All I could see when I opened my eyes was white. Suddenly, Ganondorf appeared with a nasty face on. He was spinning around for some reason. His eyes were wide with fear as he spun around, being swallowed by the white abyss.
"Damn you!" I heard him shout. "Damn you Zelda! Damn you Link! Damn you Ashley! I can't believe that I was stopped by you brats! I could've taken over the whole world if it wasn't for you three. When I get out of this stupid realm, I will make sure that your descendants suffer for what you have done. Believe you me, I will rise again!"
After that, the Evil King sunk into the abyss and all I could see was white.
I bolted up as I came to my senses. My heart was beating as sweat dripped down my nose. I would have stood up in panic but I felt extremely comfortable. All I really wanted to do was lay back down. Underneath my fingertips, I could feel the fluff of the white clouds. My eyes were full of wonder as I saw a blue sky and more clouds floating around me.
After nudging Lux to wake up, I stood up carefully. I was afraid that my weight could make me fall right through the clouds, but I was safe. In front of me was Zelda and Link. They were talking about something, but I couldn't hear.
"Ash, you're awake!" I heard Zelda say and Link turned around to see me. He had on an awkward smile and he scratched his hatless head. "Come now, I have much to discuss with both of you."
Even though I was jealous, Zelda was just so nice that I couldn't be mad at her. I walked over to her and stood right by Link. Unlike the first time I saw her, she looked happy and excited.
"Well, you two did it," she said with a burst of energy. "You both stopped Ganondorf."
"So, what's next?" Link asked.
"You two will need to return to your time," Zelda said and she frowned. "This whole mess was my fault…I didn't realize how much trouble I would put you and the people of Hyrule through. I was just young and worried about the state of this kingdom seven years ago. However, now Ganondorf is apprehended in the Sacred Realm, thus he will be missing from the past, which will alter all of these events."
"Ganondorf will be gone, then?" I asked. "He'll be gone and no one will notice?"
"Exactly," Zelda said. "He will only exist in the Sacred Realm as a prisoner. He will be punished for eternity."
"What about the Sages?" I asked. "Will they also be missing from the past?"
"No," Zelda said. "They can exist in the mortal world and they will return to their normal lives. They just help uphold the peace and keep Ganondorf at bay."
"Will anyone know about this whole incident?" Link asked.
"Yes, but only a select few. You two, the Sages, and I will be the only ones to remember. Oh, and Ganondorf of course."
"So everything will pretty much just fall back into place?" I asked her.
"Yes," she said with a smile, "everything will return to normal once you two return the Master Sword to its pedestal. The time will be reversed back to the very day that you arrived here, Ash."
"So, we will be twelve again?" Link asked.
"Well, of course," Zelda said with a shining smile. "Once you two return to your time, please sneak into the courtyard and see me. Ashley, we will discuss things further with what your next assignment is."
"Um, okay," I said.
There was a slight pause until Zelda said, "Now, I need you both to return the Ocarinas of Time to me."
Zelda held out her hand and I reached in my pocket to try and get my ocarina out. Link beat me to it however and placed it right on Zelda's palm. She then placed her had upon Link's. They looked at each other with beaming faces.
"Uh, here's mine," I said, trying desperately to hold back the tears.
Of course, I got no answer. For a few uncomfortable seconds, I stood there, like someone whose date left them at prom for the Prom Queen. I beat myself up in my head. It was my entire fault. I was hideous so it was no wonder that Link didn't like me. I wasn't elegant. I was a too cocky, too confident, and too boyish.
Basically, I just sucked. I deserved to be dead, seeing as I was a total piece of shit. I angered myself so much that I felt hot tears forming in my eyes.
"Ashley, are you alright?" Zelda asked me and removed her hand from Link's. Link didn't bother to look over, seeing as how he knew I was a wreck.
"Yeah," I said, "never been better."
"If you say so," she said with a concerned expression. "I know this mission has been hard on you, but I know that once you return to your own time, you will feel much better."
"Maybe," I murmured.
She just looked at me and smiled for a little bit and then held out her hand for my ocarina. I looked down once more to see the blue Ocarina of Time shimmer in the light of the sky. Even though I knew I didn't need it, I felt a little sad letting it go. I handed it over to Zelda who shoved it in a small coin purse on the side of her belt. She took Link's ocarina and put it to her chest.
"It saddens me to send you both back to your own times," she said, looking up at something. "But I know that I will be able to see both of you again, just as small children. I will now warp you to the Temple of Time, where you have to return your Master Swords. I expect to see you both."
Zelda flashed us one last smile and then began to play Zelda's Lullaby. I felt my feet lifted off the ground slowly as a light pink beam of light surrounded both Link and I. As we ascended to the skies of the sky, Zelda looked up at us one last time while still playing the calm melody that seemed to lull me to sleep.
I regained my senses when my feet touched the stone surface of the Temple of Time. The room seemed brighter than before as light began to creep through the stain glass window above us. Color and light was beginning to return to Hyrule and I was a little saddened that Link and I would not get to see it.
I looked to my right to see Link standing beside me, still missing his hat. I stared at him for a couple of seconds in some attempt to get him to look at me, but he wouldn't. I watched as he looked around, trying to pretend that I wasn't there.
"Are you ready?" I asked him after an uncomfortable pause.
"Oh, what?" he asked trying to attempt to sound like he was zoned out. It was pathetic. "Oh, uh, yeah. Let's get moving." He said this and unsheathed his sword without looking at me. All I wanted to do was punch myself in the face. I was so stupid; so goddamn stupid.
I unsheathed my sword without another word and walked up to the pedestal. Link followed right behind me along with Lux. I watched from the corner of my eye to see Link prepare his sword to be put back in the pedestal and did the same. In perfect timing, Link and I returned the swords to their rightful place.
All I could hear was a loud high pitched sound as blue light surrounded us. There was a quick flash of light and a short pause before I could see again. When I could see, the first thing I saw was my Master Sword. I held up my hands and realized that they were smaller. I looked over at Link and saw him as a small kid again.
We were finally back to our original time.
Link must have finally gathered the courage to look at me for our eyes met. He smiled a little, but my expression didn't budge. He had to know that I was upset because he immediately frowned.
"So, uh, you wanna go see Zelda?" he asked.
"No," I snapped and I was about to go on an entire rant until Navi and Max showed up.
"It's hard to say this," Navi said to us, "but it has to be said." Max nodded with his whole body and continued.
"Our job here is done," Max said. "Navi and I are no longer needed in your service."
"What do you mean?" I asked. "We're still alive, right? You're supposed to be our guardian fairies."
"But you are not Kokiri children," Navi said. "You are now heroes; brave heroes who no longer need companions such as us."
"That's not true," Link said. "I mean, I'm sure I'll-"
"The point is, our job here is over," Max said again. "Farewell."
Before Link or I could say anything else, the two fairies began to float away in the beam of light that came from the stained glass window. It was actually sort of depressing. As they got closer to the light, they became harder to see. Once they were gone, I looked back at Link who was there no longer.
I turned quickly to see him running out of the Temple. I was abandoned right there without an answer from Link about anything. I balled my hands into a fist and bowed my head as tears came from my eyes. I felt Lux hug my leg as the tears rolled. It was pathetic to me that one of the Heroes of Time was crying in the Temple of Time.
I wiped my eyes and tried to hide all evidence of my crying. I walked out of the room that the two swords were in and heard the Door of Time slam behind me. The swords were returned to their resting place, where I expected to never pull mine again…
As depressed as I was, the sun above Hyrule made me cheer up a bit. The Temple courtyard was exactly like it was before; filled with light, hope, and life. The filthy dogs were still running around just like nothing happened. They were no longer filthy to me however, and I hugged a small, brown dog tightly.
In an instant, I was welcomed to the sounds and smells of the Marketplace. It was beaming with life in every corner and there was no Redead in sight. The buildings were no longer black and torn apart. People ran out of shops with their new treasures to take home. I breathed in slowly and took in the atmosphere.
I missed it so much.
Rather than get lost in the cluster of people, I went straight towards the castle. I was greeted by the huge, white Castle Hyrule when I got over the hill. Everything had been untouched. When I went to the front gate, there was a guard standing there.
"Ah, you're the King's special guest, I presume?" he asked. "I can recognize you by your green clothes. Come on in." With a tap of his spear, the gate opened for me.
Rather than question why I was a special guest, I just followed the dirt path up to the castle entrance. The drawbridge was down as several guards bowed to my appearance. I just smiled awkwardly.
Standing at the top of the small staircase was Impa. She had on a nice smile, which I had never seen from her. She always seemed to be serious when I was around her.
"Ms. Brandt," she said with a smile. "Welcome to Hyrule Castle." She gave me a quick wink to let me know that she was only joking. Of course I had been to Hyrule Castle before. I battled Ganondorf, ate there, and even slept in a guest room. That, of course, was before the whole Master Sword incident.
Impa held out her arm and the two double doors behind her opened. She put her hand lightly on my back as we walked into the lobby. As before, the huge double staircase welcomed me in the lobby and standing at the top was the child Princess Zelda and Link. Zelda put her hands together and smiled. Link just looked off to the side.
"Ashley, do come in!" she shouted with joy and made her way down the stairs, holding Link's hand to make him come as well. "Here, let's go to a better suited area to discuss some things."
"Alright," I said with a small smile. I was feeling a little tired from the huge cry I had back in the Temple. I just wanted to get everything over with and leave the damn place.
Zelda took us to the same room where I had first confronted Ganondorf and the same room that I had evolved Lux and received my electrical powers. The furniture was still placed neatly in the room as it was before the battle. I was seated on a couch on the opposite side of a couch that Zelda and Link sat on. Lux sort of knew I was still in a bad mood, so he cuddled up beside me.
"Now, I'm sorry that you have no time to take a break, but I've gotten urgent news from Princess Peach," Zelda said after we were comfortably seated. "From what I understand, the Mushroom Kingdom is about to be hijacked by King Koopa."
"I've heard that name before," I said aloud.
"You probably have," Zelda said. "King Koopa, or Bowser as he is called, is the leader of all of the evil organizations in the Ninten Dimension. He was even the leader of Ganondorf." She raised a concerned expression when I said that and continued. "Seeing as Ganondorf is now out of…commission, Bowser has to come up with something new. Princess Peach has voiced concern that Bowser has planned to attack the kingdom."
"So what do I do?" I asked.
"You will aid Mario in saving the kingdom, of course. However, he doesn't know that the kingdom is under siege yet and received a letter from Peach that she wants him to come to the castle and eat some cake."
"Cake? So then…the cake is a lie?"
"Yeah," Zelda said. "Peach doesn't want Mario to get all rallied up until you get there. Otherwise she's afraid he'll do something rash."
"When am I needed?"
"Immediately," she said. "There is a ship set to pick you up tonight in the private harbor which is behind the castle. It will take a couple of days to get to Mushroom Kingdom. I would suggest for the time being to get dressed in something more comfortable for the trip. Anyway, the fashion in the Mushroom Kingdom is significantly different than the style here. We've provided you with a pair of jeans and a nice, orange polo shirt which I believe you were wearing when you arrived here."
It was so hard to remember what I was wearing when I came to Hyrule the first time. It seemed like years ago. I just nodded and nudged Lux a little. He had fallen asleep right there on my lap.
"Impa will show you to your room," Zelda said. "Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend your departure as we have a dinner with Nabooru to discuss peace talks between the Gerudo people and the Hyrulians. I'm sorry that you have to miss out. I do hope to meet you again someday, however."
I smiled at Zelda and glanced at Link who was staring at his boots. I sighed and just face Impa who led me straight to my guest room.
"If you need anything, do not be afraid to ask," Impa said with a smile and shut the door behind her.
I walked through the room and touched everything in it. It would probably be awhile before I got to be around such a comfy living space.
The room had a four poster bed with red wine colored sheets. On the bed was my new garb. I was getting ready to take off the nasty green tunic that I had been wearing for days until I realized that the clothes still felt fresh. It was a little depressing taking them off, but it had to happen.
The feeling of jeans against my legs was so bizarre. They felt so tight and uncomfortable, but at least I wasn't forced to wear overalls like I saw Mario wearing when I first arrived in the Ninten Dimension. Hopefully I would be able to dodge wearing that stupid looking hat. Luckily, my shoe of choice was a pair of black high tops, just like the pair I wore when I arrived in Hyrule.
I looked over at a clock on the nightstand and realized that it was three o'clock in the afternoon. Lux was lying on the soft bed sleeping as golden light bathed him. I decided to lay down with him for the time being and took a short nap.
When I awoke, I heard someone knocking lightly on my door. "Ashley," I heard the voice of Impa say, "the boat is almost to the harbor. You should probably get going."
The room was completely dark until I turned on a lamp that was on the nightstand. I then shook Lux who was still sleeping soundly. I got up quickly and stretched my short, child body. It was going to take some getting used to, being small and all. Impa opened the door slowly and looked in to see me awake.
"C'mon," she said gently, but with a hint of hast. "Oh, and you forgot this, too."
In Impa's hand was the rapier that I stole from Leon, the Flambert. She held it out to me with both hands. "It might be a bit too big to wield now, I'm afraid," she said to me as I took the rapier. Its huge hilt almost brought me down to the ground. "The good thing is that I don't think you'll need it in the Mushroom Kingdom."
Thank god, I thought as I tied the sheath around my waist. The damn thing almost reached far enough to drag on the ground.
I followed Impa to the harbor which wasn't long of a walk. There was a big, white boat just pulling in that had a star with eyeballs on the side. The boat looked like the modern boats we had back at home. I expected a rickety, old wooden boat. It was so surprising to see one of luxury.
"Well, this is where you and I depart," Impa said. She patted me on the shoulder and said, "No matter what happens, you'll always find a home in Hyrule my dear. We're here for you."
I smiled. "Thank you," I said. "If the King or Princess ever needs anyone to keep injustice at bay, I'll be here too."
Impa gave me one last smile and began to walk back to the castle. I took a second to glimpse at Hyrule castle for the last time. When I turned to the ship, I saw tiny men with mushroom heads scrambling to get a ramp down for me to use to board the ship. It was a bit hilarious, but I figured it would be rude to laugh. Lux, on the other hand, had already jumped on the ship and started to play with the little guys.
"Wait, Ash!" I heard someone shout and I turned around just before walking up the ramp. I saw him, running at full speed to catch me before I left. Link was sweating and seemed out of breath when he got to me.
"Yes?" I said to him, a little confused as to why he even came to see me.
"I couldn't just let you leave without saying goodbye," Link said, scratching his head nervously. "I mean, after all we went through and stuff…"
"Well…" I said awkwardly.
"I just wanted to say that, despite all of this, I'll…um…miss you when you're gone," he said. He finally looked up at me with red eyes. He must have been crying or something. "Anyway, I wanted to give you this."
Link held out to me a bug, red leather bound journal. It had a golden plate on the front for me to put my name on and everything. I couldn't tell how many pages were in it.
"Since you'll always be on the go, you might forget certain memories, seeing as you'll live the life of a grand adventurer," Link said. "Now you can write all of your experiences in this journal and, if you ever come back to Hyrule, you can read it to Zelda and me."
"Um, thank you," I said and I took the journal.
"Oh, and be careful," Link said. He then looked at the ground and paused, but held out his hand awkwardly. I held out mine and shook his hand. He looked me right in the eyes. Even though he upset me, those blue would always make me melt. Whether he was young or old, I knew I would also succumb to those eyes.
After shaking hands, Link watched me board the ship to begin my next journey. Before I went to the cabin, I have him one last wave and followed a mini mushroom man to my room.
It took me no time to fall asleep that night, but I kept waking up. Rather than turn on all the lights and waking Lux, I lit a candle and sat at a desk that night. Sitting at the desk, I opened up the journal that Link had given me.
The pages smelled new but looked old. They were a crisp, light brown color and had hand drawn lines. I would have hated to be the one that made the pages for that book.
I just stared at the thing for minutes and began to cry. It was hard moving from Hyrule to Mushroom Kingdom, especially with a broken heart. I wasn't able to really resolve anything with Link, but maybe it was best that way. After all, we were twelve years old again. But, I still didn't understand the feelings that were balled up inside of me. I just felt empty.
I decided that the best thing for me to do now was write something. In the desk drawer I found a quill and an ink well. I opened the small container of ink and fastened a nib to the end of the quill. After dipping it lightly in the ink, I sighed before I began to write.
I wrote well into the morning that day. I started to write about my life back at home and all the trouble I used to get in. I wrote about arriving in Mushroom Kingdom and meeting Mario. I wrote about my first time meeting Link. I wrote about everything I could think of in just a few hours, like I was writing a story or some sort.
The web of a tale that I was weaving was real, my reader, and is very well the same words that you have just read. However, my life is not over. There are still tales that haven't been spun just because I haven't lived them yet. I came to this dimension as nothing, but through the power of courage, I would make this a world of my own.
There was no doubt about that.