I wrote this fic in two days! I had been writing another fic for a contest only to discover it was over the character limit. Two days left, so I had to put the finishing touches on hold to quickly write a new fic (this one) and submit it before the deadline. As it was, I barely made it.
Kind of an odd one. It's basically about Midna and Zant, and the relationship they have prior to the events of Twilight Princess. It basically starts with them first meeting as kids, and does timeskips to cover six separate encounters between them.
It is Midna x Zant, but it's not exactly a romance fic. It's got definite elements of that, but it's more a drama in general. Alrighty, enjoy!
The forests of the Twilight Realm were different from those of Hyrule. The bark of the trees was smooth and black, and the leaves glowed with an unearthly light, as did much of the world itself. As with much of the world, they were suspended on floating masses over a brilliant twilight sky which was identical in appearance whether it was below you or above you. Occasionally the ground itself would be littered with gaps. Light shone from the sky and trees above, and the sky and grass below, turning otherwise dark groves into brilliant displays of light.
Serene beauty such as those forests was effortless to enjoy, except in cases such as these. The peace was disturbed by rapid footsteps, running, through the grass. Soil and rocks were kicked up, and screams rang out through the trees.
A little twili girl was running as fast as her short legs could carry her, desperately running for her life from her persuers. She screamed repeatedly and loudly, calling for help.
There were three twili men after her. Bandits or criminals of some sort. She didn't know. All she knew is she was playing outside the palace and they attempted to abduct her. As twili royalty, she would be worth a hefty price.
"Someone, please, help!" the little girl cried.
The leader of the men was closing in on her, pulling ahead of the other two.
Suddenly a high-pitched shriek rang out and from the air came flying a small figure. The girl felt a foot press hard into her head, and use her as a step, jumping off her and smashing straight into the face of the lead bandit. He was knocked over from the impact, swinging back and knocking over his two allies as well.
The girl had been knocked down as well from being jumped on. Holding her head, she turned and looked. She could now see that the figure was a small, agile-looking boy, a little taller than her. He wasted no time and ran past her, grabbing her hand and pulling her along with him.
"Come with me!" he ordered.
"You jumped on my head!" the girl cried, still holding it with her free hand. "How dare you, I am the daughter of-"
"Yeah, yeah, shut up now," the boy grumbled.
They could hear shouting behind them now, as the bandits recovered and were hot on their trail. They didn't have to run for long before they lost them. The boy knew the forest well and lead them into hiding easily.
They rested in a cave, one that was hidden behind a glimmering curtain of moss. More moss along the cave walls likened the dark place to a starry sky. Midna was out of breath and still frightened from the attack, but quickly she began to pout and glare at the boy. He was merely looking serious, eyeing the ground.
She looked around for something she could throw at him, and found a pebble. While he wasn't paying any attention to her, she beaned him in the forehead with it.
He let out a high-pitched cry, then grabbed his head and met her glare.
"What the hell was that for?" he cried.
"You jumped on my head! You should show more respect to a noblewoman!"
The boy laughed at her. "You're just a little kid like me, noble or not!"
She hit him with another rock.
He growled and pulled out a red glowing sword. It stuck out of his sleeve, which was longer than his arm, making him look more silly than threatening.
"Do that again and you're dead!" he warned.
She stepped back, startled and afraid. She thought a moment and glared at him once again.
"You wouldn't kill a noble, you'd be put to death," she insisted.
He shook his sword as threateningly as he could. "No one knows you're here with me. They'll never find out."
She looked him in the eye, trying to figure out if he was serious or not. He didn't look hard enough to kill someone. He was just a kid like her, after all.
She hit him with another rock.
He let out a louder growl out of frustration, but he couldn't bring himself to use his sword. He put it away. He then took the rocks out of her hand and glared at her. She sat in a corner, as they both glared at each other.
"So what is your name, peasant?" she asked snottily.
He shot her a look. "Why do you want to know?"
She looked away, annoyed. "I SUPPOSE I should be thankful for saving me, so I should know your name."
He grunted, amused. "I'm Zant."
"Just Zant," he said, annoyed again.
After a moment, she introduced herself. "I am Midna Shadowe, successor of the Shadowe fami-"
"I really don't care," he interrupted. "Your first name would've been enough."
She glared at him, an expression which he returned. Then they both looked away and waited until it was safe to go out.
Zant took Midna to his father, who in turn escorted them back to the Palace of Twilight. Midna was shocked to discover that the rude boy, Zant, was in reality a servant of the royal family. A page in a well-known family of knights, the Twilit family.
She glared at him as he walked off with his father, his back turned.
"Snotty little brat," she muttered, oblivious to the irony of her own words.
Six years later. Midna: Fourteen years old. Zant: Sixteen years old.
Midna walked through the dark palace corridor, her bare feet softly moving along the stone. It was late in that "day". Not that they had day or night there, but they still had to sleep, so they still arranged their time in much a similar fashion. The sky did not darken, nor did the glowing light of the Sols and the energy they provided to all of the Twilight Realm, but artificial lightsources were extinguished as they were unneeded. Because of this the corridor was darker than usual as Midna made her way towards the courtyard. She waved goodnight to several of the palace attendants on her way out, some of which looked confused at the direction she was going.
Midna was not a member of the royal family, merely of the noble Shadowe family who served in their council, but she did live within the palace. At least to the knowledge of most, she had no reason to leave the palace. No one questioned her, however, as she was a noble girl of an esteemed family.
Midna entered into the courtyard of the palace as the night hour arrived. All of the palace's lights were out now; the only light in sight was the Sol sitting in the center of the courtyard. The only light, perhaps, but it was a magnificent one. A small sun in reality, it gave out infinite light, as well as infinite energy and life. Even though it bore the power of a sun, it's light never blinded, and yet it shone across impossible distances. A gift from the twilight gods.
Midna glanced around. No one was to be seen. The guards were further back by the entrance to the palace innards, and around below by the gates. Everyone else was asleep. She was alone. She gazed deeply in the Sol, mystified as always, as she walked over to one of the walls and leaned against it.
She merely stayed there, staring at the Sol for several minutes, until a voice broke her thoughts.
"A noble girl shouldn't be by herself at such a late hour." The voice was right behind her. "Do you remember what happened the last time?"
Midna smiled. The person she had been waiting for had arrived.
"I seem to recall you rescuing me. It wasn't... terrible," she said coyly.
"Hm, really?" said Zant, jumping down off the short wall and landing in front of her. "I seem to remember you thinking of it differently back then."
He spun around and bowed in one simultaneous motion. "Greetings, miss Shadowe."
Midna turned around and leaned forward, peering over the wall. There was nothing below but the sky. Nowhere for Zant to stand or climb. She wondered how he was able to get to the wall. He was a mystery.
Without facing Zant, she spoke. "Please, Zant. I thought you weren't interested in last names?"
The sound of movement behind her told her Zant had ceased his gesture. "Indeed. But shall we stop referring to something so long ago?"
"Sure, although it IS a fond memory," Midna said, turning to face Zant.
He laughed, more at her expense than anything else, but he said nothing.
"Oh shut up!" she cried, though she laughed as she spoke.
He laughed again, with her this time. "My apologies; you always make me laugh."
"That's no way to talk to your future wife." Midna was being playful, but there was seriousness hidden under her tone.
"Future wife?" Zant spoke, in mock surprise. "We've never spoken of this before. Is this something you've decided?"
Midna turned away. "Hmmmmmm, yes. It is possible... isn't it?"
She glanced back at him. There was a light smirk on his face, and a glimmer in his eye. Gradually, as they had gotten to know each other more, she was able to read the looks and glimmers in his eyes less and less. She couldn't explain why, and she hated it.
"I... suppose," he said after a moment of hesitation. "Isn't it more traditional for the man to ask?"
"You're not a man yet," she retorted.
"Besides... I'm not traditional," she added.
"That is true," he said, withdrawing his right hand into his sleeve. "In that case, please accept my apologies, my companion."
He bowed slightly, pulling a flower out of his sleeve and holding it out to her.
She gasped as she saw it. It was a flower. Other than the fact that it had fewer jagged shapes to it than most flowers in the Twilight Realm, it was completely normal. And that was what was unusual about it. It did not glow, but instead was a bright red shade. These were the only flowers like this in the entire Twilight Realm. A breed of flora brought by the first twili settlers. They had become so rare as to be incomprehensibly valuable.
"Zant! I-is that..." she stuttered. "Did you steal this?"
"I cannot say." Another unreadable glimmer crossed his eyes.
After a moment of stunned silence, she took the flower gently and shook her head.
"How come I can't tell what you're thinking anymore?" she asked.
"Because I've gotten to know you too well," he answered.
"But I've gotten to know you too."
He was silent, but pointedly so, as if the silence somehow answered her question. Another glimmer.
She stared into those eyes for several long moments.
Finally she shook her head once more. "So mysterious..."
Two years later. Midna: Sixteen years old. Zant: Eighteen years old.
Midna was running as fast as she could. Her destination was the military chambers around the walls of the palace, where the guards as well as the army both took up residence and organized. She had to run down many steps to get there from the palace; the grounds were very large and the palace was raised quite far above the walls.
She had been running for a while. She was exhausted and her feet were in pain, but she couldn't stop running. She had not heard from Zant in many weeks, and even before then he had not been acting like himself for a while. She normally did not bump into him. Whenever they would meet, their encounters were his doing. If he was intentionally avoiding her it was nearly impossible for her to meet him. Finally, someone in the palace had told her where he was, but she didn't have much time.
Finally she arrived at her destination. A group of men was assembling. Soldiers, heading off to battle.
The twili were in a war. You see, their first ancestors had been sent into the Twilight Realm as a punishment for their crimes. They had made the world their own. But creatures had lived there before the twili. The shadow beasts were native creatures, who did not speak but still displayed intelligence. They luckily had always stayed away from the twili, and there were never any problems. Until recently, that is. The uneasy peace had been broken, and the twili were engaged in a full-scale war with the creatures, who attacked them relentlessly. The beings were impossibly strong and fast. They could defeat many twili soldiers single-handedly. Worse, those they defeated were somehow transformed into new shadow beasts. The originals, the natives who had not been created by such a transformation, had unique heads, appearing more ornate than the rabble.
New, fully trained recruits were being sent off to the front lines, and Zant was among them. She spotted him, following his commanding officer towards the unit. Being a noble trained especially for knighthood, he was not a common soldier, but just that, a knight. His rank and combat prowess were far more significant than that of the others.
"Zant!" Midna called his name as she ran to him.
The uninviting, tense motions he made as he turned to face her made her stop several feet from him. He was holding a helmet in his arm.
He was silent for a minute. "Midna."
"What are you doing?" she cried.
"What does it look like?" he responded coldly. "Fulfilling my duty. I am joining the war as a knight."
"Why didn't you tell me?" she asked.
"Because it did not matter. I did not want to trouble myself with telling you this, but it is over."
"What is?" she asked, although she knew.
He didn't answer.
She looked down to the ground. "What happened to you? What changed? I thought we were going to get married."
Zant laughed scornfully. "Marriage? Love? Frivolity for the weak! I seek one thing: power. I seek the throne. Marrying you can not give that to me."
She looked up at him. "And that's more important to you?"
His espression was startlingly cold and cruel. He ignored her question. "You really should have seen this coming. I sincerely recommend you forget all about me. If we ever meet again, things will be completely different."
There was an eerie glimmer in his eye, and while she could not understand what he was thinking, it sent a chill down her spine.
"Sir Twilit!" called Zant's commanding officer. "We must leave immediately."
Zant put on his helmet, and it closed around his face, forming a mask. It was generic, faceless really, and only a little larger than his bare head. He stared at her for only a brief moment before turning away without a word or any sign of respect.
She watched him as he got into formation in front of the other soldiers. The officer stood in the center of the unit, holding a glowing blue sphere that closely resembled a Sol, only smaller. Midna recognized it as one of the small objects used to contain the power of the Sols. He used it to generate a glowing platform beneath the unit, and it floated into the air, carrying them off.
Midna was overcome with grief, and she collapsed in tears. Zant was right about one thing though. She did see this coming, even if she denied it all the while. Zant was always power hungry. That was who he was and had always been, first and foremost.
Twelve years later. Midna: Twenty-eight years old. Zant: Thirty years old.
Midna followed the crowd of her peers into the audience chamber. There was an important gathering, and everyone knew what it was about.
The King of Twilight was getting old, and had been diagnosed with a number of health problems associated with his age. In short, he would die very soon. All of his children, his heirs, were dead. They had died numerous ways, a few involving the war against the shadow beasts. But whatever the cause, the result was the same. He had no heir, and so one needed to be decided. Candidates for the throne were being chosen among worthy nobles, and Midna herself was one of them.
Midna's cousin Nocta walked up beside her and whispered to her. "Did you hear, Midna? They're saying the war is over!"
Midna's eyes flashed in surprise, and her mind drifted to thoughts of Zant, whom she hadn't heard from since last she saw him, and hadn't thought about in years. "Really?"
Nocta nodded excitedly. The war had been trying for all the twili. Twelve long years it had been.
Before Midna could ask for details, the room was called into order. The nobles formed neat lines in the chamber, standing amongst their own family members.
The elderly king began speaking, but Midna wasn't paying much attention. She didn't care much for formalities. He was saying something about his reign and his children. Eventually he got around to talking about the candidates, and their names were spoken aloud as they were called to stand by the throne.
There was a total of four, Midna knew. Her, and then two other nobles she knew by name. The fourth, however, she did not know the identity of. She was actually curious about that.
The first two were called up. Then Midna was, and like he had done with the others, the king spoke a quick note about the quality of her character. She bowed and took her place beside the throne. And then came time for the fourth to be called.
"The fourth candidate, who only this week made his presence known to me, is Zant Twilit," spoke the king.
Midna was shocked. She looked into the crowd as Zant himself indeed stepped forward. He looked different. Older, dressed in more regal garb, hardened in a way. But it was definitely him. She gasped aloud, but no one heard her.
Zant stood before the king, bowing. On his face was a proud smirk, different from the ones Midna was used to seeing on his face.
"Zant Twilit," began the king. "You achieved the rank of knight during your training, and at the age of eighteen went off to war. Through acts of heroism and bravery you quickly gained respect and rank. Indeed, you eventually claimed a commanding rank. You led your unit into battle against the home of the shadow beasts itself. In that terrible battle, all of your men were killed, and you single-handedly dealt a deathblow to the beasts' chain of command, breaking their power. And you escaped with your life, no less!"
Zant grinned at that as he tilted his head downward so no one would see. Midna did, however, as she was watching him closely. She couldn't believe he had actually done all that. Did he really?
"For your honor and valor, you will be awarded the rank of general," continued the king. "And you shall be a candidate for the throne."
"Thank you, my lord," spoke Zant in a smooth voice, something that Midna had never heard before, not even when he spoke to her. "I am honored by your consideration."
The room relaxed after the formalities were over with. The nobles began to mingle, as it shifted into a more celebratory gathering. Midna, like the other candidates, was approached by many people who wished to congratulate her. She tired of it quickly, however, as all she was interested in was Zant.
Eventually finding an excuse to break away, she approached Zant, who was receiving the same treatment. He seemed to be being polite and courteous, which was odd because from what she knew about him, he'd probably get more annoyed about being bothered than she did.
"Excuse me, may I borrow him?" she asked playfully, grabbing Zant's arm.
The nobles he had been speaking to looked surprised, but nodded. Zant gave a light nod as a farewell, and followed her willingly. She led him over behind some pillars where they would have some privacy, then let go and turned to him.
"So, long time no see," she said.
Zant nodded respectfully. "Indeed, miss Shadowe."
Midna raised her eyebrow. "Cut the act, Zant, we both know you hate formalities."
Zant smirked and shrugged. "Very well, Midna, if you wish. But we are nobles first and foremost, not friends. You should show the proper respect."
Midna glared at him. "Friends? Are we even that anymore? And nobles first and foremost? Is that because being a noble brings you power?"
A look came across his face that Midna had never seen before. It was dark and unsettling. He did not answer.
Midna's eyes narrowed, then she closed them entirely. After a moment of inner struggle, she removed the deep frown from her face.
"So, you defeated an army of shadow beasts and their leaders all by yourself," she said. "That's big."
He laughed as he turned his head to look back toward the crowd. His voice was still silky smooth. "Oh... I don't really like the stories people tell."
"It's not true?"
He looked back at her and smirked. "Hm... Let's just say it was a bit less... heroic."
Suddenly she became frightened. The look in his eyes... For the first time in a long time, she could read it. She couldn't explain why. Perhaps it was because they had been apart so long and he no longer knew her well enough to keep it from her. It wasn't his face, that was calm and pleasant, nor his voice which was much the same. It was his eyes. There it was clear, a spark of pure, merciless lust for power. Almost evil. It sent a chill down her spine. She didn't want to think about what it could have meant, so she didn't let her mind wander.
Midna exhaled sharply from the shock before she spoke. "Shall we go back?"
Zant did nothing but nod, his attitude pleasant. But she now found his presence menacing, and she was eager to get away from him. They parted ways and talked amongst the other nobles, but Midna's mind was stuck on their encounter. Something had drastically changed in him. Maybe it had happened before he left her, but... at the very least it had increased greatly. Something was wrong.
A year later. Midna: Twenty-nine years old. Zant: Thirty-one years old.
Despite her occasionally sharp wit, and informal nature, Midna was very intelligent and excellent material for a ruler. When the time came, and one needed to be chosen, it was hardly a surprise that Midna was picked.
As Midna attended her own coronation, the air of the event was bittersweet. There was joy at the crowning of their new ruler whom the people loved, and yet sadness at the passing of their king. Nonetheless Midna smiled as she stepped in front of the crowd, taking part in the ceremony. Her eyes scanned the crowd, and one person stood out to her.
Zant stood among his family members in the one of the neat rows of nobles flanking the crowd. His eyes were closed, but there was an obvious look of anger on his face. She stared at him for a few minutes, until he sensed her gaze and opened his eyes to glare back at her.
The look in his eyes once again frightened her. She had not really seen or talked to him since that meeting a year ago, and she was glad. Just being near him disturbed her. She continued to glance at him throughout the ceremony, and he looked more angry and upset each time.
At the climax of the ceremony, as Midna was about to receive the crown, she looked again for Zant but could not see him. She scanned the crown for him, finally spotting him by the large double door as he walked through, slamming it behind him. The sound briefly drew the attention of the crowd, who had not noticed him leaving. The attention went back to the coronation.
Midna closed her eyes to hide her sadness. He had been out of line, but she couldn't help but feel badly for him. And she was also sad to see the truth in what she suspected, what he had said. He cared for power more than anything else. Even her.
After the coronation Midna was heading to her new duties as ruler when she heard a high pitched shriek of anger that sounded all too familiar. She rushed to the window and looked out, seeing Zant in the courtyard where they had always met during their teenage years. She closed her eyes and continued on her way, shedding several tears at this, her true goodbye to her friend.
A few days later...
Midna had just entered her bed chamber. It was late and she was going to sleep. Before she could change out of her regal attire, however, she was startled by a loud explosion outside. Then screams and the sounds of battle. She rushed out of her room to see what was going on. She approached a nearby window and leaned out to see. In the courtyard, many guards and soldiers were now engaged with the enemy, the shadow beasts.
"What?" she cried out loud.
She backed away from the window and looked around. Several guards were rushing toward her from down the hallway.
"My lady!" they yelled.
Realizing their attention was on something behind her, she spun around just in time to see a large shadow beast leap at her. She barely avoid it, falling onto the ground. It had an ornate head, indicating it was one of the pureblood shadow beasts, the original inhabitants of the Twilight Realm. It turned to attack her again. She scrambled to her feet and ran to the guards. As they passed her they engaged the beast, killing it, although they sustained heavy casualties. Only two remained, out of the original dozen or so.
"Come, my lady!" called the lead guard. "We have to get you to safety!"
She ran with the two guards down several hallways, and then out onto a balcony leading to another wing of the palace. But someone stood in their path.
He dressed in regal, twili garb, with very long sleeves and glowing patterns. His face was not visible, for it was hidden under a large helmet, much taller than his head and resembling some sort of frightening insect. Midna recognized it as the unique, ornate helmet of a general. A very specific general. She remembered seeing it being given to Zant sometime after he received his new rank.
"Hello, Twilight Princess," said Zant.
Without another word, he swung up his hands and pushed the two guards off the ledge with invisible force.
Midna raised her hand and attempted to do the same to him, but he merely waved his hand and her magic had no effect.
As twili were descended from sorcerers, all of them possessed magic by blood. Not all of them bothered with it, but most knew some form of it. Obviously soldiers and knights were trained especially for combat. Perhaps that is why Zant was so much stronger... But somehow it felt different.
"What's going on?" Midna asked. "Why are you doing this?"
Zant laughed. "You know very well why. For power."
Midna glared at him in defiance. "The people won't follow you blindly! They'll know what you did!"
He laughed again. "I know that. That is precisely why I made some new allies. Ones that will follow me. Ones that can make others like them... obediant. Beasts."
Midna's eyes went wide. "The shadow beasts?"
Zant nodded. She couldn't see it, but she could feel his smirk under the helmet. "Yes. Remember what I told you? That what happened the day the war ended was something less heroic than what they said? I slaughtered my unit that day and made a deal with these beasts... just in case I needed them. They would have proven unnecessary, however, if you had not stolen the throne from me. You caused this."
"Don't be a fool!" Midna cried. "You're not strong enough to control the shadow beasts!"
Zant laughed once more. "That was true... before. I was planning to improvise a way to destroy them later on... if I needed to use them that is. But now things are different."
Zant began advancing toward Midna. She backed away, attempting several more times to push him off the ledge with her magic. He waved away her spells again and again, effortlessly.
"You see? I'm far stronger than you think. Now you have a choice. You may join me in my new kingdom, or you can fall like the rest who oppose us."
Midna was not entirely sure what he had meant by "us", but she again glared at him in defiance.
"Never!" she screamed.
"So be it," he spoke, suddenly angry.
He outstretched his arms, and without a word, he coldly cast upon her a spell with power she had never seen before. She hit the ground. When she opened her eyes, she no longer was a twili. She was something far less, a strange imp.
"Now begone. I have no use for a defiant weakling."
Holding out his arm, he took hold of Midna with his magic, and flung her into the courtyard below.
Her power usurped, Midna had been betrayed. She and Zant were no longer lovers. No longer friends. No longer allies... Not even acquaintances. Now they were enemies to the end.