Disclaimer: guess what? I don't own "The Legend of Zelda" or any of its characters. Shocking, isn't it? XD
Author's notes: wow, I finally had the guts to upload my first Zelda inspired oneshot - it seems fitting I'm uploading it for the birthday of the person who introduced me to this game (is it midnight already? Yup, in Norway it is XD)
So...yeah. It's nothing really special, Hanna, but I hope you'll like it. Happy birthday.
I'm shivering with cold as I approach the door, my soaked clothes clinging uncomfortably on my body.
Back when I lived in the forest I used to enjoy water, I think, feeling a little homesick. I used to spend whole afternoons swimming together with the Kokiries. But this water is different, corrupted, cursed. Removing this curse is the reason why I'm here in this temple, in this strange, apparently endless room surrounded by cold mist.
The door is closed – I should have expected it: I'll have to fight if I want to proceed. I tighten my grip on the sword and turn to face whatever enemy there could be near me, but there is no one in sight. Not that I can see really far with this mist anyway – the opalescent whiteness around me is almost blinding.
I swallow my nervousness and start moving through the mist, holding the sword in front of me to be ready for any attack, my eyes scanning my surroundings as I walk closer to the dead tree in front of me – the only thing I can see through the mist.
And then I see it: the dark shadow of a man leaning against the three, staring at me with crimson red eyes. It doesn't move as I warily approach, and I suddenly feel my own grip on the sword slackening as I finally see its face clearly – it is my mine. My own face is staring at me with blood red eyes, darkened features twisted in a mocking scowl as the creature – this twisted reflection of myself – sees my shock.
Then I hear it, a faint whisper coming from the depths of my mind.
I was waiting for you, Link.
The dark creature in front of me hasn't truly spoken, yet I'm sure each word echoing in my mind belongs to him. He looks like me, he knows my name, and he whispers in my mind…what kind of witchcraft is this?
I have no time to wonder any further, for the creature suddenly charges – and barely moments later, out swords are clanging against each other. I grit my teeth, surprised by how strong he is. I'm already tired from the previous fights, and I know I have to be quick to defeat him before I get too tired to fight properly.
But I will defeat him like I defeat every other foe, no matter what. He doesn't know who he's dealing with.
You're wrong, Link. I know you very well – I know you better than anyone else, yourself included.
That voice speaks in my mind again, this time a little louder. The dark creature raises his shield to protect himself from my attack and smirks, red eyes gleaming with amusement. I don't like that looks, not at all – it's the same kind of look a cat has while playing with its prey.
I know everything about you; I know everything you would never show to the world. I know your weaknesses, your worst fears, the doubts that keep you awake at night. And do you know how can I be aware of all this, Hero of Time? I know your darkest emotions because I was born from them.
The surprise causes me to freeze for a moment, and he takes advantage of it – I barely have time to raise my shield and block his blow. He blocks my attacks and grins at my frustration, his blood red eyes never leaving mine. I can feel the unholy darkness lurking behind those eyes, a darkness that both repulses and fascinates me.
I am you, Link, and at the same time I'm you opposite. I am everything you could be, and everything you're afraid to become. I embraced the darkness you keep locked into the depths of your mind – I am, if you will, your own personal demon. It was destiny we would meet – everyone has to face its inner demon sooner or later. The Hero of Time, as they like to call you, makes no exception.
I try to hit him, but he avoids my sword and attacks so quickly that I have no time to raise my shield again. I let out a cry of pain as his blade cuts into my arm and he smiles, savouring my pain.
The Hero of Time...you are the one on whose shoulders the destiny of Hyrule rests – and you are just a child. A child inside a man's body, blindly following the orders of the ones who sealed your spirit for seven long years. You're not a hero; you're just a puppet. A puppet who is about to succumb to its inner demon.
I grit my teeth, pretending I didn't hear his taunting words – I know he's just trying to break me, to make me doubt of myself and my mission. I must not fall in his trap, I must keep fighting him with all I have – but Goddesses, he's so strong! Much stronger than any other foe I ever faced. He seems able to foresee all my attacks, and I can't overcome him despite my efforts.
You are just pathetic. What are you doing here? Why are you fighting me? I could kill you here and now, and nobody would ever notice. Who do you have to look for you? The Kokiries? The forgot you, Link. They didn't even recognize you when you got back to the village – because you've grown up, because you're not one of them. You should have understood when no fairy came to you – you have never been one of them. There is no place for you in the forest, nor there is place for you in Hyrule. You are nothing.
I let out a furious cry and try to hit him, but he once again avoids my blow, as elusive as the mist that surrounds us. In a blink of a eye he seems to disappear under the water – which can barely reach my ankles. How could it be? For I brief moment I wonder if that twisted reflection of myself could be nothing but illusion, but it felt so real…
I hit a nerve, didn't I?
As I hear that voice again I catch a movement from the corner of the eye – how did he get behind me? I turn, my shield raised, and his black blade clangs against it, leaving a deep scratch. I thrust my own sword at him as he pulls back for a second strike, but he quickly leaps back, avoiding my blade.
What do you think you're doing, you fool? You don't like fighting, you don't like shedding anyone's blood: why don't you just let it all go? Stop this useless struggle and surrender, Link. You cannot defeat the King of Evil; you don't have the strength to fight him, and you're alone.
He's lying; I know he's lying, he's just trying to use my own fears and doubts against me – I must not listen to him. I'm not alone in this quest – I have Navi, and Sheik, and the Sages…
The dark creature laughs at my thoughts, an almost genuine laughter that echoes in my mind. He attacks again, but it's just a half-hearted attempt. He doesn't want to kill me, not yet: he wants me to be alive to hear what he has to say. He seems to enjoy teasing me – he knows his sword couldn't hurt nearly as much as his words.
He mocks me again, cruel amusement dripping from his voice as his words seem to burn a hole through my soul. His voice has become louder in my mind – now I feel like he's screaming in triumph, and my head throbs painfully.
Oh, yes…you have your silly fairy, that stupid Sheikah that doesn't even bother to show you his face, those pathetic Sages…they are using you, Link, all of them. They need you to do their bidding, no matter if it could cost your life – it is a little sacrifice to them. They stole seven years of your life already, and you're going to sacrifice yourself for them. This is not courage – this is foolishness.
I shake my head as I take a step back, panting for the effort, and for I brief moment I ask myself if he could be right – the Sages used me after all, they sealed my soul for seven years until I was ready to do their bidding. None of them is by my side now.
Navi is, but she cannot really help me – would she ever care of whatever happens to me if I wasn't the one chosen to fight the King of Evil? That's the only reason why she came to me in the first place, only because the Deku Tree ordered her to assist me.
And Sheik? Where is Sheik? Why isn't he here to fight by my side? How can I trust someone that doesn't seem to trust me enough to show me his face?
Now you do see how blind you have been all this time, don't you? You are here because other people decided your life wasn't worth that much, that your death would only be a little sacrifice for a greater good. Face it, you fool – you are alone, and you're about to die for nothing.
I feel numb, I can barely find the strength to raise my sword to defend myself as his blade comes down on me. His blow is so powerful that it causes me to sink on one knee, my arms trembling for the effort to contrast him. I don't raise my gaze to his face, but somehow I know he's grinning.
It's useless, Link – I will finish you, here and now. Some hero you are…
"Link!" I hear Navi cry out, hovering somewhere near my ear "he's trying to break you spirit – don't let him poison your mind! Your friend Saria is one of the Sages; you know she would never use you! "
Saria. My old friend, the only one who came to say goodbye when I left the village seven years ago. The one who accepted to become a Sage only to help me in my quest. How could I think, even for a moment, that she would use me? She is my friend – my life is important to her.
This thought seems to give me strength and courage; slowly, my limbs trembling for the strain, I manage to get back on my feet. Now my opponent and I are staring into each other eyes, our swords still grinding together. The grin has left the shadow's face, leaving a frustrated expression – he doesn't seem to appreciate my sudden burst of strength. He gives a low, rumbling growl of rage as he briefly glances to Navi.
Shut up, you foolish fairy!
"And what about Princess Zelda?" Navigoes on, completely ignoring him – can she really hear his words as I do, or did she just understand he was trying to break my spirit? "You made a promise to her, remember? She left the Ocarina of Time to you because she knew you were the only one that could save Hyrule from Ganondorf. She trusted you – you're not going to break your promise, are you?"
I grit my teeth at the thought. No, I'm not going to.
I told you to shut up!
With a growl, my foe finally makes a wrong move – he viciously swings his sword to Navi out of rage, trying to hit her. His attention now turned to someone else, for a fraction of second he lowers his shield.
And that brief instant is al that I need.
My dark reflection lets out a gurgling scream as my sword plunges into his chest, black blood staining the blade as I pull it back. He glances at the wound in his chest with an odd wonder, as if he has no idea of how it could happen, then he looks into my eyes once again, just for a moment. I hear his voice coming from the depths of my mind once again, an oddly melancholic whisper this time.
Not bad, Link. Not bad.
He falls, his body vanishing as like smoke as it touches the water.
I just stand there for a few moments, panting, watching the spot where he just fell. I'm tired, bruised and aching…but I won. I defeated him, I defeated my inner demon. I think back at his taunting words, but they don't scare me anymore – for a moment I think my fears and doubts are gone with him, but I know they aren't. They are still there, deep into my soul – he's still there. You can never completely get rid of your own darkness. But I can control it; now I know I can. I take a deep breath, feeling stronger than I ever did, and I raise my gaze.
The mist surrounding me starts fading just like my shady reflection did, revealing the walls of a room: whatever curse lingered in that place, it's now broken. I hear a metallic sound – the door is open. It's time for me to face the next challenge.
I put the sword back into the sheath and I walk to the door, Navi closely following me. She stays silent, as usual, but it doesn't matter – I know she's by my side, and that's all I need now. I turn back to glance one last time to the spot where my dark reflection has fallen, feeling an odd sense of loss mixing with the triumph, then I turn away and get inside the next room, closing the door behind me.
I have a promise to keep.