Well guys, here it is. The final chapter of my Four Swords fic. I'm so grateful to all of you that have reviewed, faved, watched, and read my stories.
And so it is with deep pride that I present to you the final installment of the Links' saga. :)
As usual… enjoy. :3
Chapter Fifty-Five: Peace
The blinding white light had swallowed everything, both sight and sound, in its pure and holy embrace. The darkness, not seen nor heard beneath the power of the light, screeched silently and writhed unseen in agony and defeat as it was slowly but surely stripped away, broken apart and into nothing. And underneath the light, the Four Links stood strong and unwavering, their eyes wide, unafraid and determined, their swords held high into the air and the glory and power of the light swirling around the blades and engulfing everything in its sight.
When it seemed as if there were no more darkness for the light to chase away, when the power of the light grew so strong that not a single force in the world could oppose it, and when the spirit of good had risen so above that of evil that no comparison could ever be made...
Finally, the light began to fade.
Unlike the darkness, which had shrieked and broken as it faded away, dying slowly and being overpowered by the light of the blades... The light, as it faded, almost seemed to remain on every particle in the air, seeping into all and gracing every living thing in its glory, basking and warming everything and only absorbing into life itself as it restored the land to its natural light.
And in the darkness of the night, lit up by the blinking stars and the solid light of the moon above, there were only five solitary figures left standing amongst the lightly drizzling rain, the upturned earth and the scattered rubble amongst the ruins of Hyrule Castle.
Standing in a tight, small group, the Four Links were lightly panting, sweat and rain dripping down their faces, their hair and tunics plastered to their skin and their muscles shaking with exhaustion and tire, each of their Four Swords hanging lightly by their sides, still gripped in their hands. And yet, as they looked at one another, their eyes locking as each came to realize what they had finally accomplished...
Before either could utter a single word, however, a slight sound came from behind them, and, surprised though unafraid, each turned around to watch as the fifth Link, his form equally as shaken and exhausted as theirs, walked up to them silently and calmly, his boots making a quiet and steady sound as they walked over the strewn rubble and up to the others, a small and weary smile on his face.
Finally, breaking the silence of the night...
"Are... are they gone?" The small voice, quiet and yet full of life, came from an unmistakeable source as the others looked towards the smaller Red Link, a small yet unsure smile on his face. "For... for good?"
And yet, surprising them all came the firm and sure nod of the fifth, who crossed his arms and spoke. "Yes," Shadow answered simply, the others turning to look at him. And as they did so, it was then that they noticed the dark clouds were still lightly around him, the dark powers still residing close to their friend... but with the smile on Shadow's face, the ease with which he stood and spoke... Each of them felt at ease, knowing that it was just a part of who he was.
Lifting his hand, with a small amount of shadow magic still swirling around it, Shadow spoke calmly and certainly, "They're both gone. Destroyed. They'll never be a bother to anyone, ever again." He lowered his hand and nodded to his four friends- to the four other pieces of his own soul. "Ganon's power is contained. So long as the Goddess' power resides in the Four of you... So his power will remain trapped in the sword itself."
"The 'four' of us?" came a questioning voice, and the Links looked towards Blue, who was narrowing his eyes with a devious smirk on his face. "You may have all that dark magic and stuff," he said with a laugh, clapping a hand over his friend's shoulder, "But you'll always be one of us, buddy. And I know you've got just as much light in you as we do."
With the mood lightened, the uncertainty gone and the evil villains destroyed, the children finally found it in themselves to be just that- children. Laughing in their own relief, the excitement of their victory, and the joy in remaining together, the five of them couldn't help wide smiles from forming on their faces as they hugged each other, talked eagerly amongst themselves and affirmed to both each other and themselves just how much the others meant to them.
And yet... Even this time could not last so long, and after a few minutes, they found themselves quieting as the rest of the situation sunk in, and they looked around at the silent battleground around them, the destroyed ruins of the Castle and the dark night which they knew fell over every person in Hyrule, every citizen who had suffered from the reign of Veran and Onox and every person who knew just how much they would have to rebuild.
However- before the children could sink into their sorrow, or dwell on thoughts of remorse and regret... like always, there was light to drive this away. And the five Links looked up in surprise as a sudden shaft of light illuminated the area above them in a brilliant trail, flying high above them and encircling them, alighting the rubble in its warm and radiant glow. And as the light from the bird began to subside, its wings beating slowly yet majestically as it lowered itself from the ground...
The Links all grinned as they turned to face the landing owl, even the darkest among them managing a smirk as he crossed his arms.
With a calm, quiet hoot, Kaepora Gaebora landed silently in front of the Heroes, a proud and content smile on his beak as the light finally faded off.
"... You have all done well."
Their guide's voice was warm and full, deep and proud as he looked upon each of the Links in turn.
Unable to help himself any longer, the smallest of the Links cried out as he ran towards the owl, wrapping his arms tightly around the bird's wings in a hug. The owl, stunned slightly, gave a weak chuckle as he took a step back, trying to compensate for the tackle hug-
At the next instant, however, he was nearly knocked to the ground as the other three Links, laughing, also ran to join their friend, hugging the owl in a tight group with wide grins on their faces. Finally, Kaepora gave up, simply chuckling and shaking his head. And after a minute or so, content, the Links took a step back-
Looking up, Kaepora noticed one more Link standing in front of him. With crossed arms, Shadow smirked at the owl- then, taking a step forward, he outstretched a hand and roughly ruffled the feathers on top of the owl's head, chuckling as he muttered, "You weren't half bad yourself, Feathers."
Surprising the Links, Kaepora merely chuckled and took a step back- puffing up his chest proudly as he said, "And I'm not even done yet!"
Blinking in confusion, the five heroes looked at one another, neither knowing quite what he was talking about- and yet, curious, they looked back at the great owl...
Once more, the light had returned to the magnificent owl as he spread his wings out wide on either side of him, remaining standing and looking upwards as the light grew above him, compressing into a single, bright white circle of light... Blinded, the five Links squinted and shielded their eyes, looking briefly away as the light grew too bright to look at directly...
Only when it finally faded away did they open their eyes, lowering their hands and looking at the fading light which was lowering to the ground...
And when it finally had fully dissipated, landing down gently in front of the wise owl, did the Links see what had been hiding in the light... and the sight of it made their hearts leap in their chests, their eyes grow wide and their jaws drop.
As if awakening from a great, long sleep... her hands clasped daintily in front of her and her chin slightly bowed... Her eyelids fluttered, and beneath those long eyelashes, a pair of beautiful, shining blue eyes opened, looking with awakened shock and awe at what stood before her- and those who did, looking upon her with an even greater surprise, their hearts soaring high in the sky as they each shouted out her name.
Choking out her name, the Four Sword Heroes leapt forward as one as they ran the short distance towards her, hardly believing their eyes- no, they wouldn't believe anything until they each knew that she was there, that she was finally safe. And as the four reached her, she finally awakened, and her eyes flew open, her mouth slightly agape as she understood- but before she could even say anything, the four children, her heroes- her Links- had ran up to her, each throwing their arms around her in a wide, jubilant hug, laughing and cheering and calling her name.
"L... Link...!" The princess managed to gasp aloud the name of her friend before the wide smile, the beautiful smile of Hyrule's Princess spread across her face- and, her cheeks squeezing tears of joys out of those eyes, she wrapped her small arms around the four of them, returning their hug.
"Th-thank the goddess, you're safe!" Red bawled out as he hugged the Princess tight.
"I... I guess I am," the Princess admitted quietly, still slightly confused, though grateful and happy nonetheless as she looked at the four Links, who stood back from their hug, wide smiles on their faces.
Rubbing away the redness in his face, Blue whirled away from Zelda- and, though he tried to act angry, couldn't hide a wide smile on his face as he roared at Kaepora, "You stupid owl! You told us she'd been kidnapped!"
"Really, now?" The owl asked in faint surprise, his eyes slightly widening. He then shrugged his wings, saying as he hid a mischievous glint in his eyes, "I remember no such thing."
The Links, relaxed and excited, laughed at the funny exchange between the stubborn, bull-headed Link and their friend- their guide.
"The Princess..." His voice once more serious, calm and wise, the great owl Kaepora smiled as he looked over towards the small girl. "I have always known who she was. Not long before I found you Links... I knew she had to be protected. I have kept her safe as you heroes sought the elements... I only wish I had been there earlier," he added with a sigh, shaking his head as he remembered finding the child only moments after Veran had left her body, tricking the young hero Link into pulling the then-cursed Four Sword.
Despite himself, Green smiled, shaking his head. "Don't blame yourself, Kaepora," he said with a nod, his heart still jumping and his hands shaking with overwhelming relief and joy at the reveal of their dear friend and her safety. "You did wonderful. Everyone did."
However, while the words did indeed cheer up the great owl and the Links continued to smile, not long after Green spoke, a small silence drifted among them... and it wasn't long before they realized just why, as the two looked between the Princess... and the Shadow.
He had kept himself distant from them... from her... as they embraced and celebrated her return. Of course, upon seeing her, his own chest had frozen, somersaulted, and rejoiced all at once as had the others', but his feet remained bound to the ground, and he could not budge one inch towards her. What right did he have to do so, anyways? Doubt after doubt still lingered in his mind, and as he looked over her, memories poured through him- those he'd forgotten, those he remembered, and those that would never be able to leave him... no matter how hard he or anyone else tried.
Still... When he felt all eyes on him... his throat tightened up, and he knew there were expectations on his shoulders. His eyes narrowed slightly, his face slightly bitter, as he looked away, muttering, "I... I'm glad you're alright."
There was another silence between them- but it was not very long.
Calmly and quietly, the Princess took a few steps forward, the child of shadows raising his head lightly in surprise-
And not a moment later, the young girl threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly with a bright smile and tightly closed eyes.
"... Thank you, Shadow. For everything."
Stunned beyond words, Shadow could only open his eyes in shock, standing still- and though he could briefly see the others out of the corner of his eyes, smiling with satisfaction... it didn't matter. She was grateful to him... She acknowledged him, she showed her compassion... Swallowing away both his foolish, stubborn pride and the lump in his throat that had been there for longer than he could remember, he let himself close his eyes as he lightly hugged her back, his black locks of hair sweeping over his calmly, contently closed eyes.
"... You're welcome..."
Though it lasted only seconds, it felt like hours to him... Wonderful hours, when his broken soul was finally repaired. However, as she pulled away with a smile, he understood and let her go- then, noticing that the others were looking, quickly cleared his throat and looked away. The Links, for their part, chuckled under their breaths- but each were more than ready to allow Shadow his pride, as Zelda walked back towards the others, the seven figures standing in a circle around each other.
Having remained relatively quiet for so long, the wisest of the Links smiled calmly as he once more turned towards the great owl.
"Thank you," Vio said with a nod, "for everything you've done. We couldn't have done any of this without you."
The other Links all nodded their agreement; even Shadow shrugged lightly as if to reluctantly admit it was true.
Chuckling lightly, Kaepora merely smiled as he said, "No thanks is necessary, my friends. Do you all remember what I first told you, why I came to you?" Though the Links looked at one another, one voice quietly spoke up.
"You're the messenger bird," Shadow teased lightly with a devilish, fanged grin.
"Not just that!" Kaepora hooted indignantly, with the others laughing. He smiled proudly as he said, "It's no coincidence that I was sent to help you. I am your Guardian; the Guardian of the Four Sword Hero. The Goddess herself ordained that I watch over you... And even in these times of peace, so I will always be watching over you."
A calm silence drifted out after Kaepora's words, but it was not filled with any kind of tension- instead, the Links all smiled warmly at each other, their hearts lifted by such knowledge that they had a guardian, a friend like Kaepora with them. That they had been blessed by the goddess herself with his protection, his guidance.
Once more, the Links looked over towards the owl- but something in his voice piqued their curiosity, and they looked at him in interest as he spoke once more.
"There is one more place I must guide you to."
The words lightly surprised the Links, but, taking it in stride as they did everything else, smiles came on their faces and they nodded, willing and ready.
"Lead the way, Guardian," spoke the fair Princess Zelda with a smile as she looked up at him with glowing, youthful blue eyes. Humbled, the owl chuckled once before spreading his wings wide- and, nimbly taking to the skies, the great bird circled once above them before he slowly began to drift off to the side, a soft trail of light following his every wingbeat.
Despite the rubble... the darkness, the ruins... Despite everything around them which, even though the darkness had gone, tried to sink them into sorrows... Wearing smiles, and walking side-by-side, the six children turned and quietly, confidently, followed the light above them.
It wasn't a long walk.
They passed the rubble of the ruined Castle, and lightly found themselves passing through overhead trees, bushes, and overgrown grass. And yet, as they walked, each of them somehow knew, somewhere in the depths of their minds, where they were going. So when they finally arrived... When the owl landed on the perch of a nearby tree, his wings folding beside him and his eyesight looking down at them... Not a one of them was surprised.
His voice was quiet, muttered beneath his breath as Shadow glanced up with his red eyes at the overgrown ruins before them. The stone pillars bordering the central cement pedestal... The stone steps leading up to it, with grass and flowers growing in between the cracks... Moss and overflowing branches climbing up and flowing over the side of the half-crumbled walls which lined the outside of the Sanctuary. It was the same as it had always been- and yet, as it always had been, the most noticeable feature, the center-point of the Sanctuary... The empty pedestal, its open slit staring up at the starry night sky above.
The children turned to look towards who had spoken.
A small, weak smile had grown on their leader's face as he looked up and ahead at the empty pedestal. He took a deep breath and spoke again.
"It's time, huh?"
With that same smile, victorious yet sad, he looked back towards his team.
The mood around the five Links grew quiet and sullen; each of them knew, by the sight in front of them and by the words of their leader, just what would now have to happen. Their long journey... In the silence, each was, and knew the others were, thinking back about their long journey together. Learning to be not just a team of individuals... but individuals working as a team. One team...
With a flutter of wings, the Links were snapped out of their thoughts as they followed with their eyes, watching Kaepora fly off his perch in the trees and land a few feet in front of them.
"Heroes... though you may already be aware of it..." His voice was once more calm and deep, serious and yet warm. He looked at each of them in turn as he spoke next.
"... This very well may be the last time you will see each other like this. Your world is at peace... And though no one can say what the future holds, I feel as if it will last for a very long time."
There was another pause...
"Heh, why're you saying that like it's a bad thing?"
The Links turned to who had spoken; Blue, flashing a grin and crossing his arms, said contently, "An era of peace? Sounds good to me. No complaints here."
The others, though agreeing deep down, looked at Blue with a confused, slightly conflicted frown.
Rolling his eyes in exasperation, Blue turned on them as he said with a smirk, "Come on, guys. I'm not saying this hasn't been great. These experiences we've had..." he fell silent for a moment, then shook his head as he continued, "nothing can ever substitute for 'em. But... this is why we fight, isn't it?" He smirked once more. "Why we do all we've done. For peace."
Eagerly nodding, his smile brightening, Red chirped up loudly as he latched onto Blue's arm, "Yeah! You're right! I mean... This is what we've been working for all along! Peace for everyone, for our land..." He fell silent, as each of them remembered how all of this had started- how the lone Link, feeling isolated in the time of peace, had almost made a terrible mistake. However, he managed a smile as he finished, "We'll always have each other. But for our Kingdom..."
Joining in, Vio gave a calm, understanding nod. "This will always be what's best," he affirmed with a smile, looking from each of his friends to the next. "And... it may be best for us, as well. I wouldn't trade anything for the times we've had together..." he smiled and bowed his head. "But it may just be time for us to move on... Live our lives as Link. We've learned so much... so much that we could never forget."
Smiling and putting a hand over his friend's shoulder, Green smiled as he nodded, saying, "I agree... No matter what, we'll always be there. One person... Y'know, maybe that's why we were sent to do this, all along. To be a stronger, single person... And to keep Hyrule safe..." He chuckled a little to himself, shaking his head. "Maybe I'm sounding ridiculous. But maybe this all happened for a reason, too."
"Well, 'why'-ever it happened," Blue joked with a grin, slinging an arm around his friend's shoulder, "I'm glad it did."
It was then that the four Links noticed one of their own remaining quiet... with a sad smile, they turned towards Shadow- but blinked as they saw the great owl already facing him, and the child looking over at him silently with a hardened face.
Kaepora smiled as he spoke.
"Shadow Link... as one of the heroes," he spoke deeply, his voice warm and almost fatherly, "You, too, will merge back into the hero Link as the sword is sealed. Your soul is a part of theirs... and will always remain as such."
Curious as to how their friend would respond, the Links looked over at him...
A small smirk was growing on the shadow's face, his arms still crossed. Lowering his head slightly, he allowed a small chuckle to escape his mouth as he replied.
"I wouldn't have it any other way, my friend."
Looking up at the others, his eyes as ready and determined as ever, Shadow gave them a nod as he spoke, "I'll go wherever you go." His smirk spread into a fanged grin as he finished, looking at his fellow Links, "And I'm ready to finally join you."
The Links were silent as these powerful words sunk in; each of them remembered both times in which they were forced to seal the sword without their friend. Without him to stand next to them and join them... And now, finally, he would be there, to finally be with the rest of his soul. And they would be ready to finally have their own soul complete... every part of their soul together.
Smiling boldly, taking a step forward, Blue grinned widely as he held a readied fist in front of him. "Then let's do this."
They were ready.
Ready to finally bring all of this to a close... And yet, they were not sad. Though it was a bittersweet feeling, to become one and no longer have the five of them in their wacky, wild, and dangerous adventures... there was an even stronger feeling among them which pulled them towards the pedestal, drove them towards this one, simple truth. The single desire to be together... The urge to come together and live their life as one person, to live in an era of peace... the peace they had worked so hard for.
The Four Sword Links... all Five of them, looking at one another... They each knew. The power of the Sword did not copy them into multiple people... it split them into multiple parts. They were each on their own an incomplete person... And ultimately... ultimately, they wanted to be complete. They wanted to be Link... And they were ready for it. For whatever their life would bring to them... they wanted to face it, and embrace it, together and as one.
It had been a wonderful ride... a grand adventure, and a treasure of an experience. But like all adventures, journeys and quests... it would ultimately come to an end.
And yet, though this adventure would come to a close...
They each knew...
Their new adventures, their life as Link... would only just begin.
Without a word, the Links found themselves walking towards the pedestal, the Princess standing where she was and watching them with a smile, crossing the grass and stepping onto the stone-ruin steps. Already, though their battle-worn swords had long since been sheathed at the end of their and hard-won fight, each of their hands were slowly closing around the hilts of their swords, bringing them out in front of them as they knew just what had to be done- what they wanted, what they needed to do.
Reaching the pedestal itself, the Four Sword Links smiled at one another as they held their swords in front of them, looking from one to the other, down to the pedestal, and-
-In surprise, the Links found themselves blinking, frozen in spot as they looked at what was standing in front of them.
Slightly frowning, having fallen behind them, Shadow stood a few feet away from them, watching them. He had stopped a few steps in front of the pedestal... And, his arms crossed, he seemed to refuse to come any closer.
"Shadow..." Red's voice was slightly quiet as, though he kept a smile, his eyes became almost morose as he looked at his friend, frozen in his tracks. "Come on... It's time to do this, together," he urged with a smile and a nod.
And yet... Bitter, still unable to find the reason and purpose behind it, Shadow frowned as he let his eyes settle on the Pedestal itself. And before any of them could speak again...
"... The One divides to Four... the Four unite as One."
Shadow's words came quiet, and, while they were refraining from anger, he could not hide the slight amount of sorrow, and perhaps even confusion, as he spoke the words he read plainly and clearly on the pedestal itself.
Despite all that had happened... Shadow closed his eyes, cursing himself, cursing his inability to accept all that he ever wanted, accept what was being shown to him and to stop finding ways to deny all of it. Unable to stop questioning himself... questioning the reason for his existence, the truth and the right or wrong behind his desire... 'The Four...'
"... Hm. Is that all?"
In surprise, Shadow looked up, blinking- and his jaw dropped at what he saw next.
After speaking rather dryly, Vio had knelt down by the pedestal, eyeing the ancient Hylian letters which spelled out the sentence. He tossed an almost devious smirk Shadow's way... then, turning back to the pedestal, lifted his sword and made two quick, minuscule slices across the surface of the rock, causing sparks and bits of rock to come flying off in result of the new indentions made in the old rock pedestal.
"W-what the hell are you doing?-!" Shadow shouted in surprise, hardly able to believe his eyes- or his ears, as they were now filled with the uproarious sounds of the other Links' laughter.
Vio grinned as he stand up, dusting off his hands, apparently proud of himself. "There," he said simply with a shrug. "Now it says 'Five'." And as the other Links, grinning from ear to ear, looked from Vio to Shadow, the quiet Link smiled as he finished, "What's written here, or anywhere, Shadow, doesn't matter. What matters is right here." In his open hand, he spread it out to himself and the other Links.
"What matters isn't written in stone, paper, or anything else. What matters is us, our hearts and our belief in each other."
Shadow was silent as he looked down, thinking about these words. The words of his friend... his wise, considerate friend... And as he looked in the eyes of the others, he knew they all felt the same, knew the same... It was their words, and as far as Shadow was concerned... it was truth. When he had dashed aside all expectations of himself, all notions of "fate" and "destiny"... when he first remembered, and affirmed, the fact that his choices were his own, that his future would only be decided by him and him alone... So now, he felt this as truth as well. Whatever would be ordained as "right" or "wrong"... this feeling... This knowledge, of his friends and of himself... it could not be wrong.
Smiling, dashing every other doubt and fear aside, leaving behind all trails of guilt and regret... Shadow nodded as he walked forward, up to the others, standing right in front of the pedestal, as the other four stood on the other side, facing him with reassuring smiles.
With all these worries gone... Shadow gave a grin.
"Alright, then. Lead the way home."
Nothing else needed to be said.
The Five Links... standing next to one another, all in a circle around the Pedestal... They were each ready. More ready than they had ever been... To finalize the peace for their land, to begin rebuilding and protecting it in its era of peace... To continue, and begin, living their lives as one. And as the four swords were finally lifted, four sets of hands held high... the fifth one joined them as he set the palm of his hand on the collective tops of the hilts of their swords. Their five sets of eyes lifted high into the sky... The light of the setting moon shining down upon them, and the light of the rising sun from below lighting everything from beneath...
And, finally, they each closed their eyes.
In one final motion...
The four Swords, their slim and sharp ends pointed downwards, were thrust down with the power of each of the five Links, the aim of the blades true and unwavering as it slid evenly and perfectly through the single, empty slit in the stone.
And in that instant, as the Four blades fused together into one, sealing firmly in the pedestal... in that very moment, time itself seemed to freeze as light, emitting from the center of not the sword- not the pedestal- but the heroes themselves, suddenly and instantly engulfed everything in sight, blinding everything in the powerful, wonderful and magical light.
For as the blades came together as one...
So, finally, the did five pieces of the one child's soul unite and become one.
The bravery, courage, wisdom, heart, and inner light of the Hero...
After so long kept apart, now were finally together.
The light, though blinding, was one brighter than any could ever measure or compare as it engulfed everything in its path in its radiance, glory, and blessing. For in its powers, perhaps the greatest blessing of all was being bestowed upon those who had given so much for their land, for their people and for their kingdom. And while all others would have to shield their lights from the light... the five beings inside... fused into one... were those blessed with the privilege of basking in its center, receiving all its glory and peace.
And when it finally subsided... When the light, its blessing given and its task complete, slowly began to fade away, absorbing into every being and essence and returning to the world to its natural state...
In the silent and peaceful clearing of the Sanctuary, where birds flied by overhead and the grass grew tall and lush by the sides, the moss crawling over the stone walls and the morning, rising sun casting its beautiful, warm golden-red cascade of hues across the forest...
In the middle of the clearing, a single, stone pedestal served as its centerpiece, with a single, silver sword set firmly in its center. The hilt, golden with a multi-colored gem inset, was alit with the goldenrod colors of the morning sun... As well as the single, small hand which rested ever so lightly on top.
For standing in front of the pedestal and its sword, aglow with the fading light and the growing light of the day, was a single child, clad in green with a warrior's shield on his back, an empty hand by his side, and the other hand sitting gently on the hilt of the sword. The light wind gently tugged at the ends of his tunic, brushing aside his golden-blonde bangs...
And, when he finally felt he could wait no longer...
The young hero took a deep breath... and slowly tilted his chin downwards as his eyelids opened, and his pair of bright, youthful blue eyes looked downwards at the sword before him. A small smile was brought to his lips...
And, tilting his chin upwards, setting his sights across the Sanctuary and the forest around him...
Link, finally at peace and at home, in both his world and in himself, found himself smiling wide, his eyes bright and a warm, powerful flame burning strong in his chest. He wondered faintly if his smile couldn't get any bigger... And as the flood of emotions, memories, thoughts... everything... came rushing back to him, of all who he'd once been and who he always would be, he once more found his eyes glancing downwards at the sword which had started it all.
His smile grew fond, and, still yet to remove his hand from the sword, closed his eyes in reminiscence of all that had happened. The good times, the bad... The times of despair and sorrow, when all thoughts pointed to certain loss... And the times when, grouping around his friends and finding comfort in their words and presence, there were feelings of such certainty that they would freely oppose the world and come out the victor. Everything in between, nothing left out... All that had helped build them together as a team, as closer to one person.
All the feelings, thoughts, ideas, memories of Green, Blue, Red, Vio, and Shadow Link... He would never forget them, just as they would never forget each other. It was a lot to take in, all at once. But with a silent, dry laugh, Link thought- he was used to things like that, wasn't he? And throughout it all, one of his consistent strengths was being able to just go with it. Remembering all that each part of him had known, the feelings of each memory in turn coming up to the surface... It would all be just one more step in his adventure... his life.
Finally, his thoughts subsiding for now, Link gave a slow exhale as he opened his eyes once more, looking up-
-And stopped in their place. For a few feet in front of him, stood one lone figure- the small and undeniable form of the young Princess of Hyrule, Zelda.
Upon seeing their eyes meet, as if suddenly shy and sad, the Princess looked away and to the side. She could only imagine all that had happened whilst she was asleep, their wise guardian keeping her safe as they fought innumerable enemies and indescribable perils to free both her and her kingdom... And through it all, she could not bear nor bring herself to look at him, he who had sacrificed so much.
However, as Zelda shied away, Link, his blue eyes still as bright as before, merely smiled. He felt his hand drop from the hilt of the sword, and he didn't need to glance back as he walked down the steps and up to her, Zelda, his Princess... his friend. He was their Hero... this would always be truth. But he was also Link... and he was now ready to live his life as Link. Calmly and gently, he leaned over, taking the Princess' idle hand in his own.
Surprised, Zelda looked up at him through wide eyes- but upon seeing his own eyes calm, content, and reassuring, even she could not help a similar smile coming across her own face as she looked sheepishly off to the side, a wetness beginning to form in her eyes. Still, looking back at him with her adoring eyes, she gave another nod. She took a small step backwards, ready to go. They had much work to do... But she was not at all afraid, intimidated, or concerned. For she held in her hand, the hand of a hero.
Smiling, Link nodded once as he took a step forward, the pair starting to walk together, their backs to the Sanctuary and their eyes ahead, on their Kingdom and on their future.
Pausing for a second, the young hero couldn't help but hesitate, stopping himself before they'd gone a couple of steps. Knowingly, the Princess smiled, remaining silent for him.
Turning around once more, one last time, to face his adventures, his past and his blessing... Link looked upon the peaceful Sanctuary with wide, thankful eyes, the warmth in his chest growing by the second until he thought it might burst from him and spread across the land.
As he took a breath, he felt his breath shaky... And yet, exhaling, found it much calmer than before. His smile brightened as he looked at the sword- and then up to the morning sky.
"... Thank you... I'll never forget you... forget us..."
He found the words choking in his throat for a moment, but, with his eyes closed and a smile on his face, knew it would be without trouble that he could finish this... finish this right, and once and for all.
"I will always be here."
The silence after his words seemed to stretch on forever, but it was one of contentment, his words seeping into every essence of the world around him as a solemn oath and promise. For all the trials he'd undergone, for the pain and sorrow, the joy and triumph... He would never forget any of it. And he would never forget who he fought for, what he strove to achieve... And he would always remain, always remain their hero and their warrior.
Satisfied, the knot in his throat from before gone- only to be replaced with an elated feeling of the future ahead of him- Link took another deep, smooth breath as he turned back around, facing his Princess. Once more taking her hand in his, the two children nodded once more to each other, and, silently, side by side, began to walk through the ruins and dirt, the grass and the flowers, towards the life ahead of them. Memories followed them every step of the way, and so their adventures would never be forgotten...
And in the bright and beautiful clearing of the Sanctuary, the proud Four Sword sat glistening in its pedestal, the ruins of pillars and walls stood careful watch over the priceless treasure, butterflies danced in the flowers which lined the clearing...
On top of it all, high in the skies, the single shadow of a large owl, its wide wings spread out and the sun glistening between its feathers, circled once over the Sword's final resting place...
With one final beat of its wings, the owl turned in the sky, its golden eyes catching the light of the dawning sun and age, and flew off in the direction the children had left, remaining high in the sky, above the trees and through the clouds... flying away until it was out of sight.
And in the end...
... Everything was at peace.
And so it shall always remain in peace. :)
Once again… I wish I could scream it from the heavens, thank you all so much. Though this past year has been rough on me, I'm glad to have taken this challenge of a fic on, and to have written it and presented it all to you. I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it, as I can't even begin to describe just how wonderful of an experience writing this story- and reading ya'll's reviews- has been for me. ^^
Though I wish I could say for certain whether or not I will be writing another story, one-shots, fics, etc. again, I know this time I can't make such a promise. I want to keep on writing, so I will do my best to keep doing so- and if I ever have plans for another story, rest assured I will be letting you all know. :)
However, to say it "officially": This is the last Four Sword fic I will be doing. As far as I am concerned, the story of the five Links ends here- and Link moves on to live his life as a single, fused person, rebuilding and living in a time of peace and prosperity. Everything has come full circle… And I am ready to bring their adventures to a close. I have learned so much from writing these wonderful characters. But, like Link himself said… His adventures in his own life, just like everyone else's life, have only just begun. We all live our own adventures each day of our lives.
Lastly, I'd like to thank The Great Mikey Weston for their help beta reading the first half of Reminiscence. She is awesome and I really appreciate her help. :) Thank you!
One last time… Before I talk your ears off, that is. P: Thanks so much. I had a blast, and these Links, and all you readers, have left me so much more for the better than before I started all this. I will try to reply to everyone's reviews, and like always, I appreciate every single one of them. :3 In the words of our hero, "I'll never forget you."