Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ Comes to Light Pt. 11: 3,000 ( Chapter 56 )

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

Chapter Fifty-six
Been fighting too long … names … timelines blurring, smearing, erasing from my mind …
“Keep it together,” I mutter, but we know that's not really going to work much longer.
They're gaining on me again … can't remember their names … faces, faceless faces … just eyes. Oh, him? It was one of my father's brothers before they got him. Strong guy, but they were stronger. He and the other ones—funny guy and his funnier hair, big guy with an even bigger axe, and the wet one—tried to help the situation. They tried to help me, but I don't remember what happened. Obviously, he died, but the other ones … I don't know. Brain's hurting, thoughts drifting, floating away somewhere, I … know that, but there are so many outcomes, so many ways to die. I can't die here … I promised someone, a lady in purple, I think. Or was it red? Maybe black? Was it the blonde lady?
I don't know anymore.
I can see the evil ones now, just over the ridge there. They're coming for me again—the big ones, the little ones, and the one that only I can see. He's smaller than the other ones, different somehow, always laughing at me. Why does he laugh at me? I try to ask him, but I have to keep fighting the other ones. He just stands there, though, and he won't help me! It's like he wants this to happen, like he wants them to kill me. No! I can see the fleshy ones, too—with the lady I was talking about. They're happy, I think, but … I can't remember them too good … too well. Do I care for them? She's staring out of a window now, but she's also fighting somewhere with the other one. Weird.
“My name is Link,” I tell myself to keep that much straight. “I think … I know that I have three kids … two … no, three. No, definitely two. She wasn't mine. She was the green guy's. Their names are Ze-something and Link? Yes! I think. Was I married? I'm married to a woman named … Zel … da … Zelda? Yes! No. Wait, was it Nabooru? Heh, heh, that's a funny name—Naaabooooruuu. Sssh! They're getting closer!” What do you mean you didn't say anything? I heard you! “Shut up!” I … can't keep wasting energy on you. They're here! Charge!
I fly down the ridge across the massive lake into the chest of the largest one, bowling him over with my strength. What do you mean there's nothing there? I … where'd it all go? We were at Lake Hylia, right? Hyrule's gone? That's not funny! It was right there a second ago! Wait, where'd my uncle's body go? This isn't funny! His minions attempt to pull me off, but I smash his face anyway. Ha! I can't lose! I do not say that every day! What do you mean it's been years? The fight just started an hour ago! Look, don't tell me something that I already know, when what you're saying is so obviously wrong. I am so telling Saria on you when we get back to the tree house. Goddess, shut up! I can't hear you! Lalalalala—
“Ow,” I mumble, as the nothingness returns to the situation. Ah, nothing like a massive blow to the head to bring perspective back. Had another break, didn't I? No, not yet. I've still got a little left in me. Still, I'm shocked you're here. You always seem to disappear during times like this. No … stay. What? You … in a fight? Wow, I haven't heard you talk about a battle since the old days. Still think you've got the skills? Enough to beat me? Considering my current situation, I don't think I can be an accurate measuring stick of fighting prowess. No, I welcome the help, because I may need you to take over if my mind gives out. Ha, ha, I can't die here; I've got … shit, I've got a family! Stupid mind! Remember that! Ugh, let me get up. It's about time for Nabooru to watch and she can't see me like this.
Link stood slowly, staring at the “fleshy ones” of Old Hyrule, smiling even though the reason why began to fade from his mind just as suddenly as the hand of his opponent hit him. Elsewhere, Nabooru stood in the window of their tower, their bedroom, looking down on the buildings of steel and glass. She sighed and looked into the sky at the ball of green light making its way slowly over the horizon, signaling the beginning of yet another day for the denizens of the country known as New Hyrule. The horror that the survivors had escaped from had become a distant, distant, distant memory, an illusion, and a fallacy as it were, just like the man who'd saved them. Even standing beneath an emerald sun on blue grass—a sign of just how irregular this all was—was wasted on most of them.
This world, a testing ground, Link Sr. had called it—a time, a space, and a place that Link had probably created as a part of his trials to let the “puppet masters” test his abilities—was their new home. As she looked down from the window of her tower, she saw also the native inhabitants, all of whom looked like some variant of her husband, and glared. A few helped them restart their civilization by teaching them the lay of the land and about the creatures it held, but most regarded them as outsiders, an invading force. It was almost a complete step backwards in time to when the Gerudo were outcasts via Ganondorf's actions. It was that way for a while—a long, long, long time.
Nabooru didn't let that little piece of history dare repeat itself, even if her methods were a bit … extreme.
“Heh, he probably just threw this together and thought nothing of it, because Fate told him that it would disappear when they were done,” she remembered the former god saying of their home world. “What he—Fate, I mean—doesn't tell us is that he keeps these `test' inhabitants and becomes their god in the sky, thus adding to his own power.”
“You're saying Link delivered us to his enemy without even realizing it?” Nabooru had asked way back when. Of course, the former god enlightened her “simple” mind to the greater picture, a picture which Hadrian almost single-mindedly dismissed as speculative nonsense.
“Idiot,” he sighed. “If we're here, the boy more than likely realized that it was still his dimension to control, despite who the people worshipped. Still, if they truly worship Fate, I'd still say the midget is too much of a coward to interfere here and risk exposure to the Originals.”
Despite his logic that Link had reasserted himself as the dominant god of the dimension and Fate would be too scared to interfere, skirmishes began to erupt between the natives and Hylians, mainly when they began to establish a city around the Gerudo Fortress, and those skirmishes soon turned into heated battles and those battles blossomed into four full-on wars. The hostiles lost those wars, naturally, as immortals and demigods were among the “invaders.” Link and Zelda had slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people during those wars. They'd tried diplomacy, but talks never went beyond, “Go back to where you come from.” And where Junior embraced this violence over the years, Zelda, like her father, seemed a reluctant participant. She was good at killing, but it wasn't her passion. When the smoke cleared after the last war, Zelda became a nomadic helper and Junior became a full-on war machine.
“They've more than likely been created in his mental image, too,” her father-in-law had said in his smug little way, seeming to suggest that Link was somehow an unreasonable dick that would go to war with refugees of a dead world for simply trying to exist. “Of course, how could one blame them? Strange island floats down out of the sky and lands off the coast of one of their cities. They'd be stupid not to consider it an act of hostile invasion.”
Either way, they were all stuck there until Link came for them. The only problem now was if any of these simple-minded fucks would even acknowledge his presence when he did come back. The nomads that Zelda had saved back in Old Hyrule, as it was now known, were given a second opportunity to thrive and they had over the years. Some were merchants, seamstresses, and businessmen, while others married into the native populace and started new lives there.
So, who cared if the sky was green and the grass was blue? Who cared if the seas were red or if dragons the size of mountain ranges roamed freely through the skies? Honestly, who gave a shit if the world that they inhabited could've been some thrown together piece of shit? The dragons weren't indestructible, and most of them were strictly plant eaters. The water, sky, and sun just looked different. As for the planet, who thought on that large of a level when they were as rich as shit?
This was utopia with a touch of mild racism, violence, and new wildlife. Who cared if the man who created it didn't get to experience it? Everyone was fantastic with their motorized vehicles, in homes that harnessed lightning for light, and boxes of randomized pictures with sound. Everyone had a cool box like the Gerudo had back home. Everyone had indoor plumbing. Ten times easier, ten times more entertaining, and ten times safer—this world was ten times better than Hyrule in every category. Except one and that was the exclusion of Link.
And Nabooru hated it all from the very bottom of her soul.
It wasn't so much that they were forgetting him more with each passing day or that she was struggling to keep referring to televisions, cars, and electricity as though they were somehow still foreign to avoid becoming attached to them. It wasn't even the fact that everyone was happy. It was the simple fact that they were singing her praises, as though all this good fortune had come to them thanks to her. This stuff sprang up around her thanks to Link. So, yeah, she was pissed that they were forgetting him. But more than that, it was that they couldn't even remember him enough to accredit their good fortune to him. It was like being heralded for saving the world, when all she did was stand there and witness it being saved. If anything, she was trying to keep the people from Old Hyrule unassimilated into this new environment and the technological advancements that began to mount as the years passed, let alone the positions of prominence most of them had come to hold.
Nabooru thought of herself as a patchwork artist at best. Negotiating with—and only he would be silly enough to call them this—the Linkenees, Linka-Linkas, Linkenites, she established paths of trade and a mutual voice for both sides, which were things that Link had taught her. Okay, so she'd been doing this for the better part of 3,000 years and was now pretty much the ruler of the world. It still didn't excuse the fact that Link was all but a whisper to everyone else; an urban myth was the term they used nowadays.
The Gerudo were still united, but like everything else with time, it had changed. In a world where Link now came in all sizes, shapes, and colors, they'd begun to branch out and find love. Most were mothers, wives even, and dozens of times over. How they amassed the will to watch child after child age into decay and die, Nabooru didn't know—a sign of how accustomed she'd become to the unnatural reality that Link had woven for her. The Queen of the Gerudo shook off the oddity and continued her introspective morning journey.
Her immortal sisters-in-arms were the only reason that she kept her sanity, though. They were the reason that thirty centuries didn't compute or seem real. Their immortality hadn't disappeared with the change in location, and what was more interesting was that the refugees from Old Hyrule were just as immortal. It was the one thing that kept them all separated from the pack, really, and was also why Nabooru ran the world, as these people had thousands of years to establish themselves and their businesses, not to mention cultivating and stockpiling their wealth. She and Sepaaru held the only weapons known to be able to kill these people, and since most weren't natural leaders and didn't turn into greedy assholes, they accepted Link's last decree without hesitation and fed her information from every level of industry and government of which people that were over 3,000 years old would occupy.
Nabooru was in charge—the end. The Sermonians attempted to throw a wrench in the works by attempting to expose the “Immortal Overlords,” as they'd been dubbed, but Nabooru and the Gerudo controlled the news that reached the public at large. Needless to say, but the last Sermonians were finally wiped out thirty years ago, as they attempted to go further rogue and take over the country Terminalus and establish a military state under Sermonian rule to oppose those of New Hyrule. Their plan failed, but the ideology struck a chord and resonated subtly throughout the society, as splinter factions sprang up almost the hour that the last known Sermonian hit the dirt. Still, it was quiet now and she had better things to do … sort of.
“Where are you, Hero? I'm losing my mind here,” Nabooru muttered to her reflection, as the sun now stood proudly in the sky, sharing space with an orange moon that looked to be nearly on top of them. She sighed, trying to remember the little things about him, as her head rested against the cool glass. “Do you understand how crazy this is? I can't even remember what your voice sounds like anymore.” Her mind always ran like this in the morning, always threatening to topple her beneath the sheer magnitude of what had happened. It never did, though, but it was always close—and getting closer with each passing day.
Next, she'd perform what she'd dubbed “The Ritual of Remembrance and Amazement.”
“I'm married to a god named Link who created most of this population, and laid out the blueprint for their evolution. I'm married to a god named Link who never even let on that this type of stuff was even possible!” Nabooru said with a forced wonderment.
She looked at the telephone on her desk behind her and marveled at it, but with a sort of begrudging respect. Hit seven numbers and you could talk to people across the city without them even being there; it was amazing, but it stopped feeling that way after Varia invented the first one. Nabooru stopped and shook her head, noting the situation was like waiting for your birthday after dropping hints that you wanted a new leather coat, only to get socks. In her case, though, her coat was her husband and her socks ended up being a planet. It wasn't exactly a shitty gift, per se, but it wasn't something she wanted, either; it was a fact that was making her a tad bit bitter.
“6:45 … and she hasn't called yet. Thank God!” It was in reference to her mother (and father sometimes), who, for the last 2,990 years had been bugging her to move on with her life.
“He made a noble sacrifice, but he's not coming back,” they'd tell her or “Honey, you can't wait forever.” As if Mr. and Mrs. Back-from-the-Dead had a clue what she and Link went through. And then they started trying to pawn the knockoffs on her, as though she was shallow enough to be “bought off” by a good physique. Bullshit and a half. She shook her head clear of the upsetting imagery, and counted today as a lucky one that the call hadn't come.
Finally, Nabooru would wonder how Link had reacted when the gods first showed him what the future could hold for Hyrule.
“He probably said, 'Wow. Amazing. Really. Can I go home now?' Great, now I'm talking to myself again. Does it even matter at this point, Nabooru? No, but that's how I keep my memory of him alive.”
Nabooru turned away from the window and walked to her mirror, pulling the edges of her suit coat down out of habit, as it tended to ride up when she had all the buttons done. Next, she made sure to recheck the bun in her hair, which was sure to come undone after she went to the Orb Room. The two lacquered sticks, one puncturing from the right and the other from the left, held firmly as she whipped her head from one side to the other. A long strand of red hair framed the right side of her face, and she smiled what little enthusiasm she had toward that. Her pants? Pfft. They were tailor made to fit with creases so sharp that she could slice bread with them. Perfection like that didn't warrant double checking. And the shoes? She never had to check her heels—black, polished, and shined. Lastly, she primped the silver buttons that stood out against the red of her waist-length suit jacket. She moved to the desk beside the mirror and pressed the buzzer on the phone.
“Your Highness?” the young woman replied on the other end.
“Sila, for the last 400 years, I've said that you don't have to call me that,” Nabooru informed her adopted granddaughter. Zelda had taken the child in shortly after Link sent them there and she'd been around ever since, but she was obviously very rigidly raised, as it seemed almost impossible to make the child informal. “Assemble the heads in the Orb Room.”
“Yes, Your … Grandma … ness,” she replied, mumbling self-depreciatively about herself.
“This is the day,” Nabooru told herself, as she always did, marching toward the door. “This is the day that it ends.”
She smiled as she walked out into the hall to the elevator. This was the one article of technology she didn't bear any grudge, as she hit the button and the elevator opened with a familiar ding. She stepped into the beige light beaming from within, pausing as she inserted the card key to expose the button to the Orb Room. Looking out into her bedroom, Nabooru, the Queen of the Gerudo, also known as the Red Queen of New Hyrule, always wondered how Link would respond to the upgrades that she'd made to the fortress.
The whole place was a technological marvel now, humming with lights and buzzing with air conditioning units, not to mention the tower now sat atop 200 additional floors of staff and departments so fragmented that they all knew just enough to not know anything about what their leader was actually leading. Obviously, the building was a bit much for an island nation's government, most logical people would say, but when the actual world was essentially ran from a single point, it made sense that the building was so big. She twisted the key and a steel panel slid up to reveal the blue button, which she pressed and began her descent.
“He won't mind,” she told herself.
The elevator began its descent to the sublevel. And what was in the sublevel? Well, it used to be the Gerudo Testing Grounds in the old days. Now, it was merely known as the Orb Room, a place where Hadrian had made his own mini-window into the battlefield that Link was engaged on. It was housed at the fortress for obvious strength reasons in the beginning, ultimately remaining there after Hadrian lost interest. He'd created it as not only a first warning system to know when Link failed, so he'd know to take them all to another place, but also as a tool that allowed him to see the battle without requiring him to take on the Hadrian form, as they were so far away from the battle that to even take a glimpse of it required him to be in full-fledged god mode to see it without aid.
Nabooru found the insinuation that Link had no chance insulting, but nonetheless spent five days in front of it without pause after learning of its existence. In fact, those first few years, she did almost everything from that room just to see his face and know that he was okay. Naturally, Link was always okay. They never laid a hand on him! Not even a finger! But, at the same time, Link was in the same boat: He never laid a hand on them after the first day, either. What's more, when she first encountered the orb, they all looked to be moving slower than she'd expected, which was surprising. Hadrian had told her that she would see nothing but blackness if she was present for the fight, as they were all moving faster than anything a mortal could perceive. Still, even at a slowed down pace, it was intense: Fists, elbows, and knees with the power to shatter worlds missed their marks by less than in—
The elevator opened into the darkened corridor, breaking her thought process, but Nabooru stepped out as confident as ever. She strode through the darkness without hesitation or reservation, a soft white light popping on every ten feet until she reached the large conference table, which was, in actuality, her former dinner table. Taking her seat at the head of the table, the orb appeared on mystical cue, looking like a smaller version of Old Hyrule's moon hanging above the center of the table with its milky white glow. There he is, she thought, smiling, watching as Link went back into their numbers, dodging this and … blocking that.
“They touched—”
“Hey, Aunt Nabooru,” one General Link Kokiri, Jr. said in interjection, standing proudly in the doorway, flipping the row of switches to his left and illuminating the chamber fully and revealing the murals of his father covering the walls. “How's the old man doing?” The General had jumped into his first war shortly after arriving and had never stopped since. Be it civil wars, conflicts between rival nations, or what have you, Junior was there to rip whatever side that Nabooru was opposed to a new one. Anyone that knew could look at him and tell that he was doing this to identify with his father, Nabooru thought, even though he would never admit it.
He'd changed his look a while ago, but had looked the same for the last millennium—bald with a short, white goatee, green skin, and built like a building—but it was always startling to see just how those topical changes made him look so different. So, yeah, he'd shaved his head and grew some facial hair, but he was submersed in the planning and executing of a battle plan or trying to improve his fighting abilities—it was like Link's internal thought process put on display for all to see. He ate, slept, and drank war to the chagrin of Saria, who was a member of The Four Sisters Ecological Foundation, a group that protested violence in all its forms … except their own. It was an ongoing irony in their family—a violent male paired with a pacifist female where the only conflict between the couples was an argument about too much violence or not enough. Despite that, he looked cute in his little uniform with all of its various medals and accolade stripes.
“Same as usual,” Nabooru said confidently, though, throwing a glance back to the orb and finding Link blocking yet another shot.
Instinctively, Junior spoke on that unusual occurrence. “That's strange. Since we've set these meetings up, I don't think I've ever seen him need to block.” He took his seat near the opposite end, sitting in a chair to the left of the opposite end of the rectangular table. “He must be plotting something.”
“Neither have I … neither have I,” she repeated, ignoring Junior's theory, as the senses of a wife perked up in ire to the unseen. “Something isn't right, though. I can feel it.” Nabooru gnawed on her lower lip, a habit that was made okay with the advent of smear-free lipstick, a realization that upset her, considering she was thinking about lipstick at a time like this.
“Don't overreact,” Junior was quick to say, unbuckling his highly decorated coat and placing it on the back of his seat, a seat that could be no one else's as its sheer size was obviously made to support his. “Dad's still not hurt—”
“That you can tell,” Hadrian responded, fading into view and irking his granddaughter-in-law. He sat to Nabooru's right at the middle of the table, folded his hands beneath his nose, and didn't speak again. As Ingo, he and Malon ran the Lon-Lon Farms Conglomerate, and were responsible for eighty-five percent of the grown food in the world. As Hadrian, he was just a massive asshole in her opinion. It was a point that could not be stated enough: Massive. Asshole. “Maybe so, but you'll all realize that I'm right sooner or later,” he muttered to her thoughtful insult. He only started showing up in god form again to make himself feel important because people stopped paying attention to the simple-farmer-who-speaks-with-godly-arrogance routine.
“Oh, goody, the gang's almost all here,” Link Sr. stated in his … way, strolling in like he owned the place and flopping down beside his father before putting his feet on the table. “How is everybody? Rich? Of course! Not as good as the whole god thing, but to the mortals, I may as well still command reality.”
The former god owned and operated the world's largest weapon development firm, the aptly named Supreme God of War, Inc., which meant that whatever tapering his ego had undergone over the years went up in smoke when he saw just how much influence money had on people. His suits, all of which were black, were more expensive than some people's homes, and his shoes were made out of the rare Temporal Dragon hide—a preference that brought him into constant conflict with the eco-terrorist group that was the violent hand of his wife and her sisters Four Sisters Ecological Foundation. The group was known as Nature's Fury. How they stayed in the same house and ran opposing outfits went no further beyond Nabooru's comprehension than the fact she was among gods. The gods were also the other rogue element in the world. They were on Nabooru's team to an extent, but made it perfectly clear that they were independent players.
As for the senior of the Links, needless to say, but if there were things to plunder—whether natural, artificial, or mystical—his influence was usually somewhere to be found. Proving it was the hard part for the authorities. Nabooru knew, of course, but she didn't care. As long as his plans didn't enable the end of this world, she let him do as he pleased. But if a plan for enchanted amethystala enhanced weaponry ever came about, for instance, it had the mysterious habit of failing or getting stolen from his research and development teams. God or not, he was one of the smartest people on the planet, but so was Nabooru.
Junior gave a mock salute to his grandfather, who merely smirked for the effort. “Soooo, Aunt Nabooru, how long until the Zeldas show up?”
“At last check, Mrs. Sheikah was on a trip to our neighbors in the south,” Nabooru began, leaning back in the chair as Link began to dodge more fluidly again, “but she should've been back two hours ago. As for my daughter, who knows? It's not like she can't warp in, but with her whole refusing to use her powers for self-gain decree, I can't say if that falls under power abuse to her or not.”
“Silly girl, all her little mercy trips to save the less evolved natives isn't about them,” Link Sr. said dismissively, waving his hand at the notion of power abuse. “It's all an effort to make her feel better, so even that constitutes self-gain.”
“Lovely to see you again, too, Grandpa,” Zelda said with an air of sarcasm, dressed piece for piece in the old style clothing—Gerudo pants, Kokiri tunic, and Kokiri boots—as she appeared on the front end of a cross world warp. The least wealthy of all the world's immortal inhabitants (though that could change with a mere thought), Zelda was more wanderer than she was ruler. If people were suffering from drought one minute and up to their heads in crops the next, Zelda was usually the cause, erasing the thankful people's minds of her presence more often than not. She took a seat to her mother's immediate left and looked up at the orb, sighing as it was the same old same old.
“Your High … err … Grandma, Ladies Sepaaru and Zelda along with their respective teams are, for lack of a better term, dealing with another group bent on overthrowing our supposed shadow government,” Sila said over the intercom. “Furthermore, Mr. Victorious still hasn't awakened from his attempt to rejoin the battle and aid Mr. Link. Mystic Head Ganondorf was also still unavailable and his people claim that they have no idea when he will return—something about him working on astral projection across great expanses. The Four Sisters are likewise unavailable at the moment, something about one of Mr. Lord's companies dumping waste into the ocean again, according to their secretary.”
“Ugh,” Link Sr., better known as Sir Lincoln Lord to the unwashed masses, muttered of his wife and her sisters' constant intrusions upon his factories. “I can't bury the waste. I can't flush it down the drain. What do they want from me?”
Nabooru shook her head, saying, “Let the ladies have their fun and inform me the minute that Victorious regains consciousness. Thank you, Sila.”
“Very well.”
The intercom went silent and the attendants of the meeting looked at one another and understood that this was the fourteenth “conflict” that had arisen in the past six months. The group was known as Sons of the Sermon, a group who rigidly believed the doctrine that the Sermonians had spewed in relationship to a secret caste of evil immortals who fell from the sky three millenniums ago, who secretly ruled the world. To the outside world, the Old Hylians were the children or family members of those who fell from the sky. Paintings were altered to make them appear to look different at first, then books, drawings, videotape, and pictures, as anyone would grow a little suspicious of getting older while the guy up the street never did.
Groups like the Sons were wiped out with ruthless abandon and the reasons that the general public were fed varied from cults, terrorists, or mass hysteria on down to a drugged water source causing mass dementia. Hundreds of thousands just like them were killed over the centuries for trying to expose Nabooru's regime, because it was the only way that they could operate in the open, but it was a walking burden—a cycle of staged deaths, rebirths, secret wars, executions, lies and illusions that looked to go on for centuries more at the current pace of the battle. Something had to give: Either the secret would get out and millions would attack the island that secretly ran the world or Link won this thing and they all went home. The latter was Nabooru's desire.
That was one of the biggest reasons they gathered at the orb, because it wasn't so much an issue of when these monster gods were going to attack them, but when these people would. After all, if one shadow hand existed, who was to say that another didn't? The Sermonians themselves were extinct, but their ideas would not stay buried, and intelligence pertaining to the possible survival of a Sermonian went missing approximately one month after it was retrieved, all of which pointed to more intricate knowledge that simple copycats wouldn't know. Sepaaru and Zelda would win this battle, but the war would continue on—for how long was the question.
“Ugh!” Link gasped on the orb, breaking the meditative crowd's collective trance.
Everyone looked up and saw an elbow drop across the back of his neck and, for the first time that they had seen, Link hit the ground … or whatever he and the others stood on. He got up in an instant, flipped backwards, and paused horizontally in mid-air to avoid high and low kicks from the beasts. A larger one appeared above him from the darkness and his fist sank into whatever substance Link's stomach was made of, causing him to grunt again. The creature disappeared and the smaller ones swarmed in heated fury, but in their eagerness to dole out the pain, they went off guard and met Link's fists.
“Yes!” Nabooru shouted at the orb, as the creatures began to shatter like glass as he hit them.
Hadrian snorted, “Doesn't mean anything. Look over there.” He made the orb's view pan toward a few splintered Originals' bodies and they were already reassembling, even as Link destroyed more and more of them like frail dolls. “He's hit his limit—and they can sense it, too.”
The spectators went silent as thousands of the creatures were ripped through as though they didn't even care, and Hadrian's words seemed all the truer. Why else would they suddenly stop dodging unless Link could no longer hurt them? Nabooru punched the table and a spark of electricity rode from the point of impact down to the opposite side, and Ganondorf smirked as he slipped into the shadows of the room unnoticed. She'd gone far, far beyond him as a sorcerer and did far more with his old tomes than even he could. It was 1,500 years of toiling that she'd undertaken in an effort to grow powerful enough to go to Link's side. That wasn't to say that he was without his tricks, like his current test of astral projection, but her motivation was greater than his.
And while her role as the Sage of Spirit, and the humongous spirit possessed by her as such, lent an air of godlike strength to her sorcery, it still wasn't enough to reach wherever Link was. Still, he watched his former archenemy fight the hordes. Link didn't know how to quit and assess; he just met and surpassed whatever you threw at him. Usually. This time, however, even as he was destroying them like ants, something was different and perhaps even desperate, but not desperate to win … but desperate to survive. His eyes were different somehow, like they were clouded by indecision and confusion. Sure, they were glowing and weren't exactly mortal eyes, but for a man that still woke up screaming about battles millennia removed, Ganondorf could always read those eyes.
“This isn't his limit,” Link Sr. stated boldly, despite the consternated looks of his family members, but he did cast a spiteful glance to all parties suggesting that it might have been the limit.
“He can still tap his soul for a boost, but like I said before, he can't beat them all before it runs dry,” Hadrian said in opposition of his son's statement, with an irritating certainty.
His son laughed at him.
“What do you think he's been fighting on for all this time?” the former god laughed at his father's sincere confusion, before his own face deadpanned. “As much as I'd like to say that he's weakened some or downplay the realistic, the fact is this: If he's even half of what I saw in him the day that he killed me, then the boy's power wasn't even remotely challenged when they took his arm. Still, because he keeps thinking like you little people, he lost the arm, an eye, and has probably done everything from day one with his soul. I had hop— No, I figured that he'd realize it by now and stop playing around.”
“Then if this isn't his limit, what's happening to him?” Zelda asked of her grandfather, trying to keep as detached from the man in the orb as ever.
“Gee, tapping into the very foundation of who you are and using it as a weapon for who knows how long, I don't know, hurts like hell,” he offered his grandchild in reply, shrugging as if to say, “So, maybe it's the perception of pain. That's just a guess, though.” In all seriousness, he went on to say, “More than likely, he's run into a limit, but it's a limit of the mind.” Link Sr. sucked his teeth as he stared up at his son taking another brutal gut shot. “He's limited the scope of who he is to remain what he feels is comprehensible to you people while trying to fight as a god against gods. In simple speak: His mortal mind `slippy, slippy' from the information and stress overload.”
Nabooru, pushing her focus away from his condescension, pondered that statement for a moment, before posing a question: “Why doesn't he simply scale his mind up to take the pressure off?”
“Because,” her father-in-law began, though, pausing for a second. “If he did that, the man you keep watching this stupid screen for would cease to exist. Physically, the Hero of Time died the moment that he got his abilities back. Mentally, however, he's held on for far longer than I would've imagined—and now even to his own detriment. A mortal mind can't handle that type of stress—well, not for as long as he's managed—without breaking, `hero' or not. In other words, he may not realize that he needs to take his mind higher.” And, as Nabooru looked thoroughly amazed by this revelation, Link Sr. put the screws to her with one simple statement. “Or he could just be fine in the head and just too weak to get the job done.”
Charon's cleansing status on the former god: Still half complete.
Hadrian's face had been stern for a long while, even as his son toyed with the mortal woman's emotions, because one of the few things that were impossible that he'd known to be true was called into question by his son: A god could not bolster his soul for more than minutes, and that was under ideal, stress-free situations. His grandson was an inexperienced brat, not even a century versed in his abilities, and he'd fought thousands of the Originals for thousands of years with nothing but soul … and now, if his son's silly—though, often accurate—hypothesizing was to be believed, there was still raw mystical ability left, too? He would NOT believe that.
“I would've known that!” he argued out of the blue, but had no point beyond that one. “I mean, I … felt the soul thing in the fortress, realized it a little late, but I felt it.”
Link Sr. turned his dual nature from Nabooru back to his father without a misstep, saying, “Considering that he—and I mean the mortal monkey running the god's abilities—doesn't even understand the full limits of his powers, I doubt he was even aware that he was tapping his soul after the first time. The boy probably took the first boost in the bedroom to show off to you and started feeling better, thought his powers were returning, and went from there, never realizing that he'd tapped into the source of himself, never realizing that he had to unplug himself. Mumble all you want, but he took Victorious down in hours at the boards—and you know what that means.”
“No, what does that mean?” Nabooru asked impetuously, voice insinuating sarcasm as their stupid banter made it hard for her to wish death upon the massive orgy of violence befalling her husband. She grimaced as one monster swung Link like a stick into his comrade's fist, which saw him scream out in a pain which echoed through her soul.
“To do it in hours is to see as fluidly as Fate or close to it, I suspect, but it means that the boy is very, very, very, very aware, in mortal babble,” the former god said, noting that his spectators' faces told him that he'd cleared up nothing. “It means that the limited mortal mind that he's using isn't totally `aware' of what all the powers can do, not beyond `I control reality and can do this, this, and this.' I know he got the bullshit rundown according to my wife's siblings, but I don't think he knows them well enough or trusts himself enough to use them in a stressful situation.” It was somewhat clearer to them then, but the former deity shrugged, adding, “Hell, I'd still be willing to bet that not only does he not know how much power there really is within him, but if he let his mind be as it was intended to be, he probably knows everything about his powers and then some.”
“So, he was pretty much born knowing his limitations and so forth, but since he's thinking like a mortal, he has a subconscious that he's totally unaware of that houses all of this knowledge?” Nabooru asked, getting all of her ducks in order, albeit sarcastically.
“Yes, meat puppet, yes!” Link Sr. shouted to her surprise, banging his fist on the table as someone finally understood. “In his mind, there should be no secrets. But the fact that he's rode his soul this far says there are and that's danger—”
“You and your stupid theories,” Hadrian sighed in interjection, even as his mind examined the current situation and the attack on Link for more than surface information and came up with an aggravating amount of possibilities that suggested the boy was more than he seemed. “It's been more millennium than I even care to count, and you're still spouting this nonsense!”
Link Sr. laughed, but added: “Actually, they would be hypotheses since I've never tested them. Since you're acknowledging that I'm pretty much never proven wrong by calling them theories, I'll accept `You and your stupid facts' as a compliment.” His father's teeth grinded like old millstones. “Fate never played Victorious and his little chess game, if you recall. He just up and made the decree out of nowhere one day and insisted we all play, as though no one could possibly get by without knowing exactly where their intelligence stood. However, if we look at the situation critically and stop trying to take up for our little adoptive parents, we see this: Victorious is a weak combatant; he's a brain in a glass jar—harmless.
“However, when you look at us, you see that I was one of the most intelligent gods that ever walked the walk, and also one of the strongest. I was run down for some `spoooooky' reason. You were also one of the most intelligent and possibly the absolute strongest there ever was, and even you were rubbed out. Of course, I threw you into the vortex, but that's semantics. Point is that you were plotted against the same as me. I won't even mention Charon, as his appearance speaks for itself. And you're going to sit there and suggest—even think with a straight face—that we, as the most threatening things to the throne, were fucked by a mere coincidence? Can you not see this is a concerted effort to remove the smartest and strongest among us?
“Hell, look at what they've moved out against the boy! We all thought you were an oddity, a one-of-a-kind thing, but look at the ball! There are thousands of little `yous' out there, way more than the original lineup, which means they're breeding! All of them are lined up, not to take down Fate's little Heaven or all the gods, but to take out him—one supposedly `simple' fledgling? Something about him is even scarier than you were for this to come down on him but no one knows what that is, and apparently everyone's afraid to find out. So, if you think this is mere chance, then I've had smarter things than you fall out of my—AAAAAH!”
Senior folded against the wall like a wet sheet, knees flying into his face and chest, shattering both bones and internal organs—not to mention ruining his suit—from the force of the godly backhand. No one made a move to help him up, as they knew Hadrian's powers would heal the former god in time.
“I get it!” Hadrian roared, smashing his fist into the table and breaking an edge off into his lap, listening as the sinew reassembled in his son's body. “If he's so goddamned smart, why's he los—”
He never even saw the staff coming, but Nabooru had knocked him from his seat with a seeming ease and stood above him, fist crackling with her magical powers as she gripped the staff.
“He is not losing!” she screamed, looking down at him like he'd lost his mind, as her daughter and “nephew” exchanged a look of chagrin between themselves.
“And you said that I was spouting nonsensical theory?” Link Sr. mocked from his pool of blood on the floor, bones reassembling themselves, and skin stitching itself closed. “My OH, so stupid son somehow `accidentally' stumbled upon the idea to imbue her little weapon with enough possibilities to render you a cripple in its presence. So, you can't even take the thing away from her via godhood, which means if she elected to, she could beat you to death with it and your only form of attack would be to run away. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.” Link Sr. laughed in his deep voice, a sinister venom coursing throughout its entirety, even as fresh teeth grew back into his mouth.
As the light ran from his lip, Hadrian glared at her, forced to accept his smack in the mouth once again with no retort. His son did this shit just to get hit, which ultimately led him to say something that would cause the women to hit him. What's more, it was alarming how accurate Link had guarded her and the other woman: You couldn't turn the weapons into something else; you couldn't take them, touch them, dodge them, or move the women to one point in reality and the weapon to another. You couldn't even make them hand the things over via mind control or shut their minds off. Even if the weapons weren't physically present and you tried to attack them, it would become present and defend them from any attack. And if you attacked with mystical energy? Heh, it took two years for his leg to grow back in the Hadrian form after that one incident.
But where was Link hiding the supposed superior intellect and power now? Where was the guy who made the staff and sword that could kill a god? If the battle was so hard, why not opt out of his mortal thought process and transcend it? If his family was so important, why hold on to a person that—by far and away—wasn't even real, but a mere byproduct of mortal time served? Where was this intelligence that made an obvious appearance in the craftsmanship of the weapons?
Hadrian didn't know, but what he did know and see was that Link was slowing down. Link's speed had fallen into multiples of mere light speed, and his punches were knocking chunks off his enemy as opposed to decimating entire bodies now. It was like watching a mantis take on an anthill. It wins a few skirmishes, but sooner or later, the ants shear the creature's pincers, legs, and head before feasting upon it. Right now, as Hadrian scanned the faces of those around him, they told him enough: They knew it was only a matter of time before Link's pincers were cut off, his legs held tight, and his body destroyed. Even with that knowledge plain to see, the woman standing above him on the table didn't look like that.
Nabooru never looked like that. Days stretching to months, months to years, years to centuries, and centuries to millenniums and she genuinely believed that each month would be the end and Link would come home. Her faith in that outcome was so resolute that she'd taken Hadrian's challenge to only look in on the battle twice a month. Of course, back then, Link wasn't touched or made to feel pain. Right now, he was being hit at will, even as he dished out the majority of the pain. Nabooru dropped the staff and it disappeared, before she gave her full focus to the orb … despite standing on the table.
“Die!” Link appeared to scream, as his surface level thoughts were again transformed into audible sound through the orb as one of the smaller Originals went for his face, only to take a left hand into its mouth on through its body and out of its would-be ass. It was the first time that she or any of them had heard a word from him in 3,000 years..
The two halves flew past Link and hit the ground on either side of him, skidding to a stop, each flopping and flailing before growing still. The battle paused, as both sides turned to see the result. Was it dead? Was this one truly dead? Link gasped, gripping his chest as he fell to his knees in the infinite darkness. The ethereal light that he had come to be made out of? Gone. He appeared completely naked, as his clothes had burned away long ago during his seeming transformation from Hylian-like god into that glowing whatever it was.
“Don't you dare die!” he swore at his hands, his body, as it were.
Unfortunately, the fatigue extended further than that, though. He may not have known his powers that well, but his body was always a weapon. As a warrior, he knew that weapon intimately, and it was cracking from the mind to the feet.
“You are weak,” the collective voice of the Originals stated from their minds into the void. “We are strong.”
The five, fifteen-foot-tall Originals from Kakariko surrounded Link as he tried to push himself back up onto his feet. He'd knowingly burned his soul right down to the bottom, and didn't come up with even one kill, as now the halved monster faded away and reappeared whole. “Close,” Link whispered, forced to turn to his brain for answers, even as it spiraled further and further away from cohesive thought. “Put … put so much in those punches … no kills. C-couldn't even touch … in the beginning. Any bright ideas?” The creatures looked at him blankly, eyes emoting as much as their featureless faces. “You're from K … Kak … Kakarito? Kakariko Village … city? Or was it a town?”
“Get up, Hero!” Nabooru shouted, grabbing the orb as though that made a difference. “You promised!” She watched as the huge creatures extended their hands to him, repeating their mantra, and began to power up, even as Link kept rambling bits and pieces of nonsense. He really was losing his mind, his wife and children saw, speechless as to what to do.
“You are weak. We are strong,” they each said, before they all said in one unifying tone: “We live. You die.”
Everyone took a deep breath, children who'd run from their father's image and embraced it, too, looking on in complete helpless horror as his end rested in the glowing hands of these monsters. This wasn't fair! This was not fucking fa—
“Aaaah!” one of the creature's screamed, a mouth tearing into existence on its face, which looked like someone tearing a hole in soft taffy, as parts of the top were stuck to the bottom just below the eyes. The sheer magnitude of its roar caused the floating orb to vibrate and cast off its white hue in place of a fiery red one. “AAAAAH!” it wailed, as the others looked to their confused brethren with emotionless eyes. They looked down, but Link was gone, as was one of their comrade's legs. It was a feint … sort of.
Link stood with his legs far apart, obviously to keep standing beneath his fatigue, but he smiled as he seemed to be out of breath.
“Getting soft … on me, Ganondorf?” I huff, even in my mind, as the wizard's obviously gotten sloppy. “Didn't know a mask could get termites, huh, Majora?” Heh, him and his stupid games—take my damn masks, and for what? I can't even eat this thing!
What? No, I … can beat him. Just need a little more energy. Look, I'm trying. It's coming back to me now. From my feet, I feel the power come back to me a little bit, as I let the power transform me. I am not going too far! I've got this … just gotta ignore the fact that I want to vomit.
“I-I wonder can your little puppets s-survive this!”
Ugh, mind went off course again. I have to put an end to this fast, because the breaks are getting closer together. It's so hard to see him now … looks like there are five of him … tall, too. Concentrate, Link! There are five of them! THEM! THEM! THEM! Still, the leg has to be the key! I focus my energy into carving a sword almost my full height out of it. It was a huge gamble that these things could even be hurt, let alone dismembered, but it worked, right? They all dropped their guards and put the majority of their power into destroying me, which left their bodies weak enough that just physical strength ripped his leg off.
I charge while they stand there in disbelief over simple dismemberment, cutting through two of the smaller ones in a single stroke. I knick a large one, but I don't stop. I just push myself harder, faster, until they can't see me or at least I think they can't. The sword tugs with each impact, like a rider twitches with the impact of small bugs into his face on horse at full gallop. I can't stop, though. They fall by the thousand with no reformations that I can sense. I've got this! It may not be the big ones, but I've got—Ah! Whole body … on fire … it burns! I see the fist as my body quits listening to me and stops moving forward. Fuck me, I can't move! Move! Move! MO—
“That had to have hurt.” Link Sr. twisted his face up as his son's head was nearly taken off by one of the monster's giant fists. Still, his utterances didn't go noticed. The boy had flashed back to Ganondorf and Majora, a sure sign that his mind was further eroding. Still, the smaller ones that Link had struck down with the leg began to reform to the surprise of no one, even if they had all secretly hoped his tactic would've brought him a step closer to victory.
“Something's wrong with the little ones,” Nabooru noticed of the monsters, who, even standing after they'd regrouped their severed bodies, did not move to join the fight with their brethren. “Are they … dead?”
“Of course not,” Hadrian was first to say. “They can't be—”
“Look!” Nabooru interjected, a light, bubbly feeling tickling her stomach that just told her this was something good.
Even the larger Originals paused in lieu of the hesitation on their comrades' part. Those that Link had hit began falling over into the darkness like a flock of poisoned birds. Hadrian and Link Sr. sat in a genuinely stunned silence, being the only two in the room to have ever stood in Link's shoes. For the first time in the two gods' lives, these things had been made to … die. The creatures themselves didn't even know what it was that was happening amongst themselves, yet they seemed to understand it wasn't a positive turn of events. They'd never lost one of their own, let alone the fourth of them that Link had killed. Their listless shuffling, a sign of their barely controlled rage also came to a unified halt, as they took in the supposed weak one with a new caution, some going so far as to skulk away from him, even as he was sprawled on the ground from the kick.
“He … killed them,” Hadrian whispered, watching the ultimate unsaid truth be proven completely false by a half demented pauper of a god.
“Nowhere near his limits,” Link Sr. whispered to his doubters, beginning to laugh as his greatest foils actually died. “Attack them, boy! Get up and attack!” he screamed at the orb, still waiting for his spine to fully heal.
“Get behind the tree!” Link shouted as he stood up and dived onto the ground, inching up and sitting as though his back was against a tree. “Inventory check,” whispered the hero, cautiously peeking around a non-existent tree trunk. “I've got two bombs, a little blue potion, no arrows, and a punctured lung. You three witches can never make this shit easy, huh?” he said with a sigh, looking up at the “sky” his family presumed.
Link Sr. sighed and cracked his knuckles, saying, “Great time to focus on the imaginary.”
The large ones all howled in unison in seeming anguish to the loss of life, causing the orb to crack from the outpouring of raw, animalistic energy, which signaled the smaller ones to swarm. Everyone watched as Link, exhausted as he was, took a fist that was no less than two feet wide from knuckle to knuckle in the chest, a fist that went through his “cover,” much to Link's surprise. These “simpletons” felt remorse and desired revenge, as illustrated by the gang-like attack on the one who'd killed their fellow Originals. One of the taller ones hovered above the madness as the other four disappeared again, and rubbed his arm where the sword cobbled from his companion's leg had essentially scratched him earlier, watching as Link bucked and snapped here and there under the strength of thousands of flailing arms and feet almost fighting each other to get their piece of him.
It was true enough that the smaller ones that took direct blows died. But the big guys? Well, if that mild irritation was any indication, the sword stopped there. Link pushed himself to fight back, but it was of little gain. Despite the cluster, his sword couldn't land a grazing blow on any of them. Still, in typical fashion, he didn't give up and burst skyward toward the hovering giant and took himself right to the edge of oblivion to lash out at the creature. Using its forearms as shields, Link's strikes were about as effective as cutting stone with a stick. The moment that Link's already drained stamina dipped, the giant monster struck, its raw power sending Link crashing back into the seething, writhing mass of enraged gods. He was like a gimpy lamb among a pack of wolfos, everyone realized.
Nabooru's mouth fell open as she collapsed from the table into her chair in realization: This was hopeless. Fighting them was hopeless.
“No,” she whispered, watching her husband crawl from beneath the onslaught, only to be dragged kicking and now screaming back into the madness. The glow had left him again, but that was but a minor detail at this point.
The creature leisurely floated down from above and the horde reluctantly stopped its assault. He stood patiently poised, watching the tiny god stagger around, skin blinking on and off like a dying firefly. Link got his legs stable and looked at the monster in its eyes, panting like a wounded beast, but smiled. It incensed the creature who sprouted a mouth to release a momentary roar and charged, savagely beating Link until his family—in all of its estranged forms—could no longer bear to watch.
It took less than thirty full seconds to knock Link back into his old Hylian-like god form, Nabooru found. And as the hits grew louder, she was forced to look on out of duty. He was spent, everyone could clearly see, and looked frail somehow; his black arm and blue, mortal-like eye looked like signs that said little more than weakness at this point. The only thing that remained a glowing, godlike symbol on him was the right eye—and even that was dimming.
Still, he wouldn't drop the sword that was forged out of that thing's leg. And the one who'd lost his limb—and they only knew it was him because the leg was growing back before their eyes—reappeared after his friend seemed to grow bored of the beating and grabbed Link's right leg and simply smashed him into the ground like a wet sheet. For a longtime, Link's family sat there and listened to his body hit the ground over and over again. He didn't scream again or let go of the sword, and, even if no one said it, they all wondered if it was because he was just that dead that he no longer could feel pain. The creature seemed to go berserk with this lack of response, upping the ante and grabbing Link's other leg, arching back until the limp god touched the ground behind him, and then slamming him with a force that cracked the orb even further—a splintering crack from top to bottom.
“Can't … die … here,” Link finally coughed out through the orb, dropping the sword all in the same moment. “I will not die here!” he hissed, as the glow from his right eye ebbed out and his body went completely still.
“Hadrian, get him out of there!” Nabooru shouted, tears of sadness falling from her eyes for the first time in more years than she'd even cared to remember. “I can't watch this anymore! Bring him back!” Looking at Link, she watched cracks appear along his entire body, like a mirror shattering in slow motion or a lake bed drying beneath a hot sun with its mud cracking up. Worse still, he began to bleed from those cracks—not the weird light possessed of his kind, but the blood of a mortal. This wasn't a ruse or feint. This was the Triforce part two. This was him being cooked in front of her again. This was her husband's day to die.
Hadrian snapped out of his shock of seeing them die, finally getting off the floor and back onto his seat, but quickly composed himself enough to say, “I can't. If I get him now, we all risk exposure.”
Before she could even get the threat in her mouth, Link Sr. spoke from his pile of body on the floor by the wall: “He can't die there? What the hell is the boy talking about?”
“He's obviously afraid,” said Hadrian, somehow drawing an even more hateful gaze from Nabooru's golden eyes, despite a twinge of concern and understanding gracing his voice. “Faced with his—”
“Shut up,” Link Sr. muttered, as his spine finally healed and allowed him to stand. He limped toward the table on partially healed legs, and asked, “Since when has he given a shit about the location of his death?”
No one replied, which only served to irk the former deity.
“He promised that he'd be back,” Zelda eventually said, her mind easily reaching back into the past to retrieve that seemingly trivial piece of information, despite the new nightmares that this was sure to bring her. “Maybe that's what he's talking about.”
Link Sr. put his chair in its proper place and flopped down on it. Unreal, he thought angrily, shaking his head in utter amazement of their sheer fucking stupidity. “And whose bright idea was it to make him promise something that stupid?” the former god asked, rolling his eyes as he was met with more empty stares and blank expressions. “So, let's see if I've got this right: Our best hope for survival has lost one of his greatest weapons to appease you … people?” Again, everyone sat there as though he was speaking in riddles, which only infuriated him.
“What are you talking about?” Junior eventually asked, growing somewhat disenfranchised with the coded speak. “We didn't tell him to give up anything to go out there. Hell, as far as I know, he stopped holding back the minute that he stepped out of the bubble to take them on. You said that yourself.”
The ex-deity rolled his black eyes, before slowly pinching the bridge of his nose and speaking. “How is it that I know more about him having spent a few moments inside his head than you people have managed to gather in years? His strength isn't in merely trying to survive a battle. His strength lies in his ability to place total desire for victory above even his own well being. Right now, he's just trying to survive the impossible.”
“So … since he was focused on staying alive, most of his power was channeled into that rather than his attacks?” Nabooru asked a bit sheepishly.
“Ding! Ding! Ding! Give the meat puppet her prize! So, not only is he risking his life needlessly by tapping his soul, now he's wasted most of that effort in an attempt to just survive! Whoo, you fucking mortals!” Link Sr. shouted, clapping all the while, but obviously irritated to the nth degree. “Why didn't I notice this shit sooner?” he asked himself. “Oh, yeah—it's this stupid hunk of meat in my head and its slow reaction time!”
Link gagged on the orb and the room went silent again, a sign of pain, but also of life. The creature had begun to choke him with its bare hands, a primal, if not effective means of ending everything. And before the sarcastic banter could escape his lips, Link Sr. felt the world beneath his feet tremble. It was a small tremor at first, but as the creature applied more pressure to Link's throat, the corresponding damage suddenly reflected upon the world. Hadrian and his son shared an understood glance from the corners of their eyes, Nabooru saw, noting it reflected something ominous.
“What's wrong?” Junior asked in all seriousness, having caught the glance as well. “This is it, isn't it? They're killing him, aren't they?”
His grandfather didn't reply at first, but the confident twinkle in his eye, along with his anger, had disappeared. Even if he never voiced it, the former god always had that air about him that his son would pull through in the end. Right now, though, there was nothing more than a sort of grim realization. Still, the wheels were turning, but where the vehicle was headed no one knew.
“They aren't killing him,” the ex-god said at long last. “In a mortal mind, being choked like that leads to death. To a god, it's just hands on a neck. The boy doesn't realize that, for one, there's no air there to breathe unless he makes it so. Second, he doesn't realize or recall that he doesn't need air to survive, thus being deprived of it can't kill him.” He shook his head and looked a bit lost, oddly enough. He then added: “He's killing himself. His mind's in full-on mortal mode, which is why he's bleeding the red stuff. He's created blood to bleed and lungs to be deprived of air. Despite that, he's still the beginning and ending of this place. And, like all hilarious things in this situation, this dimension is tied to him. So, if he dies, which the tremors are suggesting that he's doing, it dies.”
While the two siblings looked a little lost for words, Nabooru began to formulate a plan to win, even if self-pity was trying to cloud her thoughts.
“If his desire for victory above his own death was one of his greatest strengths,” began Nabooru, who was drying her eyes and looking for a silver lining, and completely overlooking the “killing himself” part, “what are the others?”
Everyone looked at the former god, whether it was for more speculation or for a genuine piece of insight, because his was the voice of power right now.
“Protecting his family is one. Vengeance is the other,” the ex-deity said with a sigh. “His life is inconsequential to yours, which is why he's holding on.” Link Sr. laughed, but it was hollow, perhaps even pained. “As long as a part of him still knows that there's a family for him to protect, he'll stay alive for the beating, because as long as he's being beaten, you're not being killed.” An alarm went off on the floor above them, as the tremors intensified. “Unfortunately, as the alarm suggests, this is the breaking point. While I'm confident that if he was in full control of his mind, he could last forever under whatever they throw at him, at current …”
“His mind's slipping, though,” Zelda added in an almost whispered voice onto the trailed statement, which was approved with a nod.
“Yes, so whenever he loses sight of you all again, his strength is going to dip. And when his strength dips … that's it,” Link Sr. said quietly.
Again, it came full circle to them. How could they get word to him to put his mind back on track? How could they change this? The solution was easy and came from an unlikely source.
“What if he thinks we're already dead?” Junior asked of the silent room, ignoring the falling sediment from the ceiling as the dimension at large—the air itself even taking on a sort of trembling quality—was hit with a continuous series of tremors in wake of its god's “dying.” Everyone snapped their attention to the General, but his face revealed no qualms or miscues. He had said what they thought he did. “If there's no one left to protect, do you think his mind would focus on revenge?”
“This is insane!” Zelda shouted, standing up abruptly. “You're talking about him like he's some kind of machine with a loose screw or bad program!”
Junior looked at his big sister and, for probably the first time, stood up to her and said: “No, this whole damn world is madness! He's been getting beat on for 3,000 years in our time, who knows what the time difference is on his end? Has it been half as long? Twice? Ten times? You're so quick to jump in front of a bullet or a missile for a damn rare chicken or some shitty-assed orphans, but Dad needs us right now and you're still too fucking selfish to think about anyone but yourself! Oh, but that's right, you can't take a risk unless it's, you know, not risky.”
Zelda had no words, as her fire was effectively squashed beneath the haze of her “little” brother's stare.
“I see you possess the family stones,” Link Sr. remarked thoughtfully, smirking at the twinkling of rage that was transmitted from his grandson. “The boy is very much a vengeance type, so an illusion of your deaths may force his mind to cement around the idea of vengeance long enough to kill the other ones. Conversely, however, he could very well snap and just let himself cease to be. Either way, this all would end—no cars, houses, money, or anything else. Damn shame, really. I just got this new shipment of lime colored—” he paused as everyone looked at him— “What?”
Again, Charon's cleansing: Half done.
“And I suppose this is where you want me to risk my family's well being on this piece-of-shit idea?” Hadrian retorted to the eyes that silently befell him, ignoring his son's idiocy for a moment.
“He is your family!” Nabooru screamed, voice going shrill in face of more callousness. The stress that she usually hid so well seemed to manifest on her face in the moment, and she went with it. “You keep talking about Malon and Talon, but look at the fucking orb! That's your—whatever it is you emotionless fucks call it—flesh and blood up there! So what does Ingo tell Malon when I tell her that one of her best friends is dead?”
“Ha! Link hasn't been a `friend' to her or anyone else since he married you!” the deity countered to which Nabooru laughed dryly.
“Really? Maybe so,” she said in seeming consideration, before switching the cannons back on him. “But does it flow the same way, though? Even if Link isn't her friend, is she not his?” Hadrian's immediate response paused between his mind and mouth, and Nabooru put the screws to him. Hard. “No, you know she isn't like that. You know she'd sooner think that marrying YOU ran him away and twisted the friendship. Did you know that she calls to see if I've heard anything about how he's doing?” Again, Hadrian was made helpless to the Gerudo heading the table. “I've respected the duality of your existence here for awhile now, but I'm telling you right now that I'll break that fragile woman's mind and expose you as the piece of shit that you are. The kids, the other wife, the godhood, and the absolute cowardice that you'd let Link—your own grandson—go this alone with even a smidge of ability to help him—I'll expose every single piece of it.”
“You dare threaten me, mortal?” Hadrian asked in pure rhetorical disbelief, falling into god mode without hesitation, but seriously amazed by the audacity of this woman.
“Why not? It's not like you'll kill me or anything, right?” Nabooru asked, folding her hands in front of her face and glaring at him as he'd done to her earlier. Everyone looked at Hadrian, but that was it. Even godhood didn't seem to conquer a woman that was in love. “Now, you'll open a window for me to get to that battlefield and close it behind me if you wish, because I honestly can't care anymore.”
“Owned by a mortal, sad,” Link Sr. chuckled beneath his breath. “Well, now that my father is finished getting his shit wrecked by the mortal, we need family annihilation here, folks. We need him to hit that bottom that I took him to, because that's where his power resides.” He looked sternly at the faces surrounding him and said: “This is a potential suicide run. If the old man here can't get your souls before destruction, it's oblivion. There's no cleansing with Charon and recycling. You just void your right to exist if this fails.”
“I can't help but notice there's a lot of `you' speckled throughout that pep talk,” Zelda said with an obvious fire. “Where are `you' going to be?”
Link Sr. laughed, but said in calm voice, “Here, because I forfeited my part in this family when I stuck the sword through your partially formed head.” With that being said, the Princess of the Gerudo was left silent … and pawing at her head for scarring. As the world continued to vibrate and the monster continued to bear down on Link's throat, the intercom buzzed like an annoying gnat, but the supposed shadow government officials sat there and came to an agreement. Nabooru hit the intercom and shushed its buzzing.
“Sila, call the sisters on the phone and tell them the king's coming home,” she calmly instructed her secretary before switching the intercom off.