Notes: Hello, friends, and welcome to my story. I've decided to get rid of my previous beginning notes and start afresh at the beginning as I go back through my posted chapters and fix all my too-numerous typos. So, I'd like to welcome you to reading this Legend of Zelda fanfiction (see, no need for disclaimers, you know that it's a fanfiction!) called Legend of Zelda: Sword of Souls. It is a brand new adventure for a brand new Link. This first chapter is a prologue of sorts – it takes place when Link is 11 and sets the story in motion. The main story starts when Link is 17.

UPDATE: October 4, 2010: I'm no longer going back and editing because I'm a lazy guy, but I'm fixing the goofed up formatting caused by FF's screwiness. I MAY, in the future, fix all my typos/syntax errors/grammatical errors/etc., if my friend decides to proof my story. I'll let you know if that happens in the most current chapter.

If you have any comments or questions (other than your traditional reviews, which I welcome happily so long as you don't tear me to shreds in them) feel free to send me a message on fanfiction and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. I appreciate any reviews or other comments on the story, as it lets me know that others are in fact reading it (plus, as long as the comments aren't negative, it makes me feel good, which is good).

Since I felt that the summary of the story was not long enough for me to express things, I'll write up a short story information thingy here.

Story: Link, an eleven year old boy native to the forest village of Ordon, wanders into the forbidden woods and encounters Dark Link. As a result, he ends up with the Triforce of Courage. Six years later, he sets out from his home to confront his destiny as the Hero. When he does, he comes across an ancient sword known as the Sword of Souls which is also a person: a girl named Aurora. Together, the two of them embark on a quest to right the wrongs and avert the coming disaster that will befall Hyrule. In the meantime, they meet many other people and make numerous friends. During this process, they discover that this quest is unlike any that the previous Heroes have faced. Setting is far in the future of Ocarina of Time. The events of Twilight Princess either a)happened long ago and resulted in sealing rather than killing Ganondorf or b)didn't happen, and which one isn't particularly relevant. The map of Hyrule, a sketch of which can be found in my profile, is a combination of OoT, Twilight Princess, and original elements.

CHAPTER ONE: Branded

Location: Hoklir Forest, somewhere in the Mazewood (Kokiri Forest, in the Lost Woods)
Time: Morning of the fourth day of the Summer of the 29th Year of the Reign of King Armin Hyrule II

The eleven-year old boy wearing a simple villager's outfit looked around wide-eyed at his surroundings. He brushed his dirty-blond hair almost absently out of his piercing blue eyes. He wandered slowly, drinking in the unfamiliar woods' sights and sounds. This was the first time he had ever ventured into the Mazewood, the vast expanse of forbidden forest that spread out into the great beyond as an extension of the Hoklir Forest, the much safer and inhabited portion of the treed area. As a child, he was disallowed from entering into the mysterious wood; even the adults never wandered very far into its depths. Stories of all sorts existed about this place. Some claimed that it was filled with monsters, others that it contained fairies and other creatures of magic. One legend even held that deep within its heart existed a sacred place. What was known for sure was that magic held sway here, and it was easy for even the most experienced adventurer or forester to become hopelessly lost and wander within for the rest of his life. Attempts to log or burn away the Mazewood resulted in mysterious accidents, often the disappearance or death of those involved. As a result, the forest villagers left it alone and forbade their children from ever entering it.

None of this mattered to the orphan child who now silently gazed upon the magical wood. Having snuck away in the wee hours of the morning, he took along nothing but his clothes and some food for his excursion. Ever since he could remember, he'd been fascinated by the Mazewood almost to the point of obsession. He couldn't explain his interest, so he kept it hidden from the others as much as possible. The only one besides himself who knew the true extent of his enthrallment was his older sister, who took care of him in lieu of their dead parents. She constantly cautioned him against going and had had to stop him on several occasions. This time, however, he had managed to give her the slip, and he was now deep in the Mazewood alone.

It had been over five hours since he had reached the Divide, where the Hoklir Forest merged with the Mazewood. The wood became more and more mysterious and magical the deeper he went. Now, he could feel the magic in the air, and he knew the place was completely saturated by the mystical. Occasionally he would catch a glimpse of movement out of the corner of his eye, only to see rustling trees or small animals when he turned to look. He felt as though the forest itself was watching him. For some reason, instead of frightening him, this excited him. At length, he stumbled into a clearing.

In the center of the clearing was a stone pedestal, marked with strange symbols he did not recognize. Only one picture was identifiable: that of a triangle made of triangles. His eyes slid up from the pedestal to what was lodged within it, and he gasped.

In the pedestal was a sword. Beautifully crafted, it gave off an eerie feeling. The cross hilt curved down toward the blade slightly at the edges, creating a slight guard. The steel of the blade thrust from the hilt down into the stone. It was an elegant weapon, but one thing gave the boy pause. The entire thing, both hilt and blade, was midnight black.

Hesitantly, the villager approached the weapon. He felt a tingling sensation as soon as he stepped within three feet of the sword. His whole body felt charged. Both intense longing and a sense of danger flared up within him. He knew, somehow, that to touch this blade would invite great things, both good and bad. He debated the wisdom of grasping the hilt of the sword, but the curiosity of a child was too great for him to withstand, and he wrapped both hands around the weapon.

The instant he touched the ebony hilt, a wave of energy that seemed to come from the weapon itself blasted in all directions, manifesting itself as air pressure. The pedestal cracked, and the sword came loose in his hands as he was thrown backwards by the force. He hit the ground on his back, and the sword slipped from his hands, skittering across the grassy floor as though it were marble. It began to glow with a dark shadow, and black vapor spewed out of the sword and swirled around it. As the boy sat up and stared, the vapor coalesced and condensed into a solid form – the shape of a young man wearing a tunic and hat, all obsidian black. The shade gripped the sword in his left hand and turned to face the boy.

"Well, well, what have we here? After all these centuries, someone has finally woken me up. And it's a young boy, too!" The shade's eyes burned red and he grinned. "Tell me, kid, what's your name?"

"Link," the boy replied, unsure whether to be amazed or scared. He slowly stood up.

The shade howled with laughter, and a chill ran down Link's spine. "Excellent, excellent! You have the same name as him. They always have the same name as him. You look a little like him too! I'll just have to get rid of you right now, and then I'll have free reign to do what I want!" The shade raised his sword and chuckled. "Sorry, kid, but I'm going to kill you now. I can't have you interfering, and if I let you go, you will."

Kill me? Link thought. What did I do here? What evil thing did I let free?

"Who are you?" Link boldly responded. "You can't just go around killing people! That's wrong!"

The shade actually paused, apparently dumbstruck by the boy's naivety. " 'It's wrong?' Are you serious, kid? You think that I care that it's 'wrong?' Are you stupid, kid? What a joke! As for who I am… I'm the Hero's Shade, Dark Link."

"Hero?" Link was puzzled. "What hero?"

The shade looked flabbergasted. "You mean to tell me that the legend of the Hero of Time has already been lost? What the hell? Well, then, I'll just have to fix that. I can't have my counterpart lost to the world." He straightened. "But first, you need to die."

"Wait!" Link cried, wanting to hear more, but the shade struck with lightning speed, thrusting his jet black blade directly through the young boy's heart.

For an instant, everything stopped. Link knew that he must be dead, but he certainly didn't feel like it. The shade was frozen in place. Somehow, Link knew that his perception of time had changed. Had everything really frozen, or was he somehow aware and able to think within a tiny segment of time? Then the back of his left hand began to burn, and time returned. The shade stared in horror at the boy's hand, realizing too late what he had done. Burning with golden light was the sacred triangle, the Triforce. Withdrawing his sword, he cursed violently. Link stared down at his hand, dumbstruck. Then he noticed that he was still alive.

"What? How?" he managed, immediately glancing down at his chest. There was no wound, no blood, not even a trace of evidence that he had been stabbed. He was, however, wearing entirely different clothes. Instead of the simple shirt and pants that he had been wearing, he now wore a green tunic and beige pants. His unmarked hand rocketed to his head, and he found he was wearing a floppy pointed hat like the shade's, except that it, too, was green. Completely nonplussed, he struggled to make sense of the situation.

"Ergh… so stupid! Why did this happen?" cried the shade in extreme frustration. "Why did it transfer the golden power instead of killing him? Accursed goddesses!" He gripped his sword tightly and prepared to strike again. "I don't know what happened, but it won't happen again!" he growled. Link didn't react .

Because he hear something on the sudden breeze. He heard music.

Da da daa, da da daa, da da da da daa da da da da daa, da da da daa. Da da daa, da da daa, da da da da daa da da da da daa, da da da daa. Da da daa da da daa da da daaa, da da daa da da daa da da daaa. Da da daa da da daa da da daaa, da-do da-do da-do da-do da-do da-do da-do da-da-da-daaa…

A flute, drums, and some other instrument was what it sounded like, but oddly enough it seemed to have no particular source other than the wind. The shade stiffened when he heard it and then contorted his face in agony. Link felt some otherworldly power in the music, some magical strength, and he knew that the song had come to protect him. How he knew he did not know, but that he felt uplifted and the shade was in pain seemed evidence enough.

"Aah! Thrice-accursed Sage of Forest! This does not end here! I will not be beaten by an eternal child! Urgh!" Through his pain Dark Link glared crimson hatred at the surrounding woods. He struggled to bring his sword up to strike at Link. The volume and intensity of the song increased, and the Hero's Shade was brought to his knees. He howled at the sound and thrust his sword into the earth. A light flashed from the hilt of the weapon and in a swirl of darkness both it and its wielder were gone.

*
Location: Hoklir Forest, Ordon Village (Kokiri Forest, Previously Uninhabited)
Time: Morning of the sixth day of the Summer of the 29th Year of the Reign of King Armin Hyrule II

"Make sure you don't take the glove off, all right Link?" Link's sister, Alice, said for the fiftieth time. Her gray-blue eyes looked down at her younger brother in concern. Ever since he had stumbled back into Ordon in the late evening the day before yesterday, looking dazed, he had been extremely quiet and contemplative, never saying more than a sentence at a time. Usually he was extremely talkative, so this change was causing a great deal of concern for those who interacted with him. From what she'd been able to coax him to tell, she deduced that he had gone exploring in the Mazewood and had been attacked by some phantom, thereafter being given a golden tattoo on his left hand and a new set of clothing. The forest itself had protected him with music and driven the phantom away. Apparently, the forest had also shown him the way back to the village. Something else had happened while he was there, she was sure of it, but he wouldn't say anything else about his trip.

Link merely nodded in response, staring at the glove covering his left hand. Alice had given that to him to hide the mark. He had neither complained nor expressed relief about hiding the golden triangles when she had suggested it. Alice gave a small, worried sigh and brushed her long golden curls back around behind her shoulders. Turning to leave the back room where she and her brother stayed during working hours when they weren't needed up front in the shop, she paused before opening the door. She glanced back worriedly. A twenty year old woman who had taken care of her brother since shortly after his birth, she felt like both a sister and a mother to Link, and it scared her to think her energetic and enthusiastic younger brother might disappear. She opened her mouth to say something and then decided against it. Opening the door, she whispered, "Please be okay, Link," as she left.

Link sat in complete silence after his sister was gone. A part of him wanted to go comfort her, to let her know that he was all right. Another part of him, however, didn't even know if he believed that himself. Shortly after the disappearance of Dark Link, he had tried to find the source of the music. By following his ears, he managed to stumble upon a section of the Mazewood that was much different from the rest. Everything seemed softer, somehow, and yet it screamed danger in a way he had never felt before. It was at once a calm and terrifying place. There was a literal maze that he sorted his way through, his ears pricked for danger the whole time. By the time he came out the other side, his nerves had almost given out.

A long flight of severely broken stone steps led him up past the tops of the hedges that formed the maze. He could hear the music more loudly and clearly from here than any other location, so he knew that he must be near its source. When he reached the top, he found that he was in another small clearing, although this was at least three times as big as the one where he had encountered Dark Link.

In its center was a giant circular stone platform over eight feet across and elevated about four inches up from the ground. Unlike the steps, this was smooth and unbroken. On it, a raised portion detailed four curves coming away from the center, and the color of the stone created a grey image of the triangle of triangles that was now on Link's hand. A sense of power radiated from it.

On the far side of the clearing Link saw the beginnings of a vast ruined building which alone must have been larger than most of the houses in the village put together. Something about the ruins seemed somehow significant, as if it were the corpse of a great and powerful being whose influence outlasted its life. In reverent awe, the boy cautiously walked across the clearing, noticing that the music grew even more distinct as he reached the platform in the center. Just as he was about to step on the platform, the ghostly form of a green-haired girl in the same style of tunic as his appeared on the platform and began to speak.

Link blinked and looked away from his gloved hand. He had not told his sister of the meeting with the girl of the forest because he was afraid. He did not yet understand all the many things that she had told him. Among those things were her identity, the spirit of the Sage of Forest, which had outlasted her mortal form and continued to watch over the Forest; a story about a childhood friend of hers from ages long past named Link, who became a great swordsman known as the Hero of Time; and the meaning of the mark on his hand, the Triforce, signifying that he was to be a hero as well. Despite his rather impressive intellect, the unlearned village boy had difficulty grasping what the Sage had said. His overloaded mind had difficulty, and so she had used her magic to guide his steps back toward the village while he mulled over what he had been told. Ever since then, he had been so lost in his thoughts that the world around him had become almost indistinct and detached.

He shook his head vigorously. This is too much for me! He thought. I'm just an eleven year old kid! I can't understand all of that! It's time for me to stop thinking and go let my sister know I'm okay. He stood up hurriedly and dashed out of the room.

"The total will be thirty-five rupees, sir," Alice smiled, placing the merchandise on the counter. The customer smiled back and placed a three blue rupees and one red rupee on the counter. The old man picked up his purchased goods and said, "You have a good day now, Alice m'girl. Don't let any hoodlums try to rob the store!" Cackling good-naturedly, he turned around and left the building. Alice chuckled. Old Faro was quite the joker and always chipper, despite being nearly eighty years old. He could still get around without trouble and was always in good health, which he attributed to maintaining a training regimen even after he left the Hylian Knights. He had retired from the military by the time he was fifty and moved back down to the southeast to his hometown of Ordon, but he had been a knight for over thirty years before that, so he had quite a bit of experience with the outside world, outdated as it might be.

"Alice?"

Alice turned around to see Link standing beside her, smiling. "I'm all right, Alice. I'm back to normal. I just…had a lot on my mind. Thanks for sticking with me." He hugged her tight.

She wrapped her arms around him, a relieved smile on her face. "Of course I stuck with you; you're my one and only little brother! I'm glad you're okay, Link. You had me worried." She ran a hand through his hair. "But as long as you're back to being yourself, I'm not worried anymore." He squeezed her tighter, and she closed her embrace as well. "Oh, I love you so much, Link," she whispered.

"I love you too," he whispered back.

The two of them stood like that for another half minute before releasing one another. Link grinned up at Alice.

"I'm gonna go talk to Falo, is that okay? It's Dinsday, so there won't be that many customers. Please?"

She ruffled his hair. "All right, but don't bother him for too long. His father just left the shop, so why don't you offer to help Old Faro take his groceries home?"

He nodded and rushed out the door. "Sure! See you later!" he called back excitedly. She smiled. Now that was the Link she was used to.

*
Location: Hoklir Forest, Ordon Village, Home of Faro
Time: Early afternoon of the sixth day of the Summer of the 29th Year of the Reign of King Armin Hyrule II

"Castle Conquered," chuckled Faro. Link gave a displeased squeal. The elderly man shook his finger. "Now, now, don't go getting upset on me, kiddo. You're still young, and I'm an old man with lots of tricks."

Link looked down at the marble game board in dismay. "But that's the twelfth time I've lost in a row today!" he complained. "You're so much better than I am. It's impossible for me to win!"

Faro grinned and winked. "Ah, but you keep learning. This battle simulation game is good training for tactics, you know. Someday you might be able to beat me, or maybe you'll become a master general of the Hylian Knights. You're already much better at this game then you were when I first started teaching you several months ago. I bet you could beat my grandson Fado easily. A pity he isn't in Ordon right now for you to try. Like me and my son Falo, he went off to be a knight."

"I know," Link reminded him. "Falo retired at age fifty just like you, so he's been retired for almost five years now, and Fado has been a knight since he turned eighteen, ten years ago. Which reminds me, just where is Falo? You said he was out doing something and would be back, but it's been hours."

"You complain too much," joked the old man. Link raised an eyebrow and giggled. Faro cackled, and soon the two were laughing up a storm.

"Is there a particular reason my old man and my little friend are chuckling so hard?" a deep voice inquired. The two petered out and turned to look at the man who had just entered. He was balding, but what hair was left was jet black. He stood over six feet and had broad shoulders. He grinned.

"Falo!" yelled Link, jumping off his chair and running over to his friend.

"Hey, little buddy," Falo replied, patting Link's head as the boy grabbed him in a hug.

Letting go, Link looked up at the older man's face. "I want to ask you something," he said, suddenly extremely serious. "And I'm not joking or anything. I really mean it."

"What is it?" the man queried.

His eyes sharp and suddenly more mature, Link replied, "Will you teach me how to swordfight?"

END CHAPTER ONE

COMING IN CHAPTER TWO: VENTURE

Though branded with the mark of the Triforce at the age of eleven, Link stays in his home, doing nothing besides learning to fight in addition to his normal life for the next six years. However, he is troubled by growing feelings of uncertainty and an approaching danger. Knowing that he can deny his wanderlust no longer, he decides to set out into Hyrule to see if he can divine the source of that unease.