Legend Of Zelda Fan Fiction ❯ The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 ❯ Comes to Light Pt. 13: Origin of the Shadow: Secret of the Power ( Chapter 58 )

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

Thanks for letting me know that you're still out there reading and all the hits on my story aren't Googlebots.
Chapter Fifty-eight
As Nabooru came near the orb, she watched the creature raise its right hand to the smaller Originals—still standing on the big one's arm—and, without so much as a whisper, the creatures that encircled them all slammed against one another and constricted in an instant. Screaming, they were ripped apart and sucked into the palm of what she still hoped to be Link's hand. It was a tactic that Hadrian and his son knew far too well.
“This is the best idea that he can come up with?” Link Sr. sighed. He shook his head as he watched the tell-tale signs begin with a jerk or two of his son's fist. “Now, watch—they're going to blow his … fingers … off.”
The former god's sentence was interrupted by two very loud crunches. The twitching in the boy's hand stopped entirely with the sound of grinding, and, if that weren't enough, black sand began to pour from between his fingers. Just like that—the other three-fourths of them—all 150,000 were … gone.
“Impossible…” Fate whispered to himself, despite his abhorrence of the word, as his faint connection to all of the creatures was simultaneously severed. His hand trembled, and Hadrian noticed, placing his hand on his father's shoulder. Fate didn't acknowledge the touch, but spiraled deeper into his mind. “I still have moves left,” he told himself, but, even for one of his mental faculties, this sight was … disturbing. They'd been his most reliable (and most dangerous) playthings for a long, long while, and now this simpleton had not only survived the onslaught, but also destroyed them as if they were nothing.
Link or the near facsimile thereof looked at his one time pursuer, the larger more feral Original, as the sand dribbling from his fist began to slow, and uttered two words: “Time's up.”
The orb began to vibrate and pulse violently with a cerulean light and in one burst of released energy, the orb shattered into dust. There were still four other large ones that they all knew of, though, so the happiness was less than evident. The family couldn't allow themselves to become prematurely excited, not after everything that had happened. If the smaller ones were that troublesome, the larger ones had to be at least a hundred times worse. And, as Nabooru fought the joy, she noticed still the Goddesses. They had yet to rise from the floor or acknowledge this seemingly good news with anything more than dread.
What was it that had them so terrified?
“This is good, right?” Zelda asked, apprehensively looking to her mother for confirmation, despite noticing the same striking reaction from the Goddesses. “Dad's finally got over the hill, so this is almost over, right?”
“No,” Sepaaru whispered, shaking her head slowly, as the chill still hadn't faded from her sword. “I don't feel him anymore. You—” she shouted, turning towards Fate, Hadrian, and the silently struggling Charon— “you're doing this to play with our heads!” She divided her sword, spinning each in preparation to let flow the blood of gods, but stopped as an ear-piercing howl caught her attention by nearly rupturing her eardrums.
As far beneath the earth as they were, topside the magnitude of the scream had to be enough to shatter buildings, and she was right. Above ground, the world that New Hyrule ran was wracked with explosions, earthquakes, and weather systems gone out of control. Wildlife ran amuck, but worse than that, dragons the size of mountains crashed into bustling metropolises in a confused state of vertigo from the sonic pollution, killing thousands of panicked people. The bridges connecting New Hyrule to the mainland crumbled into the sea, taking with them the unfortunate people attempting to reach loved ones on or off the island. Those not blessed with the immortality of the outsiders lay dead or dying in the streets having been shredded by tons of falling glass and debris from the buildings.
And, from the heavens, a rocky being—a primitive god—scorched his way across time, space, and dimensional barriers—the very last of his kind—only to crash not like the final piece in a sick puzzle of death that an object of his velocity should, but like an arrow shot through the surface of a still pond. He hit what was left of the roof of the New Hyrule Ministry Building—the former Gerudo Fortress—and bore straight down to the orb room, hitting the table in the midst of Link's spectators as though he'd only fallen a mere ten feet. This creature was the source of the scream.
“Oh, what the fuck! What the fuck!” Link Sr. screamed. He moved in front of his stunned wife, and shouted, “They found us!”
As everyone prepared to panic, Nabooru interjected with the voice of reason. “No, he's hurt,” she whispered, watching the smoke rise from the creature's body. Even if he didn't look it, the monster had been burned and beaten … severely. Everyone lurched back as chunks of the primitive being fell off its sides, exposing a dimming light pulsating underneath. “It's … dying.”
“This cannot happen!” Fate roared, eyes illuminating the room to a painful level. “This can—”
He froze mid-sentence, eyes dimming as an icy breath whispered right in his ear, “Sssh—it's almost over.”
This creature had caused the first creature to scream.
Fate's eyes slowly looked to his left and there it was in person: that faint nothing with the glowing red eyes. No nose, no ears, no mouth—just a shadowy outline of Link. It looked like a smaller version of the monster on the table, everyone was quick to notice, but that was of little importance now. Hadrian reacted first, frightened that whatever this thing was had gotten that close to them without him sensing it, but in the time Hadrian took to turn toward the “Sssh,” the thing was at the table with the giant.
Again, there was no disturbance in the fabric of reality to indicate a warp or even movement. For the demigod children, this absence of feeling was no longer scary, but pleasantly soothing, yet even they were hesitant to speak. For gods of Fate and Hadrian's standing, this was an affront to their egos, because nothing involving Link should have been outside of their realms of comprehension. The creature turned back toward the seething gods, and Hadrian's mouth fell partially open. Tucked under that … thing's arm was a man roughly five-ten in height, blonde, and in coveralls.
“That's not …” Hadrian wanted to say possible, but it obviously was. It was Ingo. It was his mortal form. Sure, a duplicate could be created, but this was no duplication. It took less time to feel than it did to form his two-thirds of a sentence: that thing had taken a chunk of his soul effortlessly. “What do you think you're doing?”
“Saving the good part,” the shadow hissed in a voice that sounded like a whisper—a raspy, shouted whisper. “You said that he wasn't a friend since he married her,” it elaborated, revealing that it had been aware of what was happening in that place, even if Link wasn't. He gently placed the farmer down as he groaned back to consciousness. “Once upon a time, her friendship would've bought you a pass for this type of betrayal. Unfortunately,” its eyes burned brighter and Hadrian felt the same unmistakable anxiety that he felt when Link first hit him, “he's not as lenient anymore.”
There was no mistaking it: This thing intended to fight him for its arcane definition of betrayal.
“We don't have to do … this …?” Hadrian held his fists out and watched as they crumbled like a dry sand castle.
“I'm not doing anything,” the creature said with a hint of amusement in its voice.
“Father?” Hadrian asked. Fear swam through his voice as he continued to go to granular pieces despite his strongest efforts to go against the … well … grain. “Help me!” The god reached for Fate, slinging his sandy being everywhere, as the ancient god watched helplessly fascinated by this display of power. Hadrian trudged towards the shadow, his face beginning to pour away like the rest of his body. His body momentarily stopped as Hadrian willed it so with every ounce of himself that he could summon, but the creature chuckled and the process resumed unfettered. “STOP THIS MADNaaaaahhssss…” he shouted, voice turning into little more than the sound of pouring sand. As he reached for the creature's throat, Hadrian disintegrated into a pile of sand at the monster's feet.
“That's one down,” it remarked, though, intently staring at Fate.
Another creature that supposedly couldn't be killed, effortlessly wiped from the board, Link Sr. thought, fear running through his heart this time. The thing made it too easy. Far, far too easy. He and his wife shared a look, but it asked the same question: Just what the fuck had they birthed?
“What … what's going on?” Ingo asked, holding his head as he finally came to. He looked into the face of the shadow utterly confused as a fraction of the green sunlight above them shined through and lightened the creature slightly, giving it an almost smoke-like appearance. The outline was familiar, if not anciently so. “Link, is that you?”
The creature's eyes settled to a less threatening red glow, but he spoke to the farmer using Link's voice and, obviously, controlled the man's mind.
“Find Malon, tell her everything is fine.”
“Find … Malon … everything … fine,” Ingo repeated like a dazzled drone, before the creature warped him from the building.
And, just like that, Fate and Charon were the last men standing. Even for a being of Fate's stature, this situation was moving entirely too fast for his liking. His moves were usually thought out so far in advance that all he had to do was watch them unfurl. Now, schemes were breaking down, contingency plans were failures before they could even be deployed, and despite all of Fate's skillful moves and machinations, there were two very real facts that this thing had overruled: one, the Original creations were indestructible and, two, so was Hadrian.
“This is not happening,” he wished to scream out, wished to will into existence, but it was happening.
As the shadowy sword appeared in the creature's right hand and the old Hylian Shield in its left, Fate was hard pressed to do anything. Obviously, the speed that this had transpired in was all intentional and a ploy to throw him off his game. The creature charged and Fate thought of the chronosphere. Still, as fast the monster came, he knew he didn't have time to tap the chronosphere to its full potential. He needed time and so it was odd to watch one such as him—even though it was he who was doing the watching—rely on luck.
“Daddy?” Zelda asked, stopping the creature in its tracks.
It looked at the young woman and its eyes narrowed, but it replied, “I'm more of a … sibling.”
As everyone gasped, Fate smiled internally. This was the distraction that he needed! The god quickly threw on the façade of all-knowing overlord and slowly began to absorb his most ancient artifact: the chronosphere.
“Before we do battle, don't you think you owe them some explanation as to who or what you are?” he asked of the monster, finessing the creature and, hopefully, the simpleton within.
“We ourselves have no name, but your kind calls us Nocturous Demos,” the creature replied.
“And that is what?” Sepaaru asked, visibly irked by the thought of unknown children.
“Shadow Demons,” Nabooru said on its behalf, obviously confused as to how this could be possible.
And, as if it could get any better, the creature turned completely away from Fate, lowered its weapon, and inquired further.
“You know of us?” it asked, a genuine surprise audible within its dark voice.
“Yes,” the Queen of the Gerudo replied. She went on to say: “According to the tomes, you are considered low-level, incorporeal entities, often used in summon-specific possession spells that bind you all quite painfully to a host. From there, you are said to feed on specific attributes—memories, emotions, souls, and/or thoughts—of your chosen victim until they … die … to give … yourselves physical form!” And, just like that, Nabooru snapped out of her obvious appreciation for the mystical arts and screamed, “You ate my husband!”
“Don't be silly, woman,” Link Sr. added, unwittingly aiding Fate by keeping the conversation going while he summoned his ace. “They can't devour a god's soul or anything else for that matter.”
“Yet I somehow came to possess one, right … ladies?” the creature asked of the Goddesses.
“No, b-but t-they can possess children w-who were supposed to be gods,” Nayru added of her own accord, though blatantly shaken as so many years of secrets were about to come to light.
The creature laughed.
“How could that happen?” Sepaaru asked, grinding her teeth as she tried to understand.
“How else? Our father,” the demon replied, sounding as though this should be common knowledge to her of all people. “I'll let you in on something that even Link didn't realize: The one called Ganondorf saw the children peering in through the window at him as he kneeled before his king, and decided to play a game. He summoned me from the darkness and allowed me to bind with him until the time was right.” The creature hummed not unlike a man smelling a delicious stew after working in the fields. “His rage, his hatred, his soul—they were all so delicious! He promised me a body, though, said there was a younger, fresher one all lined up for me. I just had to wait for the right time, and once he'd placed me inside of the girl, all I had to do was destroy the boy while he was off guard, then take their hunks of that Triforce thing and I could keep the girl's body. The day came, of course, and I still remember the smell of the rain. Long story short: She got away with this woman on a horse and I ended up with Link.”
The former Queen of Hyrule shook her head and whispered, “No …”
“What is it?” Junior asked, watching her back away from the situation. “What's wrong?”
“Ganondorf … this … this was supposed to be for me!” she screamed, mind traveling back thousands of years into the once hidden memories that Fate had exposed. She recalled not only the day that Impa rescued her from a cackling Ganondorf and escaped Castle Town on horseback, but also the day that she met Link for the very first time and showed him Ganondorf. Zelda jolted back to reality remembering the sound of Link screaming in the rain as some untold horror befell him. The former Queen of Hyrule had always thought everything had worked out since he got the ocarina from the moat and all, but this … she never even imagined Ganondorf's plans ran this deep, and now her best friend—her first love—was devoured by a fucking demon meant to consume her. “Nabooru … I'm sorry. I … I never knew!”
Nabooru looked dazed beyond all reason and Fate smiled outwardly. They were giving him ample time and the signs all said this wasn't over yet. He might as well have been invisible. This was so painfully perfect that it took every bit of effort that remained within him not to laugh.
“Yes, yes, I recognize you,” the demon said in its haunting caliber, sniffing the air, though he had no nose. “You're the girl. The one from Hyrule! I owe you an extreme debt of grati—”
“Fuck you!” she shouted, which only caused the creature to turn its head in surprise. “Bring Link back and we'll call it fair.”
“Can't,” he said nonchalantly, “he's putting his soul back together.”
“It would take him millions of years at the very least to unwind the bits and pieces from all those dimensional linings and millions more to put the pieces into the proper order,” Fate said without thinking, a momentary lapse in concentration that drew the monster's ire back to him.
“It sure would,” the creature said, though, his tone suggested the exact opposite of his words. Surprisingly, it turned away from the god and continued to be indulged by people who knew of his kind. “While he always thought that bolt Ganondorf hit him with was meant to kill instantly, it actually was his means of attaching me to him. It's one of those common traits between them: Why take the quick kill when the slow one is so satisfying?” The creature laughed in a slow, throaty way, adding, “I probably shouldn't have told you all that before I told him, but something tells me he's got an ear out. Anyway,” he shrugged, “it's been so long since I've spoken with anyone else. Don't get me wrong, Link's excellent company, but variety never hurts. And, let me tell you, existing in a place where only scents indicate the present makes life difficult.”
The confusion on their faces spoke volumes. Nabooru, for all of her twisted emotions, drug her voice out to ask one question: “Link knows you exist?”
“Of course, can't have a father without a mother,” he said immediately, though laughing at the thought of what Link's response to that designation might be. “Doesn't even feel like it's been that long, but we've been together since his first tour through time. I wouldn't say the atmosphere was always … pleasant, but he's known about me from day one—even if he didn't know how Ganondorf got me into him.” The creature laughed, and seemed to reminisce, saying, “I still remember the first time we fought at the Water Temple.”
Junior asked the obvious question: “What the fuck? I thought he had to die for you to exist in physical form.”
The demon laughed again, but answered the question: “There's a chamber within the temple that consists of enchanted water that forces `evil' out of all who step foot in it. In there, I got a form similar to this one, but the battle didn't go the way that I intended. Still, you're wondering why I didn't get killed, I imagine.”
“Pretty much,” the general said, folding his massive arms across his chest. “More than that, you parasitic fuck, what would make him not kill you? He had to feel you eating him up until that point.”
The creature's eyes scrunched into finer slits and he replied: “Well, asshole, he was a dumb kid when we first joined up, so no chance of ousting me then. After the nap, thanks to the rainbow coalition over there, he was too bent to care. Plus, he's never been big on spells, so even if he wasn't out of his fucking mind, it would have been impossible.”
“What does that mean—`too bent to care'?” Esmerelda interjected by asking her sisters, who all looked to the floor. “Answer me!”
“We … we thought he was too soft to properly defend us,” Din responded with her eyes cast downward. “We felt that he needed more instincts—even with his eventual rise to power—if he was to stand a chance against his father.”
Farore continued, “So, we thought it would be better if, while he was sleeping in the Sacred Realm, we sent his mind through the scenarios awaiting him a few times … as we envisioned them.”
“And how many is a few?” Link's mother asked, her green eyes already glowing as the anger in her gut rose.
“About … 3,500 times give or take a few … hundred,” Nayru said, bracing for a punch despite outranking her sister on the power scale. “Each year that he slept in the Sacred Realm …”
“… And in each timeline,” Din added, as everyone stared in disgusted amazement at them. “We wanted him to be sharp, but … we messed up. We thought tucking the memories and experiences away in his subconscious until he had the proper facilities to handle them would leave him with the instincts to draw upon in a time of crisis, but it was … too much information for him, even buried in his subconscious.”
“And that means what?” Esmerelda asked between clenched teeth, trembling with a fury that threatened to rip her apart.
“He was slightly … insane after he awoke the first time,” Farore said with the same sheepishness as before. “He'd ride back and forth through the time stream and spend whole days just slaughtering the Stalchildren in Hyrule Field or assaulting people and animals in Kakariko Village. Near the latter stages of his journey—the Fire Temple in particular—he began to throw himself into pits on a whim, believing that the flame was somehow healing him.”
“And why would he think that he was healed thanks to the fire?” Nabooru asked before Esmerelda, who, for all intents and purposes, looked fit to explode.
“We couldn't allow him to die,” Nayru stated on the verge of condescension, looking up for a moment before ducking her head down once more. “He went into Death Mountain Crater as a kid and … burned to death. Before his soul departed, we resurrected him and removed all of his injuries. So, when he came to a point where lava or fire blocked his passage, he went headlong into it, thinking that it wouldn't harm but strengthen him instead. By the time that he fought Ganondorf the first time, we realized it was a mistake to try and speed up his growth as a warrior.”
Din, as was the way, continued where her sister left off: “We attempted to erase those memories, but … something in his subconscious held onto them against our will. The risk of destroying his mind became too great to continue on that path, so … we kind of built a `wall' around his subconscious mind and rewrote his thoughts, his experiences, and … his personality. With the wall and the `door' in place, we could still load him with experience, but now we controlled how much of it came out. So … we did that. The person we know now is pretty much the same person that he would've been without the mild tinkering.”
“He went through that nap four times, though,” Nabooru muttered. Her mouth fell open slightly as the math added up in her head. “That's twenty-eight years of sleep … 3,500 times each year …” her voice trailed into nothing. “You threw him through that … whatever it was98,000 times!” Nabooru screamed at the Goddesses, as the runes on her skin illuminated an almost painful shade of red, and her daughter sucked in a breath that sounded as if it occurred during a throe. “That's not mild tinkering!”
“There's more,” Farore added stoically, causing an audible fit of cursing to befall her and her siblings. “Despite the filtering mechanism the `door' served as, he was and still is prone to fits of extreme anger, though, we've managed to rein in the number of outbreaks. To compensate for the imbalance, we sort of spread the force of his rage across all of his emotional pathways—his ability to love, mainly, figuring that would act as a counterweight.”
“Gods don't have a subconscious, though,” Nabooru stated as she continued to ask herself why these things did what they did, which saw all three of the Goddesses look at her, and then the floor. She knew what was up before they even said it, but Nabooru persisted just to have them admit it all. “When he got his powers, why didn't this ever come up?”
Nayru felt the heat of her sister's eyes bearing down on her and responded with an almost inaudible whisper: “If you want to find a structural weak point …”
“Ask the designers of the infrastructure,” Sepaaru concluded solemnly, shaking her head with one of those smiles people wear when they want to scream as the Goddesses nodded in unison.
“Since we essentially built his mind, we knew how to deceive and, to a lesser extent, control it,” Farore continued, the first sound of regret coming through in her voice. “Through his emotions, we left ourselves a way to control him if it ever came down to it, and we exercised that control to keep this secret hidden.”
“We're all out to placate our emotions, but since his are so much stronger, the pull is that much greater with him. Therefore, if he's always trying to appease an emotion, there's no time to look for internal sabotage,” Din added.
“And since he was so insistent on remaining mortal-like in mind, there was no way that he could mentally resist the pull of the emotions of a god of his stature. Even at his emotional lowest as a god, he still had to fight his emotions to remain neutral, so even then our door—and our wall—remained hidden,” Nayru concluded.
Fate had to give those three their credit: They'd schemed into an amazing position. If he'd paid them any real attention, he could've discerned this all and had exquisite fun with Link. The time for games was over, though, because the hypothetical threat was now a legit one. If they were this worried, it must've meant their control was lost, which meant that he was still going to have to defend himself.
“You said that he found the door earlier,” Sepaaru began, voice reflecting her anger with the three, “does that mean the Link that we knew is gone? Never mind the time that he's been away, this is damn near lifelong deception! You let him go out there with that much of who he is walled up in some theoretical box, knowing the danger that shit would cause if he found out!”
The Goddesses, out of habit, stared up at the woman as though she spoke out of turn, but that raspy laugh brought the god right out of the Goddesses, as they turned to face the monster.
“That's why they're shitting little god pellets,” the shadow demon replied on behalf of the sisters, eyes slanting in a way that suggested he'd be smiling if he had lips or a face. “It's because they don't know. They could only deceive him so long as he didn't know they were there. Now that he does know—and, believe me, he does—it's all a toss up.” The anger of the crowd turned towards him and he elaborated, much to the delight of Fate, who was continuing to devour the chronosphere. “As I was saying earlier, our first fight was a hoot, but he started in with the damn fire bubble and I lost because I couldn't use magic. I could, however, use his madness against him. So, I cut a deal: I'd serve him if he didn't kill me. He agreed and back to the feeding I went. I knew or at least thought that sooner or later, he'd die from it and I'd be powerful enough to take control.”
“Ignoring these three … for a moment, how does that explain how or why you have endured through the other three timelines?” Nabooru asked of the monster, figuring it best to aim for questions with answers.
“Who knows?” he replied coyly. “After the time reset, I was still attached to him despite the replay of events at the bridge. Anyway, we came to an understanding in the third line. If I won at the temple, his body was mine. If he won, I really would willingly work with him, because I was starting to see a bigger, if not dormant, picture.”
“Wait, so you're the boy's servant?” Link Sr. asked incredulously.
“Partner and child depending on the viewpoint, not servant,” he stated with an obvious tone towards the word servant. “As you can see, I lost.” The creature looked at the Goddesses and his eyes pulsed like a stoked fire, before he turned back to Nabooru and the others. “Still, like I said, I was starting to see a bigger picture—and the loss was acceptable.”
“Of course it is, parasite,” Junior stated, defiantly glaring right back at the monster who took obvious offense with the word. “Amuse me, though, why is it that you think it's so great that you lost?”
Its eyes softened from glare to what appeared to be introspection. “You there, Sorceress,” the creature boomed towards Nabooru, “tell him the life expectancy of my kind in physical form. What do we usually do?”
“Usually, their lives last for however long the spell caster deems,” Nabooru said, though obviously not high on being used as a magic tome. “And if there is no designated end, you usually rampage until the body you've possessed falls apart.”
“Through this `defeat,' I've experienced more than any of my kind has ever dreamed of,” the demon said in relation to Nabooru's clarification. “I live a lot through what is told to me, but through his memories and his words, I've experienced what it is to love and to be loved; what it is to be hated and to be feared; what it is to be admired and to be worshipped. Through Link, I know what it's like to have a family. And through Link, I know how it feels to think you've lost that family that inspires you to keep living. I even know what it is to create your forms of life—the passion involved, the incredible emotion that is put into the act and the children it bears—and I love it!”
“I don't believe I'm hearing this,” Junior said as he shook his head.
The creature sighed, but continued on: “See, demonic life is created from the chaos in the displays of power by gods. There are no loving embraces, feelings or thoughts put into it: God One gets bored, does something, and God Two retaliates—random demonic life formed. There's no one there to talk to us after we're here or show us a way. We're legion, but we're alone, bobbing along in the voids and the shadows, kill or be killed, never knowing what any of this stuff is like. And, after I escaped all of that, you want to know why I'm happy that I lost the fights that would have given me a hunk of meat that would rot from around me?” his voice pushed the giant green demigod a few feet backwards, but his sincerity stirred the pot and begrudgingly forced people to rethink their stances.
The creature calmed and added: “The only reason I can speak to you in more than grunts, whistles, and clicks is because through him I've learned how to talk. Sure, I can't see, hear, touch, or taste anything unless he allows me to, but I could always smell the world—smell the food he ate, the people that he talked to, and so forth. Plus, I get memory access occasionally. The best part is that, after all this time—after all the times I've gone dormant to feast for months and even years at a time or pussied out of a fight—at his absolute weakest, he would trust me to take over this body … with this power … I don't have the words to describe that feeling.” He laughed, not maniacally, but with a sense of relief in being trusted. “You know, it's been years since I've seen something firsthand and this whole god thing is just … wow! I mean, he made it seem kinda blah, but this is amazing. Just the information I've gathered standing in this room is enough to keep me amused for a lifetime.”
The family looked at each other and found no words. This thing—this horrible demon—sounded … happy? When dealing with Link, it was sort of engrained in the mind to accept that things of a fucked up persuasion would happen sooner rather than later. Learning that the Hero of Time was harboring a demon in complete symbiosis, however, came close to shattering minds. No one's mind even came close to wrapping around this, so all they did was ask more questions to Fate's benefit.
“None of this explains why he'd let you—something that feeds on him—take control,” Junior pointed out, as he seemed to be the only person visibly upset by this.
The creature's eyes went from a sort of jovial shape to one of serious focus.
“Are you that dense? We became friends in all of this,” the demon said in all seriousness. “Earlier, when they mentioned the wall in his head, they failed to mention that plan also had a flaw. When Link used to get pissed, all of that anger and experience tried to be harnessed and expressed at once, only it couldn't because of their `tinkering.' Like a baby being born, it took time for that rage to be brought out. That `birth' caused his body to seize up for minutes at a time, and in the middle of a battle that's a bad thing. So, something had to be done to ensure his survival.”
It watched people connect the dots and chuckled when the frowns appeared.
“They knew you were in there,” Nabooru whispered. She looked at the Goddesses and they all turned their faces away.
“And that's how you survived all of the timelines,” Junior added, genuinely unsure if he should attack his aunts or the demon first, “they kept you inside.”
“Ding! Ding! Ding! We have two winners!” he announced, laughing at their scowling faces. “See, back then, he couldn't hide me—not from gods—so they had to know. As far as I can see—and believe me, I can see a long way and a lot of minds with this power—they're the only people who knew I existed outside of Link and Ganondorf before they erased me from even his mind,” the creature replied. “My purpose is forever simple: In dire times, when his path got crowded by the miniscule and the insignificant and Link would freeze, I used to step forward to clear the way while he brought his anger to the forefront for the more important enemies. Either way, his strength wasn't wasted on peons and we didn't end up dead from a lucky shot. To think of it another way, I cut the fat off the meal, so he could eat the good parts.”
“Wait … you're saying you kill the weak things so Link can take down the real threats?” Link Sr. asked as things came into a slightly different focus.
“So, despite the fact that you just killed a `few' gods, who up until this point have been invulnerable, you're just clearing the underbrush? You're saying they were nobodies?” The former god again queried.
“Two times: Yes. Yes.”
“But you were going after Fate,” Link Sr. said at an obvious point of confusion, not only with that action but the mere notion that his own father and the Originals were considered nobodies.
“And if their wall and door is gone, Dad shouldn't freeze up with his anger,” Junior said in much the same boat as his grandfather.
“Come on, few more dots to connect before this is all clear,” the demon said, eyes widening as if it were raising its eyebrows and trying to coax out the appropriate answer.
Meanwhile, Fate smiled even wider at this waste of time in front of him.
“There's no one above Fate unless … you weren't seriously going after him … were you?” the former war god asked.
“Nope,” the demon replied. “One more line to go and the picture is complete.”
“Link told you to be here,” Nabooru said with a new understanding.
“And with that, the picture of a diversion is complete.” The creature glanced at Fate and his right eye illuminated, almost a disgusting wink that said, “Gotcha!”
Fate's mouth fell open. This whole thing wasn't his diversion. It was Link's. He'd gotten so caught up in trying to buy time for himself that he'd allowed Link time to gather his own soul up and … and … and … he wanted to scream. Desperately! Such a pedestrian move, and he'd fallen for it.
“Don't scream,” the demon said of Fate's thoughts, an irksome act of mental fuckery in itself. “At current, I still have a fifty-five percent chance of wiping you out—according to the big man's number crunching—and it only drops to forty-nine percent once you've finished absorbing that thing.”
“And what's Link's chance?” Fate asked with an apathetic tone, calling what had to be the creature's bluff. “I give credit where it deserves to be given: You pulled one over on the greatest mind that has ever lived. Congratulations.” He clapped contemptuously to celebrate on the monster's behalf. “I've obviously made a few … missteps in my calculations, so I'll make you an offer: Be ripped asunder or expunge Link from the vessel along with half of the power and keep it as a gift.”
The demon laughed a laugh that bordered on the insane. It only served to make the hair stand up on the back of everyone's necks, as the laugh went from rumbling deep to a maddeningly high-pitched giggle, and then both at once.
“That's not even tempting,” the demon responded in kind. It then said: “I'll let you in on a teeny, tiny secret, though: You've got a ninety-nine percent chance of defeating him. However, if he realizes the source of his power, those percentiles are reversed. What that means is that you have the choice, actually: Fight me after absorbing that thing and take the one percent edge or fight him, taking the almost guaranteed victory, and risk that reversal where your entire everything is hinged on a one-percent chance of success.” Fate glanced—mentally glanced—at Charon and the still immobile Original, and the creature added: “Also realize that your golem of bones right there doesn't increase your chances nor does the dying stone man on the table.” The bottom parts of its eyes moved slightly up, indicative of a smile, and Fate's eyes twitched.
A chair then hit the demon in the face and shattered.
Link Sr. shouted: “You fucking idiot! What the hell was that? You're giving the enemy odds! The boy is a God of War! There's nothing to realize!”
“You hit me with a chair,” the demon said in disbelief.
He was then hit with another.
“And I hit you with another one, you fuckwit!” Link Sr. shouted.
The demon turned its head a little, as if to say, “I think he really hit me with a chair. Twice.” Audibly, he shook off the outrageous attack and said, “You're a God of War, Link isn't. Not entirely, anyway.”
“Of course he—”
Zelda interrupted her grandfather and asked, “How come he didn't die from the feeding as a kid?”
The creature laughed and Fate took notice. “Now, that's the smartest question I've heard all day. If I have to suck all of the life forces out of a body—kill it—to possess it, why didn't the child die after years of earnest feeding?”
No one replied. Fate found his vast pool of knowledge empty in this regard, as he searched the Goddesses minds for answers and found even they hadn't helped Link survive the feeding. His usual confidence had become a liability, as aside from assigning Link's death, he'd all but ignored him in any true detail before the ascension to godhood. Still, from what Fate did know of demons, a mortal child—whether it was stripped of godhood or not—should've been little more than a suckling pig for a demon of any kind. So, how does a suckling pig survive against a demonic force that needs sustenance for survival if the meddlesome trio didn't help?
“You struck a deal, like you said before, and chose not to feed on him. And if that wasn't the case, obviously those three had something to do with it,” Link Sr. of all people stated.
“You're confusing your purpose for us with our needs,” said the creature, whose shadowy skin began to move under the light, as tiny tendrils of darkness moved and thrust from it. “We're like you in one way: We need to eat when in this world. When feasting on a mortal meal, possession is the end product. And while the Goddesses allowed me to be there, the four of us didn't have an arrangement, so they had nothing to do with it. See, in their arrogance, they didn't care what I survived on so long as he remained alive. To them, Link and I were a means to an end, and how I helped Link to that end was of little importance. I figure they must have thought that he'd off me himself once he was a god, but I'm still heeeere,” he said, holding the last word in a key that more than likely didn't exist on an instrument anywhere.
“So, what you're saying is that you're still eating my husband?” Nabooru asked in complete disgust.
“Like a ham sandwich,” the creature replied. “I unbind from him if I don't eat, but we're friends, so I had to find an alternative food source—one that would help instead of hinder him,” the demon said casually, as if discussing seasonings. “I found that meal—a meal that should've helped him as opposed to hurt him if I ate it. To answer the young woman's earlier question, why didn't Link die from such feasting as a child? Simple answer: It's the meal. I've gorged for millennia on it and I've done about as much damage as an eyelash against a sword, but its taste—its taste has been there since the beginning. Even when I ate parts of his soul, the taste was there. His emotions, his thoughts, his dreams, his willpower—way before I ever found the meal, I'd tasted the flavor of it at every eating po—”
“What is this `meal,' creature?” Fate demanded.
“Link'll tell you that part,” the creature said listlessly, “because I'm done here.”
“So, you're finally through with all the bitching and moaning? Good, good. So, how about letting me have a crack at him first?” the creature said out of nowhere, turning away from the group entirely. “Wait a second—look, I know I've been a little battle shy, but come on—I couldn't risk my life like that after everything you've shown me! Come on, Link! With this body—this power—I can rip his throat out!”
Everyone exchanged looks between themselves as the demon continued to whine. Today's unanimous thought: What the fuck?
“Yes, I … I know that … but … goddamn it!” it shouted, turning and looking at Link's family. “Ganondorf lied. They're alive, but they know about us now. How'd they take it?” he surveyed the gaping expressions, scowls, and raised eyebrows. The demon then responded: “Good. They took it well. Ganondorf? As far as I can see, Ganondorf laid his soul down to get you in gear. No, it was their plan actually.” The demon jerked as though screamed at, adding, “Link says that you should've let him die if that was the cost—blah, blah, blah.”
“Is this for real?” Zelda whispered to her mother, watching this creature walk back and forth like it was on the telephone.
“I hope so,” Nabooru replied. She failed to interrupt much like everyone else and that was for one reason: What did they say? It'd been 3,000 years since Link left. From the tone of the creature's voice, Link seemed fine and casual. But what did she say? As she looked at Sepaaru, her daughter, Junior, and even Zelda, they all silently asked the same question: “What do we say?”
“Nah, no one's hurt. The one with black hair—yes, Sepaaru—is a little dirty, but she and the Princess from back then are apparently a part of a strike force against the Sermonians' cult, according to the thoughts that I'm reading.” He paced along, talking out loud to Link as Link had done in silence with him for so many years. He looked at Charon for a long, silent minute, and turned his back again. “No, he's not going to be a problem. I cut a deal with the last of the big ones from Kakariko. About what? Well, it's an issue close to your heart, so I told him that it would be up to you if that request is granted. What? Oh, shut the fuck up!” the demon snapped, though, laughing hardily. “The wife? Oh, she's fine—turned herself into quite the sorceress. No, I shit you not. She doesn't have a clue as to what to say to you, but that's to be expected.”
Nabooru attempted to dispute that, but the creature again turned its back on her waving the shield on its left arm as if to say, “Be quiet.”
“Back to what I said earlier, let me take this guy, Link! Your wife's here … all horny … I can have you two bumping flesh in twenty minutes, easy. Yeah,” he said, looking her over with its red eyes, “she's all oiled up and fresh out of the tub. What? I'm losing focus. I'm trying to help you out! Don't act like it's not on your mind! Fuck me? No, fuck you!”
Mouths hung completely open as the idea that the two of them even conversed in this manner had never struck them.
“What do you mean I'm sick? No! You're sick! Fine, fine! All right!” the creature's sword and shield then disappeared and it flapped its right hand like a puppet's mouth, mocking Link. “Yeah, I know. It's been a while on this side, too. How long? Do you really want to know that? Over here, you've been gone for three millennia. Hey! Don't yell at me!” the creature shouted, waving his hands in frustration. He looked at Fate and his eyes did the thing where they indicated smiling. “No, he's still here gawking at me. Nah, he's about halfway through this chronosphere thing, but he's being awfully slow about it. Oh, so you've got the last bits of your soul, huh? I see. Got a plan? I mean, I can move them somewhere. No? Are you sure, he's small, but we've proven size isn't everything.” Again, it laughed in its booming voice like the most horrible of monsters. “Oh, so you want them to see this? No, no, I get it. All right, I'll let him know.”
The creature stopped its conversation with Link and spoke to the family first: “Well, this meeting has been interesting, but my time here is at an end.”
“So, this means that Link is really coming back?” Nabooru asked with a surprisingly stern voice, though, her face showed nothing but nervousness.
“Yes,” the demon responded, chuckling as she let out a breath that seemed to have been held for centuries. He then turned towards Fate and said: “I would've loved the chance to kill you, but you're his and I can't fight that.”
“Why not?” Fate asked, still confident that he could manipulate this situation. “Think of the possibilities—a god's body would not rot or decay, you would be more powerful than any demon that has ever existed. You would be—”
“Alone,” the creature interrupted, as its shadow slowly receded up Link's body behind a line of light.
Starting from the feet, his boots appeared bit by bit—unworn and seemingly new—as were his tights, but the “monster” kept talking.
“I can only repay him for this life I've been given with my loyalty,” he stated as the light continued to traverse up Link's body, revealing the tail of a new green tunic.
Further still it journeyed, revealing Link's undamaged right hand and arm. His left arm, however, remained as Hadrian had left it, but that was fine to Nabooru. Tears fell from her eyes and she didn't even notice it, watching as more and more of her husband was revealed from behind the shadowy curtain. And, as the light reached Link's neck, the demon uttered its final words to Fate: “About those percentages earlier—” the light rose up and revealed Link's lips, which uttered two words in a voice that hadn't been heard in person in thousands of years— “he lied.”
“I'll keep an eye out for you, though,” Fate heard the creature whisper into his mind, watching as the last of the shadow disappeared around Link's solid red eye. The eye illuminated … more like winked at him, and Fate ground his teeth. There Link stood—back from the brink of annihilation—seven feet of unstable destruction looking down on him as though he was some mortal refuge. “Understand you're not going to beat me. Whatever idea or freak accident has lent you being does not matter.”
Link nodded, running his tongue over his front teeth, and hummed.
“I've been thinking,” Link began, though, stopping as he took a thoughtful glance at his family. “As I gathered myself up, I realized something—a lot of twisted something now that these three are out of my head—but I realized something nonetheless. What I realized was that it isn't good enough to put your soul on the line,” he said laconically. Charon gasped, stumbling forward out of Fate's grasp, as he was freed in seeming afterthought. “I realized that it's not good or evil that's important or even how much I love my family.”
“Finally moving beyond mortal reasoning are we?” Fate inquired, watching Charon slink over to Link's family's side of the room. The chronosphere was ninety percent his now. A few more moments and all that power that he'd been storing could be fully harnessed without ripping him to pieces.
“It's important that I think,” Link said cryptically, neither confirming nor denying Fate's assumption. “See, I've never once stopped moving forward in regards to what's been done to me. I've never thought about it to any degree beyond how much it sucked or how crazy it made me—and apparently I was crazier than I ever knew.” He chuckled quietly before looking at the family that he'd left behind and deadpanning.
“B-but that's their fault,” Esmerelda forced herself to say. “They led you around by the nose—”
“Yeah, but I had the power to stop it, but I didn't want to think or maybe I did think, but not hard enough,” Link replied, though, still staring directly at Fate. Just how much had he changed now that everything was laid bare for him? “I've missed thousands of years with my family. Run, run, and run again—I'll make it up the next time. Really, I'll be there,” Link said not quite sarcastically, but more like indifferent. “Chase tomorrow, little man, because then you can be there for your family. Don't think about how long a year is, let alone 3,000. Just run, run, and run some more, little man. Don't think beyond them—don't destroy the gods and ensure the end of your hell—just keep following the emotional Deku Shrub down its hole. You'll catch it for a little while and you can be happy, but for god's sake, do not think beyond that! But,” he said quietly, “I've been thinking. How can I catch it forever? That is what I'm thinking about now.”
It's so close, Fate thought, a faint smile curling his upper lip. It was so close, he could taste it. All of that power! And like a horse shot in mid-gallop, Fate's daydream flopped, rolled, and tumbled to a dead stop like the flow of power into him.
As Nabooru looked at Link, ice began to run through her veins in big, hulking chunks. He was leaving again. She could feel it, but her mouth wouldn't open to scream. Link looked up at the hole in the ceiling with its sparks from ripped electrical wiring and crumbling stone and smiled, before looking back at his family: his mother, his father, his wife and their daughter, Sepaaru and his son.
“I think I've found the answer to that question,” Link laughed. “Within that answer, though, I also see that I can't stay here anym—”
“No!” his daughter shouted like quite the massive baby. “You're not leaving me again!”
“Baby Girl,” Link said quietly, smiling at his child. She'd turned into a beautiful woman, even if she was still just as spoiled as the day that she was born, and that pleased him. “I can't suppress this enough to stay here, but I can at least ensure they never—” and he glared at the Goddesses in a way that said all that it would to them— “ever fuck someone else like this again.”
Fate looked at him and in a low, almost guttural voice, asked, “What are you doing to it?”
The glare fell upon Fate then and he took a step back in response, a step that even he was surprised that he took.
“You mean the chronosphere—that thing you've secretly had the gods feed by constantly releasing their auras?” he replied, causing Fate to step back again, as the anger warped his voice into that of his demonic partner. “Or is it that thing that, at its core, is the combined spiritual energy that every single living thing since the dawn of mortality—of time itself—has offered up as a fee for being allowed to partake in this fucked up little game of yours called life?”
Link's mortal eye disappeared behind white light, illuminating the room and casting giant shadows of his family against the crumbling wall behind them.
“What am I doing to it? Nothing,” Link shrugged. His eye returned to normal, but there was a loud snap that echoed in everyone's ears. “I am, however, harvesting the one thing that you've planted in everyone and everything—the one thing that lies between the constant battles of good and evil—between gods and mortals—because that is mine.”
“And what is that?” Fate asked wryly.
“That is what shaped me,” Link told him as his red eye cast a red haze over the room.
Like an exploding star, the memory came back to Nabooru from an argument with Link in the archery track from three millennia ago, and she whispered one word: “Fear.”
“This doesn't make sense!” Fate shouted, repeated even, as the upswing in Link's power made him lose balance. Link's left arm suddenly elongated and crashed into the floor, quadrupling in mass. “Fear is not this powerful!”
“Not to people who have lived on high since the beginning. Up there, this only pops up from time to time when people like the old man over there are on a rampage or when the Originals punch through,” Link stated as calmly as ever despite the mutation. His right arm then changed like the left. “For those down here in the muck that you and yours kick up, it's been a crippling epidemic that no amount of calm days can erase, because it's stamped into our blood now. Fear exists everywhere here: diseases fear the cure; prey fears the predator; predator fears becoming the prey; good fears becoming evil and evil fears becoming good; so on and on it goes.
“Billions upon billions upon billions of years of living things—fighting for survival and paying tribute to fat, indifferent gods—all bleeding fear into the atmosphere for life to embrace and make stop. Life ignores it, though, because life has never known fear. `We're gods; we should be feared by them.' Funny thing about something as strong as fear: If you ignore it long enough, it can become sentient after a while.”
Link's legs mutated much like his arms and grew so long as to put his head up against the forty-foot ceiling.
“An even funnier thing is that it's afraid of itself. At the base of it all, Fear just wanted to be protected from fear. On the basest of levels, it saw you as that protector. However, you had no use for it. So, after untold years of neglect, Fear found someone who wouldn't neglect it. In fact, not only would this someone not neglect it, this person was as afraid as it was. This supporter, coincidentally, was similar to the entity that had ignored it for so long—a newborn god with ties to life, death, and destruction that sensed his own demise at the hands of a father who'd been mind-fucked raw—and together the orphaned children grew as one.”
Link's torso and head increased in size to match the arms and legs. No longer using the residual effects of his power, Link tapped directly into the source and that had caused this new growth, his father reasoned, but how much was he holding back if it was power enough to provoke a physical change of this scale? And how come they hadn't all died? It was a truly frightening thing to consider.
“I'm never afraid, I said at one point. And, I've been thinking why it appeared to be that way: It's like standing in a musky room. If you stand in the room long enough, you no longer smell the stink,” Link said thoughtfully. He continued: “That's a lie, though. I lost my kids, and it scared me. I walked away from my family, and that scared me, too. I think about losing my family and it takes everything I have not to curl up into a little ball and die,” he shuddered. “It's this shit that doesn't scare me—the confrontation, the fighting, the protecting, the sacrificing.”
Link Sr. put the pieces together and it hit him like a truck: “That's the bigger picture, then. The demon's meal is … fear. He couldn't eat the boy because … he's the embodiment … the God of … Fear. And if his strength is derived from fear and fear is a living being and afraid of itself … that means it's a self-perpetuating power.” He collapsed onto his ass and marveled, as the spectators around him tried to put a measurement to the sublime and failed.
“See, it's kind of like Fate in a way—the more life exists, the stronger he gets,” Link said on his enemy's behalf. “More people, more germs, more whatever that has life—it all fuels him simply by being alive, regardless of whether or not they worship him. Same thing applies to me, only I draw in the fear. More life, more fear, more power—but there's a key difference.”
“And what's the difference?” Fate asked, trying his best to stare Link down despite the thirty-four-foot height differential.
Link smiled and, despite his swirling thoughts, Fate felt even more uneasy.
“Life ages, ends because it weakens over time … dies. The life of a fifty-year-old body isn't as strong as the life coming out of a twenty-year-old body,” he informed the old god. “Fear doesn't have that restriction, though. The fear coming out of a frightened child is the same as it is coming out of a frightened old man. Plus, there's an added bonus: terror increases as people get older and closer to death. All this really means is that the more afraid you or anyone else becomes, the stronger I get. The more afraid I become, the stronger I get,” Link eventually said of his father's revelation. “And the more the people freak out, the bigger Fear gets. And the bigger it gets, the more afraid it becomes, and the more afraid it becomes, the stronger I get. The drawback, of course, is that there's no off switch.”
“You think you can intimidate me with these childish ramblings?” Fate shouted, voice bringing a section of the fortress down onto Link's group. The shield surrounding them destroyed the rock and revealed why he and Fate's massive increase in power hadn't killed them like it had the rest of the people on that planet. “I created this! All of it! It's mine!” his eyes shined with a violet energy as Link allowed him to absorb the last bit of the chronosphere. “Every emotion, every thought, and every life—from every moment in time—is mine! This is my power! Even fear itself belongs to me!”
“Unfortunately, it no longer wants you,” Link said nonchalantly, staring quite literally down at the god. “You see the possibilities now, don't you?” Fate didn't reply. “It's all right, I know you do. So, like me, you know whether or not I intimidate you is irrelevant.”
Fate did see the possibilities, and they angered him. Life went on without him. These people's lives all kept going. For all of his speeches, Link was at last stable. That locked box in his head—that useless piece of garbage that he so coveted was nothing more than a cover-up for the mistake of three nature goddesses' failure—was gone. None of this had to even happen. The Goddesses wouldn't look at their former leader, admission enough that they caused this. As for Fate's life—what possibilities did it hold? Darkness.
The deity screamed in frustration, a petulant display of how poorly he handled defeat. The fortress exploded into things so small they were not even known to science, as Fate poured his rage outward into the universe. Stars exploded, as did other barren planets, as Fate threw the largest tantrum in history. And while some planets moved out of their natural orbits and dimensional positions shifted with Fate's rage, Link didn't move an inch. His hair didn't even blow as the world at large went to pieces. The display of power was anticlimactic on many, many, many levels for Fate. He felt like a two-bit sorcerer trying to impress a god by conjuring up a carrot—and that pissed him off even more.
“Finished?” Link asked flippantly. “I mean, I can wait because I know how it feels to have a day so immensely shitty that you wonder if the smell will ever wash off.”
“I hate you!” Fate grumbled, slipping into a warp as fast as he could. He needed space to plan, to think, to outwit the damnable idiot. With time, there was no situation that he could not think his way out of. There had to be some way out of this! He created possibilities! It was impossible for him not to have any! “IMPOSSIBLE!” He came out of warp and Link was there, already waiting for him.
“Hey,” Link called down to him, waving his gigantic hand at Fate, as he and his family stood on a planet inhabited by strange rat-like creatures. They were turned to vapor along with all other life in their dimension, not to mention the realms held within said dimension, as the sheer presence of the beings involved ate right through them.
Fate traversed dimensions and worlds again, bringing his and Link's brand of annihilation to every place they touched down. There was also a subtle change with Fate, as his body seemed slightly battered and cracked a little bit with each subsequent landing on a new world. Junior observed the tell-tale signs on Fate's body—the cracks in his skin, the way his fingers and eyes all twitched, his wide stance to maintain balance—but he couldn't believe his eyes. Even though the world shifted faster than he could blink, his father was hitting Fate faster than that somewhere during the warps.
“You know, these folks look kind of like cows …”
And again, Fate ran …
“Not to be insulting, but did you animate a race of … well, bullshit?”
And again …
“So, this is what society would be like if the Dodongos ruled. A lot less fire than I'd have imagined.”
And, yet still, again …
“After all the time I've wasted to let you devour your little power wad, this is the best that you can do?” Link asked with a poignant sigh, shaking his head in a pitying manner, all while smirking because it was true. He was four stories tall and appeared so unconcerned with his enemy that Fate's ego ached more than the beatings occurring at speeds so fast even the Goddesses couldn't keep up.
“One more trip, fearless hero,” Fate laughed, stumbling into a new warp. Destiny didn't care for the violence, but she'd help him. With their combined strength, Link would be toppled!
“And finally you come home to find it empty,” Link said as soon as Fate faded into view. He could hear Fate's thoughts just as clearly as those of his family, but he remained unconcerned with the thought of facing the two-some, because Fate was missing critical intelligence.
Meanwhile, Nabooru and the others were seeing what no other mortals had before: The World of the Gods. Beneath the red, starless sky, there was a lone mountain in the distance. This was it? There was nothing—not even grass—just a sky and miles of endless purple ground made of an unknown substance. In the interim of their gawking, Fate floated backward to the large mountain sticking up from the horizon. Link gave casual pursuit and his family found the world moving past them, as though on an accelerated escalator, following their patriarch's will and ascending into the sky.
Link followed a visibly battered Fate into the air and up to the summit of a mountain that, by all measurements, had to be hundreds of miles high. At the top, a massive castle sat with six very large towers connected by walls that led inward like the spokes of a wheel to a seventh tower in the center that stretched up into the unknown. The towers appeared to be monoliths of hollowed out lapis lazuli, all polished so well that they reflected the family descending from the sky. Leading to the first doorway was a rather plain walkway with stone columns on either side. Between each set of columns was a pool filled with purple water and flowers in every color combination that one could think of and then some. It was a beautiful, if not modest scene that was about to get ugly, everyone assumed.
Fate stopped floating and smiled as he disappeared, leaving in his wake every god and goddess that he could summon.
“You really want to go through with this?” Link asked of the gods and goddesses who all appeared to defend their lord. “You don't, do you?” he took what seemed like a cautious step forward.
A few took a step forward to meet Link's challenge, but … they stopped. It wasn't as though the magnitude of the situation wasn't understood, because it was, it was simply that a simultaneous wave of fear hit them all in a manner that none of them had ever experienced before. The weaker deities openly began to shake, while the sturdier gods looked as if their bodies had betrayed them. They were trapped in one of those moments where the body is afraid before the mind, like bracing for impact that one knows is coming, but without the knowledge of the pain involved.
Link and his family in the bubble moved forward despite odds that easily numbered into the thousands. These were gods. There wasn't even a word for how blasphemous this was. A few of the lesser war gods drew weapons, though, they didn't use them. How could they? Even the gigantic gods that looked down on Link didn't attempt to do battle with him. They were afraid, Nabooru saw. He scared them even more than Fate did.
Without a word, the crowd simply parted for Link like stalks of corn in a cornfield. Junior looked back as they went through the crowd and saw scores of them fall to their knees, sobbing like little children. From the more Hylian-looking ones to the giants made of water and stone, they all went down without a word. If they tried to defend Fate on their own or if they were manipulated, it did not matter. His father didn't even have to flex to put gods under his thumb. Looking at Nabooru and his mother, they smiled larger than they had since they'd landed in the new world.
“Storming the fucking Heavens,” he read of their thoughts, which made them seem like two horny teenagers, “this is so cool!”
They were warped into what was assumed to be the interior of the castle, despite its featureless innards, and there they found Fate. He, too, was on his knees, but for a more different reason. He cradled what appeared to be a white statue with dark flakes of ash sprinkled throughout it. As Fate heard their footsteps, he whirled around, still cradling Destiny's lifeless body in his arms, and threw the accusatory stare right up at Link.
“It's a new kind of pain, isn't it?” Link asked with zero remorse in his voice. “That kind of gnawing pain that eats at you because it's your fault.”
“Shut up!” Fate screamed, trying miserably to plug the hole that'd been put through her.
“Truth hurts, doesn't it?” Link continued to jab.
Fate gagged suddenly and crawled with Destiny's body back towards the rear of the room. An apparition of Link dodging a suddenly equal-sized Fate's swinging arm and striking him in the gut appeared, but just as quickly disappeared. Fate's getting slower, Junior found himself thinking, as that was the first time that he'd seen an exchange between the two.
“The sick part about a pain like this,” continued Link, speaking as though he were the voiceover to a documentary, “is that it gets worse. You get angry and you get strong, but it doesn't make the pain stop.”
Fate panted, still trying to find reason and logic with this. “How did you do this to her? You were trapped out there with them for all that time! How!”
“I didn't do this,” Link informed him truthfully. “However, my friend's nose is particularly adept at sniffing out certain thoughts, emotions, and souls. The cleanliness is also a sign of his handiwork, because I'd have been so emotional as to twist the little monster's head off and beat you with it. Now, where he got the idea … that's another matter entirely.”
“You think I'll let you just kill me?” Fate asked quietly, stroking the cheek of his fallen sibling. The incalculable points of white sparkles within his dark, crystallized skin began to illuminate, yet Link didn't move. “After an insult like this, do you think I'll let you live?” He sat Destiny's corpse on the ground and then grew in size to match Link, those points of light still glowing, as he laughed maniacally. Without warning, white tendrils shot from his body, countless in number, fanning out from the patriarch deity and attaching to every living thing in all of creation that wasn't inside of Link's bubble. “I'm sucking the life out of them all, you monster! And when all of that energy is mine—when their souls are all within my possession—I'll beat you to within an inch of your life and make you watch me do things to your family that'll make you try to kill yourself just to avoid their screams!”
And there they were, two forty-foot-tall gods, posturing. Well, Fate postured. Link just pulled his left hand back.
Fate laughed at the notion, saying: “Hit me! Even one punch will be transmitted through the wires into everyone! I can take it, but can they? That's a lot of dead babies on your hands if you d—”
Link's smile interjected far more bluntly than any words ever could. He didn't care. He truly did not care!
“Wait! Children! Girls and boys!” Fate screamed, watching Link's fist fire off at him.
It all seemed to move in slow motion from that point.
The air around Link's fist began to bubble like boiling water, each bubble exploding with blue and purple flames, as Fate held his hands out and turned his head away from the punch—a sign no clearer that he was about as much warrior as pea soup. He's actually going to kill children to kill this guy, Zelda thought remorsefully. Her father really was an illusion concocted by the Goddesses. She screamed at him—screamed for the man who tucked her in at night as a child and made the bad dreams go away—screamed until her face was cracked by the sheer magnitude of the power within her being released. Her voice was unleashed so forcefully that her brother had to form a shield within the shield to protect his mother, grandfather, the former Queen Zelda, and Nabooru. Still, Link couldn't hear her over the explosion of his fist hitting Fate square in the chest. The family tossed their arms in front of their faces to block the blinding light, all while wondering just what it meant to be the last people in existence.
As the light faded, everyone found Fate and Link still standing. The castle? Gone. The gods and goddesses outside of the building? Blown down like matchsticks.
“I've been thinking,” Link said once again, as he walked around the cowering Fate, whose face was scrunched up in anticipation of the blow, and summoned a chair nearly his own height to sit in. The threads were still protruding from Fate, even as he'd had enough fear put in him to kill more than a few civilizations. “You probably should have disconnected those threads prior to the attack.”
Fate's eyes opened—heart racing, blood rushing through his veins, and hands sweating—one newly mortal man, connected to every other living thing, all of whom had been momentarily frightened stiff. This was not fucking good. Fate began to shrink and returned to his original height after a few moments, still attached, and his eyes told Link's family volumes. He'd prepared for a lot of things, but dying was not one of them.
“You'll be fine if no one moves, but,” Link said with a sly smirk, as Fate began to drip red blood from the wires sawing through him, “I've been thinking. The best part about fear is that once the fear passes—” Fate began to scream in a way that made them all sick, crying, begging and pleading for Link or anyone else who could hear to help him— “everyone moves on.”
As life moved forward as Link's moment of fear passed, each thread, like a rubber band, slowly began to snap off Fate. With each subsequent snap, a piece of the former god was ripped off. He was flayed before long, screaming as his insides were exposed to the ether-like atmosphere. Still, he endured further agony, as the threads weren't just connected to his skin, but his newfound organs as well. He begged even more when the ripping began there, openly screamed for his life, anything to make the pain stop. Link's response was only to lean his head into his left palm and watch Fate continue to be ripped apart by his very own creations. And as the screaming reached its fevered peak, Link smiled as the people took their fates into their own hands, both symbolically and literally.
His family watched it all in complete silence; they were all afraid. Except Nabooru. This didn't go beyond her. In fact, Fate deserved worse in her mind.
Still, the math of his death was simple, yet sadistic: Fate's body mass divided by that large number of individuals equaled zero. His body—the picked apart hunk of screaming meat that it had been reduced to—lost cohesion in a subdued pop, as the rest of mortality resumed its daily lives at the behest of Link, and all the remaining threads went at once. Everything but a puddle of blood was pulled through the gaps in reality Fate's threads had made, each thread going to one life form or another. Fate was dead and Destiny, too. It was a hard thing to comprehend for the gods in Link's circle. Even though they believed the world would go on, they still looked as though they expected it all to collapse without those two at the epicenter. Above all that sat Link—smile on his face, family safe, and enemies … well, almost defeated.
There were those three—and they had to die.
The gods blown off the mountain during his attack on Fate slowly rose into the air and encircled the area where their former leaders occupied and found the fledgling, the outsider, the … damn near mortal, Link, sitting proudly on a throne. Their leaders—the engineers of their lives—hadn't even caused Link a moment's concern. Fate died a screaming, powerless mortal, begging for the very thing he helped bring about: life. Now what? The Originals, who stripped mighty Charon of his flesh, who took the ability to kill from the even mightier Hadrian, all fell to this foo … err giant in green. What did they do now that the pawn was suddenly the king?
With elbows on the armrests of his chair, Link folded his fingers under his nose and surveyed those faces that surrounded him and said: “I've been thinking…”