Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ What's Done In The Dark. . . Pt. 01 ( Chapter 33 )

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

Chapter Thirty-three

He surveyed the land of the Gerudo Valley with a fondness. Where there once lay only sand beneath a scorching sun now stood trees, whose large canopies hung like clouds the color of green, protecting the once sun-baked earth below. In that sand, now were the signs of life-insects, grass, and the type. Furthermore, with this new life came seasons. Summer had been the only one in this place for far too long-now, rain, snow, and the colorful fall graced the valley with their presence.

Link smiled, remembering the first time that the women of the Gerudo experienced snow. They weren't unlike children then, running around and lobbing snowballs at one another. Of course, they hadn't known to wrap up in such weather and the outcome was three dozen women with colds. It had been an interesting experience to nurse that many people back to health, not to mention a real treat watching his 5 year old daughter make the rounds as a sick nurse, and spilling soup on everything.

They'd been so grateful for things he'd taken for granted on more than one occasion. Heck, even Varia was apprehensive towards uprooting grass to plant her garden. She still cringed when it was time to weed till this very day. By the time he'd created the lake, appropriately named Gerudo, everyone had began to spend their free time out there. In turn, the meadow became his own little haven to take a breather from everyone-a place to gain perspective, in most cases. In other cases, it was a place to spend much needed time with his wife.

Ah, how sweet that was. Him and Nabooru could be out there alone for hours sometimes. They didn't even talk sometimes, because they didn't have to-and not just because of the telepathy. That was the beauty of his marriage-the communicating without really communicating. They could exchange looks and immediately know what the other meant. There was a level of comfort they brought each other that they never knew existed. Having a bad day? A few hours of laying in each other's arms and nothing seemed quite that problematic. Arm been chewed on by a wolfos in heat? Well… that had never happened. But if it did happen, he liked to believe his wife could make that pain stop, too.

Link sighed, fogging up the large round window of his bedroom. His blissful reverie ended, bringing him back into the shattered remnants of perfection. Looking at the Gerudo on the grassy ground below, he saw they were all standing in the same spots they were in when he began shouting a few moments earlier. The sun loomed in front of him, slowly dipping below the horizon, which made his reflection cast off the window.

There was another reflection in the window, though, and her face made his stomach churn violently. Nabooru, the name of the reflected face's owner, appeared over his own reflection's left shoulder in the bed behind him. It would've been a pleasant image if only he didn't have to turn around. Link had to turn away from the window, though. For a moment, he simply stared at her. The model of perfection in his eyes, Nabooru sat there as naked as a newborn beneath those sheets. All too quickly, Link moved his attention and his body over to the chair near his wife's dresser at the foot of the enormous, circular room. The burgundy colored cloak masked the saddlebag thrown over his right shoulder and the shield on his back, which yielded the Great Fairy Sword directly beneath it.

Obviously, this place has become too comfortable, he noted while fixing the man to his wife's immediate right with an annoyed gaze. Look's like I'm the practice model, again. This thought was in reference to what Link slowly came to understand as his second role in life-the teacher. He was the guy who seemed to teach the ins and outs of sex to his lovers only to have them grow tired of teacher and run off to find someone they truly loved. It would've amazed him in a comedic sense had this happened a few months after they were first together. Instead, this whole twisted scenario came about 17 years after it had first began-just enough time to let his emotional guards come completely unhinged.

On the other side of this coin sat Cornelius. The oldest of five sons, Rampart's eldest brother, and wife coveter-this was the guy who'd ordinarily beg for his life in this situation. However, he didn't beg. No, he knew the penalty for opening his mouth to make an apology or plea. Link would rip his tongue out and flog him with it-that's what would happen. What possessed him to continue this line of action? Was it the woman or was it the thrill? Cornelius knew it was the thrill, Link knew it was the thrill, and now what? What he couldn't match the great Hero of Time in on the battlefield, he seemed to do in the bedroom… err, grotto. Why else would Nabooru demand of his services so?

"Why don't you tell me?" Link's voice pierced the knight's mind, causing his ego to shrink in face of fear.

If I'm lucky, he may let me live long enough to apologize to Isabella, Cornelius thought, and then he'll kill me fast. Then again, luck never really was on my side.

He watched as Link sat down with the same lifeless expression he'd had since finding them. It was the most frightening moment in Cornelius' life. The moment he rolled off Nabooru, Link was there standing over them at the foot of the bed. He didn't even know how they got from that grotto by the moat at the castle to this bedroom, but when you've been caught screwing the Hero of Time's wife by the Hero of Time… little things like that didn't matter. Things like: "How many ways is he going to torture me?" And "Will she think I'm a sissy if I make a run for that window?" Or "Don't shit in his bed! Don't shit in his bed!" Things like that occupied your mind more than anything.

"How could this happen again?" Link asked himself, as he slumped in his wife's make-up chair.

This wasn't supposed to happen… not twice. Zelda left him, but Nabooru would always be there. She was the difference. Nabooru wouldn't leave him for anything. There she was though, in their bed with another man-a man whose life he'd saved no less. Obviously gratitude wasn't worth much these days if this was the end result. Both cowered beneath the sheets, afraid that he'd kill them. Even his wife, a woman whom he'd only lifted a violent hand to when he had to back at the Colossus and when she told him to, sat afraid of him at another man's side. The pain had only subsided long enough to bring them back to this room from their hideaway of forbidden love.

Heh, I always knew those grottoes could be used for something. Link chuckled at the idea of two people coupling in those underground caverns, but his smile crashed before it fully bloomed. The idea was fact and the fact that it was his wife twisted his heart strings, and left his body tired.

For a time, his sadness enshrouded him like a child's blanket or a mother's arms; he couldn't even stand up it was so heavy. The elven warrior felt as though someone had stolen that incredible strength bestowed upon him. His enemies hadn't come from the sea or from the land, but from his very own home. She exploited his promise to never peer into her mind and exploited it well. Sure, they spoke to each other via their minds-but that was different.

There was never any hint that he needed to go deeper than the surface. Nabooru said she loved him. He could physically feel that she loved him. So, why should he go shuffling around her mind? Heh, Nabooru was a thief by birth not trade and Link's eyes were open to that now. Hell, she'd stolen his soul and he never even saw it-not even with the eyes of a god. Goodness, the woman could even lie with her emotions! Link had to respect that talent, even if it were killing a rather large chunk of him.

Nabooru tried to speak, though, finding her efforts halted by Link's shift of perspective. He snapped his head towards her with animal-like quickness, laying his enraged blue eyes on her threateningly. It was really in hopes that she'd say something… anything to make him forget about this day. Regrettably, that once charming blue seemed like foreboding ice ready to burn her with its cold touch if she attempted to do more than breathe. Link's face slowly cascaded into his left palm, as disassociated grumbles began to fill the silent room.

How could she do this to me?

For eighteen years, this woman was his wife… and for seventeen of those years, she made love to someone else. That had made his heart tighten more than anything. This little… he couldn't even make himself utter a contemptible name, but nonetheless, he muttered. Oh, he'd broken that vow to keep his mind to himself when he found them. Every sordid detail to their amorous liaison was his to hold now. Unfortunately, it wasn't something Link particularly wanted to hold. He just went to get his wife since Zelda had shown up unannounced.

Link never wanted to feel that feeling his wife emitted when in the throws of passion, especially since she wasn't with him at the time. And as the knights patrolling the grounds asked him if he needed any help as he removed the tarp from over that grotto, Link wished with all of his soul that he didn't find what he found. But there Nabooru was-legs curled around that idiot's waste, nails dug into his back, and begging for more. Without even thinking about it, he shifted to a plane beyond their vision and merely watched.

While, at first, he wanted to believe they'd done this purely in the moment, Link had scanned the area. They'd cleared out all of the moss and weeds, laid out blankets, and even eaten lunch down there as witnessed by the empty picnic basket. That's when he began to roam their minds. Oddly, he found himself trying to make excuses. Maybe someone else cleared it out, he had thought, as the first memory from Cornelius' mind appeared. It was late and Queen Zelda had given him an order to escort Nabooru home from the Archery Hut in Kakariko Village.

Cornelius' own wife had appeared shortly after, complaining of his lack of time at home. She gave him a choice, and he stayed like a good little soldier. Nabooru had then appeared, complaining of how the racket disturbed her game. Isabella stormed off, leaving Cornelius in a slump. Nabooru and he began to talk then, as Link recalled shifting his perspective mind-reading into his wife's brain. She complained to the knight about how she could relate to his wife's plight, but he countered by saying: "Spending time away from home isn't a picnic for us, either. I know I'd much rather be at home in bed with my wife than taking a two or three day trip across Hyrule."

"Then why don't you go back to her," Nabooru had said, growing agitated with his company.

"Because I gave my queen my word, and I have to make good on it," Cornelius answered in much the way he'd been taught.

It began to rain somewhere during the memories, Link wasn't too clear on it because his wife's ecstasy was rising and that made his concentration break. They ended up spending the night together in the grotto just to the far right of the stairs leading into Kakariko. Their arguing had subsided into a conversation about Link, oddly. That's when the temperature dropped underground, that's when they had to huddle their wet bodies together for warmth, and that's when it all began. In the present, Link wore a look of indifference.

Back at the moment that memory was hatched, he wanted to break something. Then the memories kept clicking by. From grotto to grotto, abandoned store room to store room, and stable to stable, they continued to see each other in some secretive manner. True enough, Nabooru did visit Zelda each and every last time she claimed to. However, she also managed to work Cornelius into the schedule somewhere. For some reason that grinded on Link's nerves-the memories of how she dictated the whole affair. Nabooru told Cornelius to be here, there, or this place and the next-like the whole thing was one big plan.

Would it really have softened the blow if he had been the one to coerce her into these things? Link knew the answer to that was yes. Then it could've been simply Nabooru being egged on by her physical wants, but as it was, she was doing this deliberately to hurt him. That's when his restraint broke, and he brought them back to the fortress. It wasn't until they were in that bed that Link realized how long the affair had been. Nabooru coming in after the underground coupling and playing with their one-year-old daughter had flashed through the Gerudo's mind-and Link saw it. The time span of deception had been established then. All he could do in response was curse at them for a few hours, before falling silent and giving in to the pain.

"It doesn't matter what I do," Link said in a very calm voice before getting to his feet. "I'm always someone's pawn. 'Save Hyrule,' they said. 'Save it four times and then save a place called Termina, too.' Then I do it all and finally break free of them, but then…" he turned around to the open door, spotting the Queen Zelda who had been standing there for hours before he acknowledged her. "…you. Train soldiers, help build buildings and homes-how did that end? Does the pawn get a pat on the head or a 'Good job'? No, he gets what amounts to little more than 'My kingdom's restored; you're no longer needed.'"

Link's entire body shook for a moment, as though something cold ran down his spine. A faint crackling sound touched everyone's ears, yet no one moved to discern what it was. They had better not, because he had the floor for once and he wasn't relinquishing hold until everyone heard him out. Nabooru, for all of her concerns, had slipped on her veil of indifference without knowing it. It was a look she used to irk Ganondorf when he tried to physically torment her; it was Nabooru's emotional shield.

Each time Link looked at her, she seemed to have a look that said, "Are you done yet?" In a blur, he snatched his cap off and ran his fingers through his hair, almost violently ruffling his white locks to scratch a flea infestation. Unconsciously, Link incinerated his hat with a blind inkling of the power he held within.

"Even when that wasn't enough to drill home my place," Link paused, swallowing the scorching fury that climbed up his throat upon looking at his wife and her chosen with their thing growing inside of her… there were no words to describe how he felt about that. "So, I come out here and meet another queen with a kingdom in ruin, only she seems to genuinely care about me. Well, we wouldn't want Link to get too comfortable by finding out that he isn't really some piece of trash being kicked around by life. So, you know what that means-the world is in danger again, and who needs to be slapped around to save it?

Heh, saved the world, killed my own father to do it, got and married this queen. The series begins again with simple me trying to help rebuild a group of women who've been through something I wouldn't wish on anyone. Ah, but this time I have the ability to not only help, I can also improve their place in the world. I did this and seemed to forget my wife. I suppose I was being a bit selfish trying to do something with my power, huh? What kind of selfish jerk establishes trading routes, peace treaties, and gives grown women their own bedrooms? Whatever, let's just say Link was wrong and move on. That sound like a fair trade to everybody?"

No one spoke, as expected.

"Good. So, rather than come to me-your husband-and inform me of my lack of attention, you seek him and don't see fit to tell me anything for the next three or four years!" As Link bellowed, a slit appeared in the crestfallen warrior's brow, extending down over his right eye and chin. From this wound bled a yellow light, almost as though a candle were shining through his flesh.

Link, again, gave a rather cold chuckle before speaking another word. "Ah, but my dear Nabooru only tells me of my flaws and shortcomings. Never once does she say, 'I found my attention in another, and I'm sorry for never telling you.' No, I'm the only one at fault, as usual. All that time away from both my wife and child in that realm. All the while I'm trying to do right by you!" His eyes narrowed into vengeance-filled slits, as Nabooru's impassive look held. "All the while… you're in a hole in the ground somewhere with him." Link's voice trailed out like a dying star whose heavenly glow collapsed in on it. He shook his head, before falling silent for a long moment to look at the floor.

Without warning, his head jerked up and leveled off at the betrayers.

"Then, when the tension finally breaks, I'm made aware of my failure. Goddess, how did I let it get that far gone?" He seemed to relive that question in an instant, as Nabooru closed her eyes with an anguished sigh that screamed, "Get on with it" to her husband. "It was my fourth year of marriage and I'd already messed it up. But there was hope! You said I could try to rebuild your faith and respect in me. For fourteen years, I did everything short of cosmically interfering to earn that faith and respect back-even after you told me that I had made amends a year later. I wanted to make sure I made good amends, though. After all of this, that, and the other-what do I get? Tell me! What do I get?" Link screamed at her, as the flesh from the right side of his face peeled off and flittered to the floor like a bird's lost feather.

The golden energy that shimmered beneath the surface of his skin reflected off the dark marble floor. A few more cracks appeared at Link's neck, allowing more of the mystical power to escape and poison the mortal realm. The only change this 'other' half had on Link's appearance was the disappearance of his right nostril and the right most parts of his lips. His eyes still bore down on her all the same though, Nabooru realized morosely.

Those same eyes that used to watch her sleep at night and tell her that she was beautiful, now only held pain and contempt. More than that, they held the power to erase this event from time. Nabooru knew that wouldn't happen. Link wasn't opposed to using his powers to create or undo an unjustified death, but he didn't like reshaping history. Nabooru knew him well enough to know that Link saw this as the way she wanted things-and he was never beyond giving her what she wanted… even if she didn't want it in this case.

"I'll tell you what I got," Link whispered, despite his Hylian flesh and clothing beginning to burn away. "'My kingdom's restored, and my people are rich. Your services are no longer required.'"

The golden smoke continued to rise, eventually picking up the pace and consistency of which it drifted off him.

"I neglected you for the greater part of our first four years together, and I still felt bad about that. You even allowed me to think I had a shot at redemption and ultimately forgave me. But the reality in all of this is that you never gave me a chance. The moment I messed up, you judged me a failure and sought the solution to your problems with him. I…" He choked on his next word, taking a deep, labored breath at his inability to hold back the tear of a grief-stricken husband.

"I deserve better than this," he resolved, standing in the same moment. "One year out of eighteen and that's all. One year where the happiness and love was real. Now, what? My daughter has to be bribed into saying more than ten words to me that don't involve screaming or arguing. I have a son who, despite my best efforts, still thinks he has to become this legendary warrior to have me love him. And I let all of that fall by the wayside to ensure I didn't lose you…" the crescendo of his voice faded into a twisted sound of howling wind, as his clothes and weapons all finally turned into golden vapor. "I deserve better than this… better than both of you."

Link dropped his hateful eyes on Zelda as that last line left his mouth. He took a look at his left hand for a moment, before taking his wedding band off for the first time. For a time, it merely floated about in the air like a shimmering firefly, reflecting the majestic light from his face. In a flash, Link thumped it toward his wife. The ring flew towards Nabooru's head like a small cannonball, only to stop a few inches from her and dangle like a spider from its web. The look of indifference vanished from her face that instant, as the weight of the ring fell onto the sheets between her legs. The apology that she'd been waiting to say had also vanished, leaving only a look of incredulousness and silent begging.

It was too late; the figure they all knew as Link no longer existed. The last scrap of his clothing turned into gold vapor. While most of his body seemed to turn into a flowing gold, a flame of sheer darkness began to engulf him. There was no other way to describe the aura, for nothing was visible beyond it. Even the fleeting sunlight seemed to retreat across the floor away from its obsidian depths. Zelda screamed, as a tendril of the black matter lashed out from him and struck her squarely on the right shoulder. That familiar smile crept across Link's face, only adding to this most surreal of events for the spectator beside his wife. Slowly lifting his palms from his sides, Link seemed to absorb the aura surrounding him.

"I can't win," he whispered, as the blackness slowly crawled up what once were his thighs. "The strongest of gods and I still can't win the one fight I want to."

A shock of thunder rumbled the fortress to its foundation as Link's entire head was swallowed into the abyss of his self-created darkness. Before anyone could react or even ask, the shadowy overlay on his person stopped moving. It stretched over his flesh like a second skin, before it glazed over. Link would look like an onyx statue if it weren't for his living eyes still peering out at them. Slowly, though, this dark lacquered presence slid down over his eyes, and turned that cold blue into the bloodiest red. No one breathed, as this Link statue began to sway back and forth… back and forth… back and…

"Link!" Nabooru and Zelda both shouted, but it was, again, too late.

Link tipped over and shattered. The resulting release of power brought forth a wave of rainbow-esque light from the remains of his body and exploded the bedroom's windows out. Outside, Gerudo women screamed in terror and ran from falling glass, as the ring of light drifted across the sky like a flaming wave in every direction. The colossal roar it created seemed like that of a wounded animal the size of Hyrule itself. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that it carried on unhindered around the world, drowning out the loudest of bells or the horniest of cats caterwauling at the moon.

Something was wrong those women knew. They had heard Link yelling, which was a rare occasion in itself, but enough to do this? There was no way Queen Zelda could have survived that. Takara, the only other Gerudo to face him for those boys' lives so long ago, looked up to the tower in the sky and simply wondered what Lady Nabooru would have to say about such an outburst when she came back.

But why would Queen Zelda be here if Lady Nabooru left to visit her? Her question would've been answered had she known Link had warped her fair lady back to the fortress mere moments before Queen Zelda was allowed to go up and greet Link. Unfortunately, this would be a shock everyone would have to endure.

Shortly after the deafening sounds and ominous light had began, Sepaaru made the leap from her position atop the gate, and ran for the fortress's interior grounds followed closely by her son and his older sister who'd been swimming in the lake. The children had paused, aghast at the wave of light that emanated from their father's room. The red curtains blew outward like great sails, giving the tower an appearance of having eyes with tears of blood. They didn't make another step forward, thankfully. Neither of them had ever seen their father remotely angry, as his method of arguing consisted of using sarcasm to fend off any insult that could be thrown.

Damn, what did that woman say to get a response like that? Zelda thought, dragging her brother back to the lake to get their towels before investigating this any further.

Unfortunately, Sepaaru hadn't been so quickly startled…

The Gerudo warrior ran headlong into the fortress. Like she'd been trained to do, Sepaaru had brought her sword and shield to the ready upon entering the building. The metallic purple blade reflected the torches in the spiraling staircase that led to Link and Nabooru's room, as did the Mirror Shield he'd forged for her as well. That scream was Link and whatever had the power to do that to him couldn't be good. The stairs tapered into a curved hallway, but the Gerudo kept her wits. Sepaaru cautiously eased the edge of her sword around the left bend. Her eyes bulged in disbelief and a pit of dread began to bubble in her stomach seeing the scorched door blown completely off its hinges within the reflection.

In the logical part of her mind, this obviously meant that two gods were fighting and her presence wouldn't serve any usefulness. However, in that illogical part of her mind that she constantly battled, this was Link in trouble… and her mother. He wouldn't give a rat's ass what it was-powers or not-he'd go in swinging to get the people he cared for out unharmed. Sepaaru steadied herself with a deep breath, and began to ease down the scorched brick wall. She was careful not to groan as the hot rock nipped her flesh, but soon she arrived at the side of their door. Again, using her sword, the warrior glanced around the room via its reflection. No Link? There was just Zelda, Nabooru… and some naked guy in the bed with Lady Nabooru!

"What happened?" she asked, upon entering the room while retiring her weapons to their proper places on her back. "Mother, what…?"

Nabooru didn't respond, instinctively reaching for Link's ring and pulling her knees against her chest beneath the covers. Taking a better look around, Sepaaru noticed that only exits were smashed or otherwise damaged-like something… or someone did it while trying to leave as fast as they could. All traces of Link were also missing from the room as well. His weapon collection, his masks, and on down to his boots were all gone.

"You didn't…" It wasn't a question, more so than it was an incomplete thought.

"She did," a new voice sighed with a strange familiarity. A man appeared in one of the windowsills-a very tall man, thinly muscled, light blue tunic, and… hair that seemed to have a hard time staying one color for more than a few seconds. There was omnipresence in his green eyes that seemed to dictate his knowledge of everything around him… almost like Link when his eyes were completely white, Sepaaru noticed.

"L-Link," Nabooru whispered, a small hiccup parting his name. It seems only fitting that your voice would surface now, a part of her seemed to say.

"No." Vic informed her none-too-kindly, strolling in and taking a seat on her vanity. "I'm Victorious, Vic for short or Vicky if you want to try my patience. I'm Link's uncle, notice the family resemblance?" He turned his head right-despite the obviousness of their almost identical facial features-to emphasize his point.

"Then… why are you here?" Nabooru asked while growing uncomfortable with all of the interlopers.

"He said that you were a strong one." A strong what this god didn't see fit to articulate on. "Well, I stopped by to bring news of another one of those pesky end-of-the-world scenarios. But guess what?" His flippant attitude became serious in an instant, as his now overtly yellow hair segued into a purplish black hue. "We're lacking a savior thanks to you!" Everyone jumped at the boom of his voice, before he switched demeanors along with his hair to a more placid brown.

Calmly, Vic said, "From the time he's spent in my company, I've gathered quite a bit of information from my nephew. That's probably why I keep losing to him-his mind is so interesting that I can't rightfully think." He paused, realizing that no one knew what the hell he was talking about. "It would be fascinating if he weren't family, but in this case it could hold potentially lethal results."

"How so?" Sepaaru questioned with an unwavering voice given whom she was speaking to.

"Link," Vic replied. "He processes fear and rejection rather rigidly. He goes into a tunnel vision of two basic emotions. The first is sadness, where he seems to introvert and inspect himself for a flaw that usually isn't there. Second, after a few days of this inspecting, he usually concludes with rage mingled paranoia. People start becoming little more than things that may or may not hurt him, which leaves a wide margin for…" the god stopped, searching for the right term, "…mass murder. In other words, if someone says the wrong thing to him wherever he may touch down, his once simple lashing out may destroy a city, a country, or collapse this realm."

Feeling he had successfully frightened them into mind-numbing silence, Vic continued by adding, "We tried to warn him about messing with you people…"

"What do you mean, you people?" Nabooru snapped, before catching a rather hardened look from his solid green eyes.

"Mortals," Vic replied, narrowing his eyes much like Link had earlier. "You don't understand the meaning of love."

"I love my husband," Nabooru countered, weakly shouting the proclamation as though it were a last effort to stop a charging bull.

Or do you just love having someone around to do your bidding? That voice called out inside her mind.

"You don't sleep with other people for the almost entire duration of your marriage when you love the one you're with," he replied smoothly, stalling her instantly. "Most new gods discontinue their relationships with mortals when they learn that you all are incapable of returning the sentiment. Don't misunderstand, you can love someone-just not enough to fulfill our needs. However, due to your short life spans, you aren't capable of loving someone for more than your natural life or a century at most. By then, your feelings cease or begin to shift but it doesn't matter since you're almost dead. Those long term mortals are rare, though. But your type of mortal…"

Vic stood, and absent-mindedly began to toy with Nabooru's hairbrush.

"You're short-term," he said, as the anticipation peaked. "When your mate makes a mistake, you don't forgive easily and your first instinct is revenge. You usually don't realize what you've done until it's too late and instead of mending fences, you build walls of excuses to justify your actions and flawed reasoning."

He let the brush bounce noisily back on the dresser before continuing.

"I guess Link was banking on you being one of those long term types, which meant you'd love him forever if you lived forever." The god shook his head with a pitying glance at the pictograph of Link and Nabooru at the Hyrule Carnival from 3 years prior. They were snuggled together with big smiles. It was a shame the man in that picture now looked upon those memories as fallacies.

"Mom," Zelda called, charging up the stairs, barreling into the room, and skidding to a halt beside the queen who shared her namesake. Nabooru paled, as the embarrassment quadrupled with the appearance of her child. With the appearance of young Link, Nabooru rolled over onto her side to simply avoid the humiliation of facing them. The seven-year-old tried to comprehend what was going on. Whatever he couldn't exactly name, he knew meant bad things.

"Dad, is this another one of your jokes?" Zelda demandingly asked, not yet noticing the features that set Vic apart from her father.

"You must be the wonderful Zelda," Vic said with little enthusiasm, but a beguiled sarcasm.

"He says that he's your father's uncle," Sepaaru added, cryptically watching this unknown. This made things a bit interesting, as the soon to be 18-year-old Gerudo Princess had never met any of her parents' relatives.

"I don't think I'll be able to forget you for as long as I live," Vic spoke as though he were referring to something mentally scarring. "Uh, 30 years that man droned on and on about you. I remember the first time he spoke of his family… it didn't end for two weeks. 'Did I tell you about my daughter?' he'd ask, before going on whether or not you answered him. 'She's the most beautiful child in the world, but the kid has gas like you wouldn't believe. I remember this one night, I was giving her a bath and she literally skimmed across the water on her own-bubbling along like a little boat!' On and on he went. I think I know more about your digestive system than I do my own."

"Oh, god!" she groaned, as her brother began to laugh at the very notion of his uppity sister passing gas on the level to move her. "It's not like any of you have never done it!" The burgeoning laughter made her cheeks flush but she held her ground… barely.

"Ah, and let me guess who you are," Vic began, turning his attention to what could easily pass for his son. "Link, am I right?" The boy nodded proudly, having taken a great deal of pride in the name a while ago. "So, you're the one who fueled his later stories of urine streams that touched the sky." Link's laughter ended, as his mother began to laugh at the distant memories.

Looking back at Nabooru, who'd yet to uncurl her body, Vic continued his guilt-filled sermon.

"I'm not a parent, so I can't say if this much emotional investment is natural or what." He stopped long enough to walk across the giant room and stand directly in Nabooru's line of vision. "During his time with us, he only stopped to speak of you and your daughter. I've never seen anyone animate and die in so many ways. The moment we had to literally force him to stop talking about you two, Link seemed to simply die on his feet.

But at the same time, he absorbed the ways of a god absurdly fast… it wasn't normal. Things that should've taken years, he mastered in hours. Things that he shouldn't have been able to understand without centuries of regimes, he took in and processed on the spot. You would have thought he had this grand scheme to conquer existence like his father, but all Link wanted to do was make sure his little girl didn't have his nightmares anymore and make sure he didn't accidentally harm you. Heh, we only kept him for the last twenty-five years to ensure our own safety…"

"Why do you even care?" Nabooru croaked, sobbing silently into her pillow to avoid looking anyone in the eye.

Because you don't, the voice seemed to whisper in Nabooru's ear.

Vic raised an eyebrow as Nabooru muttered that she did care and shook her head violently.

"If I thought he'd get over this I wouldn't," he replied coldly, disregarding her minute rambling. "However, Link has something here that I don't want him to lose-not after witnessing the work he put in to keep it. There is also the fact that he is the only family I have left that isn't (1) ridiculously violent; (2) stupid to the point of irrational violence; and (3) can carry on a conversation for longer than three minutes without bragging about how many lands he's conquered."

Everyone watched as this familiar face approached the bed and gently tugged the pillows from the Gerudo Queen's limp fingers. She stared up at him, looking as though her heart had been ripped from her chest, and out through her throat.

"Link has the strongest will I've ever seen, but you can't confuse the power his physical appearance exudes with his emotional state of mind. He's frail up here," the god said, tapping his temple for effect.

"How can you say that?" Queen Zelda asked, bewildered enough by this revelation to actually speak. "He's one of the most intelligent people I've ever known…"

"True," Vic interjected, though, still staring into the teary eyes of Nabooru like he was searching for something. "But he lacks a number of social or people skills that most of you take for granted."

He noticed none of them seemed to understand this, so he continued.

"Everyone in this room has had something Link never had. You all had parents or parental figures where you got your bearings. The majority of Link's social skills were gathered on the fly through books and observation. He's never had someone there to tell him that his philosophy about a subject is wrong. His one parental figure is trapped in a forest, so in that respect, he's never even had someone to relate to the problems that were encountered outside of Kokiri. That's why he tends to speak without restraint or tact in some cases…"

"He's still like a child," Nabooru interrupted softly, shrinking even further under her ruby colored sheets.

"No," Vic said, though, with an air of something that lent itself to agreeing with her assumption. "Link is more a man who never learned when to hold his tongue or when to change his ideologies. And the instances where he does, it's probably more to protect himself than the person with whom he would be speaking. Living here with all of you has been an incredible learning experience for him, I would assume. If nothing else, you've had to have broken down a lot of his twisted concepts about life."

He seemed to reconsider that statement the moment it left his lips.

Vic then added, "I doubt you've changed his main hang up, though. His vision of love, as simple as it may sound, involves a couple he watched dance over the years. They were so focused on one another in public that everyone else seemed to cease being there. In Link's mind, this is twisted to the extremity of no one actually existing when he was with you. What Link didn't see were the problems this couple experienced and overcame.

What I'm trying to say is this: Link's foundation as a person is built on half of the truth. What Link didn't observe or read, he makes up as he goes along. And what he can't make up, he tends to destroy or shut his feelings off too entirely to treat the situation or person like an enemy." Vic paused, blinking his eyes at long last, before moving away from Nabooru.

"That doesn't make sense," Nabooru mumbled, feeling as though something had been lifted off her brain.

"Doesn't it," the god replied, folding his arms across his chest. "You remember when you finally told him that it was his lack of attention that allowed you to be so angry with him for so long?"

She concurred with a stiff nod, realizing that he'd scanned her mind during his idle staring.

"Do you also remember how confused he looked when you told him-almost as though he thought you were lying?" Nabooru also remembered that. "To be blunt, he honestly didn't know any better. To him, parents were there as much as Hylian possible for their children. And since he could actively be there at your daughter's beck and call 24 hours a day, this was perceived to be the correct way of handling things.

Again, this is what he figured through seeing parents with their children. He didn't see parents taking a moment to relax or stay intimate. So, as with everything else, Link built his parenting around half of the story." Vic watched as Nabooru absorbed his roundabout tale, before deciphering that she had essentially taken revenge against Link for something he really had no way of preventing.

Vic continued by saying, "Then there's you," his eyes drifted to his left and landed on the Queen Zelda and stopped. "The infamous Queen Zelda… I imagine Link displayed some not entirely normal behavior in your midst along the lines of what I'm talking about." Her mouth opened to deny his ponder, but suddenly shut. Nabooru sat up to hear this, wiping her eyes with the back of her right hand, and keeping the sheet around her nude form. In fact, everyone looked to the queen for her reply.

"Well, he did have this thing about trying to make his life seem better than it was," she said thoughtfully. "I suppose I wanted to believe his stories about how easy his battles had been, but one day I finally stopped looking at his face, and looked at his body. Most of the scars were faded, yet this huge one across his stomach seemed to stand out like a candle with a blue flame. When I asked him how he got that one…" her voice trailed.

"He ran," Vic concluded for her to which the queen nodded sadly. "See? One of those times where holding his tongue was done more to protect what he had instead of to be tasteful. Although, that situation could've been Link's way of lying to himself about how bad it really was. He couldn't exactly make up something to downplay the pain such a wound would warrant, so he shut down and retreated because he didn't know how to handle it.

Now, imagine with everything I've told you about him, Link still felt he had to portray someone who was invincible to his wife, his kids, and anyone else who happened to know his name. None of you ever take into consideration that he may not know something or can have his feelings hurt-you just see the warrior god and his muscles and figure him invincible. And after all these years of being this pillar of strength for you all when he himself may have been weak, what exactly happens?"

His head craned slowly towards the bed, letting a stern look befall Nabooru.

"The day after his 18th wedding anniversary, he finds the person he's sacrificed the most for shacked up in a hole in the ground." Vic sighed, shaking his head in a pitying manner as he couldn't even feel his nephew's presence. That was a lot of energy released into this realm to not leave a single trace. Heh, the kid really didn't want to be found if he dimmed out like this. "How does ultimate revenge feel, Nabooru? It must have been surreal to not have him immediately forgive you." The question was every bit as accusatory as it had sounded, even to the interloping children. "Looks like he finally found his pride again and that's probably the only thing he's thanking you for at this point."

Nabooru wanted to argue his implied claims, but she couldn't. This Vic had taken those thoughts right out of her mind along with who knew what else. Her rage-filled eyes continued to linger on the giant until his image rippled with the re-emergence of her tears. This hadn't played out anything like her fantasies. Link was supposed to find her and Cornelius, realize his error, and they'd reconcile. She had never expected to tell him of his indiscretion, let alone get such an apology out of him on that beach. How could she then turn around and tell him that she'd been sleeping with someone else?

That would've crushed him, Nabooru thought. Admit it-you just got off on the fact that you had someone who'd fuck you when you wanted it! You just threw away everything to have power over someone! She shook her head for no apparent reason to the spectators, but to Nabooru it was a feeble attempt to dismiss her own conscience.

Or were you worried Link would have crushed you? Vic projected unto her mind. I don't think you gave him enough credit. He would've been able to understand that your history with men and magic would lend to some fears about upsetting them.

Will I ever have a chance to make this up to him? Nabooru asked the god, hoping against reality that this wouldn't be the final chapter of her marriage.

I'd venture to say no, Vic thought back to her truthfully. She broke gazes with him, as the mere thought felt like someone had kicked her in the stomach. He let her squirm for a moment before his mortal imbued pity took over and made him attempt to cheer this creature up. I cannot predict the future, so you may very well have a chance. How big or small that chance is dependant entirely upon Link.

The conversation ended there, though, the silence continued until Zelda managed to ask, "Are you sure that you aren't my father's brother?"

The particularly uncomfortable teen looked at her uncle with an obvious guilt, having heard most of her father's yelling out by the lake. Her damp hair, despite hanging mostly in her eyes, did little to mask the way she felt from the rest of the room. She closed her eyes and just imagined some of things she'd said to and about her father. Even the way he slightly shook when she said something particularly nasty, plastering a rather withered smile on his face-it all came back with startling clarity now. She jumped some, as Vic snapped his fingers at her.


"Indeed," he interrupted her apology with. "Your great grandfather, my father, looked like this. Or rather, I should say, he looked like your father." He strolled lazily towards the foot of the bed before resting atop Link's old foot locker to continue. "Being the first and-only-child of the gods that would be later known as the Originals, dad came out completely removed from the violent people who birthed him. His predecessors, while incredibly strong, were also incredibly stupid. They were intended to be servants for the beings called Fate and Destiny, so they all possessed powers that spanned jurisdiction-meaning they could affect everything. However, their touch was poison to mortal and immortal alike. Their effects on mortals were the abilities to inspire a blind rage and bloodlust-the two most common factors of what we now call war."

"So, they were all like slaves?" Sepaaru asked, as she was having a hard time digesting such a thing as speaking with a god in person as it was.

"No, because they were a bit too stupid to perform the tasks required of them or to be controlled," Vic corrected with minimal pause. "But like I said, the first batch was defective. Fate and Destiny had drained themselves in their creation and could only make lesser gods to counteract them, the powerful defect. Insert a lot of cross-breeding and things evened out. Most of those lesser gods were wiped out by the offspring produced from the cross-breeding. The children created, though, came to be known as your more modern, smarter, and more controllable gods. In turn, those remaining Originals were finally exiled by a restored Fate and Destiny.

The thing is, though, only one couple from the original lineup ever produced offspring; the offspring was my father. In much the same vein as Link, dad excelled on every single aspect of his powers like his parents. He had the ability to control time, space, nature and the like-where as most gods can only do one or two of those in great abundance. He also proved that, while stupid themselves, the Originals could produce intelligent children. The way I hear it is Fate and Destiny couldn't banish dad because he was too strong, so in-turn, they raised him." He chuckled to himself watching as his niece stood in a puddle of lake water, clutching her towel with a sense of urgency to absorb this information.

"Then what happened?" Link finally chimed in, eagerly awaiting the continuation of this story about his dad's dad's dad… or something close.

"Then nothing really, dad met mom-a goddess named Cyria, who was a water deity-and had a few dozen kids. This also proved that filtering went into dad's creation, as none of his children killed mom while giving birth." Vic rotated his neck, as though he earnestly had a pain in his neck. "I forgot how painful it is to be in this form. But like I was saying, all of the kids that resembled father were stronger than the rest-not to mention we were all a little more prone to violence. Keep in mind: We weren't mindlessly violent; we just all had rather bitter streaks, though. And in that bitterness, we possess another common trait-the ability to kill one of our own.

It's the one constant that continues through the family line. Each of us that you would call a God of War has the ability to extinguish the flame of a god. While other gods can too, they must be relatively established and overtly powerful to do it, where as we war gods can cut through the ranks regardless of power. We also possess durability unlike the others. We can kill each other, but no one else can kill us-no matter how strong. Fate and Destiny never refute or confirm that, but I'd venture to say they-and possibly the Originals-are the only ones capable of destroying us as a unit.

Link, my brother, was an exact duplicate of father for about 60 years, and then his eye color changed to black like our mother's. Where as the rest of us who favored father in face were strong, Link's birth established that the one who mirrored him would more than likely be the strongest among us. Seeing your father at full mass showed me how much eye color really matters, because I thought Big Brother represented the peak of power that dad's line bestowed.

I digress, though.

The familiarity to father is important for two reasons: the first being Link, my brother, was powerful, obscenely powerful-almost to the point of rivaling father at the tender age of 30. The second being Link began to revel in his ability to kill those gods around him and absorb their powers for his own. Dad kept him in line for a long while, but eventually his quest for power became too strong. And once father got sucked into that vortex when the Originals punched through to our reality again, Link became the greatest thing around.

Big Brother continued to abuse his gifts, which eventually led to his being wrangled into falling in love-an emotion he was thought to be above-kicking and screaming. It was funny watching him go from this arrogant loudmouth to a twitchy mass of a god when Esmerelda came around. He swore up and down that she meant nothing for eons, and then they were wed, and then your father's conception happened. And well, I think I'll leave that part for him to explain."

No one made a sound. Sepaaru's face seemed indifferent to the whole tale, as though she'd heard it before. Both Zeldas stood with eyes that were disbelieving and believing all at one time. Link's son, however, looked like he was about ready to burst if he didn't tell someone outside of that room what he'd heard. No one would believe him, but Vic could tell the child wouldn't care so long as he said it. Link stopped smiling under this stranger's gaze, before he felt something tickle the back of the inside of his head.

"Get out of my head!" he shouted, before Vic jerked violently, almost as if he were pushed.

"Hmm, sensitive aren't you?" The question was rhetorical, but the god couldn't help raising his eyebrows at this child's inner-strength. Perhaps things translated through to mortals as well. After all, the child wore the family face well. "Sorry, force of habit… as weird as that is to be saying."

"So, is Link the great evil or are you just here to make everyone feel bad before we possibly die?" Sepaaru asked dryly. "And if it is Link… is there anything we can do to stop him?" There was a hint of something in her voice, which made the god grow agitated. However, this could prove slightly entertaining, while also insuring the safety of existence.

"It depends on how far he takes this rejection," Vic began, standing abruptly and striding over to one of the blown out windows. He looked out over the horizon, inhaling the summer air and the flowery scent drifting lazily about in the valley with little to no outward emotion. "If, and I do mean if, he comes back… one of you may have the ability to change his destructive path. You'll have five years-maybe less given who he is-time to restore his faith. By then, he will be beyond mortal means of having his mind changed. Then he'll completely destroy his restraint and become what he believes himself to be."

"And what does he think he is?" Zelda asked, particularly concerned about her father's welfare for the first time in years.

"A monster," Cornelius whispered, staring straight ahead at his reflection in Nabooru's mirror at the far end of the room.

Everyone had seemingly forgotten that he was there until now. That gave him the time to literally reflect on what he'd done for the last 17 years of his life. Goddess, he'd been sleeping with another man's wife-how could he do this? He squeezed the bridge of his nose, trying to purge that look of absolute pain in Link's eyes. He easily imagined himself in the same position, considering his wife had come to him and actively complained about their lack of time together.

Hell, the night his wife stormed to the Archery Hut and told him to choose between an order from Queen Zelda or her started this whole mess. She was just supposed to be someone to talk to, he thought dejectedly. Unlike Link, however, his wife stayed. She even apologized when he'd come back home from his duty of escorting Lady Nabooru back to hers. He didn't deserve Isabella, not after this or that night. But like Nabooru, he made the choice to continue their affairs and lie… just blatantly lie to their respective lovers.

"I have to go," he spoke suddenly, finding his clothing was also transported to this room via whatever magic. Vic watched him dress, ignoring the man's nudity and instead observing the plethora of scars gracing his back. From this angle, he was almost as tall as Link. Even the gray hair appeared whiter than gray, which also gave an illusion of Link in some kind of collage of his old Hylian flesh and his unharmed godly guise. Heh, Nabooru merely substituted her inattentive husband with the closest facsimile that she could find that gave her the attention she desired. Vic noted the entertainment value of the mortal subconscious, but this was family and the entertainment value was exceedingly low.

"You can't leave," Nabooru said, shocking most before she continued. "Link will kill you out there."

Cornelius continued to dress without a word.

"I know," he replied in a voice brimming with soothing bass. To everyone, especially Queen Zelda, this behavior seemed oddly familiar. Vic merely observed, as his natural instincts compelled him to do.

"There's no point in throwing your life away," Nabooru said crossly, also using Cornelius to substitute anger on.

He looked at her, smiled even, before the situation rammed back into his brain again, and spoke.

"Do I honestly deserve to live?" he asked seriously looking for an answer, though it became obvious she wouldn't give him one. "I've drove off two children's father, lied to my wife, and I honestly deserve to breathe? If I'm lucky, then yes I do deserve to live. If I'm not, it's justice. I just want to apologize before he comes for my head." Cornelius slid his last boot on.

"Before you go," Vic interrupted. "I'm curious to know why you feel as though Link thinks himself a monster."

Cornelius raised an incredulous eyebrow, figuring this… god to have known all about Link.

"I only know as much as he doesn't guard," Vic said in response to the man's thoughts. "There is a small section of Link's mind that is never opened. And needless to say, if you can evade my mental prowess, I have no problems with accepting your privacy."

Cornelius seemed to accept this, as he sat back on the edge of the bed and scratched the back of his neck in thought.

"It disturbed him more than he showed," the knight spoke cryptically, smiling both smugly and sarcastically. "I reckon it was a couple of weeks after he'd been revealed to be the Hero of Time and the guy who defeated Ganondorf. Me, and my brothers Jonas, Angus, and Lars had decided to answer this call to become knights." Cornelius laughed, shaking his head and muttering something. "Idiots we were, but I remember being in the crowd and seeing the way the women all responded to the then 16-year-old Link. The screaming, the whispers of how cute he was, and how brave-I wanted that recognition, too. Anyway, we showed up and the instructor turned out to be the great hero himself.

'Heh, so this is the great Hero of Time?' I asked, trying him right out of the gate.

'Link will suffice,' he told me, brushing me aside and telling us all to line up.

For whatever reason, I couldn't stand him. No," he reconsidered, "I wanted to be him. I challenged everything he asked or said for the next few months just to see what would get to him-nothing ever did. You'd think I was as old as Rampart," Sepaaru stiffened at the mere mention of that insect's name, "but I was about 22 at the time. Anyway, Link had long since thinned the herd of the weak with his absurd workout regime-running from the castle to Lake Hylia, all the way up Death Mountain, and back to the courtyard without stopping to start, then staying awake for at least 2 days, etc. I was used to dad riding us hard when we were on a job with him, so I had stamina to spare. About 15 out of the original 40 did it and now it was time to start with the sword training.

'Where in the hell are the real swords? These are sticks!' I yelled at him when he brought that barrel of what I called firewood out.

'We aren't trying to kill each other,' he told me, 'just learn the basics.'

We were paired off before Link noticed he was a man short and decided he'd substitute. This was it, I thought. It was time to upstage this fluke. All I had to do was beat him into the dirt and I'd be the one with the fame. I'd have two women for each arm and both legs. Forgive me, if I smile while telling this, but it just makes me laugh looking back on it." Cornelius warned, though already fully submersed in the memory before Vic nodded for the continuance.

"So, I attacked him lightly at first. He was trying to give me pointers on balance and how to strike properly, where as I was more focused on waiting for him to take his eyes off me. Rambles ran in, once again, preparing to beg Link to let him train to become a knight. Link looked down at him and boom!" He smacked his right fist into his left palm. "I smashed him right across the back of his head. I know I said we were fighting with sticks, but these were some fat little suckers. I proceeded to beat him in payback for making me look bad by not feeling bad about my insults and jokes. I beat him to take his place. And as he stumbled around to face me, I cracked him right under the chin with that stick to show him that I was better. His scrawny 16-year-old frame hit the grass and I stood triumphant. Something should have told me I hadn't won when he didn't welt or bruise after that, but I was already celebrating.

'Hero of Time my ass,' I shouted, turning to face all of those who were aspiring to be like him openly. They looked so lost watching me go on and on about my superiority while their hero writhed in the grass.

'Weak,' I heard him mumble from behind me. There was no way in hell he could get up after that, I thought. I would turn around and Link would still be sprawled out. Come on, I'd laid guys out twice as large with my bare hands. There was no way this boy could take a thrashing from me with a weapon… my mind just wouldn't allow that to be possible. Oh, but it was.

'You… You… You… You're in trouble now!' Rambles, who'd snuck in again, said, as he ran back to the others who were now smiling about something.

By the time I turned around, Link was pushing back to his feet. Still, he was moving so slow that I knew I could beat him if he wanted some more. The things we tell ourselves, huh? He stood up, clutching his stick and cracking his neck back and forth. I remember when he turned around… that look in his eyes. I just remember thinking, 'I'm not going to make it home today.' It was like my brain defaulted to weakness in face of him. I shook such petty things from my head and tried to defend myself. I really did… but it didn't matter. I then found myself trying to apologize, make small talk, and even quit like some kind of weakling.

'What the hell am I doing?' I thought, before affirming that I couldn't let him just run me over. So, I attacked him.

'Yah…' Saying the one syllable that I'll never forget, he struck my arm," Cornelius placed his hand over a ragged scar above his left bicep, "and it was broken. A 3-inch-thick Deku Stick… he'd broken my arm with a 3-inch-thick Deku Stick! It went right through the skin, too. Still, I tried to keep going to save what little face I had… never even realizing that I had no chance. I slashed wildly for his head, but he flipped out of the way and brought that stick across the back of both of my knees.

I crumbled, even cried out from the pain like a little girl. I don't know how I managed to stand up, but I did it! Goddesses help me, I was going to kill him right there! Then he hit me in the stomach. The impact picked me right up off the ground, and folded me around that stick like a wet shirt hung out to dry. All I remember immediately after that was Link saying, 'Do it right or don't do it at all.' By the time I healed and came back, these Chonoes people had declared war…"

"Ah," Vic chimed, "finally a point to all of this."

"Yeah," Cornelius said without missing a beat. "Every able male body Hyrule could muster stepped up, which brought our numbers to something like 3 or 400. We marched for a little over a day, before reaching this canyon just a few miles behind Hyrule Castle. Link led the pack on that horse of his, Epony… Epona-that's it! We seemed more like a traveling Circus Troupe than soldiers. Most of us were in our regular clothes since the smiths hadn't had time to make us armor, joking back and forth, and even grinding an organ like that one guy.

It didn't even seem like we were actually going to war, but more like taking a trip or something. I guess it was just the confidence he gave us-even though I wouldn't admit it at the time. But I remember Link looked like this was nothing, just a little trip on his horse. The time to reflect was short, because we were about to lose 2 or so thirds of our forces over the course of the next day.

Goddess, we never even saw them coming. Something exploded and all I remember is that guy who used to run the Happy Mask Shop screaming, before it went silent again. Then the Chonoes appeared-large men in full suits of rust colored armor, which blended perfectly with those cliffs they hid in-rushing in on us from all sides, cutting down our men left and right. I still remember their screams as the swords ripped into them. I had never seen people killed. I looked to Link for some direction, but he sat there with the same incredulous look as I did.

That's when the grimmest of all news hit me: Link had never seen such a thing, either. He just sat there while those iron balls-what Link later called cannonballs-rained down on us. The Goron and Zora people were in the thick of the battle, though, as were those who'd been in Link's training the longest. Most of the people out there had never even held a sword. You could easily tell those who hadn't, as they were the first to fall… and did a lot of them fall. But there he sat, frozen on top of that horse like a damn statue. Then our great savior started to gallop.

'Hah! I knew he wasn't a coward,' I thought, as he rode the horse right out of the battlefield and up the ridge.

I was stunned! I was mad! I was truly afraid for my life then. We were already outnumbered at least 3 to 1 and now our ace in the hole was gone. Again, most of those Hylians had never even held a sword, but they were fighting and dying because they had the great Hero of Time leading them. Never mind these 7-foot-tall barbarians bearing down on us. We had Link! Our numbers began to dwindle even sharper when they noticed he was gone-fear and panic set in and we were in the Goron and Zora hands." The room looked a little amazed by this turn of events, shocked that Link could ever be a deserter. Cornelius continued to shake, but stumbled through his tremors to continue his tale. "I remember someone shouting, 'Link, you coward! We need you!'

Turns out those words were coming out of my own mouth. I was no better though, hiding behind those rocks while everyone-even my own little brothers (barely into their teens) and father-fought. But damn it, Link was supposed to be better than me! That son of a bitch was supposed to keep stuff like that away from us!


I heard another one of those explosions and ducked. Then there was a scream right above me before one of the Chonoes' scorched body fell right in front of me. He tried to fight his death, twisting and writhing around in his slashed open armor like a tortured dog. No, he was trying to escape something… or someone. I looked up and I saw him-it was Link! I nearly cried in rejoice when I saw that green tunic, but I thought better of my sniveling when I noticed he was drawing a line on something with one of his magical arrows. That's all I can think to call it, because no arrow I've ever seen has had its tip enshrouded in light like that.


300 yards across the canyon and the arrow flew right down the barrel of their other canon, blowing it and the man who fired it into oblivion. And like that, Link was gone again. Hah, they wished he'd left!

'Yah,' the sound that signaled the true harbinger of death arose over all of the commotion on the field.

That's when he came barreling down that slope on that horse like the wind carried them. One arrow, two arrows, three-one headshot, two headshots, three-and a Chono was speared on the tip of each one. Once his quiver ran dry, Link literally jumped out of the saddle right into a group of about 20 of them.


A dome of fire went off at the epicenter of the pile… incinerating all of them right there in their own damn armor. Link was the only one left standing, but all he did was swig something green out of a bottle and run to the next group. 'Yah!' he shouted, cleaving his way through the pack to help Rampart, who'd snuck along for the trip despite being told otherwise by Link. Three of the monsters toyed with Rambles' life before they were all ran through on Link's blade.

Heh, I bet they didn't even see his face-that sword of his cut through their armor like chicken. I still remember the way the metal screeched. Ugh, it was horrible… it was pure mayhem, and Link absolutely thrived in it! He carried Rampart-a child almost his entire size-up one of the cliffs on one shoulder, blasting through warriors with that hook… no, Longshot weapon of his. Once he got my brother to safety, he pulled out another bottle, took a sip, and then charged back in. That's when he began to lob bombs at random.

Well, I thought it was random. But every time one exploded, only Chonoes' bodies flew. I stood in awe watching him work. He was like some kind of green mist that killed everything he touched. You knew who their best warriors were simply by looking at the cut of their armor, but it didn't matter. Even their greatest warriors only survived long enough to take something like two attacks from Link before death claimed them. There was no struggling to stand or fists heaved while promising revenge once he passed. Where Link appeared death laid claim to everything opposite his side-and nothing changed that.

Of course, I was too caught up watching him to even notice the warrior approaching my position.

He was weak, but determined to kill at least one of us and so, he managed to slice me a nice one in the back. I screamed, looking up as this giant was about to snuff my lights out, and froze. Link had to have been at least 100 yards away at last glance, but here he was flying over the rocks to save me. He beat the guy back with ease, parrying, and ducking everything this monster could feebly throw at him. And by feeble, I mean this guy was thrusting like a hellion for Link's blood.

It was only made feeble by the grace and fluidity that which Link evaded him, played with him even. I had front row seats to witness the Hero of Time-and I got my money's worth. Link knocked the giant down and proceeded to crouch into this stance, inching forward with his right leg and shield ahead of him. That's when I saw it-his sword began to glow! It looked like liquid fire lined its entire length and as the knight made his last charge…

'Yah!' Link spun like a top and split the poor bastard right in half like a melon! His torso went one way and his legs numbly continued forward before tipping over into the dirt. I didn't even notice how much blood had sprayed over me and my clothes.

'Take this,' was all Link said. He tossed me this bottle of pink stuff, did some weird hand motion that summoned this bluish diamond around his body, and ran back into the battle. Once I opened the lid, this fairy creature came out and gave its life to save my own. I couldn't be bothered with that… not after what I had seen. I scrambled back to the top of the rock to see more of his work, but what I saw overshadowed everything. One of the monsters had managed to grab Link in what can only be called a hug, but more intense. His little diamond flickered out after a moment, leaving him prone to the two big guys approaching the scene.

'A little young aren't you?' the man holding him shouted over the noise, as his comrades drew their weapons with twisted little smiles. 'Pity, you have to die so young.'

The tallest one lunged with the blade and went right through Link's damn stomach! I remember shaking my head, because this hadn't happened in my world. Link was a juggernaut and you didn't simply kill juggernauts like that. But they had, I swear it! Link's body hit the ground without a sound. He didn't even cry out after taking a sword through the gut! I continued to watch him spewing blood like some kind of fountain while those arrogant monsters laughed and idly discussed the will of these 'pathetic Hylians.'

It was over. Link had thinned their forces, but our forces were being forced and called to retreat into the cliffs by Darunia by now. Truth be told, they were tiring and in need of regrouping too. That's when I caught that pink twinkling around Link's corpse-that's all he could've been. I must've blinked for a moment too long, because I don't remember him even standing up.

'Yah!' Link performed some kind of jumping slash. Gods in heaven, it split the guy who'd held him captive from his head to his ass! His body peeled apart down that cleanest of cuts, only to release an 'Eyah!' The battle cry changed, I noticed, when Link did that spin cut of his. He had literally leapt over the first guy's halved corpse, hit the ground for a split second, and then did that spin. No matter, it left the other two in four pieces-torsos and legs again. Link looked back at the rocks, right into my eyes, and I shat myself. I kept on dumping like a child with the runs until he tore those narrowed eyes away from me and ran to assist where he could.

I sat there in my own shit for the rest of the day watching him take heads, arms, and whatever else that happened to fly off the victims. And make no mistake about it-they were victims. Until the day I go to my grave, I'll swear that none of them ever had a chance. Link was like a machine, chucking bombs, and spearing people with that weird Longshot of his. He never tired or wavered-and you could tell those Chonoes who'd escaped his attention for the moment were starting to notice him. The only reason I figure they hadn't noticed him sooner was his ability to blend in. Sure, he had on bright green, but something about his demeanor out there just made him seem to fade away, only to appear and take someone's life.

I'd say he killed 80 percent of their forces alone and the other 20 he had a hand in helping remove. Even when night fell, you could still hear their soldiers screaming as a faint 'yah' and his sword befell them. Then you'd see a light appear here or there before someone cried out and then it'd go silent. It went on like that the entire night. Link literally seemed like the night itself. No man could reach that many with the moon clouded over like that. By the time the sun had rose, the war-more like the slaughter-had ended. Two men were still alive from the opposing side, and both cowered on their knees before him. Their king had led them into battle, unfortunately, and now he would pay for his indiscretion.

The men who'd followed the Goron Darunia's order to fallback slowly emerged from the cliffs and caves, eventually coming to stand beside their hero and leader. I couldn't hear what they said from my distance, but…"

"Don't kill me," Zelda whispered, recalling this very event from one of her nightmares. This was the one where she literally experienced the kill through the little boy's eyes. Everyone looked at the young woman as tears streamed down her cheeks. It had been her father's life she witnessed. All of those monsters and pain… it was all his. Even as Vic spoke of her father training to end her nightmares the connection hadn't been made. But right now everything became clear. From the way Link looked when she ran screaming into their room after a particularly frightening dream, to the way he constantly apologized when holding her afterwards… this was his life she saw.

"I imagine he did beg," Cornelius reconsidered, though, too far gone in his memories to consider how the girl would know such a thing. "I only remember the screams… and the blood. He put that giant blade right through the guy's neck! I vomited when I saw the hilt turn, because I could hear the ripping of sinew and his blood gurgling. Somehow, someway, I managed to peer back over the rock to see how Link reacted.

Nothing… he looked at that man writhing in the throws of death and there was nothing-no pity, no remorse, and I had to squint to make sure that he wasn't in fact smiling. I, again, heaved, as I saw him pick up that lifeless head. He must've severed it during my squinting, but whatever the case, he simply stared at it almost as if to say, 'This cabbage appears to be spoiled.' Darunia had reached him by then, and it looked like it took all of his incredible strength to wrench the sword from Link's hand.

'Go!' he bellowed at the knight, who sobbed openly and loudly for his life. You could tell even Big Darunia was disturbed by what he'd seen, and feared this b… man in the child's body. I moved closer by sheer will alone, when I heard Darunia say, 'You are now your people's king. Tell them that this is what happens when they oppose the Hero of Time and Hyrule!' He waved his massive hand over the mangled corpses behind him, as the warrior nodded his understanding.

'Queen Zelda will make a visit to Kroatoa,' Link said, once again, looking at that king's head. 'If you don't sign whatever she asks…' he threw it up, snatched his sword from Darunia, and then sliced it in half '…I'll leave yours on when I do that.'

The knight ran like a kicked dog, screaming 'Beware the Druzldorfan' all the way. I have no idea what it means, but it obviously meant something terrible. We all made our way towards Link, laughing and cheering to be alive. Link merely stood there with that same look on his face. He then turned, came straight through the crowd, and grabbed me by my collar. I swear that he held me off the ground like I was a doll or a child even. I never knew a grown man could urinate on himself, but I found out looking into his bloody features. He was 18 years in age by then, but his eyes looked absolutely ancient staring at me. I can still taste the coppery essence of the blood that soaked his once green tunic and white face.

'Still think being the hero is all fun and women?' he asked, dropping me before I could even begin to stutter. Then he rubbed his thumb through the thick layer of blood covering his face and wiped a line of it across my forehead. 'Being a monster isn't fun-not fun at all.' He looked at his blood-soaked hands with disgust, but something indescribable. It felt so cool on my forehead, but so disgusting until I couldn't stop shaking. I heard Link sheathe his sword, before watching him scale the highest cliff to apparently watch the rest of the sun rise.

'No.' The answer to his question had finally formed in my brain by then. I would've shouted it at him, given I had the nerve or the courage to work my tongue.

After that, he sent us all back to Hyrule and him and Darunia stayed out there… doing what, I don't know. Some thought Link stole the souls of the dead for his own to make him stronger, as stupid as that sounds now. Rampart even suggested that he drank their blood for the strength instead of stealing souls. The funny thing is, no one-not Hylian, Zora, or Goron-really disputed any of the crap being said.

I guess it was the only way we could rationalize what we'd seen. One man had defeated an entire army and we'd all been little more than spectators-some distracting the enemy and others hiding, but we all saw it. I still can't look him in the eye for more than a few seconds before my heart starts beating like a drum." Cornelius, slightly shaking, suddenly stopped. He jarred out of his most disturbing of memories and plopped down in reality riddled with sweat.

"This explains quite a few things," Vic said with a detachment to the situation that was born of eons of apathy towards mortal plight. The room's somber attention quietly shifted onto the god by the window, as the mortal man on the bed seemed a little too shaken up to expect much out of. "It was the first time he'd killed a mortal other than the one called Ganondorf. So, the emotion Link felt, or didn't as the case is, probably makes him think he is on the level with the one he fought to destroy for so many years. After all, heroes don't kill people-they kill beasts and monsters. Killing that many people and that quickly…" he whistled, shaking his head back and forth. "I suppose this means he does take the title of hero to heart more than he leads on."

"Maybe so," Cornelius admitted, rocking slightly to get out of the deep depression he made in the soft bed. "Whatever the case, it changed him. After the party thrown for those surviving soldiers, Link and Darunia still hadn't shown up. And when they did show up about a week later, you could tell he was different. Nothing quite fazed him before, but now… it was like Link just didn't rightly care about anything or anyone that wasn't Queen Zelda. The only other people he seemed to connect with were Rampart and Darunia. Rampart idolized him to the point that I think it became hard to keep seeing himself as a monster, because eventually, he seemed to return to his former self-cutting jokes, actually talking, and the like.

I don't know why he even allowed me to rejoin the ranks after that. He told me he didn't like me, but he could relate to how I felt. That's when I finally got the difference between his being the hero and my being the guy with a big mouth behind a rock. Heroes stepped up to face the challenges despite being scared shitless. People like me wanted the glory, but we didn't have the balls to find that something extra within ourselves to take it. He gave a part of himself to the darkness he fought to defeat it, while at the same time, not fully succumbing to its temptations.

That's when he began to train us, I mean really train us. He never said what he was training us for anymore, but you could immediately tell it was to create more of him. He pushed us harder, faster, and with so much intensity until at times, I thought I would die from the pressure! But I didn't die; I wouldn't give him that satisfaction. I owed him too much.

Still, what those fifteen of us learned first and foremost was fear. Link did so much to us until everything else outside of him became little more than Deku Sticks. A three-headed dragon is terrorizing Hyrule? Pfft! I fought Link and lived-you gotta bring me something more to scare me. Even when we started to seem like we had caught up to teacher, we hadn't.

Once every month he'd gather us up and fight each of us to test our progression. He made us attack him with everything we had, which usually provided for some long bouts. But just when you'd landed that cut on him that you knew had won it for you, boom! Link brought something out of himself to show you why he is who he is. Hell, most of us were lucky to land one shot. Rampart had gotten so good until he was landing upwards of ten, sometimes even equally exchanging blows until Link had to put the boy's confidence in check and decimate him." The knight stood up, once again looking at his guilty visage in that mirror. "After all was said and done, though, those fifteen were knighted. Ten of us were named elites, but none of us could exceed him. And believe me, Link made that very clear. He claimed that if he intimidated us enough, we should only have one residual fear… him. I must have forgotten that lesson somewhere through the years, because there was no way in hell any of this would've happened back then. I probably would've hung myself for kissing you, because let's be honest: What was Link's you didn't besmirch. And if you did, well, don't expect to see too many more sunsets." Cornelius chuckled a bit, as if amused by what he felt was his impending fate.

"You're not totally at fault here," Queen Zelda added, though, giving her friend a rather pitiful glance.

"If I may be so bold, your highness-it doesn't matter," he said immediately. "Somewhere in his heart, he still loves her. I'm just a guy who ruined his marriage to get a thrill out of disobeying the hero who saved my life. I knew the consequences of what would happen when we were found out, but I ignored them. So, for her half of the fault, Link left. For my half, to open my eyes tomorrow morning is a blessing or a curse since I won't know when he's coming for me." Cornelius shook his head despondently. Looking back at Nabooru, however, produced a genuine smile to the chagrin of most everyone. "I believe it's time that I to stop pretending to be the hero, don't you?" She didn't rightly respond, but the look in her eyes reflected the agreement-this was the end that should've come 17 years prior. He bowed his head to her, then to his queen, and then to Link's children an especially deep one, before moving towards the door.

"You can stop pretending to be the hero," Vic called after him, "but you can't stop being a father."

Cornelius turned back and gave the god a puzzling look.

"I don't have any children," he replied in earnest.

Vic merely turned his head back towards Nabooru and said, "You do now." The air seemed to be pulled from the room as everyone gasped.

"How could Link not know any of this?" Sepaaru ground out angrily in light of this most abrupt of realizations.

"The child, I have no doubt, he sensed," Vic answered truthfully. "I imagine that he thought it was theirs, but finally decided to look a bit deeper given today's turn of events."

"That's not what I'm talking about!" Sepaaru slightly shouted, as her emotions seemed to be flaring from her rigid body through her mouth. Vic nearly lost his own temper before he noticed the Gerudo stared at her queen, but only spoke to him. Her eyes slowly scanned evenly towards him, stopping with a relaxed gaze.

"Oh," sighed Vic, feeling a bit of an emotion creep into his being. He persevered despite the odd feelings. "Oddly enough, Link suspected Nabooru may have been seeking someone else's favor a few years ago. After the night he'd found Varia and Takara in a rather… intimate position on the kitchen floor, he began to suspect Zelda and her were potentially messing around." He paused, smirking despite himself at the blushing queen in one of her plainer, less fringed dresses. "Anyway, he started following Nabooru in secret.

For a month, he did this and came up with nothing. Unknown to Link, dear Cornelius was escorting King Arthur to Sermonia at the time. So, all he found was that Nabooru went to the castle, talked with, or journeyed about town and gaming huts with Zelda and the one called Ruto. I figured this news would have made him happy, but Link took it like a kick in the balls.

'How could I question her?' he asked himself more so than me. 'It isn't good enough that she never complains about my extended time away from home sometimes. Never mind that she trusts me enough to hold audiences and not sleep with a woman I once would have chewed my own arm off for. Forget about the fact that she granted me permission to sleep with a woman that I'm around every day without thinking I'll sleep with said woman again. No, I just assume she's sleeping with Zelda or Arthur because I catch two guards in the act. Goddamn it! What's wrong with me? I can't even have faith enough in her to believe she honestly wants to mend fences with the woman without becoming some kind of paranoid mess.'

He continued that line of thinking for another two hours. The gist of his tirade was that Nabooru believed in him regardless of the situation. The fact that he didn't return the sentiment for one month angered him to no end. And after that, I suppose it all boils down to faith. Link knew that Nabooru knew that he wouldn't stray or, at the very least, hoped he wouldn't. In turn, Link ignored instincts and believed whole-heartedly in her the same way. I guess he learned that sometimes… our faith is misplaced." Vic drifted, dropping those guilt-reflecting eyes on the mother-to-be causing her to recoil as if slapped.

She's almost a month pregnant, Vic noted in silent contemplation. The poor boy must've been biting his tongue to avoid telling her before she was aware of it herself.

This had been enough for the fallen man's daughter, however. Zelda ran out of the room without so much as a sound to put some space between her mother and this unending wave of bad news. Sepaaru, in turn of this abysmal silence, merely backed out of the room utterly aghast. She didn't even think twice to pull her son along behind her, because no words came to mind that could do the creature in that bed justice.

Sepaaru still remembered that hollow look in his eyes the night he'd told her about this war. Heh, it was Link's shabby attempt to make her feel better about killing her father. It had worked, if only to expose that Link seemed more upset with his inability to care about those he'd killed. More than that, it exposed his confusion as to where his true intentions lay. Walking down the stairs, the Gerudo warrior remembered Link questioning the very essence of who he was.

"If those lives meant nothing, what's to say that I couldn't lay waste to an entire race of people to get what I want?"

The question had meant little to Sepaaru when Link had posed it all those years ago. However, the knight's story suddenly made her think very hard about it. From the sounds of things, her father had merely gotten in the way of what Link wanted. Being a hero meant nothing-these people were all just on the wrong side of one man's desire. Heavens forbid that anyone got in the way now. Was he a hero or was a he a man that fought for what he wanted, which happened to be against the side that commonly represented evil? Little Link looked up at his mother as she bore down on his right hand. She was afraid of the answer to that question.

"You okay, momma?" he asked, as she tossed on a smile quickly.

"Fine," Sepaaru replied, though slightly jarring out of her thoughts upon looking at her child's face. "Everything's fine."

In the bedroom, things of a different nature brewed.

Nabooru hadn't quit clutching her stomach since this most atrocious news was delivered.

"I will let you all sort this out," Vic finally said in comeuppance of the silence. "In the meantime, I need to continue my search for your… ex-husband from home. Perhaps I can detect something without the hampering of this guise." He took a small step back before fading out of existence.

After another very long moment of silence, Cornelius slumped to his knees, and just shuddered.

"You can't just temporarily ruin it, can you Corny?" the knight mused to himself. "No, you've gone and dirtied up his wife. His wife!" He continued to chastise himself like a child.

Nabooru frowned upon this display of weakness. She claimed to have chosen Link in part to his great strength as a person, but now she had let that strength up and disappear for this… this shaking, cowardly hunk of… man. The Gerudo Queen didn't know where to focus her new rage first: herself or this dimwit on his knees. Either place was justified at this point.

She had taken Link's kindness, stepped on it, and kicked it back in his face. Cornelius was a fitting target for simply being a man. Link was a man who'd die on his feet a thousand times before crawling on his knees once. This man was like the others-useless, weak, and completely worthless. Cornelius was little more than scrap in the face of adversity. The fact that she'd let him partake in her flesh for this many years suddenly began to bear down on her.

"Will you shut up?" Nabooru raged, twisting her sorrow into a shield of fiery anger. "Are you that afraid of him?"

"Yes," Cornelius answered without hesitation. "He still loves you somewhere in his heart, so you don't have much to worry about. I, on the other hand, don't have the luxury of having his love or yours. If he thought you loved me, I would be fine. But since I'm little more than an alternative dick to your sexual needs, I'm only living to die. And what's worse, he knows I'm afraid. You don't know him like we do!" he shouted, suddenly glancing about the room.

Cornelius continued by saying, "Link feeds on it. He let us all know that the world was his. If you weren't inside his barrier of love, you were a thing. Cross into his barrier and defile what was his, you die. There are no fair fights; if it bleeds you can kill it; I know today could be my last, and…" he paused, standing up with a look of fatalistic confidence.

"And what?" Nabooru asked impatiently.

"Mess with what is Link's and that day will be my last," he finished the entire set of his mentor's rules-even the rule that not even Zelda knew about. Rampart learned that the hard way, which really didn't concern his brother in the least. If anyone else had killed the little twit, family honor would've dictated that his brother be avenged. Since it was Link who'd killed him, the question was "What brother?"

No one spoke of that rule, but each and every last knight that had been under Link's tutelage knew it well. They passed the same rules to the new recruits once Link had allowed Zelda to knight them, which was coincidentally when she became engaged to that Arthur guy. Arthur, the one guy who had found the loophole in surviving Link's fury, didn't even know what he had narrowly escaped. Queen Zelda returned his feelings and by that Link wouldn't kill him, because it would've hurt her. The poor bastard didn't even have a clue! If his queen had one day rejected Arthur during Link's quest for her protection (as his plodding along behind them had been dubbed by the others), Arthur would've died within the hour.

Lucky bastard, Cornelius thought.

"Is there anything you'd like me to bring back from Castle Town for the child?" Cornelius asked, despite the feeling that told him that he'd die by morning.

"That's a switch," Nabooru said wryly, but shook her head no to his offer.

"There's no point in worrying about what I can't change. And if that is all," he said, bowing gentlemanly before exiting the room and walking out to his perceived doom. "By the spirit of Farore, do what you will with me-just let me apologize." Queen Zelda heard Cornelius whisper to himself as he passed.

Before Zelda could even make a joke to break the odd silence, her fellow queen literally slumped back into the sheets and began balling like a child. The past and present met at one point in that room. Two women, both the leaders of respective people, and they'd let the best thing to come into either of their lives go. One in fear of losing him to a potential war that, after Cornelius' story, Link could've possibly won. The other woman had lost him in her quest for petty vengeance and the need to control someone. They both had a single question and answer in their minds.

Was it worth it? The answer: A resounding no.

Zelda sighed, before making a silent track over to her friend's dresser and retrieving, of all things, a forgotten tunic from the lowest drawer.

"Nabby," Zelda called to the sobbing queen as she cautiously approached her.

Nabooru responded to the silliest of nicknames with a bitter chuckle.

"You're still here," she said, though, not really surprised. "I figured you'd be out capitalizing on this error by now."

Zelda sat down on the edge of the bed, laughed even, before moving her pliable friend into an upright position. "Do you think he honestly wants to see me?" she asked, poking Nabooru until she relented and lifted her arms. The deep, almost vibrant, green tunic was one of Link's old ones. It was obvious that the garment was made before Link's little growth spurt, as it hugged his former wife's bosoms affectionately. "There, now you won't catch a cold with all of the wind way up here." Though she felt oddly dwarfed in comparison to her friend's height and musculature, Zelda continued prodding the woman until Nabooru, again, relented and scooted over in the bed.

"Wh-Wh-What are you doing?" Nabooru asked, stuttering through the flow of tears. She watched as Zelda slipped her shoes off, and then swung her legs around onto the bed. There they sat-two women within a big bed.

"Answer my question first," Zelda replied, drumming her fingers on her thighs impatiently.

"No," Nabooru admitted feebly, amazed at the amount of weakness she showed.

"Very well," the Queen of Hyrule spoke in turn. She turned to face the sniffling woman at her right, moving her long red hair aside to look her in the eye. "I'm cheering up a friend." Zelda smiled, turning her face back towards the foot of the room. As nightfall finally set, so did Nabooru's head. It eventually landed on her friend's shoulder with a slight rustling of their respective hair. Zelda slid her right arm around the athletic woman's frame and held her as best she could, allowing those defeated tears to stain her dress.

"Thank you," Nabooru whispered after a moment, before grief sacked her once more.