Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ Release ( Chapter 19 )
Hey, you're just in time to hear me explain this again. I don't know what possessed me to try and clarify the convoluted little nugget that's my life to these people, but something about having a military legion show up at my home in the wee hours of the morning to purge evil that makes a guy talk. The guests were some of Hyrule and Sermonia's military coming to assist in whatever turmoil was going on in the valley.
Yeah, too little, too late is the first thing that popped into my mind, too.
Naturally, the questions came in no short order. "What the hell happened here?" "What happened to your eyes?" "Hell, what happened to you?" Since it was Rampart leading the group, I figured I'd explain everything through him. Of course, the ass-clown Sermonian sect starts in about rules, protocol, and facing their king when I speak. Blah, blah, blah, I say. I decide to hitch a ride back to the castle to say this once, which Nabooru, surprisingly, didn't seem to mind.
All of this leads to the present, where I'm trying to explain what happened at the lake with Ruto… to Ruto and a skeptical Hyrulean and Sermonian council.
"So, the man on the water was your father?" Zelda asks, again.
"And this man was a god who wanted to kill you and steal your godliness, which that Triforce thing restored to you, for supremacy of the heavens?" Arthur asks, to which I, again, nod.
"And you put me and my people in the well in Kakariko Village because that was the first time you'd warped people?" Ruto asks, to which I nod… and fight desperately to hold back a chuckle, as the visual of that alone is enough to make me giggle.
"Where is your father now?" Zelda asks almost like the answer changed since they asked the first time.
"Dead," I reply with the tact one would use when referring to a dead fly.
There they go again with the looks of amazement and utter disbelief. Geez, did they completely miss the parts about him killing my unborn child? Insert the expected "but he's your father" line, and the circle will be complete.
"But he was your own father, man!" Ah, there's Arthur to complete this twisted little circle of love. "How could you kill your own father?"
"Call me wacky, but sentimentality can only stretch so far," I pause, sucking my teeth for a moment. "And, like I've said coming up on a third time, he killed my Nabooru and our child. That's the end of the line. There's no 'father' after that. He was a monster, so I did what we 'hero types' do to monsters-I hit him with a sword until he stopped moving."
And, in an act born of my sheer annoyance, I decide to summon me a chair out of the very chessboard-patterned floor upon which I stand, because I'm sure this isn't over yet. That would be too easy.
"Is something on your minds?" I ask the stuffy Sermonian diplomats, as I shift around in my seat and cross my legs. "I'm feeling a lot of hostility from this table." Which is true, it's almost as if a weird aura drifts off them that says, "We're here and we're pissed!"
"Yes, there is something on my mind," one of the older gentlemen says. "If you are a god, something I highly doubt, why live among mortals? It seems only fitting one of such… omnipotence would live among the heavens rather than a wasteland." The lanky old man finishes with a cough into his fist, spinning a strawberry in a bowl of honey as he awaits my reply. Smug little bastards, aren't they?
"Look, it's not like what you think matters to me," I say with an air of condescension, bringing the hot air out of his sails. The table swells with grumbles and mush-mouthed mumbling, but I dismiss it as spoiled men that never learned the world didn't move for them. "I came here to apologize to Ruto, and I've done that. You wanted to know why the days came and went so fast, I told you. Now, if the only thing left to do is look down your noses at me, I'll pass. Call me if there's a monster to hit, but until then I have a baby on the way, a soldier to make, and a wedding to plan."
With my speech done, I stand up and allow the floor to return to normal, as I make my way for the door.
"And to think, I couldn't get a ring out of you in five years."
As usual, Zelda has managed to say the last thing I'd ever expect to hear, but I turn to face my attacker. She smirks, cutely so I have to admit, but the words still strike me as accusatory.
"Looking at how things turned out, I doubt it would've made any difference." I coolly shrug, ignoring the hint of mirth forming on Arthur's face and the mixed emotions riddling hers. Zelda folds to the silence, eventually looking away. Although… Never mind.
Darunia grumbles some, stroking his thick facial mane. "You sell yourself short, Link," he says in that deep, wise, rumbling voice. "You would've made as good a king as anyone." His eyes slide toward our present king with a look bordering on treachery, but I call the attention to me with a stiff cough before the guards are roused.
"To some," I muse ever so cryptically. "As it turns out, I'm already a king." This brings an adverse reaction from Hyrule's two-person council squad, seeing both Ruto and Darunia give me quizzical looks. "I need to focus on helping those closer to the old problem. And, besides, I think Hyrule's in pretty capable hands"
Arthur's brow ruffles for a moment before he says, "The Gerudo women, you mean? Why help them? They practically cosigned to everything that Ganondorf character did."
His distrustful sentiment rings through both sides of the room, stirring Hylian and Sermonian alike. Idiots. None of them, not one, has even considered what it must've been like to live with that ass. I squeeze my eyes shut for a moment to ease the tension. This type of short-sighted selfishness is upsetting me on so many levels right now, but it's because I was one of them for so long that makes it hurt the most. How could I have ever been so dense?
"What the fuck do you think it was like for them?" Okay, so that was a failure in anger management. Let's try that again, before the gasps and grumbles bury any real thoughts I can manage. "Most of us had to deal with the brainless little flunkies he sent out, but none of us had to sleep under a roof with Ganondorf himself. So think about what it is they 'cosigned' to when faced with the alternatives he presented."
The room falls into an introspective silence, as my words are pondered. Good. They need to use that hunk of goo between their ears for a change. Ugh, this has my mood in the crapper again. Suppose this is where I make my exit.
"Congratulations," Ruto says quietly, "on the new baby and all."
I face her before saying, "Thank you."
She nods, before a mischievous little smile forms on her face. Uh, oh…
"And I know I'm invited to your wedding." The petulance in her voice makes me laugh, despite the poor mood, as I recall a time when she would've talked like that seriously.
"Sure, the invitation is open to anyone that wants to come. Until then, though, I have to be leaving."
"How'd you end up as King of the Gerudo?" Zelda asks just as I reach the double doors.
If I didn't know any better, I swear she was timing this just to hold me here, but I know that isn't it. Maybe it's some kind of sick little game to see how much control over me she has left? Or maybe… screw it. I'm not letting her get to me, not now. I have too much going for me to start worrying about Zelda.
"Indeed," the same Sermonian diplomat muses. Oh, so now they're ganging up on me. That's fine. I can deal with that.
"It was a tradition, I guess." I sigh, cracking my knuckles, and turning back towards the group. "If the old king is killed one-on-one in a fight, the person that killed him is the new king. Is there anything else?"
"Gee, I guess not," Zelda replies bluntly. "But you could at least…"
I smirk before fading away to the bridge to the valley, leaving her to ramble at thin air. Yeah, I could've warped into the compound, but I'd be totally lazy if I didn't walk at least some of the time.
"So, how'd it go?" a guard asks as I approach.
"Everything went fine…Talia, right?"
"Yep, you got it," she says, before a puzzled look comes over her face. "If you don't mind me asking, why didn't you already know our names, Mr. God?"
First you, now her, what is it with you people and expecting me to be all godly all of a sudden?
"Tell me something, would you like me snooping around your underwear drawer?"
She, of course, says no, which makes my point.
"Then why would you want me poking around inside your mind? It doesn't make sense." She nods understandingly, a slight sigh of relief passing her lips that I didn't go brain combing, apparently. "Don't worry about it. I'll ask questions if I want to know something."
"That's good to know," she says with an even deeper sigh of relief. And, naturally, I have to ruin that by adding a little something to the pot.
"Of course, if you think about something hard enough, I may overhear it." Talia nods silently to the statement, staring idly at my ass as I stoop and tear the small gate from its rusted hinges. Normally, I wouldn't just up and rip up someone else's property, but an idea occurred to me-what if someone were to rush the bridge? The guard stationed out here is usually alone, virtually cut off from support, and that's no good for my peace of mind. "If you get a chance, could you stop staring at my ass and come over here?"
She shrieks, as I carry the gate up the path towards the fortress, followed in tow by my flushing guard. "Uh, what are you doing?"
"Security," I reply in turn, stretching the gate from one side of path to the other. I hinge it deep into the stone, before increasing the height to a mere 8 feet. "There. This way if someone comes at you, your backup is in spitting distance."
"Thanks, I guess," she says unsteadily, looking back at the fortress nervously, before turning back to me. "Look, can we keep the whole 'staring' thing between us? I mean, it's been a while, you know? Eyes roam, right?" I look at her for a moment, and I'm not entirely sure if I should laugh or feel sad.
"No problem." It's a base answer that lets me walk the less awkward road. Talia nods appreciatively, going so far as to open the gate for me, which I humbly pass through before catching wind of her thoughts. "And she won't hear about the eavesdropping on us the other day, either."
Her head nods feverishly, and her body locks in a knot, but I ignore it all and trot up into the main ground in a near fit of laughter. Ah, this could be a good day… notice I said could. And notice the soaking-wet witch panting in front of me. Hmm, I guess she finally woke up. Damn, and here I was hoping she'd drowned.
"I don't know what the hell you are," she gasps, trembling as her powers begin to crackle back to life. "But no one does that to me!"
Ouch, oh, ouch. That's what I would say if her little magic punches had any effect on me whatsoever. As they are, the punches are about as painful as eating a bowl of ice cream while drinking a warm cup of cocoa.
"Yeeeeah, I'm not in the mood. So, could you, I don't know, leave? You can? Yeah, thanks. Bye, bye." I arch my eyebrow before she has time to reply either way, tossing Twinrova into the sky towards the river again. This time she's escorted by the laughter of Gerudo women, and I bet that's going to hurt worse than the splashdown.
Okay, maybe not. Damn, sounded like she broke something that time. Ah, well. Now, where's that woman and my kid… Well, looks like that's an idea put on hiatus…again, because here's Sepaaru the Deadpan! I already know the question on her mind, but it still doesn't mean I like the fact I'm pretty much locked into answering it the wrong way.
"Come on," I grumble, diverting course up the hill to the archery track. "I can't believe I'm even going to do this."
Nabooru already told me she'd be reacquainting herself with her friends from Twinrova's, so I honestly have nothing to do today. But still, I was hoping we could pick up from the bath earlier. Goddamned, mother-fucking soldiers and witches! Damn them all! Easy, easy, it's not good to get upset and cause the ground to quake.
This day sucks massive ass.
"So, what'll we do first?" she asks merrily, as we make it to my designated training ground, which is, of course, the track.
"For starters, you can stop smiling," I reply harshly, startling her some, but not shaking the kid's confidence. "This isn't going to be fun. You want to fight like me? Then you suffer like me. Now, what else is there to say?" Walking back and forth, I take in Sepaaru's reaction to me. There's no sign of reluctance on her face, which only aggravates me. "Even though I'm stronger than I was before, I'll still use some of my powers. I'll try not to accidentally kill you, but that isn't a promise-I'm still learning to control this myself." I take another look at her, and even that little gem doesn't shake her! Ugh, this is so stupid. "As your skill increases, so will my difficulty. So, eventually, I will attack to kill and throw the sickest things I can think of at you." That had to get her. I turn, being careful to keep my face neutral, but Sepaaru's face is exactly the same. Oh, fuck me with a biscuit! Does she not hear what I'm saying? "This is the first and last chance I'll give you to quit. Once this starts, it doesn't end-if you're sick, tired, missing an arm, or whatever-it never stops!"
Of course it'll stop! She'll crack before the day's end, but I'm just trying to psych her out. I finally stop circling like a vulture and wait for a response, which Sepaaru is, understandably, taking her time to reach. Maybe I did reach her. Goddess, I can only hope I did. No one wants this lifestyle. This is a fucked up set of circumstances that made me what I am. The line doesn't need to be continued.
"Two questions: will you hit me hard enough to leave marks like those? And second, can I hit you?" she asks, pointing to the craters me and my father left in the cliff's side.
I grit my teeth, as my hope turns to dismay. Now, now, I can't back down. I have to go through with this whole fucked up little scenario!
"Good questions," I force myself to say. "No, I won't hit you that hard, but I will hit you. I'll try to hit you as hard as my Hylian self could, because even the best fighter is worthless if they can't take a few shots. And make no mistake about it: if you fight, you will be hit, cut, burned, and bruised. No matter how good you get, it'll still happen. I guess one of my goals will be to rid you of the shock that accompanies being hit. Because-and get this through your head above all else-if you freeze up in a battle the way you froze against me that night out there, you'll die. And when it comes to me, hit me like there's no tomorrow… if you can. You showed no hesitation when it came to that part last time, so I expect none now."
I don't look for hesitation or uncertainty this time. There would be no point, because even as I spoke, I heard her thoughts, and they all said essentially the same thing: "I can do this." For her sake, I hope she's wrong. What she'll gain in strength, she'll lose in so many other areas. But if this is what she has to do to prove her worth to the others and avenge her father's death, I'll help as much as I can. What? Come on, you didn't buy that whole "Wow, I wanna be just like you" speech she tried to pull the other day, did you? She wants my head on a pole, but, as we both know, I don't die that easy.
And she'll learn that lesson the same way we did-the hard way.
"First lesson: fight until I say stop." Before she asks, swords appear in our hands. At least she hasn't tipped over under the weight. Hmm, I think I'll start her off without the shield. After all, I started with a hunk of Deku Tree bark as my first shield, and it probably weighed as much as a sheet of parchment. "Ready?"
Well, hell, she didn't even wait for me to say go, and she's already swinging blindly in the wind. Cute, but I spin on my pivot to avoid the thrust for my gut, kneeing her full-on in the ribs.
Damn, she's on the ground already. Duh, of course I realize that now. I guess I can't rightly torture her too much, because she'll never learn.
"On second thought, we will stop occasionally, but only when I have to point out what you're doing wrong." Hesitantly, she takes my hand and pulls herself up, still favoring her ribs where the knee landed. "Now let's try this again. I'll go left, and… stop." I sigh, taking in her stance and those lifeless feet with disgust. That's gonna be a problem. "It's your feet. Your upper body is rocking back and forth, but your feet are planted like tree roots…"
And, as I continue to explain the wrongs and even more wrongs of fighting like a tree, I know she's thinking, "Is he really going to talk this much every day?"
Heh, if I don't how will she learn?
"So, you see, if you keep your feet moving not only is it easier to dodge, but you'll have a larger range of motion to attack." Taking a step back, I have her demonstrate. Wow, she looks almost as coordinated as Darunia when he's dancing at a Death Mountain Fire Festival. This is going to take longer than I thought if she doesn't even have a sense of rhythm Not only is she having trouble with her coordination, she's already wearing down in the stamina department, and we've only been at it for like 20 minutes. Oh, fuck me with a spoon. I'll be back in a while.
A few hours later…
"I'm not tired, really!" Sepaaru insisted, despite being covered in sweat and panting heavily.
Link nodded, dismissive as ever, giving the kid a moment to gather herself. It was sunset almost, he realized, and this warrior-to-be had spent the majority of her first tutorial trying to keep her energy up while bouncing from foot to foot. She bounced either too high or not enough or with no shuffle in her feet, which was the biggest hurdle, because bouncing up and down without the shuffle in her feet was the same as standing still when it came to range of motion.
Eventually, he said, "We're going to have to build up your endurance, because this is pathetic." Sepaaru frowned, but swallowed another mouthful of air and nodded shortly. "To start, run around the track until you feel something about to pop in your chest." She scowled up at him, his words sounding more like a level of busy work than an actual tool to help her gain strength. The cold fixture of his eyes didn't waver, which only fueled that fire within her to prove that she was as strong as the others were, and that he couldn't break her… not even with busy work. "And try these on. They may make it a little easier."
Like the friendly entity he could be, Link gave the girl a pair of Kokiri boots. They weren't big and bulky like his, she noticed, and they were soft on the inside, a lot softer than her normal Gerudo shoes. To make it even weirder, they matched her purple outfit, which made her look up at him oddly.
"What? You're ready to give it up already?" Link's mocking tone slowed to a stop as she buckled the third and final buckle on her left boot.
"I can handle whatever you give me."
And, without word or warning, he fired at her. To know his past, a person would immediately recognize the attack and maybe even see it as a symbolic gesture. Like Ganondorf fired down onto him from that horse so many years ago, Link, now with the ability to do the same, fired down onto a piece of the former mad man. Sepaaru's entire body shook from the charge, abuzz with a current so strong that she couldn't even scream.
"That's good to hear," Link said nonchalantly. He folded his arms across his chest in an indifferent manner, as Sepaaru collapsed into the dirt. "Well, the good news is that you're at least as strong as I was at 10. The bad news is that it only gets worse from here."
Perhaps it was that weird copper taste in her mouth, but, for the first time today, Sepaaru looked up at Link and completely understood what he was going to do to her-and it was scary.
"Problem?" Link asked shortly.
Sepaaru didn't reply, and much to his chagrin, she stumbled to her feet and began to run.
"I guess we'll see who cracks first, because this is already reaching my sadistic fill," he thought aloud, as she made her first half lap around the far target.
As the sun reached its peak in the sky and began to dip towards the horizon, Sepaaru's pants became louder and her laps slower, yet she continued on. Link stood in the same place, silently observing her labor on by the skin of her teeth. He could question her physical prowess, but the girl had drive. But, still, he had to question the worth of this all. Wasting childhood-okay, so she was technically a teenager and almost an adult now, but still-to make up for an insane parent made no sense!
She could feel him watching her… waiting for her to fall so he could say something stupid, but she wouldn't give him the joy of that.
"I'll make him see," Sepaaru swore, ignoring the burning in her lungs and legs. "I'll make them all see that I'm not like Ganondorf!"
She began to run harder with her whispered words, pushing through her limits and taxing her spirit. Link, of course, heard her words of inspiration. This was her struggle to bear, he knew. Sepaaru was filled with a Gerudo's pride, and for them to leave her out of their struggles must've been viewed as a crushing blow to that pride, because it made her seem unfit to help shoulder some of the load. She was so lost in her thoughts that she'd failed to notice how hard her heart was pumping, and that was a bad thing to the deity watching her.
"She'll die at this rate," Link muttered under his breath, having twice called for her to stop only to be ignored. He appeared in her path after a third call, which saw the girl slam into him like a stone wall and collapse in a heap. "I said that's enough. Now, let me see your arm for a second."
Eyeing him up for any surprise attacks, she followed his order, and was, surprisingly, healed. The brunt of his magical attack had hit her hard in the left shoulder and chaffed the skin something awful on her arm. She wasn't going to say anything, but Link had known. And, for whatever reason, he healed it? It didn't make sense to her. It was going to be very confusing dealing with his weirdo mood changes, Sepaaru realized with a little wind up of her arm.
"Why'd you help me?" she asked, a little hesitant about his instantaneous healing methods.
"Normally, I'd leave it up to fairies or potions, but seeing as we don't have any fairies and you don't practice magic, I'll have to substitute," he said calmly. "To put it another way: You said you wanted to fight like me, not live a lifetime in warrior's decay."
"Warrior's de…what?" Sepaaru frowned at the word, almost wondering if it existed.
"Decay, rot, you know? You don't think you can get hit for years and wake up every day without something hurting, do you?" The frown on her face said it all. The trouble with princesses, Link thought with a sigh, was that people were always glossing over the hard parts-even with the Gerudo kind. "It's like this," he began again, deciding to take a simpler approach. "If I don't heal you magically now, your body will be wore down when you're old."
Still, she frowned and didn't understand. "But bodies heal," Sepaaru countered.
"Not from the injuries you're asking me to inflict," Link replied, which proved slightly unsettling to her, as a new layer was peeled away from what it was she'd truly asked for. "Your body will heal for the moment, but it'll be like a patch on a pair of pants. The longer the pants are worn, the more flimsy the patch becomes until one day the hole is exposed again."
"So, magic makes a better patch then?" Sepaaru looked up at him and that distant look in his eyes, as he seemed to stare through her. He snapped out of the introspective gaze with a start, but nodded.
"Certain magic, yes," Link concurred. "Fairy magic works like that, which is why it leaves scars. Stronger magic-like potions, Great Fairies, or gods-makes it as though the hole never existed."
"Thanks then," Sepaaru mumbled, picking up her weapon before it faded from her grasp. She turned to Link, who simply shook his head no.
"We'll work on that later, but prepare to do a warm-up like this every day. And yes, I will be doing a lot of talking. If you pay attention, you might be spared a lot of pain later on. Right now, we need to go back to your little foot coordination problem. This tree fighting thing is liable to get you killed if we don't fix that."
After he shut up long enough to let her think, Link noticed the confusion on Sepaaru's face.
"What could it possibly be now?" he asked, near demanded of her.
"What's a tree?" Sepaaru asked blankly, which was met with solid white eyes of utter disbelief.
"What… the fuck? You don't know what a tree is?" Link asked the question, but also provided the mind-numbing answer in the same breath. It had to be a ruse… a joke… a… She shook her head up and down and his mouth fell open.
"Dad and Varia never let me go over the bridge, so…" Sepaaru let her statement drift, which floated into Link's mind as being there were a whole lot of things she'd never seen before. Taking a step back as if he were hit, Link composed himself and the burgeoning idea taking form in his head.
"Well, that's just ass not knowing what a tree is," he said bluntly, though, it didn't come off as insulting to the young Gerudo. "I guess I'll show you a tree." As he spoke, his hand began to glow with a green hue causing a huge hunk of wood to shoot up from the ground where Ganondorf had destroyed the target. From that hunk of wood, thinner hunks of wood and green stuff started sprouting out of it, Sepaaru noticed, and it was getting taller than the cliffs. She half wondered if it would fall on them, because it looked too thin at the bottom to support the big top part. Not satisfied with that, Link turned his attention to the other end of the track and another tree sprang forth from the ground and splintered the tall, withered target.
"What…" Sepaaru caught the fear in her voice and checked it, but still eyed the mass of green stuff coming out of the ground around her feet with caution. It was called grass, she knew that much, but she'd never seen so much in her whole life. And it was covering all of the ground now. She stood in awe beneath the green canopy that now blocked a large portion of the setting sun's light from her eyes. Looking up at Link, she was hard pressed to miss the weird smile. It was that same goofy grin he had when Nabooru was around, and that did little to help her understand.
By now, the other women had spotted the sudden growth of two trees in their archery track and came to investigate.
Still, even as gasps and murmurs of disbelief sprang up around him, Link paid them no mind. Nabooru made her way through the crowd, only to pause in awe of the life forming in that normally dead desert. She watched Link quietly, as he trailed his fingers across the tree's bark and continued on to the stone wall behind it. The rock began to crack apart at the top when he placed his hand upon it, but there was more to the sound than met the eye. A section of the river that made up the falls was diverting course, cutting its way through the sun-baked rock toward the track. The group jumped back, stunned, as Link stomped his foot and shook the earth. Upon closer inspection, they realized the action had created a sort of wide, yawning bowl in the ground around his feet.
Moments later, he was engulfed in a minute waterfall that filled in the rocky water basin. Even with that, Link remained silent. He emerged from the water, dry to the bone apparently, but that didn't really affect the Gerudo collective. It was how the water followed him from the little pool. As he walked around the outer edge of the track, the water knifed and carved a trench along behind him. When he reached the other tree, there was now a stream that ran between the two. Reappearing from behind that tree, Link came into view wearing an amused smile, but he still walked with purpose.
"Two more," he whispered to himself with a little chuckle in reference to life.
First, he brought out the fireflies. If he had colored eyes, it would be easy to see the far away look he got watching the creatures buzz back and forth in the shady meadow. His memories drifted back to a time where he imagined those were his fairies, and he smiled. Nabooru hesitantly approached him, yet Link seemed totally unaware, which was evident in the appearance of the larger, glowing life-forms. Yes, his second addition was that of fairies. Unlike the first form of Kokiri's children, these were the race of fairies often found in the grottoes and fountains.
Link chuckled as one of the women yelped, a lone fairy swirling around her person.
"Don't worry. He's just checking you for injuries." In time with his statement, the fairy departed from her personal space without an ill-effect.
As the floating lights danced around their new home, Nabooru decided to make her presence known in the form of a question.
"Why did you do this?" she asked, all the while admiring his handy work.
"Sepaaru said she'd never seen a tree, and the rest just… happened." Raising his hand to her face, a single Hylian Rose seemed to grow up from his palm, petals twisting out until she could see the red flecks dotting the inner-blossom. "If you think I went too far I can always put it back," Link said, surprising her with how easily he seemed to be able to forgo all of that work for her.
"No, just wondering." She sighed, sniffing in the sweet scent of the flower before allowing Link to place it in her hair.
"The kid isn't trying to eat its way out again, is it?" he whispered with a little grin, lightly rubbing his hands across her exposed stomach, as they inched further and further away from the others.
Nabooru laughed when he modestly tickled her, but, soon, resolved and asked, "What do you mean 'it?' I'm not going to have a lump of clay."
They both exchanged a knowing look, before laughter swelled and released in a fit of giggles. It was probably for the best that her bid to start an argument didn't work, because that was little more than an exercise in sexual torture. Nabooru wondered if that feeling would ever fade. Arguing with him was so…erotic. Maybe it was a little too erotic, because even as he swung around behind her and rested his chin on her shoulder, Nabooru looked for something to start him up.
"Seriously though, I'm fine," she replied, watching the others take their shoes off and splash around. "How about you, though? Blondie try to lock you away in the dungeon?" Nabooru asked, using the term Blondie like a curse word, unconsciously bristling up at the mere thought of Zelda.
Link momentarily tightened his grasp, but relaxed before she became suspicious, and said, "No, no dungeons. The other day, I kinda dumped Ruto and a few of the Zoras in the Kakariko well, so I had to explain that. Of course, Ruto saw my father and me and told the council. Naturally, they wanted to know what the deal was. So, after I explained the whole situation three times, got pissed and made a chair, and told them about our kid and marriage, I disappeared on Zelda while she was in mid-sentence. Oh, and I kinda invited them to the wedding. Typical stuff like that."
Nabooru began to grind her teeth, even though it was nice to imagine the look on Zelda's face when he disappeared, she was seriously upset now-and his easy-riding attitude wasn't helping.
"We don't even have a location picked out, Link," she complained, twisting away from his arms. Nabooru looked up at him, hands on her hips, and a scowl on her face. "I have no material to make a dress out of, and it'll probably take days to make you an outfit now! Now, I've got to worry about finding a way not to be embarrassed by her at my own wedding!"
Obviously, panic removed the notion of what he was from her conscious.
"Easy, remember me?" Link waved a little, as if to say, "You, who, here I am!" "I can get you whatever you want," he said, as Nabooru was struck with her new reality again. Still, the skepticism lingered a little. "You name the place, and that's where we get hitched. You want a temple big enough to block out the sun? Fine, I'll do that, too." Link wormed his way back around her, almost like a warm glove, forcing her temper down. "Relax, we have plenty of time; I own time."
Link's confidence seemed to placate her worries, but even more than that were the butterfly kisses pressed along the back of her neck. Try as she might, Nabooru couldn't stay upset. He simply had all the answers to her problems now, and she liked that. Link was the only person strong enough to know her past and not take what little pride she had left by drowning it with pity, and he was hers. And, as she thought about it, the same could be said for her. How many women could handle waking up to a god, prepare to bear his child, and keep sane in the process? Maybe it was her pride or maybe it was her ego, but either way, she didn't see anyone other than herself being able to keep pace with him.
Still, there was an uncertainty about an eternity with him. What if he got bored with her? Would he leave for a goddess? Nabooru was pretty sure he could hear what she was thinking, and, in some ways, she wanted him to. As she turned her head ever so slightly to see him, his face was expressionless, and lay pointed straight ahead. In all honesty, she didn't know if his colorless eyes were focused on her or the others who splashed in the new waterfall.
"Why are you staring at me like that?" Nabooru asked, taking a chance he was staring at her.
Link's face contorted into a small smile as he said, "I'm not going anywhere. And besides, if I really wanted someone else I could actually make her. But I won't, because she's already here."
Before the mush of that could even settle, Nabooru found herself falling to the ground with him.
"Hey! No fair slamming the pregnant woman!" she scolded in a joking manner, before Link rolled them until he was on top. "Ah, ah, ah! I'm not going down without a fight, Hero!"
They wrestled away like small children, completely unaware that an actual child watched from a far. Sepaaru tried to make sense of their odd behavior, and wondered if he'd forgotten his promise to help her get in better with her fellow Gerudo. Deciding her image in their eyes was more important than his roll in the grass, Sepaaru decided to chance interrupting them.
"Uh, Link, are we finished for the day? I was hoping we weren't, I know I can do better if we practice for a little while longer," she said quietly, trying to avoid the odd look from Nabooru.
"Yes, what exactly were you two doing out here, Hero?" Nabooru asked, diverting her focus to Link.
"Oh, well it seems Sepaaru here wants… me not to tell you," Link replied with an odd hiccup in his statement, watching the little girl's head shake back and forth furiously.
"And why the hell not?" Nabooru demanded in a tone that shocked Link more so than Sepaaru.
Link had caught the glint of coldness in Sepaaru's eyes, recognized it even, as she stood silently above the downed couple. It was that same condescending look Ganondorf's eyes used to have. They were speckled with a seething, almost aimless rage and contempt. It was a brief flash, but with the knowledge of what all he'd done to Nabooru, it must've been a surreal flashback of the most dismal proportions.
"Nab…" he paused some, noticing she wasn't even hearing him, but focusing on the kid like she was about to rip the girl's throat out. "Nabooru!" Link finally shouted, which snapped the glare. With her eyes fixated on him, Nabooru breathed heavily, almost as though she'd just been running for her life. "I was teaching her how to fight." She leapt to her feet in a single motion, throwing a look of complete and utter disbelief at Link behind this revelation. "Listen, she feels very deeply for all of you. And in her own little way, going through my little torture test is her way to prove that."
Even as Link spoke, Nabooru's face stayed marred with anger and betrayal. The man she loved…helping her worst enemy…their worst enemy!
"She's probably some kind of little puppet he left behind to take his place!"
Link's eyebrows rose in surprise and a little shock… and bruised ego.
"Dear, Gods! I guess I better go take the Master Sword from the Temple of Time to slay this great evil beast!" he shouted in full sarcastic splendor, holding his hands back to Sepaaru as if she were a trophy. "Oh, no! Ganondorf's left a puppet of himself, how will we ever survive?" He lowered his voice, as Nabooru eyes narrowed, but the sarcastic overtone remained. "Never mind the fact I let paranoia get the better of me, but I looked into her soul-not that I even know how the hell I did it-for evil intent only to find that she's about as evil as a chunk of potato. And, gee, here I thought you had faith in me! But… but… you don't even think I can defeat non-evil potatoes!"
Link's tirade ended amongst a few giggles as he mock wept.
Nabooru, as expected, didn't see the humor.
"I'll dare you make fun of everything he did to us!" she screamed as the hurt only mounted with his indifferent attitude, which caused Link to straighten out immediately.
"And I'll dare you try to take out your revenge against him on a child," he shot back. "I didn't do that to make fun of you or your plight; I did it to make a point. She isn't a damn Iron Knuckle or a Moblin. All jokes aside, how is treating her like shit or avoiding her helping any of you? I may not have lived with him, but I do know when hatred has gone too far. Treating her like this because of a man who's been dead for a decade is too far." This time his words were directed at them all, which only heightened Nabooru's agitation.
"You don't know what it's like to live in fear of your life…" her heated words stopped in her throat, as Link seemed to reel as if he were hit. His face twisted, an unabashed expression of anger and disgust now, and it was focused solely on her.
"Don't know fear?" Link said it as if it were a foreign concept. "At least you could kiss his ass to stay alive. Ever tried to compliment a flaming dragon?" The question seemed genuine, but the moment her lips parted, Link shouted, "No! Because it can't understand the words coming out of your damn mouth! I can dress it up in a pretty package and make people think it was easy because I was some hero of prophecy, but that's a load of shit…"
"What happened to never being afraid?" Nabooru tossed at him, which earned a laugh so false it nearly scared her.
"That comes afterward," he replied in a dark and somewhat chilling tone. "The fear stopped after I was forced to wander off into the dark for years to fight the things that give normal people nightmares. Until then, the fear was all I had. It's what shaped me." One would assume anger filled his words, yet his tone appeared on the verge of tears.
Neither Nabooru, nor any other Gerudo had words, just a silent question: How could Link be shaped by fear? A man that'd fought his god of a father when he could've easily chosen to rule with him instead, this man was shaped by fear? That thick feeling of dread that made them follow whatever order Ganondorf gave them… Link was made from it? The turmoil was visible in their faces to Nabooru, and she mirrored the same incomprehensible look back onto them.
It was painfully clear in that instant that they'd never understand what it was to move against the feeling of fear. Even Nabooru, the boldest among them when it came to speaking against Ganondorf and Twinrova, was auspiciously careful of them in comparison to him. And here most of them thought he was too stupid to know any better, when, in fact, he was once afraid like them. Unlike them, Link didn't just fight the big, scary monster, but he also fought the scary ones that he couldn't see.
Unknown to Link, he'd earned a new level of respect among the ranks… of course, that wasn't to say Nabooru's anger had diminished any.
Her incessant glaring sparked a half-baked thought and his mind was off running.
"I told myself I'd leave the past where it was once I got involved with you," he sighed, before taking a step back from her. "I wouldn't babble about my sham of an existence up until this point or even think about Ganondorf. But, since I went back on my word to help her be accepted as an equal by you all, I'll go back on it again to help close this chapter."
Cryptic were his last words, but nothing could've been clearer than the man that appeared beside him.
He groaned for a moment, placing a hand to his face before the gasps surrounding him registered. Looking up at the man to his right, Ganondorf's eyes widened. "You…" Link ran his tongue under his top lip, never once taking his eyes off of Nabooru. "Sepaaru!"
Ganondorf, ex-king of the Gerudo, tried to make a line for his daughter, but found himself held firmly in place by Link's ironclad grip. That paralyzing fear returned to the Gerudo as they took in their former king, live and in living color. Most wanted to run, others wanted to cry, but they all wondered why.
"He's real, if anyone is wondering." Link's tone seemed to hide something, an unreadable something just below the surface. Trying to read his face was pointless, as it was blank.
Blank, except for that look.
Ganondorf recounted the "look," even feared it in some ways. It was the face of a man that had been broken, maybe even robbed of something so vital that nothing-no amount of happiness, sadness, or torture-could change his path. In their battles, this face was more prominent than anything else had. He'd set the boy ablaze, knocked him to the bottom of that tower, and every time Link would come back with that look. Dragging a leg, holding his ribs, bleeding-none of it mattered!
Ganondorf was sweating.
Even in the faint light coming from the fairies and fireflies, everyone could see the sweat dotting his brow. More than that, they could see the fear in his eyes.
Ganondorf was afraid of Link.
His colorless eyes slid easily from Ganondorf to Nabooru, as the second part of his plan was about to come into fruition. "I can't sit here and let you blame someone so unconnected to all of this. So, kill him," Link said with nil emotion, as the apathy-laden look held steady on his face.
Nabooru was a mere foot away from him, and though her compatriots were several feet away, they all were in the grip of fear. But now, even as Ganondorf was in awe of being alive and visibly shook by Link's presence, they didn't move. Link was in that state of mind where he didn't do his best thinking, but obeyed the urge to make things right. And often times that meant taking things to the extreme, like now.
Sepaaru, meanwhile, didn't know what to do.
"Come on, which one is it-kill the man we love to hate and take pride in being bullies or treat his kid with a grain of respect?" Mouths still hung slack as Link drew his line and dared someone to cross it.
"Give me a sword." Nabooru's words surprised no one, not even Ganondorf, who managed a crooked smile. Varia slung her scimitar to Nabooru, who wasted no time putting it between her and the bane of her existence after catching it.
"Oh my, isn't this familiar?" he asked with a sardonic little chuckle.
Link could hear her heart beat loud in his ears, but, more than that, he could sense her fear and that was a little shocking considering the advantages she held over her opponent.
"You do realize that I could bring you back enough times to let each one of them kill you, right?" Link's voice rang inside of the former king's head, widening his eyes. "You wanna know the fun part? You can't move!"
Having spoken aloud that time, Link was surprised to find Nabooru smiling at him. Not knowing the full extent of Link's new appearance, Ganondorf tried to play off the smiles, only to find his limbs didn't work. While his body didn't move, Nabooru's seemed to have no such problem-and neither did that large group of women closing in on him.
"Yes, familiar indeed. Now, the only question is do I start with your head…" she smacked the side of his face roughly with the broadside of her sword, before her eyes wandered down his body "…or your balls?"
Feeling the weight of the metal against his crotch, Ganondorf looked to Link for intervention, only to find the supposed hero… picking his fingernails.
"What kind of hero are you?" Ganondorf shouted, which earned a sincere laugh from Link.
"I'm retired." And with those two words, the former king knew his fate was sealed…again.
Drawing her sword back in anger, revenge, and for her mother, Nabooru prepared split Ganondorf in two. Only her blade stopped mere inches from his head. Not out of pity, as one might think. No, Sepaaru had latched onto her arm.
"What? Let me go you little…" The Gerudo Queen stopped short of her insult as the little girl lowered the blade to her father's chest and held it there.
Even Link was taken by surprise with this action, but he didn't interrupt.
"I know this can't make up for everything he's done to you, but can it be a start?" Sepaaru's question alluded to nothing and something at the same time.
Almost eye level with Link, Ganondorf looked at him… wordlessly trying to convey something. As he tried to comprehend, Nabooru could feel the girl's strength edging the blade forward into her father's flesh, so there was no mistake that she would kill him for their approval. It was in this action that reality set in for the Gerudo Queen. An argument of monumental proportions because a child wanted to be accepted? All the years of avoidance and mistreatment, and all because of whom her father was? This all spiraled down to one thing: the past.
"Forget it," Nabooru sighed quietly, as Ganondorf's elation came out of his mouth before his brain had time to filter it.
"And to think, I thought you were actually going to do it!" He laughed so loud it seemed to shake her very soul, but Nabooru didn't have the will or desire to see him bleed. He was just a dead man, a shadow trying to cling to some proof of its existence. Ganondorf didn't matter anymore. "Ha, I should've known…Ah!"
Everyone's' eyes shot towards Ganondorf as he cried out in pain. Nabooru's momentary lapse in concentration left Sepaaru holding the sword, which was now impaling her… father.
"There are some things that can't go unpunished. And killing a girl's mother is one of them," Sepaaru tried to say boldly, but the ramifications of her first kill shook her voice. Ganondorf's blood rolled down the blade, across the hilt and her fingers, bringing her childhood to a sticky, red end. It was so warm, she grimly realized as she tried to suppress the wave of sick growing in her stomach. The hold Link had over Ganondorf's body suddenly faded, which saw the King of Evil curl forward in pain, the scimitar dangling mercilessly between his breastbone and flesh.
Link hadn't seen this coming. Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that he would deliver Sepaaru right into the hands of adulthood, not this tragically… not this sick and twisted adulthood. As Ganondorf's body dropped, he seemed to smile at his daughter, admiring her strength in a weird way. Even weirder was the regret the man harbored, as his greatest fear had been whether or not he'd coddled her too much-made her weak somehow, by his inability to see her as just another pawn in his game of global conquest.
That was simply not the case now, Ganon understood.
The final act of his destiny was now complete-killed by the Hero of Time for crimes against Hyrule, and, for the last time, killed by a Gerudo warrior for crimes against them.
With his last breath, he whispered in a low, rolling voice: "An odd thing to take pride in being killed by my own…child."
The Gerudo and their king stood in silence around the body of the former king, looks ranging from surprise to mirth.
"Do you believe her now, or does she have to eat his remains?" Link asked them harshly, giving the surrounding women a contemptible look. With a wave of his hand, the corpse and his congealing blood vanished from the pristine landscape.
Nabooru paid his look no mind, as she looked down at Sepaaru's blank face. "I will say this only once: I apologize for my treatment of you in the past. I obviously had no right to question your allegiance to us."
It had been 10 years since her father's death by the hands of the Hero of Time, and 10 years of her life spent building up to this moment for Sepaaru. Finally, the Gerudo, Nabooru, saw her as one of them. The shock faded enough for her to nod her acceptance of the apology, and though this meant more to her than anyone knew, she was finally grasping just how much it took to take another person's life. Thus, she couldn't truly express her happiness.
As the minutes slid by, each woman would make an apology to both her king and his pupil. This all came to an end when her sister, Varia, hugged her. They wept, silently of course, but no one seemed to care. Link had long since eased away to give them their room, and, from his position on a freshly created stump, he sighed. That was probably Sepaaru's first loving, physical contact in years-and she had to be splattered with her father's blood to get it.
"All of that to make them realize their mistake," he said with disdain, and an air of disappointment. "I should erase the Ganondorf thing from her mind, because she's gonna end up as screwed up as I am."
The eerie light emanating from his eyes cast a glow around his surroundings, like a candle without the focus of a lantern's cover. In an instant, the light… his eyes focused-and Nabooru's face was twisted in an outraged scowl a few steps away from him.
"Why the hell did you do that?" she asked in a sharp whisper.
"Why did I do what?" Link replied, his eyes still glowing.
Nabooru scowled the answer through her own squinted eyes.
"Oh, Ganondorf, you mean," he said as though remembering to tie a horse down after dismounting. "I don't like people who hurt kids, physically or otherwise. The way I figured it, if the problem was with her father, why not settle the problem with him?" As he spoke, Link turned completely toward her, but made no effort to stand or extend a seat.
"That was completely unnecessary!" Nabooru persisted, her hostility never yielding, even though her instincts all told her that she'd somehow disappointed Link. Anger, guilt, and confusion-they were three emotions that didn't make for the best problem-solving circumstances.
"What was I supposed to do, Nabooru? You hating him is fine, but a kid that's not connected to the situation? You've got more reason to hate me!"
Her expression changed for a brief second in lieu of his shouting, obviously confused. "So, is that it?"
"No, that's not it," he almost screamed, but bit his lip to curb the volume. "So, if I fuck up somewhere down the line, which I know I will, am I going to have to worry about you turning on our child, too? Is that the type of person I've got to worry about waking up next to for the rest of my life-a woman that can pass her hatred through bloodlines with or without merit just because that's easier than letting the hate go?"
Link sagged, his elbows resting on his thighs, and his eyes lowered to the ground. He felt weak. Just the idea of her wronging their kid because he messed up… it was a new stress. To love something he'd never even seen on the physical plane so much so that the idea, the mere thought, of it being wronged made him sick. And knowing that it was his fault potentially or that this woman he'd come to love would do that…it was almost mind-shattering.
Nabooru's anger almost diminished as fast as the glow in his eyes, as the full scale of her actions sank in. Link doubted her. He questioned whether or not he could trust her with their unborn child, and for what? Ganondorf. For Ganondorf! Earning Link's trust was an arduous task in and of itself, but when she had it, Nabooru knew she had a powerful ally and friend. It was one of the last things he'd told her all those years ago, before he left to trail behind Zelda: "You're the only person that's ever tried to kill me that I actually trust. Funny how that works…"
But even before he'd said that, Nabooru had felt he trusted her before. Now, there was that controlled silence between them again. He was in observational mode, looking for a reason to keep trusting her. She knew him well enough to understand that much. Nabooru also knew that without a viable reason, he wouldn't stay.
Without her hatred, how could she continue on? It had been the single driving force in her life for so long that she feared her body would simply collapse and die without it. As Zelda had said of his gaze, Nabooru felt something caress her skin-a force that made her feel like a lamb chop in the jaws of a ravenous wolfos. Or maybe it was a cub in its mother's mouth, because it wasn't a glare or anything, but a powerful essence more than anything.
Whatever it was, Link was watching her now and she knew it… felt it.
"You may fall, but you won't die," Link whispered, alluding to her previous thoughts, as he inched over on his stump and patted the spot beside him. "And if you do fall, I'll pick you up."
She took the invitation, and rested her head against his shoulder. "I'm sorry, but…"
"We'll never get anywhere if we can't let him stay dead," Link interjected in that same calming voice.
Nabooru leaned against his shoulder, and sighed. "I know, Hero. I just wish…"
"That you knew whether or not your mother was all right," Link finished for her.
Nabooru nodded morosely.
There was a long pause before a word was spoken between them, and when that time was up, Link said, "Take my hand."
Doing as instructed, the hazy meadow faded away, and was replaced by daylight in a field somewhere. There was a tiny house there with a couple of people sitting on the roof talking. Link felt Nabooru's hand tense up as they floated closer to the couple. The man was in his late 30s with gray, short hair, a Hylian Crest embroidered on his tunic to identify him as one of Hyrule's Knights, and a thin scar running parallel just below his left eye. And the woman cradling his head was a vibrant being, no more than 25 years old, possibly older given the Gerudo's ability to wear the age better than most. Her hair was long and black with a shimmering shine, pulled back in a loose ponytail draped over her left shoulder, which was currently toyed with by the smitten soldier.
"My parents," Nabooru whispered, now floating no more than an arm's length away from them. "Is this real?" Nabooru didn't even look up at him as the question was asked, because she was afraid he'd shake his head no.
"Yes, it's all real." Link sighed calmly, but stroked his fiancée's hand to settle her nerves. "They were good people, so they were allowed to find each other in the afterlife. And this is what they wanted-to be together, with friends and family." He extended his hand back to the field as horses-Gerudo Stallions, Nabooru numbly recognized-came over the horizon carrying a few Gerudo. Nabooru wanted to ask him how or, possibly, why Link had shown her all of this, but the answers couldn't make her feel anymore at ease than she already did.
"That's…enough," she said breathlessly, almost as though her lungs emptied with those two words.
Ganondorf hadn't beaten her, Nabooru came to understand. She hadn't failed her mother, broken that promise, and left her mother's soul bound to the Haunted Wasteland. Like Nabooru herself, her mother was free of Ganondorf, and nothing could change that. No more spells would force her to make love to a man that she hated. No more threats of death to her child would stall her fight. There was nothing left to hate, and with that hallowed thought, the Gerudo Queen cried and whispered over and over again: "It's over."
Link didn't reply, but just held her close as they silently shifted planes and came back to the Gerudo Valley.