't care! No one cares!" I sigh and press my face into Epona's warm neck. "What am I gonna do, Epona?" I ask. "I have to deliver this package. Bruiser will never trust me again if I don't." Epona snorts and I look up at her. "What?" I ask. She nips at the shoulder of my tunic and then trots over to the other side of the wall we're standing against. Puzzled I follow her over to where she's standing. Clinging tenaciously to the wall are several thick vines. My eyes follow the vines up the wall and onto the ledge that runs to the gate. The ledge that runs over the gate. The ledge that runs past the gate. My eyes widen ever so slightly and I give a sharp intake of breath.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" I whisper, looking into Epona's liquid eyes. "You are going to be so rewarded when we get home." Epona nickers happily. I pull my quiver and bow off of her saddle and sling them on, just in case. I slip the package into my quiver, then tighten my gloves and grab hold of the vines. In a matter of seconds I've scaled the wall and am on top of the ridge.
The palace stands tall and proud just ahead of me, personified by the silent courage in it's architecture, the quiet wisdom in it's gardens, and the hushed power of it's presence. It's spires reach towards the sky, as though making a final, defiant stand against the oncoming darkness. The sun sinks below the horizon and a sudden and brutal flash of de-ja-vu overtakes me.
I've done this before, I realize. I've seen all this before. But that's . . . impossible . . .
Shaking myself free of my thoughts, if not the eerie feeling, I push myself forward through the bruised twilight, preparing myself to do what no one in their right mind has ever done before.
I'm going to break into Hyrule's golden Palace.