Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ What's Done In The Dark. . . Pt. 07: Every Dog Has Its Day ( Chapter 39 )

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

Chapter Thirty-nine

The nerve of that woman! "Looks like you're awful comfortable with your new plaything." What the fuck is that shit? And you should've heard how she said plaything-all insinuating and perverse. Try to be nice and she kicks it in my face! Ugh, what? Oh, him. Yeah, that's a good subject change. I'm so pissed off right now that I could break something.

Anyway, Carrion and his bullshit story concluded like this …

"My men have orders to burn this place to the ground if I'm not back by morning," he said in what was fast approaching typical nonchalance. "And I know most of your forces are policing other territories right now, so save me the bluffs."

He was a detailed little nugget, I'll give him that. Okay, so we can't imprison him. Fine, I can deal with that. So, the next logical progression was where he got the information. It's all riddles and bullshit until Sepaaru starts grinding his thumb under her boot. It was a neat trick, because she broke it and then started twisting her foot at the point of separation. Helpless, he coughed up something … something that made me feel sick.

"Ah! A traveler, all right? Some guy in a damn cloak with a hood slung low over his face. He … he had a big red jewel on his forehead that made it look like you were talking to a one-eyed demon. Uh … told me and my men a story about a hero w-who rode the waves of time … said the guy was still around from like a hundred years ago or 'something close,' he said. And he told us when and where the troops would be here!"

Duh? What do you mean "duh?" Don't you get it? It means that someone else out there remembers the original timeline! I've only been alive forty-nine years in this timeline! For someone to remember me from a hundred years ago means they had to fucking be there in one of the old lines, if not all of them! After all that time thinking I was the only one, there are others out there … or at least one other that knows I'm not insane! Of course I consider you, too-and I think the others all believe me-but it isn't the same! Another person's out there and they're like me in a way. They somehow avoided the resets, but how? I almost shook Carrion's body apart to find out where he met the guy. He said, of all places, Old Kroatoa.

I warped there without hesitation. I found nothing but dust and abandoned buildings, though. Searching the rubble, the closest I came to a clue was a broken sign that read: "Poe Shop: 'We take the spirits that you don't-'" And that's when I remembered that guy from when I first set out on my quest that had the obsession with Poe. And that's when I remembered the Poe collector that took up shop in the ruins of Castle Town after I awoke from the seven-year nap: He wore a cloak, a hood, and had a glowing red thing that appeared to be an eye. He was also in Termina at the end of that river. So, I warped there after chaining Carrion to the floor.


Even letting my mind roam the planet face by face gave me nothing. And there I was … alone, again. I won't lie and say that I shrugged it off easily, but it hurts to know that the only other person that knew for certain what had happened is more than likely dead. At the time, I was angry. They were asking our chained guest more questions by the time I returned.

"Why do you think we were in Kroatoa? It was home … once," Carrion told them. "Home until that coward caved and merged the kingdom with this one, and made my people's sacrifices worthless!"

My curiosity was piqued, because I'd never seen another like him.

"As the story goes, you killed a thousand of us in a single day," he told me plaintively.

"Chonoes … but they looked nothing like you," I said flippantly, wondering where this line of bullshit ended.

Carrion glared at me for a moment, before asking me a question. "Think about it, oh, fearless hero. Did you actually see their faces?" He whispered a few words and an iron helmet appeared over top his head, and his armor turned rust orange. "Or was it just the armor? Maybe now you remember us a little clearer."

And the past came back to me. Memories of battling men in armor that growled … whimpered like dogs even when my sword befell them. This was a surviving member of that race, and I never even saw the face of anyone but that king and his head knight. I couldn't believe it at the time, but it did seem likely.

"So, why not merge with Hyrule? It's not like your people wouldn't have been accepted."

He snorted at my words, dismissing them as ridiculous.

"Yes, join with Hyrule," Carrion said sarcastically, "and pledge allegiance to another kingdom, only to have it roll over on us the minute a larger kingdom says bow. I'd rather die." His obsidian eyes narrowed at me through the rectangular slit in his helm. "Those of our race that survived denounced our gods and our failure of a king, and chose to wander and live under our own rule before ever swearing allegiance to anything in a crown again. And so our numbers grow each time that we touch down. We find more people like us-the abandoned and forsaken-all throwing off the holds of cowardly kings and flippant gods that discard our pleas and prayers. Suppose it's our own fault, really, putting our allegiance in a king that had knights pretend to be him on the battlefield. Whatever, I grow tired of this game. Kill me or give me what I want."

"We're not giving you anything," Arthur told him, frowning as Carrion laughed at him.

"Fine, then release me unless you want my armies to leave this place a smoldering heap."

I removed his restraints and most shuffled back from him. Of course, it wasn't that simple. "You're free to go, but the Triforce is mine."

"Oh? Then we'll-"

"No, you won't," I interrupted. "I promised that I wouldn't interfere with the work of other gods, but since your people have none, I can do what I please with them."

Carrion stood up and began to laugh at the insinuation. "Look, old timer, I'm sure your ego's grown heavy having defeated so many, but to imply that you're some kind of god takes stones. The soldiers under my hand won't underestimate you, and they won't stop because of some delusion on your part. Most are the children of those you've slain, so you can imagine the rage inside of them."

"Let's say that I am delusional, what do you want the time device for?" I asked.

For a long minute, Carrion stared at me to deduce if I was worthy of knowing, I imagine. Finally, he told us his big plan.

"I want to get word to my former chieftain, and tell him not to engage in the battle with Hyrule and take our people away from Kroatoa."

That was an original desire.

"Why would he listen? I know I'd be skeptical if some phantom showed up claiming to be from the future."

"This armor is his," Carrion replied with a quiet rage. "It goes to the first born son upon the father's death, and the next brother after him if he should die, and on and on. I'm his fourth son, and I had to dig it up and take it off his headless corpse. With that, I think he'll be a little open to the idea that I'm not lying."

An interesting idea, if he hadn't overlooked one glaring detail: Carrion would be exactly like those kings and gods he'd just condemned for abandoning their people. Plus, there was also the fact that the Carrion of this time would cease to exist if his father agreed.

"And if you do this, wouldn't that make you no better than the kings who … bow to a stronger kingdom?" Queen Zelda tacked on, giving voice to my earlier thoughts.

"Idiots, I wouldn't abandon them! I've made detailed maps of every location, of every time, and of every season that I found members of my caravan. I'll use the time device to get word to my father, give him the maps, recollect my people, and move on!" Carrion stood smug and defiant, figuring that he had it all tied up with a pretty bow.

Changing the events with the Chonoes wouldn't change the memories I possessed, but it would give life to those that had fallen in the battle on both sides. Or, considering how fragile the time stream had become since my outburst with my father and subsequent explosion of self, it could do absolutely nothing but make the events happen later than scheduled. Oh, right, I never did tell you what happened with the Big Two.

Basically, reality isn't so much a fabric as it is a shell. They showed me this giant globe filled with thousands upon millions of smaller globes, each one representing a different realm or reality, and each one shifting and moving around the others. When one of those little realms got a crack in it, forces from other realms began to bleed into it. Those two events-my explosion and the battle with my father-have caused a series of cracks to form in the Hylian mortal realm's shell, which I have to fix sooner or later. Fate and Destiny gave me three options: (1) I could exhaust myself to the brink of death to fix the cracks; or (2) I could find a power like my own and let the realm siphon it; or (3) I don't manifest mystical energies for a long, long time. See, I can still conjure up tables, chairs, and whatnot. But let's say I call forth an energy bolt. The realm will begin to feed on that bolt instantly to heal itself since it is raw energy, and there's nothing I can do about that.

No, you're right. It is a dangerous game of waiting, because there are creatures out on the fringes that possess the ability to move between realms if the borders are weak enough. And, speaking as an observer of some of them, these aren't the types of things you want at your house for lunch. Unfortunately, waiting is all I can do. It's a thing of "I broke it, I fix it." I don't necessarily doubt them, but I am staying my hand in using my own power to "heal" the cracks to be sure this isn't a trick by the upper level deities to weaken me for some greater purpose.

To hear them tell it, that's why I need powers that are in synch with mine: The cracks are like puzzle pieces, and nothing else will fit or heal the shell except my pieces. What? Well, actually, you're not that far off. Before I took my powers back at the fortress, they'd allegedly gone on to fill in the gaps they'd helped cause in the realm, according to Fate. However, they heed the call of my soul first and foremost. And since my soul would cease to be without them, they came back to me. It's self-preservation at its highest form. Adversely, my self-preservation threatens this reality.

I stray from the story at hand, though.

"I'll take you back, Carrion."

This voluntary action took the entire room by surprise. Carrion himself chuckled, feeling as though he'd won something. Sad thing is, he really only opened himself up to the unknown. I was just his carriage driver. Once he got back there, Fate or Destiny would rewrite his history up until this point, and who knows what they'd write to compensate.

I told everyone to give us space as we walked towards the center of the room. Carrion thought I was toying with him, demanding I take him to the true time device. I threw us back in time thirty-two years, much to his skeptical shock, landing on the outskirts of his people's territory within the Kroatoan kingdom via the information I pulled from his mind. Much like the Gorons, the Chonoes dwelled in the mountains. It was a sprawling underground city about eight levels high, with living quarters and shops and crawling columns of foliage that spiraled up from the ground to the various portholes beaming in sunlight that speckled the upper tiers of the mountain.

He told me that I was free to leave, and I laughed.

"You're going to tell your father everything you said that you would, and I'm not leaving until I see that done." Since I didn't budge to threats, and his broken thumb didn't allow him the use of his mace, Carrion begrudgingly walked me through his home city with little incident. "Wow, warriors with tact."

"We're not barbarians off the battlefield," Carrion informed me, his voice softened by the scenes of mothers and fathers with their children. "It's so … beautiful." He coughed to cover up the unintentional blurb, announcing that we'd arrived at our destination-a stone door etched with a mural of a warrior in an orange suit of armor holding a mace proudly above his head. "Shut up when we get in here," he told me, as his armor turned gray and his helmet disappeared.

A majestic white fur covered the woman that opened the door, which made her look as fine as any dog-woman could, I imagine. Her eyes were this tranquil shade of blue that radiated as much calm as they did beauty-and acknowledging that makes me a tad bit uncomfortable. Not that I'm down on the whole interspecies mingling thing, but I'm trying to reconcile with my wife and there I was noticing how strangely cute this creature's hair was.

Carrion froze, though, so I took over.

"I was sent here by the king to speak with Chief Ragnus. This fine young man said to start here," I said as eloquently as I could, going so far as to bow to her.

And, like that, she invited us in with open arms. Carrion's only motion had come when I said his father's name. His mother led us down a few levels to his father's personal armory and from there things went down. As you can imagine, the chief didn't break the docile standards of the rest of his people. In fact, he was quite festive as he sharpened the spikes on his mace on the grindstone wheel. And despite his low-key demeanor, there was an air about him. His sleeveless tunic showed his massive arms and their scars through the thin fur, as well as that certain vein-y bulge you get from years of swinging a weapon. It appeared the ability to grow serious fur on his forearms had been lost, maybe due to his involvement in a fire, but that's not important.

"There's talk of an impending war with the once illustrious Hyrule," the grizzled warrior said jovially. "It's been many, many moons since we've got the call to join a war. These Hylians must be worthy if we're to fight them first."

This is where Carrion reveals his true purpose to his father. Disbelief, refusal, anger-it went as well as one might expect. Back and forth, back and forth, father and son argued for a long time.

"If you send our people into battle against Hyrule-" Carrion paused, said the magic words, and his armor transformed again. "This is what'll happen." His voice was quiet and repentant, a tremendous wave of guilt and sorrow wafting off him in that instant.

His father's mouth went silent, as he looked between the armor on his son and the gray, unchanged armored breastplate in the corner. Ragnus approached the empty suit of armor and said the same words his child had, watching it transform into the same suit.

"So what if we die in battle," Ragnus snapped, though, still staring at his empty armor. "Do we at least take the Hylians with us?"

"You take some of them," Carrion tells him. "But they're civilians acting as soldiers. The king's a liar, father! The king wants the Triforce and time device from Hyrule to make himself that much richer, and he's sending you out there to slaughter them just because you can do it quicker than his own men!"

Ragnus stood there stunned, going on to stun me with his next words.

"He's sending us to war with a country that has to rely on a group of civilians to fight their battles?" he asked, a look of pain and disgust creasing his large, flat face when Carrion nodded. "There's no honor in facing an army without warriors! But if there aren't warriors, how do we supposedly die? Surely we haven't grown so soft as to be killed by a bunch of civvies."

"You fight the warrior that killed Ganondorf," Carrion says, giving me that obstinate look of disgust from the corner of his eye. "You fight him, and he kills you all!"

Well, with the finger pointed squarely at me, I said the only thing a man in my place could say.

"It's not polite to point."

Ragnus asks why would I try to prevent a war that I supposedly win, obviously doubting the quality of the tale heavily now. In hindsight, calling his ignorance outstanding was a bit harsh. At the time, I said: "It's all about you and what you want. You've never known what it is to tell a wife that her child's father is dead, blown to pieces by a cannon hidden among the cliffs by some sect that doesn't follow the 'Hylian Rules of Engagement' when it comes to war. No, it's all about your honor, your glory, your thirst to be the strongest. To hell with how your death affects the family. It's all me, me, me! Well, this is my 'me' moment, because I really don't want to do that again, especially over something as trivial as a stupid triangle."

"You're telling me to run away! I can't do that!" Ragnus screams back at me, which works to bring calm back to the room along with his youngest son.

It was Carrion as a child or, more accurately, Ragnus the fourth before he became Carrion. Apparently, Ragnus promised the boy a lesson in the use of the mace, and he wanted it now. In that paternal part of his heart, the warrior looked back and forth between the faces of his child. His eldest three sons were already captains of their own legions, he thought with a twinge of pride, but the tales he'd heard had an obvious impact on just how much pride he could muster for such things now. Ragnus flipped things in his mind over and over again, came up with excuses about how he hadn't shown his youngest what it meant to be a proud member of the race, but he kept coming back to the outcome we'd told him.

"I'm not telling you to run away," I told him through my mind to avoid tampering with the child. "I'm asking you to see the bigger picture. Leave this place, and then teach your son how to use that mace so he won't have to learn the hard way … so he won't become this husk of a man." He stared at me for a long time after that, ignoring the impatient tugging at his hand by his son. "Well, we'll get out of your hair now before this little guy yanks your arm off," I said, smiling at the child, dragging his older self off up the stairs and into the future.

Before we left, I used a little of the Gerudo know-how and lifted the book with all the details about where to find the refugees out of the loose hip plate on Carrion's armor, after making sure there were no counter-plans to mess up Hyrule, and dropped it on the top step. Do you even need to ask how that's possible? I didn't think so. We reappeared in the throne room to find it filled with guards who'd finally awaken from his spell and people asking for answers. Carrion lunged for my throat, swearing and snarling about how it was all ruined.

"We were so close … I was so close! You ruined everything! I didn't even give him the book with the information!" He strained and struggled as his hand moved away from my neck by an invisible force.

You know, you'd think something like that would be a deterrent to further attack, but Carrion was like a dog with a bone. Get it? Dog-man … dog with a bone … just die slowly. Anyway, he didn't seem to get the message. He attempted to knock my head off with the mace, only it slipped through me. It turned translucent the moment of impact should've occurred. It wasn't me that time, though.

"W-What's happening to me?" Carrion continued to blink between solid and ethereal, eyes wide with fear and confusion. Everyone mumbled and murmured back and forth, wondering what they were witnessing now.

"That's history rewriting itself, I imagine," I told him. "Your father must've followed the plan. Without the circumstances that create Carrion, there's only Ragnus the fourth."

"And Carrion ceases to exist," he whispered, his hands disappearing completely. A relieved smile came to his face, as did a few questions. "How did we go back, though? The old man claimed a sword powered the time device. I don't understand-"

I interrupted and told him that he understood it; he just didn't believe it. Insert Carrion having a moment of realization, comprehension, or any other synonymous word that comes to mind for accepting what the hell someone said is true. He was gone, though, completely washed away like a pebble in time's river. The blood that belonged to the grinded up messenger faded from the pale blue runway carpeting, as did the messenger holding the bucket. The knights that Carrion put to sleep also disappeared, fading back to their original guard stations as the events that took place moments before never occurred to cause them to leave.

I stood at the epicenter of the room watching old memories fade and newer, fresher ones reappear in the spectators' minds. I must admit, watching history rearrange for something I did was a rush. The only down side, as usual, was that I still remembered what happened from the original slate. There was a twist, though. I didn't know of anything Fate and Destiny had wrote to compensate for the Chonoes absence from that war. So, once the restructuring stopped, I was standing in the middle of the throne room alone, because everyone else faded into new positions.

"Link, is something wrong?" Queen Zelda asked, wondering why the hell I was standing there in the middle of the meeting.

I told her that I was fine, took a seat next to Nabooru, which earned a shocked gasp from everyone. Okay, so something happened here, too. No, I'm getting to that part now. The meeting comes to a close, Zelda asks to see me tomorrow, I agree, and then me, Nabooru, Sepaaru, and Varia leave. This is where Nabooru starts with the insinuations that Sepaaru is somehow my new fuck toy, like I ever had one to begin with.

You're damn right I got mad after all the stuff she's done. I was intending to maybe go back to the fortress to talk things over, but that irked me so much that I just went back to Kokiri. Of course, I caved and said I'd talk to her later, but I imagine you already knew that. After walking and cooling off some, I asked Sepaaru to relate some tales about my life out of curiosity. She smirked, taking it as a joke, but filled the request all the same.

The war with the Chonoes never happened. However, Hyrule did go to war with the Kroatoans, and I still ended up killing more than a thousand men. She also said that, at the time, I used to carry a great deal of guilt over losing a young boy named Rampart to the battle. He'd snuck along only to die when a cannonball took out the supply wagon he was hiding on. Knowing I lost him as a boy sure put a damper on my mood … yeah, and I can make my left tit talk. Well, I technically could, but … ah, shut up.

Moving on, I still ended up at the Gerudo compound under the same circumstances. I also still taught her how to fight, despite letting her almost beat me to death. I also led them in an assault on Twinrova, killing her, taking back the Colossus, and freeing the captive Gerudo. The fight with my father occurs. Unfortunately, Nabooru still conceives Zelda before I kill him, and still ends up dying as a result. Sepaaru and I still end up spending a night together conceiving our son, but there was a catch to that. "The big mind fuck?" you may be asking yourself right now. Nabooru still ends up sleeping with Cornelius for most of our marriage … and his own … to Sepaaru. Apparently, he and I were friends, and I introduced him to Sepaaru.

Now, the raw mind fucking begins.

Sepaaru and I caught Cornelius and Nabooru a few years-ten years into my marriage and five years into theirs-into the affair in the horse stables out behind the fortress. According to her, we were both crushed, and looking for a way to hurt them. So, I froze Nabooru and Cornelius in their place. From there, I asked "how would you feel if Sepaaru and I made love in front of both of you?"-and we commenced to do it. That's how we conceived Junior-no winning me as a prize, no Rampart attempting to rape her, no guilt trips about never being able to make love. My son's existence came from a stupid burst of pain and revenge. That's where Uncle Link's bowels should've dropped, assuming he had any. I know I can be extreme, but that was out there even for me. Well, the "me" that I know.

After that extreme example, we all go back to our respective spouse. We raised Junior jointly, but I'll be damned if he isn't always born under some bent circumstances. Unfortunately, after a year off, Nabooru and Cornelius end up together again. This time, I find them eight years later in the place that brought about the end of the marriage the first time. Everything follows the familiar pattern with me bringing them back to the fortress, losing my mind, and all ends up with me exploding.

"And after Vic finished his little story, Cornelius tries to come crawling back, but I said fuck that-we're done! And I threw his mangy hide out of that window," she said with a satisfied little smirk. "Too bad he survived the fall, but what can I say-you taught him how to fight as well."

Unfortunately, the pirates that discover me in this new history aren't spirits, but the stranded camp with that insane Gerudo Pirate Queen that hated the Zora and me for "liberating the evil hatchlings." Sepaaru tells me that I told her it took four years for my body to come together over the Great Bay, and when it did, it took almost another four years to escape the outcast Gerudo prison.

"You said that your powers were coming back slowly, but that you had got just enough of them back to warp to the beach of the Great Bay Ocean," she says, "but it caused you to age rapidly, which explains why you were so old when you came back here."

She then spoke of my torture at those Gerudo Pirates' hands, telling me how that, along with a feeling of betrayal from the Gerudo back home, caused me to hate the women at the fortress. Upon my arrival in Hyrule, Sepaaru and I met the same way we had before-with Sepaaru sitting in on a council meeting for Nabooru while I came to the castle to purchase forest land-and everything from there happened pretty much unchanged.

"It took three months of sleeping in that damn temple to convince you that we were your friends," she continued on by saying, though with no heat. "Still, you were a crabby bastard for a long, long time. After awhile, though, you apologized to us."

I hadn't mustered up the courage to face down the fortress for my powers until roughly six months ago, according to Sepaaru. When I got them back, though, she said I was like I was before I left. Yeah, whatever that meant. She had a weird look when she said that, even though she hid it well, it was weird enough to make me think that perhaps I wasn't so "like I was before" as she claimed.

"Even though I think you spoiled us with all the rooms and stuff at the temple," she laughed. "I don't know your angle, but I have to admit that was an interesting first time back in council for you, Mr. Kokiri."

Naturally, I had to ask what happened since I was only conscious to the last five minutes of it.

"Flipping out on Nabooru like that," Sepaaru told me, a look of confusion on her face when I shook my head to acknowledge that I didn't remember doing that. "Did you hit your head or something? We walked in, you saw Nabooru sitting there, and got pissed off. All sorts of 'I never want to see you again' type stuff. None of this rings a bell?" I shook my head no again. "Well, all I know is that it shocked the hell out of me. You sat on the opposite end of the table while she tried not to cry. Then you got up and went to the middle of the floor, and just stood there for, like, twenty minutes without saying a word. Next thing I know, you're taking a seat beside her and holding her hand, almost as if nothing ever happened. Is something wrong with you?"

"Just feeling a bit displaced, I guess." I shook my head and warped us to my tree house.

Well, it used to be my tree house. Turns out, I gave it to my son along with him and his sister's powers earlier that morning. You'd think that would be enough of a change, but Link's Twist of Fate Number 3,899 says: "Since I was gone for eight years, I've lost another two years off my kids' lives." Not only that, but in this era, I'd supposedly raised them knowing full well what I'd done to their grandparents. I restored their powers, as in the last time, before I left for the castle. And, as usual, Vic revealed the whole godly matter before I could.

All of that explains why I'm concluding this story from my bedroom … at the bottom of the Forest Temple. It's kind of creepy that I'd make this the hub of my operation, considering the paintings used to spit out a Phantom Ganondorf, but apparently my sense of irony remains in tact. I guess this is what happens when you twist the grand design. So far it's still just as messed up as ever. Hell, I've got a throne down here! Me … a throne! What kind of egotistical little snot was I? I need rest. I'll talk to you later.

Link stretched out on his bed and stared at the ceiling, wondering just why the hell his bed was round. He put his left hand over his eyes and let his mind's eye and ear roam. The sense of distortion still felt as weird as it ever did when he popped out of the time loop, but this was almost unbearable. His son was almost sixteen years old now. And his daughter … if it wasn't bad enough that she was twenty-three the last time, now she was twenty-six.

"Memories with me they hold dear, I don't have," he whispered to himself in the massive room. "Ugh, it's like I'm a stranger in my own home again."

But it was his fault, though. If he'd slit Carrion's throat and tossed him in a void none of this would be happening. Alas, reneging now that the outcome of Carrion's decision affected his life wasn't the right thing to do. So, Link's mental eyes surveyed the state of the mortal realm for a moment, sighing as he found the fissures still there. Couldn't get fucked out of his kids' lives a little more and have that be the end of it.

"Nooo, I've still got to fix this shit." His vision returned to normal and idly floated from room to room. "I might as well add spying to the list of whatever it is I do here," Link mused morosely, finding the bulk of the Gerudo in the makeshift dining area on the floor above him, huddled around the rectangular table. "Oh, hey, I remember that room-I almost threw my damn back out moving that stupid Poe puzzle around in the first loop."

"Look, Sepaaru, it doesn't mean something's wrong with him." Khali handed Sepaaru a jar of herbs, adding, "Besides, he did say gods had to keep up with a lot of stuff. Maybe they have to sacrifice personal memories and stuff to hold all that knowledge."

"Perhaps," Sepaaru conceded, tasting the broth as Link continued to silently observe them from his mind. "Hmm, it's not bad, but I'd stab someone for some of Varia's eggs right about now. But no, she has to stay over there with the home-wrecker."

"And you're one to talk about holding allegiances with Nabooru, Little Girl Dye?" a guard named Amaraa asked, smirking as Sepaaru flustered. "I don't see why you keep dying your hair like that-"

"You know why I do it," Sepaaru interrupted, taking particular offense to this line of conversation, Link noticed. "Her mother was the last Gerudo Queen, and after everything my father did to her-"

"Big deal," Amaraa stated bluntly. "Law says that the Gerudo woman with raven's hair is the true queen. And considering that Nabooru ruined your marriage, you should flaunt it as far as I'm concerned. I can appreciate that she raised you after your mother's death, but how loyal are you supposed to be?"

The wooden spoon snapped in Sepaaru's grasp, causing Khali to ease a few steps away.

"Look, for better or worse, she's the only mother that I ever had!" Sepaaru shouted. "And I'm not exactly itching to step out and bring her mother's defiled image back by parading around with a head full of black hair because she fucked some half-ass excuse of a man, all right? She means more to me than that, and she should mean more to you, too, after keeping us all afloat after Hyrule abandoned us!" Link watched as she threw the splints of spoon down and stomped away, shrugging off the persuading words of her comrades to stay.

"Way to go," Khali said, clapping sarcastically at Amaraa's idiocy. "You know the girl's touchy about that shit."

"Oh, please," Amaraa countered. "She's just scared to fail unless Link's there to pick her up. Remember how he had to virtually fight Varia for her to get her the captain's spot? And look at how well she did that after he left."

"She did an excellent job," Khali replied.

"That's my point. Vestia may have been crazy enough to genuinely love Ganondorf, and Ganondorf was long gone after he started up with the dark arts, but just because her parents were nuts doesn't mean Sepaaru isn't a good person and a good leader. She just thinks she can't perform unless Link's there. Face the facts, Sepaaru's our queen, but she's afraid to step up because-"

Link's vision and hearing returned to his physical ears and eyes when a series of loud thuds came from his door.

"It's open," he shouted, not bothering to leave the bed with his hand over his face. Sepaaru entered the chamber and stomped up the steps, only to plop down at the foot of his bed. "Is something on your mind?"

"Stupid Amaraa," Sepaaru replied more with a thought than acknowledgement of the question asked. "Nothing, I'm fine, how's your memory?"

Link sat up on his elbows and looked at her. "Your hair's dripping," he said, alluding to his eavesdropping and watching as Sepaaru frantically grabbed for her ponytail and whirled off the bed. It wasn't, she found, but now Link obviously knew the source of her attitude. "What happened?"

Why do I even bother? Sepaaru thought, taking a seat on his throne without a second to consider. "Well, since Junior was born, my hair's been … changing. It was a little at first, always enough that I could manage."

"And now," Link goaded her, still feigning ignorance as to what this meant. "We can't stay young forever."

"Not without your gifts of immortality," she added, thumping the silver snake resting on her chest, and relaxing some as he chuckled to concede her point. "It isn't an old age thing. It's one of those old Gerudo things that come with all the complicated bullshit. 'The Gerudo with raven's hair shall lead her people,' the scroll said. Then it says something about the current queen having to forfeit the title if she doesn't have black hair, and I think there are also decrees about legendary strength that surpasses that of the change. I could be wrong, since it's been ages since I read those things." She shrugged and flopped down on his throne. "Guess I shouldn't be surprised, but still-why do I have to be the Gerudo in those things? I wanted to fit in with the others, not end up isolated again on some stupid pedestal!"

So that explains the broken swords and knocking Carrion's big-ass back like he was a doll. It was all some prophetic undercurrent, Link thought, cryptically nodding his head. "You can't keep running from who you are," Link said, scooting down to the foot of the bed.

"But that's not me," Sepaaru protested, hopping off the ornate throne her and her fellow Gerudo had made him as a gift. She paced back and forth, unconsciously taking up the ruby-eyed silver snake and sword pendant on her necklace and chewing it.

Link sighed, deciding to give his throne a comfort test while Sepaaru thought. It was comfortable, he noticed, but it was still hard to believe he'd become so self-absorbed as to actually use one other than to piss Arthur off.

"Now there's something you don't see," Sepaaru whistled, arms folded in reverence. "We went through all the trouble of making that thing for you and this may be the first time you've ever sat on it willingly."

"Oh, thank goodness," Link said with a sigh. "For a second there, I thought I'd become all king-y. But anyway, have you decided to give up the dye?"

Sepaaru frowned, saying: "But what about Nabooru? I don't want her to think I'm doing this to spite her. Even after everything she's done, I don't want her to think I'm disrespecting her mother to be petty."

"It's admirable that you're this willing to forgive her for what she's done," Link said quietly. "At the same time, you can't shit on yourself to keep someone else's toilet clean, you know?"

She laughed and nodded her head. Link and his … unique explanations always seemed to possess that twinge of humor and sensibility that put her problems in perspective. "Care to do the honors?" Sepaaru asked, pulling the leather tie from her ponytail and releasing her hair down her back.

"Sure, it's not like I've got anything else to do," Link replied at the same time as a fountain appeared next to his throne.

Sepaaru undid the diagonal leather and gold strap from across her chest, allowing her sword and shield to clang to the floor. She then leaned forward over the birdbath-like fountain, dunking her massive dark red wave of hair into the pool of warm water. A reddish deluge of color wasted no time in bleeding out into the water, she noticed. Link rolled up his sleeves and conjured up a bar of soap, before lathering up to wash her hair. As the process began, Link's mind wandered. The last time he'd washed someone's hair it had been Nabooru's … in the tub … the night before it happened and ruined everything. He sighed, wondering why everything seemed to remind him of her.

"Is the water too hot?" he asked, fighting those memories back with anything he could.

"Nah, it's good. Ever thought of opening a shop in Castle Town and charging for this?" Sepaaru laughed, childishly squeaking as he splashed her neck.

Silence resumed, sans the sounds of running water and Link's soapy hands massaging the color out of her hair. It was relaxing Sepaaru's nerves almost to the point she could fall asleep. And she would have if it weren't for the occasional tendril of wet hair sliding across her cheek.

"And now we rinse," Link announced, turning the murky water pristine.

Given the length of her hair, it took three refills to remove all of the soap and spare color. The end result, however, left Link with his eyebrows raised. I think I called up some of my old soap, he thought, as Sepaaru stood and rang out her grayish-white hair. As he very well knew, the soap he used to make could not only take out weird monster bloodstains, but he'd also proven it could dissolve paint … and flesh depending on how long it set.

"Uh, I can make your hair grow out of this," Link said, watching as Sepaaru stretched her back.

"You've never dyed hair before, have you?" she asked with an impish laugh. Link shook his head no. "If you have dark hair, you have to strip that color out first. Then, once it's colorless, you apply the new color. This is as light as I could get mine, though. So, don't sweat it; it'll all be black again by morning."

At least he didn't feel stupid now. However, Sepaaru noticed, he was doing that blank stare into space thing. She'd been his friend and student long enough to catch things like that, but the trick was always in getting him to open up.

"We've known each other what now-ten or twenty years?" Link suddenly asked.

"More like twenty-five," Sepaaru added, but decided to play it straight. "Why, is something wrong?"

Link stood there, offhandedly summoning a towel for her, and sighed before long. He dried his hands on his bright yellow tunic, and took a seat on his throne like a man broken. She watched him force a little chuckle, having noticed the stains he'd made on himself. That was Link's way of stalling.

"I think I just fucked up huge back at the castle," he whispered. "This guy named Carrion showed up, a child of one of the warriors from the war with Kroatoa. His people were the Chonoes, and, as you used to know, I killed most of their men. But, for whatever reason, I went back and let him undo that battle so they could live. Now … now everything's all twisted, and I don't remember the twists, because history moves around me. Which doesn't mean my part in history doesn't happen, so much as it happens to everyone but me. So I don't remember my kids' births, their conceptions, or anything from this era!" White smoke seemed to waft off his eyes as they turned solid white and glowed for a moment.

Sepaaru had nothing to say, because in her place now stood Fate and Destiny.