Title: He Also Serves
Author: Alex Foster
Summary: While preparing to leave on a tour of the northern towns, Zelda receives a prediction of Link's death should he travel with her. After promising to stay behind, Link soon discovers keeping his word might require sacrificing Zelda and the Triforce for the safety of everyone in Hyrule.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Nintendo. No money is being made and no infringement is intended.
Dedication: This story is dedicated to the smell of a newly purchased comic book, the memory of a green eyed boy sitting in the backseat of his family's car hungry for the feel of glossy pages underneath his fingertips, and to the long road home.
Author's Notes: Many thanks go out to Dark Thief for taking the time to beta read and for tricking me into believing the edits would be a long time in coming. Next I have to state that the idea behind this story is not mine but the good folks at Nintendo. This is a retelling of a comic story of the same name. He Also Serves was conceived and drawn by George Caragonne, Ruddy Nebres, Ken Lopez, and The Gradations. Long before I heard of the Internet and longer still before I heard of fanfiction it was those people who first made what were previously images on the TV become words and pictures that danced in my mind. It was after reading their comic book that I began imagining adventures involving Link and Zelda other than what the games showed. My journey to fanfiction has been an interesting one to say the least, but I like to think it was that comic so many years ago that pointed me to the path. This story, this tribute, is simply my way of honoring those people the only way I know how—by passing the story on to others that might not have read the comic. Some dramatic license had to be taken with regards to description and dialogue, but the story idea and emotions remain the same. Thank you for reading.
We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears.
The North Palace had been the first to fall. The walls of the palace, a pristine monument of protection and beauty for the Seat of Hyrule, had been overrun by Molblins, Darknuts, Octoroks, and other monstrosities of nature.
Watchman Erol had sounded the alarm. It had been that young man with a boyish face and a mop of brown hair who first saw the grounds around the palace quiver and push upward as the creatures of the underworld rose up to do their master's bidding.
The gates of the palace had been sealed, but the army of darkness never once slowed in its march toward the waiting castle. For a moment there had been silence. A vigil for those who would soon die. Then, as though on an unspoken cue, the sounds of conflict began: Swords scraped against their leather scabbards, axes and pikes cut through the air with sharp whistles, bows were pulled taut with the slightest of "plucks" that might have been musical on another occurrence.
The cries of battle were sounded—the cry of darkness given life and the cry of men ready to die a righteous death. Water splashed as creatures of evil pushed forward into the moat with wild abandonment. They were determined to either scale the walls of the North Palace or drown in the attempt. Arrows sliced through the air and man and beast fell. The white walls of the Seat of Hyrule turned dark with the telling stains of blood. Small, green hands reached over the lip of the wall and grabbed onto the archers' legs. The bowmen were pulled down as the Molblins released their hold on the wall. Hyrule's first line of defense crumpled.
They were in the courtyard within moments.
"Light protect us," the people prayed. But the Light, Goddesses, or whomever might have been watching from above offered no salvation on the day Hyrule fell. No mercy was to be found as the shades of the underworld cut through the palace with the efficiency of a sickle through crops.
It was over when Krin dropped to the ground. The heavyset Captain of the Hyrulian Guard with his thick blond mustache and chipped armor that was stained with blood—some now his—symbolized the last ray of hope. For if the mighty Krin still stood surely Hyrule would as well, but he didn't. The Captain of the Hyrulian Guard fell to the ground and would not rise again.
Ganon, the Prince of Darkness, marched through the carnage. The hem of his blue robes sliding unnoticed through the gore that coated the ground. He took a deep, cleansing breath. The spells that had once been drawn against his presence in the North Palace were now gone.
The palace doors flew open as he approached. The new Master of Hyrule walked into the castle that had once housed his enemies. He moved through the empty halls to the room that he knew would contain what he sought. The doors of the throne room opened and he stood staring down a long chamber. "At last," he whispered.
At the distant end of the throne room stood a bier. On it, covered with a soldier's cloak, was the body of Link, the Legendary Hero of Hyrule. The Master Sword lay at his side as though still protecting its long dead champion. Zelda knelt with her head resting on his breast. A fallen ruler.
At the sound of his approaching footfalls, Zelda looked up with red and swollen eyes. She blinked as though not fully seeing him.
"Ah, Princess Zelda," he said, his voice like two stones rubbing together. "The mighty hath fallen." He smiled again and said, "All will come to pass."
"...all with come to pass," Impa said. "That is what shall happen if Link leaves the North Palace today."
Zelda turned and regarded her aging nanny. "Are you sure?" she asked.
"Yes," Impa said. "The Triforce predicted it to me this morning. If Link leaves the palace on this day, he will die and Hyrule will fall into ruin."
"How?" the Princess of Hyrule asked. "What will happen? Does Ganon attack us during the Royal Tour?"
"I don't know," Impa said. "I only know that if Link steps from this palace before dawn tomorrow he will die and Hyrule will be in chains before his flesh is cold."
Zelda looked to the side. Her tour of the northern towns could not be postponed. The fear of being abandoned to Ganon's minions was steadily growing in that area and a visit from their ruler would reinstall the needed confidence. It couldn't be postponed—any postponement would read as a sign of insignificance to the towns of the north. "Link will stay here, then," she said firmly, and looked back to Impa. "Is the carriage ready?"
Impa appeared taken aback. "Yes," she said slowly. "But surely you are not going without the protection of a Knight of the Triforce."
"At last count I only had one here," Zelda said. "And he cannot leave today."
"Then go tomorrow," Impa urged. "The tour is not that important."
"It is that important," Zelda said. "Besides, in the Triforce's prediction I was still alive so nothing will happen to me without Link." She moved toward the door of her chambers.
"You will order him to stay?" Impa asked doubtfully.
Zelda stopped at the door; her hand perched on the knob. She looked back, a slight smile on her lips. "Link is the one person in this country I cannot order about. I'll ask him."
"And he will stay?"
Zelda opened the door and stepped over the threshold. "He will," she said without another glance back.
"What?!" Link demanded, wide eyed.
Zelda paused in front of the open carriage door. "You heard me. I want you to stay here until I return."
"I don't believe this," Link said, waving his arms. He looked to the coachman sitting on the driver's bench. "Do you believe this?"
The coachman could only shrug helplessly.
Link drew a calming breath and rubbed his temples. This was not the way to talk her out of such a foolish idea. "What if you're attacked?" he said. "What if Ganon knows you're out there without me?"
Zelda gave a brief glance to the staff within earshot. "I'll be fine," she said. "In the prediction I was still alive so nothing will happen to me."
Link, also aware of the staff, lowered his voice. "There are worse things than death, princess," he said. "Wait until tomorrow. It's been a while since I last saw the northern areas and I'd really like to go."
"You never could lie, Link," she said. "A thing worse than death is what I'm trying to prevent. I want your word you won't leave the grounds until sunrise tomorrow."
"Your word," she said again. "Please?"
Link closed his eyes and bowed his head in defeat. "My word," he promised.
Zelda smiled. "Thank you." She turned and again moved to climb into the carriage.
Link hesitated for a heartbeat then took her arm and helped her clamber inside. Impa was next in line. He quickly stepped forward blocking her from ascending the steps.
The blue eyes of the Knight of the Triforce met the Sheikah's brown. His expression darkened. "If you're wrong, Impa," he said soft enough so Zelda wouldn't hear, "and she dies, you will not live long enough to see her funeral. That is an oath on my soul."
Impa's placid countenance did not change. "The Triforce of Wisdom was not wrong," she said.
Link held her eyes for a moment longer then stepped aside. He did not offer her help climbing the steps. Once she was inside, he shut the small door and nodded to the coachman. The coachman snapped the reins and the carriage began moving. Three mounted guards quickly surrounded the carriage.
Link kept pace with them until they reached the gate. He stopped short at the drawbridge, the tips of his boots touching the edge of the wood. "Good-bye, Zelda," he whispered, watching the carriage grow further away.
Tossing his shirt to the side, Link drew the Master Sword and dropped into a battle stance. He stood alone in the courtyard of Hyrule Castle. Normally, he asked Krin or another guard to spar with him, but given his current mood he thought it better to practice alone.
Taking a deep breath and then letting it out slowly, Link closed his eyes and sought the quiet center of his mind. He longed to escape the feelings of fear and worry. His fingers itched on the hilt.
And then there was nothing in the world but the sword and him.
He took a step forward and brought the sword down in a sweeping arc. Pivoting on one leg, he came around and completed the arc then quickly turned his wrists angling the sword into a block. He spun, parried, and struck out at the monsters that danced in his imagination.
A Molblin fell to the ground. A Wizzrobe appeared and cast a blast of magic at him. His sword came up with such speed the joints in his wrists cracked. The magic touched the blood slick blade and bounced back. The Wizzrobe stumbled back as the blast hit its chest.
Link slashed right and left, cutting down enemies only he could see. He was dimly aware of hearing his own voice screaming in rage. He planted the blade in the ground and used it as leverage to deliver a kick to the shadows.
He drove his fist into one of the shades and with the other hand pulled the Master Sword from the ground and used it to take the head of another.
His muscles began to ache. He shoved the pain aside and continued to follow the forms of the blade. He imagined Zelda's carriage being stopped by Ganon. He saw the pig pulling Zelda through the small doorway and throwing her to the ground. Something worse than death.
Link cut through the scene with a slash from the Master Sword. The ghosts quickly fled leaving the Knight panting in the empty courtyard of Hyrule Castle. The sword dropped from his fingers landing in the dirt with a hollow thud.
"I should have gone," he said softly.
"Quite a workout," a tiny voice called to him.
Link turned to see a small ball of light fluttering toward him. Miff, the fairy that lived in the palace fountain, made her way to him.
"That was quite a workout," she said again, reaching him.
"Hey, Miff," he said, reaching for the Master Sword. "I just needed to burn off some frustration."
"I'm surprised to see you still here, Link," she said. "I thought Zelda would have left by now."
"She did," Link said grimly. "A few hours ago."
"What!" the little fairy said. "And you didn't go with her?"
Link shook his head. "I couldn't. Believe me, it wasn't because I didn't want to."
Miff turned and started flying back to the fountain. "Come on, we have to check on her!"
He grabbed his shirt from the ground, slipped it on, and followed the fairy. When he reached the fountain, she had already changed the reflection in the water to Zelda location. "How did you cast the spell so fast?" he asked.
"Quiet," she snapped. "Look."
Link peered over the edge of the fountain and saw Zelda's carriage surrounded by two Molblins and Ganon. One of the two guards she had taken as escort lay on the ground either unconscious or dead while the second crossed swords with the Molblins. Ganon walked past them without a second glance and opened the small door. He reached inside and...the spell wavered and failed. Link saw his own reflection staring back at him.
He slammed a fist down on the edge of the fountain. "I knew it!" he said. "Like the Light it wasn't wrong."
"Quick," Miff said, "ready a horse and go save her. It didn't look like they were very far away."
Link remained staring at his reflection in the water. His knuckles were white as he gripped the stone fountain's edge. He couldn't move. "Go find Krin," he said through a clenched jaw.
"All right," she said. "But get a head start—he'll be right behind you."
Link shook his head. "I can't go," he said. "Tell Krin to take a unit of four guards and save Zelda. I can't this time."
"Why?" Miff demanded. "She's in danger and needs you."
"I promised I wouldn't leave," he said. "Impa's prophecy told of Hyrule's fall if I left the palace today. I agreed to honor it and not leave." He turned to the hovering fairy. "Go get Krin and tell him to save her."
She huffed and flew away.
Link hung his head. "I'm sorry, Zelda."
His fingers drumming madly on the Master Sword's hilt, Link paced in front of the gate. He stopped and looked to the watchtower. "Any sign yet, Erol?" he asked.
"No, sir," the Watchman called back. "Nothing yet."
Link resumed his pacing. He began imagining different ways he could destroy Death Mountain and entomb Ganon underneath its rubble. "I should have gone," he repeated.
"Sir!" Erol shouted. "He's coming back. Alone, sir!"
Link walked to the drawbridge. He stood at its end; his boots touching the first plank of wood. Captain Krin hobbled across the bridge. His leather armor was darkened with blood and hung in tattered shreds from his large body. He stopped halfway to the gate and held out a hand. "Help me," he said.
Two palace guards pushed past Link and ran to their captain. They each hooked an arm around Krin's shoulders and helped him the rest of the way across.
"What happened, Captain?" Link asked, following the two guards as they helped him to the fountain.
"Ganon," Krin said. "It was an ambush. Hordes of Molblins. We never stood a chance without you, Link."
The Knight sighed and ran his fingers back through his hair. "What about Zelda? Is she..."
"No," Krin said, accepting a waterskin from one of the guards. "Ganon has imprisoned her in Death Mountain. You are her only hope. You have to stop Ganon before he kills her to capture the Triforce of Wisdom."
Link shook his head. "I can't. If it were any other day but today, I would. But I promised Zelda I wouldn't leave."
Riding a sudden burst of energy, Krin jumped to his feet and lashed out with a fist. Link made no move to stop the blow. The Captain of Guards made contact and Link stumbled back.
The Knight of the Triforce rubbed his jaw. "Feel better?" he asked, wincing.
"No!" Krin shouted. "I won't feel better until Princess Zelda is out of the clutches of the Dark Prince."
"Then," Link said slowly, and with more pain than the blow had caused, "I would suggest you go and save her."
"I have never seen such an insolent and stubborn man!" Krin advanced as though he were going to strike out again.
Link hardened his stance. "Call me whatever names you wish," he said, "but I gave my word."
Krin glowered, then spat on Link's boots and walked away. The two guards followed in his wake.
Link turned and watched them go. He nodded slightly.
Sundown over Hyrule. Normally Link loved to climb up to the tower rooms and watch the sun sink into the night but he didn't do that today. He couldn't make himself leave the courtyard and that seemed just fine to the palace staff. Apparently Krin had wasted no time spreading the word of the Hero who would not fight.
At dinnertime, Erol had offered Link a plate from the kitchens, but the hero who felt rather un-heroic had refused. He didn't feel very hungry.
The Knight of the Triforce walked along the inside walls of the palace grounds like a caged animal. It was still a long way to sunrise.
"Someone approaches the gate!" a Watchman called out.
Link marched across the courtyard. "Who is it?" he asked. "Zelda?"
Pushing past guardsmen, he reached the drawbridge. Impa lay crumpled at the far end of the bridge. Her brown robes were torn and the skin that peeked through was cut and bloody. Her gray hair was matted down with dried Molblin blood. She extended a hand. "Help me, Link," she said weakly.
Link didn't move. He pinned her down with a gaze that could have sent a chill down Ganon's spine. "Go get her," he told Erol, then walked away.
He had made it halfway to the palace doors when her voice called out to him. He stopped and turned. Erol and another guard were holding her upright with an arm around each shoulder.
"What do you want, old woman?" he asked.
"You must save her, Link," Impa said. "I was wrong."
Link stood staring for a long moment before striding up to her. "Were you?" he fumed. "When did that occur to you? Was it when you were ambushed, or when Captain Krin was attacked losing four of our best knights? Not to mention Zelda. Tell me, Impa, when did she realize you were wrong?" Link's head swam with anger. He kept seeing Ganon pulling Zelda from her carriage. "Did she scream, Impa? Did Princess Zelda scream when he touched her?"
Impa sighed. "Leave us," she said to the guards. "I wish to console the Knight of the Triforce alone."
Erol looked from her to Link. "Are you sure?" he asked. "You are still weak from—"
"I gave you an order, Watchman," she snapped. "Leave us."
Link raised a brow. The many sides of Impa, he thought ruefully.
Erol gave a slight bow at the waist and backed away. The second guard quickly followed suit. Impa and Link were left alone in the courtyard.
Shaking from age and injury, Impa lowered herself to her knees. Arching her head back, she looked up at the Knight sworn to protect Hyrule. "I was wrong," she said slowly. "My prediction of your death was wrong. I should have listened when you questioned my prophecy. Ganon has imprisoned Princess Zelda in Death Mountain. He has again placed a sleeping spell over her but this one is stronger than the first. You must revive her before dawn or she will never wake.
"Please, don't punish Zelda for my mistake. She would not want this torment on your head. Gather your things and go save her. You are her only hope now. Everyone else has failed her but you. I'm begging you, please save her."
Link turned away and raked his fingers back through his hair. "It's always that way isn't it Im—" He stopped suddenly and frowned. A thin ray of light penetrated the haze of his anger. "Your prophecy?"
"Yes, Link," Impa said. "I was wrong. The prophecy was inaccurate and I was wrong to think I possessed the wisdom to understand it completely."
Link opened and closed his mouth several times trying to determine if he had heard correctly. His skin prickled at the implications of if he was right, and, if he was wrong. He wrapped his hand around the Master Sword's hilt and swallowed hard. "I'm sorry, Zelda," he whispered.
In one smooth motion, the Knight of the Triforce spun and drew his blade. The sword flashed in the dying light of the day. It's edge cut through the air with a sharp whistle. As he came around, Link brought his right hand up and wrapped it around his left for a double handed grip on the sword. He threw his weight behind the swing giving it the force it would need to slice through bone.
The edge of the Blade of Evil's Bane touched Impa's neck and passed through without slowing. The sword exited out her shoulder without breaking the skin. Impa screamed a demonic scream.
Link flinched and fought the urge to turn away. His eardrums felt as though they had been dunked in liquid fire. The piercing scream reverberated throughout the courtyard. Link was dimly grateful he wasn't standing near glass for it would have surely shattered.
Still with her eyes locked on the Knight, Impa began to dissolve into swirls of shadow. Her head was the last to vanish. "You fool!" she said as her cheeks began to slide down into the darkness—her voice like two stones rubbing together.
Link removed his hands from his ears and saluted by bringing the tip of his sword to his brow. "Hello, Ganon," he said pleasantly.
The dark cloud speared upward and reshaped itself into the familiar robe clad, pig faced, Prince of Darkness. "How?" he hissed.
"Impa was only the messenger," Link said. "The true source of the prediction was the Triforce. And the Triforce is never wrong—something I'm still learning."
"Very good, Hero," Ganon said. He looked to the side and saw palace guards running toward him. Before Link could move to stop him, Ganon withdrew a teleport stone from his robe and threw it to the ground.
Link turned away as a bright flash of light swallowed the holder of the Triforce of Power. When he looked back, Ganon was gone.
"Erol," the Knight shouted. "Seal the gates! He can't teleport out of the North Palace. The spells against his magic will keep him on the grounds." Link swept his gaze along the pristine walls looking for potential hiding spots. "No one gets in or out."
"Master said to wait until the foolish Knight steps off of the drawbridge," the Wizzrobe said, fingering the glassy wand in his hand.
"But it would be so much easier to just storm the gates," a Darknut said beside the Wizzrobe.
The two creatures were hidden from view behind a thicket of bushes. Thorns hung from the branches like a chef's best selection on his knife rack. The Wizzrobe watched the drawbridge of Hyrule Castle nervously. His was the most important duty of the plan. He had to be ready.
"Or wait until another day," the Darknut continued. "If the Knight hasn't left yet, it would be best to wait until morning."
"Do you never listen to our Master?" the Wizzrobe hissed. "This spell can only be cast once in a lifetime, and it has already been drawn. There is no waiting for another day. Another lifetime perhaps but not another day." He looked back to the North Palace. "We will strike once the Knight is free of the protective magic of the castle. Imagine it, a destructive spell so powerful not even the Master Sword can repel it. It will be glorious."
Yes, he would be ready.
Watchman Erol turned to the sound of his name. "Yes?"
"Open the gate immediately," Link said, standing by the sealed barrier.
"But, sir," Erol protested, "you just ordered it closed!"
In the blink of an eye Link crossed the distance between them. He grabbed the front of Erol's leather armor and lifted him from the ground.
"Don't argue with me, Watchman," the Knight barked. "Now open the gate or I shall sheath the Master Sword between your ribs."
Erol managed a nod. He remembered the way Link had stared at Impa just minutes earlier. "Y-yes, sir," he said.
The sound of the gates being retracted reached Link's ears as he climbed to the top of the eastern wall. He turned and saw a shadowed figure run from the castle and begin crossing the bridge.
Link cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, "Erol, who left and why?"
The Watchman ran across the grounds. "Link?" he asked.
"Yes," Link said. "Who left?"
"Well, sir," said Erol hesitantly. "You did."
Link frowned, not sure if he had heard the guard correctly. Then realization struck. Link spun and began running along the top of the wall. He reached the corner where the east wall met the north and saw his duplicate nearly to the end of the bridge.
Several things happened at once: Link drew the Master Sword and called out to Ganon; a Wizzrobe stood from behind a pair of bushes, thorns grabbing his robes; and the second Link began shifting shape. The green tunic and brown trousers darkened to near black and seemed to grow in size—they billowed as though parts of a robe. With each step the false Link grew taller and fatter.
At the end of the bridge, the false Link turned and looked to the Knight standing helplessly on the pristine wall of the Seat of Hyrule. The real Link saw that his double's face now sported the snout of a pig and two glowing slits of red for eyes. Ganon in his corrupted form.
The Wizzrobe raised its wand. Ganon was still looking over his shoulder; the Wizzrobe couldn't see his target's face. Ganon's boots touched soil. The Wizzrobe fired a bolt of magic.
A sixth sense seemed to warn Ganon for he looked forward in time to see the ball of pure energy hurling toward him. Time long enough for his brain to realize his mistake. He screamed the scream of a damned man.
Link turned away as Ganon ran into the ball of magic. White light overtook the shadows of near night. It was as though the sun had sudden risen to the height of noon in a matter of seconds. Icy wind pushed at Link nearly knocking him from the wall. The wind carried a high pitched whistle that sounded like reality itself being ripped in two.
Then, just as suddenly as it began, it was over. The wind was gone as was the light and screaming. An empty silence fell over the palace. The place where Ganon had been standing was vacant. A robe hung abandoned in the thorn bushes; it blew slightly under the gentle touch of a breeze. Link let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. The sound of his exhale was monstrous in the eerie quiet.
He swallowed past a dry throat. "Never wrong," he whispered, slightly in awe.
Dawn over Hyrule. Long fingers of red-yellow light stretched out from the horizon brushing dew covered plants and one weary Knight of the Triforce.
Link stood at the mouth of the drawbridge watching both the beautiful sunrise and Zelda's carriage clearing the last hill before reaching the palace grounds. A beautiful sight indeed. Surrounding the carriage were seven fully armed guards and Captain Krin.
Link let the first unit of mounted guards ride past, then began walking next to the carriage. The curtain slid aside and Zelda's head appeared in the window on the small door. "Link," she said in greeting. "I'm glad to see you are still well."
"A new day and I'm still alive," Link said in agreement. "How was the trip?"
"Promising," she said. "Confidence should be restored for the time being. The people did miss your company, however."
Link looked to the side and met her gaze. "Yeah, well, I miss theirs, too."
The carriage reached the courtyard and the coachman pulled the team to a stop. Link opened the small door and helped Zelda, then Impa down. He fell in step behind them as they walked to the entrance of the palace.
"You will be happy to know Ganon or those loyal to him did not attack us," Zelda said. "Your worrying was for naught."
"Oh, I know he didn't attack you," Link said. "I knew last night while he was here. Actually I knew when he dropped to his knees before me."
Zelda took a moment to search his words for any sign of humor. Finding none, she stopped walking and spun to face him. "Say that again?" she said.
Link stopped short to keep from running into her. "Just what I said," he stated. "Ganon was here trying to bait me into leaving the North Palace."
Zelda gaped at him. "How...why...how?"
Link smiled. "He disguised himself as Miff, Krin, and even you Impa." The Sheikah looked up in surprise. "It nearly worked but I saw through his scheme when he clamed that Impa made the prediction of my death instead of the Triforce."
"What would have happened if you would have left?" Zelda asked. "Do you know?"
Link scratched his neck. "There was a spell...I don't know all the details but Ganon took the blast instead of me and it sent him to the Underworld. Until he can crawl back out using the Triforce of Power that is."
Zelda was quiet for a long time. "Good work, Link," she said finally. "What did he tell you to draw you from the palace?"
"Only my fears of something worse than death," Link said simply, then led her forward with a touch of his hand on her back. They reached the doors leading to the main hall of Hyrule Castle.
At the threshold, Link stopped and smiled. "You know I guess it's true what they say," he said, looking back at the open gates, "'He also serves who only stands and waits.'"