Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ The Mind of Impa ( Chapter 32 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]

Chapter Thirty-two

"Still think it's another stupid forest?" I ask Link, who's been particularly annoyed since I announced we had to leave before it got too late. "You like her don't you?" Just wondering if he'll admit to it yet...

"Yes. No! Maybe a little," Link replies, having spoke with his feelings first and his mind second. "Can we go back tomorrow?" Answers what we already know, doesn't it?

"Depends on what your mother says," I tell him with a tussling of his hair. "I'll see if I can work my magic on her." We share a mutual smile as I spot the tower that houses my bedroom in the distance.

"Can I ask you something, dad?" Didn't give me… yeah, let it go. Our boots come to a stop between the first canyons of the brownstone, but Link can't quite look at me for more than a few seconds.

"I'm an open book." I watch him fumble with what exactly that means before adding, "Ask me anything you want."

"Why don't you ever sleep with mommy?" Why must he flip through to the thick chapters? "Her bed is just about as big as Auntie Nabooru's, so you could probably fit." This most feeble of cover-ups comes in response to my soured expression to his initial question.

I take a seat on the ground and pat the ground to my left. Link takes the invitation before I give him one of those looks. It's not that I don't want to tell him-I just don't know how to tell him.

"I'm going to answer this-probably even put my foot in my mouth in certain areas-but I want you to understand that whatever I say, I love you no matter what." Yeah, that should make him relax… kinda like an arrow in the head. I glance down at him and see those eyes staring back at me. So young and so full of questions, but I must rectify that now.

"Okay," he answers steadily, but a little more tense as to what's about to come out of my mouth. I place my left arm around him, before preparing myself for the speech at hand.

"Your mother and I made an arrangement before you were born," I take a peak at him to see if he's following me so far… like he can't comprehend that. "Before all of that, your mom challenged your Aunt Varia to battle for the leadership of the guards." Gee, I can't even make it one sentence without changing the subject. It's really a wonder my rights to be considered a parent aren't revoked or something as equally upsetting.

"Did mommy win?" he asks, which brings a smile to his face that mirrors my own. "I knew it! Nobody can beat you two!"

"Easy, easy," I chide softly.

"But mommy said no one could beat you," Link says with an air of confusion.

"Let's not worry about that right now, because if worse comes to worse, I've got you on my side-right?" He nods ardently, before I laugh at his childish bravery. "But like I was saying, Sepaaru kicked Varia's a… butt. So, by Gerudo tradition, she was entitled to anything she asked for."

"What did she want?" he asks obliviously to my uncomfortable stance on the subject.

"She wanted se… she needed… You mom wanted me to be her first." Nice save, huh?

"Her first what?" he gives me an odd quirk of his head, waiting for me to open my eyes and answer him. Shut up-I see it wasn't a save now.

"She wanted me to be her first lover." The direct approach seems to avoid him entirely, which means I'll have to go through some details. Wait for it…

"What's that mean?" Bingo-did I call it or did I call it?

"You know those noises you hear sometimes? Auntie Nabooru and I, I mean?" I pause for a moment, looking at him with question-expectant eyes. Link eventually nods, though not quite sure if he wants to hear this now. "Well, that's not a bad thing-it's a good thing."

"Um, she screams a lot… are you sure that's good?" Heh, heh, heh-ah, the boy will learn in due time.

"I'm positive," I laugh for a moment before sighing it to an end to continue. "So, this happy screaming is what your mother wanted me to do for her. At first, I didn't want to do it, because where I came from that sort of thing didn't happen. You fu… made your wife scream and that was it-you couldn't make any other women do that. Inside of our group, exceptions can be made. Nabooru and Sepaaru didn't bother to tell me this until the last minute, leaving me rather ill-prepared for what I was supposed to do. Eventually, though, I made your mom scream and we agreed that once was enough." Yes, you are smelling cheese of the highest grade right now. How else would I explain this? I mean, there's always going through the "that thing in between your legs swells up and when it does, you stick it in between a girl's legs and move" route, but I'm not that tactless… anymore.

"Why?" Link asks on the wake of my break. "Don't you love her?"

"I love her," I respond in kind, as I look him in his eyes. "But I don't love her the same way that I love your Auntie Nabooru."

"Oh," he mutters, becoming somber in his mood folding his arms across his chest. "That mean you don't love me like Auntie Nabooru since you don't really love my mom." He doesn't ask that, but more so says it aloud to come to terms with the pseudo-reality of it.

"Come here," I stand him up on my thighs and look up at him with a pained smile, I'm sure. "Your mother and I share a bad past and because of that our feelings will always be the same. Our love is that of friendship and friends don't sleep together. One day, when you grow up, you'll see the difference between friendship and love. But this is how things have to be. It doesn't mean I love you any less or something-even if I mess up and act like it sometimes-I love you just as much as I love Nabooru, but I can't love your mother like that. Understand?"

"I guess," he says before stooping a little bit and giving me a hug. I hug him back before wrestling him to the ground-in jest, of course. "Ha! Ha! Ha! I give! I give! Ha! Ha! Ha!" We roll until we come to a stop just before rolling completely off of the brownstone. I let him go before stretching out on the rocks and crossing my hands behind my head. Link does the same thing to my left, gazing up at the stars with a sincere smile.

"What's on your mind?" I don't have to look at him to feel the burgeoning questions.

"Before, you said 'where you came from,'" he begins, "if you aren't from Gerudo Valley, where are you from?" Hmm, could've sworn I told him this before. No not that part, but the Kokiri to Hylian thing.

"It's funny you should ask," I smirk, as I tilt my head over to look at my son. "I'm surprised Saria didn't tell you. Do you remember that tree house you two were in earlier?"

"Yeah," he says, cryptically smiling.

"Well, that's where I was from-Kokiri Forest, I mean." He gives me a quizzical look and I shrug before continuing. "I know. Then, one day, The Great Deku Tree sends for me and tells me the truth… or at least, what it believed was the truth. That's when I found out that I was really Hylian…"

"Wait, wait!" Link shouts all of a sudden. "How can a tree talk?"

"In a word: magic," I reply truthfully. The look of skepticism holds firm in his eyes, as I continue. "So, like I was saying, I was a Hylian for, like, the next 16 years. Then one day, after all of the monsters had been defeated, one of them came back to tell me something. He told me that I was dying, and that he was the cause. A lot of stuff happened and the next day, I had to go see Queen Zelda. She had the one thing that could cure me or actually kill your old man." Link let's loose a low 'wow' before anxiously awaiting my continuance. "I took the cure and it sort of killed me. But see, I don't kill easy and some stupid little triangle wasn't going to stop me. Before I came back, I finally found out where I came from…" I drift, purposely letting his anticipation build.

"Where did you come from? Come on, tell me!" he begins to whine. I extend my hand upwards, watching as Link's head follows it towards the stars. "Whoa. No way, you can't be from up there! But…" he stalls, "that means you're a… you can… you can fly, can't you! You have to or else you couldn't get down here!"

Damn. That wasn't exactly what I was hoping he'd say, but maybe it's for the best that he doesn't understand completely just yet. In keeping with his expectations, I wrap my arm around him and float quite a bit off the ground, watching with a smile as my son looks at the ground below us with wide eyes. Our altitude begins to descend a ways, before I see it in his eyes-he believes that I honestly love him. Wait that sounded conniving, almost like I was reeling him into some kind of sinister plot. Let's try to re-word it: I love my son and he finally understands that to the fullest of his abilities. See? I'm getting better at this parenting gig by the day.

"I guess I can't get anything by you, huh?" I touch down with a slight thud, as my son is literally running in place. Well, it isn't like I lied… I can fly. I can just do some other things too. Hey! He said it, and… uh… shut up!

"Nope-I know everything, now!" Well, he doesn't know it all per se, but he knows enough.

"Can you do something else? Please! Please! Please!"

"Okay, one more…" perhaps I caved a little too easily "…see that ugly spider up there?"

"Yeah," he says a little unimpressed with it. "Um, I can catch bugs," Link mutters, trying feebly to hide his disappointment.

I extend my left hand towards it, rotating my hand counter-clockwise. The Skulltula glows for a moment before a soft cry is muttered and a man drops into the little pond. "I'm not exactly catching bugs," I kneel and whisper into his ear, as the shaken Skulltula Family Member stumbles out of the water.

"Holy shit!" Link shouts, before grabbing his mouth. I shrug it off as the guy walks passed us in a daze, wringing his soaked tunic out and mumbling to himself about witches. "This is so cool… and you could at least thank my dad for making you all un-spidery! You big jerk…"

"Eh, he's been through a lot, son. Let him walk it off," I chide before I hear the approaching hooves of about five… no, six horses. Hmm, two attached to our fair Queen Zelda's carriage and four knights on horseback. "I wonder why she'd be coming here at this hour."

"Who's coming?" Link asks, bringing it to my attention that I spoke out loud my thought.

"Queen Zelda," I reply, pointing in the direction of the thunderous ruckus of hooves moving across the land. Of course, he probably can't hear them, but he makes an attempt to. The first horse rounds the bend, followed by the rest. As expected, they hook a right and slow the pace down as they come to a stop before us. "Got enough security?" I shout, glancing in at Zelda through the medium sized window.

"Unlike some people, our king feels we should accompany our lady wherever need be to ensure her protection." Sermonian Knight, Rufus: Asshole number one.

"If you're implying that I can't provide adequate security for my wife," I abruptly pause, catching Zelda's sullen face as she steps out of the carriage.

"If you're Mr. Security, how'd you lose her?" You know I should just pull his head off and kick the thing into Death Mountain… easy, easy. I smile this one off, unclenching my fists and letting my knuckles snap back to ease. "What's with you all? You tiptoe around this guy like he's some kind of god. Say it together, ladies…"

"Shut up, Rufus," Zelda shouts, as she storms towards me.

"Shut up, Rufus!" the others shout on the heels of her voice, as though it were an actual command.

"We need to talk, Link. You all stay there." I flip Rufus the bird as Zelda and I walk a ways back until we're between the rock walls again. Noticing my son, she says, "Hello down there, can I borrow your dad for a moment?"

"I guess-you aren't going to try and take him away are you?" he asks, suspiciously possessive for one so young. Zelda forces a smile before shaking her head no. "Okay then, I'm gonna go tell mom we're back."

"Stop running before you fall off the bridge," I shout after him, despite knowing he'll run anyway when he thinks I can't see him. "So…" I notice the patrols have moved closer to our position. "Do you think I'm going to kill her or what?" That says a lot about a guy when you make a joking question and people look at you seriously. I ignore them and lean against the wall, waiting for her to begin.

"Never mind them," she says, but moves her eyes up to indicate we move to higher ground. Zelda makes the leap with little effort, but I'm already at the top by the time she touches the upper-level ground. I wave her over closer to the falls, as to keep this conversation between our ears. "You're a real piece of work, you know that?" she starts by saying.

"What did I not do this time?" I ask dryly, folding my arms over my chest and leaning back against an adjacent boulder.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Despite the rather frilly dress, I can see that she's shaking with anger. "Why didn't you tell me that…Impa was my mother?" she asks with less urgency in her tone and more betrayal this time.

"What would I have said?" I ask in my calmest of voices. "Granted, I was looking for something to hurt her with, but I never expected to find that."

The moonlight catches Zelda's face for a moment, exposing the dried tears on her red cheeks. I get off my rock and set myself to treat the situation with the seriousness it requires. She continues to stare heatedly at me before lowering her head and walking into my arms. Eh, this feels a lot more awkward than I would have imagined, holding her like this. Nevertheless, I allow her to cry her frustrations out into my chest. She slowly calms down as I softly stroke her back. Poor woman-this is probably one of those things I should have kept to myself. But damn, the wench let that little shit kill my son-what was I supposed to do?

"So, how much did she leave out?" I ask softly, as the sobs have slowed enough for Zelda to talk.

"Why do you assume that she left anything out?" Zelda asks, before adding, "Oh, right. You read minds and stuff now."

"Heh, I don't need to read your mind to know that," I inform her. "You wouldn't be here if you thought she'd told you everything."

"Do you know it took nearly three hours to get that woman to begrudgingly admit that I was her child?" Zelda asks, blatantly ignoring me, and wriggling out of my embrace. "What else could there possibly be?"

"There's always why she didn't tell you," I respond quietly, feeling oddly at a loss with my empty arms. Zelda twists her face into a frown, which exposes that she hasn't given that scenario much thought. "Would you like to hear it from me or from her?"

"Impa isn't going to say anything," she remarks bitterly, "her stupid codes won't let her. So, magnificent lord of lords, say it. No matter how much you think it'll hurt, say it!"

"Ask and ye shall receive," I begin, bringing forth a set of chairs from the rocky ground. We take our seats across from each other and I recall the memories stolen from Impa's mind. "About 10 years before your father (King Renthro) met your…" how do I put this? "…fake mother, he was involved with a woman from Kakariko-Impa, Captain and Chief of the First Guild of Shiekah. Standard fair here: They fell in love, had some good sex, and about five years later, Renthro proposed. Unfortunately, Impa declined his hand and the throne. This devastated him, which led to the end of their lengthy relationship. What Impa had withheld from the king was that her people had to exorcise a creature within the Shadow Temple. She knew that he'd insist upon helping her in some way, but his presence would be nothing more than an obstacle. So, the Shiekah secretly went underground for five very long years, losing more than three-fourths of their numbers to the beast before finally sealing it inside the Shadow Temple.

In those five years, however, your father had found someone else. A milkmaid by the name of Hylia had come into his life at some point, which infuriated your mother. She'd been waging a subterranean war to protect him and that's what she got in reward? Impa couldn't even get an audience with your father for months, proving that she wasn't the only one still carrying emotional damage. Then, taking it upon herself, she snuck inside via a milk crate and granted herself the meeting by ambushing and dragging your father into the pantry. At first, they argued: 'Hylia loves me, which is more than you could ever say!' And 'I have lost family for the sake of your miserable life!' Renthro demanded that she explain herself and in a rare instance, Impa spoke of what she'd been involved in. They reconciled on the spot. Of course, reconciliation didn't end with the friendly hug he'd bestowed upon her. This woman, who'd been engaged in various battles for five years, needed a teensy bit more than a hug. Impa knew your father well-a few brief butterfly kisses there, a grope or two down there, and by the time she kissed the man's throat… let's just say they reconciled at least five times on the floor.

Afterwards, your father and she made a pact never to do that again. But like all things love, it wasn't that easy. Queen Hylia had fallen ill a few months after that, but no one in the kingdom knew of this. At the same time, you were conceived at midnight on the shore of the lake that bears your… fake mother's name. 9 months and 10 days later, at the exact moment Queen Hylia drew her final breaths with her loving husband beside her, you were being born in a house in Kakariko Village. Impa quickly drank a potion to cure her ails, before wrapping you up in a basket and riding her horse to Hyrule Castle. From there, Queen Hylia was pronounced dead due to complications from childbirth. Impa was named your caregiver and outside of his most trusted of council, no one ever knew the truth. After a while, Impa thought best of it to let you believe that you were someone else's child; she'd never have to hurt you then.

That's the full story… in short." We stare at each for a moment, before Zelda drops her face into her right hand and shakes her head. All too soon, her head pops up and is marred with a rather frustrated look at me. "Don't look at me like that," I pipe up, "you asked and I told you."

"Yes, well no one asked you to look into her mind!" she shrieks, holding back her obvious tears of frustration and anger.

"Maybe, but at least you know the truth now," I assure her kindly. Zelda gives a tiny snort to my sentiment, however.

"Truths like that shouldn't be known," she whispers, which I find to be nonsense.

"Knowing the truth is always better than living with a lie-no matter how painful," I reply, but it comes off in a kind of condescending way. I sigh, before continuing with, "Don't take that how it sounded. I…"

"No, you're right," she interrupts with blaring sarcasm. "Here's some of that wholesome truth for you: I married my husband to save you!"

"What?" I ask, as it's becoming obvious that the woman is trying to take personal shots at me now. "I understand how much you must hurt right now, but you don't have to make up things…"

"Ha!" Zelda interjects with a bitter-streak that's obviously still in bloom. "This is far from fiction. It's the truth, Link! And we know how great that is! Well, here's some more. Sermonia is a very large country. They make the Chonoes look like a pack of dogs, they're so big. You remember the War with the Chonoes, don't you? Do you remember how you said more blood was shed during that day than you'd seen in your whole life? I do. I remember it vividly, in fact. I remember leaving you to try and form a peace treaty with Arthur's father. I remember his constant declines and ultimately declaring war against Little Old Hyrule. He'd heard about the Triforce from one of his mages, guess which mage? Heh, I was cocky though. We had the Hero of Time in Hyrule, but Draco laughed in my face. That's when he showed me their army, Link. In Sermonia's military alone stood more men than existed people in all of Hyrule combined.

The old coot laughed at me, as I stood there gawking at his legions of barbarians. I swear some of them were two times as tall as you were back then. I couldn't send you out to fight that! Hero of Time or no Hero of Time, their numbers would've overtaken you sooner rather than later. So, I had to think fast and make a counter-attack.

'I'll tell you what, girly,' he rasped, 'marry my son and I won't destroy your people. My time grows short in this world and I refuse to let him ascend the throne unwed.'

Heh, you blonde bastard! I didn't have a choice! It was either that or losing you to some senseless war. He introduced Arthur and me, but we both took the news the same way: dismally. In their country, you consummate both marriage and engagement. Guess what I found out, Link? Arthur had a girlfriend, but she was a stable hand and couldn't marry into royalty. Want to know something else? She hung herself the next morning in the town square when our engagement became official. Draco gave me roughly four months or so to end whatever relationship I may have been in, so I decided to end things quickly. Heh, I still wake up sometimes … remembering the look on your face when I told you it was over. Word came a few weeks after I'd returned to Hyrule that Sermonia had been attacked and goddesses, how I hoped they'd be overthrown.

They weren't.

By the time that Arthur showed up, you'd been unknowingly creeping back into my arms, and that's why I had to orchestrate that idiotic proposal. You came in and I felt that look of anguish on the back of my neck as I kissed him, but when I saw your face I panicked. I had to keep you by my side in some way. You didn't even blink or hesitate to accompany us anywhere! But your presence was so strong until I felt myself losing what gradual attraction to him that I had built. Uh, I hurt so much watching you while pretending to ignore you. That's what sparked the kissing fest at the carnival. With you around, I'd eventually end up in your bed and bringing about a war that Hyrule couldn't survive-the spies that followed Arthur and I would have seen to that by reporting my indiscretion without fail. I had to hurt you so much that you'd leave me! It took every last fiber in my body to stand there and act like you pouring your soul out meant nothing to me at that carnival, when all I wanted to do was tell you that it was all a lie.

And do you want to hear the biggest truth of them all?" Her question falls listlessly on my pained ears, making me take a slow breath in soul-mutilating agony. I can't find the energy to move anything more than my eyes, as the images permeating from her mind show this whole thing from the beginning. My eyes finally move perilously from the stone between her feet up into Zelda's eyes. She's been crying this entire time, but that fake smile is still plastered on her face.

"Don't…" I whisper, shaking my head like a child amidst a tantrum and covering my ears.

"I still love you," I read from her lips. My hands fall away from my head, as Zelda continues to pass her pain off to me. "How's that for truth, huh? Every day I wake up and wonder what you're doing. I wonder what our children would've looked like. I wish none of this ever would have happened so I could know. Do you know what that's like-having to learn how to love someone other than the person you should be with forever?"

"I'll dare you bring this shit to me," I whisper with a growing fury. "Most of my life was spent trying to reach you! Days of endless wandering, nights of nothing but death, and I didn't want anything… but you. Then I finally have you and in two short years, the Chonoes declare war and I have to fight with 300 men-most of which had never even held a sword, let alone used one-to a thousand or lose everything I'd relived history four times for. I had to watch people I'd talked with-people I dare call friends-get ripped apart at the damn seams to ensure I kept you. The Happy Mask Dealer, Rupert; the Organ Grinder, Stephan; and those are only two of the many fallen that I watched cannonballs or swords cut down.

I wasn't used to that. Killing monsters was my motif, not people. But the truth is that I'd lost that scrap of myself that you could call Hylian. They weren't people to me; they were just more things to kill. All of them were nothing but Ganondorf's little minions in different guises. But why did these minions lose body parts when my sword struck them? Arms, legs, heads, and hands-it all flew around like leaves and I didn't care. I was covered from head to toe in blood from people… living, breathing people! That was okay though. I had Zelda and killing a few hundred people was all right! The only thing that separated me from the murderers was the fact that I could do it better. Even the small part of me that wanted to own up to that was drowned out by my affection for you. 3 hours of sleep a night filled with dreams of bloody bodies and faces twisted in their final screams of death were fine.

I had Zelda!" I pause, rubbing my face as those fallen warriors' faces return to my eyes. So much blood… so many bodies… this manipulative little bitch has no right to bring it all back! We lock eyes for a moment, each of us staring venom before I finally get it. "I'll play your game then. You want to bring pain back into my life, fine. Here's one for you. You remember when you said that you couldn't get a ring out of me in five years?" Her anger-filled eyes widen, as I continue. "Picture this: You've been gone for at least 3 months on one of your journeys for peace. Your boyfriend, the simpleton that he is, arrived two hours in advance at the castle and waits for you. He's decked out in the whitest of white tunics, silver tights, and new boots. What's that-you're still drawing a blank? That's fine. Do you remember he had a bouquet of red and white Hylian Roses? Wow! You still don't remember.

How about when he tried to hug you? Do you at least remember that bulge you felt over his heart-kinda like a tiny box-when you pushed him away? Well, that was your engagement ring. You see, I had been saving and scavenging back through all of the old temples for spare money while you were away. I'd been working up the perfect way to propose for years, but I couldn't seem to think of a way to do it that did you justice. But oh, ho, the night before you arrived I had finally done it! I would just ask! It would be perfect and unexpected too. I stayed up all night imagining how you'd accept or reject me. Heh, you talk about being a preordained loser-I didn't even get the chance to ask and I was already rejected. And to make it worse, I brought the ring back the next day and again you pushed me away. You felt the bulge in my tunic pocket then, didn't you? For a split second, you looked me in my eyes and realized what I had been planning. Despite everything you could've said to put me at rest, you just left me to die.

Well, I'm sick of it!

I'm done dying for you. So, is that painful enough? Or does the game continue until one of us runs away crying?" I lean forward until both my elbows dig into my thighs, glaring back at her for a change. Even as she breaks and begins to cry like a child, I don't give. For once I'm not the simpering idiot or voice of consolation to her troubles. It feels good to not have the burden that screams about how I should try to make everything right for her. Having the power to sit here watching her cry without a twinge of pity or remorse is almost intoxicating. I can tell by the way my folded hands hide the majority of my face that she's unnerved by my staring. Good-she should be nervous.

"I-I-I… I guess I can see where she's coming from," Zelda says with a well-adjusted tone of voice, futilely trying to change subjects. She smiles at me, but my disposition doesn't yield, and her eyes avert elsewhere. "Heck, my life just about mirrors hers." Again she looks to me for a volley of words, but finds silent staring. "Do you hate me now?"

I don't respond at first, but as Zelda's hope diminishes I find a voice to speak with.

"Answer me first," I reply from behind my hands. Without waiting for confirmation I ask: "If you loved me so much, why didn't you just run? We could have simply faded from the Hylian landscape without a trace. Or why didn't you allow me to take Arthur hostage? Lastly, is your current scenario any better than my dying?"

"'Some things come before self,' my father once told me," she responds immediately, transitioning her voice into that queenly monotone, "and my people's lives are such things. I couldn't have lived a peaceful life with you or anyone else knowing that I had sent children to their graves. I had an opportunity to save everyone's life by merging our… the Kingdom of Hyrule with that of Sermonia. Furthermore, taking Arthur hostage would have accomplished nothing. His father believed in power and didn't mind losing his son to acquire it. Besides, he's the only reason his father's men didn't have an uprising and burn Hyrule to the ground when the old brute died during their wars. Arthur may pale as a warrior compared to you, but he did well enough. To answer your last question," Zelda pauses, leaving her seat and approaches me. Standing before me, I allow her to 'lead' me to my feet by my limp hands in anticipation of the point in this. "I may not have your heart to call my own anymore, but you live. I get to see glimpses of you interacting with your children, as I imagined you would ours, and that's enough for me."

"Goddess, you make me sick!" My words take her by surprise, even wobbling her legs with my cold expression.

"I… I… just thought you should know," Zelda forces herself to say, before giving a small bow and backing away.

"Wait…" I can't believe I'm doing this. She looks so pathetically hopeful and un-expectant of my forgiveness that I can't take it! I motion for her to come back to me, which she does with zest. "I hate what you did to me," I say impassively, "but I don't hate you."

"I am so sorry…" she says, burrowing her face into my chest. I tense uncomfortably, as her arms close around me in an unreturned hug. "Heh, I shouldn't try to pawn this off on you. You just did what I asked."

"What are you going to do now?" I find myself asking, as the sound of the rushing water fades from my ears. Zelda whispers back that she doesn't know, because Impa ran away after admitting the truth. "Look at her," I spin Zelda around and reveal our new place above Lake Hylia, where Impa stands alone by the shore. "This isn't just about you or impeding on your life. Impa's created a life of her own and this complicates things equally-if not more so-for her."

"I know," she says, not even thinking enough to fear our height or caring enough to ask how we got here. Perhaps she trusts me still… "It's just… I've been idolizing the wrong person for all of these years. Talking about how much I would've liked to have known my mother, when she was right there all along. I can't imagine what that must have been like for her to listen to."

I apply a slight squeeze to her small shoulders, bringing her aimless chatter to a stop. "She felt good," I whisper, taking my memories and emotions back to Impa's. "She imagined that you spoke about her in your earlier years. That's why she would snap at you sometimes-you broke the fantasy with a little too much idolizing." The world around us bends until we're back on that rocky ground with the waterfall thundering beside us, upon which time I release her shoulders. "Impa will come to you sometime tomorrow; she just needs to get her head together for now."

"If you say so," Zelda replies, making small rotation to face me. "So, what are you going to do?"

"Live," is my only response to that, but I can sense she wants detail. "I guess I can indulge your curiosity." A vindictive edge lines my smile, but I'll try to keep it out of my words. "First, I'll try to purge… remove…" there's no easy way to say this "…I'm going to get in my tub and try to calm my nerves enough to not sink Sermonia into some kind of abyss. And what about you-something else you care to lob at me or surprise me with?"

"No, I'm all out of surprises," she says, relieving herself of a few sniffles. We begin the awkward journey back to the cliff's edge so we can come down, but she stops. I look at her expectantly, as Zelda tries to work up the voice to say something. "Wha… What did you do with the ring?" Her eyes stare perilously calm down toward her soldiers, as I sigh.

"I don't see how that has any significance…" She smiles, whispering please with another pain-laced expression. "The moat in front of your castle is where I threw it when… well, you know. It's probably washed away by now, but that's where it would be."

I extend my hand before us, summoning a staircase of solid rock that lowers to the ground. We walk down in more of that silence, as things seem to be finished for the night. Heh, I'd rather not talk about that… ever. No, it won't make me feel better. Honestly, if it were that easy to move beyond, I wouldn't have sat in a pool of blood for three hours without making a sound… oh, you're good. I help her into the back of the carriage, shutting the door with one more silent glance before stepping back. Who knew it would end up like this? Zelda's still in love with me, where as I'm perfectly happy with things the way they are.

"Goodnight," I take my hat off and bow at the waist, before lifting my head up and managing a smile… a smile laced in a margin of a pity, but at least I'm trying.

"Goodnight, Link." She smiles back, knocking the on the inside corridor of the cabin to inform the driver to go. As I watch the carriage and her escorts leave, I can't help wondering why Rufus is lagging so. I'll give you 10 to 1 odds that he says something completely asinine.

"I just don't get it," he begins in the condescending way that most of that country's nobles speak. "With the way word of your exploits spread, I had imagined you to be some immovable giant or some kind of hellish beast."

"Sorry to disappoint you," I reply in much the same lackluster voice.

"It's not that you've disappointed me," he says surprisingly tactful. "Most of these Hylian Knights seem like little soulless drones, but if someone says one thing negatively toward your character, they cower and shrink in on themselves-like you may jump out of thin air and destroy them."

"Who's to say that I won't?" I whisper whimsically from his immediate left. I smile as he nearly inhales his tongue, whilst I float a few feet off the ground and look him directly in the eye. "Everyone has a reason they should be feared-this is one of mine. What's yours?" I smirk, as the color drains from his face upon hearing my voice inside his head. Yeah, yeah-enough intimidation for the day, which is why I slap him on the back before touching down and leaving him and his horse sitting there. A moment later he cracks the reins and bolts off into the night. That was a shitty way to end a great day, huh? Yeah, I was thinking the same thing…

I guess I'll get back with you in the morning-take care.