Updated AN: This is the sequel to 'No Happy Ending' I mentioned, which you'll probably want to read first, unless you'd prefer not to read an M, at which point there's a summary at the bottom of this AN. Despite this fic's title, I'm not abandoning Heroes (my main fic); this idea caught me and, although it's quite a sad tale, I want to try writing the true extreme of hurt and loss.
I'm sorry to anyone who feels I was wrong to write NHE, but the idea just had so much potential. I'd had the idea I noted at the end of NHE when I wrote the first chapter of Heroes, but there was no way I could develop it effectively. I guess, with an alternate universe, this story can be told. I probably won't update this as often as Heroes, anyway; Heroes will be my priority. Like OoT, the timeline has branched in my take on Zelda; many of the events of Heroes of Time before the reunion have taken place, but Link found no answers, and there would be no happy ending for him.
NHE and this fic were partially inspired by a fic I read entitled 'Death by my Own Hand' (not sure who by), where Link from OoT attempts suicide. I realised TP Link would have even more reason to attempt such an act, and I wondered what would happen if his life was so empty that he went through with it. This is the result. Owing to the number of characters and detail, I'm going back to third-person perspective.
If you don't want to read the somewhat graphic prequel to this, here's a summary: "Heartbroken and without purpose, the Hero of Twilight has wandered the land for three years. With each day more painfully empty than the last, his inner darkness finally consumes him. In a place where he once had purpose, in the peace of night, he ends it all, taking his own life. With it, his pain is over, but the pain of others is just beginning."
Disclaimer: Like Heroes, for all chapters of this fanfic, I do not own the characters or settings of The Legend of Zelda, which belongs to Nintendo. I own the plot and any original characters and settings in this fanfic, which is being used for limited entertainment and not for financial gain.
I would say enjoy, but this doesn't seem an appropriate story to say it in, so tell me what you think.
No More Heroes
The day began like any other; the Sun rose high in the sky, bringing out the villagers of Ordon. They all emerged from their homes and went about their daily business.
All except one.
"HEEEEEEY! LINK!" Fado yelled up at the window. He'd been going about this same routine most days for three years. And for the past two days, he'd heard no reply from that window.
Fado grew impatient now; the boy was never this lazy. Even though something about him was a little… off… since his adventure three years ago, he'd always been up to lend a hand. Though a few had noticed him grow somewhat darker recently; he rarely spoke in the first place, but in the last week, he hadn't said a word to anyone. And his mood was always dull.
Fado became determined to drag the young man out of bed, so he clambered up the ladder into the house.
It was completely empty.
"Link? You home?" Fado called fruitlessly. He looked around to see Link's table.
It was oddly cluttered.
Fado went over to it and saw a few boxes among random odds and ends. In pride of place was a letter. He couldn't read, but he knew to recognise the name of the ruler of the land.
'Zelda' was written on the envelope.
As Fado wondered why she would come here, his ears were met with a commotion outside. He dashed out of the house and around the corner, the direction of the sound. And his jaw dropped.
Several horses walked slowly his way. The leading stallions bore armour plates and carried soldiers. Behind them could only be one person.
Fado fell to his knee as the Princess approached. Part of him wanted to run and get Bo, but he decided it would be more polite to greet the Princess first.
The two leading guards stopped their steeds and moved them to the sides, allowing the Princess passage. She looked upon the kneeling man with bloodshot eyes.
Fado could feel her gaze. "Welcome to Ordon Village, your highness," he said politely. "We are honoured by your visit."
"If only I bore better news, kind sir," the Princess replied heavily. "Please take me to the Mayor. I must speak to you all immediately." She dismounted her horse, a proud white mare, and stepped lightly over to Fado as he rose to see her.
He bowed slightly and said, "At once, your majesty."
After several hurried knocks, Bo opened his door to find a slightly nervous Fado behind it. "What is it, Fado?"
"Bo, Princess Zelda is here in the village!" He said quietly. "She wants to see all of us!"
Bo wasn't as surprised as the younger man, but still… Why did the Princess choose to visit the village? Ordon had no real bearing on Hyrule, after all. It was on the very edge of the kingdom.
"Very well, gather the others and bring them here," he said.
"The children should not hear this," came a quiet voice behind Fado. Bo immediately bowed to it.
"Princess, welcome to Ordon," Bo said in a kind voice.
The Princess quickly continued, "Though I appreciate your manners, Mayor, I must insist everyone is gathered immediately. I have some very terrible news to break." Her eyes quivered over Fado's shoulder. Her brown hair moved gently in the breeze.
"At once, your majesty," Fado said, scurrying out of sight.
"Please, don't let me get in your way," Bo said, bowing as he motioned her into his house. The Princess entered and sat upon a chair. Bo noticed how red her eyes were.
"What is wrong, Princess?" Bo asked softly.
"I… I would prefer to tell all at once. This concerns you all."
Moments later, Fado had gathered all the adults in the village, and they clustered into Bo's home. It was cramped, but all could hear the Princess as she stood to address them.
"It is with a heavy heart that I visit you today, however I feel you must know from me." She paused. "I have some very bad news to deliver."
She took a breath.
"Link… was found in Lake Hylia two nights ago…" She said quietly, just loud enough for all to hear.
"Is he all right?" Uli fired in panic.
The Princess looked away. That was all that was needed. There was a sharp gasp from the group. She looked back.
"Link has passed on," she said heavily. Everyone in the room froze. "He took his own life."
"No…" Uli breathed in the silence.
"No, it's not possible…" Rusl said, barely any louder.
"Surely not!" Bo said.
The Princess's head fell and tears began to form in her eyes. "It is true. Link is dead."
"But why…" Hanch demanded.
She took a deep breath and said softly, "I believe it is time for you to know the adventure Link undertook for us all, so that we did not suffer."
As the Princess recounted the tale of the Month of Twilight, Uli began to cry softly. She could not believe it was true. She begged in her mind for the Princess to be wrong.
Rusl listened intently to every word, his eyes growing heavier as she told them. He knew more of Link's quest than anyone, but even that was limited. He too, could scarcely believe the words their ruler spoke.
The Princess paused, her head down in sadness. "I know this because I saw through the eyes of the one he cared most for. On his journey, he was accompanied by a small imp named Midna. Though he did not know it, she was the rightful ruler of the Realm of Twilight, from whence the magic that cursed the land sprung. The people of the Twilight are by themselves a peaceful and gentle race. The usurper king Zant used magic to corrupt them. Midna's only goal was to reclaim her throne, and Link's mission to save Hyrule allowed the possibility for Midna to use him to help her, if she assisted him. Over time, I believe they fell in love."
There was a hushed gasp from the villagers. "How could he?" Hanch said.
"The Twilight People, known as the Twili, are descendants of ancient Hyruleans who were banished to this other world long ago. By all rights, they are very close to Hylians."
"But you said she was an imp," Rusl added.
"That is true. Zant cursed her, changing her into an imp to remove her from his way. She desired nothing other than to destroy him, reclaim her true form and retake her throne. Link to her, at least at first, was nothing more than a capable warrior who could be easily manipulated. She would later discover he had been chosen by the Goddesses themselves to save Hyrule from the Twilight Invasion."
"But that's preposterous!" Bo said. Everyone shot him a glare for questioning the Princess.
"Is it?" She countered sadly. "All his life, Link has done nothing but serve others. He was raised to put the needs of others before himself. He was a gifted swordsman, a strong and energetic youth, and highly resourceful. All together, he made the perfect warrior. You know of the birthmark on his hand?"
The villagers nodded.
"It was no birthmark. Link was the chosen bearer of the Triforce of Courage, an artefact created by the Goddesses themselves. I myself bear the Triforce of Wisdom." She gently pulled off her white glove to show the symbol to the gathered adults. "Only with the Triforce could Link have stood against Ganondorf and killed him. It was always meant to be so."
She drew a breath. "During the battle to destroy the sorcerer, Midna sacrificed herself to save us both. No-one knows what happened, but it is believed she died to banish his magic, after which Link could stand against him as an equal." Her head fell again. "I have never seen anyone as driven as Link at that moment. Without Midna, there was nothing left for him. The quest changed him. The Link you knew was gone long before he took his life. Facing Ganondorf, he fought for vengeance of the one he had come to love, and destroyed him. And by an act of the Goddesses, the Light Spirits who guard the light of the world revived Midna, and gave her back her true form."
"Did she turn him down?" Jaggle asked.
"No." The Princess paused. "Midna knew that so long as the link between the realms existed, whatever could threaten one realm would surely spill into the other. Without telling Link, she broke the connection forever."
The silence held an air of knowledge, as the villagers pieced together what had happened.
"Link was not aware of the true nature of his feelings for her. When she destroyed the Twilight Mirror, it broke his heart, but worse came. He visited me many times in the last three years. His life as the Link you know could not keep his inner emptiness at bay. He yearned for adventure, and his heart ached for her. But neither could he return to. I believe it is this that drove him to his actions."
Several of the villagers were now sniffling back tears as they realised the true weight of what this young boy had been through in such a short time. After several tough moments, Rusl broke the silence.
"How did you find him?"
Her head fell once more. "Bearers of the Triforce are connected via an ancient magic. Those who bear wisdom are able to sense strong emotions in the hearts of the other bearers. I could sense Link's thoughts that night; the blackness that had consumed everything that he lived for had finally won over him. He saw no way to live on; he felt he had been abandoned by the Goddesses, and he could not recover from his broken heart." She sniffled a tear. "His thoughts were so strong at that moment, I could see him do it." A few more tears flowed. "I raced to the lake as quickly as I could. But I was too late. Hours too late." She drew a handkerchief and sobbed into it.
None of the villagers could think to do anything, save for Sera and Uli, who themselves had been moved to tears by the Princess. She herself cried for a few moments. "Link gave everything to save people he did not know, and he received nothing in return, nothing he wanted. He was a kind, modest young man; he wanted no honour, no money. He didn't want to be the hero. He wanted a life that meant something to him. But the Goddesses would not allow it."
She wiped her tears and looked up to understanding faces. "He was not the first to answer Hyrule's call for a Hero. Centuries ago, a young man just like him bore the Triforce of Courage in a bid to destroy Ganondorf. Even though he was able to force Ganondorf's arrest, he was not happy. Like Link, his adventures had changed him, and for the rest of his life he wandered, broken and empty.
"The Hero is not a hero at all. A hero is someone who willingly answers the cries of help because he feels it is his duty. A Hero like Link is one who is forced by the Goddesses to suffer trials and torments beyond what any of us could imagine. And they were so young. Neither ever recovered from their roles as the Hero, and it is my wish that Hyrule must never call for a Hero again. Too many have suffered and died because we were too short-sighted to identify a grave event before it became a tragedy." She wiped away her tears again. "To this end, I wish to offer Ordon Village full enrolement in the land of Hyrule. It is my desire to unify the land such that its strength will prevent any future events of this calibre from needing one more empty shell to wander the land years later."
The villagers murmered to each other for a moment, before Bo cleared his throat for silence.
"What about Link?"
A tear slipped out of Zelda's eye. "It would be my honour if he were buried alongside the Royal family. Though if you wish, his funeral may be held here."
In that moment, as the Princess spoke of his funeral, it all became real. Link had gone; he was not coming back. Uli, Sera and Jaggle all burst into tears. Bo drew a rattling breath against his feelings, and even Rusl's composure broke for a moment.
"No, Princess," Bo said shakily. "We would be honoured if you would see to it…" He trailed off.
Rusl tried to speak. "It would be the best we could hope for… for our… for our boy…" He turned around and his sobs became audible through his jacket.
"A service will be held for him at the castle in three days. It would be my honour if you would all attend," the Princess concluded. "Wagons are on their way to bring you there, if you wish."
"Thank you, Princess," Bo said softly. "We would like some time to think upon this."
The Princess nodded. "As you wish. I will wait outside." She rose and quietly left the Mayor's house.
As soon as the door closed, Uli exploded into tears. "It can't be true! It can't be true!" She begged through her sobs. Beside her, Hanch and Jaggle were not better. Rusl leaned on his arm against the wall, his eyes pressed into his elbow as he cried.
To Rusl, it felt like he had lost his own child. He had been the one closest to Link; he thought he knew the boy. Link was strong, but now he knew, even the strongest have their limits. It was fitting, in an ironic way, he thought. The only one strong enough to end Link's life was Link himself.
As he thought of the boy taking his own life, he cried harder. Why hadn't they seen it? There must have been signs.
Rusl slammed his head into his arm a few times as he cried even harder. He'd always taught Link never to show a weakness; never to drop his guard even for a moment, because it could cost him. He'd bottled his feelings up so tight they had eaten him away from within. He was a broken boy, a shell of a person. He hadn't lived in three years; he had just existed.
"It's my fault…" he whispered over and over again as he cried.
Uli rose to his side. "Please, dear, it is no-one's fault. It is the way things are," she sniffled.
"I taught him… I raised him to be strong… and his strength killed him…" he cried. Link was like neither a brother, or a son to him. The lines had been blurred years ago. They were closer than best friends, and though closer to brothers than father and son, Rusl had always been there for him, from the moment the young boy had arrived in the village, alone and confused. He'd wandered miles looking for food, this little boy no older than four. He told them the mark on his hand had brought fear to whoever took him in, and he had never known his family. In that instant, Rusl had taken him in and vowed he would know the closest to family the village could provide. The symbol he bore was taken as one of hope, the four triangles as a whole. And now to find that that symbol had been part of his death? How could the Goddesses punish someone so young?
A hand was laid on Rusl's shoulder. It was Bo. "You can't blame yourself, my friend. What has come to pass is not something anyone should bear the blame for. The best we can hope for is that he is finally at peace."
Rusl turned to look at him, his eyes red and glistening. He nodded silently.
"Will you join us?" Bo whispered to him, his eyes warm and friendly.
Rusl choked a few tears and whispered back, "I don't know if I can. How can I show my face near him when what I taught him caused this?"
Bo placed his hand back on Rusl's shoulder. "Old friend, without what you taught him, he would surely have stood no chance against the horrors he faced. You gave him his strength, and you saved him. He would no doubt be honoured to have you there." He extended his other hand. Rusl gingerly took it and gripped it tight. "We all owe him for what he went through," he said to the gathered adults. They all nodded in agreement. "And we will always be here for you, my friend. We have all lost someone close to us today. Don't try and bear all the burden; the loss belongs to us all."
Rusl looked back at Bo. "Thank you, old friend."
"Fado, please would you tell the Princess that we shall all be attending the service for Link?" Bo said, straining to hold in his tears.
Fado had not moved in all this time. He sat, frozen in shock, as he played over the thoughts in his head. The young man with whom he had worked, laughed, joked and cried with, for so many years – he was never coming back. Never again would they round up the goats, never again would he jump his proud mare over the fences in the field as Fado cheered him on, never again would they lie on their backs in that same field, chewing grass during the day and gazing up at the stars at night…
His best friend was gone forever. In his wake, all he had left was memories and a feeling of emptiness in him. Finally, his head fell to his hand and he cried.
Bo shook himself. He couldn't ask Fado to do this. He nodded to Rusl as his wife look him in a warm, comforting embrace, and walked out to the waiting Princess.
"Your majesty," he said, bowing his head. "We would like very much to attend the service for him."
With a sad breath, the Princess nodded. She looked back at Bo, then her gaze fell aside, to the side of the Mayor's house. Her face became curious.
"What is it, Princess?" Bo asked.
"For now, nothing. Though I may have seen a child hiding in the grass."
Bo gave a heavy sigh. "What can we tell them?" He said quietly. "They looked up to him, nay, they worshipped him. He was a big brother to all of them."
"That is a question I fear I cannot answer, Mayor. Loss is not something that can be navigated easily. The dead leave such a mark upon the living…" She mused sadly. "My condolences to all of you. I apologise I did not say it sooner."
"And you have ours, your majesty. It is clear to me that Link meant a great deal to you, as well."
The Princess looked away, back towards the kingdom. "Without him, Hyrule would have fallen. All the thanks I could give would never be enough, and yet he needed none of it. He was so selfless…" Another tear broke. "He did not care for his own self, only for those around him. And when it mattered, he did not know how to care." She looked back at him, her eyes glistening again. "Will you join us in one month at the castle? I intend to assemble a council of all the peoples of Hyrule. No problem shall be left to one people to fight alone. We will stand united before anything that comes against us."
Her words brought a heavy nod from Bo. "By all means, Princess. There has been enough loss in this world for petty squabbles to come between us all."
"Thank you, Mayor." With that, the Princess turned and quietly walked way, back towards the entourage that travelled with her. As she reached the gap in the hills, she turned back to Bo. "Your transport will be here in a day or so. All may stay in the castle for the duration."
"Thank you, your highness. Until then." Bo said, bowing slightly.
"Until then," she echoed as she turned to leave.
As she mounted her horse and the company turned to leave Ordon Province, she thought she heard a tiny sound from the Spring, then it was soon gone and they crossed the bridge, heading back towards the grim event that marched slowly forward.
"But what does it mean?" Talo said as he and Beth finished listening to Colin.
"I don't know; it's all I heard – Link 'took his own life.' I don't know what it means," the young boy said. He gazed upon the mark on the back of his hand. It had somehow become darker since it had appeared. He and the other children were the only ones who had seen it up close. His mother had thought it to be some dirt and he had carefully washed his hand to avoid showing her its true form. It was connected to all of this, he could feel it.
"And where'd you get the tattoo, anyway?" Talo quizzed. "No-one around here for miles can make a tattoo that neat!"
"I didn't get it tattooed! It just appeared!" Colin protested.
"I know you want to be just like Link, but I don't think he'll like you copying him that much," Beth said.
"I didn't get a tattoo!" Colin said firmly.
"What's going on?"
Their heads snapped up to the gate to the spring as Ilia walked through with Epona. Ilia regarded them for a moment, before the horse fidgeted and waved her head. "Easy girl, come on, let's get you a nice bath. You've been restless these past few days! Why were you galloping around the ranch anyway?" She soothed the mare as she led her into the water. She looked back at the group of children. "So, what are you three doing here?"
"You hear the adults talking?" Beth said, in an 'I-know-something-you-don't' voice.
"No, what's this?" She said, confused.
"They were all in your father's house with Princess Zelda earlier," Talo took over. "And Colin heard them say something that made them all cry. What was it, Colin?"
Colin's innocent eyes met Ilia's as he asked her. "Ilia, what does it mean if 'Link took his own life?'"
Ilia felt her heart stop in that moment. Everything froze, going silent as though dead. The water flowing behind her seemed to slow. She didn't breathe for the longest time.
"It can't be…" she whispered in panic. She ran. She wasn't even aware she'd even begun to run. She left the spring in a blur and couldn't focus until she reached her home. She shoved the door open to see several adults there; not all of them, but much of the village had gathered in her house.
"Ilia!" Bo said in surprise.
"What happened?" She shot at her father. She saw the remains of tears and sadness on the faces of the remaining adults.
Rusl broke again and Uli led him out of the house. Her father placed his hand upon her shoulder and guided her down to a chair. He took one opposite her. "My dear, I don't know if you should hear this. It is very bad news."
"It's about Link, isn't it?" She said, nearly crying already.
Bo only nodded.
"I have to know!" She exclaimed.
"Very well," Bo said heavily.
Back in the spring, some time later, Beth, Talo, Malo and Colin played at the water's edge, when they heard the most awful sound ever. It carried above the trees, far over the hills. It was a pained scream of sadness. They did not know it, but it was the sound of loss.
It's not going to be a happy story, I know that. This'll be a dark, emotional tale of life, loss and purpose. However, I don't know when I'll update it next, and I'm not even sure where it's going; my work has a tendency to write itself.
Tell me what you think.