Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ What's Done In The Dark. . . Pt: 13: Fatherly Advice ( Chapter 45 )

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

Chapter forty-five

Link came down first, then Sepaaru, and last Nabooru. There was a ten-minute gap between all of their arrivals, the children had noticed. And, on top of that, there was a sort of finality to it. They couldn't identify if that was good or bad, but something had definitely changed. Meanwhile, the Gerudo body had disappeared into the fortress when the meeting between their three leaders exceeded fifteen minutes. Ganondorf and Vestia were still standing around the entrance to the old archery track, talking with each other, while Esmerelda, Zelda the Hylian queen, and Nabooru's parents sporadically chatted. They'd also noticed their father's father had gone somewhere after Link and Esmerelda departed earlier. These two main observers of time, Link's children, sat on the steps near the trail that led up to the fortress. Their father had joined them after coming outside, sitting a step below and between his children, but had said nothing of the discussion. Their mothers had also come over to the steps, Nabooru on the step below Link to his left, in front of her daughter and Sepaaru on the same step to his right, in front of her son, but they were about as forthcoming as Link.

"What happens now?" Zelda asked quietly, hugging her knees to her chest as she looked down at her father. "Are you coming home now?"

"No," Link replied just as quietly, pretending not to notice Nabooru's minute sigh. "Not yet. I've got a few things to do in the forest, but in time, I suppose we'll all be back."

"How much time will it be?" Junior asked, mirroring the mood's somber tone as well.

"Depends," his father said cryptically, "on whether or not you want to be the temporary Forest Guardian until the Deku Sprout reaches maturity."

Junior's eyes bugged for a moment, as an immediate and overwhelming sense of responsibility hit him square in the face. Naturally, his mother had grievances about that.

"Isn't he a little too young for that?" Sepaaru asked.

"Not really," Link replied absolutely. "He and Saria pretty much ran the forest while I was … incapacitated."

"But he also had me and the rest of the women," Sepaaru noted.

"This is also true, but I still think he can hold his own. We'll just have to get him prepared a little bit more," replied Link, not exactly neglecting his son's complete freeze up in the face of danger, but also not holding it against him.

"I-I can do it," Junior added, feeling oddly small when everyone looked at him, but thought enough to reaffirm that his father's confidence wasn't misplaced. "I can do it."

"Good, then I suppose we'll live here sooner than later," Link said, looking back at the patch of gray stone from the Forest Temple in the middle of the fortress lawn. "I'll just have to teach you the finer points of warping." He laughed, reaching back and patting his son on the knee. Silence rolled in shortly thereafter before Zelda spoke up again, as the awkward closeness to her mother began to wear on her.

"Were you really going to kill him up there?"

The question didn't throw her father, as he responded with quick finality.


Zelda, playing the role of her brother almost, then asked, "Right in front of everyone?"


His mother was right-this answering from feeling instead of deliberation had its perks. The guilt couldn't eat at you when you answered a question before it had time to build. Hell of a concept, huh?

"Why?" Zelda continued, even though that question was pretty self-evident.

"Complicated question with a simple answer," Link replied. "It's not much to kill someone you've been conditioned to hate from your first step into the world."

Naturally, Link managed to answer the question without answering the real question.

As Zelda and her brother sort of sat stupefied, they looked at their parents for the first time with a grim sort of understanding. Murder-actually ending people's lives-was a part of all their lives in some capacity, as their mothers looked to silently echo Link's words. Even looking at their grandparents, there was a malicious and malignant violent streak that ran through them. Were they the only ones that saw this wasn't normal?

"That's the point," Link said in answer to their thoughts, which had invaded his mind. "You two were raised in this, Hyrule's Diamond Era, where diplomacy and some of the most boring assemblies in the world take place as the new wars. In that regard, our minds aren't ever going to make sense to you."

"When does killing stop being an answer, though?" Junior asked.

"For us, never," Link replied, shocking his children even further. "This is who we are-killers. Maybe not mindless murderers, but the first thought about something that hurts us or one of you is to kill it, more often than not. We can talk it out prior to, but, afterwards, there are no discussions or diplomacy."

Again, they looked to their mothers for some kind of counter-argument or something to balance this with. And, again, the children found themselves rejected, as their mothers silently nodded along with his every word.

"I mean, if you realize that it isn't a good thing to do, why keep doing it?" Junior persisted. "I mean, if you fought to put Hyrule the way it is now, that must mean you know the old way was wrong or you wouldn't have changed it. You make it sound like it's impossible for you to change."

"I think I've changed quite a bit, actually," his father disagreed. "I said the first thought is about killing. It used to be the first reaction. By my count, I didn't kill Ganondorf, which deserves bonus points out of the ass. I didn't kill those Gerudo that tortured me like that. I even brought the group responsible for your deaths back after I killed them. If you'd known me before, you'd know just how far I've come."

"What about that guy, Magi? I heard he sent the Sheikah …" Zelda added in attempt to throw her father's borderline righteousness off course.

"He doesn't matter," Link replied calmly, "but he isn't dead."

The glance passed between her mother and Sepaaru alluded to something more, Zelda noticed. Magi was probably alive, but something told her that her father hadn't let him off the hook. And just like that, silence rolled in. Of course, silence never lasted long, because, soon, Junior had another query. Now, how to approach such a question? Well, it wasn't like it was a hard one, the boy thought. So, he just tossed it out there.

"Why'd you throw him out of the window?" Junior asked his mother, feeling instantly nervous about how accusatory that sounded.

"He wanted her to," Nabooru replied in her place, throwing her untied hair over her shoulder and letting it sweep the ground, as she revealed her insight ran deeper than anyone assumed.

"Why, though?" the boy persisted to his "aunt."

"The Art of Surprise," Link chuckled, as his son's head swung over to look down at him. "No one rightfully expects someone with no abilities of flight to attack them while they're floating over a hundred feet off the ground-"

"And they definitely don't expect their own daughter to throw that person at them," Sepaaru added, interjecting her presence into the conversation.

"You know, this fighting crap didn't seem that difficult when you taught me how to use the sword, Mom," Junior muttered, sighing as his mother reached back and ruffled his rapidly whitening hair. For now, it was a shade darker than pink, but a great deal lighter than red.

"At least you had the option to learn," Zelda mumbled, drawing all eyes on her as she rested her face on her knees. "They wouldn't even teach me how to throw a punch."

Link, without probable warning, threw a punch at her head. His daughter quickly slid her head out of the path, grabbed his wrist, and twisted it until Link doubled over in a position that could've snapped his wrist had he been less than a god. The funny thing was that Zelda didn't even see the punch coming or plot the counter-strike. It just happened. Her mother had no reaction to her child's apparent skill, recalling a grim detail she'd buried in her mind for a while.

"Fact is, Baby Girl, you never needed it," Link said quietly, as she let his arm go with eyes wide and surprised. "When I brought you back the first time, you inherited more than my dreams and memories. You got most of my fighting skills … and your grandfather's."

"So, she's a killer too?" Junior asked, looking at his sister in a morbid sort of shock, even as she looked almost horrified by the possibility.

Link shook his head. "No, she's not a killer. I took most of what I'd done back from her as a child, including the combination of me and the old man's warrior … solutions. She just retained the surface instincts, skills, and memories, for whatever reason."

"Why didn't you ever tell me?"

"You never asked," Link replied, smirking at her. "So, you're the daughter of the great Hero of Time, who just so happens to be the first son of the main God of War, and you possess all of their acquired and created fighting skills. Do you know how much money I could've made selling those techniques? Here you got them all for the low, low price of free, and you're complaining! Sheesh, is it really such a bad deal?"

Zelda wanted to freak out-she really did-but the silly way he presented it … complete with that thing he did with his ears made her just laugh.

"Fine, fine, fine-thanks," she conceded, laughing harder and harder for some reason, as reality seemed to turn into a bigger and bolder joke. To her familial spectators, the joke wasn't that funny. But the young woman continued on unabated, having seemingly abandoned her desire to rationalize the life she was born into. "Sorry … sorry," she apologized, ebbing from the raucous fit into a demure set of giggles.

"Anyhow, Junior," Link continued, purposefully digressing back to his son's muttering, "your mother was just prepping you with the basics. That's why fighting seemed so easy."

"Oh," the kid mumbled, taking that as a slight jab at his skill. "Man, Saria's going to think I'm the weakest piece of- well, she isn't going to like this." He seemed to shrink and blush as the memories of him telling Saria stories of how great a fighter he was.

"Nah, she'll be fine," Link noted on his friend's behalf. "I mean, if she judged her boyfriend types on talent, you're number one-far and away. So, relax, you've got more going on than people twice your age."

"But they weren't born half god," Junior attempted to argue … on behalf of his lameness.

"True," Link conceded; "but you were good at most things long before you were really a half god. It isn't like that status makes you the best at everything. All demigod status gives you are a few more problems to solve and advantages to use, just like someone born exceptionally tall has the advantage of reach, but the disadvantage of limited mobility."

"I guess," he said, childishly accepting the explanation internally, but outwardly maintaining his protective indifference. "So, are you leaving Mom or what?" The question blurted out so fast that Junior immediately winced afterwards, as that wasn't one of those things he wanted to pose aloud.

Link raised his eyebrows. Well, that was some shit he didn't expect to hear.

"I hadn't planned on it," Link replied.

Of course, his daughter's mind began to spin in lieu of that.

"Uh, then why are you moving back here?" Zelda asked, before an answer of sorts came to her. "Are you planning to kick Mom out?"

"What the f- No, I'm not kicking anyone out of anywhere," Link replied, shaking his head whimsically. Without thinking, he rested his arms on Nabooru and Sepaaru's legs, almost using them as arms of a chair if one were to look at the position closely enough.

And like that, Zelda and her brother looked at each other with a new realization: Their father was actually going to be with both of their moms … at the same time.

"That's not right," Zelda was fast to say.

"Yeah," Junior added, but fell short of any further words.

Their parents didn't agree, but they didn't object, either. Perhaps that's what spurned Zelda's rage a little more in some ways, that now her "sister" and her mother were now getting him, and she was left with exactly jack-shit. This was almost inexorably upsetting, and Zelda would let them know it in one way or another.

"So, what, you expect them to share?" Zelda asked calmly.

"He expects one of us to leave," Sepaaru said, chuckling in an all-too-aware manner.

"But, for now, that doesn't appear as though it will happen," Nabooru added, her instinctual competitiveness surprisingly docile. Indeed, she was actually more focused on being with her husband than beating Sepaaru to Link's heart, probably because she knew it was an impossibility.

"I love them both, you see," Link admitted to his children.

It stunned Junior and made him almost infinitesimally happy all that same time, because, grimly, he never thought his father loved them the way he loved Nabooru and Zelda. This was the greatest news a kid could hear. Well, for Junior it was, anyway, even if he couldn't understand it too clearly.

"That's just not possible," Zelda said in an almost growl, teeth clenched so hard that they squeaked as she spoke. "You can't love two people like that!"

In that moment, the setting sun began to rise back into the sky and grow larger. For a moment, Zelda's heat cooled as the large orb of fire came closer and closer to Hyrule. Sepaaru, Link, and her mother sat surprisingly calm despite the impending doom, even as their children began to panic. Even as parents, grandparents, and queens screamed, the three parents sitting on the steps didn't budge. The sun now covered the entire sky and threatened to swallow the world! Her father disappeared.

"Oh, my … god," Zelda whispered in complete and utter awe.

The sun now had a blue halo around it, as though the sun was the pupil of an eye with a colorful iris encircling it. Soon, a few oddly colored columns crashed into the cliffs in front of Link's family, crushing them to dust, as the long tendrils slammed into the ground repeatedly, nearly missing the family and the fortress. Still, Nabooru and Sepaaru sat motionless and outwardly unconcerned. They knew what they were seeing, stray strands of hair from his forelocks hitting the ground, but the children truly didn't. The world suddenly went dark, despite the shining, heatless sun a few miles above it. Then there was light … then dark … then light … then dark. It was a rhythmic pattern that everyone experienced daily while blinking their eyes, only now it was slower and more deliberate because of the size of the eye … Link's eye.

"Realize, anything's possible," Link's voice boomed across the landscape, rumbling the planet to its very core. Link backed away from the planet and returned the sun to its normal place, his eye now covering the entire sky as he did so. "I can hold the entire world in my palm, Zelda." He grew even larger, becoming a distorted wall of color, casting a weird hybrid shadow/flesh tone across the skies of the world. In truth, he'd just grown so large that the sun and the world became specks in the space between his fingerprints. "This is the world, the stars, and the planets around the Earth, all in the groove of my fingerprint. So, really, there's no such thing as `impossible' for me anymore. Impossible only goes as far as I let it."

Link's voice now came to them in their minds, undistorted and clear, because the sound of a voice from a body that big would quite literally shatter everything. Ganondorf fell back on his ass before this … this … his brain couldn't properly compute it, even though it was right before his very eyes. Likewise, Vestia was also incapable of closing her mouth or forming thought, outside of happiness for her youngest daughter. She'd found a good man-and he really, really, really was as big a god as Ganondorf said! Zelda and Zelda, better known as the Gerudo and Hylian queens, were entranced in equal parts awe and terror, where as Link's mother looked up and smiled. This was going to scar the mortals for life, especially Daia, who'd lost consciousness. But her little boy was definitely all man now, and that made his mother's heart grow all warm and fuzzy. But like a shooting star, the sky returned to normal in the blinking of an eye, and Link was sitting back on the steps among his shaken children.

"I know it doesn't seem fair," Link said quietly, "but it is what it is, and I can't change it. I won't change it."

"But-" Zelda paused as her father held his hand up to silence her.

"Wait a second," he said, before shutting his eyes and mumbling. "There-go on."

"What did you do?" Junior asked before his sister started babbling on.

"I erased what just happened from everyone's mind that wasn't out here," Link told him quite simply. "It was causing some … disturbances."

"But … it only took you a second," the astonished young man replied, feeling immediately stupid having said so considering what he'd just seen. "Just how powerful are you?" Junior had to ask, because it was mind boggling to think his dad was the most powerful man in the world for so long, and then find out that it was the truth.

"No clue," Link said, shrugging as though speaking in terms of lifting physical weight. "I guess, to put it in explainable terms, I could say that what you just saw wasn't difficult for me."

His son's lower jaw swung open like a broken trapdoor. A three-word phrase echoed in his mind predominately: "Holy fucking shit!" So, to recap this most awesome of days: Junior had seen confirmation of his dad's power, saw his grandparents, and found out that his father loved he and his mother as much as Zelda and his Aunt Nabooru. It got no better. Oh, wait, it did! He was fucking half of his dad! That meant he could do stuff like that too one day! Of course, on the other side of such a happy scale was usually a rather foul-minded individual. This time, it was the boy's sister, who stewed silently in her juices. She was impressed with the show, but still struggling with her attraction to her father.

"I can't believe you two agreed to this," Zelda muttered spitefully. "You know he'd probably blow himself up again if one of you tried something like this."

She'd gone low, as shown by Link's neck rolls. He always did that when she upset him-crack his neck sharply one direction, and then subtly roll it back the other. Link didn't say anything, however, choosing to bite his tongue. Instead, it was Nabooru that picked up the ball and played with it.

"He gave us the option to leave," she told her daughter. "One of his aunts told us long ago that he'd have to beware of this sort of thing, Zelda. Gods can fall in love with large groups of people, and can't really change it. They can block the emotion for a while, but it's always there. He can't change it. I can't change it. And she can't change it, either. So, he gave us a choice: Stay if we can accept it or leave if we can't. It pisses me clear the fuck off that I let it end up here. But what can we do except live with it?"

Zelda quietly gave up, watching as her father patted her mother's knee, and sighed. She'd grill her godly grandmother about an out to this later, she resolved, before taking her knees away from her chest and lying back to look at the dusky sky. As the makeshift family sat there watching the sun set, Varia quietly approached. She felt her mother and father's eyes watching her, but the former Gerudo Captain didn't flinch to acknowledge it. For now, her king had to see something. It was so ridiculously hilarious that she couldn't help informing him.

"Link," she began, chuckling to herself, "you've got to come see this."

He leaned his head back, and stared at the upside down woman looming over him, asking, "Can it wait?"

"It could," Varia replied, "but you probably wouldn't laugh your ass off then."

Link's curiosity was sufficiently piqued then, evident by his warp to a standing position. He looked back at his family in all of its forms, jerking his head toward the fortress in a silent request that they join him. Steadily, they rose and dusted themselves off before the unit walking off in a silent caravan. Varia's laugh, which was one of those laughs that sounded irrepressibly evil no matter how jovial its intent, made Nabooru ask what it was. But her friend refused to say, even as they entered the fortress, and were bombarded by the animalistic grunts and groans of what sounded like a wounded animal. Rounding the corner to the kitchen/dining hall, Link paused in the doorway and just smiled.

"Oh … what the fuck was that?" Link Sr. grumbled.

Indeed, sprawled across the dining hall floor in a pile of chicken, pork, and beef bones, empty pie pans, ice cream jars, wine bottles, and cake tins, was Link's father. Nabooru's parents, the Queen of Hyrule, and his mother sat in chairs around the table, laughing at his "suffering," as they'd entered a while ago and found him like that after Link's little display. Esmerelda couldn't keep herself from laughing, though. He was so adamant in his indifference to mortal design that he never bothered to learn of their eating limitations and digestive abilities. Most importantly, however, was that he was now one of them, and, as so, bound to their restrictions. The result was this bloated, gaseous heap of a man groaning in agony on the floor. The laughter of his son, his wife, his little mortal lapdog, and his grandchildren soon pierced the former god's ears, causing him to growl … before another ass-load of wind whistled from his bowels, causing the laughter to grow louder.

"That's right laugh it up! … Is this even normal? … Oh, good god is that … When does it stop? …" A weird churning groan or belch from his stomach or ass punctuated nearly every few words that he said, much to the twisted glee of his spectators.

The Gerudo had come down from their rooms and entered the dining area to see the cause of such blissful laughter, only to fall victim to the "great god" hurling equal parts insults and gas. It had been years since the Gerudo Fortress heard such sounds, but the sounds of happiness seemed to bring life to the extravagant hallways and gold and silver fixtures. Link's laughter curbed enough to approach his father, and ask one burning question.

"Why didn't you stop?" he asked, sputtering to keep from smiling.

"Shut the …" his father, covered in various crumbs and smeared with grease like a small child, paused as a new affliction hit his body. "Oh, no! Something's inside of me! It's trying to force its way out!"

Link grew serious in a moment, thinking it was something harking back to his mother's warning. Then it hit to ask another question.

"Trying to force its way out of where?"

His father looked around nervously, swallowed, and whispered the words: "It's trying to force its way out of my ass!"

Link lost the battle with his face, toppling over onto a pile of pie trays in a fit of laughter that shook the very Earth. He only became aware of his actions when he hit the marble floor and sent a crack up the side of the wall, but even then it was hard to keep quiet. The Fierce Deity had to take a shit, and he didn't even know it! The comedic value had most people changing colors, and by the time Vestia and Ganondorf came in to escape the tremors, they were among the ranks.

"Why are you laughing? This isn't funny!" the elder god shouted, managing to sit up despite his over distended stomach. "Fine, I'll kill this beast myself!"

Link Sr. searched the empty containers for one of those mini-swords or pitchforks the Gerudo woman gave him to eat with. Successfully armed, he prepared to attack whatever it was head on, as a true warrior would. Understandably, the spectators laughed harder.

"You'd be better armed with paper or leaves," Nabooru managed to say, as she and Varia collapsed against one another in a fit of howling laughter.

"Bah, you heathens don't understand the sheer size of this … this thing!" he screamed, clutching his stomach, while rolling over onto his side and waiting for the creature to show its head.

The laughter had become a near volley of shrill screams now, as people could no longer breathe they'd laughed so long.

"All right, all right," Link said between his laughter. He lumbered to his feet, grabbing his father by the shoulders and yanked him to his feet alongside him. "Come on, I'll … kill it."

"Fine, just hurry up," Link Sr. grumbled, allowing himself to be led from the room by his son.

More gas rumbled from his bowels, which sent most of the room to the floor in a pile of laughing bodies, the lines of hate and love between them made indistinguishable under a common unification of laughter. He muttered curses on them all as he went up the hall behind his son. The sounds, the pain, the weird combination of air and noise coming from his ass still hadn't stopped and the creature was closing in. The former deity was about to speak on this when Link stopped, opened a door, and waved him in.

Inside the room was a large, black marble, person-sized water basin with a gold spout and handles. A smaller one protruded from the wall about ten feet away, this one with an ovular mirror above it. And beside that, a third basin sat on the floor with two lids. And a peculiar chain hung from a box suspended from the wall above that basin, with a tube connecting the basin to the box. Link Sr. looked at the strange thing, recalling seeing similar in a mortal realm ages ago, but could place no significance to the items.

"What is this, boy?" he asked after a time, feeling oddly trapped for some reason.

Link walked over to the toilet and lifted the lid, and uttered three magic words: "Take a seat."

His father looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "And what does this do about the creature burrowing its way through me?"

"Eliminates the beast," Link replied, smirking all the while. "You might want to close the door, by the way. This could get … smelly."

"Oh, right, can't mess up your precious little floors," Link Sr. muttered, shutting the door behind him. His son laughed at the choice of words, but his father dismissed him and sat on the bowl. "Okay, so when does it start?"

"Well, first of all, you've got to take your pants off, and then sit," Link told him, using supreme effort to keep his face clinically detached from the rampant humor he found in the situation.

The elder god's stomach took a painful jab from the inside, and he complied rather quickly as the "beast" was about ready to rip his backside to shreds. He didn't dare ask whether or not if this was painful, because they'd had enough humor at his expense. Whatever this little basin did, Link Sr. thought rigidly, he wouldn't make a-


His eyes shot wide as the first in a series of "beasts" shot from his ass. It was a disgusting surprise to the old god, who expected more wind only to receive a half-solid/half-liquid creation. Link took a giant step back and turned away from his father, who continued to drop literal ass-loads of "beasts." He smirked as he heard the mumbling outside the door, and struggled not to laugh as his father began to curse whatever it was that was inside of him.

"Sons of bitches! That's right! Meet the boy's basin, and die! DIE!" Link Sr. shouted, taking his first ever shit and treating it as though it were a battle.

"Actually, they aren't dead until you pull the handle," Link informed his father, careful not to laugh and let the old man enjoy the rouse. Outside the door, his daughter and son were biting their tongues not to howl.

"Oh, really," his father replied, smirking as though finding out some secret. "Ugh! Oh, now they're sending the big ones! Ha! Fuckers, I can't be stopped! I'll crush you all!" He bit his lip and forced a particularly large, dry fellow into the gaping maw of death, and cackled. Yes, these little bastards weren't a match for him-not even as a mortal! Time ticked by and soon, the elder god was done and stood triumphant over the bowl-tights still around his ankles-insulting his would-be destroyers and how they'd been deformed by the "holy water" of the bowl. "Oh, you don't have anything to say now, huh? Now that you aren't hiding in my belly, you're too cowardly to growl and show your fangs! It won't save you! I'll show you no mercy! And now, this is where you die!" He pulled the chain, voice turning into a booming echo of laughter as even more "holy water" filled the bowl and broke the beasts' bodies into particles. "Die! And when you meet Charon, tell him that I sent you! ME!"

"You know, they leave a … remnant behind to infest again, right?"

Link couldn't resist, and if it weren't for the fact that he'd soundproofed the room against outside noise, the howls of the fortress's visitors would've long ago echoed from wall to wall inside the bathroom. His father audibly grunted, but chuckled eventually. He always "gave credit where credit was due," he admitted, and gave a bit to the beasts for leaving behind "spores" to attack him again. Nonetheless, Link explained the use of the "blessed paper" and told his father to continue using it until he saw no more "spores." Link Sr. complied, still feeling the need to hurl insults at the creatures, even going so far as to actually thank his son for the head's up, before disposing of the last piece of blessed paper. He pulled his tights back up and adjusted them, before going to the sink. Without instruction, Link Sr. turned on the faucet and washed his hands with soap and the hot water, claiming that he would "be rid of even the smallest traces of them."

"So, I take it you've decided to go back to the mortal woman," Link Sr. said with his typical abruptness, adjusting his black tunic strings in the mirror after drying his hands on a nearby towel.

Link rolled his eyes and turned around.

"I didn't say that it was a bad thing," his father said in response to the silence. "I just don't see the point of committing to such things, especially on that level. But I suppose you deserve credit for at least that much."

"And what does that mean?" Link asked, unsure of how to take that or his father's attempt at sincerity.

"Call it a common trait that goes beyond the external," the elder god replied, smirking at himself as he checked himself out in the mirror. "We can't commit to anything that goes beyond what we naturally excel at-or think we can excel at. That's why you don't rule. It's not that you're too inferior for the position, it's that you just don't like going outside of your established borders. It's the same reason that I didn't admit that your mother meant something to me until she stepped out with that son of a bitch Deamora. Love was something easier to live without, which is such a fucking pansy-assed thing to say, because I didn't think I could do it. Hell, this is all a bunch of inane bullshit that I probably wouldn't be spouting if I hadn't went through some of Charon's little soul-fucking to get back good with Ezzie.

"So, anyway, I ripped his throat out-Deamora, I mean-and bitched out to trying the whole love thing. Point is, don't set limitations and pretend that you haven't. Don't just see events on the battlefield as having limitless solutions; see your life as one big, borderless gap with a lot of little shit thrown in for texture. And if you can't do that, keep making the borders back up. I'm sure this is all a bunch of shit you've thought before-and I'm sure you have, because I've been inside that head of yours-but if you haven't made peace with it, consider this all an overdue birthday present and, essentially, the only thing I really had left to give you: Don't run from the hard parts."

Okay, so that was disturbing on about forty different levels. Did his father actually just attempt to pass on a shred of fatherly advice? Link watched his patriarch flex and primp himself in the mirror, narcissist to the bone even with mortal skin, and repressed a shudder. He'd never asked what the fuck Charon did, but if it made his father willing to try civility, it must've been harsh. And if his father willingly submitted to it for his wife, did that mean he was trying to die all along during their battle?

"You wanted me to kill you," Link said with a subtle realization, which caused his father to laugh.

He didn't look at his son as he spoke, not even once, but answered the implied question.

"In some ways, perhaps I did. I was going to bleed you dry of your powers, actually, and destroy this filthy little mud ball. Then I was going to go down to Charon's, and pour every ounce of power I siphoned off you into your mother to bring her back greater than ever. I figured that would serve as my apology." Link Sr. sighed, as his customary smirk fell from his lips and an almost enraged scowl came in its place as he stared at himself in the mirror with a look that bordered on self-loathing.

"But, somewhere deep, deep, deep down I knew … I knew Ezzie wouldn't accept that," he continued solemnly. "She would enjoy life again, but not at that expense. I could've killed you a thousand times over, but she would've never been mine again. I couldn't handle that shit as a thought, let alone a reality. Ah, but if I let you kill me … turn me into the thing I hated most … she'd at least give me another chance. So, I started hitting buttons and switches and pulling levers to make you despise me more than anyone you'd ever met. And, in typical mortal-heroic-over-thought-morality-laced-bullshit fashion, you fell for it. You made me the thing I hated most, and even took my last prized possession. I was happy as hell, because all I had to do then was dive head-long into the ground or stab myself, and I'd meet up with Ezzie at Charon's. But in a pleasant twist, you threw that gimp-ass mortal garbage out the window, and stuck me to the wall-cut me from my throat to my ass just like you said, too. I was kinda proud to see you had that much mettle. It meant Fate and his better half wouldn't try their little mind-fucks on you."

"What do you mean his better half?" Link asked, unaware that he'd let sound escape from the bathroom and that everyone was listening in.

His father laughed, then. "Secure the building," he then said, casting a quick nod upwards as a hint.

Link did as instructed.

"Now, here's the secret: In the beginning, there were only two that emerged from the darkness," Link Sr. said. "They had no names, but one represented what would become known as death and the other life. Over time, however, the one representing life began to grow bored and spiteful of the other, who was okay with the dark nothingness that existed around them. However, as light is life and dark is death, a sort of paradox unfolded within the giver of life. He grew darker and darker, and, soon, he was almost as dark as the one who'd become known as the Bringer of Death. A slow fissure occurred over time, which saw the Bringer of Life split into two beings-one as pure as he'd once been, but still in possession of sizeable darkness, and the other still as dark as he'd become, but still in possession of some light.

"Together, these two continued to grow tired of the nothingness and each other's company, and began to dabble with creating others like themselves. Unfortunately, they were of ample power, but not enough to create exact duplicates. The result was that they'd created powerful creatures with very, very limited intelligence, but abundant instincts and raw physical and mystical powers. In fact, their powers exceeded their creators' abilities in some ways, because, when the simpletons became violent, they couldn't be tamed or killed-not even by the Bringer of Death." Link Sr. laughed again, but continued to tell his tale like an old man around a fire talking to his grandchildren. "The Bringer of Death, being the only one who possessed negative power enough to wrangle the weaker creations, in his wisdom, gave up the fight after a while and let the creatures do as they wished. The Bringers of Life, in their naïveté, created a series of new realities for themselves to toy in, leaving the flawed creatures to do as they wished in the old one. This time, they created creatures with finite lifelines, and sprinkled them here and there. They established numerous rules and regulations for these realities to ensure no repeats of their prior failures.

"This time, the new creatures began to populate. In fact, their sexual urges had no limits, and by the time the Bringers of Life knew what was happening-because, as you might not know, time moved slower in the heavens than it did for the mortal creatures back then-the mortals had began to evolve and spread throughout the lands, much like the insects and animals around them. That made two failures in the life bringers' eyes. To correct this, the new plan called for creatures like the bringers themselves to rule secretly over the mortals; they would be of greater intelligence than their predecessors, and only possess minute mystical abilities this time, though. The idea worked for years, but the first failure eventually learned to traverse the realms and dimensions that the Bringers had created. And like the mortals, the old failures had urges that needed to be sated. With no way to stop it, the Bringers sat back and watched as their new gods mated with the old and produced a sort of middle-ground offspring. That makes the third failure.

"There was a high cost, though, as every one of the new gods that gave birth to a hybrid child died. Before long, the heavens were overflowing with this new breed of god and goddess. The original Bringer of Life had seen enough, though. He managed to banish the original creations to a dimension and set it adrift, and sank his hooks into all of the children they left behind. He'd control how they think on some levels to ensure no more failures. Of course, there was the catch-the big catch-that he didn't know about. One of those failures had mated with another failure and created something … unique. The child possessed its parents' strength, but the mind of a new breed. Naturally, the first Bringer of Life attempted to destroy the baby failure, but, as was the pattern, he failed, and then opted to raise it as his own child, along with his other half. That's either failure number four, or is mooted by the fact that Fate actually learned to care. From there, meandering bullshit ensues-failures come back, we third and fourth generations all fight to banish them again, I throw the old man in a vortex, etcetera."

"What the fuck do you mean Destiny came out of Fate?" Link shouted, as a greater part of his understanding turned upside down.

His father chuckled again, but answered. "Define the names that the mortals have given them and notice that they're almost identical, except for one part. Then look at them as you've seen them-a `boy' with dark hair, dark clothes, and a dark little voice and a `girl' with light hair, light clothes, and a light voice. Now, when do people use the term `destiny'? It's usually in conjunction with love and happiness, as in the good parts of life. And what are good and evil usually representative of, Link?"

He froze and stared at the floor for a moment before lifting his head and replying, "Light and dark."

"And what did the bird first tell you of your life when you left the forest? There would be numerous hardships, but you must endure. And what was his reason?" Link Sr. demanded of his son, watching as the blinders came off.

"It was my fate," Link whispered. "He said it was my fate."

"Exactly-it was your fate. Every living thing exists in one of two categories: Fate or Destiny. Those under her thumb usually have hardships that are few and far between, and they only have those hardships because she's a part of his darkness. Meanwhile, those of us … fated to be born under Fate's foot usually walk through the darkness constantly, dealing with backstabbers, murderers, violence, and a wave of unending horrors with spots of light- well, you should know why now. Fate is synonymous with pain and suffering, with a little happiness sprinkled in to keep you breathing. Destiny is synonymous with love and happiness, with a little pain mixed in to make you realize how good the good times are. And, above all else, they're both connected-and that's the biggest joke of all. They're actively telling everyone or at least showing them that they're two sides of the same thing, but no one fucking understands it!"

His father's tirade ended, but Link couldn't put his finger on the problem-and that irked his father greatly.

"The point is, boy, no one needs them," Link Sr. elaborated, figuring it futile to jab his son in the eye. "They're there just to make sure you always pick the best or worst decision possible, with no middle ground or room for them to fail again. They imitate balance, but there is none, other than half of the populous being destined for greatness, while the other half is simply fated to be in ruin. True balance would be a world full of gods and mortals that could make their own mistakes without some twisted little fuck always leaning on them to pick the worst or the best."

"That's why you don't like mortals, isn't it? It's because they don't realize how trapped they are," Link said, which earned a surprisingly gruff snort from his previously docile father.

"No, you idiot," he replied. "We're all trapped! Everyone up there is so goddamned content to be under Fate and Destiny's collective thumb that they never ask the important questions. For instance, why is it so important that mortals never reach so-called perfection? What happens when they do? Where the hell did Fate and Charon come from if they're the beginning? Something had to have come first to create them! Or why is it that, as gods, we can't hold mortal form indefinitely without becoming bound as rigidly to Fate's plan as true mortals? Or why is it that everything a god-from me, to you, your mother, Fate, Destiny, and so forth-puts into motion stays in motion? We're not actively in control of everything all the time.

"Gods are essentially kids on a mountainside pushing pea-sized snowballs down and watching as the balls grow larger, with the ability to alter its course or destroy it. A few mortals have come along that have pondered such things, but that's also irony at its finest. The one race among all of creation that's thought enough to question these things can't do shit to change it! It's like a one-legged man in a marathon-you know he can make it to the finish line, but you also know he'll never make it in a time that matters. That's why I despise them. More of them see the truth, question it, look for answers to it even-yet none of it matters because of their sanction in life!"

"Is it so bad that you can't call all of the shots?" Link asked his father, wondering if this wasn't more about him having no control. "Some of it makes sense, but a lot of what you're saying overlaps with things Fate and Destiny have said-hell, even some stuff Vic said, too."

"You still don't get it," he sighed, shaking his head pitifully. "Every step you've taken or thought about taking, every move you've made or thought about making, every pang of petty guilt or remorse you've felt or thought about feeling, every choice you've ever been presented with is laid out by them-it's all one big orchestrated puppet show. The only difference is that we the puppets-mortals and gods alike-don't fall down when someone cuts the strings, as they'd have us believe. A few gods saw that throughout the years, but, as always, some `unknown' force yanks those marionettes who try to cut their strings from the stage before they mess up the final act.

"You're the last man standing with a pair of scissors, Link. I had the will to break free of them, but not the power. You have the power and the will, and that's why you're still standing. Don't let their cutesy we-want-to-be-your-friend shit lull you into a false sense of security. They know the threat you pose to their little game, but they can't figure out a weakness … yet. Mine was my wife. Esmerelda's was you. My father's was his trust in me. Charon's is his inability to comprehend or care about anything outside of his precious soul count and time chart. They've come at you through me, your kids, your wife, and your heart. They've failed because we've all found the loophole-be it opting to die, whatever decisions your wife made, your choosing to exercise active control over your emotions in regards to letting them rule you, and so on. Basically, you're running their gamut of plots here, and you keep making them fail, and-"

"And they don't like failure," his son interjected, as the more he thought about this, the more it seemed plausible.

Link Sr. chuckled with mirth. "No, they don't. It's like chess to them, except they're playing on a larger board. They like to win via deception and open plays right in front of you. And, I'll admit, winning with moves right in front of your enemy is always pretty damn cool. However, it's also the easiest way to lose. Remember that."

They both nodded with a common understanding, before Link posed a question.

"How do I win?"

"Cut the strings."

"How do I do that?"

"That's the question that I failed to answer, but one you will sooner or later knowing them," his father replied dismally. "I'm not suggesting you even do this, because, as powerful as you are, I don't think you quite grasp it yet. A battle between gods is more than surface magic and strength. It's a battle between wills, above all else. For instance, when we fought, it wasn't the ground that hurt you or the water when I attempted to drown you. It was me willing the pain of such things upon you. I'm a baby in the grand scheme of the things I've told you-and I'm quite literally older than you could possibly imagine-so imagine the will of an individual who's been around since time itself had no name."

"Individuals," Link corrected him. "People keep saying that I'm stronger than them, but they forget-it's two of them, whether they're two sides or not, and one of me. I take no comfort in the knowledge that I'm stronger than or equal to a person that's fucking halved, because if we're all equal, and they unite, I'm royally fucked."

"This is true," his father conceded, "but if it is, why haven't they attacked you outright?" His son's mouth remained closed, as that hadn't occurred to him. "There's always a possibility that they're having fun with you. But there's also a chance that, even combined, they'd be physically vulnerable to you. Even with their wills as strong as they are, you're still an unknown agent. If they press too hard, you'll destroy everything they've created, which means they'd have to make a new board and new pieces to play with. If they press too lightly, you could do what you did to me and completely lock your will, in which case they'd be fucked and dead-" Link Sr. paused as his son swayed and frowned. "Is there a problem?"

"No," Link muttered, rubbing his forehead as though he should be remembering something but couldn't. "Go on."

"If I was in their place, I'd look for a middle ground-a spot that makes you uncomfortable, but cripples you enough for the kill. They've already seen that destroying your loved ones is a waste, as you're a vengeance type, which means acting against your loved ones actually fuels your strength and your will to succeed-and powering you up like that is a no-no. So, be aware of the subtleties-situations that seem to put you in a form of bondage where you're not moving forward or backward. You may find yourself making a choice that conflicts with some of your shitty mortal rhetoric, but dismiss it-quickly! If you've spoken with Victorious, then I know he's informed you of the innate gift that we think may be in our bloodline. Father was unbearably strong, and you're close, Link. Real close," his father concluded, trying to gauge his son's awkward behavior, watching as the boy continued to frown as though having head pains. "What the hell is wrong with you? I know we aren't beyond the whole killing thing yet, but give me something."

Link continued to rub his forehead, replying, "I don't know. It's like I should be remembering something about part of what you said earlier-about destroying everything-but I can't."

"It'll come to you sooner or later, but just be on guard. Something always happens to the threatening ones, but fight it and don't let them take you off the stage," he told him, before falling silent for the first time in a long time.

Of course, it didn't last, as Link pushed his confusion down for a more important thought.

"What happened to Charon? You said he came from the darkness with them, but gave up during the rampage of the Originals. For that matter, where are you getting all this information from?"

His father didn't seem surprised that his son's paranoia returned, but the fifty-fifty ratio of good and evil twisting inside of him was beginning to flop to the bad. Still, Link Sr. pressed himself to answer the questions.

"Charon was always comfortable with the darkness, so that's where he went after he couldn't stop the Originals, as you call them," he explained. "That was just surface stuff, though, because obviously he had a taste for death. Some say that the warrior class is a direct combination of him and Destiny, as we kill but also bring new life. Either way, he went away and came back with the solution for mortal overpopulation. He came up with the afterlife and the soul recycling process. So, instead of Fate and Destiny having to make more mortal souls every few millennia, the old dead ones were revitalized and sent back as a new people. Thus, the game continued unabated."

"So, Charon didn't split like Fate did?"

"I didn't say that," his father told him, but fell silent as his devilish urge to toy with the boy arose.

"Who did he split into?" Link asked, growing irritated by his father's smirk.

"Ever hear the expression: `I never sleep, because sleep is the cousin of death'?" Link Sr. asked, rolling his neck and popping his back to keep himself loose. His son nodded. "Well, actually, sleep is more like his less lethal `sister.' His second half appeared in the form of a goddess named Nocturna, who's the principle goddess of sleep. Before her, mortals went through something like hibernation, where they'd go into month-long stupors after being awake for so many years. It was funny stuff to see, actually."

Okay, that explained a hell of a lot. The symbol on the door at Charon's, the decorations in Nocturna's manner, they were a kind of symbol of their unity. Link didn't mention that he'd slept with the goddess, but his father did note the lack of surprise on his son's face, as though he wasn't hearing something new.

"And the information-how do you know they aren't fucking with you?"

"Well, considering Dad lived with them for about 30 million years, I'd say I've got good sources," his father replied, rolling his eyes as the coin finally landed on the bad. "Are we done here?"

Link continued to silently deliberate on what he'd been told, only pausing to open the door. Outside, his mother now stood alone, as everyone else had fled to give the young god his space. Of course, she wasn't exactly there to bug him. As Link came into the hall, he walked past her with a subdued agitation buzzing around his eyes, but his mother said nothing of it as she pushed her husband back into the bathroom.

"What is it now?" Link Sr. asked, smug little smirk in place as she reached up and unfastened the clasp behind her neck.

"Strip," she replied, breasts standing proudly without support or restraint of the material.

It was so rare to hear the egotistical fuck admit to his emotions that every time he did, Esmerelda found herself unquestionably aroused. And what was worse, the feeling seized her and wouldn't let go until it was fucked off-no matter where she was. Her husband's smirk turned into a poignant smile as he realized that she must've been eavesdropping. With that, he began to take his tunic off as the door slammed shut behind Esmerelda.

Link paused as he rounded the corner, the sound of the slamming door jarring him from his thoughts. And, without thinking about it, his eyes roved through a couple of walls and saw the unimaginable … the hideous … the unthinkable! His parents were- Link shuddered. He shut his eyes and continued on his way to the kitchen, pressing himself to draw some connection to his father's words and his headache. What was so important about them? In particularly, what was so important about the destroying everything part? Link entered the dining hall staring at his feet, most spectators at or around various points on the table, sans Varia and Takara, who were working to restore the food supply the ex-god depleted in his urge to sate his hunger.

"Where are your parents?" Nabooru asked, nestled auspiciously between her own parents.

Link frowned, and then shuddered again. "Remind me to boil that bathroom later."

Today's life lesson: Seeing your parents have sex is gross, even if you're a god.

Everyone accepted his somewhat coded explanation, watching him closely as he walked over to his usual seat and plopped down across from Nabooru, her parents, and Sepaaru with hers. It was a surreal moment, which was only rounded out by his own son and daughter on either side of him. But what could he say? It was a surreal day.