Where Heroes and Cowards Part Ways
By Queenie Z

This is my church of choice,
Love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice.
For the rest, I have to say to you
I will dream like the god
And suffer like all the dead children.

He had waited years, decades, centuries, but from his perch in the space between the worlds of the living and the dead, he could see that the kingdom had barely changed. Of course, that wasn't entirely true - on the surface, it had grown, as new cities were built upon old ones and the people had multiplied - but the beauty that resided deep within the heart of the land its children remained the same. Indeed, he, the specter of the Hero of Time, could more clearly see this beauty than perhaps any living being in all the world, and he had been so unwilling to let it all fall into the hands of chance that he had refused to move on to the paradise that undoubtedly awaited him.

Ah, paradise... sometimes he wished he could simply give up his post and enter that blessed realm. Although he had died alone, he knew that he had died loved, and surely his loved ones were growing impatient waiting for him on the other side. Yet he couldn't leave, for he had bound himself to Hyrule by his own choice to wait for the one who would take his place as Hero. And so, no matter how much his old heart ached to see the smiling faces of his friends, he remained ever vigilant, alone, cold, yet determined to finish what he had started in life.

They say that life's mysteries become elucidated during one's final breaths. The day he died, he caught a glimpse of answers to questions he never even knew he had. Was he really who he thought he was? Had he done his deeds by his own volition, or had destiny wrapped her strings around his neck the whole time? For all the times he had tried to bring happiness to others, why did he have to suffer through so many bitter trials and tearful goodbyes? For a moment, he cursed himself for being so selfless and cursed the Goddesses who had written his fate for him. Then, in a split second, his anger turned into a strange realization.

He was not the only one.

No, he discovered, he was not the only man to have been born into such a destiny - there had been others before him, and there would be more after him. Memories of past and future lives ran through his mind at such a rate that he could barely keep up with them; memories of bloody battles and happy endings, of love and loss, of times and places he could never have even dreamed of! And within all of these memories, a single thought stood out among all of the others: he had chosen this life, eons and eons ago, before the him he knew himself as was even born. The Legendary Hero - the spirit which had been passed on to him by the gods - had loved his world and its people so much that he willingly plunged himself into an eternal battle with the evils that would threaten it.

This life - this life of amazing adventure and terrible sacrifices - had indeed been the life had chosen for himself, and, he decided, would be the life he would continue to lead even after his passing. He had given up his childhood, his innocence, and the comforts of a normal life for this precious land of Hyrule, and he wasn't going to simply leave it in the hands of just anyone! Though the Hero's spirit would be passed on, his strength would not. So he choked out a final vow and made one last sacrifice: he would remain in the realm between life and death, waiting for his successor. And when that successor appeared, when he had passed on the skills that would hone his courage and strength, he would finally allow himself to move on and be embraced the waiting arms of his loved ones.

He had waited years, decades, centuries, but the day he waited for had finally come. As the phantom stared into the eyes of a young boy, so innocent yet so full of the courage he himself had possessed in life, he knew he had finally found his pupil.

This is where heroes and cowards part ways.