fleets: this is it everyone. i hope you enjoyed the ride because i sure did. ;w;

In the original I stuck in some lyrics of a song because I thought it was cool to have some semblance of credit music BUT I am now of the opinion that it was a dumb idea so I've botched it.

But because I still do like to listen to music when I'm writing, I'll share the piece I've been listening to while writing a good portion of this series: it's an epic instrumental called Heart of Courage by Two Steps from Hell. I thought it was pretty fitting, and not just because of the name. But hey if that's not your kind of thing, then go and listen to some good old LoZ music - I personally like 'Legendary Hero remix' by darkesword.


Chapter 53: Farewell

It was an uncomfortably quiet walk to Hyrule Castle. Link was eager to return to the castle to see if Zelda was safe, but he also knew what that would mean for Vaati. Link would either be forced to defeat the sorcerer he had fought alongside with, or he would be forced to take the mage to his public hanging. The chosen hero took a look over his shoulder and watched Vaati trudging slowly behind, still passively staring at his hands. It seemed as though the mage had lost all motivation to do anything: he had yet to cast even a few spells with the magic he had regained. The topic on what they would have to face once they really did manage to succeed in returning was something they had avoided the whole time they had been together. Of course Vaati had thrown around a few comments on how he was going to kill him during their adventure, but seeing how ghostly the sorcerer was now, it was obvious it wasn't as easy as that. Link wondered if the sorcerer knew what was going to happen to him when they reached Hyrule Castle.

"Vaati, I'll promise to leave you alone if you don't cause any trouble for us. You don't have to come to Hyrule," Link hinted.

Vaati snorted irritably, the first response that Link had heard him make after they had returned to the right time period. After that, however, the mage lapsed into silence once more and Link got the message that he didn't plan to speak for the rest of the walk.

The sky was clear and cloudless, and Link supposed it should have been the perfect day to rejoice. It should have been, except he didn't know what to do with the infamous sorcerer. Quietly treading behind him with his head tilted slightly downwards, Vaati was in deep thought about something, but about what he couldn't tell. Link wished he could get a read on the sorcerer. What was Vaati going to do? Did the sorcerer really mean to fight him, still? Vaati could have very easily gotten rid of him by agreeing with Opal not to send him home with him, but he hadn't. Was the desire to fight him one on one really the only reason why he'd been spared? He'd thought that Vaati really did mean to fight him after the sorcerer snapped with the Helmaroc incident…

But then why did Vaati look so defeated already, like he didn't care anymore?

And why did Link have to care about what happened to the sorcerer who had caused so much trouble?

Because he's…

Link stopped walking when he came in sight of the castle gates. There was a crowd waiting for them in hushed quiet, and a few people were wringing their hands together. It was a decent gathering, and all faces were turned to the two of them expectantly. So, I guess someone had seen that I had 'caught' Vaati, Link thought gloomily as his eyes moved toward the castle watchtowers. He felt something brush past him rather rudely and noticed the wordless sorcerer continue onwards towards the crowd, staring blankly ahead. Link hurriedly jogged to catch up to him as Vaati moved closer to the mass of waiting people.

"Wait up!" Link called, and tugged on Vaati's cape to stop him from running into the crowd. The people gathered at the castle gates suddenly rushed forward as they got a better sight of Link. "Everyone, stop! I've got everything under control!" Link called frantically as he ran between the surging mass of people and the lone mage. He wasn't ready for this! They were going to catch Vaati and hang him! Their arms reached out towards the sorcerer hungrily like the poor begging for bread. Then, another thought hit Link.

These people didn't know that Vaati was back to full power.

Link whirled around, this time to stop Vaati. He didn't know if Vaati would attack the townspeople out of defense, and with this large crowd many people would be hurt by a single devastating spell. Link was violently shoved away as Vaati scowled and pushed him over, glaring. At the same time, however, there was a glassy appearance to his gaze as though the sorcerer wasn't focused at all: it was an indifferent expression as though he could care less what happened to him.

Was he seriously going to turn himself in? Why?

"Vaati, no!"

Link reached out for the sorcerer, and the people were only a few feet away from them now. He watched as Vaati brought his hands up in front of his face in defense, and then watched in shock as the crowd slowed before them and began to bow their heads and murmur prayers and blessings.

"Thank you for saving us, lad," a man stepped past Vaati and bowed his head towards Link who stood dumbfounded. "We were frightened when we heard about the rise of the King of Darkness. It wasn't the sorcerer who was behind the mischief but Ganondorf himself! We give you our deepest thanks for saving Hyrule from his grip."

"I…" Link faltered. His eyes darted to the mage who was by now swamped with people.

Vaati appeared dazed, and he no longer had his arms up to his face but they had lowered, confused. Several of the crowd shook his hand and patted him on the back as they praised their thanks. "You must have helped the hero, seeing you were with him," a beaming woman spoke in awe as she also dipped her head in a respectful bow. Vaati could only nod as he had lost his voice. The woman continued, "Then we owe you thanks as well." Someone broke into a cheer, and the crowd began to whoop and holler in a growing crescendo of applause. There was a call to let the two through and a path opened before Link and Vaati into the town square and towards the main castle. The two made slow progress as people continued to shake their hands and offer blessings as they made their way towards the castle. Up above, the cloudless sky was as perfect as it could be.

XXXXXXXXXXX

When Link and Vaati arrived at the castle, they found the princess speaking earnestly with a confused guard at the top of the stairs of the throne room. She appeared to be asking if anyone knew where Link had gone. As she heard the doors swing open, she turned around to see Link and Vaati step through.

"Link!"

The hero was nearly thrown off his feet as Zelda ran down the stairs and hugged him tightly. Link squeezed her back, on the verge of tears as relief swept over him. He had thought that he would never see his childhood friend again. He treasured the warmth of the hug: she was real.

It was only when Zelda slowly pushed him away from the embrace with her gaze steeling as she looked over his shoulder that Link remembered that Vaati was there as well. The sorcerer had respectfully kept his distance from them, waiting at the bottom of the stairs of the throne room instead of joining then at the top. The princess watched Vaati with accusation, and her hands shook as they tensed, perhaps from remembering all that he had made her go through while she had been his captive.

Vaati matched her gaze, and for the first time since he and Link had returned to Hyrule he gave a semblance of a smile. It was more of a smirk, and it was a bitter one at that. "Hello, princess. Are you excited to see me?"

"Link, why is he here?" she asked, turning to Link for answers.

"The princess is the only sensible one here, it seems," Vaati laughed in a way that suggested he had given up on the world, "no one else here understands anymore. What's to stop me from taking over the castle, Link? I was escorted here so nicely by you and those idiots outside. Will you stop me?" The sorcerer demanded. "Will you?"

The hero sighed, and then turned to look at the sorcerer who still had that harsh sneer on his face. A few weeks ago he probably wouldn't have recognized something off with Vaati's question. A few weeks ago, he wouldn't have noticed that if it had been the same sorcerer he had fought at the Palace of Winds at the very beginning of this mess, Vaati wouldn't have asked Link if he would stop him.

Vaati wouldn't have bothered asking: he simply would have told Link he couldn't be stopped.

But with days of being around the sorcerer for so long, Link did notice that this wasn't the same sorcerer as the one he had fought in the beginning. Vaati wasn't challenging him – he wanted someone to stop him.

Link felt Zelda touch his shoulder, and then move her hands toward the sword in the hilt attached to the belt around her dress, but the young hero stopped her. He shook his head to the surprise of both the princess and the sorcerer. "No, I won't stop you," he answered Vaati.

"Then Hyrule will fall by my hand!" Vaati gritted his teeth and his hands clenched. The room brightened as powerful energy spheres spun by his palms.

"I won't stop you because you won't do that and you know it!" Link raised his voice.

Everyone was at a standstill for several interminable seconds. Then, very carefully, Zelda was the first to move and she released her hold on her sword which she had reached for earlier. Vaati's expression wavered, and the magic spheres vanished and he let his arms fall to his sides.

Without another word, Vaati left the room.

XXXXXXXXXXXX

Vaati lay alone on the rich downy bed of the castle chamber he had been given. He'd been there for a half hour, just lying on his back and staring at the ceiling. He hadn't even bothered to take his sandals off.

The castle hands had stopped him in the castle hallway just as he had been wandering around after leaving the throne room. They had then escorted him to a spacious chamber that he could have all to himself, and they had later explained that it was the princess's wish that he stay there as long as he liked and to make himself as comfortable as he wanted.

He knew, of course, that "princess's wish" was most likely Link's. He doubted she would be so gracious after everything he had done to Hyrule.

Everything he had done. The people here thought he was the same as Link now, a damned hero. Maybe it really was the princess's wish, since there would be too many questions and would look bad on the kingdom to place someone who had won high opinions from its citizens in a jail cell. Even though he had threatened to attack them earlier at the throne room, he hadn't, so they didn't have a valid reason to imprison him again. And why hadn't he? The sorcerer sighed loudly and pinched the bridge of his nose. The reasons were complicated. He had to go about this carefully this time, and he couldn't rush into it impulsively. If he didn't put much thought about it and had immediately attacked Link, he would have lost all opportunities for the second chance he had gained. He had more options now, such as not leading an exciting life of terror and domination but leading a rather boring one involving being left alone by everyone imaginable. And frankly, a couple of years of boring didn't sound all that bad.

And like all problems with complicated reasons, there was also a simple reason: he hadn't fought because he just hadn't wanted to.

Creases lined Vaati's forehead. This whole mess, from the very beginning to the very end, was still incredibly stupid. It was that dragon's fault. Opal had messed everything up, from the part where she had cursed away his sorcery to the part where she had taken them back to the 'wrong' time period.

Yep, that was right. 'Wrong' time period. She had taken them back to the time just before he had been placed in jail and before he had been sentenced to hang; the time before Hyrule knew who the short, purple-caped mage was. No one recognized him as he was now. And now they thought he was their savior because they had seen him with Link. How ironic; before, they had wanted nothing more than to see him dead, but now they were taking his hands in theirs and blessing him with thanks.

The Render must have thought she had been doing him a favor to send him back to this particular time. She must have thought he would have been thankful to avoid having to deal with the whole country looking to hang him. Of course it was nice, being able to relax in a soft fluffy bed without being interrupted by anyone looking to kill him, but at the same time it annoyed him. It annoyed him because he had sealed his fate to be with the Darkness ever since he had taken the wishing cap and become the most powerful sorcerer in the world… No one like him was supposed to get second chances.

Nothing is set in stone. You CAN change your fate.

Vaati frowned. Of all the voices to be reminded of, it just had to be that one; mischievous, mocking, and very faintly giggly, it was that wizzrobe's. He rolled over on his side and picked at the edge of his freshly washed sheets until he had made a small wrinkled crease in the corner. It folded back and eventually the crease vanished, good as new.

"Hah, but were you even able to change yours?" he thought aloud, thinking back on the ambitious wizzrobe they had met. It was impressive that a monster of its caste had even made it so far as to be involved with Ganondorf's demise, but at the end of the day, no one but him and Link would ever know that a wizzrobe had been capable of being more than just a wizzrobe. To the world, wizzrobes were just wizzrobes and everything remained unchanged…

It was kind of sad, when he thought about it. A wizzrobe, sick of being bound by the rigid rules dictated by hierarchy, had met its end thinking it had succeeded in breaking free.

But really, it hadn't.

It had tried so hard, too, Vaati thought as he let his one arm dangle off the side of his bed. He brought his face closer to the corner of the bed sheets he had folded earlier. The crease he had thought had vanished was in fact still there, though extremely faintly. It was difficult to find unless one was actually looking for it.

Vaati rolled over again, this time with his face down in the pillow. Did the wizzrobe really fail though? A thought nagged in his head. If the only thing the wizzrobe wanted was self-validation, then didn't it succeed regardless of what the world still thought? And even if it couldn't change the world's ideas overnight, it could at least affect some of its opinions no matter how small the audience. He tossed over on his back again with a frown still etched on his face.

Fate… it was just an excuse, wasn't it. It was a tool people could use so they could validate their own arguments, so that they could live comfortably in misery instead of struggle for contentment. Maybe that wizzrobe had recognized that earlier than he had? He could just have easily said it was fate he could never be with Darkness because he was originally with Light, and then argued away using examples of how he had betrayed the Helmaroc King and had rejected Dethl. He was using the excuse of Fate to give up on forgiveness.

"I don't deserve this," Vaati mumbled to no one in particular. He was used to being hated and feared. He was used to having no one care. Now everyone appeared to like him and he felt like throwing up all over the royal carpet.

Vaati, Vaati, Vaati. You were always so hard on yourself, a nagging, squawky voice rang in his head.

Vaati's frown fell into a scowl. "Shut up old man. The dead don't speak."

Ezlo's voice tittered. Of course they don't, stupid boy. I'm from your imagination. However, it's true you were the one who gave yourself so much anguish when you had been studying under me. You always thought you were doing something wrong.

"One can always improve on something. And who are you to tell me I actually studied under you? You never taught me a damn thing except that it was too early for me to learn anything," Vaati spat bitterly.

You're right, I suppose, the voice sighed. I wonder if you knew how much you meant to me though…

"A right slave. 'Fetch me my tea, boy.' 'Yes master Ezlo.'" Vaati mimicked sarcastically. "I was worth a lot, I bet."

You were the son I never had. I was never good at showing affection, I admit. But I was afraid…

"Afraid that I would break something? Afraid that I would mess up? Or perhaps afraid that I would become better than you?"

Afraid that you would get hurt…

"You would have no use with a hurt servant."

Afraid that I would lose you…

"Ha. Then you would have no one to clean the floor."

One mistake in a spell, one accident and I would have lost you forever.

"You bloody fool."

I was wrong, Vaati. You left me anyway because of my blindness. I was stupid, and I had never let you do anything. I realize that now. I paid for it when I saw what you had become when you took the Minish Cap. The Vaati I had known died a different way that day, and ever since then I have been torn apart.

"And good riddance. I was a naïve fool, just like the rest of you. I'm better the way I am now."

Ezlo chuckled sadly. No, Vaati. I don't think I will ever be forgiven for the crime I committed against you. I led you to a path that will lead to your destruction – a path that condemned you to die someday in the hands of a hero. The old sage heaved another heavy sigh. But by some miraculous happenstance you no longer have to lead the life that I caused you to pursue. You don't have to be evil anymore, Vaati.

Vaati was sitting up straight by now. "That's enough. Shut up old man."

I died in grief and shame for the injustice I caused you…

"You deserved it."

I want you to do yourself a favor…

"Don't tell me what to do!" Vaati snarled. He shot a spell at an ornate vase perched on top of the dresser and blasted it against the wall. It shattered to pieces, leaving a mess on the floor and a black char stain on the wall.

Let go, Vaati. Take the chance the girl gave you. You can still be good.

Ezlo's voice faded away and Vaati gripped his hands in a tight fist. He angrily punched the air before slowly relaxing his hands. He flopped onto the bed and continued to stare at the ceiling, going over the imaginary conversation he had had with his dead master.

You can still be good.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

"So you think we can afford to give Vaati a chance," Zelda spoke softly as Link finished his tale. They were walking around the castle garden as the weather was too perfect to stay indoors.

Link nodded. "I think so." He could understand why she would still be wary of the wind mage. After all, she had been his captive and she probably hadn't had the best experience there. The princess seemed tense about the whole situation, but he was glad that she appeared understanding: actually, she appeared relieved they wouldn't actually have to go through with Hyrule's old-fashioned tradition of hanging criminals. Considering it was a lot to ask to allow a previously infamous villain on the loose, Princess Zelda was handling this incredibly well.

"I see," her steps slowed as she walked next to Link thoughtfully. She struggled with the concept for a few seconds longer, and then she took a deep breath, closing her eyes to prepare herself for what she was about to say. After all, the sorcerer wasn't causing any trouble so far, even though he could have done so hours ago. "I understand. You were with him longer than I, and I've always trusted your judgment on people." She opened her eyes and reached for his hand in reassurance. "I can rely on you when the time comes, right Link?"

Link nodded. "Definitely. Though I hope that time never comes."

The wind picked up and the spring flowers ruffled around them. The dainty snowdrops bowed to the wind and the bomb flowers that were just beginning to bloom shook against the brief gust. Zelda stopped walking as she noticed Vaati with his back turned to them at the end of the garden in the distance, and Link followed her gaze.

He squeezed her hand back reassuringly. "Zelda, can you wait for me here?" he darted off before waiting for Zelda to give him an answer.

Link slowed as he neared the sorcerer, and he didn't even hesitate as he came up next to him. They stood next to each other without saying a word for several minutes, each just listening to the soft rustle of wind and perhaps wondering what to say. It wasn't an uncomfortable silence, however. It was a silence with a mutual understanding that there wasn't much more that needed to be said.

Finally, Vaati broke the silence with a voice full of finality.

"I'm leaving."

The wind tugged against Link's hat, making him hold onto the brim to keep it from flying off. "I thought you might say that." He turned to observe the mage whose face was hidden by his bangs. It had been… a rough adventure to say the least. Times filled with doubt and uncertainty that he was doing the right thing, times filled with despair at the inevitability of their differences: sometimes he had been on the brink of giving up. But then… Vaati hadn't fought him. They were both still here, alive, and not clawing at each other's throats. He remembered what Valoo had reminded him at Dragon Roost Island; he needed the courage to trust the future and to believe in the moment. Everything was going to be fine. He could resolve things if he was needed again in the future. Link relaxed. Peace began when both sides had the courage to believe in each other, without being paranoid of what may come. "You know," Link began tentatively, surprising even himself at what he was about to suggest, "if you want, you're always welcome to come back to Hyrule."

Vaati sharply faced Link, crinkling his nose in disdain. "You idiot." They kept a deadpan expression until smiles both cracked on their lips and they exploded in laughter. The Chose Hero inviting a power crazed evil mage into Hyrule? A few weeks ago, Link's statement would have been unheard of. In the distance, Princess Zelda, who had been watching the two of them, smiled softly and then turned around to return to the castle. It seemed that there was nothing to worry about.

When the laughter finally died down, Vaati spoke again, calmly. "Link, I think I owe you an apology."

"What's this? The Great Vaati is apologizing? We're doomed."

Vaati waved him away, frowning in annoyance. "I promised to kill you and yet I failed to keep my promise. For that, I'm sorry."

"Now that's more familiar," Link grinned. Vaati huffed, and sent a small gust that knocked Link off his feet. Link laughed and brushed himself off. With a big grin, he reminisced about the beginning. "Hey Vaati? Remember when we first got into this mess? Goddesses we got in each other's way so much. You almost put me in jail and everything."

"Yeah. Wish the guards had actually locked you up."

"And you wouldn't have made it five paces out of Hyrule before Argorok caught you."

"Don't be ridiculous," Vaati snapped. Then, he added with an uncharacteristic sheepish grin, "I would have made fifty." He sighed, and considered his hands, no longer bound by the dragon's curse. "It's good to have my magic back. You wouldn't understand."

"I can imagine," Link smiled. "So, no more boomerangs?"

"No."

"No batons?"

"Nope."

"I'll admit I'm going to kind of miss that," the hero chuckled lightly, "even though you did threaten to use my own weapons against me. It was kind of fun not having to adventure alone." Then, the boy stuck out his hand to the mage. "I'm glad I got to know you. As a person, I mean, and not just some mindlessly evil monster."

There was a pause in the conversation as they lapsed into silence once more. It seemed as though the mage wasn't going to take Link's hand, and a look of fleeting disgust passed the sorcerer's face. However, the expression was momentary and the mage sighed, eventually shaking the other boy's hand. Vaati hesitated as he tried to find the right words. He fiddled with the tip of his cape, and his feet fidgeted uncomfortably. Finally, Vaati muttered something and rolled his eyes in exasperation.

With a snap of his fingers, the wind swirled around the sorcerer and Vaati levitated off the ground. It was a momentary stunning display as the droplets of water that had collected on the buds shimmered up with the wind, reflecting light off onto the petals that had also caught the breeze. "Link."

Link looked up and shielded his eyes from the sun. The wind was stronger now, flapping the mage's cape in sweeping gusts. Vaati gave his trademark wicked grin and a faint blue glow outlined his silhouette.

"May we never meet again."

There was a flash of light and Vaati vanished into the air, leaving Link completely alone. The wind stopped abruptly and the air became still. Not even the fragile grass wavered, and it was eerily quiet without a single rustle of the leaves brushing against each other. Link brought his fingers to his face out of habit of brushing his bangs away from his eyes, but then realized there wasn't a breeze to tangle his hair or whip them around his forehead.

The hero thought about his adventure with the sorcerer while staring at the empty space where Vaati had been. A brief emptiness welled up and he smiled regretfully that this was in fact the end, and that the sorcerer hadn't decided to stay. At the same time, he was glad that things hadn't ended the way he had feared. Maybe for Vaati, Link had been the closest thing to a friend he'd had for a long time, if ever. Link liked to think they were something like friends… It was probably for the better that they didn't meet again, but he hoped that maybe one day they would run into each other. Not at some dungeon or during some crisis, but maybe somewhere like the castle town market: he'd catch a glimpse of the sorcerer, maybe making his way to the library. They might exchange glances, give a small wave, and then they'd go about their own business. All they'd need was an acknowledging nod to know that they were both doing well in life, and neither had to take up their swords or sorcery.

If only, right?

"Bye Vaati," the boy whispered to the empty air.

In a remote place, somewhere, a breeze began to blow.


Credits! Now go listen to Heart of Courage while I babble on for the last time...

fleets: And that's it. Rend is finished after almost exactly 2 years. When I first started this rewrite in 2010, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought at first that it was going to be a plain old rewrite with the same exact plot. I could never have anticipated the different twists this story would throw me into, with the whole new cast and brand new take on the various relationships.

Actually I am floored that it had been a 2 year project to complete this, and absolutely speechless that some of you old timers have followed me for those two years, and more! I would like to take the time to thank each and every one of you readers and reviewers who have followed me all the way up to this final page, and although there are too many of you to do the individual thank you page as I had done with the original version, I hope you can take my deepest gratitude for your continued support.

I rarely do shameless advertising, but there is one reader/reviewer/author who I do want to give special credit, and that is Reily96. Her stories were one of the first ones I came across before I really knew what this website even was, and was part of the reason I was inspired to stick with the LoZ fandom. On top of that, she was also the very first reviewer for my very first story ever, which just so happens to be the "original Rend," or Beyond Centuries. Basically I owe it a lot to her for actually being here, online, as a fanfic author. So if you liked what you read here, go visit her page, because she also happens to write long adventure-esque stories featuring a certain sorcerer.

Ahhh I'm beginning to feel nostalgic. You know, there were quite a lot of casualties in this story. Helmaroc, Argorok, Opal, Dethl, Thistle, to name some noteworthies. I don't think I've ever written a story with zero casualties, come to think of it...

As for where to go next? Well, what should really follow Rend would be The Unresolved, but as you know this rewrite deviated quite a bit and I would prefer to (though I probably won't... at least not for a huge long while) rewrite that one as well so that it would mesh better. Thistle's predecessor appears in that story, actually, from back when there was a pair of us working on the same story (long story, I won't get into it but I work solo now since my buddy moved away and became interested in other things besides brainstorming). So the silly silver robe that appeared in The Unresolved would be edited in a potential rewrite, but aside from that (and a few dialogue between Link and Vaati) it's still probably pretty good enough to serve as a sequel.

As for the sequel to the sequel, Recollections, unless you actually like bawling your eyes out and watching people fall left and right like leaves in autumn, well, I suggest you stay away from it. Back then I needed to have a definitive end for myself so that I could stop writing about the same old characters. I kept writing about the same old characters anyway so... yeah I don't really count that as my "fleets' story canon." BUT if you really want to, you can read it and my personal story timeline will make some kind of sense. Up to you.

PERSONAL SUGGESTION FROM THE AUTHOR (must be serious since I all-capsed that, right?) is to consider the next best sequel to be Avilux itself. Vaati's interpretation there fits better from what I wrote in Rend (Although it would be awesome if I could rewrite Avilux as well, since some parts could use fixing). And that story leads up to my next big project, Occult Ascendancy, which immediately follows Avilux. And, as you know from my small quips (as well as from page one of OA), Thistle's featured. Yep, same exact one from this story, even though I killed him in this story. It'll make sense. Don't worry about it. Just another one of my crazy ideas. At the same time, I do recognize that the Avilux/OA series isn't for everyone especially with the increasing number of OCs and the fact that it's 'modern day Hyrule' so if you just want to end it here with the open-ended parting of Vaati and Link, that's a good way to go as well. One of these days I'm going to mess up big time and disappoint everyone with a godawful ending... Yeah that's my nightmare.

And while we're on the topic of OA, I will continue where I left off right around a year ago! I'm sure everyone's forgotten what had happened in that story, so to give old readers a refresher and to pique the curiosity of newer readers, my preview this time around (cause I always include one for you lovelies) is the first chapter of OA. Thistle unabashedly reveals pretty much the whole entire story that I've planned for you in the very first chapter (if you can understand him that is - hint: as of now we are at The Devil card in his readings) so it's a good place to get everyone back on board I think. Well, actually the best is to reread the whole thing since I'd planned a lot of backreferencing and you guys don't have the nice little outline I have for myself, but hey I also know that not everyone has the luxury of time. So enjoy the preview, thank you so much, and we'll meet again in OA should you choose to continue onwards :) I'll make an effort to reply to reviews for this last chapter because I won't have another chapter to post my replies to (but only for people logged in, as I can't PM reply for guest/anons).


Chapter 1: The Fool and The Wheel

"Cards again? I don't even know why you bother. You know that tarot reading is bogus."

"But it's precisely because it's bogus that I'm reading tarot cards now."

"Care to explain?"

"I have to be able to come up with elaborate interpretations on the spot. You know the people love it when we tell them what they want to hear in fancy ways."

"Is that why you also have a timer next to you? To see how fast you can come up with your garbage?"

"I can't hesitate my bullshit stories now, can I? The key is to be confident."

"You sound like a politician."

"Oh, what a cynic. And it's funny you should say that."

"So who's fortune are you reading anyways?"

"Yours."

"Oh very funny. I don't remember giving you permission to nose around my future."

"If it's phony, what are you so worried about, Thyme? It's just as much a crapshoot if I said I was reading the fortune of that fat bloke over there, right?"

"Sometimes, Thistle, you're so good at coming up with bogus fortunes that they turn out to be true… it's unsettling."

"Pah, don't flatter me so."

"That's also my way of saying you're creepy."

"Since when did you become so disrespectful?"

"You probably rubbed off on me."

"I have such a good influence on people…"

"So… are you going to read the cards?"

"Mmm? Ah yes. I was just getting to that. And you know what? I changed my mind. I'm not going to read your fortune. I'm going to read mine."

"Yours? Why?"

"Just feeling a little vain today."

XXXXXXXXXX

Two years after that fateful day of running into Link at Burger King, Vaati felt that his life was finally back to normal again. The smell of that abomination he called "greasy death," also known as pizza, hit his nose a block before he reached his home. Like any other day he ignored Grandpa Loze, now nicknamed "Ezlo the old man," who found something to yell at him as he sauntered up the steps to his room. He threw his backpack towards his bed, twirled his wrists to stop it in midair with magic, and then warped into his chair while a floating pen clicked open his laptop and turned it on.

For the most part, regaining his magic had made him the lazier version of Gale Engst. He also had one of the worst cases of senioritis at high school because he felt it was all pointless after he had regained most of his memories: he already knew the stuff they studied after already going through a few lifetimes as a highschooler. Vaati yawned and rested his chin on his hands, bored, as he surfed the internet. It was cold today, meaning he didn't feel like taking a trip to the Palace of Winds to snoop around like he did when the weather was nice.

There was a reason he returned to his old palace as much as he could. Thousands of years ago, he had foolishly wished for reincarnation, thinking it would allow him to live forever. By a spell he had devised based off of the reincarnating abilities of the Triforce holders, he had succeeded but with one troublesome caveat: he would lose all of his memories every time he died. There was a possibility that his old Palace, the place where he had cursed himself, held clues on fixing the memory dilemma.

Vaati aimlessly typed in a search and his pale fingers clicked the keys monotonously. Over three hundred thousand results popped up for "get rid of curses."

A lot of complicated shit happened – as Gale would say, Vaati thought sullenly as he peered at the links offered by Google. And now I have all my memories back, but what good is it if I go back to that cycle of being an ignorant fool for another couple millennia? I don't want to go through that again! He frowned, remembering that uncomfortable feeling of going through an entire lifetime as though he were forgetting something important.

Vaati sniffed as he read a dubious entry from "howtogetridofstuff dot com" that advised him that he should get rid of the source to remove a curse.

Yeah, that's REAL helpful. I just have to get rid of myself and everything will be bloody well, will it?

Too bad even this new, wonderful thing in his current era called "Google" couldn't help him. So much for being the most omniscient resource in the planet.

Pale bangs cascaded over the right half of his face, hiding his red eye as he procrastinated on Youtube. Fifteen minutes later, he heard someone come in downstairs followed by Loze's snappish yelling.

An equally annoyed voice of a male teen answered hurriedly while it moved up the stairs. "Hey, chill out Gramps, just let me relax for a few hours and then I'll do your chores. I just came back from school!"

"I'm not feeding and housing you for free, boy! Come down here and clean the dishes!"

"Hff."

Vaati looked up and saw a raven-haired teen stride past his room while rolling his eyes. He heard the sound of a jacket being flung against the wall and a loud sigh. Then, footsteps pattered over to the living room and there were a few grunts as the teen made himself comfortable on the couch. A small "blink" of a consol being turned on caught Vaati's ears.

"Hey Dark," he drawled, staring pointlessly at a video of a cat being squeezed into a shirtsleeve, "he wants you to do chores."

"Fuck you," came the reply. The response garnered a grin from the sorcerer. Dark was technically the incarnation of Link in this era, but because of a few technicalities, he wasn't the vomit-inducingly good personality that Vaati had repeatedly fought in his past.

The sorcerer snapped his fingers. Across the hall in the living room where Dark was in, there was a loud thud of something heavy falling onto something. An angry yell was heard, and within a few seconds Dark was in Vaati's room and slamming a textbook onto the floor.

"Yes?" Vaati smiled innocently as Dark adjusted his black skullcap with a 'Detona' bomb design.

"You dropped this on my head." Dark pointed at the textbook with a glower.

"How? I was here the whole time."

"You used magic, you bastard," Dark said sourly. "And I also don't understand why you always warp back without me when we live in the same house. I could save fifteen minutes of riding on the bus and walking here from school."

Vaati grinned wider. "Magic? I don't know what you're talking about."

"Boys! Get down here and help clean the dishes!"

Vaati leaned back on his chair to look out his door where Loze's voice came from. Sighing, he muttered something under his breath and twirled his wrists. There was a weird clattering noise along with running water.

"BOYS! If you don't come down this minute neither of you will get dinner!"

"I already did the dishes, old man! We're done with chores."

There was a pause, and then a frantic shuffling as Grandpa Loze went to check to see if the chores had been done. After some time, Loze's gruff voice shouted back again. "You left a huge puddle and everything's a mess, Gale!"

Vaati shrugged while he grinned at Dark. "But they're clean, right?"

There was some grumbling in answer, and when Loze didn't reply Vaati smiled cheerfully at the other boy who was shaking his head in exasperation. "Guess no more chores then."

Dark trudged off back to the living room with a disapproving air. "Sometimes I wish you never got your magic back. It's not fair."

"Thank your counterpart from the past for that."

Dark mumbled something. He went back to playing a videogame.

XXXXXXXXXX

"How interesting…"

"Yeah… that's not how you usually read tarot cards. You never look at the cards and pick out the ones you like."

"No, no! That's not what I meant by interesting!"

"At the same time, your way of tarot reading is… unique, shall we say?"

"But it's more accurate this way."

"I swear, you're impossible…"

"Clearly you do not understand the subtleties of natural Force."

"Why the change in card reading? You usually follow protocol."

"Because I usually do fake tarot reading."

"And you're saying this is real?"

"Mmm, no. I just felt like it. It's my own fortune I'm reading – I can do whatever the hell I want."

"Well? What does your future hold? You're just going to pick out all of the good cards, aren't you?"

"No, that's not fortune reading at all. You really don't understand how this works, do you?"

"Uh, no. Because we've already established that tarot reading is bogus and therefore there's nothing to understand."

"And besides, do I look like someone who enjoys stroking his own ego?"

"Do you really want me to answer that honestly?"

"Hmph! I don't have to flatter myself or surround myself with positive illusions, thank you. I am… A Pessimist!"

"That sounds depressing."

"I'm also a realist."

"I see."

"And I'm usually right about things. So people should listen to me."

"Uh huh. Soooo, what's your fortune?"

"It's looking pretty awful."

"Awful? You gave yourself an awful fortune?"

"Kehehehe, this is exciting! I knew this deck was going to be good."

"So tell me. You're losing me here with your eccentricities."

XXXXXXXXXXX

"We have the X-box and you're playing on the Gamecube?"

Dark ignored the disbelieving voice filled with disgust and contempt. On the television screen, there were four different colored characters moving through a grassy area in a neat formation. Each one had a shield and a sword, and they were wearing pointed hats. Dark pressed a few buttons on the purple controller, making all four characters attack a rock-shooting enemy with their sword. It dropped a small red heart upon defeat.

"I had this consol when I was in Japan. I brought it here when I moved, and it's also my favorite system" Dark explained after several long awkward minutes of silence. Vaati had become completely quiet, and it unnerved him more than when the sorcerer was loud. Finally, Dark took a loud breath and held up a second controller. "What, do you want to play or something?"

"Th-th-that's him!" Vaati managed to stutter. He was wide-eyed in shock.

Dark scrunched his brows. "Who?"

"Him, you imbecile!" Vaati snapped. He waved his arms wildly to demonstrate.

Dark didn't get it. "Who?"

Vaati snarled something incoherent in frustration. Then, he exclaimed, "Link! That unforgiveable thorn in my side!"

"Oh." Dark went back to looking at the screen.

"Oh? Oh? Is that your only response?"

Dark waved him away, continuing the game. The four Links jumped off a small ledge to enter a new area. "Jeez, calm down. This game is based off of the old myths that, according to you, actually happened. This is probably one of Link's adventures or something."

Vaati scrutinized the game that Dark was playing with narrowed eyes. As Gale, he had never taken an interest in the Nintendo games, dismissing them as less superior than the other systems. Actually, something about them had rubbed him the wrong way so he had immediately taken a dislike towards them. He had a hunch that this game named after her, the Legend of Zelda, had something to do with his irritation. Maybe his mind had innately registered what the game would be about and therefore made him avoid interest in it all this time.

Now he was watching Dark go through a quest that looked suspiciously familiar.

"Oh yeah. You're mentioned here by the way."

The sorcerer's ears twitched. "What?"

Dark snickered as he let the Links blow up a cracked wall with bombs. "You're in the game, buddy. You're a huge ugly flying eyeball who kidnapped a bunch of shrine maidens."

"What?"

"I'm just about to steal them back from right under your evil nose."

Vaati scowled. This was no doubt based on his final and most humiliating attempt to take over Hyrule. He glared at the second controller that was sitting on top of the couch. "Is there a multiplayer option in this?" Vaati demanded.

Dark gave him a long look. "You want to play now? After you dissed the Gamecube so much?"

"Is there multiplayer. Or. Not?"

Dark hitched his shoulders. "Yeah sure."

Vaati snatched the controller and jumped into the air. He levitated into the air with his legs crossed and his shoulders hunched over intensely. His face was taut in concentration.

"Uh, I think you're way too serious about this. It's only a game, you know?"

The sorcerer scoffed and pressed the 'A' button to confirm player two. "This is not just a game," he growled. "I'm going to do a little check on historical accuracy."

XXXXXXXXXXX

"The first card is The Fool. A new beginning is ahead; something wondrous and intriguing. Something that will change the way we see the world, that is The Wheel of Fortune. Ah, and here are the players in this story…"

"The Magician?"

"There is someone skilled and powerful, with a willingness to take risks. This is a dangerous individual indeed, but is accompanied by his other, The Reversed Magician. Equally skilled and equally competent, but together there is poor cooperation."

"Do you represent The Magician?"

"Perhaps, perhaps not. Time will tell. Oh ho. The Reversed Emperor is the fifth card. A formidable obstacle stands in the way of The Magician. How ominous, how ominous."

"Why are you picking out all the bad cards for your fortune?"

"There's a method to my madness: this is a fortune. I can't control my fortune."

"But you're the one who's picking them…"

"I said I'm reading a fortune and therefore have no control! Even as I look through this deck in my hands and move my fingers to pick out this card, I have no control!"

"Well, If it weren't for that completely serious look on your face, I would've suspected you were making fun of me."

"Make fun of you? I would never do that."

"Then again, you're wearing a mask that keeps your expression serious all the time, so I wouldn't be able to tell if you were laughing at me."

"Did you ever believe in Santa?"

"What's this all of a sudden?"

"You don't trust mystical things, so you must have had a deprived childhood. I feel sorry for you."

"…"

"Just so you know I don't believe in Santa."

"I see... Uh. Well. So what's the next card before you go on another weird tangent?"

"Right. Ohhh intriguing. The obstacle takes the form of The Devil. Cunning evil. And how interesting! Someone will abuse their authority in a terrible way."

"You sound too happy about that."

"It's interesting is all. Ah, and here is the warning; the card of The Moon. There is trickery ahead. The Magician and his other will fall from grace, disregarding peers and becoming filled with envy and avarice. They will do well to guard against overwhelming ambitions."

"Next is The Tower. You're on a roll for picking all of the nasty cards."

"The Tower represents disruption. There will be conflict. The life that The Magician knows will be overthrown or even ruined. There are two possible outcomes of this change, and they're not mutually exclusive, mind you: achievement of great and glorious things represented by The World, or –"

"…Death?"

"Yes. The loss of everything. Abrupt, complete change. That is the card of Death."


Mirria1: errr... well actually she did die, though it wasn't as dramatic as last time. But thanks so much for following the story all the way up here! I always enjoyed your enthusiastic reviews.

DarkSakura2256: Haha ohhhh yes I had/have a convoluted plan for OA. Actually I'm not sure if Opal would count, since she was more of a coincidental appearance (i.e. a true cameo - she's more like someone who is really similar to the Opal in Rend). However, Thistle is not. He's not a cameo, he's a continuation of the one that died here. I've got it under control (or so I believe...) ANYWAYS. Thank you so much for all the support! I super duper appreciate it!

Sybdoodles: Ahhh but really I wouldn't have been able to do this much without everyone's kind encouragement, so thank you for that! :)

Lady Fai: Well, turns out they thought he was a hero :P, and I'd say more conflicted than offended. Poor Vaati, he's really too hard on himself sometimes. But hopefully he learned a few things on this adventure :) Thank you thank you thank you for your kind messages thus far! I really enjoyed seeing them in my inbox :)

Reily96: You and me both, oldtimer! XD We'll be ancient dinosaurs soon enough. Yeah the original was... ugh I was so bothered by it. And I do remember, back in the day when I was writing the original version, thinking "oh geez... I never planned out the actual fight." And then I slapped something together. Turns out slapping something together gives you a slappy crappy chapter. Who would've known...
Anyways, yeah, you read my message way up top. Again I tip my hat to you for getting me into this troublesome yet fun hobby ;)

Centikkime: It's good news for me that, even though I ended up staying with the same general ending, you still had doubts on whether I would follow through or not ;). I had the challenge of keeping this story semi-fresh even for people who had read the other version before. I'll be honest, I was pretty emotional when writing this last chapter. I'm glad I didn't make it a tragedy and kept it at a bittersweetness. I hope you liked it, and thank you so much once again for following me all the way here to the 53rd chapter!

Astral S. Kepeire: Holy cow, where do I start? You've followed me since The Beginning when I was still floundering around with story development. Well, I still flounder sometimes but hopefully a lot less. And yep, that was new. The old version was lame - basically a "Link's sword hits dragon lots of times and dragon suddenly dies" kind of thing. And yes, everything is done! I won't be looking back on this for a long time if ever, but now's the time to look onwards! Thank you so much for being a fantastic reviewer, even catching typos and weird grammar so that I can fix them (most of them? when i'm not being lazy about it...). Always always enjoyed your reviews. Thanks so much for reading all the way up to the last chapter of Rend. :)