Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ Comes to Light Pt. 10: Confidence ( Chapter 55 )

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

Chapter Fifty-five
It was the ugly part of the hero gig, Nabooru found, watching as the crowd went from in his corner to against him in less than ten full sentences. Throughout the years, Link had made allusions to the fickleness of the crowd, but to see him stand before them, people who'd actually survived Ganondorf, a war, and—unknowing or not—his megalomaniacal father thanks to him actually jeer their savior was something to behold. He'd given up his childhood, an arm, an eye, and his mind to keep them firmly in the land of the living. Despite everything, Link stood in front of the crowd on top of a box and took in the peons' fury along with their rocks and sticks, which were thrown in plentiful supply. He never once looked down or let their reaction sway him. And even if Link would never admit it, his family would do it for him: he was the best. He was the best hero, the best king, the best husband, and the best father no matter what the crowd said.
And the only reason the crowd hadn't been cut to ribbons on the end of Nabooru's weapon? He'd predicted the whole thing on their way down the stairs to find his aunts.
“They're going to attack me,” he'd told them, which had come to include a group of not only her, his grandfather, son, and father, but now Zelda, Sepaaru, and the other women as well, all of whom showed up at his mental insistence. “Verbally, physically, mentally—they're all going to lose it. When it happens, don't react.”
Nabooru recalled trying to deny that it would happen, as he was “the hero of legend.” They'd see what he'd lost for them and at least hear him out. Wrong. As hard as it was to admit, Link's own father called it: she was giving the mortal garbage too much credit. Nevertheless, Link handled it all with precision and expert timing, even Zelda's mild shock, when she saw that her father was missing an arm and an eye and found that her boyfriend was among the dead, all of it was addressed and squashed in a matter of minutes, almost without him breaking stride in his walk.
They found his mother with her sisters in the dining area, Nabooru recalled, as their casual conversing died almost the minute that everyone entered the room. It went about as well it could for a mother finding her only child disfigured by a nightmarish horde: screaming, demands to know what happened, blaming herself for ignoring her instincts and feelings that something had happened. It was her sisters doing, Esmerelda had surmised, that kept her deaf to the presence of her injured child. The Goddesses didn't object or confirm any of her accusations, but their silence and composure spoke volumes. In the end, the hysterical mother had to be put into a state of sleep, as, like any decent parent, she wasn't letting her baby go back into the mouth of the beast—even if she was powerless to stop him.
Link went back into attack mode once she was taken care of, because it wasn't like his mother's baby to simply run and hide from his enemies.
“Don't talk, don't move, just listen, because I'm only going to say it once,” he told the Goddesses in their Gerudo forms. “I'm telling the people what's going on. It's going to be more than their minds can handle or believe, obviously. You three will make an appearance before chaos takes hold. God or not, reality to them is that I'm a Kokiri that's good with a sword. They're going to question me, block out the answers, and turn against me before they turn to you. Appear in the window that opens between their faith in you and total despair. Your biggest sway with them is in that moment, so do not miss it—and do whatever you do big and godly, in a way that looks like it would be impossible to fake.”
“Why don't you do it that way?” Din had asked, arching an eyebrow to his demands.
“Because it's easy to believe the rumor that I'm a god when it looks like I can't be beaten,” he responded, “but when I show up missing an arm and an eye, I'll just be an over-hyped sorcerer under Gerudo control to them. You've never exposed yourselves, though, so you feed into what they think gods and goddesses are or should be, and that gives you more control over them in a time of panic. And that means that they'll believe the disembodied voices telling them the impossible a lot more than some mangled guy in tights. Plus, I can't exactly spare any more power than I already have to keep up this illusion of an unmarred world.”
His father had laughed, adding, “Strategist to the end, boy. I love it! Bet you and Victorious would take a millennium to finish a chess match.”
“A few hours, actually,” Link told him, which seemed to bring pause to his father and grandfather, who shared a look that spoke volumes in its silence.
“Why not knock them all out until this is all over with?” Nabooru remembered asking, knowing full well that Link noticed her exclusion from that scenario.
“Your lives shouldn't be put on hold because someone wants me dead,” Link had told her, knowing full well that she would notice her inclusion into the scenario. “Besides, I don't want to be a part of their little gods-only-need-to-know clique. The people here need to know why they're leaving Hyrule—hell, leaving this sheltered reality in a way—and why they've just up and appeared here without their relatives and why said relatives aren't going with them—”
In the present, Nabooru looked down the table at the Queen of Hyrule, recalling how she'd interrupted Link's speech moments ago.
“My … son,” she'd interjected, still dressed in Sheikah clothes, seemingly appearing in the doorway to the dining hall like a shadow. Her voice broke and her face reddened, but, like the queen that she was, Zelda held it together. “He's not out there because he's … dead?” For a long, aimless moment, Link didn't respond. It was the one moment that he lost total composure and seemed at a loss for how to continue. “Answer me!”
“Yes!” he'd snapped in response, before repeating it without the edge. “Yes. I reached for him, Zel. I … I reached, but there was nothing there. He and Arthur—”
“Bring them back,” the queen had stated, barely keeping her emotions in line at that point.
“It's not that easy,” Link would reply. To a mother, the answer was unacceptable and so conspiracies that ranged from Link refusing to do it because of her leaving him, to him wanting to punish her, on down to he'd set it all up in an effort to cement himself as a hero forever came flying out of her mouth. “Yeah, I brought this all to my doorstep because I value public opinion more than my family's lives. I also moonlight as a musical rat that appears—”
And, in all seriousness, Queen Zelda screamed, “You could! You're supreme! You can do anything, right? But you can't bring my son back?”
It was supposedly true. He'd brought his own children back fairly easy, but now it was impossible? This is where his father said what Link wouldn't.
“Silly, silly twit,” he'd sighed, making an exaggerated bug-eyed expression as the queen's ire turned toward him. He ran a hand through his hair and added quite bluntly: “Their souls are destroyed. What … did you think the soul was never ending?” Queen Zelda's eyes bulged before her knees simply gave way and she sank to the floor, sobbing, but the former god didn't let up. “True enough, he could make you a nice, new, shiny family from scratch, but the energy required to do that is more than we can afford to have him waste right now. We've got seven gods here—one's our only attacker, these three are good for nothings in a fight, two of us are dead, and this one is the escape route if the attacker fails. Strategically, we're fucking idiots for even wasting this much time standing here. Whatever it is that's hiding us can't last, so whatever has to be done, needs to happen now.”
Nabooru observed everyone at the time, watching as her daughter tried not to cry, while her friend openly wailed in her hands. She also watched her husband watching that friend, watching him move from point one to point two in front of her in a silent instant. Link kneeled down and whispered something to her for a time, but the only part that was discernable to all was “this isn't the end.” Afterwards, he stood and walked away, going out to address the crowd. It went exactly as he'd said—first came shock, then venom, and then faith. And when the crowd seemed poised to lose their faith, the Goddesses came down in dramatic fashion, appearing as three suns—one red, one blue, and one green—hovering above all. Unlike Link, however, they spoke directly into everyone's mind. The crowd grew still as the Goddesses spoke.
“Hear us, children,” Nayru began.
Farore continued: “The time has come for you to be made aware of certain things in this world. For years now, we have all relied on the hero of legends—the Hero of Time. Be it when the wizard Ganondorf attempted to steal our power and destroy your world or when invaders threatened Hyrule, he has stood and fought for us all.”
“Unfortunately, our enemies are no longer of flesh and blood,” Din would go on to say. “Today, we face an enemy like ourselves. Today, we face our fellow gods on the field of battle—”
Nabooru and the others had watched the crowd go back into mild shock before the Goddesses quieted them.
Nayru would take the lead again, saying: “And so we find ourselves relying on the Hero of Time once more in Hyrule's darkest hour. In all of the trials we have laid before him as a mortal, he never once failed us. We expect no different this time. He stands before us all today—despite his ravaged appearance—as a god, not by Triforce-granted impunity, but by birth. So, if there is any faith left within you, you will believe in us and our decision to let him defend us all.”
The Gerudo populace would watch closely to see the results as the Goddesses faded away. Minutes ticked by, but little by little, voices sprang up from Hylian, Zora, Goron, and even nomads in favor of Link. The majority was silent by far, but those few who were openly on Link's side were loud … now that the Goddesses said it was okay to be. Her rage only subsided when Link and his grandfather disappeared, a convenient change of subject to say the least. They hadn't been seen since.
Presently, the Gerudo collective sat at their dining table, listening to the idle drumming of their queen's fingers against the table. Sheikah stood behind Queen Zelda, and they all waited for the plan, though painfully shaken by the ramifications of what they had heard. Plus, the added tension of the assassin Sheikah and former Gerudo victims sharing breathing space made the air feel as thick as Deku wood, not to mention the whole story that Esmerelda had told about the Gerudo/Sheikah relationship was fresh on a lot of minds. Still, the common goal was understood: both sides could very well be witnessing the end of days, so whatever issues they had were insignificant.
Zelda yawned for the fifth time, nodding occasionally despite the heavy atmosphere.
“How can you sleep?” Junior asked, elbowing his sister as she drooped against him.
Nabooru watched as her daughter jumped in surprise, turning a glass of water on its side before sliding into partial sleep again. The only problem? The water, though plumed in a violent splash, hung listlessly in the air above a similarly frozen cup. Gerudo and Sheikah alike noticed this, took it as a bad sign, in fact. They drew arms, Gerudo rising in anticipated attack, and scanning the room for attackers, with Sheikah doing likewise.
“Put the weapons down,” Nabooru chuckled, having seen similar in the past. “We're fine.”
“How would you know?” Sepaaru asked sharply, speaking for the first time since any of this had begun.
The Gerudo queen merely shrugged her captain's aggressive commentary off, pointing to her sleeping child. “She can't keep her eyes open,” she said with an impish grin, “which means that Link is relaxing somewhere nearby. His powers flow out—the harmless kind—when he's relaxing, which makes things like that—” she pointed at the floating water— “happen. Zelda, by design or instinct, was put at ease by this as a child. Over the years, it built it up to a point where she didn't even have to be in the same room as us to feel it. In other words, when she gets unreasonably sleepy, Link is in a state of calm—and if he's calm, we're fine.”
“He's insane!” a male Sheikah shouted, sheathing his short sword. “What normal person can relax at a time like this? He's off napping and the end of the world is out there waiting to get us.”
Nabooru smiled and leaned her head onto her right hand as she spoke: “Link's not normal.”
At this point, it doesn't really matter what they think. I look at Hadrian's work—this hunk of black crystal—this arm that he's grafted onto my body, seemingly made from my own would-be destroyers, and stare at my reflection within it. I move my fingers, which are identical to the ones on my right hand, but different. “Your arm and eye will be … different,” he told me. I suppose you're right—this is different. I guess that I just expected sorta different, not different different. Yeah, I could always pretend it's armor, but I can feel it. It looks exactly like my old one, feels like it, yet just shiny and hard, not fleshy. I can't even fucking convert it.
“You did this to spite me,” I say to Hadrian in half jest and half uncertainty.
He takes a few deep breaths to regain composure from the exertion it took to “pick the locks,” as he called it, but doesn't respond. Locks? Oh, right, right—seems my enemies possess a sort of barrier skill. Imagine if everywhere you hit a person, a lock went up, effectively sectioning off that part of their body from another, making the blood unable to flow from one point to another. Make it mystically inclined and full of ill intentions. Bingo. They cut the power off to my arm with such a lock, but since I'm essentially a soul enshrouded in godly energies, the arm ceased to be. However, since Hadrian is like these things in a way, he was able to—and I'm guessing—use his being as a key of sorts to unlock it. The downside, of course, is that the power that comes through to make the new arm is altered into … what you see now.
The scar around my eye and the ones on my chest? Yes, they're the same way, but it just looks like war paint, so I can tolerate that. What irks me, though, what really pisses me off is the fact that I can't shut my new eye off. There's no way to blend into a crowd when you're the guy with the solid blue eye … that glows … like a star. Nah, I can see out of it. I would've slapped on a patch if I couldn't. However, everything is kind of … blue, but that's only a small part of the issues that I have with it. I used to have to concentrate slightly to see beyond this realm or dimension out of my normal eyes, just like the old days. With this new eye, I have to concentrate to keep its vision here. It's like the new eye is always trying to see into a fold of distant reality, while the other is focused on what's in front of it. You said it—a lousy time to get hit with perception problems. Still, I have all my parts. I can adjust to the hard parts. After all, it's what I do.
“I tried to save you,” Hadrian finally replies to my earlier accusation, taking the energy shields from around my room, a precaution taken in case the subsequent pain of his operations had caused me to let off a stray energy burst and bring the place down. He doesn't seem to realize that I've grown quite accustomed to pain in my “infantile” lifetime. Still, his latent fear is detectable. The closer I draw to this battle, the more I notice that his earlier confidence in me is waning. He's been subtle up to this point with the objections, but I sense that's about to change. “This is the best I could do on your body. Going out there is—”
I raise my left hand to him, because I don't want to hear this again. Again, I find myself turning the foreign hand over just to be sure that it's mine. It sounds like glasses ticking together each time I close my hand, as my fingertips click against my palm. Huh? Oh, well, duh. I haven't forgotten the situation. What's different? Me? How? Well, yeah, I'm not nervous per se, but I'm usually not. Oh, my anticipating it is what has you perplexed. Nah, I'm not being unrealistic. It's just like I … I just feel like I'm not going to die out there … like this is the end of what's been dogging me my whole life. I've gone through too much to get back in this tower … lost too much time. If it could not be helped, I'd happily die for the sake of my family. But, for the first time, I don't want it to be one of those sacrificial moments where it's either me or them. Maybe that's what you're sensing—my desire for life and closure on my terms. I want to see my kids have kids and those kids have kids. I want … whatever it is I have with Nabooru and, even if it's against the grain, I want Sepaaru, too.
I'm not giving my family up, but don't misunderstand it—I'm getting my happy ending if I have to kill every god, goddess, and bucktoothed demon dog in my path to get it.
“If we're finished,” Hadrian says, transforming back into Ingo before he gives me a mock salute. He goes toward the door, but stops again. Oh, joy. “I know you don't want to lose them. I also know that, if you what I'm thinking is your trump card, it can't work.”
“Is that so?” I respond, as he shakes his head.
“The soul is a powerful thing, Link, but it isn't infinite,” my grandfather warns me, as if I don't know. “You can use it to bolster your powers for a time, like I suspect you did to me earlier, but for one even such as you, it'll burn out in minutes at the most—and there's no way that you can beat all of them in that timeframe. Just abandon the fight if that's the case, because there's no coming back from that type of death.”
“Like I said before, if I abandon this fight, there's absolutely no coming back,” I inform him. “So, I can't quit. I won't quit, because then there is a chance.”
“You know the problem with `never quit' attitudes?” he asks me. I shake my head. “It's when the other guy has the same attitude.”
He shakes his head as it becomes apparent that I won't change my mind. Ingo fades away, and, in the distance, I hear Malon scream with relief. Huh? Well, I suppose it is kinda weak to sneak off to do this sort of thing, but I've got a hunch that I won't be able to get away that easily. Suppose I can at least throw on a fresh tunic and some pants first, so I'll talk to you in a bit.
With little effort, Link warped from his bedroom to the mouth of the trail that leads into Gerudo Valley. There, he smirked, as Nabooru and his extended family—sans hers and Sepaaru's parents— stood in front of the bridge leading back to Hyrule Field. Everyone was taken aback by his … alterations. Except her. Maybe it was the tension of the situation or the fact that he hadn't left, but Nabooru seemed to mirror her husband's almost frighteningly carefree attitude. Sepaaru looked at them and felt all the more strange, like that naïve kid who once thought they were just weird for staring at each other and smiling for no reason. Something had happened between them that went beyond him having mystically made sure that Nabooru didn't stray or the training, but what?
Then it dawned on her: Nabooru had been there for the supposed end before. When Sepaaru was sorting her feelings out, Nabooru was firmly entrenched and in love with him. The idea that Link, the man she loved, could walk out into some hideous battle and never return had been Nabooru's burden since the beginning. She'd been there to see the fight with Ganondorf, see the Triforce destroy him, mourned for him, and accepted him without pause when he came back utterly different. Nabooru was there, loving him even before he loved her back, waiting for him to return safely from a war. All at once, it hit Sepaaru that, up until they started fucking each other's brains out, Link had just been a great friend, mentor, and a gray area that fathered her son.
Right now, though, it was hitting her in the mouth just how hard it was to love him. Here she was, quite possibly the strongest person on the planet, trained by the greatest hero ever, and she had to do nothing. She was supposed to sit back, relax and smile, while he fought the monsters for her like some kind of helpless child! She was supposed to gamble someone she loved … on … himself? It wasn't logical, but fuck logic. This is what Nabooru did? How could she bear it?
“Tsk, tsk, tsk—you were planning on sneaking out, Hero,” Nabooru stated with a subtle humor, pushing that helpless feeling that Sepaaru struggled with back.
“Guilty as charged,” Link replied, smiling as well, “even though I had a feeling it wouldn't work. Besides, it's getting so that every time I leave, I come back as a different being or missing a body part. Sooner or later, I figured I'd have to start taking a vote on whether or not I could leave.”
She approaches me and rests her smiling face against my chest, sighing what little worry she's willing to show onto me, as I'm met with over thirty pairs of sad eyes. I take the invitation and wrap my arms around her and, for a time, we feel alone. This isn't an end-of-the-world affair, but a day like any other or that's what we tell ourselves. Goddess, she smells good. Great time for the sex drive to turn on, huh? But, as my new right eye looks beyond the barrier, I see my enemies have gathered at its edge. They know I'm near, but their superiors have chosen not to enlighten them to my exact location, I guess.
“Don't worry,” I whisper, causing Nabooru to look up at me to deny that's what she's doing. I kiss her to stop the denial before it begins, tasting her lips for the last of what is probably going to be a very, very long time.
“Touching, isn't it, Mikhail?” I hear someone ask, before my senses alert me to the presence of the remaining Sermonian and Hylian soldiers. “I must say, this isn't a very heroic way to leave. His own troops don't even seem to think that he'll survive—and I won't even mention that bogus little light show.”
We regretfully disengage our kiss, but smirk in unison as we turn to face our interlopers.
The Hylians are Zelda's elites, so their survival doesn't surprise me. The intruding Sermonians, however, I barely recognize. Still, gauging from their state of dress (armor pieces missing, as I probably warped them in the middle of a shift change, and notches representing kills on the hilts of their weapons), posture, and scent, I'll wager that they're from the outskirts. If I were a god with the ability to read minds, I'd say that's exactly where they're from. Either way, they're the guys who specifically asked for the hotspots when they came to Hyrule, so they could eat, sleep, and shit battle. Like most Sermonian warriors, they're smart, well-read and articulate, but their bloodlust is more … ravenous. So, if they believed anything that the Goddesses said, it was that there was a battle somewhere. The rest was bullshit in a sugar-coating for the masses that were too “weak” to digest actual war.
That's the vibe they want us to believe. My ears hear their elevated heart rates and my skin feels the fear radiating off of them, as they felt the Goddesses words in a way that has scared them in a way that they've never encountered before.
“Sir, excuse him,” Mithreal, a Hylian Elite whose skinny frame belies his physical strength, begins, casting an unflattering look at his Sermonian counterpart, who smiles his discord for me through teeth that seem more like wolfos fangs. I know what he'll say before he says it. “We think we can be of some assistance.”
Despite the ill-intentioned smile on the Sermonian, I look at the faces of the Hylian knights that I created and I'm suddenly transported to a different place, a different time, where they were boys or, in Cornelius's case, a grown man living as though he were just a boy, trying to make their mark on the world. I see in each of them what I saw back then: nobodies. They weren't what you'd imagine soldiers to be, least of all an elite bunch. Some were fat, others petulant, or made to feel dumb by their peers, but all had that undying urge to prove that the cards Fate dealt them would not be their last hand. Excluding Cornelius, they were always the last to reach the goals that I'd set for the day, but always the first in line to take the torture. I never realized how I'd watched them grow over the years, even from a distance, but this is reminiscing for another time, I suppose.
“You're not going on this run,” I inform them, already anticipating the objections.
“We can at least act like decoys, Link!” Cornelius somehow sprouts balls enough to shout. I cast him a look that verges on murderous, but he doesn't flinch. And if that isn't surprising me enough, it's that his former comrades agree wholeheartedly. “While we're running this way and that way, you can slip in and bring the whole thing down on top of them!”
Again, they roar with approval of this madness. Ten of the most highly skilled individuals in the world, and they're begging me to let them be targets. Unreal.
The Sermonian side doesn't like that, though. “Oh, like we're going to sit here and let you little shits be deified as martyrs? It isn't going to happen like that. The way I see it, we mount a coordinated offensive strike using anyone strong enough to pick up a sword and—”
“In other words, you want civilians to act as decoys so you can go in and claim glory for yourself,” Mithreal interjects, his brow furrowing in rage as his hand inches toward the sword at his hip. “You're a sick man, Leophan!”
“Oh, so that strategy's only good when the `hero' pulls it out, huh? I heard about how he had civilians out there with the Kroatoans,” Leophan counters, likewise inching his hand toward his own sword. “And the way I hear it, the hero bailed out—”
Mithreal's sword is unleashed a full second before Leophan's, incensed by the dirt kicked onto my name, preparing to separate the Sermonian's head from his neck. They're moving in slow motion to me, so I leisurely intercept both swords with my physical presence. For a second, they're stunned that the other is still alive, each man having struck a practiced fatal strike, only to find the other alive. They check the swords to make sure. Hilts. All they have are hilts. They look at me and see the blades in my hand before I apply slight pressure and shatter them like glass scepters. The only people that caught the movement were Junior and Zelda, and even they're not sure, their minds scream at me.
“I appreciate the offers, I honestly do, but this isn't a game for glory. Besides, this isn't the old days; you have families to con—”
“Bullshit and you know it, Fairy,” Leophan shouts, never minding the display of speed, and focusing on his and apparently the whole Sermonian armed force's singular truth: battle is glorious fun … even if they're scared shitless. “War is a never-ending truth. The only reason you refuse our help is because you don't want them to see their savior get exposed as a washed-up failure.”
“Are you done?” I ask, as this ploy to push buttons is getting old, even if it's working on my ladies.
“As a matter of fact, I'm not done!” Leophan screams, trying to think of a way to get me to show that I'm as rattled as he and his men are. It won't work, because I'm not. “No, I see. You want us all here so no one can see you beg! Is that it?” Hey, give the man credit—he doesn't stop. “Well, here's the thing, oh, great, Hero of Time: you'll fail without us! All the Hylian cattle back there will be killed. Even your stupid little fami—ly.”
The ground thumps beneath his feet as I pop my neck. The Hylians move away from the Sermonians in a group effort, obviously having picked up on this little quirk of mine. Nah, I can do this without pulling his spine through his face. “He's afraid,” I tell myself, turning my back on him, and focusing on what's most important to me. “He's wrong,” I tell Nabooru, who merely smiles at the attempt to ease her nerves. Mr. Leophan's had zero affect on her, I find, but she steps aside and holds her arm out toward the others.
“Answer me! You fucking coward! You're going to run away! Admit it!”
I approach the line of ladies standing shoulder to shoulder, ignoring the Sermonians and their panicked leader, looking from left to right at the faces that have come to make up my twisted little family. Guards, soldiers, Gerudo, subjects—they're more to me than that. They are my friends, even if the “me” of this line did sleep with most of them, it's still the truth. And in the middle of that truth is my son, my daughter, and his mother, all staring at me for some kind of suggestion. This standing at the mouth of war is new to them. I represent stability, protection even, I've come to realize—and I say that not out of arrogance, but out of forgotten realization. All of these powerful people standing before me and all that they can think about is what will they do if I don't survive. I step toward Sepaaru, but she doesn't respond, not even when I place my arms around her.
“I hate this,” she says into my chest, voice muffled by the tunic. She repeats it several times over, just lying limply against me. “All that training—what good is it if I can't help you?” Sepaaru asks, trembling some in her anger. “I hate this.”
“I do, too,” I reply, looking at my son and my daughter, who aren't quite sure where to look when it comes to my new eye. “But let's cut all the doom and gloom, ladies.” My upbeat turn is met with more of the same, but I persist. I can't lose. Not now … not when I'm this close to winning. “I'll do the battle thing. I'll get beat up, chewed on, and spit out. And, when it's all said and done, I'll be the last man standing. Life in Hyrule will be restored; we'll eat and have fun and all this madness can come to an end. Consider it a promise.”
“You can't promise something like that! They cut your fucking arm off!” Leophan shouts, which curbs any progress that I'd just made.
I can't kill him, though I'd like to, because that would show that he's right to be scared. Let's use a different muscle and try to inspire these people. “And? They also took an eye and carved up my chest, too.” He doesn't respond, so I use the Hero Card—ask for it by name. “They did all of that, but I'm still here. They caught me off guard, confused, and in shock from the sheer magnitude of the deaths of those around me—and they wasted it all,” I say, pausing to bait them, watching through my mind's eye as Hylian and Sermonian rally around my almost boisterous insinuations.
“They let you heal and … grow … a new … arm … and eye,” Ajax says, though, twitching as he was supposed to be taking time off per my orders.
“No, nitwit, they didn't kill him when they had the chance, obviously,” Leophan counters, unwittingly placing his faith in me along with his peers.
Both sides seemed to agree with that, but I shake my head, never once facing the men, just my family and say, “No, they let me see what I was fighting for.”
“Then what about the rest of us? What are we supposed to fight for if we can't fight?” Leophan asks, his voice now reflecting the gravity of the situation, though I can tell that he's barely in control of his rage with this battle-lacking situation.
I consider his questions for a moment, before an answer arrives. “You'll fight for the same thing you always do: the citizens of Hyrule,” I tell them. “Whether you do it willingly or not, every time that you buckle that armor on and fight some horde or elect not to, it's for them. So, just because you're being excluded from this war, doesn't mean you all lack purpose.”
They all struggle to maintain their pride, but their eyes silently rest on the bladeless hilts in their leaders' hands and the crumbs of said blades at my feet. They realize it, even if it upsets them, that if they can't see the attack that left two attacking swords in disrepair then they have no place on the battlefield. The silence hangs as I look from Gerudo to Gerudo, but I notice one smile and mirror it.
“Bleh, just hurry up and kill something,” Varia says, smirking some, placing her right hand on her right hip. “All these moping wenches are killing the mood, so the faster you separate heads from bodies, the sooner I can get these men off my goddamned lawn.”
“Yeah!” the Gerudo all shout, forcing their doubt aside, thrusting fists into the air.
“As you wish, ladies,” I reply, taking an elaborate bow. “Now, it's time to leave this place.” I stand Sepaaru up and kiss her without really realizing what I'm doing, but she still responds listlessly.
I look at my kids and laugh as I begin to float into the sky, listening as Sermonian and Hylian alike gasp at the effortless assent. I hang here for a time, looking up at the full moon, before I raise my left hand, calling out to all the Gerudo land beneath my shielding. The earth answers with a low, almost mindful rumble of what it is I ask of it. Bit by bit, the earth begins to amputate the last piece of life on its surface, as it cracks along the line of my barrier, cuts the Gerudo land mass from itself, and surrenders it all to my will. The Originals begin to claw at the barrier and its floating landmass, the movement having made them aware of our presence, and I warp back to everyone at the bridge.
“What the hell are those?” a Sermonian screams as arms similar to mine breach the field, dispelling the illusion of the bridge and brownstone that's usually on the other side, revealing the sight of the earth's destroyers and the scorched land that stretches as far as the mortal eye can see. There's nothing left now. Everyone, everything, all of it—all life on the other side of the barrier is gone, burned completely asunder by the mystical forces pouring from these rogue agents. This realm is dead. No, can't focus on that. More death is going to follow … a lot more.
The Gerudo scramble away from the arms and stand behind me, but I hear the survivors running for the bridge, now, as this Gerudo Island rumbles up into the air. Their panic dictates that the attack is just against Gerudo land, so those who know their way out, attempt to run for home, and those who don't know simply follow those that do. They all pour out into the mouth of the path and stop behind me, each person seeing the truth: Gerudo Valley is the last place left. Looking up at the sky, I see the illusion has dropped from there as well, revealing a sky the color of burnt amber and full of Originals, pounding my little protective bubble without mercy.
Still, the Gerudo land rises further and further into the sky until we hang in the void of space, with a moon larger and brighter than any of these people have ever seen before. The Originals move directly into opposition of me on the other side of the barrier in one synchronous warp, appearing as one massive orgy of pulsing bodies, each twitching in anticipation to get a shot at me. Those who'd breached my bubble remove their arms, sending a breath of hot ash and air blowing in before I close the holes. The survivors don't even scream anymore; they just stare out with a deafening hopelessness.
I suppose this is where we have to part ways again, huh? Yeah, but we'll do it again someday.
“Well, this is where I go,” Link told the silent masses, before approaching the mystical line in the sand. He stopped, though, not out of fear, but only to issue an order to organize what was the last of Hyrule: “Nabooru, run things as best as you can. Everyone else, you're going to have to get over whatever prejudices and preconceptions that you have to survive and learn the new world that you'll be inheriting. In the meantime, I'm going to stay here and keep them focused.”
“No!” Zelda screamed, shocking her father with the shrillness of her voice. “You can't be bait! I … I can help!”
“Me too!” Junior added. “With the three of us, we can take them!” It was an overconfident statement, everyone noticed, but one the crowd didn't object to, given that now they were all but forced to accept the Goddesses words as fact. Was there a more deadly combination than the Hero of Time and his children, who were undoubtedly trained by him? Even as Sepaaru and Nabooru looked at each other, knowing full well their children would be denied, the crowd held its collective breaths in anticipation.
“Let's do this then,” Link replied to a thunderous roar of approval, stunning Nabooru and Sepaaru into a state of catatonia.
Again, the crowd showed its newfound approval of the Hero with unanimous cheers and chants. Despite the enormous odds staring at them with their beady little eyes, Zelda and Junior headed off behind their father into battle, both believing they now possessed the tools of a hero, one having killed for justice and the other having overcome a fear of the unknown. Still, step by step, questions arose as they neared the brink of full-blown war. As they walked toward their enemies, the Originals spoke to the minds of everyone and repeated in that eerie, monotonous tone: “You are weak. We are strong.”
“How does it feel to take a life?” Junior asked himself, his heart thudding so loud in his ears that it almost hurt, trying his best to not focus on the dark voice ringing inside of his head. “Why'd these old gods have to die? Weren't they too stupid to know any better?”
Likewise, Zelda queried herself as well: “What kind of powers do they have? What if I'm not strong enough? What if there are more of them? What happens when you die?”
Without realizing it, her feet stopped moving for but a second, as she was rendered paralyzed by the questioning of her own mortality. Link kept moving, though, but a moment later her brother stopped walking forward as well. Each had only stopped moving forward for but a moment, but it was the hum of raw energy that saw the siblings come out of their introspection, showing them their father's back. He'd never once stopped moving forward, which is why Link was now on the outside with the same things that had ripped his arm off and tore out his eye. The children ran to join him in a mad panic, only to slam headlong into an invisible wall.
“Dad!” they both shouted, beating furiously against the obstruction, each shot reverberating through the bones of the spectators, but seemingly making no impact on the man on the other side.
“This isn't something that you can just decide to do,” Link said sternly, though facing his opposition. “Fear is—”
“I'm not afraid!” Zelda interjected, tears pouring down her face as her father seemed poised to leave her again. “I am NOT afraid!”
“Neither am I!” Junior shouted, figuring himself to have conquered that in his quest to ditch Fate.
Link laughed, his fists clenched even as he turned to face them and exposed his back to the monsters. “It isn't always about fearing what is or isn't there,” he said, revealing for the first time that he was speaking through his mind and not his mouth. “The point is this: he or she,” Link said, looking from his son to his daughter, “who hesitates in war is lost. Until you realize that, you're not fit to stand out here.” He took a deep breath that wasn't because he didn't breathe, and unclenched his fists. Everyone watched as the hero began to glow all over, clothes igniting in an instant as his flesh seemed to change into a magnificent light.
“Mom,” Zelda whispered as she backed away from the barrier, numbly collapsing onto her rear. “What's happening to him?”
“He doesn't have to hold back anymore,” his father muttered in response, though no one heard him, from the cliff above the crowd, watching as his son relaxed far more than the mortals could ever dream possible.
Every inch of Link radiated—even the arm glowed with a shadowy haze, blending seamlessly into the darkness of space—until there was simply nothing more than a light shaped similarly to the man that had once been there. He no longer possessed his trademark ears or hair, but more tassels of energy serving to outline where they once were. Still, through the haze of almost blinding light, Nabooru still saw her husband out there. She had to squint, but she could see his eyes and mouth were still there and, if she wasn't mistaken, he was smiling.
“You're sick,” Nabooru muttered to seemingly no one, as she approached what was now the edge of her world. Most everyone present followed her, curiosity to be close to gods fueling some, others wanting to see just how real this was, and almost all of them gasping as they saw the cracked ball of red lava and black smoke below them.
“I know,” Link replied from all directions. “Keep the ring in a safe place. I'll wear it when I get back.”
The chants from the Originals had died from the moment that he'd begun to glow, but they were slowly floating into a strike position. Eyes glowing as they were, Nabooru could see Link begin to formulate a strategy, as whatever grace period they had granted him was now coming to a close. He placed his hand on the invisible field in front of her and pushed it, sending the whole mess of land floating backwards, though, there was no force exerted to tell her that was what had happened, besides Link getting further and further away.
“Win, Hero,” Nabooru shouted to him, watching as he nodded and extended his left fist into the air.
He floated up over the crowd of faceless monsters like an arrow, hovered for but a moment, and then dove straight into their ranks, like a shot bird plummeting to the ground. The spectators watched what adversaries that weren't hit take off into a dive behind him like a swarm of ants on an unlucky butterfly, each one turning into a line of light, all led by Link, heading toward the flaming hunk of planet. Link hit the earth fist-first and, like so many things before it, the planet Earth exploded before everyone's stunned eyes, sending a ring of multicolored energy that blotted out the light of every star in every direction. People began to scream as the rainbow colored blast gained on their floating island, causing it to quake slightly. As their world looked to be swallowed in the madness of battle between gods, the people find their new world—their Gerudo world—enveloped in, ironically enough, a purple shroud of light. They were taken to another dimension on Link's whim, a dimension that he'd created during his thirty years of schooling, a dimension that was devoid of Fate's influence. It was the last benevolent thing that his powers would be used for in awhile.
And it would also be a great deal of time before anything resembling normal touched any of their lives again.