Light and Darkness
Two buildings with barred doors, mist, an island with a dead tree, and, of course, endless water like a shiny, rippling mirror: this was his world, his prison.
He hated it.
It was so quiet, always, always quiet. All he could ever hear was dripping water and his own sighs and movements. There was nothing to see but the same endless mist and water and the Goddesses-damned tree. Oh, how he loathed that tree.
Hmm? What was that sound? Was he finally here at last?
Never mind, just more water.
He sighed, leaning forward to rest his head on his knees.
He wasn't even given the luxury of sleep. All he could do was sit here and wait to die.
The sword on his back let out a faint, comforting pulse of warmth and he shook his head with a muted huff, silver-white bangs swaying in front of his eyes as he reached back and drew the blade, holding it in his lap.
Sorry I'm so useless, partner. You were looking forward to working alongside them, weren't you?
Why… apologizing… me… shadow-child…? Fault… mine…
Hang on, I can barely hear you.
He sighed and stuck the blade into the wet sand between his legs in a practiced motion, resting his forehead against the red gem in its hilt.
I said the fault is mine, shadow-child. Or do you not recall the little bedtime story I told you about my ex-Master, Demise? This "Ganondorf" is surely his reincarnation… Hylia, why did I bring him back? Why, why, WHY!
Calm down, I don't feel like getting slammed against the invisible wall today from another one of your tantrums… It's still my fault for being too weak to stop him.
Child, you hadn't even the strength to open your eyes yet, let alone fight back. There was nothing you could do. Stop moping about it.
What else is there to do, glare at my reflection? Sulk like I've been doing the past seven years?
Why not brace yourself instead?
What do you mean?
I sense the Master Sword's aura. It is faint, but definitely there. Your light half has entered the temple.
Not at all, child. I am quite serious.
So I finally get to die? Oh, thank the Blessed Three!
…Sometimes, child, you honestly disturb me. And considering I am the one who was said to be disturbing to others, that is saying something in and of itself.
Well, it's the only way out of this hell for me. Why wouldn't I hope for it?
Because it is DEATH, shadow-child.
I'll die regardless whether I win or lose. We both know that. Either he will kill me here or the bastard Gerudo will destroy me to ensure the complete destruction of the Hero.
Enough. Save your strength for the battle… I just want some time to let the fact this is really happening sink in for now. I… Goddesses, I think I'm EXCITED. He's finally here…!
A soft, parting laugh echoed in his head. I know the feeling well myself.
He leaned back and sheathed the blade, standing up to stretch with another soft sigh.
Seven years… Seven years of waiting and struggling to stay sane. They were finally, finally over. At long last, he was here, in the temple...
He closed his eyes and listened.
A small smirk traced across his lips at the new sounds echoing dimly from beyond his little watery hell.
The smirk widened into a full-on grin. It was music to his ears.
He quickly rolled past the Like-Like that was after him, snagging a healing fairy in a bottle as he hurried through the door. By the Goddesses, he was not going to retreat and have to go through this insane maze of a temple again just because he let a Like-Like eat his shield!
"That was… not fun," he panted, leaning against the door after it slid shut behind him.
"WATCH OUT!" Navi shrieked, glowing yellow to get his attention.
He rolled forward quickly and gulped as thick metal bars slammed down where his head just was. At least the Like-Like definitely couldn't follow him now…
"Huh? Hey Navi, don't self-barring doors mean something nasty is about to attack us? Because this place is actually kind of nice…"
A wide, endless expanse of mist stretched out before his eyes, strangely silvery, mirror-like water rippling beneath his feet and reflecting his face back at him. He couldn't see the floor through it, but seeing as it only went up to his ankles, it was quite shallow. The area was completely empty except for a small sandbar up ahead with a lonely, dead black tree and a stone building beyond it. It was peaceful, a great relief from the hectic temple, and very quiet save for the soft sound of water and his own footsteps as he curiously ambled over to the building in the distance.
It housed nothing but a barred door, so he turned around, disappointed, to try to find what he'd missed. Perhaps there was a switch he needed to pull or a button to press?
"What? I came from a building, too? Is this… some kind of illusion, maybe?"
Seeing as it was the only other thing in sight, he headed determinedly for the pathetic little island with the dead tree.
"There's something here… Something evil… Evil and powerful…" Navi whimpered, drifting cautiously around the gnarled trunk. "I have a really bad feeling about this…"
Then she shrieked as a black-bladed sword nearly chopped her wing off and zipped into his hat to hide.
"Wha—a person!" he gasped, startled as he blinked at what appeared to be a black-gloved hand in an equally black gauntlet gripping the hilt of the blade that took a warning swipe at his fairy companion, its owner hidden behind the thin tree trunk. This stranger sure wore a lot of black…
Odd, that gauntlet looked a lot like the ones he wore, and that blade—what in the names of the Goddesses? It looked like a dark version of the Master Sword! Who was this guy?
"Who are you? Did you get stuck in here?" he asked, concerned. "You don't need to be… af…raid…"
His words died in his throat as the figure stepped out from behind the tree to face him, sword in hand. It was him. What he had mistaken for a glove was simply entirely black skin—its whole body was painted in shades of black and very dark gray, like a shadowy copy of him. It was even left-handed.
Its eyes, though… were blazing almond-shaped slivers of bright red, demonic fire, glaring straight through his soul.
It lunged and their swords clashed, holy steel shrieking against darkened metal as their shoulders touched, struggling in a seemingly evenly-matched test of strength.
Please… kill me…!
The shadowy doppelganger nearly decapitated him as he stumbled back, startled by the sudden, soundless voice whispering into his mind.
"What are you DOING, Link?" Navi hissed shrilly in his ear, panicked. "Are you trying to get yourself killed?"
"Who said that?" he gasped in reply, staring wide-eyed at his doppelganger. "Did you just… in my head…!"
The only answer he gained was another lunge; he dodged this one, rolling to the side. Frustrated, he slashed at the doppelganger as he came up… and felt his mouth drop open in shock and awe as it jumped up onto the tip of the Master Sword and back-flipped off, knocking him momentarily off balance.
Huh? It could've taken him down right then, it was definitely close enough! What was going on here?
For a second, he swore the thing's hair had lightened, but it was pure black again after he blinked. The doppelganger just kept attacking and attacking, always hesitating just enough to keep him alive and, strangely, jumping back whenever he tried to touch it. Not once did it speak, no sound emerging from its lips save the occasional loud rush of air.
The whole thing was so infuriating… He just wanted this weird not-right battle to end!
"Stop copying me, dammit!" he shouted, frustrated at yet another parried strike.
"Link, I think it knows what you know! Try something new!" Navi squeaked in his ear, still cowering out of the way under his hat.
The doppelganger slammed into the dead tree with a solid thud and slid to the ground stunned, sent flying by his Megaton Hammer. Its sword lay uselessly atop the strange silvery mirror-water near his feet, small ripples radiating outward as the red gem in its hilt almost seemed to flicker in amusement—must've been a trick of the light.
"Sorry, but… It's time to finish this," he said quietly, pulling a warm red crystal from his 'bottomless' pouch as he walked cautiously towards his fallen enemy. He raised it skyward and hesitated.
This thing was human, or at least looked it. He… was this really right? Wasn't there some other way?
"HURRY!" Navi shrieked, nearly blasting out his eardrum. "It's getting up!"
He flinched and took a shaky breath. He doubted the creature would fall for the same trick twice like the other monsters had; something about it just seemed… different.
He couldn't… This was… this was murder…!
He couldn't do this—
He had to.
Do or die.
He couldn't wait any longer.
This was his only chance.
He gritted his teeth and called on the magic gifted to him by the Goddesses.
He gasped and fell to his knees as flames far stronger than any he'd called before burst out, draining what felt like all of his remaining strength. He forced his tired eyes up and his mind went blank, simply watching: the spell had targeted, not the doppelganger, but the tree.
Translucent black chains flickered into view, revealed by the powerful spell as the tree was set alight. They connected the doppelganger to the gnarled, dead thing, hooked to its limbs like the strings to some sick, twisted parody of a marionette and wrapping around its neck in a mock stranglehold. He watched them writhe like a pinned snake as the tree burst into flame and some half-heard, tiny voice inside him was screaming.
He had to get over there, NOW.
Holy Three, the damn thing was burning. He could feel the bonds straining, weakening; could feel the darkness already reaching for him with eager, open arms.
He was dying.
He would finally, finally be—
He opened his mouth and, for the first time in his life, heard his own voice as an agonized shriek tore itself from his lips.
Oh, Blessed Three, this pain was ripping him apart…!
He… still had to… tell… him…
His eyes drifted closed and the darkness lunged forth, only to be driven back by a gentle light…
A heart-wrenchingly human scream ripped through the air as the chains binding the doppelganger shattered with a loud snap, recoiling away and dissolving into the same black smoke defeated monsters became when they died.
Navi gasped, horrified, as the blackness of its features began to melt away, revealing the true nature of the being hidden beneath the rapidly-disappearing veil of shadow. All along, his opponent had been a fellow Hylian!
He paled and forced himself to his feet, stumbling over to the fallen warrior.
"Oh Goddesses…" he whispered. "What have I done…?"
Strangely, the figure lying limply at the base of the burning tree still looked like his twin, but was a shadow no longer.
Impossibly white, silvery hair hung down over the man's closed eyes, framing a face he was sure would be identical in shape to his own if the warrior wasn't so thin and clearly unhealthy, appearing starved. His tunic was black as pitch with brown belts and white tights and undershirt, his boots, gauntlets and cap also black. The male's skin was odd, he couldn't tell if it was gray—which was strange in and of itself—or tan, and the white, color-bleaching mist pervading the chamber wasn't exactly helping…
…Why was he thinking about this instead of getting the man away from the burning tree?
The fallen stranger was dragged a safe distance away with much effort—Goddesses, he was tired—and he paused to look at him closely, trying to find some detail—anything—that wasn't just like him in everything but color.
There was a difference! He found one!
Navi emerged from his hat and circled him, wondering just what had gotten into her friend. "Uh, Link? Why are you grinning like that…?"
He pointed smugly at the not-quite doppelganger's ear, grinning childishly in triumph. "No earring!"
If Navi had hands, she would have facepalmed. "Link, get out that fairy you caught… The creepy demon-man looks like he's just asleep, but I feel like something's really wrong."
What… what was this…? This light… pushing back the darkness…? He could feel a faint warmth… nestled in his chest…
Could it be…?
His hand reached out sluggishly as he forced his eyes to open…
A strangely cool hand curled around his own, preventing him from reaching into his pouch, and he looked towards the warrior, startled.
"L…ink…?" a hoarse, scratchy voice whispered faintly, echoed soundlessly in his mind.
"You… how do you know my name?"
He couldn't have heard Navi from inside his hat, could he?
He gasped and Navi shrieked something about shadow demons, hiding in his hat again. …Well, at least she'd be quiet(er) in there…
The warrior's eyes had opened.
They were scarlet—no, crimson. A pure, shining crimson he was somehow certain was the exact opposite of his own sapphire blue.
The white-haired man smiled weakly, panting for breath.
Your… light… so warm…
"You… you're talking in my head again…? How are you doing that? Who are you? What do you mean, "my light"?"
I… darkness… you… light… …we… …I… …so…rry… …L…ink… …th…ank… y…ou…
He felt his blood run cold as the warrior's hand flickered in his. He was fading away like an illusion—fading with the tree as it burned.
The mist was lightening and the emptiness fading into an empty, stone-walled chamber, the mirror-like water beginning to retreat inwards from the corners as the magic fell apart. It was painfully obvious the curse affecting this chamber meant to take the warrior with it.
"No! Please, hang on! You have to hang on!"
…already… t…oo… …l…a…te…
The silver-haired man's lips slipped open.
"…L…ink… promise… me… one… thi…ng…" he gasped, struggling to get the words out. "…Kick… his… G…er…u…do… …ass…"
"I was planning on it already, but…! Please, just hang on a little longer! Just let me get that—"
"…fairy…" he whispered hollowly, holding only air where the warrior's hand used to be.
The tree was gone.
There was no mirror-like water, no little island, no endless fog...
Just an empty stone chamber as if nothing had ever been here at all.
"L-Link, watch out!" Navi cried out, snapping out of her sad stupor at the man's sudden death as a dark mist gathered around her charge.
It rushed inwards like a miniature implosion and he let out a scream of his own as it sank straight through his skin and dived into him, leaving a strangely unfamiliar yet familiar coolness as it passed, and settled inside his heart.
I am the voice that whispered to hit back whenever Mido bullied you, the deep-rooted anger at Ganondorf's cruelty, the desire for battle, the weeping sorrow, the fear and pain, the loneliness staved off by only a horse and fairy… a faint, soundless voice whispered as his vision was swallowed by blackness.
He felt like he was falling endlessly…
Twin crimson pools of light shone dimly through the black and suddenly, the warrior's faint, unfinished message became clear.
I am your Darkness and you are my Light.
We were meant to be partners, but…
I… I am so, so very sorry.
I was too weak…
I couldn't stop him from taking me away.
Though it means death…
Thank you for setting me free…
Light, so much light… a sleeping blonde boy beside him… a misty, half-formed hand holding the blonde's pale one…
"Child… Do you wish to fight alongside your light?"
He smiled, understanding even then, and whispered within his mind:
"Well then, Shadow Hero, you will need a sword."
"Be warned, young one, there will be pain…"
"Take it in your hand, and if it accepts you, We shall split you from him in full to sleep alongside him until he wakes…"
Black hilt, dark blade, a red jewel…
He reached out without hesitation, misty fingers wrapping around the grip.
Hmm? What cruel joke is this? How is it that one of the Sky-Child's descendants is fit to wield me? …Hmm… Ah. A shadow-child, are you?
My name is Ghirahim, though you know me simply as the 'Dark Master Sword' before you. So, child, do you accept your role as my new Master?
How many times do I have to say it? Yes…!
That despised Gerudo man, bursting into the Sacred Realm to claim the Triforce…
"Well, well, what have we here? You'll be QUITE useful!"
He tried to struggle, to scream, but he was so, so tired… Just a little while ago, he was just mist… no… he couldn't… no… No…!
His voice taken so he could not warn his Light, the hated tree, the endless water and mist… Seven years of hell waiting for his Light to come and set him free… Though it meant death, he welcomed it. He would die either way. And so he would fight his curse when the time came, fight as hard as he could so he would not kill his Light, and pray to the Blessed Three to grant him the small mercy of a death at their Hero's hands and not Ganondorf's in spite of his failure to even stay by his precious Light's side…
Navi flitted around his head frantically, demanding to know what was wrong and shrieking about how 'that man must've been a demon in disguise and if she ever found him she'd bash his brains out for doing whatever he'd done to Link!'
"He… He was… Goddesses, what have I done…? What have I DONE!" he wailed hysterically, collapsing on the floor and sobbing. Navi, not even knowing what was going on, could do nothing to comfort him.
He cleared the rest of the temple in a haze, fighting Morpha numbly, mechanically, with the help of the Longshot he'd found and warping out. He couldn't even bring himself to look Ruto in the eyes while she presented him with the Water Medallion. Nor did he speak, even to Navi.
He was quiet as they warped to Lake Hylia, his fallen other half's sword stowed safely in his magical 'bottomless' pouch.
"The evil is disappearing from the lake… Link, you did it!" Sheik's voice praised him, and he numbly turned—only to burst into tears at the sight of the dead, blackened tree the Sheikah was perched on.
Sheik decided to keep an eye on the Hero even after he taught the boy the Nocturne of Shadow, worried by his silence and the tears he'd shed at the lake. He had not expected Link to return alone from the Water Temple. Both halves of the Hero were supposed to greet him, not the broken, crying Light all by himself.
Something had gone badly awry, that much he knew for certain. Much as his ribs ached from being thrown about by Bongo-Bongo, he simply felt that he could not afford to let Link out of his sight for the moment.
When the Hero dropped like a stone at the Shadow Temple's entrance without even a cry, Sheik was very glad he'd stuck around indeed. It was a good thing Impa was more than able to last several days within the Temple without trouble. Hopefully, this would only take a few hours at most…
"So there you are, Other Side," he sighed as he teleported to the platform with the aid of a Deku Nut, preparing himself for the daunting task of somehow getting two grown men to Impa's home in Kakariko by himself—the Darkness was worryingly thin and should therefore be light enough to carry fairly easily, but Link was larger than Sheik himself to begin with, and Sheik's ribs were bruised and aching. Still, it would get done. Somehow, it would get done.
"…Well, I had best begin… Navi, please stop screaming. I will explain once these two are safe and in beds."
Something was tugging ever-so-gently on a flickering, dying little spark that could perhaps be called a 'soul', drawing it up out of the sea of endless black Ganondorf's magic had drowned it in.
Gentle hands reached into the Hero's heart and returned what had been lost, letting the inevitable run its course.
Seven years they had spent separate—seven years the dark half had spent conscious, alone, and entirely independent—becoming more of a person than he'd ever meant, nor expected to be…
Even with the Darkness's added years awake, the Light was still dominant. Its desires held more sway. The Darkness accepted death, while the Light…
No, they could not remain one for long. Especially not within reach of the strong aura of the Shadow Temple; that alone would surely draw forth the Darkness's sleeping consciousness from the depths in which it was hidden.
He didn't even stir as the darkness around him changed, but something in him seemed to respond regardless as the dead pitch-black that sapped at what little was left of him retreated, replaced by a soft shroud of shadow that tugged gently at him, coaxing his still form towards a faint, far away light.
The weak, lifeless wraith of mist he'd reverted to began to solidify. Barely visible grayish-black brightened and thickened, becoming semi-transparent silver-white hair, followed by gray-tan skin, black-and-white clothes and brown belts as he slowly faded back into existence from head to toe.
The light was reaching out to him now as the shadows pulled him onwards and he seemed more solid, more real the closer it came.
Dark… it whispered, enveloping him fully.
Icy-cold darkness, cool shadows, chilling mist, heat-sapping dampness…
It was none of these things.
The light was warm.
So warm, so alive…
What shadow could be cast without it?
He had to tackle the Shadow Temple after murdering his own shadow. How ironic. Reluctant as he was to enter another 'dungeon' after what had happened at Lake Hylia (and that hellish well!), a small part of him was oddly impatient, eager to get there, and he didn't know why.
Then, when the Temple's dark aura engulfed him as he stood in its entrance, he felt it.
A strange, comforting coolness stirrng in his chest... his shadow.
He fought the urge to smile as he welcomed the blackness rushing in to cloud his eyes, Navi's panicked shrieks fading away to be replaced with the soft, barely audible breaths of the piece of him he'd thought he'd lost forever…
The first thing he noticed was that he was no longer cold. He sluggishly opened his eyes, stunned at the soft radiance that greeted him as his consciousness returned.
What was this light…?
It was so, so bright… but it didn't feel like the Blessed Three's glow…
And yet… it was so familiar…
A… tear…? Who…? Who was—?
…Could it be…?
The light… the light was calling to him… crying out… …Why…?
How had Link's emotions managed to reach him even in this deep, endless darkness…?
No, wait. Something was different…
The darkness wasn't here. He wasn't in the endless black. This comforting, familiar light was surrounding him instead...
Where... where was he…?
What was going on…?
It felt so warm…
Ah…? What… what was that…? That feeling…
…No… It… it couldn't be…
"…Come back, Dark…!" his Light called to him softly.
He was certain of it now.
The warm glow enveloping him and that gentle beat… this was Link's heart!
He was back where he belonged, but how? How had he been returned to Link?
Who was "Dark"?
Was that… his name? Holy Three, he…
His Light had named him…? But why?
He was just a shadow… But Link… Did his Light truly see him as… as a person…?
"I… have a… name…?" he whispered weakly, using what little strength he still somehow had to try to reach his Light.
"…That's right…!" Link's voice cheered quietly. "…Link already sorta sounds like light and if you're my darkness, then… why can't your name be Dark…? …Do you like it…?"
"I am… "Dark"… …And… you… you are… Link…"
The gentle glow around him pulsed with warmth and he couldn't help but smile.
"…I'll take that as a yes…! …So, are you coming…?"
"I am Dark and you are Link…" he whispered again. "And we will fight… together…"
He could feel the split pulling them apart; feel his life rushing back to him, giving him strength.
Damn. It was already hurting just as much as it had the first time.
Crimson eyes snapped open and stared into Sheikan red, immediately widening into a panic.
"Calm down, I mean no harm. Link is in the cot next to you, to your left."
The tanned blonde disguised his amused chuckle as a cough, smirking behind his cowl as the dark-skinned, black-clad youth instinctively rolled to his left to look—and fell right off the bed.
"Goddesses… fucking… DAMMIT!" he hissed in a rich tone—a tenor, perhaps?—a touch or two deeper than Link's voice, rubbing his head where it smacked into the bedframe.
"The demon has a potty mouth!" Navi squealed.
"Sh-shut up, you noisy light-ball! And I'm not a demon!"
"If I'm a noisy light-ball, you're definitely a demon, demon!"
"Don't make me swat you!"
Sapphire blue eyes fluttered into view, searching for the source of the voice. "Dark…?"
A tan-gray (Goddesses, what color was his skin? Sheik could not figure it out for the life of him) hand gripped its pale cream twin as both halves of the Hero finally properly met.
"I'm back, Link."
The Light half grinned. "So, Dark, about that promise…"
A near-identical smirk spread across the other's face. "Why don't we go take that bastard down together?"
"Hell yes. We'll kick his Gerudo ass!"
"Liiiiink!" Navi whined, "not you, too!"
This time, Sheik just laughed outright along with the other two males, stoically ignoring the embarrassed, high-pitched shrieking of the little blue forest fairy as she ineffectually dive-bombed their heads.
Much to Navi's dismay, it was the beginning of a truly beautiful friendship.
AN: *shifty eyes* this may or may not have a relation to Shadowed Truth. Sheik is a separate person from Zelda in this fic and a proper Sheikah. Since Dark was kidnapped by Ganny, the plan changed from him accompanying Link from the start to him joining him after the Water Temple, and was passed on to Zelda via Rauru, who then told Sheik and/or Impa. Dark's telepathy is only active if he's touching who he's speaking to—the only reason it's strong enough for other people to hear him is because he spent seven years using it to talk to Ghirahim, honing the skill and unknowingly strengthening it. As for the mystery of Dark's skin, it's a sort of greyish tan most of the time. He can turn it fully tan and his hair pale blonde to blend in better if necessary, but can't change his eyes (so he just claims to be a Sheikah or descendent of the Sheikah). Incidentally, Dark's 'copycatting' is a magic he was 'born' with, at least when it comes to equipment. He can copy any weapon of Link's he sees in use even once—it was originally meant to allow him to traverse the Temples with Link more easily, but ended up being useful to Ganondorf, too. Luckily, though, he cannot use Din's Fire, Nayru's Love, or Farore's Wind. Ghirahim being Darky's 'dark Master Sword' is something I've wondered about… His mental voice is quiet and hard to hear because of all the damage Demise did to him in SS. Also why he can't show up in Sword Spirit form or Demon Lord form (or can he? O_O; After all, he can apparently still have tantrums…). The idea for this just wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it… By the way, the number of "drip…"s from Link's first POV scene to when Dark disappears is ten. It's a countdown~… YAY, SYMBOLISM! Ignore the ones in Darky's initial scene; those are just him listening to the water. ;D …Also, poor Navi. Now she has to deal with two Links—plus Sheik every once in a while. "Noisy light-ball" and "Demon" are Dark's and Navi's respective most common nicknames for each other.
Edit (March 30th): Yeesh, I'm being such a perfectionist over this fic... I've been editing it over and over since publishing it. Unless someone points out a mistake or something, I don't think I'll change anything else. …By the way, the POV in this fic may be third-person past-tense, but it is also sort of 'first-person' in that it's individually-centered in each section. First part's Darky's POV, then Link's, and so on… Sheik gets his own POV sections, too, and the one in between his first one and Dark's, it's a true third-person POV (actually, it's the Goddesses' POV!)… I changed it so much I felt it necessary to reupload the story as an edited version… Umm, I'll shut up now.
Edit AGAIN (April 2nd): Aaaaand just one last edit, lol. I realized Dark's thought process about his name wasn't quite making sense, so I went back and fixed that part up a little. I also put more emphasis on the drips, moving the position of one of the ones at the end of the 'countdown' so they'd be evenly-ish spaced, and made Dark's 'farewell message' into an hourglass shape (yay, MORE symbolism!). This is my last edit, I swear. At least, I think it is...
…Oh, right. *takes a deep breath*
I. DON'T. OWN. LoZ!