Author's notes:

The following story is a prequel to Ocarina of Time and is set four centuries before that game. It is based on the premise that evil did not start with Ganondorf; that there were others before him who coveted the Triforce and tried to acquire it by any means necessary. There are also a few tie-ins to other Zelda games, particularly to one of the older ones.

The story features a large cast of original characters along with early iterations of Link and Zelda, as well as two certain young Gerudo witches before they were witches. There are multiple main characters with alternating PoV's, which may or may not be your thing (just a fair warning, so to speak).

Reviews are always welcome. They don't have to be long or comprehensive; just pointing out a single thing you liked or disliked can already be helpful.

With that out of the way, I hope you enjoy this story!

Act I of III

Chapter 1: The Wish of A King

Accompanied by his eldest son, his senior advisor and a dozen armed soldiers, the King of Hyrule arrived at the small military base in northern Hyrule. Their horses moved in a slow-paced trot to accommodate for the king's advanced age, passing through the garrison's main gate as the guards saluted the high-ranking visitors. The king's son and successor, Crown Prince Darion, was the only one to return the salute, having always fancied himself a soldier as well as a prince.

"Here we are," he said while bringing his horse head to head with his father's. "Will you now tell us the reason for this visit?"

"You'll see for yourself soon enough," King Artaxis said, his voice still a commanding presence, although it had lost some of its volume recently. He wore no crown or other regalia, since everyone recognized him as the king anyway, and his lean body was wrapped in the thick coat he always wore when he left the Keep.

"Help me, son."

Reminding himself how much his father disliked impatience, Darion dispensed with the questions, dropped from his horse and helped his father out of the saddle with a firm hand. Around them, the soldiers were also dismounting, as was the sage Malark, his father's advisor; a Sheikah mage whose gaunt and haggard features made even the king seem young in comparison.

"It's over there," the king said, shook off Darion's hand and pointed at the small chapel of the North Garrison. "Follow me inside."

Darion looked at Malark for explanation, but the wizard seemed to be as much as a loss about their destination as the prince himself, favouring him with a faint shrug before he scurried behind his master.

Why would we visit a chapel? Is it because of mother?

Darion sighed and told himself that everything his father did, he did for a reason, and that the explanation for this sudden visit to this well-defended garrison would be supplied soon. He followed the king and his soldiers into the chapel, whose hexagonal interior was barely large enough to hold the dozen-or-so men. Darion noticed that there were also guards stationed inside who had already been there before their arrival, and wondered what their purpose might be.

Then he saw the circular, blue shimmering field at the centre of the chapel, where he would have expected an altar. Such things did not occur naturally in the world, he knew, and immediately thought of magic.

"This is a portal," King Artaxis explained. "It will bring us into another world." He spoke casually, as if he had just announced something trivial and mundane.

"Another... world?" Darion asked, trying to convey a sense of skepticism without insulting his father. "How is that possible?"

"It is possible," the king simply replied. "Go now," he addressed the soldiers of his escort, "and remember well what I told you." Without response, the soldiers marched toward the blue field and through it, vanishing without a trace. Even though he knew of the existence of magic, Darion still could not hide his amazement.

Perhaps this trip won't be a waste of time, after all.

"Now, before we follow them, there are a few things I have to make clear to the two of you," the king addressed Darion and Malark when all but the four chapel guards had disappeared through the portal. "Once we're on the other side, both of you will stand where you are and simply watch. You are not to touch anything."

"Of course, your highness," Malark replied, ever the obedient servant. Darion also nodded after a short hesitation. "Will it be dangerous on the other side?" he asked and reassured himself that his sword was attached to his belt.

"Not if you heed my words just now," the king replied earnestly. "Do not try to touch anything, or else the guards will stop you."

You're making it sound as if the guards are there to defend against us, Darion thought dourly, but did not dare to say it out loud, for his father would surely have taken offence.

"You may resent my harsh and overly suspicious measures," Artaxis said as if he had read Darion's mind, "but what lies beyond this gate is of utmost importance for the providence of our realm. Which is why I must show it to you, Darion."

"Then why didn't Zelda come with us?" the prince asked. "If this involves magic," he said and pointed at the shimmering portal, "I'm sure she'd love to see it!"

"People do not have their wishes fulfilled merely because they'd love to," Artaxis replied. "And besides, the future of the dynasty requires that not all of my children pass through this portal at the same time – what would happen if it closed suddenly?"

"Has it been known to do that?" the wizard Malark asked from the side.

"No, not in over a hundred years," the king replied.

"A hundred years..." Malark drew in the air and frowned. "Why did I never learn of its existence?"

"Because its secrets are mine to reveal or to conceal, Malark." Artaxis' tone was authoritative and brooked no protest. "It will be revealed to you now. Is that not enough?"

"Yes, your majesty." Malark's haggard face withdrew into its hood, and the wizard fell silent again.

"So we're not really in any danger of being stranded on the other side?" Darion asked.

"Not particularly, but it might still happen. If both of us vanished along with Zelda, Kyrus would have take the throne before his second birthday. Would you want that?"

"Um, no, of course not," Darion muttered, thinking about his infant brother whom he had only seen once or twice since birth. A regency for an underage king always invited instability; that much he knew about politics.

"We cannot know the future, my son, and caution is a virtue any king should value highly," Artaxis concluded.

Darion sighed. He did not want to hear another lesson about the virtues of a king, at least not right now. He was twenty-two years old and felt perfectly capable of succeeding his father and becoming a good king at any moment, although he hoped for his father's sake that this moment would not come too soon.

"Besides," the king said, "your sister already knows more about this than you do."

"How so? Have you been favouring her over me?"

Artaxis frowned. "How envious you can be! No, it was nothing I did. She was just more... inquisitive than you, I guess. She asked questions, and some people..." he closed his eyes and sighed, "some people, in the goodness of their hearts, told them about this even though I had forbidden."

"It was mother, wasn't it?"

"Yes. She came with me the last time I was here, shortly after our wedding, and I shared all my knowledge about this place with her... if only she could accompany me again."

"Damn the plague," Darion spat. He did not like being reminded of his mother right now. Not so much because of her in particular – he had loved her, of course, but she had always been closer to Zelda than to her son – but because it reminded him of the epidemic that was right now ravaging Hyrule and that had claimed many more victims other than her.

"Yes, the plague. You will be happy to learn that we are here to do something about that."

"What?" Darion asked. "How do you plan to-"

"Easy, son," the king said and raised his hand. "We have spent enough time talking. It will be much easier to simply show you. Follow me, both of you." Without waiting for an answer, Artaxis turned around and slowly walked through the shimmering portal, disappearing entirely.

"After you, your highness," Malark said, and Darion followed his father, striding boldly through the portal, feeling only a slight tickle on his skin when he passed through it. Other than that, there was no sensation, and he merely entered a different room as if he had passed through an ordinary door.

"Step forward, so Malark has room to follow you," his father said, and Darion obeyed while appraising his surroundings. He was in a strange chamber whose walls and ceiling were concealed in darkness, even though there was a bright and radiant source of light right in the middle of the room. Surrounded by the soldiers who were holding their lances at the ready, three golden triangles were floating several feet above the floor, slowly rotating around their own axis.

"You recognize it, of course," King Artaxis said, which to Darion seemed like an understatement. Naturally, he recognized the symbol that was part of the kingdom's crest – not a day went by when he did not see it on the uniforms of the Hylian soldiers, and on the flags and tapestries in the Keep.

"But I never knew it was real," the prince said. "I thought it was just a symbol from some old legend."

"It used to be," the king said. "Until the day a young wizard found this portal. Why do you think the North Garrison was built here?"

To serve as an outpost against the Moblins in the northern mountains, Darion wanted to say, but he knew the real reason now. "To guard and protect the Triforce," he replied.

"Marvelous!" Both Darion and his father turned around when they heard Malark's excited voice – a tone utterly unusual for the ever-composed wizard.

"I feel such enormous power – greater than anything I thought possible!" His eyes and mouth wide open, the wizard strode past them toward the Triforce, only to be rudely stopped by the crossed lances of two soldiers.

"I trust you remember my orders, Malark?" the king asked with a taxed voice when the wizard made a hurried step backwards. "You are not to touch anything!"

"Your majesty wounds me by implying I forgot," the cloaked wizard said in his usual dry voice; not really looking offended, as far as Darion could tell. "I am ever your loyal servant. As are all of the Sheikah."

"Then curb your amazement, lest an unfortunate accident befall you."

"Of course, your highness."

The king nodded, satisfied by his advisor's assurances, and turned around again, extending both arms toward the Triforce.

"This is the greates secret of our kingdom, and the reason the North Garrison is always fully manned, even with our current troop shortages. Now do as I told you and watch."

As Darion observed his father, he noted that Malark, who was now standing right next to him, watched the Triforce with an expression that could only be called 'rapt'. He smiled inwardly, almost happy that the gloomy old wizard had finally found something to be excited about, and returned his attention to his father, who was now standing right before the Triforce with his back turned to them.

Darion could not fail to notice, and not for the first time, that his father's hair had turned completely white over the past weeks. He had turned grey early, and his wife's slow succumbing to the plague had left its permanent mark on his already aged body.

Artaxis raised his right hand and touched the Triforce, which surely was made from pure gold and kept afloat by powerful magic. As he touched it, the triangles stopped spinning, and he began to speak.

"I call upon the power of the gods, not for myself, but for my people's sake!" The king's voice was shaking, as it did so often in recent times, but he continued. "They have been beleaguered by a terrible plague, and neither doctors nor wizards have been able to find a cure to end their suffering. So it is with no other alternative that I make my wish."

The king took a deep breath.

"I wish for my people to be healed. I wish for their skin to be free from festering pustules, and for the black mucus to vanish from their throats, so that not another soul will have to die from this disease."

Nothing happened. Artaxis withdrew his hand, and the triangles continued to slowly turn around their own axis.

Well, of course nothing happened, Darion thought. What was his father expected to happen? Had he taken him all the way out here so that he could offer a prayer to the gods?

The king certainly seemed to believe his wish had had an effect, though, for he looked like a great burden had been lifted from his shoulders. He turned to his son and advisor and breathed out in relief.

"For better or for worse, it is done. And I pray that it be for the better," he told them. Malark did not seem to listen, his eyes still transfixing the Triforce. "The plague is over. Let us return."

"What are you talking about?" Darion burst out. "Wishful thinking is not going to cure the plague, nor is prayer!"

"Darion!" the king said harshly. "Do not belittle me!"

"I'm sorry, father," Darion replied with his head cast down, reminded for the thousandth time that his father did not brook being criticized in public, if at all. "But I don't understand."

"I suppose you don't," King Artaxis sighed and spoke to Darion as one would speak to a child. "The Triforce was left behind as a gift by the Golden Goddesses after they created this world. By touching them and making a wish, it is possible to use the power of the gods. To do good with them. Or evil, if one had a black heart."

"Does it really have the power to cure the plague?" Darion shook his head. "I can't believe it!"

"Why don't you take your father's word for it?" the king asked sternly. "But I suppose you don't have to. Take history's word instead. When a great drought brought famine and starvation to Hyrule twenty years ago, why did the rains miraculously return one day? When the armies of the kingdom of Katalon invaded Hyrule thirty-two years ago, why were they miraculously vanquished one day even though they had only won victories before?"

Darion gasped.

"Do you mean... you did that? Using the Triforce?"

"Yes, I did. Which is why I have complete confidence that it worked this time, too."

The prince found himself confused. His father could be humorous and even make fun of his son on rare occasions, although the plague and the death of the queen had put a noticeable strain on that, but he never misled him or outright lied to him. And besides, once they were back in Keeptown, he would be able to see with his own eyes whether the king's words were true. So for now, he might just as well believe him. Which made him furious.

"But father! If you could do this – if you could cure the plague with a wave of your hand, at any time – why did you not do it sooner? Why did you wait until so many died? Until mother – your own wife – died?"

King Artaxis had a coughing fit which delayed his answer, then looked at his son with great sobriety where Darion had expected anger. The soldiers standing around the Triforce, trained for discretion, appeared not to be listening to the dispute between father and son, while Malark had only eyes for the Triforce, his brow furrowed as if he was thinking very hard about something.

"I expected you to ask this question, naturally," Artaxis said. "And in spite of that, I could not think of an easy answer. Let me put it this way: If I were to solve every little problem of our kingdom by using the Triforce, our ability to cope with problems of our own would dwindle, until we'd be helpless, completely dependant on the Triforce. If every plague were healed thus, our doctors would never learn anything new. If every enemy was defeated thus, our soldiers would lose their edge."

"That may be right, but-"

"And who knows?" The king ignored Darion's interruption. "The Triforce may not be there forever. Or it may one day be 'used up', if you will. My father was fortunate enough to never have to use it during his reign, and he made me swear on his deathbed that I only use it under the most dire circumstances – the same oath I will expect to hear from you, by the way, when... my time comes."

Darion had not even thought about the fact that he would one day inherit the Triforce – that thought was a little too big in its implications right now, so he put it aside.

"But why not earlier? The plague is not a 'little problem'! It never was, from the beginning!"

"I was in contact with many doctors and healers of our realm, always questioning them on their progress in regards to a cure. And there were several cases when they seemed so close!" The king let out a long, drawn-out sigh. "But in the end, they all failed. The last hope ended two days ago, when a friend of mine who is also a physician told me he was at his wits end. That was when I decided to use the Triforce."

"Why did you hesitate? At that time, you still could have saved mother... and so many others!"

"Why? Because I spent one day praying to the gods, asking them to cure the plague, begging them not to make me do their job. I hate using the Triforce. It takes a man far too close to being a god to be comfortable. And I don't believe I would make much of a god."

"But I believe in you, father! Why didn't you... I'm so disappointed in you!"

"I appreciate your trust, but nobody makes for a good god. Perhaps not even the Goddesses themselves, or they would have created a perfect world, one without strife and plague."

Incensed by his father's resigned tone, Darion clenched his fists. "That doesn't mean we shouldn't try!" he said loudly.

"Darion, let it rest. It's a decision I made long ago, and it can not be reversed."

The prince knew better than to talk back to the old man, and even though he fundamentally disagreed with him, he obeyed and dropped the subject. His father was always open to advice from the sages and others, sometimes to the point where some thought him too open, but he rarely ever listened to his son. Darion blamed the large age difference between them.

There is no need to have this argument now, he thought. All I have to do is wait, and then I'll be able to use the Triforce myself, one day.

The thought was extremely alluring – if the Triforce lived up to his father's promises, Darion could use it to lead Hyrule into a new era of peace and prosperity once it was his turn on the throne. But then he remembered something his father had said that he simply had to speak out against.

"Father, you said you'll expect me to swear to you one day that I won't use the Triforce outside of major catastrophes"

"As I swore to my father, and he to his father, who was the first king to make a wish on the Triforce."

He can't possibly expect me to take an oath like that, can he?

"Father, I don't want to lie to you. Which is why I must tell you here and now that I won't take that oath."

Artaxis looked at his son sternly. "We'll talk about that when the time comes."

"No, we must talk about it now. You are the king, and you do what you think is right, and I will always respect that, no matter how much I disagree with you. But as soon as I am king, I must do what I think is right."

"As soon as? Mark your words!"

"I'm sorry."

As the king grew older and older, he became increasingly more sensitive about the topic of his own death, to the point where he interpreted innocent remarks like the one Darion had just made as deliberate attempts to upset him.

How can he expect me to become a good king if I have to pretend that the day will never come?

The king frowned and looked at his son like as a father might look at a wilful child.

"If that really is your decision, Darion, then I might just have to hide the Triforce from you, to prevent you from falling victim to the allure of becoming a god."

Darion recoiled as if his father had slapped him in the face, which, for the record, he had stopped doing once his son had been ten years old.

He cannot be serious!

"You can't deprive me of such a valuable tool!" Darion cried out, heedless of the listeners around them, although he knew on some level that they should move this argument behind closed doors. "No king has the right to meddle in the reign of his successor from beyond the grave!"

"I won't tell you again, I'm not dead yet!" the king said hoarsely.

"As things stand, Hyrule would be better off if you were!"

The king winced at Darion's suggestion, and the guards, who had been desperately trying not to listen to the royal quarrel, were equally shocked, glaring at the prince in open outrage. Darion realized that his last remark had crossed a line that nobody – especially not the crown prince – was ever allowed to cross. And he had not even truly meant it: He had simply lashed out at his father in his anger.

"I'm sorry," Darion muttered beneath his breath and turned around on the spot, crossing through the portal without the king's leave. Recalling some of the heated arguments between himself and his father, he decided that it would be best to stay away from him now, or else he might talk himself into real trouble.

I'll talk to him later, he thought as he left the small chapel. When both of us have calmed down.

Darion intended to ride back to Keeptown immediately to get a head start on his father, but his plans were disrupted when he saw the feverish movements and frantic battle preparations being made outside the chapel. Dozens of soldies, both Hylian regulars and Sheikah Elites, were assembling outside of the barracks, horns were being blown and orders yelled.

"What's going on here?" Darion asked the closest soldier.

"A group of Moblins approaching from the north, your highness," the man said. "At least fifty strong. Our defences are being readied even as we speak."

"We can't fight them here," Darion said. "The king is inside the chapel!"

"But what shall we-"

"We'll intercept the monsters in the field outside! They must not get close to the king! I'll take command!"

"Yes, your highness!"

In the face of danger, the quarrel with his father was all but forgotten, and Darion was able to focus on his duty as a soldier. He took one of the men aside and told him to enter the chapel and tell the king to hide beyond the portal, where he would be reasonably safe.

He could just kill all of these Moblins with one sentence, Darion thought bitterly. But I doubt he's going to do that. He overlooked the soldiers readying themselves for combat and was taken with sadness. Some of these men will die because of his refusal.

Darion shook his head forcefully to clear his mind – he was going into battle, and even the slightest distraction could prove fatal there. For now, he would concentrate on what he did best – fighting. But even as he led the bigger part of the garrison out on foot to meet the brutish Moblins in the field, Darion could not help but fear, at the back of his mind, that his rash words had forever driven a wedge between his father and himself.