Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ What's Done In The Dark. . . Pt. 11: Missing the Bigger Picture ( Chapter 43 )

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

Chapter Forty-three

The room hadn't changed much since his last visit, sans the presence of his ex-girlfriend sitting at the foot of his old bed.

"Let me guess-you heard today was supposed to be complicated, so you showed up to make it easy on me, right?" Link asked, rolling his eyes as things were compounding once again.

"She's taking a bath," the Queen of Hyrule said plainly, not bothering to make mention of his blatant sarcasm.

"Right," he continued, "anyway, I'd like you to meet Zelda, Queen of Hyrule." Link extended his hand and moved it from Hyrule's queen to the Gerudo queen. "And I'd like you to meet Zelda, former Queen of the Gerudo." He then moved his hand from Gerudo to Hylian.

"Pleased to meet you," Zelda was quick to say, as Nabooru's stories left no allusions that this was her friend's mother. She even went so far as to stand and bow slightly.

"Sure it is," the former Gerudo queen said, speaking as though she doubted the Hylian queen's sincerity.

Zelda shut her eyes, raised her eyebrows, and recoiled as though struck, but she got the point and sat back down without further attempt at pleasantry.

"We've done a lot to improve Gerudo-Hylian relations since your time," Link reminded the old Gerudo, his voice growing openly agitated with he continued indifference. "So, I'd suggest you drop the prejudices now."

"Fine," she replied, flashing an almost cynical smile.

Link wasn't amused.

And the longer he stared at her, the more uncomfortable it became, as she was a tad bit disturbed by the lack of emotion in his face. "Lighten up, I was just-"

"I don't care," Link said over her. His eyes flashed for a moment, as his pupils and irises disappeared behind a glow of incandescent red, before returning to normal.

Okay, so that actually freaked her out.

"So, what brings you here, Zelda?" Link asked of his former lover, switching demeanors instantly as he walked around the silent Gerudo as though she were a stone column.

"I came to check on Nabooru, since I heard you two went opposite directions after you left the castle yesterday," she replied.

"Having us followed?" Link queried, mildly amused by Zelda's ability to hear anything relating to him or his home life behind stone walls.

"Why, of course not, Link! I'm insulted that you would even think such a thing," she feigned bold outrage as she spoke, causing Link to raise his hands in surrender. Zelda laughed herself before using her left leg to scratch her right, revealing the pink Kokiri boots beneath the pleats of her skirt.

"Still can't get you in a pair of normal shoes, huh?" Link chuckled.

Zelda did likewise, noting, "Hey, these are shoes as far as I'm concerned. You've never had to walk around in heels for three hours, so don't start."

Again, the old couple fell into a lazy sort of laughter. Humor was the only card Zelda could think to play at this point, considering Link's sudden reappearance and tight-lipped stance the other day. She'd known him long enough to know when a subject wasn't going to go anywhere but in circles, and decided she'd drop by the fortress since the chances of him actually coming back to the castle were slim to none outside of an official summons-and that would strike that growing cord of paranoia running through her husband. Looking at it logically, Zelda knew it had to seem particularly creepy when murals and giant paintings of Link started springing up all over the castle. The official explanation was that "they were monuments to Hyrule's last great protector." The illogical, unofficial answer was that the paintings helped her cope with Link's absence.

Nabooru's mother calmly watched them, noting the familiarity, and threw a question between the superficial exchanges.

"Were you two lovers once?" she asked, watching the large man and the small blonde woman grow silent in one uncomfortable break.

"In our youth," Zelda replied to the Gerudo that shared her name. The Hylian queen didn't look any worse for wear, she noticed about herself, considering that she was all of fifty-two years old. But that was the way of Hyrule and its races.

"What happened?" the Gerudo prodded.

"She met someone else," Link added, shrugging as if to say "that's life." "Speaking of which-how's the merry old king?"

"Meh, he's alright," Zelda told him, shaking her head as she spoke. "He's still convinced you're going to take Sermonia from him. You know-your father being the patriarch god of his people and all."

At that moment, a large door to the Hylian queen's right opened slowly, pouring steam into the bedroom. The steam reflected off the dark marble floor, creating the image that the floor itself was swelling with a milky vapor. Nabooru emerged from the haze, running a medium-sized drying cloth through her red mane, mumbling about the heat.

"Gods, you'd think I would be used to heat by now. But I still fucking hate it!" Nabooru muttered some more unintelligible curses to herself before apologizing to her friend. "Sorry, Zelda, I got a little carried away with the scrubbing. Zelda?" She took the towel off her head and looked at Zelda for some kind of response, but found only a sort of indescribable look. "I know I was in a pissy mood before, but I'm doing better now, really. What is it?"

Zelda nodded toward the entrance of the room. Nabooru turned around and the towel fell from her hands. If it weren't for the fact that she'd dressed in the bathroom, the towel she'd had around her in there would've fallen off as well, for there stood Link, hands clasped behind his back, and … and …

"Hello, Nabooru," her mother said in a voice so soft that it seemed that she mouthed the words.

"M…her," Nabooru whispered, a hiccup muting her typically monotone voice in mid-word.

Nabooru stared up at Link for some kind of explanation as to why he would bring her mother there, but, as seemed to be the pattern, he didn't flinch to give explanation for his actions. Much like her mother, the current Gerudo queen just gawked at the woman before her-noting the hair, the body, and the clothes that she'd buried her in were all the same. The emotions churned inside of her like a maelstrom of pain and relief, which blended into the anguish and regret sitting large on her conscience about Link. It was all in that one moment that the dike Nabooru had constructed broke.

"Momma!" Nabooru shouted, throwing her emotionless veneers off and charging toward her mother.

The mother did nothing to guard herself from the impact of her child, choosing to catch the girl mid-stride and sank to the floor. It was a meeting approximately thirty-six years in the making, for it was shortly after her daughter's twenty-third birthday that Zelda had decided to make her stand against Ganondorf's "rapes." The effort was for naught other than to liberate her spirit from its inescapable fate in the flesh. As of right now, the reunion yielded nothing more than silent tears. Link looked on, oddly touched, but detached at the same time. His new state of neutrality wasn't always called for, some would say, yet it was Link's way of coping with an issue without really coping with it; he couldn't get hurt, mentally or otherwise, if he never really invested himself in what was happening around him. "The island," as he'd come to call it in his mind, had taught him that lesson well. Without hatred or any other emotion spared on his captors, Link's pain became an intangible. The pain existed, but it was secondary because he didn't put any emotional resistance into it.

To a woman that once shared her heart and her mind with him at one time this sort of vapid existence Link had come to embrace started to become noticeable. His face was blank to the Hylian queen, almost as though he were engaged in battle it was so stoic. Even when he'd raged at Nabooru in the throne room the day before, something about it seemed theatric and hollow. Call it a woman's instinct, but Zelda knew her ex had been through some intense thing in his absence from Hyrule-something so intense that it went past Nabooru's betrayal.

Back at the Desert Colossus, a union of a different breed was underway as siblings came to terms.

"I can't believe you're still with him!" Din shouted at her sister, still maintaining her mortal guise.

"You know the bond isn't broken so frivolously," Esmerelda replied.

"He killed you-"

"Accidentally," Esmerelda said in correction. "Besides, he's voluntarily gone through the cleansing-"

"Don't be so naïve," Farore interjected, "people like him don't change!"

"Not overnight," Esmerelda stated, a slight arc in her tone as her patience waned. "You can't seriously expect someone that's been a spoiled, power-mongering little brat to change in a few thousand years when he's been who he was for the better part of forever. He's attempting to change, and, like I said circa a half million years ago, that's all that matters."

Her sisters stood muted in their unity. Even if the bond of love was inescapable for gods, they did possess an ability to suppress it-and that's all they wanted from their sister. But, alas, some things never changed. Their sister's pigheaded devotion to the principle God of War was one of those things.

"So, how's life, ladies?" Esmerelda asked, as the triplets sighed in a cohesive defeat.

"Good, we guess," Nayru replied. "We got Link adjusted as best we could, even though he doesn't fully trust us."

Farore then added: "Although he's probably the most powerful thing in existence, his paranoia toward gods and goddesses is unyielding. Well, that's not entirely true. He has taken a liking to Victorious and Nocturna. But the three of us-we're not exactly one big happy `family.'"

"He'll come around," Esmerelda said, assuring her sisters with a familiar smile as they rested on the steps of inside her statue. "I guess I shouldn't bother asking, but have you three looked into finding husbands?"

The goddesses all shook as though repulsed by the mere notion.

"No thanks," Din replied, as a chill ran up her and her sisters' backs, causing them to simultaneously shake.

"Something's not right here," Esmerelda whispered, looking around the empty temple for the source of the disturbance. "Think we should get word to my son?"

"Perhaps," Nayru said. The feeling was strong, which only strengthened her support of her eldest sister's idea. The goddesses all left the temple, but not before they felt the mysterious vibration through reality again.

At the tables, Sepaaru was enduring a different kind of vibe, namely her mother trying to pry out the sordid details of her sex life.

"Vestia, please," Ganondorf sighed for the umpteenth time, his eyes closed and teeth grit.

"Come on, girl, give a dead mother something," Vestia nagged, a perverted little laugh rumbling up out of her throat as her youngest tried to remain neutral. "Is he good? Does he even have a dick?"

"Of course he does, and-"

Sepaaru paused, this time grinding her teeth as her mother chortled. Zelda and Junior looked on, both blushing well beyond the point of hiding it. This was more information about their father than they ever wanted to know. Well, for Junior this was the case. His sister blushed for a whole different set of reasons. Sepaaru, for all of her direct objections, was thinking quite intently about Link and his body. It was easy to pick up those thoughts if one sensitive enough to hear them tried. Zelda was that person, and the things she'd always wondered about her father-the size, the shape, how he did it-were all hers thanks to Sepaaru's unintentional concentration and her own sudden brazenness towards invading someone's mind.

"I see your `branch' is particularly twisted, girl," Link Sr.'s voice whispered, slicing effortlessly into his granddaughter's mind, and borrowing a page from his son's theory about the family tree.

While he possessed no godly abilities, the ability to read a person's mind wasn't dependent on god status. Zelda's eyes were as wide as saucers. The blood drained from her face as her grandfather smirked, which made her feel as though she'd been caught by Link himself. All that her mind could seem to say at that exact moment was, "He knew!" From the expectations that Link would father her first child, to the prissy way that she acted to cover up the hurt when he showed no interest-her grandfather knew it all. Her mind forced him out the instant his voice spoke to her, but it was too late. It was too late for but one question: "Why?"

"You're beautiful enough for a half-breed," Link Sr. whispered into her mind's ear, leaving Zelda's thoughts untouched this time. "Hell, you come from my stock, so that's good enough to make you superior to all of these cretins. But why would you seek that kind of union?"

"You had no right-"

"I have the ability, thus, the right is mine to do with as I see fit," he interjected over the child's meaningless moral prattle.

Zelda gave a quick glance to her brother, his teenage embarrassment toward sex having left him the ability to do nothing more than try to hum overtop his grandmother's sex talk, before thinking of a way to respond.

"It's not fair," Zelda said through her mind. "I mean, I get we're related and everything, but it isn't fair! I should've got to have a moment with him like Sepaaru did, too! I remember overhearing Sepaaru telling the story to the others about how special he made it all seem and stuff-even with mom and her husband right there watching-and I want that, too."

Link Sr., for all he'd seen in his numerous years, could only blink in response.

"You are aware that you possess the ability to make a mortal lover perform however you wish, right? Furthermore, that was a spur of the moment decision. I barely know the dolt, but you can't realistically expect him to fuck you."

Zelda glared at him for a moment, as she tried to think of a way to justify her feelings.

"Duh," she replied, still unsure whether or not she'd duck the second part of what her grandfather said. "But I don't even know what I want! Mom always said Dad just knew. And Sepaaru-she says she can't describe it, but she's lying! He probably wouldn't admit it to me, but I know he's the reason the others had their little changes, too."

"Wait," Link Sr. thought to her, as a new twist arose. "Are you telling me that he's slept with every one of these little wenches?"

"Probably just the ones in green," Zelda replied, nearly mirroring the color on her face she was so envious. She was also highlighting the family's penchant toward unfound paranoia, more specifically Link's penchant for it, but she too far submerged in irrational thought to realize that. "All I know is that one day, most of them were small and the next they were all large and giggly around him, kind of like Mom was after they … you know. And I know him and Sepaaru are still doing it, too. Even though they don't say it, you can-"

At that moment, Esmerelda and her sisters, still in Gerudo guise, passed.

"We've got to see Link," Esmerelda muttered into her husband's head, the weird chill still prickling her senses as though it were following her.

The slight crease in her brow, plus the cadence of the comment, caused Link Sr. to go after her and abort the conversation with his granddaughter immediately. Zelda looked at her brother, then to Sepaaru, before asking a blunt question: "Who were those three?"

"They were at the fortress when we came," Junior replied, unaware they'd piggybacked his warp to mask their distortions in reality. "But, yeah, I don't think I've ever seen them before."

"Should we investigate?" Khali asked of Sepaaru, before her captain, Junior, and Zelda concurred.

"I guess we'll finish this later," Vestia said as Sepaaru rose to her feet. "Mind if I tag along?"

Her daughter regarded the question for a moment, before shrugging her shoulders. "Sure, and Dad," Sepaaru said, "coming?"

"Has it gotten so peaceful that unknown Gerudo need to be pursued like animals?" Ganondorf asked, sucking wind between his front teeth. "Alright, I'll go," he replied as no one made motion to say otherwise.

Junior added, "I'll take warp detail, then."

And with that said, Vestia gasped as a bolt of lightning seemed to flash in her grandson's eyes and the world turned a deep shade of green. Then, like an old parchment, the paused green image of the Gerudo Forest ripped. The world that came into focus was Link and Nabooru's bedroom.

"Damn," Junior mumbled, having brought the tables along for the ride this time. He brought part of the Forest Temple earlier, and, with all of his other warps, he took certain chunks of the world around him. "Well, it's better than passing out, I guess."

Link raised an eyebrow with this sudden appearance, wondering what had sparked such an event-besides the obvious demigod children. Nabooru and her mother had since gotten off the floor, but the tear streaks were still fresh on their faces as Ganondorf's methodical laughter crept into the air. The questions were plentiful, but Nabooru didn't even bother to ask: Junior sat at the table with Ganondorf, directly opposite him in fact, and that explained it all. No matter how she wished to see the boy, he did possess blood of Ganondorf … no matter how much he looked like his father.

"Is there a problem?" Link finally asked of his new arrivals.

"Your mom and these three Gerudo were headed this way, so I figured they'd be coming here," Junior replied.

"Guess we got here ahead of schedule," Zelda tossed out.

"That's not a problem, I'll just go to her," Link replied, disappearing in that instant with an impassive shrug, never once considering the bad blood between Nabooru and Ganondorf.

He reappeared in the hall leading to the stairwell that led to his bedroom, directly in his mother's path, causing her to collide with him.

"Is something the matter?" he asked, her haste startling him out of his mood for a moment.

"There's something in that temple … in that forest," Esmerelda stated, her sisters nodding in rhythm with her assessment. "It was almost as if it chased us when we left. Is there something you've trapped out there?"

"The boy doesn't trap, Ezzie, he kills," Link Sr. replied, pondering just when everyone would get that simple concept.

"I didn't trap anything out there," Link said on his own behalf. "I didn't disturb the Gerudo corpses at rest out there, so maybe they-"

"This wasn't a spirit," Din said, almost as if to yell "we're not morons, idiot!"

"Hmm, I guess I could always give it a look," Link said, habitually closing his eyes to scan the temple from his place in the fortress. After a few moments, he opened his eyes and said, "I got nothing from the temple or the forest."

"Then look again," Farore said, surprisingly cross for her typically balanced personality.

"How lovely it is to see you three again," Link said as that twinge of distrust, hate, and self-disgust with his being related to them surfaced. But as soon as it showed up, he repressed it and slapped on a smirk. "Shall I walk the temple to make you feel better, `Auntie' Farore?"

"Look, I'm so-"

"Be back in a minute," he mumbled before fading away from them.

"Well, at least the boy's judge of character is improving," Link Sr. chuckled before his wife shot him a look, indicating that she wasn't in the mood for jokes. "What is it that's got you so tight?"

"Power," Esmerelda whispered, a look of trepidation running across her face. "I felt a chill like that when the old ones came back. But this … this goes beyond even them."

At the exact moment that his father was asking his mother "what," Link walked up the steps inside the Desert Colossus. Wind blew from the entrance throughout the cavernous monument, causing a low howl to emanate from the inners. Link focused a tad, noting the small fissures in reality present there. They were all slowly healing themselves, but they did crackle and pop a bit. Still, that was nothing unusual from what he'd observed of the cracks. There weren't residual energies present, either. There was nothing but calmness.

Suddenly, Link's face twitched and a chill of a different sort ran up his spine.

It had nothing to do with the temple, but something at the fortress. He warped without ever realizing it, but the timing, as it were, was horrible. For at the moment that Link left the temple, a large section of the floor sank and crumbled. The depressions marched from the carpet between the stone monoliths and down the stairs, only to stop at the doorway. Each dip was at least two and a half feet in circumference, eight inches deep and, upon closer inspection, possessed footprints-large, three-toed footprints…

Link came unto his senses in the middle of his bedroom. Nabooru was sprawled across the floor on one side. On the other, Ganondorf stood wiping at his face. He'd made note of the changes to the room, which had been the old queen's, and added an in particularly crude remark about a bloodstain and a dead Gerudo. Zelda, the Gerudo queen of old, spit in his face. And before anyone knew what was happening, Ganondorf had slapped her down. Nabooru didn't freeze this time, and reacted with all of her strength and caught him right in the eye with her fist.

Unfortunately, while granted immortality acts as a sort of pause on a person's aging and physique, it did nothing for acquired skill. Immortal or not, Nabooru had failed to keep up with her skills as a warrior. Thus, her abilities as a fighter had deteriorated immensely, especially in these last eight or nine years, where she did nothing more than laze about in bed crying. Death, on the other hand, preserved a person as they were when they died. Ganondorf had died in peak condition, skill-wise and physically. As a result of that, Nabooru was like a helpless kitten in the mouth of a wolfos when he reacted.

Try as he might to feel nothing for her, Link found himself inexplicably saddened watching Nabooru haul herself back to her feet. And where Link felt sadness, rage was sure to follow.

"And the he-" Ganondorf began.

It was an ill-advised moment to make a joke, Ganondorf found, as Link's ability to control his emotions faltered. Link moved to Ganondorf, snatched him up by his throat, and crisscrossed the room to slam him into the opposite wall fifteen yards behind where Link had previously stood. The motion went so fast that it left an after image, even though the wind shooting out of Ganondorf's lungs spoke volumes of the force and speed at which Link moved. For his children, this was the side of their father they'd never seen (in the flesh, in Zelda's case).

"Okay, that's enough," Vestia said in a plausible attempt to be diplomatic.

Link didn't move, but Ganondorf continued to be hung in full view.

"I said-"

Link's head whipped around to face the Gerudo as she moved toward him, and shouted, "Shut up!" His voice echoed sharply, like the crack of a whip against the hide of a bull with its sudden explosion, only to die as soon as it peaked. Link's head moved back toward Ganondorf in a slow, almost animalistic skulk, the red glow from his eyes reduced to miniscule pinpoints on the surface of otherwise solid white eyes. His fingers dug deeper into his one-time nemesis's throat, causing every vein to swell and bulge in his muscular neck and head. Sweat beaded and popped from Ganondorf's face as he struggled for air, kicking and flailing helplessly like a puppet caught in a windstorm.

"Three days, you insignificant little fuck!" Link shouted. "That's all you had to do-be decent for three days!"

"Dad, he's-" Junior's attempt at speech earned a look from his father that made his bowels run watery. He couldn't speak, or move, or even breathe that well. His father actually … terrified him with a look.

"A-A-Am … Am I … I supposed to be … a-afraid, boy?" Ganondorf struggled to speak, eyes ever so often rolling back into his skull as his life drained. "L-L-Look … lo-look a-at your … your g-great d-dad-daddy, k-"

Link took Ganondorf away from the wall and slammed him into it again, embedding him into the stone for even attempting to use his kids as leverage.

"This proves nothing!" the former Gerudo king rasped, turning a deeper shade of green as his mind began to die. "Big god … beats … ma-n … proves … no … thing!"

As his mother and father entered the room, Link dropped Ganondorf's body on the floor and just glared at it. Then, for no particular reason it seemed, he kicked him square in the gut. Ganondorf exhaled, before inhaling deeply and coughing. As it were, the kick forced his lungs to involuntarily constrict and then expand to suck in wind enough to restart his breathing process. Beyond that, Link acknowledged, Ganondorf was right. Killing him as a god proved nothing. Killing him at all proved nothing. On the other hand, Link realized, the Gerudo were all standing there when the attack happened and did nothing. Even if they didn't like Nabooru, he knew they would still stand up for the title she possessed if nothing else. This was all one big mind game, and Ganondorf still held their minds when Link wasn't present.

That would change.

"Pick it up," Link said to his fallen opponent, tossing a sword born of his will at the man's feet.

Ganondorf coughed and sucked wind for a long time afterward, before regaining composure enough to speak.

"I won't play your game, boy," he snarled, proving that, unlike the Sermonian nobles, his godly sentiments stopped at Link's mother. "Kill me if you wish, but I refuse to be sport. And before I die, know one thing: If you were still a flesh-and-blood, I'd kill you where you stand! No spells, potions, or impotent little ghouls-I'd use my own two hands and cleave you apart!"

He stood up then, kicking the sword back across the floor to Link. Link repeated the process and Ganondorf growled.

"I've beat you four times as a flesh-and-blood `boy,' Ganondorf. I'll win number five," Link replied, "just like I'll win six, seven, eight, nine, and ten." In that moment, he shirked his godhood and took on mortal form like his aunts. His mother gasped and his father groaned, trying feebly to cover the noises, as they knew he was vulnerable to the pitfalls of mortality.

"How stupid do you think I am? You may look different, but we both know that you're still a god and nature herself says that I can't kill you as such," Ganondorf spouted, almost laughing at the insult to his intelligence.

Nonetheless, he took up the sword. It was that strange, unsafe feeling that enshrouded Ganondorf as he looked into the cold blue eyes of his killer that forced his hand. It was weird in some ways, everyone noticed, that he would be flippant towards Link as a god only to grow blatantly skittish and timid in face of the same man with blonde hair, with less height, and less muscle, and with no weapons. Four battles he'd had with the blonde boy in front of him, and four times he'd lost-once banished to another realm, once chopped into pieces, once pierced through the heart, and once just generally beaten until he couldn't draw breath. The god hadn't done that to him, but this … blonde abomination caused Ganondorf's hand to grip the hilt of the sword for dear life.

"I've got a heart now," Link told him, curling his finger toward Sepaaru, indicating he needed her sword. She unsheathed it and threw it to him without hesitation, causing her mother and father to glare with incredulity. "And I bleed and everything." His face didn't so much as twitch to indicate pain, even as he slit his fore and middle finger open and squeezed them to produce fresh blood. "I'm mortal again, and this is your last chance, Ganondorf. `I won't die alone,' remember?"

Ganondorf raised the sword in his right hand and took up a stance, again spurred on by self-preservation instincts. Vestia gave him an encouraging look to off the boy, while everyone else looked on to see what was about to unfold. This was their time to see if Nabooru's boasts had been real or exaggerated. Never mind that Link had defeated another god in his father; this was the man that held the Gerudo minds captive. In some ways, this was more of a fight with a god than the actual fight with his father was. Some Gerudo even went so far as to think Link was bluffing. He was afraid of Ganondorf on some level, and hid his godhood to unleash upon the old king in a flurry when the fear got to him.

If the old king could've heard those thoughts, however, he would've told them the truth: Link did not bluff.

"Eyes told the tale," Ganondorf recalled that Res used to say. He inched closer with that thought, as Link took up that old stance, bouncing from foot to foot, waving him in with his sword. His eyes would tell him everything. All he needed to do was watch the boy's eyes, and then he'd kill him in front of everyone he held dear. Charon's cleansing was only sixty-five percent complete with Ganondorf, which left him plenty corrupt enough to kill a man in cold blood. But it also left him sane enough to know his odds-and those weren't phenomenally high. But he had an edge this time. Ganondorf had discovered something in the forced observations of his battles with Link that Charon and his minions subjected him to, and those observations left him with no illusions as to how this fight would end.

There was always that moment in the battles where Link would quit making sound. He'd be silent. Knock him off a platform to the ground fifty feet below-nothing. Knock him into a wall with an energy bolt-nothing. Link would never take his eyes off Ganondorf, however. It was like fighting the walking dead. And, as fate had made it inevitably so, when Link would get so close that Ganondorf could see his eyes, there'd be the unavoidable tale that Res spoke of. In fact, as he inched even closer, Ganondorf recognized that Link was beginning to tell the same story right now.

Every moment that heralded Ganondorf's demise featured one glaring moment above all else: Link's eyes stopped reflecting light. When the battle reached its fever pitch and they were both panting like starved animals over a fresh kill, Link's eyes always stopped reflecting the light, like that of a corpse which could no longer produce wetness for its eyes. In some ways, it was like a candle's flame in the middle of a cave. Try as the light might, it could never shine brightly enough to cast out the darkness, because the cave was too large and filled with too much darkness.

Ganondorf stopped moving toward Link in that moment.

Even with the power of the gods coursing through his body, Ganondorf had realized that Link's cave, his darkness, was too much for his candlelight to snuff out. It was a bizarre reversal of roles. Usually, the hero and his pristine light went to cast out the darkness that was the villain. In this instance, the hero was the one brimming with darkness, and the villain was the one slinging the light into the dark abyss. Battling him now was futile. This tale would finish the same as it always did, because, no matter where Ganondorf started reading in the tale, the ending was always going to be the same: The cave's darkness trumps the candlelight in the end.

Of course, Ganondorf's wick wasn't gone yet and all he figured he had to do was close the book before Link got to the proverbial end.

"Ah!" he shouted, leaping toward Link swinging his sword left in a waist-high arc.

Link flipped backward, the tip of his cap sliced by Ganondorf's blade. Link's feet hit the ground for a second before he spun his body horizontally to the floor, like a log rolling down a hill, and caught his nemesis with a devastating kick to the jaw. Ganondorf stumbled backwards and took a knee, unabashedly surprised the boy had used his feet or even possessed that type of agility. Link landed with his left knee kneeled to the floor, scowling.

"That's new," Ganondorf said dryly, running his tongue through the trickle of blood pooling in his cheek.

"It should be," Link replied in much the same manner. "I'm not strapped with a hundred pounds of gear like the last few times, so I'm a little less … restricted."

Link smiled as Ganondorf's eyes popped for a moment. He'd never even considered that the boy was wearing that giant shield, the gauntlets, the sword, and all that other crap-all of which had to weigh exactly what the boy said. With all of those hindrances, Link was fast. Without them … Ganondorf pushed the thought down.

"I thought you said that move was a waste of motion," Sepaaru said between their exchanges, noting it was one of her showier numbers from the old days.

"It is," Link replied, "but it has its effective moments-especially when someone assumes you won't be using your feet as weapons."

He stood and moved away as Ganondorf got back to his feet.

"It's a mistake that I won't repeat," Ganondorf snarled, spitting a wad of blood from his mouth.

He looked over Link toward Vestia, a meaningful look of sorts, as she barely nodded in reply.

"Hey!" one of the Gerudo shouted as Vestia took the woman's scimitar and threw it to Ganondorf.

"Now, let's get down to it, boy!" Ganondorf shouted as he caught the second sword by the hilt and spun his weapons in an elaborate display of grace, indicating that he wasn't exactly an amateur when it came to swordplay.

"That's not fair," Junior said, as the lines blurred between his interpretations of his grandfather.

"There's no such thing as a fair fight, Link," his father told him. "If there was such a thing, no one would ever win." Link twisted the hilt on Sepaaru's sword, causing it to glow, and divide itself. "I told you this one would come in handy, Sepaaru." She chuckled with a grim amusement, much to her father's chagrin.

"Are you sure you know how to use those things?" Sepaaru asked, only recalling one instance of seeing Link use a dual-bladed technique, which was more a walkthrough of how to use one to parry an attack and the other to strike.

"You don't think I just stood around helping you get better, did you?" Link asked, twirling the swords idly. "I didn't spend all that time just watching. Plus, I didn't exactly let go of everything I took from the old man," he said in regards to his father's ancient thoughts and skills.

"Cute," Sepaaru replied, going no further as the whimsical smirk left Link's face and that hardened look of frustrated blankness returned.

The metallic purple swords seemed to hum as Link spun them in a manner similar to Ganondorf. This affront to his skill perturbed the former king, as he rushed Link again, swinging his swords haphazardly. Right sword met right sword, left met left, and then Ganondorf feinted another right before catching Link in the sternum with his knee. Link gagged, folding over some, only to look up to see an elbow rushing toward his right eye. Pain, physical pain, rushed through Link's senses and, if his kids weren't mistaken, he screamed as his body hit the floor. Expectedly, Ganondorf didn't grant him a moment to recompose, choosing to assault him with a hail of stiff kicks. Link's body bucked and jumped as Ganondorf's feet lifted and twisted him. Through it all, he quietly grunted, absorbing the giant boots like a pillow would an angry child's fist.

"Guess he should've kept his powers," Vestia laughed, showing the malicious streak that ran within her, despite being thoroughly ignored as the brutal melee continued.

At the moment her mouth closed, Link saw an opening when Ganondorf paused for but a half second to take a breath. He kicked Ganondorf's left ankle, which caused him to fall flush to the floor, as his right leg was poised to stomp down. Despite that, both men rolled onto their backs, coiled their legs into their chests, and sprung them outward and upward, the momentum vaulting them back to their feet. They circled each other again, the tension mounting as each panted slightly. Link recovered first and pressed the assault, running into Ganondorf's attack radius. He slashed his foe's stomach, causing him to howl, only to suffer a grazing wound to the side of the neck as Ganondorf lashed out. For Junior and his sister, this was frightening, because both of them were now bleeding profusely. Still, even through the injuries, the children watched the fires seemingly grow within the two. They soon abandoned their swords and technique and just outright pummeled each other with their bare hands. And despite the clear physical advantages Ganondorf possessed, Link didn't yield. It was like watching two rabid wolfos-each snarling and growling, inflicting maximum damage on the other, but neither willing to abandon the fight so long as the other still drew breath.

Ganondorf rolled with the right hand that landed against his temple, grabbing Link in a massive hug around the shoulders and throwing him over head. Everyone in the room let out a sharp grunt when Link bounced off the stone wall and landed square on his head. It didn't slow him down any, Ganondorf noticed, because as soon as he rolled over to see the resultant damage from his throw, the top of Link's booted foot came crashing across the bridge of his nose and eyes, rolling the Gerudo giant end over end. And much like his Hylian counterpart, Ganondorf recomposed and got to his feet before anyone expected, and launched himself at the boy. His shoulder mashed into Link's abdominals, lifting him off the floor, and pushed him back towards one of the larger windows. Then it happened. With one loud, fervid scream, Link curled his left arm around Ganondorf's neck, thrust his feet toward the floor, and bent back and upward on Ganondorf's neck, lifting the old Gerudo king off the floor with his own momentum and sent him sailing through the window.


There was silence left in the room as he no longer screamed. Link didn't care really, as he picked up Sepaaru's swords and silently returned them to their singular form. But what no one knew was that outside the former Gerudo king hung listlessly in the air a few inches above the ground. He didn't understand it or care to know how he survived, but he hadn't hit the ground. As his heart began to beat normally again, it slowly dawned on Ganondorf that he was once a powerful wizard and that levitation wasn't beyond him.

It was also an oversight on Link's part that was slowly floating up the side of the massive tower to bite him in the ass.

Indeed, Link was completely off guard without his extra perceptive senses and in the process of handing Sepaaru her sword when he heard the incantation. As he spun around, the projectile of snowball-sized energy seared its way into his side and threw him clear across the room into the wall. Ganondorf hovered outside the window, a feeling of surprise elation as it seemed the candle finally one-upped the cave. His daughter stared up at him in what could only be described as a wide-eyed rage, nostrils flaring with each breath as she looked between the two most prominent men in her life-one in a bloody heap on the floor and the other aloft outside the window, an immense amount of blood glistening on his black leather.

Son of a bitch, Link thought as he realized what he'd done. His borderline obsession with Nabooru, as he'd come to think of it, had made him act without thinking. My fault, though. Bring back a wizard from the dead and he's still a wizard. Leave it to me to bring back the one that wants me dead more than he desires air in his lungs. And despite all the machinations floating around in his head, Link never reactivated his godhood. Something about that felt so cheap and crutch-like that, even with his newfound self-acceptance, he couldn't find probable cause to justify it. He looked up at his mother with an expression of lost confusion, as, without the godhood, Link could not remain in that placated numb when it came to the significance she played in his life, despite being in it for only a few hours.

"This is not the time to play games!" his father shouted. "He's going to kill you!"

Ganondorf's head snapped toward the elder god. The man's voice was genuine in its concern, revealing something to the old wizard that he wasn't entirely sure was possible beforehand, but now knew he'd come upon a rare miscue on the wheel of fate. With that revelation, however, he began to wound up the most intense spell he could think to call forth. It would rip Link's soul asunder-barring he even had one-and reduce his body to vapor. The intense gathering of dark forces overwhelmed Link's children, as they both shuddered openly as Ganondorf began to speak the weird dialect.

"Stop this!" Zelda shouted, running to a sliding stop in front of her father.

Ganondorf continued chanting, as his vision hazed between blur and sharp in accordance to the blood he was losing from the wounds Link inflicted.

"Grandpa, it's over!" Junior added, coming to his sister's side.

He didn't stop chanting, because, in his own way, Ganondorf believed this was for the sake of everyone.

"Move," Link commanded of his children, grunting as he continued to lose blood from the various inflicted wounds Ganondorf had placed upon him.

They refused, naturally, knowing full well their strength in relation to the wizard's. The only problem with that was their inability to critically think in the face of a life-or-death situation. Link knew the attack Ganondorf summoned was going to be immense, and, even if his children were stronger physically and mystically, all it took was a magical attack with enough energy to do one of them grave damage. This was especially true if they didn't use their abilities to prepare for the attack, which they didn't, as evidenced by their pleading.

A preemptive strike would've done Ganondorf in by now, but, again, Link's children weren't kids of the blade. They knew of battle as an exercise, not a decisive course of action. Link dug in deep and used his legs to push himself up the wall, green tunic now stained a deep shade of plum. He breathed deeply of the spring air pouring in through the window, glancing at Sepaaru and Nabooru for a fleeting moment as they stood transfixed. Ganondorf stopped chanting at that moment, leaving him poised with a ball of swirling black energy that crackled with bright blues and foreboding oranges at its center.

"I'm sorry," Ganondorf muttered to his grandson, bringing his arm back and throwing the watermelon-sized orb at the group of three.

In a part of his mind, Link had hoped Charon's cleansing could've helped the green fool. But as the orb approached, that old sinking feeling set in. He looked at Sepaaru, then to Nabooru, back at Sepaaru, and then he ran. His son and daughter almost fell over as their teenage father burst from between them in a dead heat, never once falling back on his godly abilities, toward the attack without a sword or shield. If they moved, Link would dodge the attack before its speed increased any. If his children continued to stand behind him like statues, however, he'd have to hit the attack head on with his body-and, even if he couldn't see them, he felt that his kids were standing there like monoliths at the moment.

Ganondorf could taste the vindication … the salvation … the irony of having been the one-time bane of the world actually saving it!

The whole surreal moment continued on until Link saw the blur of green motion from the side of his eye. Sepaaru ran toward him, snatching his right arm and easily yanking his tiny frame out of the line of fire. However, it was in that motion that she performed the most surprising act of all. In the same swinging movement that took Link out of harm's way, she used the force to swing her body around and place her sword in Link's former position, batting the orb up into the ceiling, saving the kids and snuffing it out against the stone. As they continued to swing, Nabooru observed, a sort of look pass between Link and Sepaaru. He was disbelieving, yet not surprised at all. Even though it lasted only a split second before Sepaaru threw Link through the window toward her father, Nabooru felt a weird mix of emotions. Ease and disgust, comfort and betrayal, complacency and urgency-the Gerudo queen didn't even notice that her flesh-and-blood ex-husband had collided with Ganondorf and that they both fell toward the earth.

Outside, Link rode Ganondorf toward an unavoidable collision. The wizard struggled for all he was worth, despite the enormous fatigue from such an attack and his numerous injuries, but Link's fists just kept on hitting him and hitting him and hitting him. He was so close to victory this time. So close! But, as the tale went, the candle eventually runs out of wick and wax and submits to the darkness. Despite the blood that ran freely from his neck, the pale color of his skin, and the hole through his left side, Ganondorf saw that Link's eyes were in that state where they no longer reflected the light. The only plus side was-

They hit the ground before that thought finished.