The flaxen-haired Hylian stepped lightly into the misty room, unaware of what awaited him

The flaxen-haired Hylian stepped lightly into the misty room, unaware of what awaited him. His azure eyes carefully scanned the entire perimeter, checking for possible threats, watching. . .waiting?

This room. . .was it calming him or putting him more on edge? It was so different from the other areas in this temple. Most of the other rooms were bright, in-your-face blue, and crowded with a wide variety of enemies.

He often wondered to himself, what was it all for?

Even if he saved Hyrule. . .how long could it prosper in reality? There were always those who opposed justice. . .those who resisted peace. At any rate, he needed to do what he could now. It was his "destiny".

The Deku Tree knew that you were a child of destiny.

He often resented his fate. Not that he didn't love this world, of course - he would do anything he could to save it.

That's why. . .he told himself, I need to focus.

There was a decaying tree in the center of the room that he passed on his way to the opposite end. It struck him as odd, considering he hadn't seen any foliage in any of the previous rooms. What also struck him as odd was that the tree was the only thing in the room - no hoards of bloodthirsty enemies, no traps, no treasure chests. . .not even a measly switch to be activated—Wait. . .

What?

As he neared the opposite end of the room, he could clearly make out thick iron bars covering the door.

Knew there was a catch, he thought bitterly.

As if to verify that the door was indeed barred, he edged closer to it and ran his fingers along the cold metal.

"Hey!" his fairy friend piped up. He knew what she would tell him. "The door is barred. . .guess you'll have to find a way to open it!"

He hated when she did this.

Thank you, Navi. The door is obviously barred, he wanted to say, but was able to refrain from doing so. He prepared himself for the tedious work of trying to find the hidden trap or switch in the room. . .

"Link," a deep voice whispered, just as the blonde was about to turn around.

Link whirled around to find a . . . shadow, was it?

A human shadow behind that solitary tree.

It looks just like me . . .

Link drew his sword and poised himself for battle. This was what he'd been looking for!

The shadow glared at him with piercing red eyes, and a grin played across his lips. His low chuckle made Link unwillingly shiver. "Have at it, boy," the shadow challenged.

Link charged at him with his legendary blade, and to his surprise, the shadow did the same. Their blades met and the shadow's chuckle now became a full laugh. Link gritted his teeth and pushed with a greater force against the opposing sword, but to no avail.

"Navi," Link mumbled. "What's the deal with this thing?"

"Uh. . ." Navi bit her lip, unsure of how to answer her companion. "Link. . .," she whispered. "Can you manage to beat . . . yourself?"

Before Link could even respond, he once again found his counterpart laughing darkly.

"That's right. . .," he began. "I know everything about you. Your. . .doppelganger, if you will." His grin widened, and all Link could do was gape. "I'm the malice you try so desperately to conceal. . .the hatred you feel towards those who have wronged you . .your fear, pain, and your malevolence. . .Link. . .do you really want to save Hyrule?. . .Are you sure it's worth it?"

Link couldn't take it anymore. He wasn't about to let this jackass tell him off.

He doesn't know me!

Link began hacking away at the shadow with the Master Sword, but the shadow simply evaded or blocked each attack. Why couldn't he hit him?

Why?

"Something wrong, Hero?" the shadow cooed. "The weight of your destiny finally taking its toll? You know you don't need to continue doing this. Let the fates choose a different pawn, eh?"

Link swallowed hard. He'd considered it. . .but when someone else said it. . .What was wrong with him?! Could he really be so selfish? Before, he'd simply convinced himself that anyone would think this way. . .but would Saria? Would Darunia?. . .Would Zelda? No. . .they would undoubtedly do whatever they could to save this land.

They'd risk their lives and everything they believed in to save Hyrule. . .could he do the same?

"How long do you think you can keep this up?" His voice was a bit softer now, and Link knew he was toying with him. "It's just been luck, boy. There's going to come a time when even a great hero like yourself will fall. . .What you have to decide. . .is when. You can end it if you quit. Just give up. No one will blame you, right? Think about it. You get to keep your life, and someone else gets to save Hyrule. Really, it's a win-win situation for you."

Link charged again and unloaded a barrage of attacks. This time however, the attacks weren't even accurate. His emotions were interfering with his duty. Link closed his stinging eyes and continued to swing.

". . .Your anger is misplaced, Link. I'm merely stating what you already know. . .I can tell. It's not me you're mad at. . .it's you."

Link stopped the attacks.

"You're. . ." he muttered pitifully. "You're right. . ."

He was defeated. His shadow didn't need to pierce him, or even land a single blow. He was defeated.

He unconsciously dropped to his knees and stared blankly ahead of him. There was nothing left for him to do. He couldn't simply go on fighting battles after everything he'd just realized. It wasn't fair to anybody.

I guess it doesn't really matter what happens now. . .

The shadow grinned maliciously. He'd done it.

Who'd have thought it would be so simple?

Just screw with his head a little and he was done. Finished.

He began chuckling to himself and drew his sword. He slowly walked over to the fallen hero.

"Don't worry, Link."

Each of his words were like a dagger, slicing more gashes into Link.

The shadow raised his sword to Link's throat, just above his Adam's apple.

"I'll free you. . .," he continued, putting some pressure onto the blade and watching blood slowly trickle down the blonde's neck. ". . .from all responsibilities."