Chapter 25 Solas and Faileas

Author Note: OMG WHAT? AN UPDATE? Yes, it's true. So it's been almost a year since I last updated, and I only have one word to explain this horrific hiatus: college. I had a wonderful first year that was filled to bursting with classes and extra curricular activities and my best friend becoming my boyfriend. Also, I re-wrote this chapter several times, as it didn't sit right with me and required lots of change. However, I do apologize for the long wait, and I would like to say a big thanks to all of you that reviewed and messaged me to make sure I hadn't died. I promise the next update will not be a year from now!
Once again, a big thank you to all my reviewers:
Crazed-Yaoi-Fan, anonymous, Cerulean-Guava, Vanamarilla, Merlins, Icy Sapphire15, merlyn1382, TwiliightZelda, Flamboyant Conjurer, Trolly's Bara-chan, Adlevo, LoliHollywood, artfagg, darkwolflink1, kittariku, SHADOW13, kitty, purpleheartxxx, Illyric, Ayamekitsune, Apollonis, Alys Lynn, x-KuroxShiroxAi-x, Lynari, Ani, Hunter of Darkness, Anelir-sensei, Master Sapphire 69, and a special thanks to Okamihanyou-Lin, who messaged me multiple times to check up on me and offered bribes to get me back to writing!

By the way, the story's not over yet, but it's close. Enjoy!


Palpable shadows swirled around my feet as I stood at the threshold of the Twilight Realm. Moments passed as I waited for my head to clear. A curious buzzing sound filled my head, and a steady pressure could be felt at the center of my chest, directly beneath the Sheikah crest.

True to its name, the Twilight Realm was lit by the deceptive light of dusk. My eyes adjusted with ease, however, as I was much accustomed to shadow and half-light. The Mirror was positioned on the edge of a rocky outcropping. My stomach dropped as I realized that everything within sight was floating. Buildings were erected on floating islands, some connected by bridges, others standing alone. The edges dropped away into a fathomless nothingness.

A dark mist covered the ground in front of me. My heart hammered in my chest as shapes coalesced from the inky pools into human figures. They stood before me, their numbers multiplying by the second. The pressure increased on my chest until I could hardly breathe; I resisted the urge to fall to one knee. The buzzing grew louder in my ears, and the shapes seemed to swell before my eyes. A burning sensation at my back cleared my mind for a moment, and my hand sought the sheath strapped there. I withdrew the Shadow Sword; as the blade came free, a blinding light filled the area. Although I could not see, I knew the light came from the blade.

The light had its own physicality. I could feel it combating both the pressure on my chest and the buzzing in my ears. My mind sharpened and my eyesight cleared; I perceived that the figures had shrunk away from the light.

Strength flowed down the hand holding the knife and into my arms, down my back and legs, straightening and firming my stance. I couldn't be sure, but for an instance I thought I felt the light caress my face.

Suspicion flared in my mind, but then I had no time to think. A voice erupted out of the crowd, parting the sea of shadowy figures. The voice hit my ears like metal scraping across rock; definitely not a pleasant sound. It retained a vestige of humanity, but just barely. As he came into view, I could feel the power emanating from his slightly deformed figure. So wrathful and powerful. As he drew closer, the light emitting from the sword, though not as strong, was enough to illuminate his features. Patterns of green and gray streaked across his face and down his neck. His eyes were pupil-less and bright red, set farther back in his triangular face. His arms, roped with muscles, hung slightly lower than the average humans, and his legs, too, seemed abnormally long.

"Whence have you come?" he demanded of me.

The Twili before me could only be a member of the original tribe of Interlopers. His life force, though warped by his enslavement, was greater still than almost all the others gathered.

The light, pulsating around me, flared for a moment, as if beckoning me to speak.

"I am Sheik, of the Sheikah. I have come to enlist your aid on behalf of the Royal Family. A great evil threatens the balance of the world. It is a tide that cannot be turned by the races of Hyrule alone; it threatens to consume everything in its path. The Royal Family requests your assistance in restoring balance to the world."

A murmur raced across the assembled crowd. I watched with detached curiosity as emotions flitted across their face. Though they were irrevocably bound to do everything in their power to protect the Royal Family, their expressions suggested that they were, in fact, still free to feel however they wanted about the situation.

The Interloper's rage, tangible as it was, flared for a moment before being replaced by unmitigated subservience.

"A sacrifice must be paid," he replied.

"The requirements are understood, and stand to be fulfilled," I returned solemnly. This was it.

"And so one realizes the consequences?"

"Yes." I answered gravely, my voice betraying none of the panic and terror I was feeling. The light pulsed a few shades brighter around me.

"Then we have no time to waste. Step forward, Sheikah, and accept your destiny."

Taking a deep breath, I descended the dais and knelt at the ancient's feet.


"Aveil!" I shouted, leaping to my feet. I stuffed the lineage scroll in my pouch and sprinted to the door. "AVEIL!"

I skidded to a halt, nearly colliding with her as she materialized in the doorway. She took one look at my face and her smirk fell away. "What is it, Link?" she asked urgently.

"I need to speak with Nabooru and Alea right this instant. We literally have not a moment to lose."

She nodded and turned on her heel. I followed closely behind her as we ran down the hallway, my heart pounding in my chest.

It can't be true, it can't be true, my mind kept chanting repeatedly.

"Salaam!" Aveil called to an approaching Gerudo, "Get Alea and meet me in the War Room at once." The guard nodded and leaped out of sight.

An eternity passed as we raced down endless hallways. Finally, we turned into a room that I had never seen before. A detached part of my mind vaguely wondered how I had missed all these rooms in the fortress. Weapons of every sort lined three walls of the room, while a map of Hyrule covered the fourth wall. A large table dominated the center of the room, on which stood a small-scale version of the land, replete with mountains, waterways, and villages. Nabooru stood at the table, her head bent in concentration as she viewed the arrangement of defensive troops in Kakariko.

Her head jerked up as we entered, her calculating eyes immediately taking in my frantic expression.

"What is it, Link?"

"We have a big problem."

Zelda POV

Standing on the hill above the well, sadness filled my heart as my eyes swept over the forces gathered in Kakariko. Why did my people have to endure so much? Hadn't we already been through enough? I sighed, wishing things were different.

"Is anything wrong, Princess?" Impa asked, her low voice soothing my nerves, as it had always done.

I smiled sadly. "Everything."

Impa's gaze followed mine, studying the forces gathered. "We will win. We will always win."

Sudden anger seized me. "But at what cost?" I demanded roughly. "Why can't the goddesses smile favorably upon this land for once? How many more lives have to be ruined or lost before we can live in peace?"

Impa placed a hand on my shoulder. "As many as it takes. As long as there is good, there will always be evil. And we must fight it every day."

I sighed again, knowing she was right. "I worry for Link."

Impa knew to what I referred. She sighed as well. "He is determined to bring him back."

Turning to her, eagerness filled my voice. "Do you think he will?"

Impa regarded me carefully, her eyes unfathomable. "If anyone can do it, Link will," she answered quietly. "But for the moment, we must put thoughts of that aside. We have a war to fight. A war to win."

I nodded my understanding. "When will the Shadow Warriors arrive? We are dependent upon them, at this point."

"Soon, I should think. When the, ah, sacrificial ceremony ends, they will appear."

"Good." A soldier scurried up the ladder and saluted Impa and me. "Report," I commanded.

"Market Town is completely evacuated. The healers stand ready in the graveyard, while the women and children are working to produce enough food for everyone. The potion masters have brewed large supplies of red potions, and blue for those who wield magic. The soldiers are prepared as well, their weapons sharpened and ready for battle."

"And the races?" Impa demanded.

"The Kokiri arrived minutes ago with a large supply of healing fairies in tow. The Gorons have secured the mountain pass and are gathered at the base of the mountain. The Zoras barricaded the Zora River Pass and have erected a Water Barrier on the Kakariko side of the river. Most of the Gerudos have arrived, though a few will remain in the desert until the time to fight is at hand."

Impa thanked the guard and dismissed him. "We are ready then, Zelda. All we have to do is wait."

"As they say, the waiting is the hardest part." Impa tilted her head gravely to the side in agreement.


I slapped the lineage scroll down on the table behind Nabooru, and pointed to the bottom of the page.

"Does any of that mean anything to you?"

Her eyes studied the names carefully. "Of course. Nalan was the mother of Ganondorf."

"What is all this about?" Alea demanded as she entered the room. Her milky white eyes sent a shiver down my spine as she gazed upon my face.

"Alea, I need your help," I told her simply. She stopped by me and looked up.

"Well, what is it child?"

"Sheik and I came to you some time ago with questions of Ganondorf and his birth. You could tell us very little, except some things about his mother." She nodded and I continued. "Please, I need your help. Every hundred years, a male is born to the Gerudos that is destined to become their King. But what if two males were born to the destined Gerudo woman?"

Nabooru, who had been studying the lineage more closely, sucked in a horrified breath at my words. Her eyes flitted across the page as understanding began to steal across her features.

"I have never heard of such a thing," Alea replied, "but if it were to occur, the younger son would have to be put to death. Immediately."

The dread solidified in the pit of my gut.

"'Pain, elation, more pain, shock, fear, much fear, tentative hope, relief, then death,'" I quoted the words Alea had pronounced on the subject of Ganondor's birth. I swallowed hard. "You told me yourself that Ganondorf's mother was a gentle soul. She was meek and loving; she would have never killed her second son. She would have secreted him away, to be raised by another. Her pain of childbirth; her joy at having a son; the pain of more childbirth; her shock at having another son; the fear of what she had to do; the hope that she could avoid such an action; relief when she found another way; death when all was finished. It actually makes sense now."

"Nalan, daughter of Ralph and Dalvia, daughter of Hamal and Nawar," Nabooru whispered, her finger tracing the lineage backwards. She moved her hand across to another name. "Tamara, daughter of Fadil and Maysa, daughter of...Hamal and Nawar."

She looked at me. I filled in the rest. "Nalan sent her second son to be raised by her only living relative, her cousin, a young noblewoman who had just married a duke. A duke, it would not be a stretch to believe, that fathered Nalan's sons in the first place."

"Duke Neyak and the Duchess Tamara."

I nodded. "Valek and Ganondorf are twin brothers."


A bone-deep weariness stole over me as the last sunlight faded from Kakariko. Link was due back tomorrow, and the day after that would be the day to retrieve the Master Sword. Everything depended on Link and Sheik. Link had to find Kein, and then defeat Ganondorf. Sheik had to sacrifice everything in order to ensure that Link won.

In the grand scheme of things, I felt pretty damn useless.

Sighing, I pushed back my sloppy braid of golden hair, and looked at the moon. It had somehow reached its zenith without my noticing. I knew I needed to catch what sleep I could, as over the next few days, sleep would be impossible to come by.

As I turned to go, a shadow shifted to my right, alerting me to the presence of another person on the balcony. Before my hand could seek the sword strapped to my back, a sharp pain exploded across my skull, and then I knew no more.


Nabooru swore violently and raked her hand across the table, flinging the scroll to the ground.

"I fucking knew it. We have to warn Zelda NOW, and we needed to be at Kakariko ten minutes ago. Aveil, you know what to do."

Aveil nodded swiftly and set out at a run, sounding the alarm around the fortress. Nabooru paced to the other end of the room, her eyes shut in concentration. I knew she was contacting Zelda through their bond as Sages.

I felt a gaze piercing me and turned to Alea. Her blind eyes regarded me solemnly. "The existence of the world depends on you, Hero of Time. When the final hour comes, everything will depend on you."

Her words sent a shiver down my back, but they did not surprise me. Destiny wasn't through with me yet.

"You are Solas."

"Excuse me?" I asked, not having heard that one before.

"You are Solas," she repeated, "but you cannot live without Faileas. The existence of the world depends on you. Your existence depends on Faileas."

"What is Faileas?" I questioned, needing all the information I could get.

"Not what, Hero. Who."

"Link, something is wrong," Nabooru's words lashed across the room. "I can't find Zelda's mind-link."

I drew in a harsh breath. "Are you saying she's dead?"

"I don't know. We have to go. Now." She yanked two gleaming scimitars off the wall, and strapped them to her back with a the fluidity of motion that only comes with being accustomed to such an action. She strung a bow and slung a quiver of arrows over her shoulder, then strapped a belt containing two dozen throwing knives and a fighting knife around her waist. It took her less than a minute.

"Alea, beseech the Goddess of the Sand. We need all the help we can get, divine or otherwise. Link, take my hand."

I latched onto her forearm. Alea, and the war room, disappeared in a brilliant flash of light.

We landed in the middle of Zelda's makeshift quarters in Kakariko. Total silence greeted us on every side, but only for a moment.

The door exploded inward, slamming into the wall and bouncing back on its hinges. The Gilded Sword slid smoothly from its sheath and I had already started forward when my mind registered the figure framed in the doorway.

Impa stood there, her chest heaving, her blood red eyes frantic and brilliant in their coloring. Her hands held two fighting knives typical of the Sheikah race. Nabooru brushed passed me and went to pull Impa fully into the room, closing the door quietly behind her.

"Where the hell is Zelda?" Nabooru asked.

Impa's breathing slowed as she fought to combat her panic. "Zelda is missing. After I completed the final check of the mountain pass, I came back here to wait with her. When she wasn't here, I tried contacting her through our mind link, but it was closed. Thinking she was busy around the village and distracted, I searched around. But she's not here. I can't feel her mind bond at all."

Nabooru swore violently. "Link, tell her."

I stepped forward, shaking my head. "I didn't find anything about Kein. He is no longer our biggest issue. I discovered something much, much worse. Valek is Ganondorf's twin brother."

A crate behind Impa burst into flames. Alarmed, Nabooru waved her hand in some circular pattern, and a shower of sand fell on the flames, suffocating it.

My eyes bore into Impa's, whose face appeared as stone. "We must find Valek now. I don't know how he knew about Ganondorf's imprisonment in the Void, and what happened to him in the other time line, but Valek has been the one working to free him again. He must have orchestrated the theft of Ganondorf's knife and Majora's Mask, and been behind the infiltration of evil into the Temples. I can only imagine that he took Zelda. He may already be aware that I know, or perhaps he had planned to act now all along."

Impa nodded, her face fierce in its concentration. "A plan," she bit out. "We need a plan."

Nabooru turned to me. "Go to the Temple of Time and retrieve the Master Sword. I will go with you, as I'm sure all hell will break loose once the sword has cleared the pedestal. Impa, you know the troops are prepared. Sound the alarm, and have them stand ready at their positions. Send someone to find Valek's supposed parents, especially his "mother." Contact the other Sages, and get them here. It is time. We will be back in no more than twenty minutes." Nabooru hesitated, then continued. "I cannot imagine that Zelda is dead. She is much too valuable to kill. She'll make for one hell of a bargaining chip, and Valek assuredly knows this."

Impa's face finally cleared, deadly determination playing across her features. "Go, and I will you see you on the battlefield."

I pulled out my ocarina, ready to play the song that Sheik taught me so many years ago. "Oh and Impa," Nabooru said, a strange smirk on her lips, "if we both survive this, there's something I've been meaning to talk to you about."

Impa's reddened face was the last thing I saw as Nabooru grabbed my arm and whisked us both away to the Temple of Time.

Nabooru deposited us on the stone dais just inside the entrance to the Temple. The Door of Time stood formidably before us, the Spiritual Stones absent from the alter. Silence pressed on my eardrums.

"How are we getting in?" I asked, turning to Nabooru. I raised an eyebrow as my gaze fell from her smirking face to her hands, which somehow held all three Spiritual Stones. "How...?" I asked.

"Trade secret. Come on." I followed her to the alter, stopping on the red carpet. My heart raced as Nabooru placed the Stones in their notches, and I raised the Ocarina of Time to my lips.

The familiar and haunting melody flowed forth, ingrained in my very soul. As the last note quivered in the air, the great Door shuddered and started to slide away, revealing the chamber beyond.

"Go," she urged, following me as I raced up the steps.

The Master Sword sat gleaming in its pedestal, untouched by time. Nabooru stopped on the lower level of the dais while I continued up the steps, my pace slowing automatically as I reached the mythical sword. Warmth tingled down my sword arm, as if in anticipation of wielding the Master Sword once again.

"Nabooru," I cautioned, my back to her, "prepare yourself." Without further hesitation, I took the last step forward, grasped the hilt, and tugged upward. The sword slid free effortlessly. As it cleared the top of the pedestal, I braced myself against whatever onslaught would occur.

Silence reigned.

I began to turn. "Nabooru, I think we're o-."

A backlash of power exploded outward from the pedestal, knocking Nabooru and I to the ground as a deafening boom thundered throughout the temple, shaking the very walls.

We scrambled to our feet. "Link! We have to go!" Nabooru yelled over the din as chucks of stone fell from the ceiling. She flung her arms towards me just as a great roar rocked through the room. My blood froze. That sound had haunted my dreams, heard once before amidst the ruins of a collapsed castle. As my hand connected with Nabooru's, I saw behind her Ganondorf's viciously smiling face as he appeared in the doorway of the Temple.

I felt as if time itself slowed, and all noise faded to the background. His time in the Void had not affected his appearance: the aquiline nose, the amber eyes, the gleaming hair, the heavy, studded armor all remained the same. Expecting to be transported back to Kakariko, for the space of several heartbeats that seemed to last for minutes, my mind did not grasp that we had not moved from the dais. Ganondorf's smile widened as shock registered in Nabooru's eyes. She dropped my wrist and whirled around, her dual scimitars appearing in her hands.

Time sped back up to normal, the rumbling around us stilled, and Ganondorf spoke.

"Greetings, old friends."

Impa POV

Nearly ten minutes had passed since Link and Nabooru's departure. In that time I had updated the Sages on the current situation and roused everyone to position. Now, with precious minutes before Link and Nabooru returned, the weight of my failure resounded heavily in my mind as I oversaw the mobilization of the troops. How could I have left Zelda alone and vulnerable to attack? My one duty in life, to protect the Princess, and I had failed. Sensing my distress, Reiyassan pranced restlessly beneath me. I smoothed a hand down his neck, my eyes searching the horizon.

"Reporting," Talone spoke from behind me. I turned Reiyassan to face him.

"Proceed," I directed.

"Everyone is in place. A dispatch of Gorons remain at the entrance of the mountain pass, while the rest are in position on the front line. The Zoras have the waterways covered. Archers are in position on the ridge around the entrance. The Kokiri and their fairies are in the graveyard with the healers. Mounted horsemen and foot soldiers are providing the Gorons with cover, as are the Gerudo women."

"Anything else?" I prompted.

"Excuse me Talone," Ruto's voice interrupted. She landed next to him, decked out in the warrior armor of her race. Talone acknowledged her with a nod, and she continued her report. "The rest of the Sages have arrived and are in position. I will be leading my warriors in the waterways; Darunia will stand with the Gorons on the front-lines; Rauru will stay with the archers, attacking with Light; Nabooru, when she returns, will fight up front with the Gerudos; Saria will stay with the other Kokiri, primarily healing, but fighting if necessary. As for you, will you be fighting with the other Sheikah, once they arrive?"

"I will be leading the army into battle beside Link, and once the warriors arrive, I will fight with them," I said. "What of the spirits and creatures? Have any come to our aid?"

Ruto looked up at the mountain; I followed her gaze. "Some. The merfolk are staying within Zora's Domain and the Fountain to protect those areas, while the Water Spirits will aid us as needed. Nabooru's right-hand Aveil brought a couple dozen Iron Knuckles, but the Desert Spirits remained evasive. Saria's attempts to enlist aid were met with cryptic answers, but that is typical of forest creatures. Hopefully, some will come."

"And the Spitfires?" I asked, returning my eyes to her face.

"They are on their way."

I nodded, slightly relieved. The Spitfires lived deep within Death Mountain; they were dragon-like creatures that stood as tall as two horses stacked together. True to their name, they breathed fire; additionally, they possessed extremely thick skin and razor sharp teeth and claws. They would prove invaluable in the coming fight.

"Any sign of Valek?" she inquired.

My gaze hardened. "None."

"And the Duchess Tamara?"

"I dispatched some soldiers to find and hold her. They'll keep her in a room until I can-"

My next words did not make it out of my mouth. My breath blew forcefully out, as if the wind had been knocked out of me. An agonizing burning sensation raced across my chest, forcing me to double over in pain. Spots danced before my eyes. I dimly heard Talone's shout of concern, and could see Ruto through a haze of pain in a similar state.

"It's happening," I gasped out. "Prepare yourself."

The Seal had finally been broken. Ganondorf was back.


"You!" Nabooru snarled.

"Hello, my little pet," Ganondorf purred. "It's been such a long time."

"You bastard," I swore, pushing past Nabooru. The Master Sword practically vibrated in my hand, being so close to something so evil. I could feel its longing to destroy such an abomination, matching my own desire. I raised the sword as I advanced closer, but stopped short on hearing another voice.

"Now, now, let's not be hasty. Brother, you are yet in no condition to fight." Valek emerged from the shadows of the doorway behind Ganondorf, stopping beside him and placing a hand upon his shoulder. He was armed to the teeth, and I could feel the crackle of magical energy pulsating around him. "Hello Link," he said conversationally, "I'm sorry we have to meet under such conditions, but you've only yourself and your meddling to blame," his bared teeth gleamed in the semidarkness of the room.

Standing side-by-side, I could see trace similarities in the brothers' appearances. Both possessed a powerful physique and intimidating height; their eyes, though differing in color, were of the same shape. Valek's skin had the same coloring of Ganondorf's pre-evil takeover, and with both men in black, studded armor, I could finally see the truth of their heritage before me.

"You fucking swine," I hissed between gritted teeth.

"Where is the Princess?" Nabooru interjected.

Valek shifted his eyes to the Gerudo at my side. "You no longer need to worry about that," he replied conversationally.

I could feel Nabooru's efforts to pull magic from the air around us, but it wasn't working. Valek, with such a strong magical aura around him, must have redirected our magic towards him. Stalling for time, I threw out a question.

"But how did you know about him?" I asked, indicating Ganondorf.

"We are twin brothers, bound in soul and spirit. I've always known there was another, though my surrogate mother confirmed his existence at a young age," he supplied leisurely. He seemed in no hurry, and continued. "She is not aware of who Ganondorf truly is, or what became of him in the time that was, but was not. She is still unaware that her husband is actually our father. Now our father, he is an interesting character. Such a rogue. But he supplied me with every opportunity to become the most powerful, competent individual I could be. His money and connections have insured that I developed the highest level of magical and physical abilities possible. But he too is unaware that I used his connections to discover what became of my brother, and to do whatever was necessary to bring him back." His words confirmed my suspicions about the Duke Neyak being their biological father. He looked fondly at Ganondorf. "Oh yes, this day has been so long in planning. So much research, preparation, and manipulation went into it. But finally, it has arrived." His eyes took on a hard gleam as he faced us again. "Now all that's left is to remove those that stand in our way, and take what is rightfully ours." He regarded me for a moment, a smirk dancing on his lips. "Quite honestly, I expected you or your little Sheikah pet to figure it out long ago. I gave away my identity on the first night I met you, had you been smart enough to catch it."

My lips twisted into a snarl at the 'pet' comment. "What do you mean?" I demanded.

"I believe I was introduced as Valek Garderim? Do either of my so-called parents bear that surname? I would expect you to spot an anagram when you are presented with one. Allow me to properly introduce myself. Valek Dragmire, younger twin brother to Ganondorf Dragmire. A pleasure," he added on a snicker.

"The Hero of Time has never been particularly known for his intelligence," Ganondorf spoke mockingly to Valek. "You cannot expect too much out of him."

"What of the Stones?" Nabooru threw out, forestalling my lunge forward.

Valek's expression darkened, his composure slipping for the first time; however, before he could frame his reply, a blinding flash of light filled the room.

A vortex of light engulfed Nabooru and I, separating us from Valek and Ganondorf. Energy flared outward, pushing back Valek's magical vacuum. Nabooru seized those precious seconds of freedom to snatch my wrist and warp us out of the Temple, leaving behind the brothers, their curses following our departure.

We landed on the Kakariko side of the bridge next to the other Sages. Before anyone could reach out, I stepped forward and released a shout of rage to the sky. I was not surprised to see the enemy troops gathered on the horizon, prepared for battle. Their numbers were staggering. I could feel the adrenaline surging through my veins, and the Master Sword glowed with my energy. Breathing heavily, I turned to face all the races assembled.

"Prepare yourselves to fight the greatest Evil you will ever face. Today is the day we reclaim this land of Hyrule once and for all from the hands of those that wish to destroy us. We must not allow the enemy to win! We will fight, and we will win!"

A war cry erupted from all gathered. The Sages cheered along with the rest, approval at my rousing speech etched in all their features. Epona appeared at my side, resplendently outfitted in battle armor. I swung into the saddle and pulled her back around to once again face the crowd.

"Fight with everything you have in you. Fight for all that you hold dear. Fight to reclaim that which you love." The troops roared their approval, their weapons in hand.

My impromptu pep talk complete, the Sages gathered around me. "What of Ganondorf and Valek?" Ruto asked.

"They were still in the Temple when Rauru warped us out of there. Thanks for that, by the way," I addressed the ancient Sage. "We were trapped in there." Rauru inclined his head in acceptance. I continued. "I wish we could have killed them both then and there, but Valek had created some sort of magical vacuum, so both of our spells would have been ineffective. Valek made a comment that Ganondorf was in no condition yet to fight, so I'm assuming they are even now binding the two pieces of his soul back together. Even so, we could not have taken them on alone."

Nabooru nodded her agreement. "I agree. It would have been foolhardy and most likely would have resulted in our death."

"Did they speak of Zelda?" Impa asked.

"Only cryptically," Nabooru replied. "However, I believe her to be alive. If she were dead, they would have simply said as much."

"And the stones?" Rauru prompted.

Nabooru hesitated. "Valek's response was cut short by your timely interference; however, I suspect from his expression that he does not have the Stones. But I cannot be certain." I nodded in agreement. While Valek did seem genuinely pissed about the Stones, he had also done a very good job of presenting himself as a very genuine nobleman. My fists clenched in anger.

"Very well then," Impa said. Her eyes traveled over the faces of each Sage. "We have a duty to protect this land and its people at all costs. Fight with everything in you, as Link said. With the help of the Three, we will emerge from this day victorious."

At the close of Impa's words, each Sage returned to their position on the field.

"The Warriors should be here any time now," Impa stated, her eyes darting to mine.

Sheik's face flashed across my mind like a bolt of lightning. Renewed determination flowed throughout my body. I could feel heat building in my chest and spreading outward. Epona swung her head nervously, her mouth chomping at the bit. She pranced nervously as a deafening roar reached our ears.

As I pivoted to face Hyrule Field, my eyes confirmed what my ears already knew. The enemy was on the move.

Thousands of monsters advanced across the field at a dead run. Every conceivable enemy was there, every enemy that I had ever fought, and some I had not. They bore every manner of cruel weaponry, while others had only their deadly claws, poisonous fangs, and razor sharp horns. Epona stamped her feet and snorted as the enemy drew closer. Holding the Master Sword at the ready, I waited.

"The archers, Rauru, and lesser Light Mages will attack as soon as the enemy is in range," Impa said to me. She sat atop Reiyassan beside me, her eyes intent on the approaching enemy. Acting as generals, we would lead the army into battle.

"And then?" I asked.

"Then we fight."

As the words left her mouth, the twang of four hundred bow strings filled the air. The arrows sliced the air above us, creating a shadow as they passed overhead, finding their deadly mark in the bodies of the first line of enemies. The front line contained mostly Lizalfos and Wolfos. Bodies fell to the earth suddenly, arrows embedded in their chests and heads. The line continued surging forward. A volley of light spells rocketed into the swarm, bringing down some of the enemies further back, mainly Moblins and Dinalfos. At the head archer's cry, the second volley of arrows flew, followed almost instantly by more light spells.

"They come closer," Impa warned. "Prepare." She unsheathed her two fighting knives, her legs alone guiding Reiyassan's movements. "When Valek and Ganondorf appear, go to them at once. We will aid you as we can. You alone, bearing the Master Sword and the Light Arrows, can defeat them. Kill them, and save Zelda."

I nodded gravely, unsheathing the Gilded sword to hold in my right hand, the Master Sword in my left. "It is my destiny."

The first enemies were passing the bridge to Market Town. All those gathered tensed and gripped their weapons tighter. Nabooru and her warriors chanted a savage invocation to the Goddess of the Sand, while Ruto's warriors beat their weapons against the ground and the Gorons bellowed and pounded their chests.

Time slowed as the enemies came within fifty yards of our forces. I locked eyes with Impa. Her head tilted in the slightest of nods, and then her gaze returned to the approaching mass. She raised her weapons and cried out in the Sheikah tongue, spurring Reiyassan forward as I pressed my heels into Epona's sides. She surged forward, heedless of the deadly troops into which we charged.

Before Impa and I could reach the enemy, a great cry rent the air. From nowhere, innumerable shadowed warriors appeared amongst the charging enemy. Within seconds, the front line was completely demolished. The troops at mine and Impas' backs cheered at their timely appearance. My eyes instantly sought out Sheik's figure, some twenty yards ahead of me. His stature remained the same, though his clothing was now black and streaked with strange patterns of gray and green. He cut through the enemy with deadly precision, his strokes merciless. He did not look for me, his entire being focused on destroying the threat to the Royal Family.

For me, time finally regained its normal speed. As the Master Sword cut through the neck of the first enemy, a Moblin, the age-old rhythm of battle consumed me, and for many minutes chaos reigned and I knew nothing beyond the swinging of my sword and the endless parade of advancing monsters.