He has no reflection, they forgot to make a reflection for the shadow, and even as he waits in the water temple he searches for it. But he is only the shadow, he is the darkness they left out of the hero's green soul. And he resents them for it, because they forgot, and left him in the temple.
He waits for his creator, for the boy with the hair as yellow as corn, it's why they created him after all. They formed him of the shadows, of the pain and torment, so here he waits the reflection and the shadow. Waiting in the ever growing silence.
He often wonders if he could drown, if he lies down and sticks his head under far enough will it disappear. There is a sword at his back but he can't remember where he found it, surely even the shadow of a memory has enough power to weigh him down. But suicide would be too simple, and they would only build him again, because they need his reflection.
In order to defeat the monster one must become the monster, so they created him and told him to wait. But he is not the boy with hair as yellow as corn, the eyes blue as the sea. His own hair is a deathly white, his eyes glowing red in the darkness, and his skin the color of charcoal. He hears the laughter of the child through the walls of his prison, even as he waits in the locked room, trying the doors again and again, for one must open.
They told him that he was to wait, that the boy with the yellow corn hair would come to him, and that he would have the upper hand. All he had to do was wait and be patient, and so he did, because he believed and shadows don't do well in illumination.
But lies are unbecoming and he gets tired of seeing the reflection that isn't there, and so he tries to leave, and he tries, and he tries again. Some days he believes that it is possible to walk through a locked door, when one is made of shadow and air. But other days thought is beyond him and he is left staring at the barred door, and he wonders to what end they created him.
At what point do their lies justify the red in his eyes and the pale moonlight of his hair, shadows are far more truthful the flickering changing light for he can see that he is only a means to get what they want. He wonders if the boy knows, his unwitting puppeteer, the boy with the eyes as blue as the water that flows beneath his feet.
But he doubts the Hero of Time has come to this realization yet, and so the shadow waits so that he might tell him himself.
He dreams the dreams of a child left in the above, the boy with the golden hair and the eyes as blue as the sky. He dreams of a princess with the sign of Nayru upon her hand, he dreams of a darkness that descends upon the forest, he dreams of death and the sorrow of the earth. But he also dreams of light, and what little hope he has.
He has to remind himself, when shuddering into reality back into the prison which binds him, that they aren't his dreams. They are a shadow of himself, his other half, his brighter more colorful half. The Kokiri boy, the boy from the woods, the boy with the hair yellow as corn, yellow as the Hylian fields and the desert earth. The boy who travels through earth and sky, puzzles solving themselves beneath his calloused fingertips.
And the princess stares back at him, her blue eyes imploring him, save my people, she whispers as she leans down towards him tears in her innocent eyes. But the clouds roll in and she stares back at him as she rides away, betrayal etched in her eyes.
She rides farther the ocarina falling into the mote, she watches as he dives in for it, reaching for the blue amid the water the cursed water that drowns him.
I did everything I could.
He still feels the burns from the man of the desert, his chest aches but he dives deeper, into the depths of his misery. He can feel the loathing in her eyes, he failed, he tried and failed for his land has still fallen to ruin. The royals are exiled and the world has fallen to pieces.
I moved the stars for you.
They change him because the old shape wasn't good enough, because the boy wasn't good enough, they needed the man to battle the monsters and it is as if they thrust a knife through his heart. Because Kokiri just wasn't good enough for them.
I would do anything…
He does not recognize himself, too tall he thinks, eyes are too sharp, face is too jaded. And though he stares through mirrors of glass and water he cannot see the boy from the forest. He had asked what price he paid for losing Hyrule, they had simply shook their heads in pity. But now he knows, he paid with his shadow he paid with the reflection of a stranger. He paid in the fact that he no longer recognized himself.
But in the end, it is never enough.
(Sometimes the darkness wakes up screaming, because he hates the truth of it, he hates the fact that they have both lost the Kokiri boy and that there is no child with eyes as blue as a robin's egg.
He watches himself in the water afterwards, looking at the emptiness, the lie of his absent reflection and thinking back on the dreams.
And then he reaches for the door, only to find that once again it is locked.)
"You keep trying to leave," The water accuses him, staring up from under his feet, his master and tormentor.
"It's too cold." The shadow answers, because he can feel the ice forming in his boots.
"Darkness cannot feel the cold,"
"It's too dark."
"You were made of darkness, the shadows suit you."
The shadow falls silent for he has run out of explanations, all he knows is that there are two doors and both are locked, and though he tries to exit they will not let him. And that knowledge is more than enough.
He can tell the moment the Hero of Time enters the temple, the water shifts, becomes agitated. The shadow raises his head, listening for the footsteps that haunt his dreams, he hears the dripping of the water he hears the plunge. Soon he thinks, soon the door will be unlocked.
Because in order to get in the door must be unlocked, but it will be the opposite door, and there is nowhere for a shadow to hide in such a place, the door will be closed to him open to the boy. It's frustrating to realize, he kicks at the still water watching the ripples.
But soon it will happen, the door will open and the boy with the blue eyes and the yellow hair will stalk closer his sword at the ready. And the shadow will fall, because the Kokiri boy doesn't need a shadow, doesn't need light or darkness. His creators don't understand, they can't see his dreams, they don't know that he cannot stop.
The shadow will fall, because the darkness means nothing, light and dark means nothing, he is a reflection of the thing a dark copy but nothing more. It is not a battle of demons, a battle of wills, in the end the Dark Link will be tossed aside cut into pieces by the sword.
And there's nothing to be done but wait.
The door remains locked, though the boy is in the temple. He doesn't know why he tries again, or what makes him believe it will open. Perhaps it is the thought of the boy's eyes so dark and cold, like the water that surrounds him. Perhaps it is the thought of his own appearance the milk-white hair and the crimson eyes.
Or perhaps it is nothing at all, perhaps it simply him and the door. His hand on the steel and the door remaining firmly closed.
He wishes he were elsewhere, he wishes he were in the forest, the place that haunts his dreams. That is his home, both of their homes, the place they can never return to; the place the darkness has never been. The forest was once the border between light and dark, it kept the shadows at bay.
He walks forward towards his death, a mirror image, one in the same and yet not the same. They don't understand, they never understood, if they understood they would have stopped trying. Because the Kokiri child cannot fail, he will destroy every obstacle in his path because he cannot stop, shadows are merely a trick of the ever wavering light to the boy in green.
They call him a hero, The Hero of Time, but what is that? It is the thing they create, the gods of light, just like the darkness created him. Who knows perhaps they are the same after all, but still the darkness knows he will lose this fight. He has no choice, because the boy in green has no choice, and the darkness is so tired of the charade.
They're the same and not the same, he has more to lose, he has lost so much already, and the shadows have nothing but a dream to fight for. He has the orders of his elders, but what are those? Words, nothing more, petty threats. Because if the boy in green walks past him the elders will die, they'll all die.
They stand face to face, red and blue eyes blinking. The darkness sees the sickly pallor of his own skin, he used to think it was white but now he sees how grey it is as if he is only soot. The boy wearing the guise of a man grimaces, his hands grip the sword as he looks him over. It looks as if he is trying not to laugh. The fairy circles above him, oblivious, looking for weaknesses in the enemy.
(But Link already knows the weaknesses, because they're his weaknesses as well. And the blue eyes of a princess are not so easily forgotten.)
The shadow wonders which of them will laugh first at the irony of it all.
The door opens and the darkness looks up to see the young man leaving, the bloodied sword strapped to his back as he steps over the water and the shadows. The shadow reaches out for him, reaches out for that forest memory, for that spark of sympathy that might yet be found.
But he is too slow and through his garnet eyes he glimpses the door closing shut once more, locking him into the white room to await the collapse of his temple as all his gods fall to ruin.
He wonders why he can't die, why he isn't a part of the water now, why he hasn't disintegrated into nothingness like he expected. The boy has left and the others are gone, his masters are dead and yet he remains, even as he walks out of the abandoned temple shaking the water out of his boots he wonders at how alive he feels.
His crippled stride moves him away from the temple in the lake at a slow and steady pace, he looks behind him as he rests, watching the way the building seems to waver in the distance, flickering in and out of his sight.
He remembers the feeling of the sword in his back, he remembers the taste of the blood, he remembers his face in the water, and he remembers the closing door and the light that followed. But he's not dead, he looks down at his grey hands in wonder, for he's not dead.
The Hylian fields are just as golden as he remembers, his fingers weave in and out of Elysium and he sighs as he walks through the kingdom, his body wracked in pain and grief at the mobility it has lost.
He looks up at the blue sky, he sees the colors, and he wonders if a shadow could catch a glimpse of paradise. He holds his hands up to see what color they might possess in the sunlight, and though they remain gray he can see the blue shadows cast upon them.
It is the colors that convince him that he is still living, and it is that blue sky that prompts him to travel north towards the castle in the distance.
The others are dying quickly, far more quickly than he imagined. It's fascinating he thought as he sat among the shadows in the taverns and bars watching the humans interact with one another, it's fascinating to stand on the outside and look in, to see the massacre for what it was.
They of course were too stupid to realize the nature of the massacre, so caught up in their own delusions that they served the great emperor of darkness. They're blind to their enemy, they can't see the fire in his eyes and the sword of death in his hand, he wields time between his fingers and even the shadows cannot escape them.
He'll kill them all, it's almost gratifying to realize this, even as the darkness lurks in the darkened streets of Hyrule where only the dammed remained. It's almost enjoyable to know that his other half is getting revenge, that all the others will be dead and that only he will have survived.
(They're dependent on each other, the boy and him, they mirror one another, they need each other to survive. They shared the same heart, they held the same hopes and dreams, their shadows mirrored one another and in their eyes they both saw the same world decaying.)
All the temples have been eradicated of shadows and blood, they remain empty of all life but the sages, the great dragon's corpse decorates the mountain and the shadow beneath the earth has fallen to pieces. The boy is moving quickly now far more quickly now that the end is in sight.
He moves back and forth across the seven years, a child in an adult's body, an adult in a child's, the lines have been blurred and soon nothing remains but the semblance of a human. The people are beginning to think he is a god; it makes the darkness chuckle quietly in the corner as they whisper about the boy in green.
He can see the ending before it happens, the king of the shadows will fall back into the nothingness from whence he came, the desert empire will crumble beneath the hands of the Hylian Goddesses. The light will prevail once again and the people will flourish, all will be well. But then what to do with the boy? What to do with the monster they have created? The child that is not a child, the man that is not a man? What about him, the boy without darkness or shadows in his heart? What about the Kokiri child with sapphire in his eyes?
What about the shadow? For the Goddesses would certainly find him, they would look him in the eye and see the shade of their precious Kokiri child. They would see his white hair and his scarlet eyes and condemn him just as they condemned their Hero of Time. He would not be saved from their divine wrath.
Whatever the punishment they give to the boy they will surely give to him as well, after all they are one in the same, they both bear the scars of the goddesses upon their shoulders.
They think he is Sheikah, he suppose he might have been had he actually been born. He has their eyes and their white hair, he is foreign and he is strange, they speak in whispers about him and they note that he is of a dying race. It is logical he thinks to himself even as he sits in the shadows of their homes, a shade upon their troubled hearts.
He has always been of a dying race, he is a creation of the monsters and the dark is being eradicated from the land. The church bells are ringing and the bones of the dammed haunt the princesses' golden fields. He wonders what she will think when this is all over, when she is restored to her rightful throne, will she be relieved, will she be happy, will she be able to walk over their graves undisturbed?
After all they were only pawns in the end.
This causes him to smile even as he steps over her dying people, the freshly eaten corpses of the Hylians, scattered among the stones of the capital. It is almost time to go, he thinks.
"I have seen enough death within castle walls,"
No one is listening all consumed with their own survival that they can't see the pattern, and when the Hero of Time does deliver his people they won't spare him a second thought, they never have after all. The shadow and his counterpart aren't so very different after all, they both have a tendency to be overlooked in the scheme of things.
He looks out at the looming castle now inhabited by his former master the man of the desert who thought he might play king. It is strange he thinks, to no longer have a side to belong to, he supposes that is why he might have lived. Why the master sword spared him even as it crippled him, because while he wasn't light he wasn't quite a mindless creature of the shadows either.
He too after all might have been able to wield the unruly master sword.
He wonders what the princess would do if he confronted her in that silly little hiding place she had, he could see her now wrapped in her bandages with the eye of truth upon her chest. What would she do if he walked in and told her to turn that eye inward and tell him what she saw there? Would she try to kill him? She might, she might throw a couple of knives into his heart, but little more. After all she was not born to kill, not like they had been.
What would it be like to pop down into Kakiriko, to confront her at the rim of the well where the Kokiri child had disappeared, to look at her with those scarlet eyes and to laugh? What would it be like to see that golden harp for himself instead of through the eyes of his other, what would it be like to tell her that she lied?
"Why not?" He asks the wind with a shrug of his shoulders, the small breeze did not deem it necessary to answer but then he had not expected words in reply.
He had nothing to live for but then he also had nothing to die for, he remained where he stayed and nothing had come along that convinced him he was better off one way or the other. Besides, suicide always left that gut-wrenching feeling in his stomach, that overwhelming sense of failure. It was nice that his masters could leave him such a pleasant gift.
Would they call him a traitor? If he went up to those goddamn witch twins would they cackle madly in his face or would they throw him to the mercy of their king. It was a point of view, traitor, he had never purposefully moved against his dark king but he had never served him either.
He had simply sat, fought, and lost. He had done his job to a point, and failure was not the same as betrayal. Or was it? Had he wanted to lose that fight just to spite his masters? They were supposed to be evenly matched and yet he had lost.
Yet he had lost. What strange words those were to look back on. Like that moment of pure relief when he had been consumed by the sword, his silent laughter as he had fallen beneath the crystal water, and then the confusion of seeing the light once again of finding the pain and the essence of living.
He is becoming restless in this place of the dying and the dead, he needs to move, perhaps he can become Sheikah. Like the princess Zelda he could put on their garb and fade easily into their ranks, after all he had their scarlet eyes and their white hair. It is a name, like the name he didn't have; it would be easy enough to slip on that false identity that false past. He can be a Sheik easily enough.
He settles on southwest, towards the desert in the distance. The barren land that had given birth to the darkness that plagued their land, it felt only natural that he should wander in that direction. Even as he crosses under the cover of night he can see the power Din had infused in the land, he could see the red earth and the great blue expanse of the sky.
He stares up at the crescent moon in silence the desert is filled with the silence he remembers so well, it is almost comforting in place of the havoc and death in the cities. In the desert there is no smell of corpses, no rot and decay, it is like the room of illusions. That prison he has almost forgotten, so washed out in light of the wonders of the world.
A part of him aches for the boy with yellow hair, masquerading as a man beneath the earth, battling the shadows that plagued the world beneath the ground. They are one in the same after all, he was torn from the child long before he could remember, twisted into a physical shape that might confront him.
Equal yet opposite.
He should be down in the shadow of the well, the song of storms rising above him in a great wave of sound, the earth beating beneath his gloved feet like a powerful drum. Yet here he was in the desert, his scarlet eyes locked upon the moon the marks of the Sheikah tribe drawn in black upon his face.
The boy in green faces his death it is only fitting that the shadow faces his as well, the desert rises before him, it is a great sea of sand beckoning him forward into its depths. He knows he will not see the Kokiri child again, that their paths were only meant to cross once and then diverge.
The shadow does not serve the Hylian princess with her cruel blue eyes nor does he serve the desert king who is destroying himself in his lust for power. Instead he will serve the child, the boy he once was and will never be again, he will serve the memory of the innocence that has been lost and the place that neither can return to.
Even as he thinks this he hears the ocarnia's distant melody, that soft mournful call.
"I will be his shadow,"
"Traitor!" The harpies scream at him even as he enters the temple, they screech at him circling above his head like vultures, but he is not dead yet.
"You do realize he will kill both of you." The shadow of Link says absently surveying his calloused fingers instead of their vicious smiles. They are not listening of course, these witches ruled their stolen temple viciously why would they ever listen to one failed pawn?
"Failure!" They shriek in unison ducking lower so they might gauge out his eyes, the shadow does not move but merely stays still as he always has.
It is what he expected and yet it is nice to see the reaction with his own eyes, he knew they would come to this. In their power they can't see their own deaths; they are not like he was. He had seen his death, he had known it from the instant he was created, he had seen his blood soaking through the room of illusions staining the water with black. They couldn't see the blue flames of their own demise, they could not see the bones that would litter the Hylian fields.
"He will have no mercy, he will not stop for the Shadow Temple, he will not stop for you, after all he didn't stop for me." They are not listening, more interested in their own mad cackling but then he really doesn't care whether they are listening or not he simply thought it prudent to know that they had no hope of winning.
"Crippled failure!" Their voices are far too high-pitched to be insulting, he shrugs it off lightly.
Curiosity, it would be the death of him just as arrogance would be the death of the shadows, to see how they might react, to see what they might do when confronted with their own shortcomings.
"He will bathe in your blood." He says with a smile wondering if they noticed how it is 'your' rather than 'our', after all the shadow no longer serves the king; he will be glanced over as he always has been. Not spared so much as forgotten in the scheme of things, when all is said and done only a shadow of thought is given to him.
"So he's done it at last." He says when the blue returns to the heavens, when the castle collapses to the earth and all is well again. He sighs as he watches the colors intensify as the Goddesses return the vigor of life and beauty.
He can hear the fairy boy's thoughts haunting his own, even now he shared his master's thoughts, seeing both the dreams and the fears of the Hero of Time; they both know it is the end .
"So, what now princess? What will you do with us now?" They ask, one to a princess and one to the rubble beneath his feet. They both look to the sky for answers seeking truth and happiness above all else but see only the crumbled pillars of their hopes and dreams.
She does not answer the boy right away. She is far too distracted to make a remark, the masks she has worn are being torn away by the desperation in his eyes, and yet she is still a thing made of marble and stone, her words might be soft but her eyes are still contrived of steel.
"Will you let us go, let us wander about the remains of your precious kingdom while you sit in your palace wondering how you lost your hold upon us?" He asks the daylight with that dark smile born of isolation.
"Will you keep us chained in your palace, granting us a title of honor worthy of his sword? General perhaps? Champion?"
The rubble does not answer and still the princess waits. She bottles her emotions; her useless love for a child of the Goddesses', her regrets, her guilt, and of course there was always her fear.
"Or will you send us backward? Will you send us back to the beginning to pretend it never happened? So you can shut your eyes and pretend you gave us serenity, it is tempting, isn't it princess?"
She is not listening, even as she tells the hero of her decision looking solemnly into his eyes as if she were bequeathing a gift. Aren't you grateful Link? It's what you've always wanted isn't it?
(Only a shadow of a thought remains for them.)
"But you don't understand princess, you can't see like I can," The shadow this time turns his gaze skyward to where the two confer, the princess and her pawn. "We can never go back, you see it's not that they've changed it's that we've changed."
He stands walking over to the rubble, fingering the broken stonework beneath his fingers, continuing to speak in spite of his oblivious audience. "So we return to the forest from whence we came, two separate entities, we return and pretend that we haven't seen corpses, that we haven't given the gift of death, that we've never been trapped in the dark, that we've never tasted blood upon our hands, or seen the sky fall down upon our heads. So we pretend, and all the while the memories remain, the nightmares still haunt, and the world moves past us and we stay until the silence drives us mad."
The ocarina sounds in the silence a lullaby resounding against the mountains and the rubble.
"Haunted, tortured, and bitter we remain a plague upon your kingdom. After all, every tale needs a martyr, why not us? That's what you'll tell yourself when you look into his jaded eyes as he spits in your face. That's what you'll tell yourself when you sleep beside that foreign pig you call a consort. That's what you'll tell yourself when he leaves your kingdom, never looking back, never to return, leaving you only with the echoes of his footsteps upon your marble halls."
He can feel time pulling him backward, to a world in which he was only a shadow upon a child's heart, he can feel the earth disappearing beneath his feet and yet even as he falls through time he calls to the princess.
"So you bequeath to us a second chance, princess. And in these years to come when he confronts you once again with that betrayal in his eyes I hope you see what I have always seen."
His eyes are closed even as the clocks surround him and he is pushed backwards, back into a world in which he never existed, to haunt and to guard his blue eyed charge. He feels his hand reaching back for her, a cry of agony lifting from his chest as he lunges back for the world he knew.
Love. They love her, they have always loved her, they would have done anything for her. They would have moved the stars for her and her alone. They cry out for her in a single voice, shadow and light reaching out for that distant star that is fading from their grasp.
"I hope you see through your mask of sincerity and remember that it was you who abandoned us first."
They stare backwards, back through all the temples, through all the dreams and visions to where they might see her staring after their descent. The boy stares back through those child's blue eyes, the eyes that no longer belong to him. The shadow stares at the childish body through the shadows of time always wary of the looming master sword.
"So until that day, I wish you well in your blissful ignorance. I hope you find happiness as we never will, I give to you my hopes and dreams so that you might realize them as we are unable to."
The boy leaves the temple leaving the shadow behind, still gazing back after the princess across the abyss of time that separated them, even as she disappears into a past that has been rewritten into a happier tale with happier endings.
Author's Note: I felt that I should give a tribute to Dark Link, because he is awesome and deserves one. I took liberties with his appearance though as you can probably tell... Too much? Thanks to readers and well, reviews would be greatly appreciated.
Disclaimer: I don't own The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time