Those of you who are familiar with my LXG fanfic will recognize the purpose of this last chapter. This is where I cite my references, acknowledge those who have helped along the way, and answer any questions that I think might be lingering in your minds (or which have actually been presented to me by people who read the story as it was written). To those of you who are big fans of the Zeldaverse, some of this stuff might be pretty obvious, but I know I'll have at least a few readers who aren't as in-the-know about it, so I just want to make sure everything's clear to everyone.
Part I: Questions, questions, questions.
What makes you think Twilight Princess is the last game?
Chronologically, it's my opinion that TP comes last because of the fact that the Triforce of Power abandoned Ganon. I could be wrong. There are dozens of different Zelda timeline theories out there, some of which are extremely well-written and plausible. This is mine. Please don't try to argue with me about it, because I'm not into the whole timeline debate scene; I just wanted to tell a story.
What is the "Great Cataclysm" that Zelda mentions?
Essentially, and this has been confirmed by the makers of the games, time split off in two different directions following the events of Ocarina of Time. See, at the end of that game, Zelda returns the adult Link to his youth seven years earlier, so he can live out his childhood like a normal person. When he returned to that time seven years before, he went and warned Zelda about what Ganon was going to do. So from that point on, Hyrule existed in two different realities. In one, Link had warned Zelda and Ganon never took over Hyrule; in the other, Link and Zelda defeated Ganon after he did conquer the realm. Some of the games are set in one reality and some are set in the other. I do not claim to know which is set in which, so I tried not to get too specific in any of Link's flashbacks.
How come you left out the Cave of Ordeals?
Because the story was already getting way longer than I'd expected, I decided to shelve a few of the things in Twilight Princess that aren't required for the plot. This included not only the Cave of Ordeals, but the fishing, Agitha and the bugs, and the Poe quest. I think they're all worth doing when playing the game, but my story was ultimately about Link and Zelda, and those things aren't really connected to that. A lot of the action and events that did get included are also relatively disconnected from the core of Link and Zelda, but I felt they were needed for plot development, especially for those readers who are unfamiliar with Twilight Princess.
In the flashback that references the conjoined witch Twinrova, who killed Zelda?
I didn't credit the death to a particular minion; the important thing was that she died the way she did, in Link's arms. Really, it was done just because they were trying to be together in spite of the fact that their destiny hadn't yet been fulfilled. The death scene has absolutely nothing to do with the games Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons; it was all my doing and does not happen in the games.
What is this Wand of Gamelon nonsense?
Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon was one of three games which resulted from an agreement between Nintendo and a company called Phillips. They were only playable on a system known as CD-i. Wand of Gamelon and Link: The Faces of Evil were animated, while Zelda's Adventure was done using live actors. All three were so bad that Nintendo has officially declared them to not be a part of the Zelda canon. I've never watched Zelda's Adventure, but the opening and closing animations of the other two are available on YouTube, and I highly recommend looking for them if you're ever in a really unbreakable bad mood. They look like they were animated by fourth-graders and the dialogue is even worse. (Yes, the King actually does say "I wonder what's for dinner.")
So if it's not official Zelda canon, why did you include it in the story?
For comic relief. I happened to write the chapter in which it appears on the day that I saw Wand of Gamelon for the first time ever, and I almost killed myself laughing. I decided to include it -- not as an actual flashback, but as a dream that Link decided was way too phony to ever have genuinely taken place.
When Link and Midna enter the Temple of Time, you have a list of words and phrases that almost read like a timeline. Is that what you're trying to show, your timeline?
(Thanks to "ambivalentlight" for this question.) Those phrases are not supposed to be in any particular order. I was trying to illustrate the fact that Link was hearing dozens of voices from his past that were reiterating different memories at him. So no, it's not a statement of my timeline beliefs. :)
Why does the flashback with Sahasrahla seem so familiar?
It should, if you've watched the fake Zelda movie trailer that was produced by IGN! For those who may not know what that is, the company IGN produced the trailer for a Legend of Zelda movie, heavy on effects and really quite believable in presentation (I thought). It turned out to be an elaborate April Fool's Day joke. If you haven't seen it, you seriously ought to check it out. Anyway, Link's flashback to meeting Sahasrahla is almost exactly like the scene in the trailer when those two characters meet, and that's because I included it as a little shout-out to the makers of the trailer. I don't expect any of them to actually read this fic, but just in case any of them do -- I loved the trailer and thought it was the best prank ever.
Why did you compress some parts of the story and not others?
It was really hard to know where I should and should not compress the game plot. Did you know that winning Twilight Princess requires a minimum of sixty hours of game play? I only planned out ten chapters for the story, plus this FAQ chapter, and it soon became apparent that the game was longer than I had ever appreciated. So some things, like certain battles and the hunt for the Mirror fragments, got broken down to their bare bones just to make things move faster. Like I said in another answer, my story was really about the bond between Link and Zelda, and also to a lesser extent about the friendship between Link and Midna. I needed to make room for the dream-meetings and his flashbacks and the ending and whatnot. Also, as exciting as it is to play out those things, they weren't nearly as interesting to describe.
Why was Ganon so fascinated by Link's fishing pole?
I have no idea. But from multiple accounts I've read, this is an actual facet of the game -- if you pull out the fishing rod during the final confrontation, Ganon will stop attacking you and become somewhat mesmerized by it. I'm not sure if it's a glitch or if it's by design, but either way, you can apparently get in a few good blows while Ganon is distracted in this fashion. It struck me as such a funny thing for the King of Evil to do that I just had to include it in the story.
What was with that part about Zant being Ganon's horse? I don't remember that...
Yeah, that was something I made up. See, I couldn't understand how Zant got out there onto Hyrule Field; he just seemed to appear out of nowhere and break his neck. At the same time, there was really no explanation for where Ganon got the horse or what became of it after he fell off, so I thought I would explain both things by merging them together.
The Triforce of Power didn't adhere itself to Midna!
No, it didn't -- at least, not as far as we know. That's just one possibility. I mean, it's indisputable that the mark left Ganon's hand, and so it stands to reason that this means the Triforce abandoned him. I figured it had to go somewhere. Why not Midna? Since Zelda had given Midna the Triforce of Wisdom for safekeeping for a little while, I thought it made her a reasonably safe candidate. Plus it allowed her to hang out in the light world for a little while longer, and I really wanted her to be there for Link and Zelda's wedding.
Have you played/beaten all of the Zelda games?
Oh, no. I've actually only beaten the original Zelda game and A Link to the Past; I have also played Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and, of course, Twilight Princess. My information on the games I've never played comes from lots and lots of research. Before I get lambasted too harshly, let me clarify that I would love to play all of the Zelda games, but I have lacked the necessary consoles. I've only ever owned the NES, the SNES, and the Wii. (I'm told that GameCube games will work on my Wii, though, so I may be acquiring Ocarina of Time before much longer.) For whatever it's worth, I have been a Zelda fan since the original game first landed in my grubby little twelve-year-old hands back in 1988.
Part II: Acknowledgements and appreciation
First of all, it must be stated that all of the characters and locations mentioned in this story, all of the games referenced either directly or via flashback, and the vast majority of the plot belongs to the amazing gang at Nintendo. I don't own Link (the hoard of images on my hard drive notwithstanding), Zelda, Midna, or anything else you recognize. The only things I could claim as my own, really, are the way the games were all tied together through the reincarnation device, the bit about the goddesses each choosing a champion and Nayru and Farore not quite trusting Din, the nature of the relationship between Midna and Zant, and everything in chapter ten that didn't happen in the game.
The titles of all of the chapters are taken directly from various plays by William Shakespeare. The story title is also attributed to Shakespeare, but I can't find the context in which it was used.
The flashback with Sahasrahla is, as I previously stated, almost directly nicked from the delightful fake trailer at IGN's website. It was not borrowed for purposes of copyright infringement or anything else that might get me sued; it was just my way of saying 'I thought it rocked.'
I thought about listing which game is being referenced in which flashback, but the list started to get kind of chaotic, especially concerning those flashbacks that are jumbled memories of different lives. The basic plot is, clearly, that of Twilight Princess; I'll let you have the fun of sorting out which game is being referenced where. The flashbacks include The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, TLoZ: A Link to the Past, TLoZ: Oracle of Ages, TLoZ: Oracle of Seasons, TLoZ: Ocarina of Time, TLoZ: The Minish Cap, TLoZ: Majora's Mask, and TLoZ: The Wind Waker.
This story would not have been possible without the use of a few websites, all of which were kept open whenever I was writing. FFN has such goofy rules about links, though, that I really can't provide the urls. Suffice it to say that if you plug the terms into your preferred search engine, you should be able to find exactly what I'm referencing.
Neoseeker was my source for the game dialogue that appears in the story. Someone on their site posted the entire script to Twilight Princess, and that made it so much easier for me to quote the game.
GameFAQs is my favorite resource for game walkthroughs, and I used one of those to make sure I was writing everything in the right order.
The LiveJournal user "uscathena" very graciously shared a mammoth gallery of screencaps from the game, which were incredibly helpful when I was trying to describe something that I myself haven't yet seen while playing my own game.
More than anyone else, I need to thank my fellow contributors at the Zeldapedia, whose collective knowledge about all things Zelda made writing the flashbacks not just easy, but possible. (If you search for the Zeldapedia online, click on the one that has the word "wikia" in the url.) I became a Zeldapedian while trying to research the timeline theories, and these guys know their stuff.
In addition to these fine folks, I need to thank the members of the "heroxprincess" community on LiveJournal, where this was first posted. They gave me lots of help and encouragement.
I want to give a nod to my friend Jaclyn. My reincarnation theory concerning Link and Zelda was partially influenced by her novel-in-progress, and she assisted me in fleshing out the details of that aspect of this story. My best friend Jessica, my goddaughter Kristie, and my friends Kerri, Lyn and Ella also get thanks from me for their encouragement.
Finally, thanks to my husband Kevin, who not only encouraged me to keep at it, but treated me to Super Smash Bros. Brawl just because he's lovely that way. And thanks to all of you who have read this!