Hello everyone! Well, here it is! Chapter One of my new Four Swords fic, and sequel to Reiteration- The Four Swords: Reminiscence! :D
As before, I'll do my best to bring you daily updates. However, starting today, I'll be spending the next month out-of-state on vacation, so I can't guarantee that for sure until I get back.
P.S.: This fic is rated T due to mild vulgar language and occasional violent scenes. There will be no inappropriate scenes or references.
ANYWAYS. Enough of my chit-chatter, let's get to the fic, shall we? ^_^
Chapter One: Exodus
The wind, cool and calming to the touch and to the soul, blew gently and peacefully over the quiet landscape of Castle Town. The streets were as busy, and yet as calm, as any regular day. Merchants sold their wares on carts parked by the stone-paved roads, children laughed and played with wooden swords and shields in the fields, and other town-goers bustled about with the day's various activities, some exchanging gossip and others food. The sun was high in the sky, the clouds offered occasional shade, and the flowers grew en masse across the grass, painting the town in its luscious, kaleidoscopic colors.
In their time of peace, every day was like the one before it, and the one tomorrow, just like today's. There were no urgent matters of life or death, no glorious battles or adventurous heroes. The people were just content to move along with their lives, living as they would, carrying on with each day and preparing for the next. Yes, the scene of downtown Castle Town was as much normal as any other town would be, on an average day. Happy, bursting with life and excitement, and with calm assurance of the days ahead of them.
Just like every other day before it.
Life was moving on…
… Away from him.
Staring out across the small, yet lively town, the boy once more found his thoughts growing morose, despite sitting amongst the gently-blowing grass with the sun shining down radiantly upon him. He was roughly the same age as those children who played in the street- twelve, to be exact, as he counted the years in his mind, up to the present day. It was funny, he noted ironically, how he counted his age- it wasn't like the other children down there, living normal lives. Those who would remember their ages because each birthday before them brought memories of celebrating the new number. How did he remember his?
… It had been two years.
One, to be more specific, since the most recent time, plus a few months and days, but he still counted them from the very beginning. Two years since his life had changed entirely, since he had been set on a course worlds different than the happy-go-lucky kids who ran through the streets, at times upsetting a farmer's batch of chickens or running away from their parents to avoid being sent inside to dinner. He knew it, deep down in his soul, and it ate at him every day- he was different than them.
Not necessarily in a bad way, however, he thought to console himself- just, different. He smiled dryly to himself as he started to count the differences.
First and foremost… obviously, his garb. It hadn't changed in the years since then, remaining as green as the forests around him. The pointed hat of green fabric sitting overtop his flowing, golden locks of hair was the same, as well, and even to this day he wasn't comfortable unless he had both a shield and a sword strapped to his back or slung over his shoulder. The soft sounds of chain mail clinking together followed his every step, and simply stepping into a large crowd would instantly single him out as the most oddly dressed of the bunch. He was proud of his self-imposed uniform, and wouldn't change it for anything- but it was still different.
But of course, his differences ran more than just skin-deep, or cloth-deep. Behind his youthful, yet bold, blue eyes… lay the soul of a hero. And not just a hero… the hero.
Once more, despite himself, the boy smiled- a bit sadly, even- as he once more thought of "who" he was: Link, the Four Sword Hero, Savior of Hyrule, Vanquisher of the Evil Wind Sorcerer Vaati and King of Darkness, Ganondorf... He could go on… There were many titles he'd been given since his adventures a year ago, and then a year before that. And even the title of Four Sword hero meant much… All knew the legend of the holy sword he'd pulled, and its effects upon the child as he set out to defeat evil.
Link smiled, remembering with fondness his adventures with the four of him. The Four Sword… the sacred sword which, upon being pulled, split the young boy into four different versions of himself. Together, they'd triumphed over adversity and banished the darkness away, freeing the light from its hold and bringing peace back to the land once more. At least… that's what everyone else knew. But could they ever truly understand the deeper meaning behind the simple truth behind this split? His adventures with the four of him… They were memories no one could ever know, could ever understand. To him, they were his friends, his brothers, with whom he'd shared invaluable times with, who had gone with him to hell and back fighting the darkness and keeping together to uphold the light. To everyone else… he was simply the 'Four Sword Hero'.
And even then, he had many other names, true, but did any one of them define who he truly was? Not who Link, the Four Sword hero of Hyrule was… but Link, twelve year old Link, a kid who lived in Castle Town and whose best friend happened to be the Princess? Who'd gone on two incredible adventures with friends he may never see again, whom he'd parted ways from in order to secure peace in his land? No… none of those who lived down there, normal lives, knew who he was.
… And as far as the King was concerned, none of them cared.
Once more, Link let out another sigh, looking down sadly at the town as he sat cross-legged amongst the blooms. It wasn't like he blamed the King, though… Obviously, he'd want to move on from a past of war and bloodshed. Despite Zelda's wishes, he wanted his people to move on- forget about their bloody and violent past. And in order to move on to an era of peace… they would have to leave the past behind them.
And that included Link, too.
Suddenly, a voice spoke inside the boy's mind. Stop thinking about that! Link chided himself, bringing his knees up to his chest and setting his chin on his crossed arms. Frowning, he continued to berate himself, looking hopefully over towards the majestic, white towers that formed Hyrule Castle. Who cares if you're not the big important hero anymore? The Four Sword is safe, in its pedestal. You knew what you were doing when you sealed it. And besides… You still have Zelda.
Looking at the beautiful castle, at its glorious white stones and thinking of the Princess… his best friend since childhood, and the girl he'd had a crush on since before he could remember… He began to smile. She wouldn't forget. She'd come. He looked down at his feet, seeing a small flower gently waving in the breeze. Reaching out a hand, he lightly picked the stem of the flower out of the ground, and held it up to his eyes.
It was his birthday, after all… He turned twelve today. And she'd never forget that. For as long as he'd known her, this had been their spot- the hill overlooking Castle Town. And every year, on his birthday, they'd meet secretly at this hill. She'd bring him a cake- more often than not, one she'd made herself- he'd pick flowers for her, and they'd stay out until dark, watching the clouds give way to stars, until the bumbling guards noticed she was gone, and would come to take her back.
Normally, after that night, he'd then go home, where his dad would be waiting with yet another cake, and a gift. He grinned as he remembered some of the gifts he'd gotten from his father over the years… Most recently, a year before, it had been a brand-new Hylian shield- the same one strapped to his back. He remembered how happy he was getting it- and yet, at the same time, the happy memory pulled at his heartstrings, and made him ache. That wouldn't happen tonight… His father, captain of the Hyrule Knights, had been sent out by the King some months ago on a peace mission to other lands across the sea. With some of his best knights and soldiers in tow, there was not a single worry in his mind as to his father's safety. And yet… he'd still miss his father's wide smile, loud voice, and almost crushing hug, as he returned to his home that night.
Trying to rid the thought out of his mind- he'd been gone for some months, now- the boy shook his head and sighed. Frowning, he once more turned his thoughts to Zelda. He tried to smile, hoping memories of her would make him happy- but as he looked up at the sky, his heart fell a bit once more.
…She was late, the sun was already at its peak in the sky and the town's crowd was starting to thin… But no. She wouldn't forget. Ever. Link's eyes narrowed in determination as he cemented this truth in his mind, and once more looked down at the dirt beneath him. It's possible she was just being held up by the guards, or the King, or something or another. The determination rising within him once more, he grinned, almost wildly- that characteristic smile known to belong to the bold, unafraid boy.
Well, then, I shouldn't be sitting on my butt any longer! He thought to himself with a laugh, slowly getting up and brushing the dirt and grass off his tunic. Smiling once more, he nodded as he knelt down on his knees and began to brush aside the grass, seeking the hardest-to-find, smallest yet most beautiful, flowers among the hill. Time to pick some flowers for Zelda!
The hours passed, and it wasn't long until the boy held in his fist a bulging amount of flowers- ranging in size, color, species… everything. He'd picked the brightest and most beautiful blooms he could find, and even had painstakingly arranged them to what he believed looked the best. And yet… though the sun was now a bright, warm orange, spilling its dying rays across the quiet and still town beneath him… the Princess was still nowhere in sight.
A calm and peaceful darkness was settling upon the lonely hill, pervading the town beneath it with the stillness of night. Only a few stragglers here and there moved about the town's streets- some older kids, running around and trying to avoid being dragged inside for the night, and a few merchants, pushing their carts one last time through the streets or gathering up their supplies in preparation to pack up for the night. And as Link watched the last of them leave, the city finally settling into silence… he was finally alone.
Angrily he fought back the tears that were welling up in his eyes, just beneath the surface. His face grew hot, and with his free hand, he rubbed at his cheeks, frowning. Thoughts of doubt had begun to work their way into his mind some hours ago, but now, they were all but screaming at him. The past year, since he had last sealed the Four Sword and returned to a normal life… Ever since the King had been trying to move away from the avid worship of the Sword and of the Hero… the Princess herself had seemed to be growing distant from him.
Whether she was unable to come out of the castle to play with him, or missed an important date, or simply was too busy to even talk to him anymore… All that time, he'd been telling himself it wasn't her fault, she was trying, but she was also the Princess, and the daughter of the King… obviously, she'd have some royal responsibilities, and he'd respected that. But this… she wouldn't do this on purpose. He knew her, better than anyone in the land. The anger was rising in his chest once more. Nothing would've stopped her from this- his birthday.
His fist tightened around the bunch of flowers in his grip, and, using his free hand, pushed the ground beneath him as he got up to stand. Something was wrong. Something had to be wrong- he refused to think she had merely forgotten, or had just decided she had someplace else more important to be. Wasting not a second more, and still keeping a firm grip on his precious bunch of hand-picked flowers, the boy instantly began to sprint down the hill, his eyes narrowed in determination and his chest heaving with heavy breaths as he made way as fast as he could towards the castle gardens.
Over the past year, even the guards themselves, despite the boy being part of the Hyrule Knights, would refuse to let Link in the castle grounds to see Zelda. So, like any mischievous boy his age, he'd found another way- a secret path, through the stone walls of the garden. He grinned to himself as he reached the passage, moving aside a stone in one of the walls and getting down on his hands and knees. Good thing he was still small enough to fit… Squeezing through the tiny hole, he wormed his way through the opening in the wall until he was safe on the other side. He was quick to replace the stone, and, without another second's hesitation, continued to run through the gardens towards the castle- careful, of course, to avoid the guards he knew would be stationed where he'd least expect them.
It didn't take him long, then, with the break-in experience he had, to find his way to the back of the castle, where he knew Zelda's room was. Crouching behind the hedge bushes, the boy grinned in glee as he watched a guard walk nearly right past him, oblivious of the young intruder's presence. Heh, he thought with a silent laugh, No one beats me at this! With another grin, seeing that the guard was no longer in sight, the boy ran around the hedge, flowers still in one hand, only slowing down when he came to the foot of the castle. Tilting his head and taking a few steps back, Link looked up with wide eyes, desperate to see if he could see anything in Zelda's room…
His eyes widened. The lights were on and bright in the room, and a single shadow of a figure paced back and forth across the room. He could see nothing more than the outline of the shadow, but there was no mistaking it.
It was Zelda.
"H-Hey! Zelda!" Link cried out, suddenly finding his voice, not realizing how desperate it sounded and forgetting about keeping quiet so as not to alert the guards. No… he couldn't think about any of those. All he could think of was… Zelda was there, in her room. Why…?
Raising his arm, he waved the bunch of flowers above him and called out again, his eyes wide in confusion and despair. "Zelda! Zelda! It's me, Link! Come down!" he shouted, again and again, calling her name and asking her to come see him. His voice was loud… there was no way she wouldn't be able to hear him…
His breath caught up in his chest as he froze, seeing Zelda's shadow pause in her pacing. Had she heard him…? The seconds which ticked by seemed like hours.
But soon enough…
The shadow resumed her pacing, and, looking off to the side, paused for a moment. After another long silence, where Link, his arm fallen to his side and his eyes looking up in despair at the room, the figure he knew had to be Zelda slowly turned around… and walked out of his view.
And then he was alone, once again.
His eyes fell as he slowly looked down to the ground in empty despair and confusion. What… What had he done wrong…?
And yet, he was not alone for long.
Instantly, shouts reached his ears, and his heart skipped a beat as he whirled around, eyes wide, looking into the darkness. The soldiers had long heard Link's shouts, and were finally catching on to him, shouting and yelling to each other as they gained up on him. He could hear their cries of "Halt! Intruder!" and, panicked, suddenly found himself no longer Link, Hero of Hyrule… but a simple child, an intruder in the castle grounds.
Before he knew what he was doing, the twelve-year old boy had spun around and, eyes wide, was racing through the gardens once more, weaving through the clean-kempt woods he knew by heart, until he reached the secret passageway. Hastily shoving aside the loose stone once more, his heart pounded in his chest as he crawled through the hole. As he got out the other side, he didn't even bother closing it after him- but instead he kept running. Running and running and running… Running away from it all.
Until he had to stop, he could run no more. His lungs were set to explode, and he slowed down, eventually stopping, bending down and placing his hands on his knees as he tried to catch his breath. The shouts of soldiers had stopped long ago… he knew he was no longer being chased. And as he looked around him, he realized where his panicked feet had led him to- back to the hill overlooking Castle Town.
As his heart rate slowly started to return to normal, standing up once more, he looked at the bunch of flowers in his tightly-clenched fist. His knuckles were nearly white with how tight he'd gripped them… and now, from running so quickly away, some were bent and others had petals fallen off. It was no longer the beautiful bouquet he'd so carefully made.
And as he stared at the flowers, even his anger could not stop the harsh, burning tears from trickling out of his eyes and running down his cheeks. His hand was numb, and his fingers, almost without thought, relaxed as they slowly released their captives. The flowers, useless, drifted aimlessly to the ground, falling in a random bunch on the dirt. Some stuck to his sweaty palms at first, but eventually, all of them lay in a heap by his feet.
… There was nothing left for him.
The boy stood there and cried silently to himself as he stared at the pile of torn and broken flowers, which vaguely reminded him of the torn and broken pieces of his heart. He once more glanced out towards the castle… But it no longer held that warm place in his heart, that uplifting feeling that he still had a friend, he still had her… No…
With a cold chill running down his spine, as the tears stained his cheeks, he suddenly came to his realization. Now, there was nothing left for him.
Before he even realized what he was doing, Link had turned away from the flowers and was slowly walking down the hill. His confidence had left him. As he looked around, he slowly began to realize just where his feet were taking him.
He was no longer needed here- he'd known that for some time now. But now… he knew, he was no longer wanted, either. The town, the kingdom, had moved on without him, and this, while he tried to deny it at first, was a clear fact. But now… even she was moving on without him. After all… A kingdom in peace had no need for a hero of war.
And so, with the burning tears still leaving marks on his face and on his soul, looking despairingly out into the night, Link took his first steps down the hill-side, and out of the town. The sword and shield on his back were all who he needed, all who needed him…
With no more words, and with his eyes burning too much to look behind him, the hero Link set out of Castle Town, towards the night sky, leaving his land and doing what everyone else in his life had done. He was putting the past behind him.
He would leave Hyrule.
What?-!-? It's the start of a new fic, so why in the world is Link trying to leave?-! What have you got planned, Tiggz?
... -laughs evilly- Oh, this is only the beginning! x)
Reviews are much loved, and always responded to! :D
If you don't think you can take the tension any longer, just wait until I upload Chapter Two: Darkness! Coming tomorrow! ^_^