AN: I know that I should be working on SoGP, but I've had a little trouble getting my ideas for the next chapter together and this plot bunny wouldn't leave me alone.
So this is kind of one big experiment; I was playing around with an idea, a different writing style, and a few other things. I hope that this is at least somewhat readable (I got very wordy, especially at the beginning) and that the concept isn't too outlandish.
With one final burst of childlike laughter and a series of clangs, the guardian of the Ancient Cistern's golden mechanical body fell apart and clattered to the floor. Link let out a breath of relief and set the massive sword down as light filtered into the room and a shimmering Heart Container gently descended to the ground. The Hero smiled and dashed to pick it up; as he did so he felt his wounds heal and most of his energy return. Link paused for a moment to lean on the metallic carcass of Koloktos in an attempt to fully catch his breath- the battle, while not the most difficult conflict he had faced, was still taxing, and even the relief of refilled and enhanced endurance in battle could not quell the rush of adrenaline or battle-induced anxiety that still lingered. The Sacred Flame could wait a few moments while he regained his bearings.
"Well well, I must say, that was quite a decently fought battle indeed." Then sudden echoing of the unfortunately familiar voice made Link jump and instinctively reach for his sword. The sacred weapon was barely out of its sheath when the figure of the Demon Lord materialized only a few yards away. The boy clad in green swiftly assumed a battle stance, his eyes narrowed and eying Ghirahim suspiciously.
"So quick to jump to conclusions. What gives you the idea that I am here for combat? Although," Ghirahim flicked the hair over his eye back a bit and turned slightly away from where Link was still watching him warily, "my promise to deafen you with the sound of your own screams may have a hand in suggesting my hostilities."
"But, you see, I've been thinking…" With a flourish of diamonds Ghirahim vanished from Link's field of vision. The boy clad in green whirled around and his gaze locked with that of the Demon Lord, who was now seated on the hollow remnant of one of the Ancient Automation's arms. "And both of our lives would be so much easier if we were to… stay out of each others' way. I mean, it seems pointless for you to be constantly risking your life against my little friends every time you come across me when I'm in a bad mood…"
Ghirahim teleported away again, and reappeared within Link's sight, this time leaning casually against the only pillar that had managed to remain standing during the battle against Koloktos. "And I'm sure that Demise would have been long since freed if you weren't always there to lock him away again. But the Goddess's seal grows weaker every time Master escapes, and without many ways to change that, why even bother trying?"
"So, why don't you say we… make a deal. You give me a bit of information and then stay out of my way…" The Demon Lord paused for a moment, staring the Skyloftian right in the eyes, the next few words coming out in a low snarl. "And I won't keep that promise that I made to you the last time we met."
Link's eyes narrowed. He had come too far in his quest to find Zelda and return peace to the land only to turn tail and run when faced with an empty promise and threats that he had beaten before. He had a mission, and Hylia knew that he was going to see it through to the bitter end. The words began forming on his tongue, but Ghirahim had already frowned and turned away, seeming to understand the message that flashed beneath the glare of the deep pools of blue- Not a chance.
"I thought so." The Demon Lord once again vanished, but this time he did not immediately reappear. Link looked about the room carefully, watching to see where his adversary would rematerialize.
The Skyloftian stopped short of his scan of the room when he felt hot breath on the back of his neck. Ghirahim, taking advantage of Link's momentary flinch, snaked his arms around to grasp the boy's wrists. Smirking, the Demon Lord twisted his arms, causing Link to relinquish hold of the Sacred Shield and the Goddess Sword, the two items clattering to the floor. The boy in green struggled in an attempt to escape the grip of his adversary, but Ghirahim's palms crackled with dark magic, which sent shocks through the blood of the Hero whilst his arms were brought securely behind his back.
"It would be so easy to go on with things the way they are," the Demon Lord whispered, pausing to savor the waves of apprehension the Sky Child was giving off. "But what fun would that be? Besides, I've had this… ability for quite a while now, but I've never really had the opportunity to try it out. And, seeing as I have you here right now, why not see how it works with you?"
Link only grit his teeth and once more attempted to wrench himself from the Demon's grasp, but the only result he met was the painful tighten of Ghirahim's hands around his wrists and another painful burst of malevolent energy coursing through his veins. Ghirahim chuckled softly into the Hero's ear, and Link could practically sense the cocky smirk that had formed on his adversary's lips. The Skyloftian, seeing that there was no immediate way out, braced himself, waiting for Ghirahim to let down his guard so that Link might escape his grasp.
All thoughts of escape were momentarily torn from his mind, however, when another strong wave of Ghirahim's magic was sent up his arms and through his body. Yet this energy was not meant to be a mere shock to subdue rebellion; Link hissed in pain as the sensation of something being torn from him ripped its way through his body.
It took but a few heartbeats for Link to regain his bearings. Fighting against the sting of Ghirahim's magic, Link raised his right leg and shoved it back, feeling the heel of his boot collide with the Demon's leg just below the knee. The Skyloftian immediately threw himself forward, hoping to catch his captor off guard and wrench himself free. And, almost to Link's surprise, Ghirahim's hands slipped off of his wrists and he stumbled forward. In one fluid movement, Link whirled around, dropped to a crouch to retrieve his fallen weapons, and then straightened, regaining his balance and assuming a battle position.
Instead of seeing the Demon Lord, Link instead was face with a whirlwind of light streaked with a steadily darkening shade of green. The Hero watched warily, his grip on the Goddess Sword tightening, his shield already halfway transferred into a defensive position. The time he stood there, simply staring, seemed to stretch on for far too long, the uncharacteristic lull making the Skyloftian uncomfortable.
Yet despite the temporal illusion, it took no longer than half of a minute for the movement of the light to slow. A figure became visible, shrouded by the dying glow, and Link had a moment to wonder exactly what it was that Ghirahim had done.
The light finally dissipated, and Link was left to stare uncomprehendingly at the form the Demon Lord had taken. Ghirahim was looking over himself with curiosity, but upon first sight one would be blissfully unaware that they were gazing upon the Demon in the first place. Link found himself looking at a slightly distorted version of himself- while the tunic was a darker shade of green and there was a violet diamond etched around the right eye, everything that one would associate with the appearance of the Hero was there, now staring back at the one chosen by the Goddess.
"So this is what a human body feels like," Ghirahim mused, ever so slightly flexing his new limbs. "How intriguing."
Link considered moving straight in for an attack before the Demon Lord could regain his bearings. Yet against this opponent such a more would not be so simple to achieve and might only make things worse.
"Hmm… Pity. The weaponry does not seem to be included with this form. No matter." As Ghirahim spoke two dark shapes began to materialize in his hands; one formed into the broad and curved design of an impenetrable shield, the other lengthening to solidify itself as a dark twin of the sword Link clenched so firmly in his own hand. The Demon Lord slashed his new sword through the air a few times, before a malicious, sadistic smiled formed upon his lip and a low chuckle escaped his throat.
Immediately thereafter Link felt the unmistakable subtle change in atmosphere that signaled a battle had initiated. His focus narrowed in onto his ever strange opponent, and he sent a slightly panicked and bewildered mental call out to Fi, so that she might explain exactly what the hell was going on.
"Target locked: Ghirahim." Fi's even and filtered voice resonated inside his might as time itself seemed to pause to wait for her to finish. Link wasn't sure exactly how his companion managed to halt the action of battle so that she may inform him of his current opponent, but he was grateful for the effect all the same. "The Demon Lord appears to have the ability to possess the bodies of those with which he has prolonged contact. In this case the process was interrupted before it could reach completion, so instead of Ghirahim inhabiting your body he merely took on your form. There is a high probability that this was his original intent."
Well I suppose this could be worse, reasoned Link, prompting Fi to continue.
"I do not currently have any solid information of how Ghirahim will choose to fight this battle. There is a 65% chance that he will adopt a battle style similar to yours in an attempt to throw your guard off and gain the upper hand. However, until such a pattern could be recognized, I would highly recommend observing his techniques to find a weakness to exploit."
The connection closed and time immediately resumed its normal pace. Ghirahim paced forward in his typical confident manner. Link shifted his stance slightly and lifted his blade towards the heavens, hearing the light sounds of power charging. The sacred energy emanated off of the Goddess Sword as he lowered it back into its normal position, Link watching as Ghirahim did the same. The Demon Lord smirked and whipped his blade through the empty space before him to send a pulse of malevolent power to his adversary. Link made to jump to the side, but the wave traveled faster than he anticipated, colliding with the left side of his torso and knocking him back a few steps. Link thrust his own sword forward, sending out a beam that caught Ghirahim in the chest. The Demon Lord stumbled, but maintained his balance.
Link narrowed his eyes, running his options through his mind. Swordplay alone likely wouldn't get him through this battle. The scattered parts of Koloktos on the battlefield may prove an issue, he observed, as most of these more intense one on one battles were fought on more even ground. This might also trip Ghirahim up, but Link knew that the golden armor was more likely to cause him problems than his adversary.
His doppelganger rushed at him again, and Link thrust forward his shield, the dark weapon clashing away. The Skyloftian took the moment to stab at Ghirahim's torso with his own Goddess Sword. The blow cut through his opponent's green tunic, piercing the skin and causing a dark liquid to seep out.
Ghirahim back flipped away, slashing towards Link with the dark blade. The strike was once again deflected by the Sacred Shield, and Link was able to catch Ghirahim's grunt of frustration. As the Demon Lord landed, slightly unsteady, Link leapt forward with another attack, bringing his sword down before making a few neat horizontal strikes. Ghirahim's hesitation ended a moment later and he leaped around to the side, whipping his sword through the air and slashing across Link's left arm. His foot caught on one of the smaller pieces of Koloktos's frame and, unceremoniously, Ghirahim stumbled, unsteady on his foreign feet and nearly falling to the ground.
Link pivoted on his toes and flipped, bringing his sword around in a vertical circle. The pointed blade cut across Ghirahim's torso, hitting twice before Link lost his momentum and his target was able to back away.
Ghirahim let out a growl that turned into a low chuckle, and raised his sword upwards once again. The light slowly charged and seemed to gather energy for much longer than Link had ever experienced when readying for one of his own Skyward Strikes. Ghirahim took a step and then moved forward insanely quickly, leaving a smattering of diamonds as though he had teleported but still visibly moving towards Link as a shadow. The Skyloftian barely had time to raise his shield before his doppelganger appeared before him, slashing once, twice, as Link attempted and failed to fully deflect the pulses. Ghirahim lunged, his blade shattering the battered Sacred Shield and piercing Link's chest, the Hero stumbling back, his foot hitting on a piece of golden metal. Ghirahim smirked as Link fell to the floor.
Ghirahim changed his stance slightly, his eyes focusing on Link, and sprang into the air, his sword pointed downward towards Link's chest in the form of a deadly Fatal Blow. Link had no time to recover from his fall and rolled away in desperation, his chest protected but his back and side exposed; the blade pierced his right arm and flank and stuck in the ground as Link let out a gasp of pain. Blood seeped from the wounds, slowly meeting the surrounding air before dripping down to the floor. Link grimaced but still rose to his feet, whipping out the Iron Shield that he had so wisely neglected to return to storage.
The Demon Lord pulled his blade back up from the ground, tracing his tongue over the spot where Link's blood had settled. The Sky Child stepped forward, raising his Goddess Sword for a diagonal slash, but Ghirahim thrust forward his own weapon, cutting open a wound between Link's ribs. Link quickly brought his sword down, slicing through his doppelganger's tunic and grazing the chest.
Link's adversary swept his sword around, the edge of his blade meeting the hilt of Link's. The Demon swiftly twisted his wrist, wounding Link's fingers and dislodging the sacred sword from the boy's grasp. The sword flew through the air for a moment before clattering to the ground, leaving Link momentarily defenseless. Without wasting a moment, Ghirahim attacked Link in a frenzy, getting multiple hits in before the Hero was able to roll away. Link fumbled with his sword for a moment before resuming his firm grasp on the hilt.
There was a momentary lull in the battle as the foes assessed the condition of both themselves and their opponent. Link could tell that Ghirahim was getting more and more used to his body with each blow that was exchanged, and if he did not end the battle soon he might find himself outmatched. Link scanned the battlefield with his peripheral vision while still keeping a watch on Ghirahim, looking for some sort of asset that might lend him a chance for a swift victory. The golden armor of Koloktos littered across the floor surely could give him something; if he could get Ghirahim to stumble or trip then he just might be able to land enough hits for Ghirahim to surrender.
The Demon in question lunged forward without warning, nearly catching Link by surprise and leading the Sky Child to leap away, backwards, to the side and backwards once more. His foot brushed one of the golden plates of Koloktos, and, almost without thinking, he kicked it towards the dashing Ghirahim. The metal hit the Demon Lord in the ankle, causing him to lose his footing and stumble, giving Link all the time he needed. He sprang forward, bringing his sword down on his opponent, and swung left, right, around and then over, opening all kinds of lacerations on Ghirahim's torso as the Demon was slowly driven back.
A dark sword was raised in retaliation to a pure one, and all of the combatants' tricks and calculations were thrown aside. The match became a simple swordfight; swing and parry with each trying both to land a hit and avoid taking one. A vertical strike countered by a horizontal; diagonal one way blocked by diagonal the other. Link's mind immediately flew back to his knight training; the days when he would spar with his classmates and friends, learning how best to spot and take advantages of fleeting openings for attack and how to maintain your guard.
But even all of his knight's training could not properly prepare Link for a fight against himself. Ghirahim seemed to be fully adjusted to his new body and was fighting astonishingly similarly to how Link always would, albeit slightly differently. Link had seen before how two very different fighting styles clashing could easily lead to a stalemate, so he either had to find some way to quickly usurp his adversary or change tactics before Ghirahim gained the upper hand.
The battle continued, just an endless string of attacks and parries, until Link was forced to raise his shield to deflect one of Ghirahim's blows. The dark blade bounced back and Ghirahim was left reeling, a few moments of weakness that Link was happy to exploit. The Skyloftian surged forward, swiping once, twice, tree times with all his might, knocking Ghirahim down to the ground, the dark copies of Link's weaponry clattering to the floor and dissipating in a flourish of diamonds. Link paused for only a moment before leaping into the air, his sword pointed downward in the form of a fatal blow that Ghirahim had attempted to pull off mere minutes before.
Link felt his trusted Goddess Sword pierce through Ghirahim's heart for the most fleeting of instants, then the resistance was gone and the blade sank a hair into the stone floor. The boy clad in green immediately pulled it back up and whirled around, having to look only a moment before the Dark Link reappeared, battered and wounded, blood leaking between the fingers that were held over the gash above his heart. His body was engulfed in a dark light, which faded swiftly to reveal Ghirahim in his true form.
"An intriguing exercise, that was. But your defeat against me here means nothing. We will meet again, and I promise that you will not make it out alive." Ghirahim smirked ever so slightly, before snapping his fingers and vanishing, leaving no trace.
Link wasted no time in digging through his Adventure Pouch and retrieving the half empty bottle of Heart Potion. As he drank he felt his aching wounds heal within an instant, his strength returning to the point where it was almost as if he had never battled at all that day. With a much deserved sigh of relief, Link was finally able to proceed through the door that would lead him to the first Sacred Flame; one step closer to being reunited with his precious Zelda at last.