AN: Hey all! This was my first Zelda fic ever, and I started it four years ago. Sadly, it is still going on. The reason? I'm really lazy and suffer from an extreme case of writer's block. So I decided to write the fourteenth chapter, only to realize that the whole story could do with some revising. So behold! The revised edition of Zelda's Trial!!!!!!
Chapter One: Angel of Death
Link screamed in pain, his restraints nearly buckling under his power as his body convulsed, throwing him forward, and Princess Zelda winced, clutching his hand even tighter.
He'd been screaming for days now, his body writhing uncontrollably with each tremor that coursed through his weakened body, leaving him gasping for air at its end. Zelda had been forced to order that Link be tied to his bed for his own safety; his pain was worse enough as it was without him banging his head on the wall, though that would surely put him out of his misery for a time. His sickness....it had begun three weeks ago; the first week he'd been merely tired all the time, the second he'd grown sicker and sicker until he could barely move, and now this...
No matter how many potions Zelda gave him it never seemed to help, only prolong the inevitable. And she couldn't lose him, not now, not ever. He was too important to Hyrule, to its people, and to her. But no one knew what was wrong, or how to cure it. On that first day when Link had not been able to rise out of bed because of pure exhaustion she had sent letters forth to every doctor and potion chemist in Hyrule and the lands surrounding it, asking for help. Link had been amused by her concern, saying that it was not necessary, and that he was fine, but something in her told her that it wasn't.
And by the time the doctors had gathered together at Hyrule Castle, Link was immobile in his bed, damp with a cold sweat and barely breathing.
They couldn't figure it out, no one could; they only knew that he had been struck by some horrible disease that would soon prove fatal.
Fatal for Link, and for her, Zelda knew.
Spasms ran through Link as he fought to regain control, and his breath came in short gasps. The Tri-Force mark on the back of his hand had turned black, giving off a crimson glow that hurt Zelda's eyes, but she stayed with him, each scream stabbing her heart like a thousand knives.
She had tried to heal him with her spells, but it was all to no avail. They only let her know how helpless she was to help him.
There was something wrong with his sickness, something entirely unnatural. But what Zelda did not know. She could only hope that the Tri-Force piece of Wisdom would offer her some knowledge, but it continued to fail her.
Tears stained her pale face as she glanced over at the desk next to her, one covered with exotic herbs. She had sent riders from the castle to search the land for medicine plants that might prove useful, and they had responded with urgent eagerness. But it was useless; everything was useless. Nothing she could do or anything anyone else could do would ever help- she'd learned that in the past six sleepless days.
Link screamed again, his hoarse voice echoing through the night, waking sad souls from their slumber. Zelda's people were aware of the terrible tragedy that would soon fall upon their princess and her hero, and they could only offer their undying support and sympathy to her.
His scream was cut short as he passed out, to Zelda's relief; for now he would not feel any pain for a time. It killed her that he hurt so much, that there was nothing that could numb his pain.
Leaning down, she rested her head on his chest, listening to his heart beat.
It was fading.
"No," she said softly, as the beating slowed.
"NO," she said again, lifting her head, her eyes wide with fear.
Link looked peaceful now, at ease, his mouth almost smiling.
"No Link! You can't die on me! NO! You hear me?! You CAN'T!" Zelda screamed, hitting his chest in anger. His eyes opened halfway, and he looked at her in confusion, his blue eyes questioning.
"Link." Her heart skipped two beats and jumped to her throat. There was a weakness in his voice that she had never heard before, and never wanted to hear again. She swallowed harshly, dreading the words he would say next, and her eyes began to blur with unshed tears as she tried not to cry.
She barely heard the apology, so light was his whisper, but she knew what he had said.
"Sorry for what?" she asked him, clasping his hand within her own. Soft tears began to dot and darken his shirt as she blinked rapidly, forcing her anguished sobs away.
"I'm sorry that I won't be able to protect you anymore," Link answered, straining his voice in order to be heard. The countless hours of screaming had taken its toll.
Zelda's breath caught in her throat, and she felt her heart pinch at the guilt in his eyes. She shook her head fiercely. "No Link, don't talk like that. You're going to be fine. And you have nothing to apologize for."
"You always were a bad liar," he replied, his mouth turned up slightly in a sad smile.
"Please... Don't leave me... I need you..." Zelda choked out-what was left of her composure lost-and Link gave her another one of his smiles, adorable at any other time but this.
"No you don't, not anymore. You just think you do," he said, and tried to sit up, forgetting that he was tied down. Immediately Zelda unbuckled his restraints sat next to him, holding him upright.
His eyes locked onto hers, darker now than she remembered. "You--" he began, then inhaled sharply as his heart constricted in pain and a tremor slid up into his chest. Clenching his teeth, he fought to keep still until Zelda was out of the way, unwilling to hurt her.
But she did not move away.
Her arms went around him, pulling him into a hug, one hand holding his head against her shoulder so that it would not snap back.
With all her available strength, Zelda held Link tight against her, at once realizing just a little more the torture that Link was feeling. She could feel the tremor each time it rose up inside him, almost sending her flying backwards, and suddenly, suddenly she could no longer control her sobs.
"It's okay," Link comforted her, in a moment of calm, his warm breath on her neck. But still she did not release him; instead burying her face in his shoulder as she cried into him. "I'll always be with you," he said softly, into her ear. Zelda did not answer, only cried that much harder.
Link let her be for the moment, and held up his hand to study the black Tri-Force mark. "The Tri-Force of Courage, I no longer have it," he murmured, and Zelda pulled away to look at him. Her eyes were red and puffy, and now, filled with alarm.
Her voice quavered. "What?"
"See for yourself," Link replied, and Zelda loosened her grip on him long enough to look at his hand. The tri-force mark was fading away. The edges were disappearing, crumbling, gradually making its way to the empty center.
"How?! Where is it going?!"
"If I had to guess, you probably have it now, Zelda," Link answered, his gaze still transfixed on the dying mark.
"But that doesn't make any sense!"
"You need it now, not me..." the Hero of Time replied, his eyes now on her.
Zelda ceased her ranting and focused on Link's tired words, and the dark blues eyes that seemed to plead with her, begging for something she did not want to give. "Please...I..." she began, but was unable to finish as Link suddenly slid from her arms.
"Protect it for me," he whispered, and Zelda, heartbroken, let him down gently, placing his head on the pillow.
"I can't, not without you," she told him, unwilling do what he wished...because she knew precisely what it meant.
"Zelda, please...You know you have to and you will, now." Link sighed peacefully as he settled himself more comfortably in his bed.
"You're not going to leave me," she replied firmly, but she knew he would. Link gave her a sad smile, and for a moment, they only held each other's eyes.
After a moment, he spoke. "Zel, I want you to know.... I've always...." and he faded off, his eyes closing in surrender to death.
Zelda panicked. "What? You've always what, Link?" she pressed desperately, bringing his hand to her cheek, hoping he would wake to answer her question. If only he would wake...
Link coughed, painfully. "I....." he began, and that was all he managed to say.
Link was gone.
Zelda screamed in anguish as his last breath left him, and her sobs came anew. "Link...LINK. LIIIIIIIIIIIIINK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Across all of Hyrule, echoing throughout the Lost Woods and reaching deep beneath the blue waters of Lake Hylia every living creature heard Zelda's cry, and they knew then, that Link had passed away. And every Zora, Goron, Kokiri and Hylian hung their head in sadness for the hero that had left them, and for the princess that had loved him.
Link was dead.
And Zelda had an idea. The Tri-Force of Wisdom had not deserted her, because she now knew; what illness could be caused unnaturally?
In her moment of pure agony she knew what she had to do. "Rauru!" she called, "Sage of Light! Here my cry and please come to me in this moment of death," she said, forcing herself to stand, though her knees threatened to give beneath her. "The seventh sage needs your help... " she finished in a whisper.
Almost immediately a bright light lit up the room as Rauru appeared at her request. He knew what she wanted, and would willingly agree. If he didn't, it would break the last bit of sanity she had and Hyrule would not only lose Link, but their princess.
"Zelda..... I'm sorry...." Rauru said, his sad eyes not on the princess but on the one that had left her.
"I need your help," Zelda replied, ignoring his condolences. "I need you to preserve Link's body while I find a cure for his sickness."
"But there is no cure. " Rauru told her, his eyes now on her, looking slightly confused.
"I have to try!" Zelda replied furiously. "I know that it wasn't just some unfortunate happening that Link now lays here, dead. Someone poisoned him, and I have to find out who, and how to cure him."
"And if you manage to do so?" Rauru asked, his eyes narrowed in a frown.
"Then I will resurrect Link and cure him."
"Resurrection takes powerful magic that even you, the seventh sage, may not have the strength to do. And even if you can bring him back it may be too late for the cure," the Sage of Light countered.
"It's never too late! And I know I can bring him back....." Zelda looked down at her hands. "I know that I can't ask for help from the other sages- they need their strength to continue holding back Ganondorf in his realm- but I can do this without them." Zelda lifted her chin to look Rauru in the eye, a determined glint in her own. "I have to. So will you help me or not?"
"As you wish, wise one. And good luck to you," Rauru replied, resigned. And lifting his arms he began the spell, only to have Zelda stop him.
"Wait, before you go, " she said, quickly returning to Link's side. Rauru did as asked, but gave her a curious look as she shook slightly, as if nervous.
But then his eyes widened as the princess slowly lowered her head to press her lips against the hero's own, kissing the lips that were never truly hers in a sad farewell, and finding them still warm. And then reluctantly she rose, and watched with silent tears as Link's body vanished and Rauru's light left the room.
Outside, a heavy rain fell as the goddesses themselves wept in the sorrow of loss, and lightening flashed, their anger unleashed.
Princess Zelda glanced out the window at the brilliant streaks of energy, her heart throbbing painfully in her chest. But she knew what she had to do.
The Tri-Force of Courage would not go unused; she would find a cure, and Link would once again live.
AN: So, that, was that. I think this chapter is a whole lot better now. What do you guys think?