**All Standard Disclaimers Apply**

Book Two in the Doppelganger Trilogy
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Shadow Kingdom
by The Wolfess

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Chapter Twenty Five: Catching Up

"What is this thing?"

Link was hearing voices. What was that voice? Why couldn't he see anything?

"How could you bring such a creature here? Get this monster out!"

Hey, it's not nice to call people monsters, Link thought. Why did his whole body hurt? Why couldn't he seem to move?

"It isn't a monster, Renado. It's Link." Finally, a voice he recognized. It was Bo.

"Link? You mean…"

"Yes," ah, another familiar voice. This one was Rusl. "I don't understand it myself and I don't know how to get this thing off of him. It's like a mask or something…"

"I can explain," Zelda said as she entered the room. She had her own mask in her hand, having just taken it off. She kept it on longer to help the Kakariko soldiers bar the southern gate behind Bo, Rusl, and the wounded Link. Although, barricading the gate had not seemed all that necessary because the Obsidian Army stopped once they saw their prey had enter the city. It was as if they had orders not to attack Kakariko—not quite yet at least.

Renado and Volc stood across from Bo and Rusl at the foot of the statue. In between them, bleeding on the floor, was Link. They had taken the ax out, but he was obviously in bad shape. Bo and Rusl had more than a few wounds as well, and Kakariko women who had volunteered to be army nurses were tugging at their arms so they would lie down. Neither man budged—they wouldn't leave Link's side.

At Zelda's entrance, Renado and Volc stopped looking at the dying hero all together. Their jaws fell open at the sight of their Princess standing in the doorway as if she had always been there. Renado was the first to bow, and Volc went one step further—he fell on one knee and fisted his hand over his heart: the ultimate salute a solider could give to their monarch in the Hyrulian army.

"Oh, stand, can you not see that Link is dying while you two waste time bowing?" Zelda scolded as she rushed over to Link's side. She fell on her knees beside him, her royal dress puffing out around her. Her face was lined with worry. "Come on Link," she said, reaching her fingers around the edge of his large wolf face She hooked her fingers under his jaw line, feeling carefully for the ridge she knew would be there, and tugged the mask off. Link's body shrunk before their eyes and his fur shrunk back into his body. Soon, the young hylian man lay bleeding into his green tunic, his face beading with sweat and red with fever.

"Oh sweet Hylia," Renado swore, rushing over to the young man. "Volc, help me lift him."

They lifted Link up and put him on a medical cot, turning him over so they could see the wound. It was smaller, as the wound seemed to have shrunk in proportion to the amount that his whole body shrunk. Renado crouched down, examining the wound carefully. "It is deep," he said, "but mostly clean. I think we can sew it shut if we can stop the bleeding."

The nurse was already bringing over towels dipped in an antiseptic solution that stunk badly. Link hissed as the solution was applied to his wound, and Zelda breathed a small sigh of relief. At least he had a little consciousness. She crouched by his head, stroking his damp bangs out of his eyes. "Hey," she whispered as Renado continued to clean the wound. "Are you still with me Link?"

Link groaned a little and his eyes fluttered open. He smiled a little, then grimaced. The shaman had gotten the last bit of dirt out of the severed flesh while the nurse got the needle ready, and he had just begun to stitch the wound shut.

"There are those eyes I love," Zelda said. She settled down on the floor next to him, obviously not intending to go anywhere. Bo, Volc, and Rusl looked at each other, and then went to the other side of the hut. One of the other nurses in the house came over and started looking at Bo and Rusl's wounds while Volc asked questions about what they had seen and what they knew about Link.

"What about the goats?" Volc asked, running a hand through his ginger hair. "Did you bring any? I don't know what we'll do without—"

"No," Rusl snapped. "There wasn't time, and now it's too late. The southern field is barricaded and probably being watched by Dark Link. We won't have any goats."

"This is hardly the time to talk about this," Bo said. He turned a worried eye on the princess and the hero. "They're back, and we need him as much as we need her. Whether you Kakariko people like it or not."

Volc crossed his arms over his chest and looked at Link. A shadow passed over his face, memories private and haunting. He sighed, shook his head, and turned his back to the scene.

"Just a scratch, Zel," Link was whispering, trying to smile through the pain of Renado's stitching. "I'll be fine in no time."

"Actually, Link," Renado said, "it's a bit more than a scratch. The ax was laced with an Obsidian-based poison. The Obsidian Eaters told us about the development of these weapons. You are going to have a hard recovery."

"Oh Link," Zelda said, stroking his cheek with her thumb. "Why did you have to get yourself scratched? I thought I told you no more scratches."

Link laughed a little, but he was obviously in pain. "Sorry, Zel," he whispered, unable to speak any louder. "I love you…I'll be okay."

Renado nodded, his work done. "You certainly will be," he said. "We've been developing an antidote. You'll be over the poison in a couple days if you get enough rest. The wound will take care of itself."

"In my pouch," Link whispered, trying to reach his pouch. "I have…a red potion."

Renado nodded. "The mixture we cleaned it with had red potion in it already. Save yours for another time. The wound will heal."

The shaman stood, bowed to the princess, and walked over to the other men. Link's eyes closed, despite how hard he tried to keep looking at Zelda's face bent over his own, and soon he was fast asleep.

!

It did take a couple days for the poison to work its way out of Link's system. At first Durtain was monitored as he came in to speak the spell that would help Link get through the Obsidian poisoning a bit easier. However, Zelda was not comfortable having him there, and once she memorized the spell she did it herself and Durtain was banned from Renado's house all together.

They had a better suite prepared in the inn itself for the Princess and the Hero, but Renado wouldn't let Link move until he was sufficiently healed, and Zelda wouldn't leave his side. The pack also took up residence in Renado's home, refusing to leave the side of their alphas. They all cuddled together on the floor by Link's cot, and the fur of the wolves and the small fire kept the hylians warm.

Finally, three days later, Link's eyes opened. He groaned and blinked a while, then smiled as he noticed Zelda asleep with her head resting on her arms, which were propped on the cot by his head. He moved slowly, testing out how hurt he was, but his back seemed to have healed nicely and the stitches only hurt a little. His head also hurt a bit, but it wasn't too bad. Link propped himself on his elbow and turned over, noticing absently that they had taken his tunic off and he was laying there in nothing but the lower portion of his underclothes—the grayish-brown pants he wore under the tunic, tucked into his boots. There were bandages around his torso and back, and they felt freshly changed.

The pack was sleeping nearby, Ikal and Adrienne on cots close to them. Link smiled and turned his gaze down, taking in Zelda's sleeping form. He stroked her hair, tangling his fingers in the auburn locks. She groaned a little, and Link bent his head down and kissed her forehead gently. Her eyes fluttered open.

"Good morning, your Highness," Link whispered, planting another kiss on the tip of her nose.

"Link?" Zelda said, her brow stitching together in confusion for a moment. Then her features cleared, and she smiled a huge, joyful grin. "You are awake Link!" She said, her voice barely above a whisper and obviously still sleepy. Link stroked her cheek with the back of his fingers.

"Yeah, thanks to you I'm sure."

Zelda turned her face into his hand and kissed his palm, holding it to her face with her own hand. She closed her eyes and smiled, a look of complete happiness on her face. "I might have had something to do with it, yes," she said. "But Renado has been diligent in your care. They are all a little frightened by us, so we have been left mostly alone."

"Which is helpful," Link said. He sat up and tugged Zelda's arm, silently asking her to join him on the cot. He wished that he at least had his undershirt on as well as he felt uncomfortable with his naked chest exposed to the princess. Blushing and confused, the princess complied with his request anyway. She tried to avoid looking at the scarred skin of his chest. Once they were sitting side by side the hero turned his body toward her and took both of her hands in his own. He took a deep breath, and his hands were a little unsteady. Butterflies fluttered in his gut. He looked over at the pack, making sure they were still asleep, and then he looked at Zelda again.

The Hero of Light caught the princess's gaze. For a long time he just looked in her eyes and stroked the backs of her hands with his thumbs. Then his hands slid up her bare arms, over the black marks left on her in the land of the dead, over the supple skin of her upper arms. They traveled back down again, and Zelda shivered. She had changed into a simple pair of clothes—trousers and a shirt as there were no dresses to spare in the city. Link's hands slid from her arms to her shirt and one of them stopped there, resting on her side. His other hand slid up over her supple shoulder and cupped her cheek. They were both breathing fast, their eyes intent as they became lost in one another's gaze.

Link leaned over, his breathing nervous and quick, and touched his lips to Zelda's. He kissed her once, twice, just two little pecks on her tender mouth, and then he pulled away. His eyes were so scared as he looked at Zelda again, and hers were confused and a little scared as well. But soon Zelda smiled and Link smiled back. Link tucked his chin a little. "I know that I kissed you before, in the past, but that's not how I pictured our first kiss. Not really. I want to kiss you properly…if I may." Link whispered, letting his hands drop to take a hold of hers again.

Zelda leaned toward Link, her hair falling over her shoulder, and this time it was her hands that moved. "You are not the only one," she whispered, "who has waited for this…." and before Link could think about what she was doing, Zelda took his mouth in hers. Her kiss was passionate and gentle, and Link responded in kind. His arms wrapped around her back, and her arms twined around his neck, and they got lost in each other. It was as if their mouths were made to fit together like that. Sparks flew between them, sending shivers and tingles through their bodies. It was as if an electric current tied them together, two magnetic poles sticking to one another. The whole of the universe finally sighed, content that what had needed to happen for millennia had finally taken place.

They were panting slightly when they pulled apart this time, and Zelda smiled, her eyes shining with happy tears. "I love you Link," she whispered, holding his face in both of her hands. "I have been afraid of loving you for so long…for lifetimes, in fact. You are so different from me, and I am afraid that one day you will resent me for tying you down. There are so many places you could go, people you could save, and adventures you could have. But I have learned so much during this time we have spent as wolves. So much about living, about what is important in life, and I cannot go another lifetime without loving you in front of the whole world. I will not hide our love anymore. Never again."

Link smiled and drew one of her hands to his lips, kissing the tip of each of her fingers. "You are my life," he breathed. "You always will be. Even if I did go travel the world, I would do so in your name, and long to return every day." He wrapped his arms around her waist again, and they sat like that on the cot, simply holding one another close until they both fell back asleep.

Two cots over, Ikal lay awake pretending to be asleep. She had been watching over them without intruding. Closing her eyes, she tried to forget what she had heard. She tried to push her emotions aside, tried to remember what Ganondorf had said about desire and power. But her shoulders trembled and on the back of her hand the symbol of the Triforce of Power very faintly glowed.

!

When Link and Zelda awoke the next day, they found themselves alone in Renado's house. Sunlight streamed through the windows, falling across Zelda's face as she blinked, sleepy-eyed, up at Link. Link propped himself on an elbow and looked down at her, brushing her hair away from her face with his fingers.

"Good morning, Zelda," he said, smiling.

"Good morning, Link," she replied, reaching over to hook her pinky through his on the bed between them.

Link leaned down and kissed her lips. "And what do you think we should do with our day?" he asked, tilting his head a little. Blond bangs fell across his eyes. "We could hunt mice, or scratch our backs with our feet, or smell each other's butts…"

Zelda laughed out loud, throwing her head back and just letting it out. Link chuckled too, smiling at the memories of how comfortable they had gotten in their wolf bodies. Zelda quieted quickly, though, and looked at Link seriously. "Honestly," Zelda said as she reached up to tuck his bangs behind his ears, "we need to find out what's going on. We should meet with Rusl, Renado, and Bo and ask questions."

Link sighed. "I guess we should," he said, letting go of her hand. He sat up and swung his feet to the cold dirt floor. He looked down at his toes and wiggled them a bit, smiling to himself. "It is nice to have toes, isn't it?" he said. Zelda sat up as well and slipped her feet into a pair of boots that had been provided with the tunic and pants she wore.

"I suppose," she said, "although it would be nicer if I had a proper wardrobe to wear."

Link spotted his tunic and boots across the room, washed and ready to wear. He crossed over to it and began to pull his chainmail tunic over his head. "Admit it," he said, his voice muffled through the chainmail. Finally he got his arms through and the heavy metal layer dropped into place. "You like dressing like a boy," he continued, pulling on the green tunic and adjusting it over the chain mail "I, on the other hand, forgot how much work it was to put this on."

Zelda had tilted her head to the side and was quickly braiding it. She finally pinned it on the top and tied the bottom with chords of fabric. "Well, maybe I do and maybe I do not. That is for me to know and you to…wonder." She grinned at Link and batted her eyelashes, making him fumble with the clasps of the various belts and pouches he was trying to fasten.

"I guess I'll just let my imagination go to work then," he said, grinning wolfishly at the former princess as he put on his boots and made sure they were secure. Finally, dressed in full hero attire, he looked around for his sword and shield. "Hey, Zelda, have you seen my sword and shield somewhere?"

Zelda walked to the door and held it open, allowing the warm sunlight to fall on her body. She smiled and looked back at Link, squinting her eyes to see him inside the dark house. "Auru and Ashei took them for some reason. I decided that it would be safe to trust them with your weapon care."

Link sprinted out the door past Zelda, a huge grin on his face. "The resistance is here?!" he said, suddenly excited. "Who else is here?"

"They are supposed to be gathered at the bar in the inn today. I would imagine that Borley and Telma might be having a squabble over something related to the inn," she added, tilting her ear into the wind to better hear the distant sounds as she closed the door behind them. "Judging from the shouting."

"What are we waiting for!" Link said, breaking out in a sprint toward the inn. "Beatcha there!"

"Hey!" Zelda laughed, running after him. Link reached the door first and held both of the doors shut as he spun around to face the running princess. "Unfair," she accused as she pulled up to stop in front of him. "You had an unfair lead."

Link shook his head, grinning impishly. "Nope. I won and that's that."

Zelda jabbed her forefinger into the middle of Link's chest. "I demand a rematch."

"Maybe next time," said a loud voice from inside the bar. The door pulled inward and inside the frame of it was none other than old Auru. "For now," he said, "I want to give both of you a hug." Just as he said, he pulled both of them into a firm hug. When he let them go, Auru dragged Link and Zelda inside the bar. It was darkly lit, as usual, but the atmosphere was cheerier than usual. Everyone was excited to have the Princess and the Hero back on their side. It gave them hope, which was more than most had experienced for a very long time.

A large round table had been constructed in the center of the room, and around it sat everyone that could have something to contribute to the war planning. There was an empty space between Ashei and Shad where Auru had obviously been sitting. Next to Shad was Renado and Captain Volc, followed by Rusl, Mayor Bo, Darbus and the four Goron Elders, Sheikah Matriarch Shima and Letaln, and finally, sitting next to two open spaces obviously reserved for Link and Zelda, Forrad sat slightly turned to see Princess Zelda. While Link walked over to greet everyone, Zelda stood back and locked eyes with the only real father figure she had known. Shaking, looking thinner and weaker than she had ever seen him, Forrad stood and turned to face her. His eyes, only mostly red at this point, shimmered with tears as he held his hands over his heart and bowed.

"Your Highness," he said, his voice emotional and weak. "I am so glad…" but he was cut off as Zelda crossed the space between them in a few quick strides and engulfed him a gentle but loving embrace. His eyes widened in surprise at first, but soon he just smiled and hugged her back. "I thought I taught you not to hug in public?" he said, rubbing her back a little.

"I do not care," she said. "I missed you."

"And I—nay, we, all of the citizens of Hyrule—have missed you, Princess Zelda," he said, pushing her back a little so he could look at her face. His red eyes searched her face for a while. "We have need of a strong leader," he said, his voice quiet. "We have need of a Princess, not a girl. You must be strong again, for your people."

Zelda frowned and stepped back from Forrad, her shoulders squaring a little. "To show emotion and one's humanity," she began, loud enough for all to hear, "is not a sign of weakness. It is this humanity that makes us more than pawns of fate or monsters. I will never put on an artificial persona in order to fulfill a stereotyped roll again. This country does not need a cookie-cutter queen. It needs a real one. Treating the act of ruling like a theatre production was my greatest mistake."

Forrad bowed and sat down, saying nothing more. His face became shadowed and distant, full of memories and regrets. Zelda sighed, not wishing to be harsh on him but understanding that in order for Hyrule to be saved it had to change, and in order for Hyrule to change she, first, had to set the course for that change. She held her head high and stepped to the chair beside Forrad. A soldier bustled in from the door to grab it for her, but she shook her head and pulled it out herself. Everyone at the table exchanged a look. Zelda would not be waited on, and it was different for them to see her that way. Auru was the first to stand. Renado followed his lead, and soon everyone at the table stood in honor of the Princess. Link circled around and took his place at her side, his head slightly lowered in deference.

Auru lifted his goblet, already half drained of its Chateau Ordona. "To the return of the Princess," he said. "May she bring peace and prosperity back to the Chosen Land of Hylia."

"Hear, hear!" Everyone in the room responded, whether they were at the table or not.

Zelda bowed her head and clasped her hands in front of her. "Thank you," she said. "Words cannot express how grateful I am for your faith in me. I disappeared without a warning or trace and still here you stand, ready to win back Hyrule and willing to allow me to lead her and her people once again. We will save Hyrule from what ails her, and return her to her place as the Chosen Land of the Goddesses."

Zelda sat and everyone sat after her. She leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table. "So," she said, her tone more down to earth. "A lot has happened that Link and I have missed. Fill us in, and we will fill you in on our journey as well. There are things that you all need to know about what is going on if you mean to help us retake the throne of Hyrule."

Volc began the tale of woe, and each person chimed in. Soon a picture of what had really happened since they left began to form. Link and Zelda both asked questions and received answers that they often didn't like.

"Now, the wedding ceremony was sudden," Forrad was saying. "One day that Shinobi devil announced that she had gotten approval to wed General Link and the next, it seemed, they had this grand ceremony in the Great Hall. There were tapestries and shining gold and silver everywhere. You should have heard the sigh of contentment from the people when King Link kissed Queen Zelda—"

Link choked on his Chateau Ordona. "Wait wait wait," he said, pounding his chest with his fist. "We're married?!" he squeaked, his voice cracking. He cleared his throat again. "And you didn't think to tell us that before?!"

Zelda, blushing profusely and looking slightly panicked as well, patted Link's hand on the table between them, "No, no, you see it's not legally binding for us."

"I'm not so sure," Forrad said. "At the time Teela and Dark Link were you. They lived your lives, signed your names, and all of the paperwork says that you two got married."

Auru was nodding, and smirking at the same time. "Living in wedded bliss," he said. "How does it feel you two? Link, King Link I should say, forgive me for not bowing and kissing your royal ring when you entered. I might be needing a new favors though…."

Everyone around the table laughed, but Zelda pursed her lips. "If Shad and Ashei went to a priest and said 'our named are Ilia and Fado and we would like to be married' that priest would not know any better. Even if he drew up all the paperwork in Ilia and Fado's names, that still does not mean that it is legally binding for them. The fact remains that it was not them who made the vows. Getting such a false marriage annulled would be a simple matter."

Link was sweating and his leg had begun to bounce nervously. "Can we just skip this?" he said, his eyes looking down at his mug of milk as if it was very interesting. "We have a lot to cover." Some around the table were still chuckling, but Forrad ignored them and continued the tale.

When they were caught up to the most recent point—when Dark Link revealed himself, the Obsidian Eaters came to join Kakariko, and the war became official—Renado trailed off. The sun was high and hot in the sky outside. Quite some time had passed, and their conversation needed to get going faster. Link began the true story behind the Twilight War, though he did gloss over some of the unimportant details—like where he had gathered the mirror shards. The point was that they had gathered them. Together, Link and Zelda explained everything that happened during the final battle, Midna and the wolf stone's roll in their salvation, and what happened after the war was over. They explained how the darkness brought into the world by Durtain took advantage of a bad situation and manipulated everyone—Link and Zelda included. They then spoke of what they had done to regain their human forms.

Once all the tales and questions had died down, the light had faded outside and torches lit up the night. Everyone looked tired and worried. Finally Link leaned back, finished off the rest of his Chateau Ordona, and nodded, as if to himself. "So," he started, "it sounds like we need weapons, more allies if there are any to be had, and a strategy. I can do that...I just need my sword. Which is where, by the way?"

Auru leaned back in his chair and crossed one leg over the other, braiding his fingers atop his knee. "Ahh," he started, " that would be hard to say. You see, we gave it back to old Rusl there and he gave it to the boy, Colin, and Colin took it...uhh…who knows where." Link started looking a little frustrated and opened his mouth to protest, but Auru laughed and continued to speak. "Although, we might have a spare sword and shield that you can use." He signaled to Shad, who pulled something wrapped in red velvet from under the counter. "You see, Link, we three have traveled the world. That's what we do. On our travels, we have found many wondrous treasures, this sword and shield being one of them, and since none of us really wield swords of this style and we knew that you, of course, favor the double-edged long-sword paired with a shield, we thought we might bring them for you. As you seem to be in need of a better blade than that dull mockery of a sword—no offense Rusl—we thought this was the perfect time to give it to you"

Shad unfolded the velvet, and on the table lay a sheath. It was red and black with gold accents. Link took it and drew the sword from its sheath. The sword was inlaid with golden diamonds along the blade and accents of gold in the hilt with some sort of red metal. Auru continued speaking as Link turned the blade over in his hands. "We found this blade buried in a distant land. It was said to belong to a hero of old, as most strong blades claim to, and we…rescued it from its useless owner, shall we say. We took it to the best blacksmiths to have it cleaned and touched up, but it was in fine shape. It is called the Gilded Sword. Now, I know that you are accustomed to the length and weight of the Master Sword, and this sword is a touch shorter than that one by about 6 inches, but I promise you that you will find this blade stronger. The Master Sword is a magical weapon, and powerful for that reason, but that does not make it the strongest. Similarly, you will find stronger blades than this in the world. Nonetheless, you should find it an improvement once you adjust."

Link grinned and ran his thumb over the gold diamonds in the blade and then slipped the sword back in its sheath. As he started to attach the sheath to his shoulder strap, Auru signaled to Ashei. "And of course," Auru said, "what is a new, stronger sword without an equally strong shield to accompany it?" Ashei pulled a large shield from under the table and placed it next to the sword. It had a reflective surface that depicted two wolves howling up at a Triforce in the sky. It was edged with a reflective, forest-green trim that had small gold accents on the corners. "We could think of no better shield for the Duke of Verdelupo than this particular Mirror Shield," Auru finished. "The man who creates these is known for making strong, but light shields of various types. There is no shieldsmith better."

Link ran his fingers over the shield like a man falling in love. He picked it up and slipped it on his right arm, adjusting the straps to his comfort level. After swinging around his arm a bit to feel its weight and balance, he finally slipped the shield over the sword on his back. He bounced on his toes, feeling the weight and placement of the new weaponry on his body. It felt natural and light, lighter than his old weaponry for sure. He stepped back and drew the sword and shield again, swinging them around a couple times. They felt strong and well balanced. They were different for sure, but he was excited to get to know them. Re-sheathing them, he bowed to Auru and the gang.

"I cannot thank you enough," he said. He straightened again as he continued to speak. "These are beautiful…and you have no idea how good it feels to have a sword in my hand again. Using your teeth is effective, yes, but disgusting and brutal. To use fine weapons such as these brings the art back into war."

"Art is all fine and good," said Captain Volc, leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed over his chest, "but what we need right now are weapons for the rest of us, not just weapons for you. Do you have any magical solutions for that stuffed somewhere up your sleeve, Hero of Wolves?"

Link ignored the jab and smiled at the captain. "In fact," he said, "I think I do. And I'm going to need everyone's help to get them here."

! #$%^&*()

Dark Link reclined on his throne in the Great Hall with his legs tossed over the arm. His skeletal helmet rested on his knee. He turned it over in his hands once and a while, gazing into its empty eyes. Then he would look around at the tapestries on the walls bearing his crest. He smiled to himself when no one was looking, feeling a new sensation in his stolen black heart…a warm feeling much akin to contentment. Not that Dark was able to label such a feeling himself, having never felt such things before. Nonetheless, he was beginning to forget his sorrows. A millennium of waiting for the right time to get rid of that stupid Goddess-Chosen Hero, and now he had done it and the whole world was his for the plucking. As long as he could keep his own stolen kingdom in line, that is, and the first step to doing that was getting rid of those idiots who dared resist his rule.

The door to Dark Link's throne room creaked open. In stepped a small, gray-skinned solider, his Obsidian-induced red eyes glowing in the dark. He bowed, his armor rattling as he did so. "Your…Your Highness…General Gorkenheim returns."

"Ah," Dark Link said. He sat up properly on his throne and put his helmet on, his red eyes glowing through sockets that were once empty. "Okay, send him in."

The soldier backed out, still bent in a deep bow. Soon the door creaked open a little more and in stepped the dirty, hairy form of Link's former slave—Gorkenheim. He wore standard armor, his rank marked only by a red plume in the helmet, which was currently tucked under his arm. He stood shaking just inside the doorway, wiping his sweaty palms on his dirty pants repeatedly.

"Well, approach," barked Dark Link, already feeling impatient. "Can my own General not approach me with confidence?"

"Yessir," Gorkenheim said as he scampered up to the base of the throne. He dropped down onto one knee and fisted his hand over his heart.

Dark Link waved Gorkenheim's show of loyalty aside. "Yes, yes, now. Tell me how your slaughter of the Ordonians faired."

"I—it—uh…well, y'see, here's the thing…" Gorkenheim sputtered.

"Spit it out!" Dark Link snapped, his eyes flaring up like fire.

The General shrunk back, shaking even more than he had before. "We—we didn't kill any of 'em. Not a one, Your Darkness."

Dark Link's eyes narrow, dangerous red slits shining through his skeletal mask. "Excuse me?" he growled. Gorkenheim didn't answer. He just backed away and kept his head bowed. Dark Link gripped the black apples carved into the silver arms of his throne. Slowly, he pushed himself up to stand. "What do you mean," he started as he took the first clinking step down from his throne, "that you 'didn't kill anyone'?" Dark Link stepped down another step, his armor clinking again. General Gorkenheim began to whimper, shrinking toward the door.

"Sir, it wasn't my fault! There was nothing I could—"

"WASN'T your FAULT?" Dark Link shouted, crossing the space between him and the cowering man in a few quick steps. He grabbed Gorkenheim by his bulging neck, rolls of gray fat bulging through Dark Link's squeezing fingers. "I gave you a hoard of monsters and soldiers endowed with super-human strength, speed, and bloodlust to go after a handful of measly villagers and you FAILED?! HOW IS THAT NOT YOUR FAULT?!"

Gorkenheim clawed at Dark Link's hands, gasping for breath. His eyes began to bulge. Finally Dark Link let go, dropping the General to the ground in a gasping heap. The Shadow King began to circle Gorkenheim, tapping his own lips with one forefinger. "What to do, what to do…this was your only chance, Gorky, and you screwed it up. Too bad for you. But, now that I have no use for you, I can't have you living to eat all my Obsidian and enjoy the pleasures of my kingdom, now can I? What use have I for a failure in my new, perfect Hyrule?" Dark Link drew his shadow sword from its sheath on his back, its crimson blade shimmering like blood in the torchlight.

"IT WAS LINK!" Gorkenheim shouted, holding both of his hands up in defense.

"HWHAAT?" Dark Link snapped, his sword hand falling limp at his side. He stumbled back a couple steps, as if struck physically.

Emboldened, Gorkenheim continued. "Yeah, Link and Zelda were there with a whole bunch of wolves! They put on these masks and turned into huge wolf-monsters. We couldn't even get close before they ran into Kakariko. But we wounded him real bad, King Dark Link! We threw a huge ax into his shoulder when his back was turned. We did!"

"Is that so?" Dark Link whispered, almost as if to himself. His eyes were unusually wide and his breath seemed short. "Has he found a way to escape me then?"

"Your Majesty?" Gorkenheim said, confused by the King's sudden shift.

"Yes...majesty…yes, and I should thank you Gorkenheim," Dark Link shifted gears again, suddenly calm as he hoisted his sword onto his shoulder and strode over to Gorkenheim. "You have brought me this information and I am so very…." Suddenly Dark Link swung his sword down. With one mighty swoop, the shadow blade cleaved Gorkenheim's head clean from his shoulders. The former general's face was twisted in a horrified scream as it topped to the floor. "…grateful." Dark Link finished. Gorkenheim's body slunk to the floor, red blood pouring onto the dark marble.

"TEELA!" the Shadow King shouted, walking back up to his throne.

"Yes, Dark?" The Shinobi in question slipped out of the shadows and sat at his side, leaning her hip on the arm of the Shadow King's throne. Only she could get away with being this close when he was in a murderous mood, and Dark Link knew it. He threaded his arm around her waist and turned a wicked smile up to her, his fingers tracing small patterns on her back.

"Killing someone always does make me feel better about life," Dark Link remarked, glancing over at the bleeding corpse starting to stink on his floor.

Teela nodded, letting her arm rest on his shoulders. Her fingers reached up and started playing with the grayish-silver hair sticking out of his helmet at the base of his neck. "Then Link's blood will make you the happiest man on the Goddesses' red earth."

Dark Link nodded. Effortlessly, he pulled Teela down onto his lap and swung her around until she was straddling him. He held his hands behind her back to steady her and grinned. "A part of me hoped he wouldn't be so…so easy to get rid of, I think," he said. "It felt too easy. Where's the reward in it?"

Teela was a little surprised, but she masked it. She had begun to learn that the quickest way to make him angry with her was to fend off his advances too quickly. And if she was being truly honest with herself she would admit that these violent, sensual moods of his were exciting to her. "And how do you plan to kill him?" Teela asked, her voice a little huskier than she intended.

Dark Link leaned up, his nose almost touching hers. "I think we'll be attacking Kakariko a lot sooner than I planned…" He leaned up as he spoke and, despite herself, Teela leaned down. His voice was barely a whisper. "They're small and weak compared to my army," Dark Link said. "We will slaughter every…last…one of them." The Shadow King captured his queen's lips in his, and Teela couldn't help but kiss him back. Dark Link pulled away first, taking the lead. He scrapped his teeth along Teela's bottom lip as he pulled away. Smiling, she licked the beads of blood he left behind.

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Author's Notes:

Man, lots of kissing in this chapter huh? Well, it's about time. :)

So I have lots of things to go over about this chapter, but ffnet won't let me post the reference links or pictures. If you're interested in learning about the sword choice, head over to the facebook page and take a look. I'll post a link there to an article on Zelda Universe comparing sword strengths (yes, the Gilded Sword is ACTUALLY stronger than the master sword!) and if you can't picture Adult Link wearing the Gilded Sword ("wouldn't it be too short?") I have a reference picture for that too. It looks REALLY cool actually!

And, remember how I mentioned there might be a contest if we hit 100 likes on the facebook page? Well…YEY! We did hit 100 followers on the facebook page! 108 as of this weekend to be exact. I am going to be put all of the names for people who have liked the page in a hat and draw one name at random. Below is some info on the contest:

FAQ:

What is the prize?

A .pdf e-book version of the first book in the Doppelganger Trilogy, The Hero of Wolves.

Do I have to like the facebook page to enter the contest?

Yes, you do. As it is a celebration of the facebook page getting 100 likes, it only makes sense. :)

When will you draw the name?

Well, I'm doing some heavy revisions, both to content and the cosmetic look of the book. As that will take some time, I'll draw the name as soon as I'm done. Lol. That'll probably be about a couple months.

Why a pdf file instead of a real ebook?

For money and security basically. It costs a lot of money to sign up with a website like amazon and actually register the book as an ebook, plus there's so much extra web and file formatting involved. Not to mention the fact that Nintendo might take it down. On the security end, I don't want people to be able to copy it and post it online themselves. Theft is, unfortunately, a legitimate worry this day and age. I've had it happen to me before.

How will I get the pdf?

Ideally, I'll just send the file to you over a private message on facebook. If it's too big (and it might be) then I will need to get an email address from you to send it to. I promise nothing else will be sent but the ebook pdf.

What kind of changes will I find on the pdf?

In terms of content changes, it'll mostly be some serious polishing. Whole sections might be rewritten or expanded, and most of the typos will be gone completely. Some small details might be changed for consistency. However, none of the changes will affect the overall story. They are just to make it read smoother and sound more cohesive, as it has been written over a large period of time. In addition to that, you will get to see the front and back cover for the book.

Will it ever become available to everyone else?

It all depends on demand. Maybe. But, I am planning to release it as a print book that you can order some day…..but not quite yet. :D

Anyway, thanks for reading and please review! To enter the contest, just like the facebook page. Just as simple as that!

~The Wolfess

Please"like" the Doppelganger Trilogy on Facebook to get special progress updates in between chapters and other goodies.