This story came to me while I was slightly depressed. Call me morbid for it, but this is my take on what Link in Heroes of Time could have been if Midna never came back. It's an extension of my feelings on purpose and life.
This is not a happy tale, and I'll repeat a character death is involved. Read no further if you don't think you'll like it. As such, no flames for its content. Either it's good for what it is, or it's bad. Death is something that has to be dealt with eventually.
No Happy Ending
The Hero… once, I was proud. Honoured, even. My work was the will of the Goddesses. Everything I did, I did in their name. I freed thousands of people from a curse across two worlds, dethroned a usurper king, destroyed a tyrant and restored her to her incredible beauty.
And then what? Did we live happily ever after? Did the Goddesses lavish praise at my feet? Did everyone around me let me get on with my life?
Because my life was in those actions. They were everything I lived for. That and her. But fate was as cruel as my darkest fears would let me think.
She was gone. I would never see her again.
And now what? What life had I left? I was the Hero. I had put my own life on the line who knew how many times to save others. I had never thought of myself, not once in that month we journeyed the land.
And in the aftermath, no-one had thought of me. All they wanted was to honour and worship me. No, they wanted to worship my actions. I was a one-dimensional person, a heroic, selfless teenager who was in the right place at the right time. That's all they saw me as.
What next? My old life was gone. Left in the dusty hoofprints as I journeyed into my new one. I didn't realise at the time, but I knew it well now.
There was no going back to it.
I'd tried, but there was no reward in it. Only emptiness. All-consuming emptiness.
So, why not stay in the life I now had?
Because that didn't exist either.
What use was a hero when there was nothing to save? The land was stable. The monsters were gone. The death of the King of Evil had sent them on their way – if he could not stand before me, what chance did they stand?
All I had done on my journey was kill. I was no hero, deep down. I was just a murderer, and I'd gotten away with it so much that once I had nearly killed a howling fox near my home. It had done nothing to me, just made a sound I disliked. And it had so nearly tasted the steel of my blade. When I looked in its eyes, I saw its pure fear. It saw the monster this life had turned me into.
So I chose a new life.
They say life is what you make of it. I don't know who, but if I ever find them, I'll be sure to tell them my take.
Life has to end.
That's its meaning. Its end gives us the drive to do what we want, to make our lives mean something.
Life is what you make of it until it ends. And then it doesn't matter.
That's all I can think of now.
The only life I could make would be with her. And she's gone forever.
She's never coming back.
After all this time, she still used me.
How could I have loved her, only to have her do that?
Why hadn't I stopped her? Gone with her?
So I come back to it again. Life is what you make of it until it ends. But if you can't make anything of it, what's the point in waiting?
So now I sit on the marshy islands of the lake we loved so much; long nights spent camped under the stars. I see her eye wide in astonishment at the beauty of the stars. In her world, there are no stars. I thought, somehow, they could make her stay. I look up at the darkening sky and I'm there, three years ago, when my life had meaning. I'm there, tracing the constellations as we lie side by side on the soft green. She loves to learn of them. It makes her happy. And I love making her happy.
Happiness is something I have not felt in three years.
Every memory is a cut deeper than the wounds on my arms. There are so many now. The pain I feel in my mind is dulled when I feel it on my body. And the golden power is always there, patching me up.
I don't want it any more. I want nothing from my lives past, save one thing, something I can never have. And because I can never have it, I want freedom from this life, from all the lives I've had that have brought me nothing but misery. There is no reason for me to be here; there is no reason for me to be.
I've been spinning the knife in my hands for hours, its beautiful edges leaving marks and cuts I don't feel on my hands. Its handle has become slick with my blood. A drop or two has fallen from its blade into the water. The red ripples outwards.
It's oddly beautiful, the way my blood swirls around the water, mixing into it and forming impossible shapes. I am so distant from my actions; the blade meets my arm and slowly parts the skin again. The hurt numbs me; the pain in my head lessens for a few moments as I watch more of my crimson life drip into the beautiful waters surrounding me.
Like her eyes.
Eyes I'll never look into again.
I haven't noticed the latest cut; it's deeper this time. Because I've thought of her. More blood drops into the water. My life mixes into the water and slowly vanishes. The golden power burns on my hand, begging to heal me. But I ignore it. I don't want it.
I finally make my move. The moon has risen and the stars are at their most numerous. What a fitting way to end this. Perhaps I'll become another star among the blackness above.
If only there was a shining star in my own blackness. But that's me now. Everything inside me is black and dead. I just want the pain to cease.
I lay back in the water around me and kick slowly to the centre of the lake. From here, I can see everything. Every single star. Every constellation I taught her. Even the one I thought looked almost like her.
The water is cool and friendly around me. It feels like it wants to take me. And for once, I have no desire to fight. As the blade cuts deeply into my wrist, the crimson spurting out into the water, half the pain is gone. I raise my hand to take the knife in my other hand and reverse the action, blood pouring onto the beautiful tunic that once belonged to the Hero of ages past. Legends say he could find no happiness after his deeds were done. We are cursed, not blessed. Doomed only to suffer for the good of others.
The knife cuts deep again, and the pain is gone. I look up at the sky, my hands falling into the water around me and the life flowing in beautiful spirals into its deep blue eternity.
Finally crimson and sapphire have mixed. Light and shadow never could.
All I can think about now is her. No doubt she recovered long ago. She knew what would come to pass; she could prepare herself for it. But for me, she wrenched my heart out and took it with her in that instant. It was that split-second that killed me, not the blade that now sinks to the clear depths of the lake. I can see it, through the clouds of red that darken the water.
Something else is darkening too. My sight is fading. I look up at the stars that resemble her. It's the only thing I can see. And soon, even that is gone.
I don't care if I live on, if there is a life beyond this. It's too painful. I'm glad this one is ending. I was the perfect hero. I even believed it myself. As the blackness that consumed what was me now comes for the rest of me, there's only one thought in my mind.
Heroes don't have happy endings.
"Is it him?" I asked the guard.
His head fell heavily. "Yes, Princess. It is him"
Behind him, four more guards carried a blanket between them, each at a corner. Another blanket covered whatever it held, a shapeless form in its centre.
At either edge, crimson soaked the sheets in small, neat patches.
"How long was he in there?"
"At a guess, several hours. Most likely, he did the deed last night. The cuts are very deep. He didn't want to be saved."
I stared at the wrapped form for several moments. But eventually I could bear it no longer. I halted the guards and lifted one end of the sheets.
An empty face was beneath it. Its eyes were closed and its skin ghostly pale. It wore a brilliant green garb and hat, and its ears were pointed.
It was him, and he looked so at peace. This was what being a servant to the Goddesses had driven him to. He'd given them everything – his strength, his happiness, and now his life. From the moment she'd broken that mirror, he'd ceased to be. He was a walking shell. Time and again I had tried to help him, but there was only one who could have, and she was gone.
For three years he had wandered, searching for some way to reclaim everything he'd so readily given away. But there had been no way. His suffering was now at an end.
"Link, I hope wherever you are now," I whispered, my tears slowly breaking through, "I hope you found your peace." I lowered my face and gently kissed his forehead. It was as cold as stone.
As we loaded him onto the wagon at the lake's edge and returned to the castle, I vowed we would overcome our need for Heroes. Everyone had a right to live their lives for themselves. It took the death of the man who saved two worlds to teach me that. I swore, we would never need a hero again. The sum of the suffering should never be directed at one person so that the whole could live without it.
Days later, as we buried him with all the honour we could give in the Royal cemetery, I noticed one tiny detail.
As the casket was closed and my tears began to flood, I saw his hand.
So neatly covered up was the wound that I couldn't see it, despite how vicious he had been with the blade. But it wasn't this that caught my eye.
On the back of his left hand was nothing.
The Golden Power was gone.
But before I could check I had seen right, the lid was closed and he was returned to the earth forever.
"Colin," My mother called to me from the house, "Dinner!"
I scampered back up the stairs to the house. "I'm here!" I announced happily.
"Now, wash your hands, young man! Have you been drawing on your hand again?" She said, eyeing my right hand.
"No, I don't know where that came from," I said. I looked at my hand. It happened last night; I'd felt a strange burning in my hand and when I looked at it, I saw the strangest shape there; a triangle with lines crossing its middle. There was only one place I'd seen that shape before. "Mummy, when is Link coming home?"
Remember, no flames. I'm not sure what to make of this story; I've tried to sum up Link's emptiness at losing both love and purpose. Tell me what you think, I guess.
There is now a sequel called 'No More Heroes' that builds straight off this story. I wrote it as a whole other story because I switched back to third-person; I couldn't really get into the mindset of Colin, and I wanted to add too many perspectives for first-person, so it's back to third-person. NMH is not as dark or graphic as this.