Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ Comes to Light Pt. 08: Survivors ( Chapter 53 )

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

Chapter Fifty-three
Ragnus sat on a large boulder at the water's edge, lost in thought about his group's prospects. For nineteen years, he'd been following the dusty journal and the map his father left to him. It had been nineteen years since he set out from the swamps of Termina, where his people settled after leaving Kroatoa, to find the lost and lead them to a land of peace. And for nineteen years, Ragnus had watched those same abused, battered survivors of more than their fair share of atrocities die for his belief in that dream of peace. Bandits, raiders, thieves—whatever name they went by, they all hit his encampment in search of a spare rupee, jewel, or valuable. It wasn't enough that most of these people's lives had been destroyed when their cities, towns, and villages fell during wars or infectious plagues—no, no, no—the gods had to further shit on them by subjecting them to almost weekly raids.
It wasn't fair, he thought, looking at the disheveled masses. Even in this forest that belonged to their female savior, they were too afraid to sleep.
Zelda had been more than accommodating. First, she saved them, and then went the extra mile to bring them to her home to ensure their safety from whatever the invisible monster was. But still, their trust had been betrayed before. Land barons looking for cheap labor had lured them in under the false pretenses of land ownership and fair pay, only to double deal them, and snatch up the strong and enslave them. Of course, none of them had done what this young woman had, Ragnus had to remind himself. She killed for them. Not just killed for them, but she didn't ask anything of them in return for committing such sins against her soul. And to little Sila, who didn't even witness the heroic effort, just seeing women like Zelda and her Gerudo kin was more than a notion. They were women, but they were strong and powerful. They weren't weak or victims like the women that child had seen come and go in her short lifetime.
He'd found her about eight months ago in the ruins of a village to the east. The village was gutted by flames, but in the wreckage of a local shrine, the little girl had set up a ragged cot under the statue of the goddess Din. The sight had angered him to no end, as even with everything that miserable failure of a goddess had taken from this child, the kid still had faith, despite starving at that worthless being's feet. He'd nursed her back to “health,” if her pitiful state could even be laughably called such a thing. Sila was never more than four steps away from him or some of the bigger males of the group, as she truly believed that they could protect her. Now, he thought, recalling how the little girl shadowed Zelda's every step, she has new idols. More than any of that, however, was the one called Link.
He'd emerged from the center most door of the fortress like some kind of unnatural being. Everything about his manner screamed at Ragnus to run, retreat, or hide, because this was another tyrant born of the aristocracy of his people and felt that those below him were merely animals there to serve him. There was another feeling, too, though, as if he had seen him somewhere before. And, yet still, there was a third feeling: this man was a leader. Even as he was led toward him by Zelda, Link walked like his father—a sort of weighted gate, like he was holding something on his shoulders that no one else could, but that whatever that something was couldn't break him. The only oddity occurred when his daughter introduced them.
“Daddy, this is Ragnus—”
Link swooned, as though hit in the face with a giant mace, but shook off all concern. It was something his father would do, too. The similarities ended there. This man spoke with a frank, almost general voice. There was none of the condescending that most aristocrats spoke with—Ragnus, himself, included as a boy—and none of the flamboyant mannerisms. It was so shocking that, against his mother's good teaching, Ragnus quite rudely said, “You're less uptight than I'd imagine a man of your class to be.” And even though he wished he could've taken it back, Link had just laughed. “Oh, you thought I was born into this? You'd be surprised what I've gone through to get here.” It was at that point in the conversation that Link asked how his daughter came to meet them all, and why she felt compelled to bring them home.
“We're lucky to have met her,” he recalled saying, “because she saved more than a few lives from that bandit raid. Those savages were looking to wipe us out for nothing more than sport before she showed up and got rid of them.”
Link's eyes had gone as wide as oranges, looking at his daughter with such disbelief that it seemed strange. His child had saved lives, but it looked like it killed a part of him. Link mimed and moved his mouth to a wordless hush, as his daughter looked up at him with an innocent, but understanding smile.
“I get it now or at least I think I do,” she said several times. “I see you're not the evil one; they just killed them for trying to sleep, just like Sepaaru said they wo—”
“She put you up to this?” Link had demanded of her, grabbing his daughter by the shoulders, a look of more terror than anger in his eyes.
“No—no one put me up to anything,” Zelda would go on to say in her defense. “Queen Zelda just showed me that it wasn't always so one way or the other. After that, I just did what you and Mom always taught me to do: I did what I thought was right.”
Ragnus had then attempted to assist her, adding, “Yes, if it wasn't for her, we'd all be dead. So, please, if there's any anger in your heart towards her, take it out on me.” After all, in Ragnus's eyes, he was at fault for causing this child to take lives. The least he could do was take punishment on her behalf, since he was the lackluster leader who allowed her hands to become stained in blood. There, on his hands and knees, Ragnus awaited the kicks from his savior's father as penance for his failure.
“Get up,” Link told him, before aiding in the process by yanking him to his feet with an unexpected strength. He looked up at him for a moment—a long, oddly bone-chilling moment—before soundlessly sighing, an oddity in itself. “Look, I don't blame you or her. It's just … it's my baby girl. I should've had them gutted and buried to make sure she wouldn't have needed to be in that position. I'm glad you and your people made it through this, but—” he turned to his child— “you don't come back from this, Zelda. Can you live with that—knowing from now on that, no matter what you do, you are a killer?”
And to Ragnus's surprise, Zelda merely replied: “I think I've always been a killer … I just didn't want to accept it because I didn't see the whole picture. But to do what's right, sometimes we have to be killers—and I think I can live with it under those circumstances.”
Link pulled her against his chest and just held her there, lowering his head in a subtle show of self-disgust and acceptance. Ragnus had felt like an intruder the whole time. And, perhaps his wandering had made him rude, but he had to ask a question: “Were you a warrior?”
“That's not something you can stop being,” Link had said, looking up at the nomadic leader, his face falling into a sort of frown that seemed to become more threatening and area-encompassing the longer Ragnus looked at it. “To answer the question, I am. Used to be known as the—”
“Hero of Time,” Zelda had interjected on his behalf, head still resting against his chest as her father nodded.
And like a bolt of lightning hitting a tree, Ragnus got it. The face, those eyes, those clothes—the statue had been of him. On their way into Hyrule, the group passed a large, almost pristine statue of the fabled Hero of Time. There wasn't a place that Ragnus had gone that he hadn't heard various tales of this warrior. From the frozen north, to the dankest parts of the south, to the baked east—this man's story, his legend, dwarfed all others. There wasn't a single person in his caravan who didn't know the story of the boy who killed the great sorcerer Ganondorf. There wasn't a single person in his caravan who didn't know that he went into battle for Hyrule against the Kroatoans, walked off the battlefield, and left no trace of Kroatoa's military. In fact, his legend was so great that people thought the Goddesses bestowed upon him immortality for services rendered and decreed that Hyrule could never lose a battle. Lies, tall tales, or fiction—the point was that this, above all other warriors, was the man you did not want to see as your opposition.
Standing before such tall tales, Ragnus had been hard pressed to disprove a single one. Everything that his father had taught him of his people's great warriors and great men was personified right before him in this Hylian. By all accounts, Link should've been in his fifties (which he was, unbeknownst to Ragnus), but it was as if the warrior's body was almost elevated to another level, untouched by time's foul hand. White hair or not, this man didn't look a day over the age of twenty, and his flesh had no scent. Maybe the Goddesses had taken him to another state of being, but, whatever the case, Ragnus was at a loss for words at the time. Of course, he was ignorant to the Hylians' aging process, but either way—the Hero was the Hero. When his voice returned, all he could say (okay, shout) was, “You're the Hero of Time!”
And like that, his people seemed to come to life, as that statement echoed from person to person. It was believable, too, because this wasn't like meeting a legendary hero and seeing a fat guy with a stick, losing a war to the ravages of time, mumbling about “his day.” This was like being a part of the fairytale, where the hero looked, walked, and talked—well, maybe not talked—like the hero. Ragnus looked behind himself in the present at the tints of sleeping people in the mid-day sun and smiled. This place was truly safe. People didn't want to oppose the Hero of Time's country, let alone come onto his land, he imagined them all to be thinking. And if they did come onto his property, well, it wasn't like they could win. This guy was immortal and friends with the Goddesses, they couldn't be safer in Hyrule Castle. They'd been fed, sheltered, given an indefinite stay on his land, and clothed by this man and his people without a second thought.
Of course, this magnificent perspective wasn't shared by all. In fact, standing in the Gerudo Meadow, formerly the Gerudo Archery Track, Link, in conjunction with his mother, his wife, Saria, Sepaaru and her mother, watched his son receive “training” from Ganondorf and Link Sr. He'd tried multiple times and multiple ways to engage in a dialogue about what happened earlier that day, but, much like in the forest when he attempted to reach out to his son, the kid retreated. “It's okay”; “Really, don't worry about it, Dad”; “Later, okay?” or some such nonsense met Link's every attempt at a conversation when he ran into the kid in the hall. When Nabooru came between their stalemate to make mention of her veiled visitors, the kid disappeared. The more pressing issue still remained those three things.
“What are we going to do, Hero?” Nabooru had asked, not so subtly adding herself into the upcoming fray. And Link's immediate reaction was to tell her everything, every stinking little word of those maggots' plot for them, but he had to pause, a slight shimmer catching his eyes just behind his wife. They were watching … had their little hooks in her.
“How much do you trust me?” he'd asked, making a very poignant and obvious switch in subject matter.
It was a slight pause that preceded her answer, but Nabooru replied, “Completely.”
“Then hope this works,” Link had replied, pulling her body against his.
Nabooru had thought enough to question his motives, but, by then, Link had already gambled. He seized the thread and, with a jerk of godly proportions, snapped the golden thread out of her. The mystical wire twisted and thrashed in his grip like a captured snake, trying frivolously to be free of him and retake its place within the flesh puppet. In retrospect, it was the scariest thing that he'd ever done. This was disconnecting his wife from the very source of mortal life, and he'd gambled everything that she was that it wouldn't undo her very being. It had almost been too much to bear when she fell to the floor, glow ebbing from her skin. He threw a shield of sorts around the surface of her skin to ensure the puppet masters didn't get their hooks in again, but still—Nabooru didn't move. One minute and forty-one seconds later, she moaned and he helped her up.
“What the hell did you do?” she had shouted, a bit angry that he'd knocked her out and left a throbbing ache in her back. “I could've fought them, too!” Nabooru would whine, scowling at her husband, who merely sighed and smiled as his eyes turned up no more wires.
The thread in his hand suddenly crumbled and Link felt a vibration, as though anger had been transmitted through reality the way the sound of a punch would echo from one side of a cheap wall through to the other. Link: One, Other side: … well, a shit load, he'd thought at the time, but I've got one! The world went dark around Nabooru, as her and Link were suddenly isolated from the dimensional overlord Fate and everything else in known existence. Nabooru's heartbeat didn't accelerate a beat, and he was thankful.
“Welcome to the middle of literal nowhere,” Link had told her, spreading his arms to the infinite darkness, which didn't hinder them from seeing one another. Nabooru sarcastically clapped, smirking at him as though she got the meaning. “It's not like that, unfortunately.”
“It's about those things, isn't it?”
“Yep, but it's about even more than that,” he said. Link went on to add: “In the hall, I separated you from your fate or your destiny. Before you ask, I did it because I'm being watched by them—through every person, possibly every animal, but for certain by people—and I need privacy.”
The scale of what he was saying went completely over her head, as Nabooru was quick to say, “I would not … We would not do that to you—”
“This isn't something you get a choice in, Nab,” Link said, shrugging a bit pitifully. “Near as I can tell, Fate and Destiny have their respective hooks in everyone. No one is exactly aware of this, but those hooks—those threads—they give them access to the things you all see, say, or do without you ever knowing. The catch to this, in my situation, is that I don't think they know that I know … well, not until a few moments ago.”
Nabooru was starting to grasp hold of the situation a little better, but, as Link recalled, he could see it in her eyes that she didn't want to take the plunge and voice it. She knew of Fate and Destiny as beings that ruled all others. She also knew that they were supposedly weaker than her husband; however, from what he was saying and what had happened with his being possessed, the Gerudo Queen was starting to wonder if maybe, just maybe, it was a farce. If those two controlled everything, who was to say that his aunts weren't being manipulated into saying that Link was supreme?
“No clue, but those things you've seen—those old gods—they're being manipulated against me … against us all,” Link told her as calmly as he could, answering her mental queries, and stealthily avoiding the subsequent question of how many “they” encompassed. In truth, he had no idea beyond the tone in Charon's voice when he'd attempted to get Destiny to bargain with Fate on Link's behalf. At the time, all he could ask of Nabooru was one thing: “Don't tell anyone. These people are our friends, our family even, but I'm about disconnect them all from their fates, destinies, or whatever else you want to call it. You're going to experience complete free will for the first time in your lives. And to skip all the bullshit odds and ends, knowing they're cut off from gods they've worshipped for years could be too much for some of these people to handle—”
“I get it—no insiders making plea bargains to the other team,” Nabooru had said to him, monotone voice reflecting a sense of worry that all but Link would be deaf to.
“What is it?”
“Why tell me?” she'd asked. “I mean—after all the … stuff in the bath—”
He smirked in the present, watching his son miss hideously with an errant uppercut aimed at Ganondorf's head. Back then, he'd replied: “Don't forget, we were alone for years up there, Nab. Years. And if memory serves, all the training after the time trials didn't require weapons—” she bit her lip and smirked— “I just missed her. It's not like I'm leaning one way or the other, but I suppose when it comes right down to it, I've known you since I was sixteen years old—and known of you since I was thirteen. When shit went wrong, I went to you. It's instinct, really. In the meantime, the people in this fortress are going to go off the other side's map after I do this, so anyone outside of our family can't be trusted—little kids, old people, nobody. I'm going to conserve as much power as I can by staying out of this realm as much as possible, but they don't need to know that, either. If Fate and Destiny want to hit me when I'm weak, fine, let them think I've got a foot in the grave and take a boot in the ass when they show up. Either way, are we clear about how this goes down?”
“No discussing what's happening with anyone that is not a Gerudo after you sever ties with the godly throne—I got it.” Nabooru would go on to smile at him for a few moments, feeling a bit elated by his unfurled outlook towards the situation. He was facing what was essentially creation, and plotting to beat its ass. Truth be told, Link knew, she wanted to screw him right there. But, before anything like that occurred, they were back in the fortress, nodding all-too-knowingly at one another before walking away from each other.
Link walked the fortress with a purpose, Gerudo collapsing at his feet where he passed them, their connection to the sources being severed and blocked from ever reasserting hold. None of them was given the briefing that Nabooru was, but all of them awoke with a certain … weightlessness to their hearts and minds. Woman after woman, person after person, they all were plucked from the grasps of Fate and Destiny. And with each disconnect came a rumble from somewhere in the dimensional space, displaying total abhorrence to what was taking place. By the time all persons were accounted for, Link's new enemy spoke directly to him.
“You can't beat me,” Fate had hissed into his mind, a feeble effort to sound unconcerned marred only by his intense disgust and venomous hatred. “Do you think taking a few pathetic women from us matters? I could—”
“You could possess the animals, the trees, the walls, and the very air they breathe,” Link had thought back in an interjection to him, formulating a new risk and the odds of slim success all at once. “But the question is do you have that kind of power to waste? You've played this game long enough to realize that it doesn't even take a second—” he appeared before Fate, simultaneously capturing Destiny in a box, which began to squeeze her until she cried out— “to lose it all.” It was a hunch—all based on Charon's attempt to appeal to Destiny to appeal to her brother—but it delivered the intelligence that Link required. Fate hesitated. All the fires and timbers that burned in his black eyes that could've ended his kids, the Gerudo, all of Hyrule thrice over … hesitated for the girl in the box. The deity in the box fell at her “brother's” feet, gasping for breath, and looking genuinely shaken by the experience. “You want me? Come get me. But you so much as step outside the box and touch one of them and I'll leave her in so many pieces that Charon won't even be able to take claim of her soul. Understand me?”
Fate frowned, but he also smirked. “So, you were listening to us. I see you're learning,” he'd said with a sinister smile growing ever larger on his childish face. “Take the women, I don't care. In fact, your whole realm is inconsequential to me. Those abominations are coming, Link, and while you celebrate your supposed victory over me today, ask yourself this: When will they arrive? When will I fade? But, most of all, ask this of yourself: What will I do when I realize that I'm powerless to stop them and that everyone … everything … that I ever loved or cared for is destroyed? You may know of my plan, but that doesn't mean that you can stop it.”
It was one of those musings that sounded great, so sublime that its totality would crush most people—gods and mortals alike—to even comprehend that, not only were they dealing with something that could make those questions tangible, it would bend them to that being's will to avoid said outcome. Link wasn't “most people,” though, and he illustrated his point with a few musings of his own.
“I'll answer that with a few questions of my own: Do you think I'll stop? Do you, in your undeniable wisdom, think it'll all be over if I do lose them? Nah, I think he knows that isn't the case, right, Destiny?” Link asked, a smirk that looked absolutely evil to the obviously shook goddess, which caused her brethren's eyes to glow a malignant red. He then asked: “What will you do when I hop all of the pitfalls, all the mind games, and crush the game board? What do you do when I come for you?”
Fate's temper made an early appearance, as the front of the arcane palace was quite literally nullified out of all existence. It had been eons since Fate had exerted himself on that level. In some ways, Link suspected, it was to get the question off the elder god's mind of whom was the stronger being. Was it him, the creator of known mortal life and existence or was it the freak accident, which was the result of half-ass creation? As Fate sagged from the all-out assault, childish form receding into that of a crystalline male that was no taller than six feet, with what appeared to be the night sky housed within his skin, he heard the unmistakable sound of bones popping.
Link was standing in the same spot, unmarked, holding a thread between each finger on both hands and under both boots. The attack to latch onto him had failed … miserably. Link looked out over the land of the gods through the exploded castle-front, looking at the ethereal, rainbow-colored sky and crystalline homes and buildings. Their world had evolved, which, if he wasn't lied to on that end, meant a similar change was about to happen in Hyrule over the next few centuries to make it look like theirs had prior to. He smiled and turned back to the gasping god known as Fate.
“I guess we know what you'll do now,” Link had said with an air of simplicity, though, not quite convinced of his superiority, powers flaring up and reducing the strings to vapor.
That was far too easy to be the end of it. His paranoia wouldn't let him believe anything else but that. Still, this revealed to Link that Fate was allowing his ties to the mortals to be severed so easily because he was unsure if the Originals could see those threads and, thus, see him as well. And that revelation also confirmed that Fate was hiding from them to a degree, which meant he wouldn't risk exposing so much of himself by attaching or reattaching his threads to the area or people surrounding Link. As it were, this visit confirmed above all one thing: Fate and Destiny were going to be little more than spectators during the impending battle. Anything more than that and, by Link's reasoning, the fight would come to them—and they didn't want that.
“Get out, you disgusting creature,” Fate said with such a lifeless air that it took Link by surprise. “I'll see you dead before year's end. Believe me … I will see you dead.”
“Possibly,” Link replied, “but you'll be dead, too.”
Link faded away and Fate, for all of his machinations, never got off his hands and knees, snarling as, for the first time in a long time, he didn't know the absolute outcome of the events that would come next.