Link stepped in front of me, holding his shield ready and pointing his sword at Ganondorf. "We won't go down without a fight. I'll fight you until one of us is dead!"
Ganondorf laughed uproariously. "Fight? Me? When I have an entire army of my finest warriors surrounding you, ready to jump on you all at once?"
I glanced around in dismay at the forest of scimitars. There were far too many of them, and my hands were too injured to hold any weapon.
"Coward!" Link snapped, but this just provoked more laughing from Ganondorf.
"Do you really think," he said with a wide smile, "that I would be stupid enough to face you again on my own, much less send in my warriors one by one? There is a fine line between courage and stupidity, my friend. Now…if you give me what I want, maybe I'll let you both go, to live in exile…"
I attempted a small bit of pugnacity. "You wouldn't be making offers if you knew we are dead where we stand. Losing Hyrule to you may be inevitable, but I'm not going to hand it to you."
I felt a sharp pain as a rock hit the back of my head. "Shut your mouth, pale flower," one of the women snarled at me. "Our King is going to use your golden treasure to remove the curse your people placed on us so many years ago!"
"Yes." Atrayu stepped forward. "Only the power of the Triforce can break the Blood Curse…or at least that's what you've told us."
The tone of her voice at the end of her statement unnerved Ganondorf ever so slightly. "Of course," he snapped. "It is the only artifact capable of lifting such a powerful curse."
She stepped closer. "Never, in all the years you spent in Hyrule and its castle, did you ever find anything that stated otherwise?"
"Never. Otherwise I would have used it immediately!"
Atrayu pulled an old, moldy, flaking scroll from her pocket. I recognized it as the one I gave the Gerudo Ambassador ages ago. "No? What about this?"
He snatched it from her, then crushed it with a quick clench of his hand, his grin splitting his face. "As I said before…I've never seen such a thing."
She stood perfectly still, save for one eyebrow raised up. "I would hope so, because if you are deliberately keeping information from us that could break the curse, it would tell us that you are actively suppressing the possibility of an heir. A person who does this never intends to relinquish his role as leader, to keep his own people in a cursed state to satisfy his greed for power."
He came in very close to her, staring into her eyes. "Prove it."
To everyone's surprise, she turned round and signaled to someone on the lower houses of the complex. An elderly woman held up a naked, wriggling, newborn baby boy.
The Gerudo exploded in cries of shock and confusion. "What is this?" Ganondorf demanded. "How did you do this?"
"I used the scroll given to our Assistant Ambassador by the Princess Zelda," Atrayu announced in a voice that carried over the chaos. "She gave us the key to breaking our curse while you deliberately kept it hidden, to ensure our cooperation in the mad hunt for the Triforce. Now that the curse is broken, in the ancient tradition, I call a vote for leader…the Mad King or the child!"
She faced the crowd. "All for the child?"
"AYE!" They shouted as one.
She turned back to Ganondorf with triumph in her eyes. "All for the Mad King…?"
He lunged at her with a roar. She leapt nimbly out of the way, and Link met his charge with his shield. Furious, he summoned crackling energy to his hands, and I instinctively threw a magical shield as far as I could.
An enormous shockwave ripped through the complex, throwing the Gerudo flat. But Link and I stood within my barrier. He gave me a smile of thanks, then launched himself forward.
The two clashed swords. I reached into my quiver with the cut hand and pulled out the remaining Lightning Arrows, stepping quickly behind Link and tossing them in with his. He snatched one from me and hit Ganondorf with it full in the chest.
Snarling, Ganondorf pulled the shock arrow out and summoned a ball of energy, keeping his eyes on Link. At the very last second he tossed it right over Link's head. It sailed right at me, and I only had time to lift my hands to my face before it hit me. A strangled cry of pain ripped from my throat as the sensation of a thousand needles piercing my skin shuddered through my body.
The next thing I knew I was lying on the ground, staring up at the sky. Link's agonized face appeared in front of me and shouted something I couldn't hear over the ringing in my ears. My eyes widened as a shadow appeared behind him. Luckily he caught my startled glance and whirled round to receive Ganondorf's charge with his shield.
I realized Ganondorf was trying to throw Link off balance by attacking me instead of him, and struggled to rise. At first I couldn't move at all, but as the ringing in my ears began to subside, I managed to turn myself over on my stomach. Using my lower arms instead of my damaged hands, I attempted to push myself upward. Gradually I pulled my knees under me and pushed upward.
A shout of pain and frustration, and then the sound of huge metal boots stomping toward me. I raised my arms above me and summoned a magic shield as Ganondorf hurled his sword downward. The shield cracked, but held. I put my head down and steadied my arms as he raised his sword for a second attempt.
A Lightning Arrow to the back sent him stumbling to the side, and I caught the flash of Link's sword as he attacked. Link swung skillfully, effortlessly, though I could tell he was getting tired. We can't seal him away this time. We have to kill him for good, or this whole cycle will start again.
I ran forward and grasped Link's Triforce hand with my own. He turned his head toward me, startled, just as Ganondorf's hand shot out and grabbed my throat. "Now," the old warlord growled, "we finally end this!"
I spoke quickly. "Divine forces, use my body as a conduit and unite once more!"
An indescribable force shot through me like a bolt of lightning. I fell to the ground, paralyzed, the united sacred symbol above me. Please, Link…
Both bearers reached out and grasped it, who first I couldn't tell.
"I wish to conquer Hyrule!" Ganondorf bellowed.
"I wish for Zelda's curse to be lifted!" Link cried at the same time.
A massive explosion of pure magical energy reverberated through the complex, the three of us at the epicenter. I found myself and the others completely uninjured, our bodies healed by the Triforce. Before Link or I could react, Ganondorf screamed in rage and raised his sword point downward, aiming for my heart.
He fell backward as dozens of Gerudo arrows pierced him at once, never to rise again.
As Link and I saddled up to return home, I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned to see Atrayu standing there, smiling at me. "I feel I owe you an explanation."
"Don't worry," I told her. "I've figured out by now that you had to follow his orders at least on the surface, even if you intended to remove him from his place as leader."
"Well, you know, there were some complications." She laughed. "Mita still hadn't given birth yet when Ganondorf seized Hyrule Castle. And we all knew that he would try to kill the heir anyway, if he knew the baby would stand in his way of our obedience. When he told us to lure you into the Gerudo fortress, the baby had finally arrived, so we figured we'd have your Hero take care of Ganondorf for us."
"Well, we couldn't have done it without you." Link and Atrayu clasped hands. "By the way, do you have a name for the baby yet?"
"We vote on it tonight. Believe it or not, a few have argued to name it after you." Link blushed. "We've also considered giving him Ganondorf's name, to erase the stain from it."
"We're both very thankful for your help," I told her. "If there is anything you need, do not hesitate to ask me. I hope that our peoples will have a more peaceful future."
An odd expression crossed Atrayu's face. "Aye, I think it will. We had a dual curse, do you know that?"
I blinked. "What do you mean?"
She folded her arms. "Ganondorf might have been corrupted by Hylian magic, but his original intent – as was the intent of previous Gerudo kings – was to lift the Blood Curse. Somehow, I don't think you could have broken yours without eliminating ours as well."
Link turned to me, and I nodded slowly as this information sank in. "Yes…yes, I think you are right. The people of Hyrule are more closely bonded than I ever imagined."
Snickering, Link said, "Yeah, if that's true, you're going to get an earful from the Zora and Gorons."
My head jerked up in alarm. "Oh no! We left the Gorons under siege…and blew up Nayru's Temple!"
"I'm sure the Triforce has restored them by now," Atrayu offered.
"Yes, but they're still going to be angry with me…that was careless…"
Link clapped a hand on my shoulder. "Hey, I'll come with you in case they give you a hard time. We've got an awfully strong argument going for us, after all. It's not every day you break a couple of ancient curses and send off an insane warlord."
I laughed. "Yes, this is true."
We both mounted Epona and set off, the Gerudo guards waving goodbye as we passed through their country to our own.
Author's Note: Well, that's the end. Sorry if I disappointed anybody, but 1) I wanted to leave it kind of open-ended in terms of where Link and Zelda would go from here, and 2) anything else I considered putting in felt like filler. Hope you enjoyed it.