A/N~ I'll do the final A/N at the start of the chapter this time. I'll leave you with your thoughts at the end. Thank you all for an amazing journey. I've never been so proud of my writing before, and that's only because you guys kept me motivated to finish it and make it great. I present to you the final chapter of Finally, and I hope it's everything you wanted.
Link dropped to one knee, and stabbed his sword into the soil to support himself. Sweat dripped into his eyes, and he shook his head to scatter them away.
"Getting tired already?" Dark called, between thick breaths of his own. Link swallowed and looked back across the upturned soil that was their battleground to the smirking figure. Dark's random patches of blood and scratches seemed to be nothing in comparison to Link's. The hero touched his thigh, were Dark had just struck him with his blade. A deep tear in his skin was showing the dark red of muscles underneath. Link stood up, and found his balance again before removing the sword from the ground. Dark took his sword with both hands again, ready for the imminent clash.
The hero raced forward, ignoring the pounding pain that rocked his body with each step of his left leg. Dark dashed at the last second, quick as lightning, and met the hero. Their blades hit hard, sending a loud ring across the grass before it was swallowed by the roaring air. Link pivoted, driving his blade towards Dark's hilt, then flipped his blade to the left, pushing it back again. Dark faltered, and Link took an advancing step and thrust his blade forward. Dark ducked, but his cheek was cut in the process. Dark back flipped, kicking Link in the chin with the heel of his foot. Link bit down on his tongue, and felt a rush of blood. But still, by the time Dark was upright again, he was blocking another one of Link's strikes.
"Good look on you!" Dark stammered, gesturing at the streak of mud across the hero's face, and the rivulet of blood creeping out of the corner of his tightly pursed lips. Then the hero's mouth opened as he shouted, and drove Dark back. Their boots slid in the slick dirt and grass, fighting for a hold. The one that found it first would win this round. Dark's heel caught a stone, and he anchored himself down. But Link was on higher ground, and stood taller, using his weight to unbalance his foe. Dark stumbled, and Link arced his sword across his foe's chest. Dark grunted, then vanished in a cloud of lazily drifting smoke. No more diamonds. Whatever bit of Ghirahim this creature once had was gone.
"Are you fighting for your family?" Dark asked, from somewhere among the stormy fog in which he concealed himself. Link's eyes examined the surrounding area, not pausing to focus on one area for too long- that was when Dark would strike. "Remember that time I almost took it from you?" Dark hissed, then gave a string on high-pitched giggles. "Oh, right? Which time?" His voice sounded more tangible, closer. Link spun and locked blades with him. "Because I came back again and again! And I always will!" Dark back flipped and sunk into the ground again, but Link saw a thin train of blood in the air as he backed away. He'd done some damage after all.
"Not after tonight." Link said. He had spoken very little during their battle. He didn't want to be drawn into this monster's mind games. That's why Dark was talking again- to unnerve him. Dark appeared again, but not in a violent flash. He just drifted down from the air and solidified a few meters ahead of Link, balancing on a rock. He lifted up his arm and taunted him.
Link took a deep breath, then started forward. Dark braced himself, bunching his knees. He leapt, and they caught swords mid-air. Link pushed Dark back, but kept up with him and swung his blade horizontally left, then right, then carried through when Dark dodged, and performed a devastating spin-attack. Energy pulsed through his blade, buffeting his foe before the blade even struck. But when it did, Dark grunted in pain and slammed against the ground after flying through the air. His arms were bleeding heavily from where he had tried to block it, and a red line stretched across his stomach from where the blade had eventually broken through his defenses. Dark rolled his head back, arching his body until he balanced on his shoulders and heels, laughing.
"Look at all this blood, Link! And you say I'm not alive!" Link briefly shut his eyes, collecting himself, then aimed his sword at his enemy again. Dark fell back against the ground, then rocked back onto his feet, dragging his sword in the mud. The rain was starting up again, returning the drying ground to its marshy state. Thunder shook the ground under their feet, from lightning that was too high for them to see. Dark swept his hand through the air, and fog traced his fingers' path. The air wobbled and rippled. Link took a step away from him, but the smoke had traveled past him already.
Dark's figure was just a shadow now, shifting through the thick air. Link readied his blade.
"I've grown…I've learned." Dark's voice came from behind Link, and the hero twisted to face him. Instead, his back tore open under the slick edge of Dark's onyx blade. Link shouted as the rings of chain mail bit into his skin, and spun, bringing his sword through the air. His blade cut through Dark's figure, but the shadow simply floated away. Link expected another surprise attack to his blind side and faced it.
Marin faced him instead. He knew it was a trick. Link told Sheik to watch his family, and that's what he would do. Link's eyes checked the corners, and strayed away from the illusion, trying to find his real target. But the image of her daughter persisted, moving forward. Link backed away from it, and her face creased with hurt.
"Papa, don't you love me anymore?" It was her exact voice that caught him off guard. He tried to ignore her, but she kept coming closer, demanding his attention. "Papa! Why did you leave?"
"You're not real." He said, knowing that Dark was off somewhere, grinning. But why wasn't he attacking?
Marin's face tightened.
"What…? I'm not real? What do you mean? I'm talking aren't I! Papa!" She raced forward, tears streaming from her eyes. Link took another step back, then the wind carried her right through him. He stumbled away, rubbing at his eyes.
"You made her cry." Dark said. He manifested long enough for Link to see him, but their match was brief and Dark was quick to vanish again. Link swung his sword down, but it stuck into the ground instead of inflicting the final blow.
"Come out!" Link shouted, whipping his blade through the air. "I thought you wanted to end this!" It was cruel trick he was playing on him. Tricks were the only thing that seemed to be helping him.
"I do." A sweet voice said. Link did not want to turn around to see her. Soft footsteps crunched over the wet grass, approaching him. His eyes became wide as he stared at his feet, and his hair rose as she came closer. He couldn't breathe. "Link…I came after you. Come home."
"Stop it." He said.
"It's over, my love." The endearment tugged at his throat.
"Stop this!" Link shouted. He faced her, but was so startled by what he saw that he fell backwards. Zelda was there, like Link knew Dark wanted him to perceive, but a ghastly wound was tearing her in half. He knew it was not true. It was not happening.
Dark dropped the sword and punched him in the mouth. The blow sent Link twisting to the ground. He found his hands and knees, but a kick to the face downed him again. This time he tasted blood, and felt a tooth crack under the force. Dark shrieked in joy, and kicked him again. Link's teeth sliced his lips, and he choked on a gush of blood.
But the image was there, and it caused him more pain than any physical wound that could be inflicted. Zelda's sweet, confused expression would have been the same in reality as it was in this nightmarish hallucination.
Link felt like he was the one splitting down the middle. Hot fire pokers pulling his rib cage out of his chest. She started falling forward, blood staining the air. Link instinctively leapt up, but she was already out of reach. He caught her hand, but it was slick with blood and she fell right through him. He looked up, his face red with heated rage. Dark was already staring at him. He dropped Kafie to his feet, the young boy as dead as his mother. He lifted Marin into the air by her yellow locks, showing her to Link. The hero clenched his sword, and charged him with a furious shout.
Dark simply tossed Marin towards him, and Link instinctively caught her against his chest. Like Zelda, she slipped right through him, and stabbed out of his back. Link dropped to his knees, staring in awe at the hilt pressing firmly into his solar plexus. But the blood that quickly seeped down his tunic did not feel like his. It felt like Marin's, and Zelda's, and Kafie's.
He crumbled under the false reality that his evil half had created so perfectly.
Dark's boots came into sight, but Link's eyes were blank, and did not see.
"See…we really are one in the same…" With that, Dark stomped his heel down onto the blade Link's hand was weakly clinging to. It slammed flat into the dirt, breaking with a soft snap that reminiscent of the sound Link's bones had made just a moment earlier.
Zelda's horse huffed loudly, but she did not ease up on the reins. She galloped across the field as if she were racing the lightning that illuminated the low clouds, and she was running towards the forest, not the field where Link had set out to.
I'm going to come back with him. She told herself, making it true. Marin and Kafie will have their mother and father, and Hyrule will have their King.
But Zelda was not a fighter. Not the way Link was. She couldn't win the battle for him, but she could help him do it.
She led her horse through the narrow trails of the forest, skirting along overgrown ledges and ducking through tree tunnels. A deku baba sprouted out of the undergrowth, but Zelda's horse reared up and stomped down on the monster's wide head. Thankfully, the bokoblins had vanished years ago, and had not returned. Zelda slowed her exhausted steed as they approached the massive Goddess statue that had fallen from Skyloft upon Link's wish. Zelda dismounted, and slowly walked around the statue. Vines had reclaimed the statue's base, and she could no longer see where the stone met the earth. The trees stretched overhead, trying to hide the clearing from sight. The forest would claim this place one day.
Zelda continued on, to the temple that the statue guarded. She had not been inside for many years now. The stone doors did not want to open- vines had rooted them to the ground as well. Zelda cut them away with an arrowtip and heaved her shoulder against the rock. The door gradually parted, sliding reluctantly along the dusty floor. Once it was just wide enough for her to slip inside, she stopped forcing it and entered her temple.
It was dark, except for the streams of light that filtered in from the ceiling and illuminated the dust wading through the air. Shadows patterned the floor as the light moved around the leaves and vines that were gradually closing up the cracks. Zelda paused at her tree. The tree that Link had planted for her ages ago. It was doing very well in its new home- reaching its curling branches along the ceiling and outside through the breaks in stone. No new fruit yet, but there were promising buds all over the firm bark. She touched a hanging leaf and briefly shut her eyes.
Impa…your son is with us now. He's a brave boy. I'm sure you're proud.
She opened her eyes and looked past the place where her guardian bowed to her for the first time,and later vanished from this life. Her footsteps echoed faintly through the hallway as she began walking up those stairs. There was a misty light hanging in the sword's chamber, through no sky could be seen above it.
The Master Sword was exactly where Link had left it. No vines touched its pedestal; they avoided it in a wide circle. Zelda stepped into that circle, now so close to the sword that she could see the proud engraving of the Triforce just below its impressive hilt.
"Fi. I need you to wake up now." She stepped closer to the radiant blade. "Only for a little while. Then you can go back to sleep. But…" The sword did not shift. "Fi…" Zelda touched the blade's hilt, and a rush of light filled the silvery blade. It hummed, glowing blue, and a burst of turquoise and violet expelled from the weapon. A spritely figure twisted through the air, catching the dim light in a dazzling display of colors, and gently landed on her toes, hovering above the Master Sword. Fi lifted her head, locking her unblinking eyes with Zelda's. The spirit swept her arms together and bowed over them.
"Your Grace, Goddess Hylia. I am blessed to be in your presence again." Fi said, in her monotonic voice that did not quite convey the pleasure she was claiming. Zelda felt nostalgic as well. It had been a thousand years since she had spoken to the spirit of the Master Sword.
"I'm glad to see you." Zelda replied. Fi slowly lifted herself upright, and said nothing. Her cloaked arms rippled as she bobbed up and down ever so slightly. "Fi, Link is in danger." Zelda said.
"Link was my most recent Master." Fi replied. "But no longer. He has returned me here, and I must now wait for the next hero of the cycle to pull me from my sleep."
"Fi, he needs your help." Zelda insisted. "You are the spirit of the Blade of Evil's Bane, and he is fighting the greatest evil to the death now." Fi did not respond at first, then she crouched down, and glided to her right. A stream of lavender light briefly followed in her wake.
"From the edge of time I guide you, the one chosen to carry out the Goddess' mission." She balanced on one foot, and twisted her body, wrapping her arms around herself. "That is what I shall say to him again, though he will not hear me speak." She leaned backwards, her head almost touching her thigh, and lifted her arms out to her sides. "Goddess Hylia, your hero is not far, but he is distant now. I cannot accompany you on this journey, though I wish to. I must remain here and sleep, as you ordered me to." She bowed over her legs, and spun one last time until her arms settled at her sides. Zelda sighed, and looked away from the sword.
"…But I will show you the way."
Zelda lifted her head as Fi did, aiming it at the sky. The spirit raised her arms, and a warm blue light engulfed her body. It shot upwards, streaking across the dark sky like a comet. Once it was out of sight, a beacon of the same color plumed towards the clouds.
"This is all I can do for you, Your Grace." Fi said. Zelda nodded.
"I understand. Thank you." Fi bowed once again, and vanished into glowing fairy lights, which flew back into the sword's hilt. The Master Sword glowed vividly, then dimmed until it was as still and silent and just as beautiful as it had been before.
Zelda left her temple, and sealed the door behind herself until the next hero would open them.
But she had not walked far when a voice echoed across the courtyard. It was hardly a whisper- a voice on the wind. She stopped to listen.
Master…The light Link needs to defeat this foe has been with you all along.
Zelda rode to the edge of the forest, then left her horse and continued on foot towards the pillar of light. It was not far. She crossed over a series of hills, then saw where the light connected to the ground atop the next rise in the field. The sun was setting, but it couldn't be seen through the clouds. The grey was lined with a bright, painful yellow, and darkened into pitch black as Zelda lifted her gaze. The blue beacon didn't match at all. The twilight was clashing.
As she approached it, the pulsing turquoise dimmed, and eventually faded. Zelda found herself standing before a dark portal. A series of overlapping black cubes that funneled down into the earth. Bright red rings lined the inside, as far down as she could see. Shadowy squares occasionally floated up from the portal, vanishing on their own as if they were thinning ink.
Sudden thunder caused Zelda to flinch and gasp, holding her chest until the rumbling subsided. She tried to steady her breathing, which had become quite erratic in the last few moments, and took the Goddess Bow in her hand. She took another breath, and prayed to Farore for courage, then stepped onto the black. Her body was sucked into the darkness, staining her skin. And very suddenly, she was broken apart and pulled upwards. She felt as if she were falling away from the earth, in a thousand tiny pieces, all frightened and sickened by the vortex that was sucking her even further into the blind shadows.
And suddenly she saw her feet, then the rest of her body come back together, and she stumbled and collapsed, through thankfully in one piece again. She shook, clutching her stomach as the twisting inside of her body calmed.
She took the bow back in her hand, and slowly rose to her feet.
No longer was she in Hyrule Field, though she had been expecting that. But she hadn't been expecting what she now saw either. There was mostly nothing.
The same nothingness that blanketed the fields during a fog cloud. The white mist surrounded her on all sides, and enclosed the small patch of grey in which she stood. There was a thin, leafless tree on a small island, and a stone archway not too far from it. And nowhere in sight was another portal. She took a step and her feet splashed. The ground below her was like a mirror, so clear that she saw every frightened line that her face was making. But it was solid, except for perhaps half an inch of water. Her footsteps sounded like wet glass as she walked.
The fog implied that this place went on forever, but it was so close that Zelda felt trapped. It was suffocating, and she was already having difficulty breathing when she saw Link. Her breath hitched in her throat, and she hurried towards him with no air in her lungs.
"Link!" She called, but her voice hardly broke a whisper. She cleared her throat to try again, but by then she had reached him. "Link!" She repeated, reaching for him. Her hand twitched back when she saw the broken sword in his left hand. It was no more than a hilt and a serrated dagger now. She looked back to his face, but his head was hanging against his chest, and his dirty bangs hid his eyes. "Oh, Link, it's me." She whispered, cupping his cheek in her hand, trying to get him to look at her. "Please, we have to go. Link…Link?" He was stiff and cold like a statue, and she could not move him. "Link…?" The hero rolled his head up, and it fell onto his shoulder. Zelda gasped and pulled away, leaving a red hand print on his cheek. Her own hand was slick with crimson-black, and stuck to her skin as if the blood was already dry.
What had startled her to retreat though, was the thin line across Link's throat. Skin hung against his jugular loosely, but it wasn't even bleeding.
A familiar, horrifying laugh rang across the glassy floor. Zelda drew her bow and knocked an arrow, but she could not find the source of the sound. It was everywhere.
"Show yourself!" Zelda shouted, her voice breaking. The laughs returned, more heartily, and began to gather behind Link. The monster appeared, leaning against Link's shoulder casually. His bright eyes were creased with amusement as he locked them on Zelda.
"Hello dearest. Have you missed me?"
"Get away from him!" She shouted, aiming the arrow. Dark giggled, and crept around Link, feigning fear. Zelda circled him as well, but knew she could not take the shot so long as Dark used Link as a shield.
"Why should I? He's mine now, after all." Dark stroked Link's neck possessively. Zelda fingers shook. "Angry at me? Heh, don't be! It's not my fault I'm the better man! We fought fair-and-square and what do you think happened?" Zelda shook her head. "I won! I'm stronger, so I get to live!" He got too excited, and moved away from Link. Zelda didn't hesitate to shoot then. His face lost all amusement as the glowing arrow arced towards his face. And then he fell down, straight down, and vanished underwater. The silence was deafening. Zelda realized the worst things she could have done was leave Link's side. She looked once more for Dark, then started running. A wet hand grabbed her ankle, and Zelda screamed as it pulled her to the floor. Dark slowly rose out of the water, dripping oily black. He stopped once half his torso was exposed, then grinned wildly and vanished again. Zelda scrambled to her feet, watching the silvery ground for any sign of him. She thought she saw a shift to her left, and shot an arrow at the ground. The golden arrow stuck at the mirror, not penetrating the glass by an inch.
He grabbed her around the waist, and pulled her down. This time, her body slipped through the floor as well. She spread her arms, catching herself before he could fully drag her under. The water swirling around her legs was colder than ice, and she felt nothing when she kicked out. Her arms began to slip across the water, and in a moment she would fold and vanish under the glass. Then suddenly, there was nothing holding her anymore. She heaved herself out of the water, gasping and shivering uncontrollably. When she looked back at the ground, there was no crack or hole to say she had even went through. Her vision blurred, and she rubbed her arm past her eyes.
"Ooh this is fun." Dark whispered, right into her ear. He flipped her over and pinned her by the shoulders, his knees against her thighs. He dug his fingernails into his skin, cutting through the cotton of her dress. Zelda grabbed at his wrists, trying to scratch him as well, but he did not even wince. "I can't believe you came here! You're such a fool, thinking you could help him! You just came here to die with him!" He increased the pressure, and Zelda screamed as his knees dug into her bones. She felt water lap at her ears, and realized that she was sinking.
"No!" She exclaimed, blinking the tears out of her eyes.
"Yes!" He shouted back. The freezing water touched Zelda's cheeks, covering her ears so the sound was distorted. His horrible laughs seemed far away now, but deeper. The water mixed with the tears at the corner of her eyes. She made a fist, trying to pull her arm out of the slick ground. She could, but what use would that do?
She opened her eyes wide, and looked her left. She could not see it, but she reached with her fingers and felt it there. Dark's eyes were shut tightly as he laughed. He did not notice.
Zelda grabbed the arrow, feeling it gather warmth in her hand, and stabbed it into his arm. Dark's laughter changed pitch into a horrible scream. He leapt off of her, but instantly fell to the ground, clutching his elbow. His screams were muted, until Zelda pulled herself out of the glass and rolled away from him. Then she heard his screams as they were meant. Loud, unrestrained, painful. She had hurt him, and it felt good.
She grabbed her bow, and aimed another arrow at him. He rolled, but she was not a poor shot and it still hit his ankle. He screamed again, falling to the floor and writing in agony.
"Stop!" He cried. "Ahhh- it hurts!" Zelda did not stop. She advanced towards him, and stung another arrow. Dark's eyes flashed in a panic. "No- no! Wait!" He threw himself behind Link, and Zelda gasped and redirected her arrow. It hit the tree, vibrating silently as its light fizzed and dimmed. Dark was panting, and dripping blood everywhere. He grabbed Link's arm, wringing the torn tunic in his hand. "You won't shoot him though." He panted. "And he's mine now."
Dark gave Link a harsh push, sending the hero reeling forward, then rammed himself against Link's back. Dark vanished, and Link caught himself. But it wasn't him.
Zelda shook her head as he faced her. Her lungs constricted as the invisible hand wrenched around her heart. The sound of horror that came from her throat was almost silent.
Link opened his eyes, his pitch black eyes, and bloody tears dripped from the corners. He covered his eyes with his hands, smearing the black over his face like a mask. He opened them again, and sneered at her. He glanced down at the broken blade, then lifted it up, and it reforged before her eyes into an icy black sword. It glistened as the foggy light caught its edge as Dark aimed it at Zelda.
"Well, the girl wants to be the hero now." He said, his voice that of her Link's, but deeper. That was the voice he'd only use for threats, and Zelda had only heard it once or twice before.
The next second, Zelda's arm went up in flames. The blade cut a thin line all the way from her shoulder to her wrist. It stung bitterly, and she screamed as the blade vanished to leave her with that angry wound. The blood came bright and red. Dark walked around her, flicking his tongue along the damp blade.
"Silly girl…you're going to die now." She shook her head.
"No! I won't!"
"Yes! You will!" He shot back, running at her. She raised her bow and pulled an arrow into place. Dark's eyes widened, but he did not slow down. Zelda's hands shook, and when she shot the arrow, it missed by an arm's length. Then Dark was right in front of her, and he grabbed her by the collar and threw her hard onto the ground. She held fast to the bow, and used it to block a downward strike. But she could not overpower him, and the blade was inching towards her face quickly. She pushed the blade to the left, and it stabbed into the edge of her shoulder. She rolled away from him, but he was on her feet before she was. She blocked another strike with her bow, but the impact sent her reeling to the ground again. Her head hit the solid water hard, and she skidded through the shallows. Her hair fell loose, and hung heavily over her back and shoulders. She pulled it out of the way to see him again.
Smiling, leaning against the tree. He tossed the blade in a circle, catching it expertly, and then throwing it. Zelda gasped and jumped to her feet. The blade cut through the edge of her skirt, but caught on the guard and stabbed into the ground. Zelda pulled her skirt against the sharp edges of the blade, freeing herself. Dark giggled.
"Good little maneuver there. But I didn't mean to actually get you. Just to scare you. If you had only remained still, your dress wouldn't be in shreds…" He clicked his tongue in disapproval. "But you're right, it's rude of me to play these games." He moved in a blur, gathering his blade up in his hands again. Zelda stepped away from him. He was right- how could she hurt him? It was only Dark controlling Link's body. What would happen if she shot him with an arrow?
Dark smashed her face with his fist, sending her stumbling back. When she looked up again, her vision shook and betrayed her. When he hit her again, she thought she saw the cloaked figure of her first hero. A gentle cut to her arm and she imagined an older, brunette version of her Link, wearing clothes she had never seen before. He slapped the bow out of her weak grip, and kicked her in the stomach.
Zelda fell hard, landing dizzily in the water. Her body felt unbelievably heavy- maybe the water was sucking her down again. No- it was Dark. He was pinning her down again, enjoying it with a smile. Why did he look like Link? Besides the eyes, and the unfitting wild expression. Those rough hands that grabbed her neck were his. He let her throat go, and took the dark blade with both hands. He touched the tip to her collar, pressing just enough for a bead of liquid red to surface. He let it grow larger until it burst and slid down her neck in a red line.
Dark lifted the blade higher, and stabbed it down.
Zelda listened to the water lap at her ears. It was cold, but she had been submerged so many times now that it only felt tepid now. Was she numbing? It was true, or so she was told that it was true, that feeling left a body as it died.
Then why did the uncomfortable cold return? She focused her eyes, and saw darkness to her left. He was hunched over her, struggling with the sword that was buried not in Zelda's throat, but in the floor. His body shook, his teeth cracked as he groaned.
"Let go!" He screamed. "It's mine! So-hungggg- stop!" He was fighting himself-no. He was fighting Link. Zelda eyes opened wide, and she squirmed away from him. She grabbed her bow, but sat still, not knowing what to do. Dark was pulling at the sword with both hands- clawing at his left hand which held fast to the blade. His feet scrabbled in the water, splashing wildly. He suddenly looked at Zelda- his left eye blue. "Do it!" He shouted- his voice desperate. Zelda knocked an arrow, and filled it with hot white light. She pressed the tip right to his temple.
"I trust you!" She shouted, before opening her hand. It struck him in the head, and broke into light. The grainy light drifted around his head like dust from an impact. Dark screamed, and the light increased tenfold.
A shadow leapt away from Link, splattering in the water. It tried to take shape, but hissed in agony at the beacon close by. Its arms kept break off, turning to liquid and dropping him back into the water.
Link's body stood tall, as the light swarmed him like a flock of fairies. And then he took a step forward and the light cloaked him, dimming until it was just him again. But it was not him really. He was taller, and his hair had paled to an ivory white. His clothes had changed too- silver armor now decorated his chest above a white tunic- even his cap had lost its color. He faced her, and his white eyes stared unblinkingly, outlined by crimson war paint. He radiated a pure power like nothing Zelda had ever felt, in this life or her time as the Goddess. All she knew was that it was not mortal. His strength was of that of a deity.
He faced the shadow, and opened his hand. A twisted sword, one made of two, intertwining blades, grew and fit into his fist. He held it in a strong grip, keeping it low to the ground as he approached Dark. The shadow scrambled away from him, regaining his tangible body. Dark made his own blade, and charged at Link. The Deity did not move, except for a quick swipe that shattered Dark's blade into one hundred fragments that spilled over the water. Dark's eyes widened in shock- his red pupils dilated and trembled. The Deity swung his other arm, and punched Dark in the jaw. The shadow fell backwards, skidding in the water, and the Deity followed. As Dark moved to his hands and knees, he was struck down again, and once more before he even landed. The shadow's screams were distorted with the gurgling of his own blood, and the shrieks of pleas and fury. The Deity did not flinch, or even blink as he brutally slaughtered his opponent. Dark's blood splattered against the stone archway as Dark was pushed back.
The Deity dragged him by the throat, and pushed him against the archway with such unrestrained force that the slabs began to crack. Dark grabbed at the Deity's wrist, screaming silently. Zelda could only watch on in horror. She could not interfere- her strength could not compare to theirs.
The Deity pulled back his arm and punched Dark's shoulder. The shadow screamed as his bones shattered. Black, inky blood poured down the side of the archway like a watercolor paint splatter. Dark's mouth hung open as a fountain of blood dripped from his lips.
But this Deity before her was abusing Link's heart. Her Hero would not reduce his opponent, even one so cruel, to something like this.
"Link, you have to stop now!" Zelda shouted. The Deity stood still. For a long moment, the only sounds were of Dark's whimpers. Then the Deity took his magnificent blade, and stabbed Dark in the chest. The shadow jerked, but made no sound, and the Deity stepped back. He turned away from Dark and walked toward Zelda. She did not move, but her heart was pounding.
He took her wrist, and aimed her hand toward the archway where the shadow was pinned. He nodded at Dark, and let her hand free. She understood, and knocked an arrow. Dark coughed, splattering black across the ground. The water thinned it, until he was hanging above a grey puddle that was gradually spreading further as he bled. He looked at Zelda, his red eyes wide with rage and fear.
She let the arrow lose, and Dark screamed one final time as the light penetrated his body. There was an explosion of black smoke, and Link stepped in front of Zelda and protected her from the blast. Dark's screams echoed long after he was gone, but he was gone. All that remained was the golden arrow, with small wisps of shadows drifting from it like smoke.
Link stepped away from Zelda, and she went forward to collect the arrow. Instead of the warmth her arrows usually gave off, it was cold, like an icepick. She faced Link again, holding the arrow out to him.
"What do we do with this now?" Link's white eyes did not blink, nor did he move. Zelda swallowed hard, and walked back to him. She set her hand on his chest, and looked up at him. "Oh, Link…Look what you became to save me again." She moved her hand to his shoulder. "But it's over now, I promise." Her hand cupped his face. "So…come back to me, okay?" The hero shut his eyes, and took a step away from her. He stood tall once more, lifting his head to the blank sky. Whit light expelled from his body, and Zelda lifted her arm up to shield her eyes. As it faded, she looked again. A messy-haired Link stood in the Deity's place. He blinked hard a few times, then looked at his hands in confusion. Zelda smiled, and as if he'd heard her, Link looked up. Zelda walked quickly to him, and he embraced her. His eyes were still wide as he brushed his hand over the back of her head. He looked around the strange place, connecting his scattered memories of the past day's events. Fragmented as they were, he knew that Zelda had been the one to come to his rescue.
He shut his eyes finally, and even though they were still standing in that strange place full of nothingness, he felt the most peace he had in all his life.
The portal returned to them, and they stepped in it together and found themselves once again in Hyrule Field. The skies were whorls of grey and tall white, but the storm was passing through now. The ground was damp, but the grass was very green, and looking forward to the sun that was returning.
Zelda once again showed Link the arrow.
"He's sealed in here now." Zelda told him. "Now we have to put it somewhere where no one will ever find it." Link nodded, looking toward the forest. "You think Faron would know where to put him?" She clarified. Link nodded.
"Yes." He whispered. "Let's finish this once and for all."
Before they returned to the castle, they went to Faron's woods. The dragon was sitting at her throne, as if she were waiting for them. She had a new scar across her face, with zigzagging lines stretching across her scales.
"I fought my brother." She said, as Zelda's eyes lingered over the burn scars. "He declared that his time was over, and he would willingly return to the heavens from whence he came. So I fought him for his life, and lost." She looked past the trees, to the mountains. "He left atop that snow peak, our battleground, and I caused a storm that froze the summit." She smiled, flashing her sharp, but cracked fangs. "Brothers are much too trouble, Your Grace." She inhaled deeply, and let out a misty sigh. "But they are often more correct than I am. Our era is over, and I must leave as well." Zelda cried out in protest, already distraught over the news of Lanayru, but Faron only smiled. "To hear those words from you, Your Grace, they give me so much pleasure. I will leave this world in great peace- one which I could never have hoped for again." Faron's dark eyes darted to Link. "You have nothing to say, hero?" She leaned down, crouching before him. Link smiled at her, and bowed.
"I apologize, Faron. I'm tired." She sniffed him.
"That's what you get when you call upon the Fierce Deity. It comes at a price, boy." She touched her claw to his chin and lifted his face up. She hummed, and turned his face this way and that. "Hmm…It seems I…can't call you a boy anymore, can I?" Link looked up at her, his eyes wider.
Faron leaned back, balancing on her hind legs.
"Your Grace, I can sense the evil you are carrying with you. Give it to me." She stretched out her arm, and Zelda placed the arrow like a toothpick in the dragon's hand. Faron closed her sharp fingers over it, and shuddered. "I will take this with me to my underwater resting place. My palace is far under the lake's surface, and I promise you no one that enters it shall leave again. Farewell, Goddess Hylia and her Chosen Hero."
Faron leaned back and let out a proud roar, and flung herself into the water with a great splash. The water glowed a beautiful green as she swam, and the light reflected through her cavern, illuminating the room magnificently. The parella all surfaced, crying quietly as their Queen bid them farewell.
Link took Zelda's hand in his. She stroked her fingers over the callouses he'd earned over the years, finally believing that he would not have to wound them further.
"It's over." She said. Link did not nod, or shake his head. He held her hand tighter.
"For now. In this life." He clarified. "We will have to return one day, when Demise does. But for now, Hyrule is safe, and so are we." She smiled at him, and he eventually smiled back, and nodded.
"So…let's go home." He gripped her hand and led her out of the resonating cavern and into the evening twilight.
They were greeted with open arms, and Marin ran into her father's eagerly. Their children had been unaware of the chaos that had just ended, but Sheik had been watching them carefully, making sure their lives would be long.
And that is what happened.
The Royal King and Queen of Hyrule lived long, not too long, but long enough to be happy and content, and see their son Kafie grow up to be strong, though modest and shy like his father. They saw Marin grow up exactly how she had before- fast, and loud. She had her mother's beauty and outgoingness, but was must less gentle than either of her parents. She twice rejected the Goron Prince's proposal for marriage by besting him in wrestling, and three times rejected Pipit and Karene's son until he finally won her over in a very passionate sparring match.
Link gladly passed the crown onto him, but more reluctantly his daughter's hand. He loved her like he loved his Zelda, if possible, more. Knowing Demise would one day return frightened the hero, because he feared that it would be his daughter, or his granddaughter who would have to live in that time when the evil arise again.
Sheik grew as well, and became more aloof, watching the Royal Family distantly from atop the spires and rooftops. He would always be there…or Impa, or perhaps another member of their loyal race that they would not meet until the next life.
The next life…
The next life did not come for a long time...
Link found himself in the Temple of Time. He took a few deep breaths, then looks at his hands. His small, child hands. Smooth and plump, not reflecting the trials he had faced in a future time. The callouses and scars that he had just gotten used to were gone. All proof of his adventure was gone- even Navi. Zelda's song had worked.
He gasped uncertainly. Had it?
He ran up the dirt road all the way to the castle, as quickly as his short legs would carry him. From atop the hill, he was the huge building for the first time. It was taller than most trees in the forest, and was guarded by dozens of armor-clad soldiers. Just like the first time he had arrived there, they did not like it when he approached. But he knew to avoid them.
He sneaked into the gardens, and easily crept past the royal guards that marched through the various shrub mazes. Link had grown up in the forest, and he knew how to be a silent as the wind that rustled the treetops. He was almost caught once though due to his eager haste- he just barely hid by blending into a bush.
He breathed a sigh of relief, and smiled mischievously when he ran past the last guard. He entered a wide flower garden, missing the walls of carefully trimmed bushes and best of all, the guards. He breathed a little easier, louder, and walked deeper into the courtyard. He avoided the flowers as best as he could, watching the ground for the low daisies and clover patches. When he looked up again, he saw something else. A person- dressed in a pretty dress, looking through a narrow window. Link cocked his head to the side, and walked closer. She heard him then, and spun around in a rush.
Zelda's sweet face broke into a relieved, joyous smile. Link smiled back, knowing for certain that it was her. That she knew. They stared at each other, enjoying the mutual understanding that only those two children could share. They had lived a short life in war, and now realized that they could stop it from happening. No- Link had already done that. Ganon's lies would be exposed, and Hyrule would never have to witness the cruelty they had seen.
Zelda's grin relaxed into a natural smile, and Link's shyness faded.
"Hi, again." She finally said. She wanted to say more, but there was nowhere and everywhere to start. Her words broke the silence, and made it real. But Link was too happy to speak.
He nodded at her, and that was enough.