A\N: Here it is! The final chapter of Crimson Seal! Dang... this was a fun story to write! I really like how it turned out... this is a nice, long chapter, yes. I would have had a little more build-up, but then there would have been several pages of mere fluff because there were very few events that were crucial and... well, you'll just see. Read it, and please leave a review! Final mentions and such are at the bottom!
Link lay on his back, panting hard as sweat poured down his face, pain racking every inch of his body. Blood splashed between his lips, chest heaving as he gasped wildly for air.
How… How did it come to this? Where did I go wrong?
His fingers twitched, reaching for his sword, but he was pinned to the ground by two metal rods, and his chances of going anywhere were beyond slim.
Everything… happened so fast… how did I not see this coming?
Bed rest was, by far, the worst torture Ghirahim had ever put him through. Ironically, it was the only one that was implemented for Link's benefit. After all, one could only play so many games of Gin, eat so many bowls of soup, and sing so many campfire songs before their sanity started to slip.
Raika and Jinka treated him unbelievably well, and Link really enjoyed their company, but when those seven wretched days were over, there was a reason he did a little dance on the kitchen table.
The same, however, could not be said for Ghirahim. With every passing day he looked more tired. More stressed. More depressed. More hurt. And Link had no idea why.
"Master, is something bothering you?"
"Huh?" Ghirahim looked up from the book he was reading, watching the hero with faded eyes. "Did you say something?"
Link gave him a weak smile. "I was asking you if something was wrong, Master."
"Oh… Uh… No…" Ghirahim returned to his book, but three seconds later he was staring at the ceiling. "Link… if something were to happen to me… do you think you could manage? The castle, I mean. Running it, keeping it clean, watching the slaves and caring for them."
Link was taken aback by the question, and the mere aspect of Ghirahim being… gone… sent a shiver down his spine. "Well… I think I could. You know, if I had to, but…" He shook his head, not wanting to push his limits, but desiring an answer even more. "Master, if something is going on, please tell me. I deserve to know."
Ghirahim looked at him for a moment, and then his eyes slid to the fireplace, a smirk twisting his lips. "You deserve to know? You deserve to know?" He giggled quietly, running his tongue over his upper lip. "You deserve to know… nothing. There is nothing to know, nothing to be deserved. Nothing… there is nothing."
Link bit his lip, crawling slightly closer to his owner's chair, ducking his head into the hand that hung gracefully from the armrest. "Master…" Just the way he was speaking made Link start to worry. It made him sick to his stomach. "There are rumors… of a war coming. Are you going to fight in it?"
Ghirahim began to stroke his hair silently, peering into the flames. "Fight? Of course. Or then again… not so of course. I don't think I will. I'll be… busy…"
Ghirahim grasped the hair between his fingers, pulling Link's head this way and that, chuckling. "Yes, busy. Busy with so, so many things… Master will handle the war. The slaves and the demons will fight it, and I will be busy."
Link placed his hands on the floor, moving slowly to get up, but Ghirahim pushed him back down.
"Stay, pet. Stay there and don't move. I want you to sleep in my room tonight."
Link nodded his head slowly, trying to think of something to say to comfort his master. Anything at all that would relieve the stress and make him act normally… just for one moment.
I could attack him. Maybe he would fight me, and then punish me. His sadism would bring him back down to earth, right? It's something he's always liked, and it's his… signature thing. But what if that causes him to stop trusting me? What if… what if I just end up distancing him? I could… break something? Disobey him? But the past few days when I've misbehaved, he hasn't done anything. He stares at me with those eyes and just… does nothing.
"Master…" he heard his voice crack, blushing a bit, and he placed his hand over the demon's. "I'm… I know there's something wrong. And even though you won't tell me… I won't forget my promise. Okay? I'll never forget you."
Ghirahim's eyes lit up a little bit at that. "Never?" he asked, his voice gaining a little bit of life and volume.
"Never. I promised, and I meant it. Will you never forget that?"
Ghirahim smiled at him, a glimpse of his old self returning. "I will never forget that you promised me that, skychild."
"Never?" Link asked, grinning like a schoolboy.
"Never. I promised, and I meant it. Will you never forget that?"
Link laughed, jumping up onto Ghirahim's lap and throwing his arms around the older man's neck. Ghirahim also laughed, wrapping his arms around the boy's torso.
"You, skychild, are the craziest slave I've ever had, do you know that? Even Deyonce could never be quite as stupid and insane as you."
Link smiled, happy to see the familiar glow in Ghirahim's eyes. "I know, Master."
Ghirahim traced his studded eye patch with his index finger, seemingly taking in the details of his face. "I want to remember you, Link. Demons… we live forever. And as we go on and on we seem to forget so many things. But I want to remember every detail about the crazy little skychild who changed me." Ghirahim hugged him tightly again. "You've been a very good… f…friend to me, Link. Thank you."
Link was stunned at the words, but he simply returned the affection and smiled. "You're welcome."
Ghirahim suddenly jumped up. "I told you I was going to teach you to tango."
Link's eyebrows shot up. "At one o' clock in the morning?"
"Sure!" Ghirahim snapped his fingers, music filling the large bedroom. "Why not? After all, we should be a little crazy. War is always so depressing—so always have a party before and after!"
Link grinned, yelping when his hands were taking in Ghirahim's and the demon began to dance him around the room.
"You're the woman, obviously, so I'll teach you all the right steps. Then we can switch places."
"Wait, why do I have to be the woman first?"
"Because you are so obviously more feminine than I."
"What? That's insane! You are more feminine, Master! Way more feminine! You're practically gay!"
"I beg your pardon?"
"You heard me! And stop laughing, Master, this isn't funny!"
Despite the pain, Link let out a long laugh, his shoulders shaking. The frozen mud caked over his body began to crack with his movement, and fresh blood poured from the wounds decorating his body.
Yes, with a night like that, how could I have seen it coming? We were so happy… we even invited Raika, Jinka, Viel, and Deyonce into the room and danced all night. We ate and drank, too. All kinds of sweet and sugary, unhealthy stuff. We all passed out around four in the morning… it was a great night… how could things have gone so… haywire?
Link's eyes snapped open, pain shooting through his head, going right into his third eye straight through and out the back. It was like someone had stuck a long pin right through him.
"A-ah!" He sat up, grabbing his forehead and fighting off the urge to vomit as he stumbled out of the bed. "Wh-what…?"
Tripping over Raika's unconscious form, he made his way to one of Ghirahim's many mirrors, looking at his reflection and paling at what he saw.
His slave mark… the black dash on his forehead that eternally bound him to his master… it was fading. It was light gray and disappearing more each second.
Wh-what does that mean? Where…
He whirled around, scanning the room in the dim light, looking at the bodies on the floor. Jinka was at the foot of the bed, Raika was on the side Link came off of, Viel was curled up by the fireplace. That was it. No Ghirahim. No Deyonce.
Link bolted for the door, throwing it open and flying down the halls as fast as his legs would take him. "Master? Master?! Master where are you? Deyonce? Master?"
He tripped over an upturned corner of a rug, hitting the ground hard and burning his stomach and smacking his head against the tile.
He got to his knees, giving himself a quick shakedown before going all the way back to his feet. He went to take a step forward when a voice stopped him in his tracks.
"You're looking for him?"
Link slowly turned, gulping at the sight of Demise in all his flaming glory standing in the hall. Speechless, he gave a jerky nod.
"You won't find him. Or rather… you won't find what you're looking for."
A knot formed in his stomach, and he clenched his fists. "Do… do you know where he is?"
Demise stared ahead for quite some time, watching the clock's second hand travel around the face. "When Ghirahim was very young… he and I spent a lot of time together. He was always too naïve for his own good, and even as he aged with my trying my hardest to bring reality to light, he always managed to find something to believe in. I wanted to protect him… I wanted to make him understand that no one can be trusted… but I suppose some people can't survive without their fantasies and dreams."
Link felt a quiet sob escape his lips. "Where is he?" he demanded, growing desperate. "Where is he?"
"I used to cook, you know. A lot. Ghirahim always loved my food… it made him very happy." Demise glanced at him as if that was supposed to mean something, and when Link didn't' respond, he sighed. "The kitchen, boy. Go to the kitchen. Brace yourself."
With those final words, the Demon King continued down the hallway to his bedroom, and Link was left in a dark corridor with a knife in his heart, a lump in his throat, and a coil in his stomach.
He turned on his heel and made a mad dash for the kitchen, arms pumping as he ran, sweat sliding down his forehead. It wasn't long before ragged sobs were heard in the distance, and Link picked up speed, vaguely registering them to be Deyonce's cries.
"Deyonce! Deyonce, I can hear you! Where's Master?!"
The reply was a cross between a scream and a whisper, and Link couldn't make out a single word.
He thundered into the kitchen, freezing upon entrance, eyes wide.
It was trashed. The table was overturned, the stove was crushed, food was strewn all over the floor, the refrigerator was without a door, most of the cabinets were broken, and still more damage was being done by one enraged Deyonce.
"He's gone! He's gone!" Deyonce swore repeatedly, cursing names, fates, and the cruelty of life in general. "It's n-not fair! It's not—"
Link's heart pounded in his chest, body shaking as he came to grips with the reality of what had happened. Slowly, he took a step forward, making his way around the table to the area where Deyonce was standing, a murderous glow in his scarlet purple eyes.
"M… Master?" Link breathed, gripping the leg of the table as Ghirahim came into view.
He was lying so… so still. And so quiet. His hair lying as a sheet over his face, one arm draped over his waist and the other lying beneath him on the floor. His legs were curled just slightly…
Why, it looked just like when he took afternoon naps.
"Master… get up." Link's voice shook more than he wanted, the command lost beneath the sounds of Deyonce's demolition. "Master, get up!" he shouted, falling to his knees beside the demon. There was no blood, no cuts, no bruises. He wasn't dead, right? He couldn't be dead! He just couldn't be dead!
"Master!" Link grabbed his shoulders, shaking him hard. "Master, this isn't funny anymore! Wake up, you're scaring m—"
Link heard a pained cry, and he turned around, panicking when he saw Deyonce doubled over, bleeding from his chest, the hilt of a dagger clutched in his hands.
He rushed to the demon's side, helping him to the floor, and he pulled his hands away, inspecting the wound. "Wh…why?" he asked, tears falling from his eyes.
Master… Deyonce… why? Why are you doing this to me?!
"F-Forever…" Deyonce sputtered, blood sliding down his chin. "M-Master and I… we promised each other…" Deyonce coughed, blood spraying from his mouth and coating the two slaves' clothes. "…forever…"
Link grabbed him by the shoulders, shaking him hard. "Deyonce, don't leave! I need you! Master, he's hurt, or something, and we—"
"He's gone, Link… he's gone." Deyonce shook his head. "Master… Master talked to you, didn't he? He asked if you would care for the castle?"
Link blinked, nodding slowly. "But… but what does that have to do with this?"
"Did you ever ask yourself… why he didn't pick me? After all… I kn-know everything… and I'm older th-than y-you…" Deyonce rasped, laughing bitterly. "Because he knew… he knew I couldn't live on in this world… not without him…"
Link bit his lip, tears streaming down his face. "You two… you… you can't leave me… Master… Deyonce… what do I do without you? What about Demise…? What… what about?" Link's eyes widened. "Did… Did Demise do this?!"
Deyonce shook his head. "Master… Master loved Demise. Demise was the only figure Master ever respected… ever cared about… ever aspired to please. And Demise… in his self-proclaimed 'protecting'… forgot him. Completely. Cast him aside without a second thought. Master… Master died that day… he's been dead for a very long time, actually… It's a shame you never got to meet him…"
The man's eyes began to close, but Link jerked him. "There's more to the story! Tell me the rest!"
Deyonce's eyes snapped open, and he gasped in pain, clutching the blade protruding from his chest. "He… he grew cold and angry. He… He rejected everyone and everything. Making himself numb was… the best… way… to live…" Deyonce coughed up more blood onto himself, shuddering in agony, screwing his eyes shut. "Then… then you came, Link. You came along and… you had such fire! Such passion! I think… I think Master hated you for that. He… he wanted to break you… to break that spirit. But even after your surrender you… you cared… and you loved… and you… cherished… life… and people… and living… and Master… Master…"
Link grit his teeth, wiping his face on his sleeve. "So… I did this? I did this to him?!"
Deyonce shook his head, his body going cold beneath Link's fingertips. "Master… loved… you… second person… ever cared about… aspired to be… like Demise… you… saved… him…"
Deyonce's eyes gently closed, air slipping between his lips as his body went still, limp like a ragdoll. Link shook his head, shaking the body in his arms.
"Deyonce! Deyonce, come back!" He screwed his eyes shut, tears flooding his eyes and racing down his cheeks, dropping to the corpse beneath his chin. "Master! Deyonce! M-Master!"
He released Deyonce's lifeless form and inched towards Ghirahim, brushing the curtain of hair from his eyes. He looked so… so peaceful. So happy.
If you were so happy, why did you end it like this? Why? Tell me why!
But the corpse did not respond. Link panted heavily, wiping his eyes and pulling up as many memories as he could, trying to understand what was going on. What had happened. What was going to happen next. Anything at all to give him some sense of control.
"…second person… ever cared about… aspired to be… like Demise…"
Link shook his head. "I'm the second person… the second person what?" He blinked a few times, chewing the words in his mind and slowly piecing them together. "Master… aspired to be… like me? He cared about… me? Is that was he meant?" Link shook his head. "So what went wrong?"
"Demise… forgot him… Master died that day…"
But… but if Link's promise fixed everything then why…? Why did this need to happen? Everything was okay again! Ghirahim had someone who would never forget him, and he already said he wasn't going to be fighting in the war. He was—
"Master will handle the war. The slaves and the demons will fight it, and I will be busy."
Link looked down at the pale face on the floor, finally understanding.
Master didn't have to fight in the war… I did.
"I want to remember you, Link."
And because there is no chance we can win… he didn't want to be around to see it. Because once I'm gone… he would have been alone with Demise again.
"…you… saved… him…"
Link's head hit the tile, tears falling from his eye as sobs rack his body. He wished for all he was worth he still had two eyes to cry with. He screamed into the floor, crying out in agony and fear.
It's not fair! They're gone! I don't know what to do! I don't know how to win a war! We're all going to be slaughtered in a few days anyways, so what's the point?!
His eyes caught sight of the dagger still secured in Deyonce's chest, and his fingers inched towards it, throat dry, heart pounding.
"Link… if something were to happen to me… do you think you could manage? The castle, I mean. Running it, keeping it clean, watching the slaves and caring for them."
But why would he ask that? How could he leave Link all alone with that responsibility and expect him not to fall apart? Unless… Unless maybe…
"The world… it is riddled with evil and pain and despair. Don't you understand that if you continue to cling to these… these luxuries, you're going to die from stress someday?"
Ghirahim's self-defense mechanism was to not care. That was the way Demise had conditioned him…
"The world is riddled with evil and pain and despair, but all it takes is one light in the darkness to make a difference, Master. You choose to be the darkness. I choose to be the light."
Link's self-defense mechanism was to care as much as he could, which is why Ghirahim asked him to watch the castle. Ghirahim knew if tragedy struck, Link would be able to pour his heart and soul into protecting the remaining slaves and demons. He knew because Link had been conditioned differently.
So… so you left so you wouldn't have to see me die. And because you knew you couldn't care for anyone during the war without losing your mind… That's why you… you…
Link jerked his hand away from the hilt, new tears—bitter tears—flowing freely down his cheek, his chest aching with every heart-wrenching sob.
There was only one response to Ghirahim's request. It was a rather obvious response—it was a response Link enjoyed. One he had embraced since he lost the battle for freedom. That was the response he would choose.
Link turned his head to the right, taking in the sight of Jinka and Raika lying over top of each other in a mess of tangles bodies and weapons. Together to the end—how predictable. And Viel… he was at Link's side. He had promised to stay after Deyonce left. Link wasn't certain, but there seemed to be some close friendship between the two, and after Deyonce followed Ghirahim on ahead, Viel had clung to Link like a dryer sheet.
They were all dead, though. Most of the soldiers were. Link was merely waiting. Waiting for the blood to stop flowing. His heart to stop being.
Suddenly, he was lying in someone's shadow, and he looked up to see a young Sheikah warrior, mouth and nose covered, blue eyes piercing into his.
"You've come… to finish me?" Link asked.
She nodded silently, her braid dangling inches from his face.
"G…Good. Master… hates to be kept waiting, and… I think I'm late enough so as it is."
The Sheikah's eyes filled with confusion, but he sighed in contentedness, prepared to say goodbye to this world. To say goodbye and never look back. He was the last one to fall.
He was ready.
She poised her sword above his heart, gripping the hilt with both hands. "Do you have any last words?"
Link's lips twisted in a moment of thought as he considered the idea in his head. "Last words? Is there a need for such things? When it's all said and done, isn't the best type of death, perhaps, in silence?" He wasn't quite sure where he was going with his train of thought, but to his blood-deprived mind, it seemed to make plenty of sense. "I'm a stranger to you, and you to me… The ones I would have hear my final thoughts are waiting for me already. Why should I tell you what I have to say?" Then he laughed. "Of course… it'd be nice for someone to know… just to mess with peoples' heads. It would confused them, wouldn't it?"
The Sheikah was now staring at him like he had grown a second head, and he was certain she thought he was insane. He probably was. When was the last time he ate? Took a bath?
"No… No, I won't say anything. I'm ready to go."
He closed his eyes, a smile tugging at the edges of his mouth, and he waited for impact.
It came in a burst of burning, searing agony, and numbness followed shortly after, soothing his nerves and blackening his mind, pulling him down...down…down… to the eternal sleep.
He may have been broken. He may have been a slave. He may have died in battle. But he was the last one to fall… and for that, he claimed victory.
Everything was white around him. Pulsing white. Pure white. Beautiful, peaceful, serene white.
No, wait. There was some green. Oh, and some blue. Trees? A lake? Where… where was he? The forest? Was it all a bad dream? Was all of that pain really just a bad dream? Was he still on his mission to rescue Zelda? Was she still alive?
Her voiced echoed through his mind, and he slowly sat, looking around, eyes taking in the beautiful glory of the… eyes?
Link reached up, feeling his face and finding both eyes were there and working just fine. He looked down at himself. No scars, no cuts, no bruises, no blood! But… but he wasn't wearing his green tunic. He was wearing a white tunic, with gold and blue trimming. He was barefoot. The grass… it felt wonderful under his feet. There was no pain. No prickles hiding between the lush, green grass.
Her voice came again, and he turned around, spying her in the distance, pale blue dress flowing around her as she ran, also barefoot, to embrace him.
"Link!" She shouted, giggling as she jumped up, throwing her arms around his neck. "You've finally arrived!"
"Heyo!" Groose stepped out of the forest, Pipit and Karane in tow behind him. "See! I told you I found him!"
Link blinked hard, rubbing his eyes. "Was… was I dreaming?"
Zelda shook her head. "No… no everything you remember was very real. It's just… over."
The group smiled at him. "Over."
Relief flooded through his chest, and he took a deep breath, throwing his arms up and falling back into the grass, his laughter echoing through the endless woods. "It's over!" he laughed and shouting, rolling around and smiling uncontrollably.
Zelda grabbed his arm, pulling him to his feet. "Come on! There's so much to show you! This world… it goes on forever!"
Groose laughed loudly. "The best part is: There's no pain! You can skydive without a sailcloth and not only don't you die, it doesn't hurt a bit!"
Pipit chuckled. "Yeah, you can swordfight for real and no one gets injured. It's just fun and active!"
Link whirled around, smiling when he saw Jinka, Deyonce, and Raika running towards him, all three of them happy and healthy. And they were no longer slaves.
"Hey! None of that master stuff! I'm Link now, okay!"
The two boys ran up to him, throwing their arms around his neck and embracing him. Deyonce waited until they were finished to give him a more modest hug, though in no way, shape, or form did he attempt to hide his joy.
"Link, who are these people?" Pipit asked. "They look fun!"
Link ran his hands through his hair. "I have so much to tell you."
"Tell us on the way!" Zelda shouted, taking off down the path, everyone else following closely behind her.
Link took several deep breaths, still stunned at how amazing everything had turned out. He couldn't take it all in. The pain, the hurt, the death, the scars, the blood, it was all over. Gone. Done. Bye-bye!
Link began to run. "Alright, let's go! Show me this place!"
After ten feet, Link came to a sudden stop. He seemed upset for a moment, but then he smiled. "How silly of me… I almost forgot." He turned slowly, grinning at a bush by the tree he had woken up under. "Almost."
Two chocolate brown eyes watched him from behind a bush, and he started walking towards it, smiling widely. Ghirahim slowly got up, his eyes hesitant and a bit fearful. Link held out his arms, and Ghirahim started to walk slowly towards him.
Suddenly, he broke into a run and flew at Link, wrapping his arms around his friend's neck, hugging him. Ghirahim sobbed into his shoulder, gripping his shirt.
"You didn't forget me…"
Link laughed, stroking his hair. "Oh, Ghirahim…You're so stupid sometimes." He sighed, squeezing the man in his arms.
Ghirahim looked up at him, frowning in confusion. Link just smiled.
"I promised, and I meant it."
A\N: AHH! DID I DISAPPOINT ALL OF YOU TERRIBLY?! I'M SORRY!
Um, so... yeah, this has been my plan for a while now... I knew it would end like this. I was trying to think of a way to end it and really, with Ghirahim being immortal, and Demise, Link, and Hylia all reincarnatable (not a word, I know), Link would just be a slave, then a hero, then broken, then a slave, and Ghirahim would be fabulous, and Demise would be evil, and Hylia would be benevolent, forever and ever, in a giant circle, throughout eternity. I decided to mix it up a bit... and give it a different sort of bittersweet ending. I hope I did a good job...
Final Mentions:Triforce of Awesome, twinxie1OO, Chocolatepiewithcoookiecrums , meijosui, Yueki, The Dark Dweller, WolfenAmphithere, zeldawolf2000, zelda3469, NeonDystortion, Navishamon, goddessharp, Half-BloodPrincess1, Swirlydots, SilverFlameoftheWindScar, zeldafan45, pikachucat, xxpsychocupcakexx, Shiny Ivy Leaves, LEva114, Blue StrawberryIII, SheDevil333, ADifferentSortOfPerson, Anonymous, Guest, thespiritmaiden, xxxFaiFan, Mwah, The Grinning Reaper, PrplDolfin, Amaterasu, Melissa, toadmiffle, NarumiGetsutan14, TheShredder'sLeftClaw, Average Apple, HumanDalek, RainbowCheeseNip, FatGuy Onfire, midna28, Fritter Critter, RatLady1, DragonEyes0905, Guest 2, Igee, Guest 3, and Guest 4! Thank you all SO MUCH! 47 REVIEWERS! YOU ARE ALL SUPER FABULOUS!
Please leave a final review to tell me what you thought of the conclusion, and thank you all so much!