A lone figure sat beneath the glowing canopy of the ancient ruins. The grove was lit by the timeless light of the legendary blade, resting in the center of the ring of trees. All was silent, save for the happy song of the morning birds and the careless hum of the golden insects flying and fluttering about the leaves of the forest. T' was an atmosphere of peace, serenity, and relaxation, and the young man drank it all in.
Two years had passed since Link had last set foot in this Sacred Grove. He had last come to place the legendary blade back into its pedestal, to give a sense of closure to the terrible coup that had changed his life forever. Since his last journey to this sacred place, Link had been asked, by the Princess herself, to train the Hyrule Army, or what was left of it. The soldiers were, for the most part, inexperienced, cowardly, and uncoordinated to the point of ineptitude. Sometimes Link wondered if it was a mistake to accept. He was just a ranch hand who had spent his entire life jumping fences and herding goats, and tending to complacent farm animals was a far cry from trying to organize an army of several hundred.
Castle life was so radically different from life in Ordon. There were no cuccos to crow in the morning, no smell of fresh dew on the grass to greet him. Instead there were bugle horns and the smell of tar from the castle reconstruction. The smiling sun was obstructed by clouds of dust from construction lumber, and the laughs of the village children replaced with cacophonous hollering from bored guards making fools of themselves for entertainment. Casual greetings of "hello" and "good morning" were replaced with reverent formalities and awestruck stuttering. Link was a hero, and he knew his abilities were needed by Hyrule during its reconstruction, but he always felt so out of place. Link would imagine himself helping Talon grip a slingshot when teaching his men to hold a bow, he would imagine Colin dusting dirt from his hair whenever one of the soldiers fell headfirst off a horse, he could hear Beth telling the boys when he found guards fooling around. Such thoughts of his old life seemed to be the only thing that got Link through the day-to-day businesses of his new life.
The only place Link could feel at ease was at Telma's Bar or with the Princess. The Group always made him feel at ease, and they would always joke of his "hero" duties and have fun as friends. The Princess always made him feel like he had a confident; someone who would understand how much being the "hero" was stressing him, and how he often felt it was all a mistake.
The Princess was always full of wisdom, and suggested a way to help; five days ago she had encouraged him to leave the castle for a while to calm down and recharge, perhaps return to Ordon for a visit. That was exactly what Link did, and the last four days were such a joy. Colin was growing to be such a confident little warrior, and he and Talo were actually getting alone. Malo had come back from Kakariko in such a hurry when his father sent news of Link's arrival; he was quite the successful businessbaby. Ilia had cried of course, but they were tears of joy. Beth had been like a big sister these two years taking care of Uli's toddler daughter Amity. And of course all the adults had been ecstatic to see Link return.
It was heart wrenching to have to leave so soon. Link almost couldn't leave, and as he traveled through the woods with the outline of a nearly rebuilt Hyrule Castle on the horizon, Link had this sickening feeling of foreboding. He wondered if he really could make himself go back to the castle, or if he should just stay in Ordon and forget the Twilight War ever happened. The young man had never felt so lost in his life.
So Link had come to the Sacred Grove instead, hoping to rediscover that hero spirit in him that had originally been the source of his courage and motivation during Hyrule's time of need. There were old stories, wives' tales really, that spoke of how the Sacred Grove could heal all maladies of the mind and soul. Link didn't believe such tales, but he still felt drawn to this place. The last few years of castle life had taken a toll on his spirit. He hoped that holding the Master Sword again would revitalize his will, but when he had gripped the hilt of the blade that morning, he felt no rush of energy, no sacred connection. He didn't even try to pull the blade out for he feared the blade may reject his hold.
Now the young hero sat at the edge of the grove, wondering what he was to do, and if he really was still the same person he was two years ago. Perhaps he was no longer cut out for the hero business; perhaps he was no longer able to uphold the hero's responsibilities; perhaps the Princess had chosen the wrong man to knight; perhaps…
With thoughts like this weighing on his mind and the morning light weighing down his eyelids, Link gradually dozed off in the light of the Sacred Grove.
Link jolted awake as lightning tore through a darkened sky and thunder shook through the pounding rain. For a moment Link felt as if he was back at the castle, in the wrecked throne room, an ominous foreboding feeling in his gut as he stared down the very face of evil, but another flash of lightning and clap of thunder pulled Link back to his senses. He was still in the Sacred Grove, which now looked like a giant reflection pool framed in black with the legendary blade as the only constant source of light. Link knew not how long he had slept or how he hadn't noticed the rain until it had become a storm, but he was acutely aware of the fact that he was not wet…
Everything about the grove seemed eerily out of place in the storm. The trees looked burnt and sinister in the unnatural lighting, and the rain poured down from a black and cloudless sky. Laugher seemed to reverberate about the trees as the flickering glow of the Master Sword cast moving shadows across the tree trunks, like dancing spirits up to no good. Every time lightning flashed, the shadows would leap, and every time thunder roared, the laughter would howl. Link felt as if a malevolent presence really was beside him, speaking to him, laughing at him.
"Hehehe, are you lost?" The voice seemed to say. "Are you lost little hero?"
Link stood and scanned the area, his experience-trained eyes searching for signs, movement, anything that might indicate the presence of an enemy. He drew his sword and shield, ready for any attack.
The voice simply laughed louder and harder, it seemed to echo within Link's ears. "Haha! Look at yourself hero! Scared silly of your own reflection! You're just a lost child!"
Link looked down into the water beneath his feet, and nearly fell over in shock. His reflection was indeed laughing at him, but it was hardly a reflection. The man he saw in the water had skin grey as ash, clothing black as ink, hair dark as gravel, and eyes red as blood. His face was contorted in a cruel smile, and the sword and shield he wielded were stained with dark red blood.
As Link stared in disbelief, the reflection seemed to rise out of the ground. With lightning as his stage light, thunder as his applause, and the pounding rain as his backdrop, Dark Link rose up to look Link straight in the eye.
"You really are scared of your own reflection!" Dark Link laughed maniacally, "And you call yourself the wielder of the Triforce of Courage! HA! What a joke."
Link hardly had time to think before his instincts took over. In a flash, like a beast, Link had his sword up right to the base of this doppelganger's throat.
"Who are you?" Link's voice was serious and dry, with a harshness he hardly knew he had, but Dark Link seemed to have found it amusing as he gave a crooked smile.
"Aren't you a hasty one? Now put that thing away before you poke your eye out and make it red as mine." Dark Link joked, pushing away the point of the sword with his shield hand. Link jabbed the sword again towards the doppelganger's neck.
At this, Dark Link broke into a howling laughter, and as if by command, thunder roared with him as another lightning bolt lit up the grove. "Careless and blind! My goodness are you a lost one! HAHA! I am you!" In an instant, Dark Link swung his own sword in one swift motion, disarming Link and knocking him back into the water.
"What kind of joke is this?" Link demanded, backing towards the center of the grove with his shield up for protection. "You can't possibly be me!"
"How do you know?" Dark Link sneered, a crazed smile forming on his lips. "How can you be so sure I'm not you when you don't even know who you are." The doppelganger raised his sword, a deranged look in his eye, and swung.
The two went at it for a while in a frenzy, Dark Link on the offensive hacking like a madman, Link behind his shield backing towards the center of the grove. The lightning seemed to highlight their movements like a spotlight for the roaring applause of the rain and thunder. Twice Dark Link attacked an exposed point, and twice Link repelled him with expert reflexes. Pretty soon the two were so close to the center of the grove that Link could see the light of the Master Sword reflecting off the inner wood of his shield. When Dark Link raised his sword for another attack, Link saw his chance and thrust his shield forward right into Dark Link's jaw. The doppelganger stood there dazed as Link dashed for the Master Sword, hoping he still had the strength to wield it. But as soon as the hilt was in his grasp, Link felt his energy drain, and he collapsed to his knees on the pedestal.
"Well aren't you some kind of fool." Dark Link scoffed, massaging his sore jaw as he came back to his senses. Link only barely had the energy to look up at the doppelganger, blue eyes locking with red, and the red eyes were angry. "You honestly believe that blade would still obey you?! Why would it? Like I said, you don't even know who you are anymore!"
Was it true? Link wondered if this doppelganger was right, if he really knew who he was. Was he still the hero? Or was he just some farm boy who got in way over his head and only now just realized how lost he really was.
Dark Link raised his blade high into the air, pure malice in his eyes. Lightning shot through the sky, illuminating the grove in an eerie bright yellow glow. Link could see flashes of his life as the sky burst with light, and he could hear voices of the past in the thunder.
Fado was calling; he needed help with the goats.
Talo's face was flushing with adrenaline as he chased down the monkey.
The Ordon Spring gate came crashing down by thundering bullbo hooves.
The sky was darkening with the cloud of Twilight.
The lamentation of spirits who've lost their light echoes through the darkness.
King Bulblin laughs, escaping the village with Colin atop his spear.
Queen Rutela's story echoes through the fountain, but her people cannot hear her cries.
Ilia screams as the carriage lights on fire.
Midna's gasps desperately as she lies half dead upon the floor.
"The sword accepted you as its master…"
The barrier on Hyrule Castle is falling.
That evil laugh thunders as the fused shadow is crushed.
The light spirits' revival, and the mirror's shattering.
Cries of goodbye from all of Ordon reverberate through the woods.
"You really are the chosen one, Link... A true hero!"
Lightning flashed once more. The dark, red stained blade was dropping.
The Princess was lowering her blade upon his shoulder under the warm glow of the ceremonial torches.
Thunder boomed overhead louder than ever.
The crowd was cheering. Hylians, Gorons, Zoras, all celebrating with uniform shouts of glee.
Red eyes locked with blue, and the blue eyes were unflinching. Their two blades met with a crash, dark red contrasting with glowing white, and the dark blade fell.
Link was on his feet, the legendary blade firmly grasped in his hand, glowing brighter than ever in the weakening rain.
"Hehe. Seems you still have some valor in you huh?" Dark Link said, but the malice was gone from his voice.
"I know exactly who I am." Link responded, his voice soft but confident, a quality he had not heard himself use for a long time.
Dark Link chuckled lightly, his body fading and melting back into the water. "Well then I suppose I'm no longer welcome here."
The rain was subsiding into a gentle drizzle, the sky clearing enshrouding the grove with mist. For the first time since the rain had started, Link could actually feel the drops on his skin, absorbing into his clothes. Link thought to himself that it never felt so good to be wet. The hero closed his eyes and lifted his face to the heavens, just to drink in the refreshing, cleansing rain.
When Link opened his eyes again, the rain was gone. The sun was high up in the sky and sunbeams filtered through the leaves of the canopy overhead. Birds sang and insects hummed peacefully in the trees. Link found himself seated beneath a tree, his muscles aching and stiff. He could see the Master Sword glowing in the center of the grove, still in its pedestal.
Link stood and approached the sword, wondering if it was all just a dream. But as he stepped up to the pedestal, he could feel the blade radiating with positive energy. Link placed his hand on the hilt and all of a sudden a rush of vitality coursed through his body.
Link released the blade, knowing it would still accept him. He looked about the grove, taking in its beauty, unable to believe that such a place could ever look as sinister as it had to him just moments before. Was it all just a dream?
The hero smiled. It mattered not whether it was all a dream or not. What mattered now was that for the first time in two years, Link knew what he wanted to do with his life. For the first time in two years, Link knew who he truly was.
"Time to go now. Best not keep Princess Zelda waiting."