Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ What's Done In The Dark. . . Pt. 09: Meet the Parents ( Chapter 41 )

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

Chapter Forty-one

The gates stood at least fifteen feet tall and, despite the lack of formal air or rain, they were rusted and dreadfully foreboding to look at. Furthermore, they only guarded an expanse of smooth, maroon-shaded ground that a crimson river split down the middle. Soon, a thin layer of fog crept up from the furthest reaches of the river, before a silhouette began to make its way through.

"Charon," Link called out, peering through the bars of the gate, as even his eyes struggled to see through the mist.

"Who dares summon Charon-god of death and tormentor of souls?" the long, lean, shadowy figure bellowed.

He lumbered toward the gate, and Link shook his head. Charon's dark cloak swept the floor; its edges were frayed and tattered, only adding to the creature's would-be frightening effect. The wicked wished for better lives upon meeting him, as his appearance was only a prelude to the real horror awaiting them. The good, the morally righteous, were made to fear him because they now saw the face of damnation, making the serenity of their eventual resting place that more joyous, but also serving as a thoughtful reminder of how they should never take that peace for granted.

The nine-foot-tall giant didn't bother Link in the slightest.

"It's Link, Charon," he called out, laughing as the fog dissipated with an unceremonious poof.

"Oh, it's you," Charon muttered, pulling his hood off with a sigh, exposing his luminescent skull. There wasn't an ounce of skin on his being, actually. "Don't hear a word from you in 10,000 years or more, and now you're here in the flesh. You must want something. I can't imagine what that could be, though, considering you can pretty much yank souls out of here at will." He unlatched the gate and motioned for Link to come in before locking it behind them.

"Oh, don't make more out of this than there is," Link told his barebones comrade. "You know that time lapses faster here than anywhere else. And don't act like I never invited you up into the sunlight-"

"Hello, remember me? I'm walking bones!" Charon shouted, opening his cloak, and running his hands down his exposed ribs. "Besides, there are no vacations for death."

"But I am right," Link replied, slapping the disgruntled skeletal god on the back … bone. "Anyhow, I do have something I need from you. Rather, I have six souls that I need."

"Why not just take them from me?" He looked down at Link, raising his malleable bone brow in query.

Link stopped and came around to face the elder god, sucking his teeth in frustration. "Well, I figured since you showed me so much hospitality and respect the last time I was here, I would grant you the same courtesy. But if you'd rather I just take everything, I can do that."

The glow dimmed from Charon's bones. He sighed before extending his hand toward his boat, as if to say, "Lead the way." "I'm sorry," he mumbled. "I've just been a little on edge lately. I shouldn't expect you to put your life on hold to get back and forth down here. It isn't exactly the most welcoming place on the grid."

"It's not bad, a little bland maybe, but it's not unwelcoming," Link said as he looked out across the flat, shapeless plane. As Charon pushed the little boat away from the coast, he regarded Link with a look of concern.

"What exactly do you see here?"

"Calm water and flat ground," he said, oblivious to his boatman's agitation. "Why, is there something that I'm missing?"

Charon looked at the landscape-the harsh, jagged brimstone cliffs with the violent mortal souls from countless dimensions chained and tortured, with low-level demons jumping through the shadows observing the supposed new arrival-and then back down at Link. The only people that walked through here and saw nothing were Fate and Destiny. Everyone else-god and mortal souls alike-made one image or another real in accordance with the guilt on their souls. He'd always assumed that Link was just as bent as he was and didn't mind the images when he visited. But he'd never saw anything is why it didn't affect him.

"Nope," the god replied. "So, what have you been up to? The last I heard, you were taking lessons in getting the godly thing under control," Charon said, quietly changing subjects as he steered the boat around the first bend.

Without reservation, Link began to run down the last few years of his life in the mortal world. Nearly every word surprised Charon. A god of Link's stature, stripped of his birthright, and at birth no less, ascends back into the kingdom only to return to mortality again to have them torture him … ugh! How could he be so calm? The God of Death thought. It also begged a question of him: How come there were no Gerudo deaths from that moment?

"I used to ask myself that same question," replied Link, quiet and reserved as he sometimes was. "I realized that it wouldn't change anything, so why bother killing them? I know it's a cutback in business for you, but I just didn't feel like it."

"Hey, you sent me 2,736 souls during that Kroatoan War period," Charon chuckled, "so I can't complain about you cutting into the business at hand. Now, about this six you want today. Who are they, and how long do you want them? And, if I may ask, why do you want them?"

For a moment, Link regarded the absorbent number … like there was something wrong with it. Dismissing the error to the god's apparent preoccupation with his question, he saw fit to answer the queries posed to him.

"In order from first to last: The souls I want are a Gerudo Queen named Zelda, her husband Daia, my mother and father, Ganondorf and a Gerudo warrior named Vestia. I'd like to keep them for at least seventy-two hours. As for why I want them, it's something for my kids." Link looked at Charon, and Charon looked at Link, but neither spoke. Charon blinked his sockets as though hit, before everything came into order.

"Children, as in more than one?" he began, noting Link's nod. "Boy or girl?"

"A son this time," he replied proudly, "and his mother insisted on adding his name to the list."

"A third Link in the line? Congratulations, but if I may say so, ouch," Charon said, wincing for effect. Their boat reached a small dock, which led to another gate, this one untarnished by corrosion, glistening with pristine silver bars. The two gods exited, before Charon went over the list audibly again. "So, we've got four skins and two sparkles, right?"

Link nodded his concurrence, imagining his father was still classified "sparkle" due to his birth as a god.

"We'll have to go to the upper echelon for the sparkles, and I'll have one of my assistants bring the skins to the dock on our way down." The explanation met Link's approval or at least that's what the silence suggested. In truth, he was nervous. This was the first time he'd ever meet his mother, and the questions churning in his head were almost nauseating. "Coming?" Charon asked, jarring his companion back to the land of the sentient.

Link nodded his head, smirking some, but he entered the lift. Charon's hand hovered over the blank wall, causing a section of eight cobbled knobs to sprout from the stone. He moved his hand higher, which caused a white button to appear and depress. The gate closed itself and the ascension began.

"Can I ask you something?" Charon suddenly asked, listening to the dull hymn coming from the cone-shaped structure overhead.

"Sure," Link replied, hearing no such melody and seeing no such structure.

"What's it like? Having a family, I mean." The question was unexpected, but Charon watched Link mull over the query all the same. This probably wasn't the right time to ask, seeing as how Link's family was in ruin. But the ability to care this much about a set of individuals was lost on the god who spent the most time in seclusion.

"It's like your job, sort of," Link replied, "but not only can't you ever stop or take a vacation from it, it's always there waiting to kick you in the mouth. On top of that, you still feel the need to nurture it. It's not totally bad, though. Because when it embraces you, there's a sense of connection, fulfillment of something greater than yourself-and that feels better than most anything."

Charon tried to understand that-he really, really did-but it seemed to boil down to one thing: "So, basically, it's a rewarding torture-like baking a soul and then giving it a glass of water for lasting three hours without screaming?"

The lift stopped and the gate opened, and Link nodded with a sheepish shrug of the shoulders. "Kind of like that," he replied as the God of Death led him into the drab hallway-more maroon and crimson, the former shading the walls and the latter tinting the floor-while silently taking this explanation of family for what it was. They arrived at a large, onyx-colored door with an image Link had seen before in Nocturna's home. A circle comprised of two teardrops, one black and one white, their tails almost trying to encircle the other with a dot of the opposite's color in the ballooned end.

"What does this symbol represent?" Link asked, reaching up and running his hand across it.

Charon regarded the question with but a second of thought before replying: "Balance. Good and evil, light and dark, heaven and hell-they're all opposites that attain balance through identifying with their differences, which is why there's a bit of one in the other. Mortals of the human world call it `Yin and Yang.'"

Link gingerly nodded his head in understanding as the door slid upward. Charon explained that he would be right back before entering the blinding light, which left Link a moment to think. But as soon as the door touched the ground, it began to move up again, having left Link alone for all of one second.

"Oh, come on! What was that?" he shouted, as though he expected a genuine answer.

The first voice to reach his ears belonged to his father, and he was fussing about something.

"Good fucking lord, woman!" the eldest Link shouted. "What's the problem now? I've seen the boy twice! There's no point in a third!"

And then, for the first time that Link could actually remember, he heard his mother's voice.

"Quit being such a little girl!" Esmerelda countered. Her voice was high and gently forceful, but there was also an edge of playfulness about her tone as well. "So, the great and mighty Link got beat by his baby boy. Boo hoo. Sob. You're going to meet your grandchildren if I have to drag you there myself!"

"So we're back on that again, are we?" Link's father sighed. "You're stronger than me now, whoopee! Big fucking deal! I'm still a god, damn it!"

"Barely," his wife retorted, as her husband screamed and kicked the wall.

Link and Charon both coughed, unwittingly in unison, before the couple stopped arguing. In her son's time, it had been fifty-two years since Esmerelda had last seen him. For her, given the acceleration of Charon's design-a design that saw time move even faster than that of the heavens-it had been in the neighborhood of 20,800 years since she'd last seen her little boy. Stupid Charon and his stupid schedule, she thought bitterly. She knew time moved like that in death to process the souls more rapidly, as the space was finite in the mortal quadrants-souls came in, did their time and got reformatted, and then went back into the land of the living with a clean slate. Unfortunately, all areas of time had to speed up down there in accordance with the influx of mortals.

The reality of it never really hurt until she put that number in perspective. How long she'd wanted to see more than a fading glimpse of her first and only born in a vapor pool. Not that she wanted Link dead by any means, but it was tough for a mother to give up her only child so soon. Gods of Esmerelda's caliber got daily allotments of power, but it expended so quickly when used to peer onto a different plane. Too fucking quickly for a woman with a son on a mortal plane! Perusing her anger for a moment, she reapplied that focus intently on the growth of her child into a man.

He stood seven feet tall, with white hair, all muscle, still in Kokiri garb-the boots, the green tunic, the tights, and the hat-after all this time. She also knew her son was nervous beneath her scrutiny. And despite his nerves, Esmerelda could also sense her son trying to make sense of her as well, trying to ascertain his secondary roots in the world.

As usual, mother was right.

Link looked at his mother with a clinical detachment for awhile. As was the godly calling card for those more Hylian in appearance, she was around seven feet tall. Her hair was garishly red, wavy, and long, reaching her lower back easily. She was dressed in something like a dress; it was white, with two slits up both sides that stopped at her lower thighs, but lacked a back. The neck was V-shaped, exposing a nice green set of … well, never mind.

The hero couldn't see any of himself in her at all, and that made him sigh. All of his traits came from the petulant individual at her side, who sighed and rolled his solid black eyes. Still, as Link took the time to look her in the face, he did see familiarity. Her face was a mix of high cheekbones, large almond-shaped green-on-green eyes with long lashes, and full, but non-too-overstated lips … green lips. The svelte contour of her face, mixed with the overall athleticism of her body reminded him of one person: his daughter Zelda.

Link smiled and quipped, "Lady, you've got a granddaughter that looks just like you."

Even though she didn't let on by smiling herself, Esmerelda was immensely thankful for his acceptance.

"So, what does a woman have to do around here to get a hug from her baby boy?"

"Give me a break," Link Sr. grumbled, before his head bounced forcefully off the wall and left him in a heap on the floor. He grumbled even more about that, despite the muted pain throbbing in his skull. It was bad enough he was a neutered god granted entrance into the Pantheon of Light because his dead wife felt sorry for him, but now he had to take lumps from the boy again-and he couldn't do a damn thing about it. This had to be his own personal hell, even if he could come and go between the light and dark levels as he saw fit to visit peers.

Link's face smoothed of its creases before he approached his … mother. The entire sequence felt so surreal, almost intangible, until her arms wrapped around him and his around her. Charon watched the events unfolding in front of him, but couldn't place any significance to any of it. When he and Fate came from the nothingness, before there were names, his purpose was clear: Charon ushered in the dead, punished and cleansed the evil ones, and catalogued them before returning them to the land of the living reformatted and new. Things such as family didn't hold meaning or purpose, but it was the one thing his charges all missed or longed for. Still, for death, time was the only true relevant-and right now, there were four skins waiting at the docks according to the two-foot-tall shadow demon hissing at his feet.

"People, we have a schedule to keep," he interrupted, causing mother and son to part.

"Fine, just get your damn demon dogs off me!" Link Sr. screamed as a brimstone beast violated his leg.

Link looked at his father gyrating there on the floor, and wondered aloud, "What demon dog?"

The man held both hands toward his leg as though presenting the obvious, but his son just twisted his face up and claimed to see nothing. Charon waved his hand to the beast, sending it yelping off down the corridor with the little messenger creature astride its back. The issue was resolved. With that resolution, the quad of deities continued onward to the lift.

"What is it that you want from us?" Link Sr. demanded as the gate closed behind him.

The lift's descent began with nary a sound other than its dull hum.

"Your grandchildren want to see you," his son eventually said. "I don't think they ever got over the shock of how bent the family tree was. When I told them that I was a kind of large scale god, they asked to meet you-all of you."

His father snorted to the explanation, reasoning it a waste of time. To be truthful, a near impossibility, his father was trying to hide his nerves. Seeing his grandchildren's corpses in that throne room had upset him, though he hid it well through a veneer of cynicism and sniping comments toward his son. The girl was only fifteen and dead for the second time, once before her birth by his hand and again for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Worse than that, though, was her little brother. He was only a mere four years old, out and about with his sister only to come home to a battle and catch a stray arrow through the heart.

Link Sr. knew his son blamed himself for their deaths, because when Link summoned him forth in the throne room before all those Hylian dolts, the thought screamed violently through his head. "I just wanted to let them prove that they could fight for themselves," his son thought of the Gerudo, "but it went so wrong … so wrong." The Gerudo hadn't lost a single woman to the Sheikah, true enough. But Link hadn't been prepared for his children to walk into his little exercise in passive rule. If he didn't try to pacify the Gerudo pride by letting them engage in warfare and sent the Sheikah packing on a spare thought, his kids never would've died.

Magi, the faithful servant that he was, would pay for sending the Sheikah into civilian territory once he reached his place in death. Link Sr. was going to see to that. The day never came, though. And somehow he knew that his son was exacting a fitting punishment on the old sorcerer somewhere on the mortal plane. If it weren't for the fact that he was still fifty percent evil, Link Sr. would've felt sorry for his old mage, because, as he could attest, his son was a tad bit … warped out of his fucking mind. Killing his kids would only highlight that streak of darkness within him, and wherever his former mage was, the streak must've seemed like a pit that was a thousand miles wide.

"Heh, so you finally decided to take my advice and clue them in," the old God of War rebutted, plastering his familiar grin on his face as his son stood silent. "I'll take that silence as a `thank you, father.'"

The lift hit the bottom floor before Link replied, "That's fine."

The answer shocked his father and Charon, because it was seemingly without anger. His mother was also pleasantly surprised at this display of maturity, considering her observations had led her to believe that Link wasn't the most emotionally stable individual in the world. Apparently, things changed somewhere along the lines. She wondered if it had anything to do with that timeframe where she lost track of him as a god and thought him to be in the heavens, thus beyond her limited range of sight.

"So, tell me about your children, kiddo," Esmerelda quipped, trying to divide the odd silence.

Link slid the gate open on the lift, before chuckling.

"They're something else," he replied, extending his hand toward the dock and the restrained mortals there. "Zelda's the oldest, and a tad bit spoiled, being an only child for the first eleven years of her life and all. So, don't take it personally if she starts whining about something. Link's quieter, but he's also more hyper when he gets comfortable around you." The party of gods arrived at the docks, where Link raised an eyebrow to the shackled mortal souls. "Charon …?"

"Precautions, Link," he responded quietly. "My assistants said these four attacked each other when they were brought together, so they've been subdued and properly restrained. You may want to keep them separated in the mortal realm, because, obviously, I need to schedule more cleansings."

"I'll keep that in mind," Link told him, sighing as he looked at Ganondorf's face.

It was still green, still ugly, and still frowned-even in unconsciousness. He looked exactly like he had the last time Link saw him, dressed all in black patchwork leather. Beside him, a Gerudo female almost Ganondorf's entire height, though more pleasant-looking in her comatose state, and her attire, while typical Gerudo, was every bit as black and leathery as Ganondorf's. Parallel to them stood a Gerudo that Link knew from his former wife's mind-the Gerudo Queen Zelda.

She wasn't as overwhelmingly tall as the others, but she still seemed to stand out more than one would imagine. Perhaps it was the black hair that sprouted from her scalp. This Zelda was dressed in sandals, with straps that ran crisscross up and around her calves. Her pants were a shade of deep purple, pleated, and held up with a small golden chain. The cups of her top were marked with an intricate pattern of stars and crescent moons, the most familiar symbols in Gerudo culture. Daia-Nabooru's father undoubtedly-was a Hylian knight trainee, identified by the triangular patch on the left lapel of his tunic with only one triangulate of the Triforce filled in-a sign that he'd passed the first of the three tests on the way to being knighted. His hair was short, leaving an inch of salt and pepper colored hair on all sides of his head. He was also a great deal more muscular than the knights of old, but a couple of inches shorter-roughly five-nine in boots.

"While I appreciate the sentiment of this little visit, I'm afraid that you'll have to make the journey back alone, Link," Charon said as one of his minions whispered something up to him in a dialect full of hisses and moans. "Oh, and I have a favor to ask upon their return."

Link didn't see the creature, but replied: "No problem. And I'll see about that favor. Now, let's go." His parents stood there before that old familiar feeling set in-the discoloration, the swirling, and the pop of bursting onto a new plane of reality.

They arrived in Gerudo Forest-the former Haunted Wasteland-on a breeze of springtime air. In that instant, Charon's restraints faded from the Gerudo captives and they awoke. Each was groggy and disorientated to the world and people around them, but soon everything came into focus. Link and his parents observed the impending spat for a moment. To Link's surprise, the women didn't side against Ganondorf. Nabooru's mother did, naturally, but this other woman seemed bent on keeping herself between her queen and the former king.

"Mortals," the eldest Link sighed, as the women lunged for each other, while their men did likewise.

"Be quiet," Esmerelda chided, before turning her attention to her son. "Are you going to stop this?"

He nodded slowly, causing three long tables to appear a short distance from the brawl.

"Hmm, you two sit there," Link said as calmly as if he were making a seating chart.

Nevertheless, Daia and Zelda disappeared and reappeared at the first table.

Their confusion did nothing to halt Link's path. He turned to Ganondorf and Vestia next, saying, "And you two sit over there."

"Let me guess, we've got to play mediators to the warring mortals, right?" his father asked, sighing as he and his wife walked over and sat at the table between the panting mortals. Link shrugged to his father's question, standing before all three tables with his hands clasped behind his back, which, along with the magical interference, caused a halt in the bloodlust.

"You're probably wondering why you're alive again," he began, bluntly attacking the subject with minimal pause. "If you are, I'll answer that question first. You're all alive to meet your grandchildren."

"So … which one of mine … has a child?" Vestia panted.

"Sepaaru does, and his name's Link," Link replied, smirking with fatherly pride despite Ganondorf's agape mouth.

"And Nabooru, what of her children?" the old Gerudo Queen nearly demanded.

"She has a daughter named after you," Link said with just as much underlying glee as before.

"Healthy as two resurrected corpses can-" Link Sr.'s head bounced off the table and he fell backward off his bench. "Son of a-" his head bounced off the bench as he got to his knee causing him to topple backward again.

His wife also kept her limited powers in the mortal realm.

"Why would you do this for us?" Ganondorf suddenly asked, hard pressed to believe Link would do him any favors no matter how much time had passed in this world. "You're not that kind, so spare me any idealistic speeches of right and wrong."

At that moment, Link felt several shifts in reality. One belonged to his son, who brought the Gerudo from Kokiri to the fortress ground, and the second, third, and fourth distortions rode in on his warp. He knew then that his aunts were there. Link had told Nabooru that the meeting place would be on Gerudo ground, but it was apparent that she wasn't going to show if she wasn't already there. It would better serve here than on Kokiri grounds, as their way of life had been intruded upon enough by him and the Gerudo.

As Link sensed the impending arrival of the Gerudo, his children, and his aunts, he replied, "My kids wanted to meet their grandparents, and since this god thing doesn't make it the hardest thing in the world for me to do, I brought you back."

"Gasp! He acknowledges his heritage, Ezzie!" His father's continued listless sarcasm only caused his wife to hang her head and sigh.

"Well, if you hadn't gutted me trying to moot your stupid little premonition, it wouldn't have taken him this long to accept it!" Their bickering didn't distract the others from the outrageous insinuations they'd just heard. Indeed, this bickering man and woman-hell, even the man in green-they were supposed to be gods? Of course, Ganondorf hadn't heard anything beyond Link had fathered his grandson. And the more he imagined his killer grinding, sweating, pumping, thrusting, boning-

"I'll kill you!" Ganondorf bellowed, leaping the table and tackling Link to the ground in a show of fantastic speed and strength.

Sure, the attack was futile, because the news of Link's return to godliness reached the lower hell dimensions where Ganondorf lingered as a form of spiritual anguish. The announcement could've been considered mental anguish, but since he lacked a brain as a spirit, Ganondorf had long gathered that information wasn't just stored in his head, but his very soul. First, the Triforce killed the boy. The next thing he knew, Ganondorf was seeing his greatest rival ascend to the rank of Supreme Being. It was a stiff kick in the balls if there ever was one. Despite that knowledge, he swung his fists for blood. Sooner or later Link would retaliate, but until then, vengeance for his little girl would be-

"Ah!" Ganondorf shouted as something hit his jaw with the force of a bomb. He was sent flying off Link with the sheer force, and slammed to the ground in a heap. His eyes eventually opened, straining to regain focus beneath the shadow of his attacker.

Sepaaru knew Link was fine, but her instincts reacted before her mind did; it was a side effect. Because Link had pushed her so hard in honing her instincts and skills, they were almost infinitely bigger than the woman they resided within. She'd seen Ganondorf rushing Link from the main gate, before running away from the others to intercept the attack. It was ridiculous to think even she could run that distance fast enough to stop the attack, but Sepaaru still tried. And, for her birth father, her tardiness still earned him a mouthful of loose teeth.

"Are you all right?" she asked, offering an unnecessary hand to Link, which he accepted.

Link pulled himself up, nodding as he dusted the blades of grass from his backside.

"Nice outfit," he mused, noting the color of her clothing. It was green, so very, very, very green, Link noticed. "Green's a good color on you."

Sepaaru shrugged, turning in a circle for effect before saying, "Yeah, but the only downside is that it doesn't match the sword and stuff anymore. On the other hand, it does draw a line in the sand." She extended her hand back to the encroaching caravan of women, most in green ensembles of their usual outfits, though a bit duller than Sepaaru's green, which was probably done to highlight her rank, Link thought. Those who followed Nabooru still wore their traditional purple gear.

Vestia looked at the Gerudo before her, almost obsessively looking for something to distinguish her besides the black hair, an instinct in her gut screaming that this was her child. In the moment that Sepaaru extended her right arm back to point to the impending arrival of the others, Vestia found her distinguishing feature-a golden serpent armband. She'd given it to her eldest daughter, Varia, when she took on the role of captain. This wasn't Varia, however. So, then, this must be the child she'd forfeited her life to have in a moment of impatience.

"She's so beautiful," Vestia whispered to herself, smiling as she watched her youngest daughter's ebony ponytail flail in the breeze. "And she's queen!"

Sepaaru's head snapped toward her mother-automatically assuming that was her-because the constant staring had irked her senses. She'd forgotten about her phantom spectators in the instinctual moment to protect Link. But, for what it was worth, facing her mother so suddenly had taken the anxiety out of the equation. Vestia slowly rose from her seat, a look of pride and joy unmistakably etched into her features.

"You know, I never really intended for this all to be so stiff," Link said, folding his arms as his children and the Gerudo arrived.

Vestia didn't care how he intended it, to be honest. She approached the child that'd absorbed the very life from her body to come into this world, slightly saddened by the girl's muted emotional response. It was another factor of Link. He always said, "If you're nervous about a situation, you're probably in danger … or you've got really, really bad gas." Sepaaru didn't have the latter and the former didn't seem all that possible, but her mother was the tallest Gerudo woman she'd ever seen, and so powerful looking that she was nearly intimidating.

"M-Mother," Sepaaru stuttered to say, coughing to cover up the stammer, as her mother came to tower over her. The height differential was only four inches. But to a woman who'd never seen her mother, those four inches might as well have been four feet.

"Sepaaru," Vestia whispered, wrapping her arms around her child and squeezing. "This is real, isn't it?"

"Boy!" Ganondorf suddenly shouted, interrupting the reunion of mother and child, staggering to his feet at long last. "What is this place?"

Link chuckled, extending his hand to the large treetop canopy behind Ganondorf and parting it. The former Gerudo King turned around and his mouth fell open as he saw the face of the Desert Colossus in the distance. "This is Gerudo Forest, formerly known as the Haunted Wasteland," Link said with utter amusement, watching a bit perplexed as the old king took off in a blind sprint toward the statue. He wasn't worried about Ganondorf escaping, because, let's be honest, where could he hide?

The old Gerudo Queen, despite hating his very soul, could understand Ganondorf's shock. For all of the resurrected Gerudo, this was probably the most shocking event to take place so far-this living utopia with the lake and the trees and the grass and the birds was actually Gerudo territory. Their internal thirsts for vengeance and vendettas were set aside for a moment of mutual awe.

Ganondorf kept running until his chest burned from the lack of air, but he didn't care. This was all a dream-a cold, calculated fantasy dreamed up by the boy. It had to be! This place couldn't be the Haunted Wasteland, Ganondorf wished to believe. He stopped atop a large hill to catch his breath, turning around in a complete circle to absorb all the beauty. In that moment, a Poe appeared, summoned by the presence of a living soul, though, looking oddly confused by its surroundings. The granary, Ganondorf thought, this hill is the granary! He was right. Grass and moss had grown overtop the structure, leaving a large mound in the landscape. He ran from that hill to the foot of the Desert Colossus Temple and collapsed to his knees, gasping and panting for breath as he stared up at the face of the Sand Goddess, which stood slightly faded due to the newly frequent rains.

Maybe she had heard his prayers from all those years ago.

Back at the collective of tables, Zelda, Junior, and the Gerudo stood before the spirits of old. It had all seemed so simple before, asking to meet their grandparents, but standing in front of them, the children were awestruck and silent. Zelda looked between her father and grandfather at least a dozen times, amazed both by their near identical looks and how this face from her nightmares was now material. And her grandmother … she didn't have words to describe this woman adequately enough, besides the dominating fact that she was green. Despite this expected shock, Zelda put her first foot forward and approached the table holding her father's parents.

"Hello," she said calmly, bowing her head ever so slightly to the resuscitated gods. Zelda then caught wind of the reserved couple seated to her exact left of her grandmother, and then it hit her: they must be her mother's parents. "And hello to you two as well."

Link stood ever vigilant over the proceedings, watching as his daughter merged the bench at his and Nabooru's parents' tables into one and took a seat. To Nabooru's parents, he observed, the display of otherworldly power shocked them. To his own, they both smiled all too knowingly. His father's amusement struck the biggest cord, however, as it wasn't laced with malignancy but genuine amusement and perhaps even pride. Still, his son lingered in the background, a bit unaccustomed to plunging headlong into situations like his sister.

"Junior, what's wrong?" Link asked the boy, startling him all at once by fading into place in front of him. Junior really didn't like when his father did that, because, ever since he came back to being a god, he couldn't feel Link when he made warps. So his appearances and disappearances were a bit frightening, like they were to normal people. "Sorry," he tacked on.

"It's all right," his son replied. "I just don't know what to say now."

"Well, there's always `hello,'" Link responded in kind. "Just don't overcomplicate it, and everything should work itself out."

The kid nodded before taking several deep breaths to calm his nerves, and then he approached his mother's mother, his grandmother. Under Link's mystic gaze, Gerudo took up ordinance with their former queen, most of whom she hadn't seen since they were children. Everyone soon settled at the tables, with little fanfare. The occasional bump in the road occurred, sure, but by the time Ganondorf returned, the presence of his grandson quelled his hostility toward Link and seemed to settle the dead Gerudo hostility. Link never joined the "festivities," but he continued to watch his visitors very closely through his mind's eye from the shore of the lake.

"So," Ganondorf sighed, "this is my grandson?"

Link could hear the sinister intent revving up in his one-time foe's voice, but his son, for all of his earlier anxiety, played it as smooth as he would have in his place.

"I came out of your daughter, so I guess so," Junior told him quite plainly, drawing a frown from his grandfather for his barbed response, and a decent belly laugh from his mother and grandmother.

"Gods, you've inherited his tongue," Ganondorf muttered, before making an inquiry as to how old Junior was.

The answer "fifteen" threw him, as Junior's height and recent muscle development made him look more like a man, body-wise at least. Link laughed when he heard the jabs about his son's "diminutive" five-foot eleven-inch stature die out in Ganondorf's head. He'd had the kid pegged as twenty-something, which would've made his growth cycle over. As it were, he had to concede that his grandson wasn't a runt by any stretch of the imagination-and Ganondorf begrudgingly did so.

"Why, out of all the men in this world, would you choose to bear my first grandchild with him?" Ganondorf asked, nearly demanding to know.

Vestia rebutted his question with one of her own, asking, "Well, if he's really a god, why the hell not?"

And then Esmerelda joined the fray, a tad bit stung in her godly pride.

"Indeed, what's wrong with our son?" Esmerelda asked of her comrade in color, a look of malice shining lazily in her eyes.

If that wasn't bad enough, his father threw on the incendiary by saying, "See, this is what I warned you about-mix in something grand with these inferior little mongrels, and then they grow the stones to question your place among them. Un-fucking-believable things these mortals are."

Link's first thought was to interrupt before another fight erupted. Then, as he stood on the fringe looking in, his daughter pierced the petty bickering with a shrill whistle. The whistle was the Gerudo warning signal of old: Link remembered hearing that same whistle from every Gerudo that ever spotted him during his secretive journey through their fortress in the old days. His daughter had bent the sound to quiet the fire in her grandparents, it had seemed.

"The question was Sepaaru's to answer," Zelda said regally, obviously accustomed to having the undivided attention of everyone around her. She placed her left hand on the table and her right hand on her hip, and said, "So, answer it, sis."

Sepaaru had glanced over her shoulder toward Link before responding, and even though he pretended to look out over the lake, he was very aware of what all went on behind him. From the way she thought about the question, on up to the way she drummed her fingers idly on the table, to the decision to say everything-Link knew what was going to come out of her mouth before she did … and he hadn't even read her mind.

"I was married for a time, so it wasn't like he was the first choice," Sepaaru started off by saying, stunning her father's mouth closed. "He was a knight-one of Hyrule's elite, the guys Link personally trained after he killed you-and a decent guy, I thought. Link introduced us to each other at the wedding-Link and Nabooru's-when I was sixteen. Cute enough, I guess, but I was more interested in training then. Anyway, we spoke off and on until I was about nineteen, and then we started officially dating or whatever. We got married two years after that. Five years after that, I found out that he was sleeping with Nabooru throughout the marriage. Well, Link found out, and sent the thought to me.

"Turns out that Cornelius-that's his name-and Nabooru were sleeping together before we ever hooked up. So, as it stood, Nabooru had been fucking around on Link through nine of their ten years of marriage, which put us-me and Link-in the same little hole. We were hurt and upset, and we asked them how they'd feel if they had to wake up one day and find the people they trusted most in this world fucking some … one else. We decided to do just that to them, only they wouldn't have to stumble upon us screwing like farm animals in a stable, because we'd do it right there on the floor in front of them. So, we did it."

Ganondorf's teeth ground together furiously, but he remained silent.

Sepaaru didn't seem to notice, continuing her tale after a moment's pause: "A few months went by, but we all forgave one another. A few more months went by, and Junior was born. We couldn't exactly question who his father is, since the answer is all over his face. The years came and went before Link and I found out about Nabooru and Cornelius again. You could hear him yelling from that tower up there all the way out here, almost as if he were standing next to you. Then, in the next minute, a wave of energy exploded in every direction from that same tower … their bedroom, and Link was gone. The point is this: I didn't choose him. We chose to invest our all into some shoddy people, and paid the price. In my case, the only good that I have to show from marriage is my son. And, if I could speak for Link, I know he'd probably say the only good that came of his marriage are his children, too."

Sepaaru clasped her hands together in front of her on the table, looking a tad bit drained by the explanation. Her show of emotion wasn't wasted on her mother and father, or any of the rest. Junior silently rested his head on his mother's right shoulder, allowing her some comfort as she instinctively moved her right hand up to stroke his face in thanks. Link watched his daughter's emotional façade waver, as Zelda started airing her thoughts of self-loathing at random.

Still, the question lingered in everyone's mind: How could a god not know anything?

The two deceased gods knew, of course.

"If he's a god, how could he not know for so long?" the old Gerudo Queen asked, feeling a bit disappointed in her child.

The Gerudo stepped forward from the background in that moment, each nodding ever so slightly to their deceased queen. Amaraa, recent Gerudo motor-mouth and perhaps the biggest follower of Link's Speak Your Mind Theory, said, "Link trusted her, ma'am. Link always said that he wouldn't look into our thoughts, even though he said it was hard, to prove to us that he wasn't like him."

"That's a lot of faith to put in mortals," Link Sr. said with no prefixing. Even though a part of him wanted to ridicule the boy for being so foolish, he couldn't bring out of himself the will to do so.

"I know," Sepaaru replied, "and that's why we let him see our thoughts now-to prove that we're all not like her."

Silence hung for a time, before Junior decided to ask a serious set of questions …