The Eternal Legend
Epilogue: The Price of Victory
A child of eleven walked briskly down the hallway, a scattered bodyguard behind him at all times. They were his Sheikah guardians and were very adamant that nothing happen to him. He did not share their paranoia but understood it. To them, he was the last savior of their race. The last of the Royal Line that they had bound themselves to. If he died, then so did they. To make matters worse, he was not even of age to sire a child. That worried them even more and many had put pressure on him to copulate as soon as possible.
His wrath at such a proposal had thus far kept any from repeating that suggestion. He turned a corner and entered a large room made mostly of wood, save for the foundation stones showing at the base of the walls. The large room had once housed tables and chairs and food. It had been an inn before he had paid off its owners and claimed it.
It was not much of a castle, but thus far the rebuilding of Hyrule was starting here. Maps hung up along the walls showing both his Kingdom and the ones neighboring it. One entire wall was taken up by charts showing where the Arcadian Empire had once occupied. If there were to be any military threats to his kingdom it would come from there. He doubted there would be attacks for years to come, but he would rather be prepared.
Kakariko Village is where Dashiva was currently stationed, trying to bring order to the northern part of his domain. He hoped his Major-Commander was successful in rallying some units of the shattered Arcadian army. It would be nice to have some Guard; most had been massacred by the Oni. Not to attack but to give his defeated people a symbol to cling to. A little kingdom pride.
He reached a small chair with long legs. He had to step up to sit in it and one of the Sheikah pushed the chair to the table so the young king could reach his steaming food. King Daphnaes. He chuckled at the name. Suited for either a boy or girl. He may have had the body of a boy, but he also had the memories of a girl.
At first waking up to the situation had been more than jarring, but over the past six months he had managed to finally accept it. What everyone else was trying to get used to was just how mature their child-king was. It was hard for them to hear such adult commands and logic coming from his high-pitched voice. In time that too would change.
After several minutes spent eating he drank from the purple glass before him. The cool milk went down his gullet well.
He sat in silence pondering his next move at consolidating his power base. Again he wondered whether to put his capital city here, among the villas. There had been extensive damage wrought here, but the fields could still produce food and that was one thing he knew most people in the world lacked. The damage had been unsettling for him to realize, and what unsettled him further was the knowledge to use that damage to strengthen his own kingdom.
He frowned. The one lesson he had learned from his sister was that she had thought too much, and that had sometimes delayed her in acting. His father, who he did not remember but had been told much about by his guardians, had been a man to manipulate too easily and not directly act. He thought the best lesson was learned from his brother, Link. To act. Yes, he would consider something, but in the end he must act for good or for ill.
The thing about acting on a plan, whether bad or good, was that it gave someone a direction to go in. In this case it was the direction of his kingdom he was choosing. The food produced from here he would use to trade to the rest of world, guaranteeing a return of trade and prosperity. In time he would expand it into an empire giving everyone protection and the chance at happiness.
He cleared his throat to gather his guardian's attentions. "I've decided. Bring me the Goron who volunteered to direct the building of the next castle. He and I have much to discuss." One of the silent guardians moved from the room.
Yes, he and the Goron had much to talk about. Not just a castle to build, but also a city. A big city to reflect a dream of greatness. A dream that had been through the crucible of strife and come out pure and golden.
There was damage all around the graveyard of Kakariko Village as Chan sat upon a gravestone and stared forlornly into the shadows rising above him as the sun set behind Death Mountain. He was dressed in the loose clothing of a traveler, his pack was on the ground beside him. His staff he kept hidden within the shadows of the nondescript cloak he wore. His once Sheikah features were gone, replaced with brown hair and brown eyes.
His orders had been very clear. Go to the north and enter what remained of the Arcadian provinces and do what you could to bring order out of chaos. Simple words for a not so simple task. He sighed, knowing full well the deeper meaning behind his orders. Go to the north, settle down, forget you are a Knight of Hyrule, and keep the medallion around your neck secret. That was his true mission, settle into anonymity and disappear, along with a piece of the Triforce of Courage.
Hung around his neck was a silver chain. It held on its tiny links a green shell of subdued beauty. Why it had taken that form he had no clue, only that he alone was able to see it and touch it. Thinking on it brought back memories of his disillusioned friend, Eric.
Following the battle Eric's attitude had sobered greatly, and he had worked with Chan in helping Hyrule. When Chan's order to settle had come they had parted ways. Eric could not find it in himself to become rooted in one place, so he went off to wander the Realm. He had promised to find Chan and mock him and his future children. Chan held on to a small hope that Eric would resolve the issues that drove him relentlessly.
Chan shook away the thoughts and let his eyes read again the words engraved on a stone in front of him.
Here Lies Shawn of the Sheikah. Killed in service to the Royal Line.
That was it. No dates and no reasons. Just a bit of scrawl on a stone above an empty grave. None of the soldiers who had died in the Golden Castle Massacre had been buried properly. Their bodies' pieces had been too hard to put back together, at least what the carrions had left behind.
Chan knew for a certainty that the stone he was sitting on had been also a Sheikah warrior who had died in service to the Royal Line. How? The words etched onto the stone had faded away. The same would happen to his brother's as well. Everything of the Sheikah's faded with time.
He stepped down from his sitting position and stretched his tire leg muscles. He reached down and picked up his satchel, swinging it around his shoulder with one hand.
"Well dear brother this is good-bye. I never really got that chance you said we would always have. You know, back when they were still teaching us about shadows and light. 'We're brothers, Chan, we'll always remember to say good-bye.'" For a moment Chan lowered his head and felt the tears crowding his eyes.
So much had been lost.
After a time he raised his head and spoke with a wry tone. "At least you'll get a weathered stone to be remembered by." He paused. "Take care, Shawn."
He walked away with a downcast gaze, his thoughts going to what he would leave behind, besides his name. Then he thought on his name and realized the world would not Chan, because his gravestone would bear a different name.
To the south of Hyrule's villas lay Lon Lon Ranch and its portly owner and administrator. Farther to the south lay the Barren Lands. Six months ago two entities of might had fought their way through there, blinding and killing hundreds of bedraggled people. The earth still shifted there from time to time and the snows-that-kill still drifted through the air. Talon felt that it would years before anything in that area settled.
Thinking on it always reminded him of the boulders that had fallen atop his own buildings. Some of the larger ones, which were as big as the house they had crushed, where left alone. The smaller ones, only weighing twenty times what a man did, were dragged away and placed in a line around the ranch. It was a crude defense he knew, but he could not honestly think of a better use for them.
The refugees from the Barren Lands had come pouring in a few weeks after the cataclysmic fight. He had tended and sheltered those he could. When the number dwarfed his own population is when he sought aid from the Child-King Daphnaes. The King had sent building supplies, tools, and lots of food; also a small suggestion to make his ranch bigger.
So he had. The refugees were adjusting to a new life style of work and more work. It tended to keep their minds off what they had seen. Not many were willing to discuss the nightmares they had witnessed. They also brought with them rumors of a madman of unparallel strength wrestling with the very ground. They said his cries of victory over the land could be heard for miles. When they spoke of him having green eyes and silver hair Talon knew it to be Glenn.
It was when things settled he noticed a statue of green marble at the very center of his ranch. It depicted a horse rearing, absent of both saddle and rider.
Confused he asked people about it wondering who had given something so beautiful. Or even who had carved it! Everyone he asked, even those older than he, said it had always been there and for him to stop being silly.
Upon closer inspection of the statue he saw a triangle carved on the forehead of the horse. His mind was instantly reminded of Link. He did not know how or when, but he knew Link was behind the gift.
In the years that followed business soared and the horses became stronger and sturdier. In time he also realized that fewer horses grew sick and every birth they had was without complications. The same could be said of the people living on the ranch. The King asked for a cavalry of his best and Talon gladly presented them to young Daphnaes.
Talon knew then for a certainty that Link had sent him this gift as a way of repaying Talon's hospitality. For his part Talon made sure that every Knight from then on would have a steed ready for them the moment they finished their trials. Only they would get access to the great King's Line. This was also a tradition he would pass on to future owners; he had a feeling that the statue was now a permanent fixture of the ranch.
Darkness reigned in the skies above the Lost Woods. Stars twinkled in and out of sight in that curtain of dark beauty. Whispers among the enchanted trees raced upon the winds, calling to those that had lost their way. Murmurs from the rocks added more confusion to wary travelers, and the swirling mist that hindered sight made things worse for those lost.
Malon easily ignored these things as she wound her way through the forest paths, her Blessing from Saria enabling her to see the tricks of the enchantments and to avoid them. Her booted feet stepped lightly around the winding path and her ears were perked for sounds of a song. It was a sad melody she was searching for.
Back in the sprawling sight she had left her son Talon in Veran's capable hands. He had just turned five this past year. Five years since that monumental day, and still the world was struggling to regain its footing.
Every year dozens of knights passed the Trials and were sent out into the world to bring some stability to it. Occasionally they returned with tales of wonder and horror. The icefields to the far north had been lost to all as beings of nightmare now ruled there. Somewhere to the east one of the vast oceans was still an inferno, fire never quenched even by the water upon which it burned. In the Gerudo Desert the snows had finally stopped falling and the desert women were allowed home. They celebrated their return for weeks without end.
Veran had only returned to them this past year, having succeeded in bringing common law to the many small kingdoms still forming in Arcadia. She was not sure how he had managed the change, but she thought it had involved a few peasant uprisings. They both had discussed the possibilities of Chan, in hiding, adding a helping hand.
The Zoras, lead now by King Tias had made remarkable lengths in trying to colonize some of the oceans. Some thought it arrogance while others thought it noble, but King Tias had declared that wherever water flowed it was up to his race to see it remain clear and untainted. Few realized that this freed the Zoras from the Royal Line's sway, but the Child-King Daphnaes had sent whatever support he could.
The Gorons were a different matter altogether. They sent the best of their weapons and armors to the Knights, but they had grown reclusive and distant with other species. King Daphnaes had freed them of their burden to the crown. A noble gesture, but still the Gorons remained unsettled. Rumors had leaked out of a shadow of their race inhabiting the dark depths, but none could verify this.
A soft melody played across Malon's ears and she perked her head in that direction. With some time she came upon a grove where sat a lonely figure shrouded in moonlight. He was sitting on a tree stump, his eyes closed and his lips upon a wooden ocarina. It had been a gift from Saria. His fingers played across it with practice and ease, lifting his sad melody into the air.
The song caught in Malon's throat. It spoke to her of a burning love and missing piece. Of an ache that could never be quenched and a longing that was riddled with grief. She sighed and leaned against the tree, her thoughts wondering to the man before her. She was angry at how he secluded himself from everyone, wishing to be alone most of the time. None could blame him and none thought otherwise. None even questioned why they were sent out on endless quests while he played sad songs in the forest.
Of course, they all knew the guilt that lay upon his shoulders. They had all seen the darkness that dwelt beneath his eyes. In a moment of despair he had given himself to his piece of the triforce and been transformed by it. This had forced Ganon to do the same and their battle had raged across the realm, bringing destruction wherever they fought. Thousands had died in the years passed, either to hunger or to disease.
And all of it was his fault.
There was another reason why he sought solace in the forest and slept there when he could. If he slept in the main building everyone there would feel his dreams. Dreams haunted by a golden triforce that beckoned to him. They all felt the horrible ache in his soul and the insurmountable longing he felt for the missing piece. It was the main reason why the Knights were understanding of his demons. To have something that beautiful and that powerful, a very relic of the Goddesses themselves, and then to just give it up…
Malon shook away the melancholy thoughts realizing Link had acknowledged her presence by ceasing his song. She walked forward and stopped when she was by his side. Gently she placed her hand on his shoulder and gave him a comforting squeeze. Silence passed for sometime before she cleared her throat and spoke. "I found Talon tonight playing a game with one of the other kids."
He gave her a silent look, letting her know he was waiting for more.
"He was playing Link and Ganon."
His shoulders slumped and a mirthless smile graced his face. "It's not the first time kids have played it, and it won't be the last."
He was right. Among the kids it was a very popular game, now just spreading into their burgeoning settlement. "I felt I should tell him not to play, but I didn't see the use honestly. He'll end up playing it again, just not when we're around."
Link nodded at the logic.
"He misses you, a lot." Her tone was firmer now.
Link looked away, knowing he had been neglecting his duties again. That was why she was here, a gentle reminder for him to 'get your head out of your ass.' He smiled softly. "I talked to the Sage of Time the other day, while you were coming back from the ranch."
Malon quirked her head to the side, curious. This was a new development. "So, what did the she have to say?"
Link looked down at his instrument. "I thought that I had spent enough time in the woods here…moping around as you put it." He felt he should explain his reasons for going to the Sage. "But each time I felt strong enough to ignore it all…it came crashing back." He shook his head. "I can stand up to the worst beings possible, but I can't get over losing…" He trailed and she tightened her hand on his shoulder.
"It took me a year to get home. I saw it all. The boiling fields and fallen castles. Hundreds of bodies dead. The refuges everywhere, trying to get from one nightmare to the next. And all the while feeling incomplete. It was then that I understood exactly what had caused Bleys to turn out the way he did." He paused again, surprised his thoughts had resurrected that long journey home.
"I thought maybe she would understand my plight. Sometime in the past she had been forced to give her own away as well." Another prolonged pause.
"She did." He let out a breath. "She told me it never goes away and it never stops. Nothing can fill the void." His voice became bleak. "I asked how she had dealt with it. Dealt with the longing, the ache, and the guilt. She said one day at a time."
Malon stood with him as he leaned his head against her side, his eyes closed and his thoughts dwelling somewhere she knew she would never wish upon herself. The whole situation had made her want to scream at the Goddesses. This was the fate of their beloved chosen? One to die and the other to suffer.
Something he said shook her from her reverie. "What did you say?" She asked afraid he had uttered those words. Words not spoken by either for five years.
"I said I love you." There was only a shadow of the sadness from before.
She smiled warmly. "You know I love you, too."
Silence then fell again and Link shifted to his feet. The Master Sword was on his back, sheathed. He would never draw it again no matter the situation. For him it was his penance and reminder of what happened to those that had power and used it poorly. A weight on his shoulders that he would bear until he was able to put aside the grief and guilt.
He turned to her and offered her a smile. It spoke to her and thanked her for understanding and being with him all this time.
She returned the smile and took his hand in her own and squeezed it.
His smile fell, but his eyes were less haunted. "Sometimes I wish I had never changed from who I was. It would make things much easier now."
"True." She countered. "But, I'm glad you're not that emotionless bastard you used to be. And I'm sure you are, too."
He chose not to respond, but instead walked away towards path Malon had tread to reach him. She caught up to his purposeful strides. "Is Talon awake right now?"
Malon looked to the moon and shook her head. "If you're going to all of sudden start being his father I suggest breakfast for him. Maybe some sparring? He is your child after all."
Link looked down at the path he walked, putting aside his failings as a father.
Malon walked by his side and wondered if all the Heroes of the past had paid similar prices for victory.
In a small hamlet near the Lost Woods there lived a young man. He had been born eighteen years ago to a screaming mother, Sera, and sorrow filled father, Luken. The child had been named Teran and his features looked nothing like his father. As he grew he came to realize that there was something different about him when compared to his other siblings. He as well came to see the sadness in his parents when they looked at him. They never explained it, only shook their heads and told him that nothing was wrong.
This year the boy became a man and left his home behind, no longer able to stand the sadness his parents bore. He walked along the border of the Lost Woods and found the place where the Knights of Hyrule dwelt. Once there he sought training from them and wished to take their Trials. A man stepped forward, one every Knight deferred to, and forbid the young man from taking the trials. In the man's blonde hair and blue eyes Teran saw echoes of himself.
The older man pulled him aside and reached for something about the lad's neck. It had dwelt there as far back as Teran could remember. It was a silver chain which bore a green bolt of lightening upon it. No one had been able to touch it or even see it besides himself. Until the older man took hold of it, staring at it with a strange mix of sadness and longing. The man released the necklace and spoke in a cold voice saying the medallion had to be kept from the Kingdom of Hyrule. In the year to come the older man trained Teran as best he could, revealing to him many secrets of combat. To Teran's surprise he was adept at most of them.
While staying among the Knights he would meet other young men and spar with them. One such fellow and him sparred most often as they could. The child had eyes of blue and hair of red, and was called Talon. He said he was the son of Link and Malon.
In time Link sent Teran away. He handed to him a sword of unrivaled beauty and perfection. He told the lad to keep it safe and away from those who might seek it. Teran tried to draw the sword but found he could not.
The man then told him a Legend of a Hero that would one day arise from the people to defeat the darkest of demons. Only when that Hero came for his sword was Teran supposed to give it up. He told him it might be centuries before the demons arose to fight the Hero, and that Teran's children should be made aware of the task set upon his line.
Teran left that day with a heavy heart and heavy mind. He would hold to what the man had told him and pass on both the medallion and sword to his descendants. However, the thing that would always bother him was what had happened? What horrible event had transpired that left such sadness in the eyes of so many?
A/N:: I'm not quite sure what to say...save for the fact I can now mark my story as Complete. :). For those that have made it this far and to the end I would like to tell you Thank-you. You have read my story and I am assuming liked it...who else would drudge through those opening chapters? heh. I guess I have a final request of those that have read it all. Please leave a parting review. Let me know how the story faired overall. Any choice words for how I handled a certain story arc or character? Something I did horribly wrong or right? A few parting words on my part are these. For those that did review and let me know where I made mistakes and where I did something right....you will always have my gratitude. You have helped to shape me as a writer this past year and allowed me to grow and prosper and to become better than I thought I ever could. To you...and also to those that have read...I bow to you. Thank-you.