Disclaimer: Nintendo. Legend of Zelda. Theirs. Not mine. All other properties referenced belong to their respective owners.
1. Prologue: From Hell's Heart
The ringing slap sent her flying to the ground. Head spinning, Zelda pulled herself up onto her knees. Tossed aside, she thought. Like filth. Not a feeling a princess like her was accustomed to. She drew her arms together and let out a deep breath. The burnt air shimmered and her dress, torn and tattered, clung to her dirt-stricken skin. She looked up.
The castle was a living nightmare. Her castle. Crooked fractures webbed the castle's walls and floors, spilling blistered orange light out into the inky gloom. No. Not her castle anymore. His. Framed in the angry molten glow stood Ganondorf Dragmire, sword hanging from one hand. Waiting.
Zelda cocked her head to one side. Somewhere in the castle a scream tore free from the depths, rising and rising in pitch until it morphed into an inhuman howl. And as quickly as it began, it vanished, snuffed out with a choked gurgle. The princess shivered. She didn't want to think about that. Dragmire, eyes and cape black like liquid night, didn't even flinch. Why would he?
A crimson stain blossomed under the knee of Zelda's skirt. Despite the leaden ache weighing down her limbs, the princess knew the blood wasn't hers. The snaking trail of scarlet ran from the left, where it sizzled when it touched the edge of the burning fissures, and stopped at last at the yawning wound adorning the prone form of the Legendary Hero. His cold fingers rested upon the splintered, pale remains of the Ocarina of Time. Link's head, blank eyes staring and mouth stretched in a thin line, lay somewhere nearby. Zelda definitely didn't want to think about that. Her heart would shatter.
And still the King of Thieves waited. Zelda glanced to the right. There, resting against the far wall, a strange oval structure weaved entirely of yellowed human bones framed a whirlpool of glowing, viscous lavender light. Chained to the foot of the monstrosity was Rauru, the Sage of Light. Face marred with angry welts, rusted manacles biting grooves into his right wrist, it was the Sage's eyes that struck Zelda the most. They pierced her with an unblinking stare. Pleading.
With an inward surge, Princess Zelda rose trembling to her feet and met her usurper's onyx eyes. No more. If everything she'd been taught wasn't a lie, then she should surely triumph.
"Fight me," she spat. "With no sword, if you're man enough." She pressed her middle finger down onto her palm, felt the reassuring prick of the hidden knife still strapped to her right wrist. Shaking her arm with casual ease, her sweat-stiffened sleeve dropped further down over the weapon. "Hand to hand."
"Hand to hand?" Ganondorf's voice rolled like the reverberations of an ancient bell. "I believe I already have."
Zelda, her cheek still smarting, winced. "With no sword," she repeated.
Ganondorf's lip curled. "I'll snap you like a twig."
"So be it."
Twin black eyes flared with dark light. "So be it."
Zelda forced herself to stay still as she watched her usurper's sword clatter to the ground. Slowly Ganondorf began to edge closer, his hands raised, fingers half curled. Heart thudding, the princess felt every nerve in her body beg her to flee. She crushed the urge in an ice-cold grip. The Triforce of Courage and its bearer may have deserted her, but she didn't need either one.
Zelda's eyes widened as Ganondorf, a twisted grin hanging from his face, loomed larger and larger in her vision. One chance. Just once chance. For everyone that's fallen. Hope must always triumph. Trembling fingers touched the comfort of cold steel once more. Her lungs burned. With one last deep breath, she braced herself –
And reeled as she caught sight of the image reflected in the usurper's obsidian eyes. A withered mask of fatigue hung from a wounded visage, limp strands of dull hair curtaining eyes that floated within twin scarlet haloes. It took Zelda a stumbling heartbeat to realise that the broken young woman she beheld was her.
A heartbeat was all Ganondorf needed. He slid across the gap between himself and the princess, plunging a needle-thin dagger – hidden against his own wrist – into her chest.
Zelda's shocked eyes met his. They stood, locked together as though frozen. Then, with a grunt, the princess felt her gut clench. Another sharp twinge followed. She gasped. Violent spasms of pain began to wrack the entire length of her body. Froth churned in her mouth. Her lips opened. "Poison?"
Ganondorf leaned in closer, his mouth hovering near her ear, until Zelda felt the ice of his breath sear her skin. "It will be quick."
Was that pity in his voice? Zelda almost laughed. "Please…"
He responded with a short, sharp nod, then let the blade free with a liquid sigh. The Princess Zelda, the Sage of Wisdom, crumpled to the ground. Her body twitched once, twice, then was still evermore.
Ganondorf crouched and, with a gentle touch, closed the princess' eyes. His gaze lifted from the corpse, past the cracked remains of the floor and finally came to rest on the watery radiance cradled within the circle of bone. He stood and began to stride forwards.
"And then there was one." His eyes flicked towards Rauru, then gestured at the bizarre structure. "Do you know what this is, old man?" Ethereal azure light bathed Ganondorf's face. Rauru said nothing. "What's the matter? No words of wisdom to share? No profundities, no valuable life lessons?" Ganondorf snorted as the Sage stared back, defiant.
"This," he continued, letting his gloved palm come to rest on the grotesque surface, "is a portal. A window, if you will, into the universe. All the universes. Who knew that there were so many? Certainly not you, old man; not you and your much vaunted 'wisdom.'" Ganondorf's lip twisted. "And in every single one, there he is, there she is, there I am. And in every single universe, he wins and I lose, he lives and I die, when he could have…" Something snapped deep inside him and his expression crumbled momentarily. It didn't last.
"Look!" Ganondorf barked. Images bobbed up and down on the pulsing light of the portal, gaining sharp clarity for a breath, then dissolving like the waves of the sea. "Look…in that universe, he's the Hero of Time. And then later, reborn, fighting the Twilight, then centuries on, a Royal Assassin, breaking the curse forever. And in that one – ha! - a Lord of Shadow. Every single time he wins, but not here. Not now. I am the only one who lives. I am the only one who stands victorious."
Rauru found his voice at last. "And how does that make you feel?"
The King of Thieves, neck stiff and head held high, peered down upon the Sage. "What are you babbling about, old fool?"
"Your feelings, Dragmire," Rauru replied, his voice hoarse. The air between them rippled. "Share them."
"I…" Ganondorf's brow creased. "Cold. Empty." His eyes turned inward. "This void. This gaping void. Will it ever be filled?"
Rauru swallowed. "This is what you seek…" He opened his free hand. A trio of spinning golden triangles floated up from his palm. "Is it not?"
The King of Thieves took a step back. "The Triforce! You! You had it all along!"
Rauru's voice strengthened. "And with it, by the leave of the Divine, you will be granted your dearest-"
"Mine!" Ganondorf's cape snapped the air like a whip as he snatched the Triforce from the Sage. "Mine."
"It is done," Rauru whispered, his head dropping. "I had no choice. Forgive me."
The King of Thieves brought his fist up to his face. He felt his heart begin to race, heard his breath quicken. For a moment it was the only sound in the world. Then, faint and frail, a scream echoed in the distance. A second followed. A third. More screams began to well up from deep within the castle, entwining with each other and ribboned with a mournful wail, tarred thick with despair.
Ganondorf closed his eyes and savoured the sweet taste in his mouth. "I can see…" he whispered. "I can see the scroll of the universe unfurled in front of my very eyes." Shafts of light burst through the gaps between his fingers. "I can see this universe…and I…will…rewrite it!"
Searing phosphorescent light exploded from where the King of Thieves stood, turning the whole world skeletal white. Ganondorf was consumed in a heartbeat, Rauru an instant later. The light grew and grew and grew. White turned to gold. The castle was subsumed, Hyrule followed it down until, at last, the whole of existence was annihilated in pure, golden light.