Chapter 1: Farewell
A/N: All right everybody, this is a collaboration project between myself and LinkIsaacANDLloyd, a fellow writer here on this site. We both share a fascination with both the World War II era and The Legend of Zelda (disclaimer: we don't own Zelda) and we decided that it would be a novel idea to somewhat combine the two. Some of you who are avid historians will recognize historical WWII events placed in an LoZ setting, but we are not necessarily retelling WWII with Zelda characters. If this story were part of the Zelda canon, it would be taking place approximately two thousand years after the events of Ocarina of Time, with the events of Twilight Princess and Wind Waker also being a part of its past.
Most of the credit for this story so far goes to LinkIsaacANDLloyd, who has come up with most of the ideas that this trilogy's future has. I have chipped in here and there, but it was mostly him. When you review, be sure to give credit to him as well. Check out his profile. It won't let me do a hyperlink because it's gay.
There will be some content later in this story that will warrant only the chapters with the content a shiny M rating, that content not straying from violence and language. This is somewhat of a given since this is a war story. We shall warn you beforehand.
And now, without further ado, xakattak and LinkIsaacANDLloyd present The Legend of Zelda: A World at War (title subject to change).
The sun was setting, its final descent reddening the great expanse of the western horizon, bathing the endless fields of wheat beneath it in brilliant and beautiful shades of gold. A calm evening breeze stirred the fields, causing the stalks to sway gently.
Though he had seen perhaps thousands of such sunsets in his twenty-one years of life to date, Link Aires couldn't help but be totally enraptured by the current one's beauty. His chores were forgotten as he stood in awe of its magnificence.
For the first time in many years he allowed himself to simply stand there, taking in the incredible sight of the setting sun. From the depths of his heart rose an unnamed emotion as he watched the coming of twilight, the world around him at peace.
All in a moment he realized why he was so stunned by this sunset. By this one above all others before it.
It would likely be the final time he saw the sun set over the endless rolling plains of his birth and childhood.
It meant so much to him, just to stand there, amongst the crop he had been raised to tend, staring at the sun he had watched set every evening he could readily remember. The wind picked up again, slightly harder than before, and messed with his golden blonde hair, which grew straight, just below his ear.
Suddenly, a hand darting to the top of his head, he wheeled around in panic. A wave of relief washed over him as he saw it caught on his idle harvest scythe's handle: his wide-brimmed straw hat.
Retrieving it, he put it back on his head, pulling it down tight so that it would not be able to blow off his head again. Looking up, he found himself facing the opposite direction of the fields, towards the assortment of farm buildings that sat peacefully across the meadow where their herd of cattle grazed calmly.
The old barn and its sloping roof, himself having just replaced the old wooden shingles with tin ones, so that it would hold better against the violent winds that came in the spring. The large equipment shed, with its two large tractors and half a dozen flat bed hay wagons and its three combines.
The large, round towers of the twin grain silos, their great height still inspiring awe in him after so many years. It was almost impossible to believe his great grandfather had built them with his own two hands, with only a few farmhands to help him.
The chicken coop which he and his brother had built as a present for their father three years past, the large corral where their half-dozen horses galloped freely, and the tiny tool shed, its old screen door still hanging open limply from when a bull had gotten lose the other month and smashed into it in a rage. There was no need to fix it; no thieves ever came out this far into the middle of nowhere. Their closest neighbors weren't for at least ten miles.
Above all that though, above all those memories and sentiments he felt for those places, he saw the tiny farmhouse in which he had been born and raised, which sat alone across the meadow, its red paint faded after many years of neglect so that it was now naught but a dull gray color.
Two-storied, a low wooden porch out front and the shutters of its windows left open to let in the last bit of light from the setting sun.
He knew, after so many years, exactly what was going on inside as he stood there and looked at it. His mother and little sister would be preparing dinner and setting the table, his father would be sitting in his recliner, reading the newspaper as he always did before the evening meal. His younger brother then, would likely be reading the sports section, doing his best in his isolated world in the country to follow the exploits of his favorite athletes.
To anyone else, it would seem boring, tedious, to do that same thing, all day, everyday. But to Link, it was comforting to know it went unchanged, the routine only altering with the passing of seasons. As long as he could recall, they had practiced the same pattern of activities, the pattern only slightly altering as he and his siblings grew older.
And he knew it would always endure, so long as anyone was present to work this land as his family had done for generations. One thing would change he knew, come tomorrow night.
After so many years, he would no longer be a part of that routine.
Sighing sadly, he began walking away from the fields, towards home, snatching up his harvest scythe as he went. Trudging along an irrigation ditch to avoid stepping on any of the crop, his attention was centered on the ground as he went, his expression morose.
'Never again will I walk back this way...' he thought sadly.
Reaching the edge of the fields, he stopped, a lone tear rolling down his cheek as he turned around to survey the land of his childhood one last time. He was shocked at what he saw.
Only a tiny bit of the sun was still visible over the horizon, and it had turned the sky a very deep, almost angry red. The wind had also picked up considerably, making the swaying motions of the wheat much more forceful than before. But it was neither the last glimpses of the sun, the sky or the wind which had stunned him.
The fields, once shimmering so brightly in gold and amber, now had a new color cast over them by the nearly disappeared sun. A deep brownish red, so like that of blood, now covered all before him. The wind picked up again, causing the fields to flow and shift before his eyes as if they had become a vast and stormy sea.
'It could almost be a sea of blood,' he pondered. The very idea of it made him shudder, and as the wind continued to blow across the Hyrulean plains with the added evening chill, he shivered. It was as if the entire world around him had seen it as well.
The animals in the meadow were no longer grazing happily, but had grown restless and were moving towards the barn doors. The insects and the birds had stopped chirping and singing, and the only sound left for his ears to pick up was the wind and his own breathing.
Turning away from the fields, he resumed his trek back to the house. No matter how hard he tried, he found he could find no good omen in such a sign.
Leaving his hat on the rack by the door, Link walked slowly into the house. His heavy work boots clumped loudly on the wooden floor on the hallway, its walls decorated sparsely with old family photos of their achievements over the years.
He smiled fondly as he looked at them each in detail, thinking back to simpler, less complicated times, when he would simply wake up and not know what day of the week it was, and it wouldn't matter in the least. When the days passed by, week after week, month after month, his life going about in perfect bliss and ignorance to the happenings of the outside world.
Taking a close look at a picture of his great grandfather, the man who had bought their five hundred acres so long ago, he realized just how little he knew about the man. In the picture he was standing with his arm draped lovingly around the shoulder of his young wife, her stomach heavy with child as they stood proudly before the recently completed grain silos.
Several other young men were in the photo as well, all smiling broadly: the farm hands his great grandfather had cherished so much as part of his family. Time and technology had made people like them insignificant, and even though he never knew any of them, Link felt a deep sadness in his heart.
Look towards the next one, he smiled as he beheld the photo of him holding in his already strong, adolescent arms a newborn baby calf, his father standing aside of him, proud of his son. He recalled that it had been his calf, born from the cow his father had entrusted him with raising and, eventually, breeding. It had been a long time since then, and the calf was no longer so small.
It was, he realized, smiling as he did so, the very same bull that had smashed the shed door nearly off its hinges. A pang of guilt rose in his stomach when he realized that since his charge had done the damage, he should have fixed it. Instead, the task would now fall to his father. His father was nearing the end of his prime, and wrenching the door free from its deep embedment in the wall might not prove as easy a task as it appeared.
Shaking his head, he laughed quietly at the next picture. The old farm hand Ingo, a relic of sorts from his grandfather's time, was passed out on the porch unceremoniously with a bottle of whiskey clutched in his hand, while his sister was giving him one of her trademark 'makeovers'. Though he had been too old and weak for work by then, his father had let Ingo stay out of respect for his invaluable help to his father. Besides, he had proved a great person to help watch the kids. When he hadn't been drunk, that was.
The memory of the old ranch hand brought a tear to his eye. He had passed away years ago, when Link was still a young boy. But the old drunken Brynyan had proved a great companion on the lonely little farm in the time he had known him. When he wasn't drinking or sleeping, he was telling him and his siblings stories of his homeland and how he had to leave for Hyrule when the Second Brynyan Empire had collapsed.
His country was deeply impoverished once the emperor was ousted from power Ingo had said, and he had to go and find work abroad to feed his family. They were too poor for them all to go to Hyrule, so he went alone and found work, sending a good portion of his earnings back to them. He had been a very noble man, as Link remembered, though stories of his not so noble brother had proved rather dark and inappropriate for children their age. During those stories though, he was usually drunk, or at least hung over and thus in a bad mood.
With his passing, a whole chapter of his childhood had come to a close, he realized. For the first time, he had born witness to the final result of the ravages of time: death. Before it had seemed such an alien thing, something that never occurred in their perfect little world. But the passing of the poor old farm hand, who had died of old age or perhaps his liver finally giving out, had shown him that death was always close by, a chilling companion to be feared and respected, but not dwelt upon. Such was his first real lesson in the real workings of the world.
Now though, as he stepped towards the empty doorframe at the end of the short entry hall, he became aware that the final chapter of his childhood would be over soon. He had but hours left before it was all swept away, and though he knew it was a bit premature, there was nothing he or anyone else could do about it.
Stepping through the empty doorframe into the kitchen, he stopped and looked around quietly. Glancing into the open door of the living room on the other side of the kitchen, he unconsciously saluted the carven idol of the Triforce, which sat atop the fireplace, putting his thumbs and forefingers together to form a triangle in front of his chest.
There was no one around as far as he could tell, though all the smells of his favorite foods drifted to his nostrils from where they were cooking on the kitchen stove. He knew that from that moment forward, the smells would always be linked to his memories of home, and the deep sadness that came with his longing to return.
He looked towards the single, small table at the center of the kitchen, just big enough to seat six, but having only to seat five since old Ingo's passing. It had suddenly become of great concern to him. He quickly became aware just how much the table meant to him. A simple kitchen table, carved by hand from wood along with the six matching chairs, had been a central part of his life for his entire life.
Every single day at dawn, noon, and late evening, he and the rest of his family would gather there, at the table, and take their meals. Meals grown and raised, picked and butchered, cleaned and cooked by their own hands. More important than that though, was the fact that no matter what had occurred on any particular day, they were there together. As a family.
'But not for long,' he thought sadly, taking a few more slow steps towards the table. 'Soon I'll be gone, and there'll be one less chair to be filled...'
He wondered if they would remove his chair. Would they take it out of sight, to try and stifle the sorrow that filled their hearts? Or would they leave it be, to gather dust through the years and remain as a simple memorial to the memory of the person who had once sat down with them to eat?
Somehow he knew they would let it be. He knew none of them could bring themselves to move it even if they wanted to. It would mean so much just for them to leave it there and gaze upon it, so that they may never forget the one who sat there: a son, and a brother. He knew he would do the same.
And there on the table, sitting so innocently was the thing that had brought everything into perspective and changed his life forever.
Snatching the black envelope, embroidered with gold lettering and the Hyrulean Royal Seal, he carefully pulled the single slip of paper out and read over it again, as if to make sure that he wasn't imagining it, that it truly was happening.
Citizens of Hyrule, rejoice! To combat the ever encroaching threat of the Brynyan Empire on the borders of our allies and the tranquility gifted to us by the Holy Triforce and the Goddesses, the Royal Court of King Daphnes and Queen Elizabeth, with their mighty decree of divine wisdom, have felt the time has come to raise fifty new regiments of our most honorable Hyrulean Guard. Also, in their wisdom they have decreed that those selected for this most holy and sacred task must report for duty with all due haste, so that they may all the sooner complete their training and combat the enemies of the Royal Family, the Goddesses, the Holy Triforce, and our great Hyrule! We will have total victory over our heathen foe, citizens of Hyrule! Our Holy Triforce and the Goddesses will allow us no less!
It went on for a while longer, explaining the finer details regarding where draftees should report, the consequences for not showing up, and more gaudy boastfulness of Hyrule's superiority and unquestionable victory in the war.
Link believed quite firmly in the Goddesses, the Triforce, and the Royal Family. He knew little of the true state of the world, of the war against Brynya, but the entire thing filled him with dread. Something about it didn't seem right, as if it was all sugarcoated propaganda designed to fill the simple minds of the average folk with hope and a sense of national unity and pride.
But he knew the Royal Family would not do that. Their love for Hyrule and its people was too strong for them to lie about something so important.
"Link?" A quiet voice from behind him roused him from his thoughts. He turned around, to behold his mother standing there, a few cobs of corn fresh from the garden tucked under her arm. It was evident by the redness of her face that she had crying hard, and her eyes still bore the watery marks of tears.
"Hi...mom." She looked such a mess; he could barely bring himself to say the words as he saw her. The fact that he, however slightly, was responsible for her current disposition hung heavily on his mind.
"You're done with you chores...?" she asked, her voice about to break, not looking at him as she walked to the table and set down the corn on its surface.
"Y-yeah," he stammered uncomfortably. "I figured I'd come in early and… finish packing…" He bit his lip and stared at the floor, unable to finish the sentence. He still clutched the letter tightly in his hand.
There was a minute of awkward silence between them, neither one having the courage to say anything to the other. His mother sank down into a chair slowly, as if all her energy had been spent.
"...For tomorrow," she finished for him quietly. "That's good. You...can't be late after all...for..." She faltered, her voice trailing away quietly as she breathed in sharply. Suddenly she had buried her face in her hands, and was crying loudly and uncontrollably.
He was at her side in an instant, kneeling on the floor next to the chair but still coming up to her shoulders. She leaned against him and continued to cry while he embraced her, trying his best to keep his tears in check.
"Oh...Oh Link, my precious little boy...How could the Goddesses be so cruel...?" She cried in between sobs in that manner for several long minutes in which Link said nothing. What could he have said? That he would be alright? There was the chance that he would be all right, and return home when the war was over.
But if he said that, and then he got killed? He would not give his mother hope that very likely would be snatched away with the arrival of a priest bearing his dog tags and a flag on their doorstep. He refused to be that cruel.
"Don't cry mom...Its...I'm going to..." He trailed off when he realized he was about to say exactly what he knew he couldn't say.
She took her head off his shoulder and sat up, turning her whole body to face his and placing her hands on his shoulders.
"You're going to be alright? That's what you were going to say, wasn't it?"
"No, Link. Don't say that... it's hard enough as it is, without you giving me promises you may not be able to keep," she sighed, fussing over his unkempt hair to distract herself from the pain.
"Then what can I say to make you feel better?" he asked, his voice deathly silent. They embraced again, deeply, his mother's tears dripping onto his shoulder slowly.
"Promise me... that no matter what happens..." She sat up again, looking deep into his cerulean eyes with her own chocolate brown ones. "...No matter what happens, promise me you'll do us all proud. Be brave in the face of everything that comes your way... just make us proud. Whatever happens, make all of us, all of Hyrule, proud of what you do... so that...if you do... fall... then we can at least have the solace, however slight, of knowing you fought... and died... bravely and honorably... just promise me that, Link. If nothing else..."
He looked towards the floor, biting his lip. "Is that it? Is that all I can do to lessen the pain?"
"Yes," she nodded slowly. "There's nothing any of us can do to keep you here now that you've gotten an order of induction... so what else is there to do?"
"Alright," he said hesitantly. "I... I promise. But mom, I...What if I can't keep this promise? What if I... let you all down..." Standing up, he walked away, head lowered in shame, leaving his mother alone at the chair staring at his back.
She stood up slowly and walked to stand next to him, putting a comforting hand on his shoulder. He turned to face her to acknowledge the gesture, and was amazed to see a smile grace her tear-stained face. The firmness of her voice denied all the grief and tears she had endured the past few days.
With that she turned away, tears still rolling down her face as she picked up the corn from the table and walked over to the stove, resuming her preparations of dinner. Link felt a prideful smile creep onto his face then, despite all his doubts.