"Crimson Marionette"

By animefan752


Shortened Summary: He doesn't grace anyone with a neighborly smile, but a smirk of malice and contempt. It was almost disgusting. That's why he's decided: it shall never happen again. He won't allow him to abuse him any longer with those callous hands.

Full Summary: The robust man has been rather crude these past few days. His once friendly and gentle words gradually became cold and apathetic. Now he enjoys pestering people to the point of misery, watching them twist their faces in pain and agony. But he especially loved torturing him,—he'd even go so far as to make recurring visits. What was the reason for such treatment? He doesn't grace anyone with a neighborly smile, but a smirk of malice and contempt. It was almost disgusting. That's why he's decided: it shall never happen again. He won't allow him to abuse him any longer with those callous hands. But will things really change?

Caution: Mainly, what I would warn you about is the insanity and the disgusting personality of a certain someone in the story—and do not take my warning lightly. He's crazy. Also, beware of the insistent swearing that escapes the lips of the characters. And lastly, there's guaranteed to be some shape or form of suffering and pain in here, folks! And so if you're uncomfortable reading such a fanfic, then I recommend you exit the area. If you believe you have what it takes, I suggest you read as keep your innocent eyes on the back button. But if you're legitimately prepared for what's to come, then, feel free to do as you please!

Disclaimer: Super Smash Bros doesn't belong to me. It belongs to Nintendo and company, respectively.

A/N: I suppose it's pretty random of me to tell this to you, my beloved readers, but it helps set the mood, so nothing will stop me from informing you anyway! For maximum angst-reading capacity, I advise you to make a playlist of every song that lies under the following categories: rock, metal, or at least those that sound like rebellions and riots. I wrote this as I listened to head-banging music, and it supported my ability to write, strangely enough.

My comments are at the end, if you were wondering!

Enjoy!


Crimson.

Crimson is a very deep, emotional and unrefined color, yet most definitely elegant, representing many things. It's the color of love, the color of velvet, the color of drama, and the color of maturity, even the color of malevolence—crimson is the color of blood. It's a mysterious color a certain green-clad lad has grown almost too familiar with. He was fully associated with it, that anything crimson might as well revolve around him. In fact, ever since this particular Brawler made his first wretched appearance, crushing and demolishing every chance of normal life, the blissfully viridian, green and happy life he once owned completely drowned in the color of crimson. It swallowed him up, engulfing him in scarlet and vermilion reds.

It's a color he now despised.

"I grow more and more troubled, Link." The serene voice of the refined Princess Zelda admitted as she gently regarded him with her sapphire eyes. Her gloved hands wrapped themselves tenderly around the freshly applied bandages on his arm, assuring the both of them of its completed purpose. "How many times has it been this week?"

"It's nothing to be concerned about, Princess. You shouldn't be upset." The said Hylian reassured her with affectionate words, smiling wistfully. He hoped to release her of her remorseful expression as he gazed into her distraught eyes. Yet, Zelda would have none of his falsely played comfort. Her wise eyes narrowed.

"And in what place are you to tell me that?" She responded in dignified anger, placing her delicate hands on his shoulder. "You wear a second layer of skin entirely made out of gauzes, and you tell me not to worry? Your injuries should not be taken lightly."

Pensively, Link sighed as he struggled to stretch the fabric of his long-sleeved shirt over his reddening wounds of crimson.

There, in Link's simplistic little room, the two Hylians sat perched on the side of his small bed. And no matter how unsettling the atmosphere was with the mournful presence of bandages and the existence of Link's numerous injuries, they both sincerely appreciated the company they have of one another. After all, it was for the umpteenth time that despairing week that Link has required Zelda's reliable aid. In fact, perhaps every day that week, the knowledgeable Princess has secretly escaped the confines of her own room and has bound herself to Link's instead, in order to covertly help him treat his wounds.

Yet, it never ceased to perplex Zelda completely as to why Link refuses to request for the assistance of Smash Mansion's staff, or at least Dr. Mario. They have everything he needs. If he simply beckoned for the Mansion's infirmary, his wounds wouldn't have the necessary need to periodically replace every cast and plaster.

"I don't understand, Link. You won't bother getting help, and you refuse to confide to anyone but me. And even when I visit and consult you, you have no will to tell me every detail." Zelda blinked with heavy lids. Her long, beauteous eyelashes fluttered and touched her soft cheeks several times, making her appear even lovelier than she already was. "Link, you know it's best if you confess. Tell me what bothers you."

"No, that's impossible. I can't." Link's eyebrows furrowed in unyielding frustration. At that moment, the noble brunette could feel his small frame grow fragile and delicate beneath her hand, as if he'll shatter with another touch. "Nothing bothers me, Princess. Do forgive me for being incompetent."

There was a look of sorrowful remorse that momentarily crossed his face in that short second, but Zelda couldn't possibly question him what the reason was for such distress. These days, Link's too private and mysterious about everything, hiding both his emotions and his every thought. He kept much more to himself and wore such expressionless masks, with distant cerulean eyes and motionless gestures. It both saddened and bewildered the concerned Princess of Hyrule. After all, before any of these significant changes acted upon the blonde Hylian, he was joyous and pleasant. Link's aquamarine irises constantly glistened with happiness. That's why the Princess Zelda has always wondered how the other Hylian could ever possibly have a personality entirely opposite from before. It was baffling, to say the least.

"Link, won't you comply with my requests? Tell me, how did you even obtain these wounds?" Quietly, Zelda addressed her companion with that slight twinge of hope and determination in her voice. In return to her anticipating question, the blonde silently bowed his head, his golden locks of hair draping across his face. "I have no intention to discomfort you, but as your close friend, I wish to know how it happened. I care too much not to."

In only a flimsy long-sleeved shirt and boxer shorts, Zelda inspected the weak Hylian with careful eyes. His slender hands, with the fewest bandages fastened onto his palms, were pale and even unhealthily purple in places. On the sides of his thin fingers, there were blemishes of dark, malevolent violet. How pitiful, how sad, how Zelda wished she knew the unmistakable magic of cures; Link used such battered hands to gather himself with, holding his other injuries warily. And so she wondered, where had those bruises come from? Perhaps he has been wielding the Master Sword's hilt too harshly?

"I'm aware of your grief, Princess. And of course I care about you as well." Link chuckled heartlessly, as if he was attempting to be genuine but can't find the honesty that he lacked. "But, please, won't you spare me of your concern tonight? The situation really isn't as important as you deem it to be."

Of course. She should've expected as much. Similar to any other nocturnal escapade they've had in previous nights, no secrets are revealed from Link's eternally sealed mouth. And so, then, with a defeated sigh, Zelda gently sat up from her supportive place beside the blonde, and brushed her hand against his arm comfortingly. "Then at least heed my words."

Her plea met silence and was left stranded without a verbal reply. Very briefly, Link nodded.

"Don't allow yourself to get hurt so badly. If you so ardently decline to follow my suggestions to contact the infirmary, then at least be wary of your surroundings in battle. I mean, I assume these injuries you've received are from the tournaments, right? Then simply don't force yourself to fight. The brawls aren't worth your pain." Princess Zelda wisely advised as she carefully parted from him and patiently waited for some sort of expression to emerge from that indifferent mask. "Link, dear, you must take better care of yourself."

Ever sensible, the Princess knew Link was relieved of her surrender. And Zelda was utterly pleased to be able to witness him smile sincerely. Yet, she still yearned to know, she ached to learn everything out of this perpetual concern for her companion. But as much as she'd like to hear these secrets, Link isolates himself more often. He grows more and more detached, quieter and more secluded.

"I always take your words into full consideration, Princess." He smiled innocently, words of deceit running from those lips. "You can trust me to do as you say."

And he lies.

Regardless of the doubt brewing within her, Zelda was certain there was no helping that response. His nonchalance on the subject was to be expected. If Link would only enlighten her and at least attempt to return to his regularly cheerful self, that would surely lift everyone's spirits. Yet, nothing of the sort seems to be taking place. Sure, he smiles, but they were fake, conceived with false hopes.

Reluctantly, the elegant Princess Zelda stood up and prepared to take her leave. She quickly disposed the plastic wrap that the bandages were encased in earlier, tossing them away and then fixing her distinguished dress in every which way.

"Ah, shall I walk you back to your room?" Link offered as he too got up from his seat on his bed, hastily approaching her with a pitiful limp in each step. Forlorn, Zelda could only watch him wince as he desperately tries to grow accustomed to the pain.

"There's no need for your assistance, Link. I can handle walking there alone."

Besides, it's you who'll need me if you accompany my walk. The Princess thought discontentedly. And I have no desire for you to strain yourself while you're in that condition.

"But, Princess, I insist. It's very late at night; who knows what could be creeping around the corridors of Smash Mansion at this hour?" The blonde Hylian persisted, despite the anguish he must surely feel from his wounds. Even with the many bandages Link wears on portions of his legs, secured with the adhesives Zelda easily applied onto them, he was still too sore for pressured movement, that, the Princess was certain. "Allow me to escort you."

"It's not necessary, Link. I appreciate your formality in tending to me, but I can assure you that I'm perfectly capable of handling myself." Zelda promised him, intent on making her way to the door. But before she could walk any further, a frail hand captured her.

"I won't hinder you, Princess." Link quipped. "Just grant me the permission to be by your side."

And much to Zelda's surprise, his sad aquamarine eyes appeared to be pleading to her. Those cerulean eyes were clouded with troubled emotions, gleaming with misery and desperation. Why, how intriguing; Link becomes more and more stubborn. But for what reason is he? Since the first night she has kindly ministered to the blonde Hylian's wounds, never before has he been so frantic to accompany her to her own room. Perhaps there was something about that particular evening that so terribly frightens the blonde Hylian? Princess Zelda pondered over the many possibilities. Although, all she found between that night and every other night was the fact that she was leaving much later than usual. Every other evening, she had left hours earlier. Does that intend to make the assumption that something was earnestly wrong? What horrors could be held in store for him?

"I simply can't allow you to do that, Link. You know I won't let you strain your body while it's in that condition."

"But Princess, please, I must come with you. Forget the agony my body endures."

A realization struck the noble brunette as she stopped right before the door. "Link, you act as if someone is pursuing you."

"N-no, no one is, Princess! That—it isn't like that, I only, it's just, if I don't escort you, I'll be alone and he—" Then, as if the world's most dire secret has just escaped his lips, he stopped and clamped his mouth shut before too much information was exposed.

"He"? Who's "he"?

Suddenly so anxious, Zelda realized, as she gracefully turned her brunette head to face him completely. And, if not surprisingly enough, her vigilant sapphire eyes met fretful cerulean ones. Link's enchanting eyes were dreadfully clouded with fear and unease; all because he so badly wished to guide her back to her room? Impossible! Link may be a proper gentleman when it comes to be necessary, but this was no longer his polite courtesy or his respect for her. The blonde was panicked about other matters—but of what? Or rather, who? Who could ever possibly move him to such foreboding hysteria?

"What were you saying, Link?" Princess Zelda asked, sincerely curious.

"I-I apologize, Princess, I hadn't meant to impose on you like that. I digress; pay no mind to my useless rambling." Link's blonde tresses flew over his weary eyes, concealing the emotions of apprehension that Zelda was completely aware of. He only wished she would ask no more of his suspicious affair with a certain someone.

"But Link," Zelda abruptly started, stopping as soon as she saw those condemned eyes, miserable and sorrowfully blue. "Ah, I was just, let's never mind it."

Fortunately for Link, the refined Princess Zelda felt no need to pry him for answers. She was certain that interrogating him would only worsen his fragile condition. After all, he needs his appeasing rest, and Zelda wants nothing more than to comfort and soothe her troubled friend. Then and only then, will she also be calm and at peace. Perhaps she was only imagining things, anyway. Perhaps there was nothing to be doubtful of in the first place. The paranoia surfacing within her well of concern for Link continued building, but for now, Zelda can make it wait.

"Settle into bed, why don't you, Link?" She gestured towards the mattress as she softly placed her hand on his back, walking him there carefully.

Princess Zelda was letting him go tonight. Surely, her only desire is for him to be perfectly comfortable, and Link is definitely grateful for that, but he'll never be at ease. How can that ever be possible? He was forever trapped, cursed, and bound by the evil strings of his crimson puppet master. Link can never escape. For that one brief second, he eagerly believed that leaving his room, his prison, and accompanying the brunette Princess would relieve him of torment that night. But yeah, right. If he did so, then that will only ensure a cruel punishment in addition to the usual,—ruthless abuse.

Hesitant, Link complied with Zelda's request and meagerly retired to his bed. As he nestled into the soft, cold mattress and carelessly threw the cold sheets over his fatigued figure, he truly hoped and wished and prayed to the Goddesses above to keep him at bay. Perhaps he has no repulsive urge to play for once. Well, if worse comes to worst, then he'll simply draw his sword, which hides conveniently beneath his bed. That was no problem. Although, what if Zelda ever encounters him in the halls, what would he do? That definitely makes Link uncertain, his eyebrows arched over his forehead in disgruntled doubt. Of course, the sophisticated and wise Princess Zelda is indeed capable of sending him off in a brawl. But that's just it—he doesn't need to be in a brawl to play with his toys. He has a special way with words. He can mess with your mind with speech alone, completely twisting you inside and out. In fact, the sound of his voice was enough to drive Link up the wall. He'll build you up and break you down, paste you in and cut you out. He's the living incarnation of anyone's greatest fear, disguising himself with the friendly mask of a particular mercenary. Link felt nothing but a burning passion of hatred for him. That cruel man has yet to be wiped off the face of this earth.

"Are you comfortable? Does anything hurt?" With her gentle voice, Princess Zelda fortunately brought the saffron-haired Hylian back to reality. And in response to her questions, Link merely moved his golden head in hopes that she'll assume it's a reassuring nod.

"I'm fine." He ended up whispering, not that Zelda could've certainly heard it.

"Alright, I'll be going, then. Good night, Link." The elegant Princess Zelda proclaimed as she nimbly flicked the light switch off, which immediately blanketed the room in malevolent darkness. Link could've sworn his heart just stopped; the ignorant light was his only form of comfort alone at night. Yet, Zelda seemed to be entirely oblivious of Link's paralyzed reaction to the opaque shade. Instead, she approached the door and carefully opened it, permitting a cold, yet familiar draft to breeze into Link's room. Her beautiful dress billowed as she gracefully exited the room, left the door open, and turned in whichever direction, for that Link was no longer paying attention. He only wished that—

"—Oh!" Zelda suddenly exclaimed, mere feet away from the door. "Hello, Ike."

Ike?

The classy Princess pardoned herself, politely swerving to the side and allowing him to pass. "Good evening."

Ike? No, not Ike.

"Good evening to you as well, Princess." As soon as that sonorous reply met Link's pointed ears, he felt the whole world stop right in its tracks. His pumping blood ran insanely cold, and that bitter chill shot up his spine. Oh, but now it's too late. Both he and the beautiful Princess Zelda were sad, pathetic deer caught in the mercenary's accursed headlights.

From inside his room, Link could hear several things then: Ike's false simpers, Ike's syrupy lies, Zelda's deliberate steps. And he could definitely hear his own heart, leaping into the next century and punching persistently at his ribcage over and over again. Not only that, but his nauseated stomach, — or rather, his every sickly inside, — chose to lurch and twist in every direction. Never before has he wished so badly for his uneasiness and apprehension to subside, not to swallow him whole. They couldn't overwhelm him. He wouldn't let himself freeze. Not this time, not while Princess Zelda stands in Ike's presence.

"What business do you have here?" Zelda inquired him.

As soon as she spoke, Link acted most quickly with a new found determination. He cautiously removed the bed sheets lying over himself, — careful not to alert his company of his consciousness, — and silently drifted off of his bed.

"It's none of your concern, Princess." Ike said with that incredibly malicious grin on his face. Link couldn't visibly see it himself, but he's had enough experience to be able to feel it being expressed on that plastered mask. It caused the hair on the back of his bandaged neck to stand on end. "Only mine, and mine alone."

Are you the only one who gets to decide whose concern it is? Link refuted with absolute spite, aspiring for the opposite side just to contradict the mercenary. I say it's everyone's concern, bastard!

Crouching quietly beside his cold mattress, Link stretched his bruised hand underneath the bed and searched blindly. Soon afterwards, he touched something cold yet encouraging. He obtained a grasp on his precious Master Sword's sheath, which withheld the actual blade. Victorious, he slowly attempted to withdraw his hand.

"Oh, but excuse my impudence, Ike." Zelda quickly apologized. "I only ask because I'm curious."

Ike hesitated, that terrifying tension of his hanging in the air ever foully and abhorrently. "And so you still have the burning desire to know. Well, sorry, Princess, but I have no intention on telling you anything. Let your curiosity dwindle."

Wait, the Master Sword refuses to come out—but for what reason? It wasn't caught on anything, was it? Determined not to surrender to the Master Sword's unexpected surprise, Link put his utmost effort into harshly jerking the blade out by force, yet also attempting to be at least moderately silent. Neither Zelda nor Ike is conscious of his regards.

"But, Ike, it's only natural for one to wonder. It's strange. In fact, it's suspicious how you can ever be wielding your sword and wandering the halls this late at night."

"You shouldn't be one to talk." Ike narrowed his hateful eyes, causing the Princess to flinch despite her typically unwavering dignity. His glares were daggers dripping with sweet poison; his gentlemanly façade easily alternates to that malignant man Link despises so much. "If you have the courage to say that, then tell me, Princess, what are you doing out here,—and outside of Link's room, no less?"

Don't you dare make the Princess crumble, Ike. Link cursed him as he tugged relentlessly on his blade, to no avail. I know what she's capable of, and so do you. That's why I'm letting her redeem herself. She can respond with just as much malevolence. But if you push even one button of hers, then that crosses the line. And I swear you will pay.

"I'll certainly answer your question, Ike." Zelda easily regained her composure. "To put it simply, I'll return your words: it's none of your concern."

"Using my own words against me—that's priceless." Ike gave an amused chuckle, the sound of horror screeching into Link's ears. "I like how you play, Princess. You're naturally wise, witty and clever with your recollection of thoughts."

Zelda remained firmly in place. Obviously, Ike's sweet praises don't come without something brutal to completely light her fuse with anger.

The mercenary picked up right from where he left off. "Yes, you yourself might be talented with words as well as I, fancying your dialogue with sophisticated vocabulary and responding to my comments with wise remarks. But even so, know that you'll never win. You're still too soft, no matter how regally strong and refined you claim yourself to be."

"So it may seem, Ike, but I don't recall claiming myself to be regally anything." The Princess refused to accept inferiority. "I'm simply on my way back to my own respective room, and you just happen not to be. And my, that surely raises questions, now, doesn't it? Why aren't you returning to your room?"

No, no, it can't be stuck. Link grew sternly frantic in his scattered thoughts. The sword's worn violet hilt was pathetically caught in the coil of a steel mattress spring! It might as well not have been attached, since the Master Sword sat precisely outside from beneath the bed, basically beside the mattress. Yet, Link could not relinquish the coil's stubborn grip on the hilt. It was horribly tangled.

"If I have no desire to answer your question, then I shall not reply. Now if you'll excuse me." Ike strode brazenly towards Link's door—but was halted by the persistent arm of the graceful Princess Zelda. After all, she would be out of her mind to simply grant this arrogant man's wishes.

"What are you plotting, Ike?"

"I see you're capable of being just as straightforward as he is." Ike smiled, indulging in Zelda's gloriously angry blue eyes. They closely resemble a particular someone's own cerulean irises, the way they swirl in disgruntled wrath and anticipation. "You both have a lot in common, actually. I'm assuming you're very close to each other, hm?"

"If you have business with Link, then I suggest you dismiss those plans." Unfazed, Princess Zelda briefly ignored him and his blunt comments between her and Link. "Because I promise you—you will not enter his room by any means."

By then, Ike grew purely irritated. The brunette Princess Zelda no longer amused him, but absolutely hinders him. However, it's rather not too difficult to find the soft spots in people. Generally, those with soft and gentle hearts personally hold love, loyalty, friendship and family dear to them. If there was anything else, then whatever else they considered to be emotionally connected to and embrace dear to them will obviously be important to them also. And so now, to more significant matters, Ike has decided that it's time to make her snap. With the Princess diligently guarding the door, he makes no progress to advance into that room.

How ironic—the Princess was protecting the knight?

"Princess, do you have any idea how ill-mannered you're being right now?" He still wore that impish grin, even comfortably. Yet, Ike spat with brutally harsh words, slowly lowering her defensive arm. "Haven't you ever learned how to keep your nose out of other people's businesses? Not at all in your spoiled childhood, you never learned about something called privacy?"

"Ike, if that was your impression, then I sincerely apologize." The Princess replied without truly meaning it. She was growing tired of this man's suspicious persona; he was rude, dry-humored, and very insolent, despite the refined terms he incorporates quite nicely into his speech. "But I can assure you that I learned proper etiquette in my childhood, as all royal children have."

At that point, Link fell absent to their conversation. He was overcome by his own bewilderment, how the Master Sword's hilt could ever be intertwined with a simple metal coil of a mattress spring. Well, when investigating the scene closely, it seems the complex patterns of string on the blade's hilt were recklessly gathered at the very top of the metal coil. Meanwhile, the two violet guards protruding on the opposing sides of the hilt were lost in the twist of the spring. Well, one thing was certain: it was meaningless to wrench and yank at the sword. Link sighed softly to himself.

"Are you sure about that? By the looks of things, I haven't found your presence to be all that pleasant." Ike agonizingly continued; his calm and relaxed voice was similar to that painful noise of nails on a chalkboard. "I thought princesses are supposed to be delightful to their company."

"Oh, but Ike," Scowling, the Princess Zelda grimaced, "I don't remember ever inviting to see you."

"You're very discourteous, Princess. Were you raised this way?" A malignant sneer sat on Ike's lips. "To be honest, I expected your behavior to be a lot different."

"Did you see me to be as naïve as the other princess in this manor, Ike?"

"No, not at all. In fact, I've assumed you to be much more gracious, noble, cordial." Ike turned to face her, that look of the utmost scorn deep within his dark, mysterious eyes. "But do tell me, Princess, is this how you act in the castle of your own kingdom? It's disappointing, seeing you act so shamefully."

When the refined Princess Zelda refused to reply, Ike merely scoffed, even pretentiously. "You're right, what am I saying? I can answer my own question. It's simple; if you act so disgraceful here, how else would you act in the castle?"

She said nothing, malice burning inside her. The brunette Princess of Hyrule could feel goose bumps crawl up her slim arms, regardless of the elegant gloves that graced them. What a repulsive man, this Ike. Suddenly Zelda finds the facts to be hard to believe. Once before, Ike supposedly lived as a high-class Lord in his own world, Crimea of Tellius. And he was assigned that presumptuous role by the youthful Queen Elincia's hand, no less! How humiliating, to have such a disgrace serving directly under royalty. If it were her, Princess Zelda would be beyond mortified to even think that that man even breathed in her own kingdom.

"Ha, you should be ashamed of yourself." Ike scoffed, smirking so arrogantly, so disgustingly! "Oh, the poor, sad people of, — what was it, — Hyrule? They're ruled by such impolite and disgraceful monarchs! Such a dishonorable royal bloodline, Princess, you treat me with such contempt."

With livid blue eyes, Zelda gritted her teeth. "You dare look down upon my royal family name?"

"I say, if the King and Queen conceived such a foolish child as you, I do grow concerned for the citizens. Are they all equally indecent under the reign of such scandalous people?" Ike grinned with that insane face of malignance. "How corrupt, that kingdom of Hyrule, their sovereign Princess."

Zelda didn't answer. Her family was certainly no hoax of any kind. They were significantly happy while they still lived together as one family, just as blissful as every other citizen. Balls and parties of all sorts were prepared and celebrated with guaranteed joy. No one was left behind; at least, not that she knew of. And so she wondered, when her parents no longer lived and she was left alone to rule the kingdom of Hyrule, did they hold as many joyous celebrations?

Suspicion and disbelief bubbled up within the Princess, leaving her to flounder helplessly in her own skepticism.

"With that being said, Princess, do you know? Do you ever wonder?" Ike pressed on and willingly provoked her inner wrath to burst. He was buttering her up to her own demise even as she angrily melted the false concoction upon contact. "How are your people? Are they doing all right without your 'trustworthy aide' on country affairs?"

Zelda remained silent.

Oh, I give up! It was probably for the better if Link simply didn't touch the tangle any more, that way it wouldn't inevitably worsen as he tried harder. His saffron hair adorning his handsome face, the Hylian frowned out of frustration and disappointment in his work. Then, he hastily tuned back into the heated conversation between the sophisticated Princess Zelda and the malicious mercenary. By some impossible miracle, perhaps the Princess has the devious mind to convince and completely drive Ike away! After all, the two have never seriously encountered one another besides that "newcomer welcoming" everyone is assigned to do every time a new Brawler enters the grand floors of Smash Mansion.

"Oh, silly me, of course they're doing fine! After all, this imprudent Princess can't possibly rule Hyrule without ultimately destroying something precious and ruining some vital chance for the kingdom's prosperity, right?" Keen on making her erupt in absolute rage, Ike fanned the flames she contained within her delicate frame. After all, the brunette was obviously very upset and furious by now, easily offended by his typical words alone. "Have you succeeded as the ruler of Hyrule, Princess? Does everyone praise your name?"

As expected, the so-called dignified Princess Zelda can't withstand such bombarding questions. Ike could tell he had finally breached her emotional barriers, which were hopelessly weak. Certainly, she can hide her emotions, even skillfully, but that doesn't mean she still doesn't feel the turmoil brewing inside her. Right now, the mercenary was sure she was confused, angry, and regretful.

He was right.

Instead of fighting back with another witty comment, Zelda sorrowfully bowed her brunette head so that her strands of soft chocolate hair gently glided down her narrowed shoulders. Remorseful, she reflected on the pathetic actions she took upon the threats that the shadow creatures used against her: either let them raid town and massacre her people, or drown Hyrule in twilight and let them live. And of course she couldn't let them steal the lives of those innocent citizens. And thus, she allowed the whole kingdom to be swallowed in perpetual twilight, every soul of the castle-town becoming mere spirits, and darkness engulfing the light. How could she have ruled like this? What kind of reign did she have over her own people? What did they think of her actions? What do they think of her?

What? If Link were capable of it, he would burst into flames of abhorrence. Ike dared harass the Princess—

"Princess, you're so quiet. If I may ask, had something drastic taken place in your wonderful kingdom of Hyrule? Were you to blame? I'm guessing something must have been your fault. That look of complete and utter guilt on your miserable face says enough." Ike grimaced at the pitiful state of the ever so elegant Princess Zelda. She was quite the disappointment to Ike, really. "I'll be honest, Princess. I'd be shocked to hear something good about you escape the gossiping mouths of Hyrulean citizens."

Link exploded internally.

It was just as he first thought. Of course, the refined Princess Zelda is definitely a tough girl who has experienced a lot of hardships in her life. In fact, because she was so misplaced among the bustling world of Hyrule, everyone absolutely respects her. Her reign as a young Princess over the vast land of Hyrule and the life-changing obstacles she faced in her life were certainly overwhelming. And now, Ike mocked and persecuted her by bringing the past to life, by bringing doubt into her mind?

"I-I don't suppose I require the glory or the fame as long as the people of Hyrule are safe." Her soft, pink lips quivered feebly at the beginning of her sentence, her glistening blue eyes blinking away the emotions.

"This is new, Princess." Ike gazed at her in boredom. "You're affected by these measly words? How pathetic—"

"—Leave the Princess alone!"

Astonished by this new voice, the two in the large, daunting corridor curiously stepped ever closer to Link's room and swiveled their heads inside. There, they both met the eyes of a very upset blonde Hylian. Promptly beside his bed, he stood there on his bandaged knees, — all the while making certain that neither was capable of seeing the entangled Master Sword since it was simply much too humiliating to expose, thus keeping him on his meager knees, — with alluring cerulean eyes. And even though his disheveled strands of golden hair strung carelessly over his head, they framed his face gently.

"Oh, perhaps you should be going, Princess." Ike said mindlessly, barely turning his blue head to face her politely; he was too engrossed in ravishing on the blonde Hylian's brashness. Not that Princess Zelda particularly cared about losing her given attention. If anything, she very much appreciated her dear friend's rescue with that bold introduction. "Take your leave, and do mind your manners, will you?"

She definitely isn't able to handle any more traumatic torments that night, certainly. And so, allowing her long, beauteous eyelashes to kiss her smooth cheeks again and again out of distress, the Princess Zelda shot Link a look of uncertainty. And in return, he sent her a look of apologies, forgiveness and blissful relief, permitting to send her off in that secret language of expression.

"I'll take my leave then. Excuse me." With a reluctant curtsy, the devastated Princess gathered her will to move. Her delicate footsteps faded as she walked further and further. Link sighed wistfully as he slumped back down to the ground.

And at that exact moment, Link's piteous heart contradicted his earlier actions. Just then, he so desperately wished to call for Zelda — either for a chance to comfort her or for her divine protection. After all, he has always had this desire for her soothing presence when he grows anxious. But now he can't. Ike has partially, if not entirely, damaged her. She was a lovely porcelain doll with pride in her kingdom of Hyrule, wisdom always in mind, and beauteous body features as Hyrule's lovely Princess. Now, she has shattered. She's self-conscious and suspicious, upset beyond recognition and making certain not to make the same mistakes. She was broken. How could Ike have the heart to do such a cruel thing? You never remark on the flaws of a Princess, let alone the elegant Princess Zelda.

"Ah, she finally left." Ike sighed to himself, or perhaps, to Link, but how could he be so sure? "She has a tough outer shell, doesn't she? Sometimes, it's exhausting to have to keep wearing my handsome grin to people like her. Ah well, conversations with people of that caliber are much more amusing than those who are easily frightened."

At least now she's escaped. The blonde Hylian sighed.

Then, the unexpected thuds of Link's heart suddenly emerged in his chest as the Hylian heard those heavy footsteps deliberate and slow. Antique wood creaked discomfortingly beneath Ike's feet in the black silence of night, unsettling so much that the only thing Link could feel and hear was his heart hammering against his ribcage, punching persistently against it. Since, after all, how would he defend himself, how would he avenge Zelda's grief when the Master Sword's violet hilt was caught on his stupid mattress's spring? Damn, how bothersome! He'll just hide it for now, he decided, as he settled himself properly in front of the entrapped blade, concealing its whereabouts.

Brilliantly navy-blue hair, almost indigo, with that emphasized golden sword, Ragnell, arose before Link's angry eyes. The mercenary wore a black V-necked t-shirt and plain pants. And he seemed to be fully pleased with himself, it was utterly despicable. Those malignant blue eyes scrutinized the blonde Hylian, judging his pitiful appearance: a simple long-sleeved shirt and his boxer shorts, along with the infinite number of bandages garnishing his body.

"Good evening, Link." Ike's tormenting voice resounded with a wicked smirk sitting conceitedly upon his lips. Such a pretentious greeting, it instantly sent chills and needles to pester the Hylian on his exposed skin, leaving a trail of goose bumps in their place. "I see you've been awake this whole time. Were you eavesdropping?"

Link scoffed indignantly. "I don't and won't ever care as to whether or not I'm polite with you, Ike, so don't try to be cunning with your words. I won't fall for them."

"No need to be so touchy." Ike remarked as he took another deliberate step. The white light provided by the moon outside very weakly illuminated the Hylian's simplistic room, regardless of how full the pearly silver moon was that night. Yet, Link could still feel, — or rather, sense, — that malicious grin formed upon Ike's arrogant face. He didn't need to actually see it and its callous malevolence to know it exists.

"Look, I don't care how cruel you are with me, but when you crush Princess Zelda with such ruthless insults, then you've crossed boundaries." Link growled with an intense glare of his electrifying aquamarine irises, making stealthy attempts to free his sword from behind his back.

This piqued the mercenary's interest. "I've crossed boundaries, have I?"

Link cringed at revealing such an idiotic secret, sitting uncomfortably still.

"Still, you're saying I crossed your boundaries now, and only now. Somehow, that isn't very satisfying. You're saying all week, I never truly angered you, Link. To actually infuriate you, I shouldn't target you, but Princess Zelda." Ike appeared to be a little hurt, as if all those times before, all those nights before, were remarkable and happy. As if Link was the only one who gained anything out of those memories and treated them insignificantly—it was sick! How wrong can Ike be?

Link hissed at his lying expressions, his constantly changing masks.

Then, with that naughty grin, the mercenary nodded as if his calculations were enough to pass a test. "Well then, that's perfect! By hurting her, I hurt you. And even if you dare interfere with me, I'll hurt you, which hurts her. That's hilarious; I'm killing two birds with one stone."

But the blonde Hylian will have none of it, narrowing his captivating cerulean eyes. "You better not, Ike, I'm warning you!"

"Do you honestly think your cautions will change my mind? When I spoke with the Princess, you decided against stirring from that spot, not making even the slightest movement." Ike said as he casually shifted the steel grasp he had on Ragnell. "Hm, how boring. Perhaps I should start switching my prey arou—"

Just then, with a determined push of his bandaged arms and legs, Link propelled himself forward and charged directly at Ike, his Master Sword finally liberated from his mattress's clutches. Only at first had the blonde Hylian really caught the malicious mercenary completely off guard, but even that wasn't enough. In haste, Ike reacted with the reflexive lift of his trusty sword, Ragnell. There, at that exact moment, the two magnificent swords clashed.

The Master Sword, slim and beautiful, ravishes its opponents with the graceful use of talent and skill in fine swordsmanship. If you were to make particular slashes, then the dutiful sword would follow suit. Grasp onto the Master Sword tightly and prove yourself worthy of this grand blade, then and only then will the Master Sword always accompany you as you vigilantly attack your enemies.

Ragnell, meanwhile, is a large and handsome sword that you use as you please. If you believed in it just as much as you believed in yourself, then you're capable of defeating any enemy. Take your hand with Ragnell and don't be afraid to challenge anyone you face, because Ragnell is determined to deem which opponents are worthy of your superior presence.

Their strengths were absolutely dynamic, but Link had to admit, he was at an immense loss. His painful injuries would not cease to ache and shoot pangs of anguish and fatigue at his every nerve. And so, as they forcefully pushed their blades against one another, Link struggled hopelessly. The Master Sword could barely withhold its flimsy place beneath Ragnell in that excruciating angle. It was true: at the moment, Ike was far more powerful and superior than he. It was disappointing! What would Princess Zelda say?

Ike effortlessly drove Ragnell's masculine edges harder against the Master Sword's slender and more delicate side. Ike was in such ease and it made Link envious and absolutely furious, glaring angrily into those arrogant eyes hanging above him. They were absolutely indifferent about his impending victory, as if this success was simply inadequate for happiness. It made Link boil up inside. What more could Ike possibly want? How much more could Ike possibly want?

Weaker, the blonde Hylian grows forever weaker. His frail knees were beginning to lose the sacred ability to endure the mercenary's merciless strength. How much longer can he tolerate it—not much, that was for certain. Then, yet another agonizing twinge of pain lurched within one of his reddening legs. If he struggles too much, he'll collapse.

"Urgh, you—"

Something absolutely burned on his right thigh, a vital part of the leg he supported all of his weight on. Although, if he shifted feet, he'll become too vulnerable, having too many blind spots. It was blatantly obvious how desperate and weary Link appeared now, but Ike was entirely nonchalant about it, his navy-blues mysterious and unyielding. The blonde's whole body grew exhausted, but by then, Link grew too stubborn. He'll only part his blade when Ike does!

"Is that all you've got?" Ike simply said. Then with unsatisfied eyes, he whispered loud enough for the irritated Hylian to hear, "How weak."

"—ugh!" Link grunted, grinding his teeth.

Soon, they both parted with chastened breaths. Ike casually stepped back without the slightest stagger. But Link, who almost collapsed right onto his sore back, pitifully faltered and scrambled to keep his balance. Although the saffron-haired Hylian may be miserably bleary at this point, in this short grace period, he was able to quickly and carefully capture his surroundings.

He avoided the sight of that all too comfortable bed, because he knew it would have to be an eternity later before Link is allowed to sleep beneath those restful sheets. Apart from the bed, though, Link realized how much closer he was to these empty walls behind his weak and feeble figure. But no matter; he'll easily dodge the incoming attacks. After all, Ike occasionally becomes that slow and heavy fellow that cannot catch up to anyone's rapid pace.

Ah, but what was this persistent affliction burning him at his right thigh? Link wondered, would it be safe to check, for even the shortest moment? Or, would Ike not grant him the chance? As the blonde Hylian shot mere glimpses at the apathetic mercenary, he could tell he stood feet away.

What's the worst that could happen?

Link shot a concerned glance at his legs, in time worth less than the shortest-lived second.

His incredulous blue eyes widened.

Crimson, it was—the color of blood.

He was cursed. That dreaded color was cursed.

"So you've finally noticed the wound that gripes you in agony?" Ike scoffed lowly beneath his breath, that prideful smirk of contempt and malice upon his lips. "Perhaps you remember how you first obtained that injury?"

The outer side of his right thigh, wrapped tenderly with gauze and white bandages, was stained with crimson. The scarlet red substance burned to the touch, as always, and soaked everything it made contact with in maroon and vermilion, no matter how brief that contact was. "No, no, it opened again, it—"

"—I love crimson."

Blood that just managed to escape the tight restrictions of the bandages glided down his abused legs and splattered over the span of his perfectly wooden floors, or rather, once perfectly wooden floors. They left hideous splotches and blemishes of red guaranteed to leave permanent marks.

"I hate crimson." Link scowled distastefully, leaning on his left leg instead of his preferred right. But unfortunately, even the slightest movement of his refreshed wound causes it to suffocate and bleed even more. After all, that agonizing injury was because of Ragnell's relentless blade. Two torturous nights ago, that brazenly golden sword and its pointed side slowly grazed him right across the outer right side of his thigh. It easily tore through his smooth skin, horribly breaking it and chipping it away, and left a gruesome bruise. Link bled all day the next morning and afternoon.

Ike chuckled as he approached. "I can see by the look on your face that you were able to recall the night it happened. There was crimson everywhere—gorgeous, wasn't it? Deny your love all you want, Link, but you know you must love it just as much as I do."

"No."

If anything, the malicious mercenary broke through and violated Link's much desired personal space, leaning towards that crimson red wound. The saffron-haired Hylian's heart was instantly sent drumming and thundering in his chest again, racing and pounding and beating miles in minutes. Yet, he could speak no words at all, no denial of accepting and no refusal of obeying. As Ike drew closer and closer, Link even felt his tedious heart feel two sizes too big, and the ribcage that encased two sizes too small. Insanely close was the mercenary—would he hurt him? Beat him? Pierce him with sharp objects? No? No, Ike doesn't inflict pain on his freshly opened wound, but instead, softly caresses it. With his left hand, Ike touched it comfortably. The mad warmth within the Hylian's scorching injury heated considerably to a much higher degree of temperature as Ike gently stroked his right thigh.

That callous hand slid up and down the bleeding wound, embracing and loving the memorable scent, the texture, the appearance of crimson blood. It was intoxicating, and so beautiful.

"What the hell—it hurts!" Link recoiled, hissing and struggling to free himself from Ike's frightening grasp. He raised his left hand in hopes of threatening him away with the Master Sword he wielded, yet it failed to drive the fearless mercenary away. Link's gorgeously golden locks of hair skated over his face, concealing the expressions he wore of fright and terror. "R-release me!"

Ike was not amused by the blonde's miserable attempts, harshly snatching his pathetically bandaged wrist with that same crimson hand. "You dare struggle?"

With deathly serious eyes, Ike glowered at him. He intimidated Link, frightened him—that the Hylian thinks back and wonders how the victim role ended up being assigned to him, who's now subjected to such torture. But, more importantly, Ike was raptly tightening his grip. The fingers curled almost too forcefully over the blonde Hylian's delicate wrists, petrifying him.

It was as if the malevolent mercenary threatened to open the dreadful wounds on his wrists yet again. After all, his slit wrists were probably the worst and most repugnant experiences that could have ever occurred in Link's miserable life of abuse. They were, by far, the most crimson form of cruelty and malice, certainly. It was the first night that it happened, and Link vividly remembers how he quickly suffered from cardiac dysrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, which is where abnormal electrical activity takes place in the heart. The panicked heart either beats too fast or too slow, and it may also be regular or irregular. The poor blonde Hylian immediately grew faint at that time, gradually losing consciousness in the process, his red blood spraying and dripping and running too freely. He could've sworn he drowned in crimson. Even now, Link would actually stop and wonder how Ike could have reacted to that incident, since he himself was too dazed to really be considered fully aware of his surroundings. Would he have been too busy rejoicing in his crimson blood? Would he have owned a heart and been concerned for his safety? The many possibilities of Link's condition at the time could have easily led to cardiac arrest—the termination in the normal blood circulation due to the failure of the heart to contract successfully. It has a higher chance of causing death than the previous stages. But fortunately for the Hylian, death didn't claim his life.

Besides, death doesn't come to everyone who experiences it. The experience itself felt like death.

To Link, death was very crimson.

There was a whimpered gasp that meagerly escaped Link's lips as he very meekly shook his golden head. "N-no, don't you dare, not my wrists, Ike."

And so Ike released his alarmingly firm grip on Link's wrist. The horrendous storm of fear that wreaked havoc within the blonde Hylian's small body soon vanished as a breeze of immense relief eradicated him of horror.

That callous, crimson hand of Ike, marked with the blood of Link's wound, didn't drop to his broad side as the Hylian would've expected. Instead it wandered, roamed, and drifted to the side of Link's face, surprisingly enough.

And as soon as Ike's cold hand touched the skin of Link's face, the Hylian grimaced, defensive and wary. The malicious mercenary carefully and softly lifted his golden head so they could meet eyes, but Link absolutely refused to look into his. After all, the only emotions Link could feel were dread and disgruntled confusion. He felt his heart swell, bloating twice its original size and thudding again and again. Ike's hand might have been caressing and stroking him so nicely, but Ike's admiration had Link's beautifully crimson blood to blame, right? It's smeared on his cheek, Link was certain, as he felt his own dried blood scratch him roughly on the face. He bit back his winces.

Link wanted to draw back. He wants to be free. Free me.

And so, as he shot his empty right hand at Ike's crimson left, Link latched onto it and took hold. Yet, the indifferent expression on the mercenary's face was unwavering. The unsettling stench of blood, Ike's eternally horrifying presence, they were the same. They would never cease to exist. Yet, Link so badly wished to escape. He would never understand the thoughts that could ever possibly run through Ike's sadistic navy-blue head. He himself didn't know what to think of this situation anymore. Should he run? Perhaps, Link thought with distress, his eyebrows arched over his forehead in indecisiveness.

Oh, but then won't Ike pursue the Princess?

Of course. He would definitely hunt and follow after the precious brunette Princess of Hyrule. It would surely tear Link apart completely. After all, the blonde Hylian would never wish to endanger Zelda. Her delicate frame isn't able to handle such harsh physical abuse.

A shaky breath left Link's lips as Ike lowered his hand, placed it on Link's chin and forcefully lifted his head more, staring deep into the Hylian's cerulean eyes. Link had no idea what to think, what to say, his golden tresses failing to hide him as they graciously glided away from his eyes. Ike, the malignant mercenary, what were his intentions? Besides playing with him, what was his ploy? He was being loud without making potential noise—in fact, too loud. Then, their eyes met, horribly so, that Link's mind drew a complete and utter blank.

How blue, how darkly blue, were those menacing irises. One would not be able to easily tell the sinister emotions that would come off of such ominous eyes. The blonde Hylian scowled. By then, the only thing running through his mind was not to gaze too long into the mercenary's mysterious eyes. Link was certain something bad was bound to happen if he stared into Ike's eyes. There was no mistaking that the peril and contempt would surely lead to something relentlessly brutal.

"Ike—"

Then, it became betrayal. Link had been tricked. That crimson loving hand lingered below his chin and below his jaw—right at his slender neck. Shocked beyond belief, Link froze entirely in place as Ike's fingers tenderly constricted him around his air pipes. Ragnell landed comfortably into the wooden floor, planted firmly into the ground, regardless of the fact that Link's room resided on the second floor of Smash Mansion. That's when the blonde Hylian used all of his might to pull that accursed hand away. With whatever energy he had left, Link wrenched at Ike's hand, his wrist, all to no avail. The man was set on suppressing his breath. For whatever reason, Link would never know why.

A look of pure malevolence briefly crossed their eyes before Ike strongly squeezes that soft, bandaged neck. Silently but harshly, he drove Link's weak frame against the nearest wall. The impact was rather significant, when he forcefully shoved Link's body onto the wall, causing the pitiful Hylian to choke on his own pathetic cries. Luckily, Link wasn't raised above the ground. Although, that unyielding grip on his neck was absolutely torturous, causing him to suffocate. The dried blood didn't help either as they poked and pressured and threatened to break through the bandaged skin on his neck, to free that precious crimson burning beneath.

Ike? What in the world does he think he's doing? Link thought miserably, angrily. Does he dare to kill me?

As Link's attempts to free himself from Ike's steel grasp grew meaningless, he decided to lift his trusty Master Sword. The blonde Hylian wouldn't allow himself to suffer in this cruel situation. He had settled on surviving, like every other night. Besides, right now Ike has no weapon. He was full of weak spots,—if Link could only gather enough strength to raise his blade and strike the mercenary.

"You still brandish your sword when you know you can't win." Ike's sonorous voice chimed in, ever malevolent. But Link didn't care. What does it matter to him what Ike says? Determined to be free, the blonde Hylian was able to at least bring the Master Sword between them, although slowly. Now all he has to do is direct it at I—

The said mercenary seized Link's weakened wrist once again. Perhaps the only difference this time was that Ike withheld his wrist with his other hand, not that that's important. See, the blonde Hylian was trapped. Forever cursed and bound by the evil strings of his crimson puppet master. It was written in blood, that Link can never escape. But tonight, he absolutely must make an exception. Not only was his one life on the line, but Princess Zelda's life, and perhaps everyone's lives.

What were Ike's intentions?

"It seems as though you really want to die." Ike said haughtily with that conceited grin, tightening his grip on Link's slender neck. The pathetic loss of breath, of precious air, was enough to kill anyone. Yet, compressing his strenuous grasp, Ike wasn't satisfied with just that, was he?

Unfortunately, Link cannot feel his blood running as quickly. Instead, his entire body gradually became cold and his miserable heart just about ready to burst right out of his own ribcage, with the way it raced persistently. The blonde Hylian couldn't inhale, he couldn't exhale. The feeling in his feet and his hands were both numbing, even the reopened wound ceased to provide warmth, but shot pangs of ice and pain up his nerves. And so, the only thing he could do at the time: sadly release his grips. The Master Sword uselessly dropped to the floor with a piercing clang as his exhausted arms soon fell to his bruised sides.

"I'll grant you that wish."

You're wrong, I— Link wished to respond with the utmost hatred blatant in his voice, but he simply can't. The malicious mercenary was doing what he does every night—drive Link up the wall. He was playing with him, using hostile abuse. Now he can't breathe. Ah, but enough is enough!

Ike was making fun, toying with him, enjoying himself. With the measly constraint of his callous hand on the blonde Hylian's bandaged neck, he could easily bring death upon him. Yet, he doesn't, easing his harsh grip and tightening it over and over again, repeatedly. It sent Link's mind in bewildered spins. Ike was making him suffer on purpose, no matter the reason, and Link absolutely despised it. If he could speak, he would definitely make aggressive remarks. If this crimson hand released its damn hold on his neck, Link would spit on the malicious mercenary and even bite him. He desperately wanted to punish the sadist for his crimes, but every attempt always left the blonde Hylian to fall to his own demise.

And so, Link glared with everything he's got. He glowered out of loathing and bore holes through him, dreading the expression on that arrogant face. Ever nonchalant was the mercenary, it was absolutely repugnant! How dare he invade his valued privacy these past horrific nights, threaten him, torment him, and then do such unsightly deeds? It was unheard of, Ike's unwavering malice and contempt. Link wouldn't stand for it!

"J-just...kill me already." Link whispered angrily and choked, gasping desperately for air. Alas, he was capable of speech, although barely. Then, of course, the cruel grasp on his bandaged neck clenched, each accursed finger digging into his abused skin, poking and playing at his life's line. What was Ike waiting for?

Brazen, Ike drew insanely close to the side of Link's troubled face. His husky voice brought goose bumps upon his weak arms and chills up his wavering spine, yet all the while boiled his blood. Beside that pointed ear, beside that sapphire ringlet dangling on his lobe, he said with a sinister grin, "Trying to be pushy even though you're the loser?"

Damn it, Ike. Don't speak. Only malignant nonsense comes from those lips.

"Marionettes should be obedient and follow their master." Ike smirked, prideful in his victory to infuriate the blonde Hylian. A grimace constantly accommodated Link's face, and his cerulean eyes always glazed with rage at the mere sight of him. It amused the sadistic mercenary, if not just as much as he loved his crimson blood. Oh, the lovely crimson. Never before has Ike witnessed the velvety red of Link's blood. It was scarlet and divine, appealing and provocative. And naturally, the mercenary was drawn to the blonde Hylian, like bears are drawn to honey. And of course Ike, as the bear, never ceased to admire the sight of crimson, indulging in it and ravishing the color, the blood, the honey. Was Link's blood as sweet as honey?

As the blonde Hylian struggled helplessly, Ike pressed him further against the wall, which caused a strangled gasp to escape Link's lips. The wrathful expression on his face enticed the malignant mercenary, his gritted teeth and his alluring eyes. Everything about the blonde was a magnet, pulling Ike only closer and closer. That's why the more intimate they became as friends those innocent days before he changed, Ike's burning desire for Link and his crimson blood awoke. He craved to see it. In brawls, Ike will very briefly catch the sight of scarlet and vermilion red, but it wasn't enough. He longed for more, for more of his lusted honey.

His blood.

"If you were to cry and beg for forgiveness," Ike's breath danced on Link's skin, sending his heart away. Stubborn and sore, the Hylian shifted uncomfortably, refusing to accept defeat. Link would fend for himself from the mercenary's brutal advances. He'll survive, he'll fight. Yet, as if Ike was ignorant to Link's thoughts of blissful liberty, he loomed menacingly over him. Their faces were so close. Too close, even. And so, deliberately, that sly tongue of Ike's escaped the cavern of his malevolent mouth. It very slowly brushed against the blood on Link's cheek, immediately making the veins within the Hylian to run cold and his startled mind to draw a stranded blank. As Link found himself at a loss, the sadistic mercenary silently whispered, "I may change my mind about killing you."

With an irate growl, Link furrows his eyebrows and forgets about Ike's disgusting actions. He would never beg, never cry, for Ike to release him willingly. Not if he was dangling off the side of a mountain cliff, Link would never fall miserably weak against him. He'd much rather fall to his own doom than so pathetically allow Ike to succeed in making him lose. Unfathomable!

With that rekindled fire of anger and energy, Link barely mustered up enough strength, indignantly pushing himself off of the wall, against Ike's cruel hold. At first, he was momentarily free. For that one measly moment, he was free to do as he pleased. But, unfortunately in the next second, Ike fiercely shoves him back onto the wall, that forsaken wall. Link's every nerve tingled with rage. However, they gradually relaxed as they no longer burned with the absolute will to fight. Not that the blonde Hylian would admit he's lost—the fight wasn't over. As long as Link breathes, he swears to fight.

The blonde Hylian glared at the malicious mercenary, who wore an intimidating grin on his face.

Thrilling, that glower, which Ike has long grown accustomed to. It expressed Link's abhorrence for him so vividly. Yet, even if those brilliant aquamarine irises insisted on glaring at the malicious mercenary, he admired them nonetheless.

"Hm." Ike grinned as he stared right back into those bright blue eyes, watching his own reflection upon them. Amazing, Link's glistening eyes, they were passionately cerulean, intense, and vibrant. There was that consistent appeal in them, that resistance of inferiority and determination for freedom. How enthralling they were, able to captivate Ike's interest. "What arrogant eyes you have."

Enough! It needs to end! Link's pained heart cried out of anguished grief, writhing and lurching and bursting into little tiny shards. He could no longer feel anything in his feeble body, but no way was he going to just let Ike do as he wished. Never, ever would the blonde Hylian allow the sadistic mercenary to keep this up!

Persistent, Link's fire thrived with emotions of resentment. Ike has done far too much now, and that pertains not only to him. The malignant mercenary has tormented with the residents of Smash Mansion far enough, right? But what mad compulsion drives Ike to such measures anyway? Once, before he had changed so drastically, the mercenary was very friendly and kind, sympathetic and pleasant to have as company. He was an honest man who was gallant and fair. But now he's repulsive, distressing everyone, playing conceitedly with the emotions of others, pulling at everyone's strings—at Link's strings.

Ike was the crimson puppet master.

The blonde Hylian persevered in collecting himself, his strong impulse to resist returning to him. With new found strength, Link slowly lifted his bandaged crimson legs. And, using the forsaken wall as support in the process, the Hylian cautiously folded his meager knees and further raised his legs. That way, his feet were capable of landing on Ike's broad torso, shoving the mercenary away. Luckily for Link, he successfully kicked him, which sent Ike reeling back at a distance. And as soon as they parted, Link slid down the wall, his pained back brushing against it, so that he plummeted ungracefully onto the wooden floor.

Finally, finally, Link escaped Ike's unyielding grasp, and for that he was both relieved and pleased with his victory. The expression of bemusement and disapproval masked the mercenary's face, which Link counted as a bonus to his liberty. Of course, their eternal fight wasn't over, certainly it wasn't. They were both perfectly aware of that. Ah, but alas, he was free, wasn't he? He regained his entire ability to breathe, the circulation of his blood pumped regularly, and that pain constricting his neck finally vanished.

What did it matter how sore he was in every part of his body?

Conscious of Ike's condescending presence, Link attempts to stance his vulnerable body for further battle. With the support of his abused hands, the Hylian heaves himself off of the bloodied floor. Oh, but how heavy he was, laggard and exhausted—yet, Link still fights. He gathers himself and stands weakly on both feet. Although, the saffron-haired Hylian's fragile knees were shaking, even uncontrollably. In fact, his entire figure trembled. Link's aching nerves and muscles strained to simply move, that he could only climb as far as to leave his slender hands on his weak knees and lean on them, which of course, brought him back down. The blonde Hylian collapsed right back onto the ground, his descent undesirably rough.

It was reasonable. After all, his body required recuperation. The reopened wound on Link's right thigh burned and ached to a much higher degree, one unfathomable. Also, without being able to breathe normally in Ike's horrifying clutch, Link experienced torture. Not a single part of his whole body was able to function correctly, thus making the Hylian feel lethargic and weary now. And all of that in addition to the forced actions Link strained himself to make earlier? It's no wonder how dead he seemed.

But unfortunately for him, throwing off the pain was useless, and ignoring it simply wasn't enough. He still suffers, coiling on the floor with a meager groan.

With that, the malignant mercenary approached him, even casually.

And Link, too pathetic to respond any quicker, hastily grabbed at the Master Sword he had helplessly released earlier. Obviously, the fight wasn't over. It's never over. So, on full guard, the blonde Hylian gauchely withdrew back to the forsaken wall, leaning his sore back upon it. Regardless of the throbbing and the anguish of his bandaged body, Link refused to accept defeat, let alone to Ike. After all, the Hylian was at least capable of liberating himself from Ike's grasp. If Link was forced to encounter another task by the malevolent mercenary's hand, then Link would simply have to come up with a method to overcome it, right?

He wouldn't lose. Link refused to lose.

"As if I'd be obedient and play by your strings, Ike." Link grunted as he very weakly raised the elegant Master Sword and pointed it at the said navy-blue mercenary, as if he was well enough to defend himself. The blonde Hylian's slim neck yearned to recover quickly, awfully battered and abused with blemishes of violet adorning his dirtied skin. Actually, Link still found it difficult to breathe, now while his air pipes felt perpetually crushed.

Ever blasé, Ike strode closer ahead of the Hylian, only feet apart from him, and paused. He examined Link's pathetic position, silently judging him and the luscious crimson blood that forever taints him. The blonde was meagerly yet stubbornly propped up against the very same wall, with his slender limbs scattered about himself. In fact, Link even directed the blade's tip at the mercenary; but did he honestly think Ike would yield to such naïve threats? Still, his meek attempts were amusing. The Hylian really was willing to keep fighting, despite the terrifying consequences to come in the near future. He's determined not to submit and succumb to Ike's overwhelming advances.

"Hmph." Another scan of those intimidating blue eyes observed the Hylian, to his everlasting discomfort, discerning Link's precious crimson and his disgusted misery. And then, as the malicious mercenary easily tormented the Hylian and pulled his strings, Ike said haughtily, "We'll play again when you're in better shape."

Those words alone made Link's blood boil, igniting his eternal hatred with passionate loathing.

How the Hylian simply can't stand the mercenary. In that black shirt Ike wore proudly, his broad and robust body was accented. He was obviously more powerful than Link with that stout build. Not only that, but the callous mercenary was immensely malignant and insensitive, if he wasn't entirely, and appeared not to have his own reflective conscience. Why was he like that? How are people like that? How? Simply put, Link's feelings towards Ike were beyond plain frustration, beyond livid anger, and beyond pain and anguish. And now, as his bandaged legs gradually go numb below him in that dreadful puddle of crimson he collected himself in, the blonde Hylian wearily lifted his saffron head and fully exposed those aquamarine irises.

"Don't miss me too much." Ike smirked cruelly as he deliberately turned on his heel, that sadistic glint in his mysterious blue eyes.

"I can assure you I won't."

The mercenary chuckled in absolute pleasure at Link's spiteful response, stepping arrogantly towards the door as if he was victorious that horrendous night. He easily removed the golden blade, Ragnell, from the blood-stained floor and departed with his superiority and pride, successful in leaving his eternal marks—just like every other disgraceful night. It was despicable. The crimson ground, the agonizing bruises, and the memories can never be erased. They would never cease to exist. And Link, a victim to the cruelty, was forever imprisoned in the restrictions of his own room, his own prison. He was captive to the mercenary's damned world, cursed, and bound by Ike's evil strings, the crimson puppet master. Link can never escape.

Link will never escape, because Ike was the crimson puppet master. And he was his crimson marionette.


The End


Side Notes:

- A very pointless fanfic, if I do say so myself. :)

- Ike really isn't that mean. In fact, this is a personality I rarely see him in. Usually, I see him as a family-man, approachable, or just really friendly and playful.

- I honestly do respect Zelda. That's why I'm saying if she seemed frail and weak in the fanfic, know that I didn't intend to make her so feeble.

- I'm horrible at action scenes.

- I can never write successful endings. I get too excited about finishing the fanfic, I forget about the complexities of the resolution.

- "Marionette" is basically just a fancier term for "puppet" in case you're not aware.

- Ike really was a Lord in Crimea, which is a country in Tellius. And Queen Elincia made no poor judgments in making him one. Ike's a good guy. I should know. After all, I've played Fire Emblem before. And particularly the only ones Ike played in, haha. I never touched any other Fire Emblem.

- Princess Zelda certainly did make those sacrifices. I have played Twilight Princess before, — several times, actually, — so it's true. Everything else I pretty much made up. I said the King and Queen were deceased because, well, they don't seem to exist in the game. And I said they were happy because, I don't know, it sounded right.

- I drew stuff, because I'm weird, like I said. Um, it's on Tegaki E. I'm under two accounts actually: animefan752 (my official account,) and link752 (pretty self-explanatory). Look them up if you're bored! I enjoy RP-ing with new people, so don't be shy!

Edit: Ahhh! My verb tenses are all messed up! Thank you, Urufumaru, for bringing it up, for I truly appreciate your honest criticism! If only I'd even attempt to fix them, but, perhaps I'm too lazy. I'm a procrastinator, horribly so, that obviously my pleading pardonez-moi's won't work. Still, maybe leaving my errors will prove my worth as I learn to overcome my mistakes! My latest fanfiction are less disappointing, hopefully, when I've made certain to proofread my work and fix my grammatical errors.

A/N: I recall waking up a few mornings ago with this on my mind. It was strange, yet, the idea actually motivated me to write! It was a pleasant surprise, to be honest. I don't know how the thought could've ever surfaced, but, my realization for this fanfiction was oddly interesting: a sadistic Ike is a sexy Ike. I don't know, I'm simply too weird for my own good.

Anyhow—

Pretty, pretty please, with lots of sprinkles and a giant cherry on top, REVIEW! Yes, I know it's selfish and rude thing of me to request this of you beloved readers, but hey, I'm not alone. We fanfiction-writers, ― well, me, at least, ― love to hear what our readers have to say about our writing. When I don't hear from you guys, I seriously cry inside. I mean, how am I supposed to improve and make more fanfiction, when I don't hear your opinions? That's crazy! Besides, reviews motivate me to write more. Other than that, they just make me really happy. You understand that at least, right? Please say you do. I mean, if I confess and tell you I actually tried finishing this fanfic all in one go, — which ended up as me forcing myself awake the first whole night attempting to finish the stupid thing, — would you be tempted to write me one? Hopefully?

Anyway, if you do decide to take your time to write me a review in honor of my suffering, you should know that I definitely accept any shape or form of constructive criticism. But I simply do not accept any pitchforks, torches, bashing, and angry flaming, UNLESS there's a perfectly valid, reasonable, and logical explanation behind it. Besides that, I would be depressed and sad beyond belief. Thank you very much!

Alright, this A/N is going to keep going and going and going if I don't shut my yap. Sorry about that.

And so, my beloved readers, you have my sincere gratitude for viewing! I hope you liked it.