A/N: This story is a role-reversal fic, in which Zelda is the heroine and Link is the prince. This is also an AU fic, with a mostly original plot and some original characters and settings along with the familiar cast of LoZ characters and OoT's version of Hyrule. Some story elements such as the Sages and Spiritual Stones will appear in the story, but they will serve different purposes than they did in the game.

This story is adapted from an incomplete novel draft of mine. The novel draft itself was rather successful in terms of length - two hundred pages long, my longest piece of writing to date. But unfortunately, it wasn't original enough - the initial ideas were all inspired by Ocarina of Time, and as much as I've tried to pull the novel away from an LoZ association, I finally realized I'll never be able to get rid of it completely. Back when I first started writing the novel, I didn't know there was such a thing as fanfiction - and even after I discovered it, it never occurred to me that my novel might work better as a fanfic. Now, I've finally decided to listen to my story and reshape it into the form it wants to fit. The original characters and settings from the novel will be put into storage until I find a better plot for them; the basic plot from the former novel, however, will be followed in this fic and adapted to fit the Zelda-verse.

I'd like to say thanks to Sanngot from deviantART, my new beta reader for this story and my other fanfiction. And now, without further ado, please enjoy DotH!

Disclaimer: I do not own Legend of Zelda, nor am I writing this story for profit. All nonoriginal characters and settings in this chapter belong to Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo. Anlia belongs to me.


~ Prologue: ~
Ambush in the Sacred Meadow

Night cloaked the meadow deep within the Lost Woods, thick clouds obscuring the stars and the thin, scythe-shaped sliver of the moon. The glowing, golden particles of pollen that drifted throughout the forest offered just enough light to illuminate the unusually dark surroundings. The stillness of the night was broken by a quick, lively tune from an ocarina, a song so often heard in the Sacred Forest Meadow that its echoes billowed perpetually through the vast reaches of the woods. For those with the ears to hear it, it was a faultless guide in a forest nearly impossible to navigate.

Sitting on the stump of a long-dead tree, a green-clad girl bobbed her head side-to-side with the song she blew into her instrument. A child in appearance, her chin-length, vibrant green hair complemented the emerald of her tunic and the deeper pine of her boots and undershirt. A fairy hovered nearby, her body a bright pink orb with translucent white wings, the slow pace at which she drifted around the girl's head reflecting the tension in the atmosphere in spite of the upbeat tune.

Abruptly, the song ended, the ocarina lowered to the girl's lap as silence overtook the clearing. Blue eyes opened, orbs that revealed hints of wisdom and experience that belied her youthful appearance. The fairy came to a halt as the girl rose from the stump, eyes narrowed, fingers tight around the small, brown instrument.

The silence was eerie. The usual chorus of frogs, insects, and night birds had stopped at some point during her song. Not even the faintest traces of her music echoed around her. It was only a confirmation of what her senses had felt, of what the forest spirits she'd contacted through her song had warned her about: a wielder of dark magic had invaded the woods and was wandering unchecked through sacred ground. It was close, so close she could feel it in the air. Replacing the ocarina in her tunic pocket, she let her arms fall to her sides, fingers curling slightly as her forest magic built in preparation, reaching out to borrow energy from the trees nearby.

Tap. Tap. She could hear the footsteps now, the click of boots as they mounted the marble staircase leading to the Sacred Meadow clearing. Tap after slow, deliberate tap, so excruciatingly paced that she could picture long legs swinging casually from one step to the next. As if the trespasser owned the place, or fancied they would with this intrusion. She counted each step. Twenty-one. Twenty-two. She should see their head appear above the landing soon.

It emerged, shrouded in black. At first, she thought it was the night casting shadows on the figure, but as the shoulders emerged, she realized it was a cloak with a hood deep enough to mask the newcomer's features. With each tap of stepping boots, more of the cloaked figure came into view until at last they stopped after cresting the last step, standing at the edge of the staircase. The edges of the cloak rustled once with the light breeze before the wind itself seemed to die in the trespasser's presence.

At this distance, with the cloak casting all facial features in shadow, it was impossible to distinguish the figure's gender. The broadness in shoulders and build seemed to suggest he was male, but she couldn't be sure unless he moved closer. And he did, his gait long, casual, deliberate as before. She planted her stance more firmly, legs spreading slightly apart, hips shifting lower body to the side, feet pressing into the soil as if rooting themselves.

"Who are you?" she asked, her voice soft and seemingly pleasant, but with warning in its undertone. "You are trespassing on sacred ground." His steps didn't change, his silence unnerving enough for her to take a step back. "These woods are off limits to all but whom the Great Deku Tree grants passage. How..." He'd closed half the distance. Her resolve was faltering. "How did you navigate these woods?"

He didn't break his silence, just continued walking. She curled her fingers more sharply, the warmth of her powers pulsing from the core in her chest, coursing through her arms, and building in her palms. Then, scuttles broke the silence, and six enormous spiders crawled up the stairs and through the trees on either side. She gasped, stumbling back a few steps. Skulltulas. She'd never seen this variety before, but she knew they were Skulltulas all the same. Unlike their cousins, whose upper bodies were encased entirely in skull-shaped armor, these monsters were black and red in color, though they still bore the impression of a white and black skull pattern on their abdomens. The most striking difference, however, was that unlike the common Skulltulas, who preferred to hang from their webs, these moved about freely. And given that they were bigger than her - the heights of their abdomens almost reaching the shoulders of the cloaked trespasser, the span of their width at least four times her own - they were much more dangerous.

In her shock, she failed to notice that the cloaked figure had closed three quarters of the distance between her and the staircase. He stopped but snapped his fingers, and the Skulltulas picked up where he left off, moving as one to form a half circle that hemmed her in. She was trapped, unable to gauge the strength of the trespasser beyond his formidable monster allies and the darkness that radiated from him. She couldn't escape into the temple, not without knowing his intentions. And if the temple was his goal, he was the last person she'd ever allow in there. She had no choice - she would have to fight.

Closing her eyes, she called to the power in her palms, feeling it trickle into her fingers until the core of each hand was warm with her magic. Her hands rose to her chest, palms flat as if pressing a box. Her eyes opened, blue irises sparkling with the tendrils of her magic. A small, green orb no larger than her fairy formed between her hands, its circumference widening and the glow in its center brightening as she poured more of her power into it. She had a feeling she would need her full strength against this intruder, so she reached deeper into her reserves than she was used to going.

A short, single chuckle broke her concentration. A cloaked arm rose toward her, a brief flash of gold light illuminating the olive skin of his palm. A sphere even blacker than his cloak and the darkness of the meadow coalesced, the spell finalizing quicker than the girl's incomplete one had taken to reach its current stage. Alarmed, she called out for more energy from the trees to feed into her spell, too close to her life force to risk delving deeper into her reserves.

He raised his head slightly when his spell finished and spoke for the first time in a voice deep and resonating. "Is that all you've got, Sage of Forest?"

She didn't even have time to gasp before the orb smashed into her stomach, her own spell shattering like a broken branch as her concentration broke. The blast threw her from her feet, legs hitting the tree stump as she flew over it. She barely registered her fairy screaming her name as her back slammed into the ground, the wind forced out of her upon impact, strands of electricity crawling across her body in the aftershock of the spell. She coughed and gasped, her arms bracing against the grass as she struggled to push herself up.

"Saria!" her fairy cried, fluttering close to the girl's face, her wings beating so rapidly in her fear for her partner that the draft they created tousled a few strands of emerald bangs.

Saria was still too hazed to respond, her mind reeling from shock. The spell was so fast - she had barely seen that blast moving. She'd never seen anyone with magic so powerful; not even the Prince of Hyrule could hope to rival this dark man's power.

Her eyes opened to see the figure standing only feet away. In this proximity, she could see the squareness of his jaw and the thin line of his lips. Then, his head raised just slightly enough to expose the glow of his burning gold eyes.

"I have come for the Spiritual Stone of the Forest. Tell me where it is, and I will let you go unharmed. Otherwise..."

He snapped his fingers, and two of the Skulltulas broke rank to crawl toward the fallen Kokiri girl. Saria trembled where she lay as the spiders moved in, her fairy dinging in alarm and swishing helplessly through the air as she watched. Saria had always been nervous around spiders, and while normal Skulltulas weren't that much of a threat as long as the person kept their distance, these were monsters straight out of her nightmares. She could hear their chelicerae clicking as they stopped less than a foot away on either side, could practically feel their inner struggle to obey the trespasser's silent command not to jump their downed prey.

She was on the ground, propped up only by her arms; if she tried to stand, the stranger would likely order the Skulltulas to attack, and there was no way she could hope to escape with the monsters this close to her. The only way they would spare her was if she revealed the hiding place of the Kokiri's Emerald. A mere sentence from her lips that would expose one of the most powerful sources of magic in Hyrule, entrusted to her race long ago. She was the only Kokiri and one of only two beings who knew where the stone was kept. She couldn't break the trust the stone's guardian had granted her. But more importantly, if evil hands were to get their grasp on the Emerald, the consequences would be devastating not just for the forest, but for the kingdom as a whole.

Anlia, flee, she pleaded mentally, hoping her feelings would convey the message to her fairy. She cringed inwardly at the thought of what she was sentencing herself to, but she met the intruder's eyes and kept her face blank as she said, "I won't tell you."

The stranger said nothing, merely smirked. Never moving his golden eyes from her, he stepped back, face falling back into shadow. For a moment, his arms moved, and her eyes caught a glimpse of the symbol on the back of his right hand: three golden triangles stacked with the corners touching to form a larger triangle, the one of top brighter than the others. But before she could ponder its meaning, Anlia yelled out in warning, and the Skulltula beside her lunged.

Her scream rang throughout the Sacred Meadow, echoing in the perimeter of the Lost Woods surrounding it.

A/N: Saria's fairy, Anlia, is named in honor of Annellia, the fairy friend of the heroine in the former novel. Also, the "skull-armored" Skulltulas are the ones from OoT, while the so-called rarer ones that attacked Saria are from TP.

In spite of the fact that I'm pulling from my own previously-written material, I will be altering and rewriting the rough draft quite a bit. Thus, coupled with college starting up on Tuesday, my updates may be slow at times. I'll also be alternating every so often between this story and TMRC, my Pokémon Mystery Dungeon fic, depending on where my muse decides to take me. Nevertheless, my motivation is high for this story, and I will do what I can with what little free time I have.

Thanks for reading! Drop a review if you have time - positive feedback and constructive criticism are both highly welcome and encouraged. I also allow anonymous reviews from those of you who don't have an account.