So it has come to this, I muse bitterly. Centuries upon centuries of toil and suffering have come to mean nothing. The chill in the morning air perfectly matches the cold bitterness in my soul. Outside, I can hear the grunting speech of the few moblins that remain with me. The yipping voice of a goriya cuts into a subdued moblin conversation outside my tent. They know something is going to happen today, and they are afraid. They are right to be afraid. As I sit in this weathered tent, waiting, I find my thoughts wandering back to times forgotten by the world...
I could have succeeded long ago, I reflect, when I first took the Triforce of Power. Had I acted when the original Hero appeared; had I crushed him personally in the Forest Temple...
But in my pride, drunk on newly acquired power, I had let him come. Oh yes, it was clever of me to let him draw the princess to my front door, but she was weak and powerless. He was the true threat.
Even after he first bested me, I could have claimed victory. I could have waited, licked my wounds, and let him grow lax; but no! In my arrogance, I tore myself from the ruins of my fortress, and drew upon the power of the Triforce to become the demon. That was my mistake.
The power it granted me was unimaginable, and maddening. I could not control it. It overwhelmed my mind and destroyed my sanity. Instead of fighting as a warrior and a human being, madness drove away all rational thought. I fought purely with rage and instinct like a beast.
I am not surprised that they, the Hero and the Sage, were victorious then. Using the Hero to distract me, that pathetic excuse for a monarch named Zelda sealed me away in the Sacred Realm. I fought for decades to regain my sanity after that first disastrous battle. Only vague memories remain of that time; fleeting images of mass destruction, demented rage, and living like a mindless animal.
My loyal servants, the ancient hags Koume and Kotake, sacrificed their lives to return me to the world and bring back my sanity. I have only a fuzzy memory of a vicious battle with the Hero's descendant, but what I learned gave me a focus to regain my mind despite his victory. I saw that he no longer wielded the Triforce of Courage, and that the Sage's descendent no longer held the Triforce of Wisdom!
Though they were marked by the Golden Power's influence, they no longer drew upon it as I draw upon my Triforce. The relics no longer rested within the soul of any human being! That knowledge was the cornerstone from which I rebuilt my sanity, piece by piece. I found that my own Triforce had left me as well, by it was a simple matter to call it back, and its sisters as well!
Then I learned the supreme irony. Though I possessed the ultimate power, I could not use it! As Power was bound to me, so was Wisdom bound to the Sage, and Courage to the Hero! They could not use the Triforces directly, but the bond between those wretched bloodlines and the Golden Power kept me from doing so as well! Only if they renounced their claims, or their lines were rendered completely extinct could I claim the Entire Triforce for myself!
As the centuries passed, I shaped the Golden Realm to my will, twisting it into a dark shadow of the lands I hungered for. Probing the edges of the Seal, I sought to weaken it and break free. It was then that I found yet another irony of the Triforce.
The Triforce possesses nearly infinite power, but I could only draw upon a fraction of the entire relic. That fraction only has so much to give; its power is finite! The power wanes, becoming less and less with the centuries. As I languished within my prison, now a pale shadow of Hyrule, my power slowly diminished. I had to break free before it was too late!
So I created a wizard, Agahnim, to be a vessel for my senses and sent it through one of the tiny holes that had formed between my world and Hyrule. Through this vessel, I could act, but with only a sliver of my true might. Using Agahnim, I sent the descendants of those who forged the gate of my prison into my world. Soon, despite interference by the scion of the Hero, I shattered the accursed Seal.
But as I marshaled my power behind the barrier that guarded my tower, the Hero's descendant freed those whom I had drawn into my world. They shattered the barrier around my tower, and I soon met the scion of Link face to face for the first time. I wore the wizard's guise, in hopes that I could remain unseen and forgotten; it would not have done for Hyrule to learn that I still existed.
How I had laughed when I saw how badly diluted the Hero's bloodline had become! He was but a shadow of his ancestors' greatness. Surely he could not have been a threat to me! The powerful blood that once ran through his ancestor like a river had eroded away to a tiny brook!
But I vastly underestimated how badly my power had decayed. The accursed Arrows of Light, hardly more than an annoyance when I first assumed the Triforce's power, were now deadly. Even with my sanity restored and the Triforce of Power in my possession, my greatness had deteriorated so completely that only four of them destroyed me!
My dark world vanished, and my soul was sent adrift in the winds. But the Triforce would not let me die. It reformed my body after a short time, but took even more of my power as a result. Still, I had won, for I had been able to return to Hyrule. But the other parts of the Triforce were lost to me once again.
I gathered the wild peoples of Hyrule, the moblins and the goriyas, and forged them into an army none could withstand. I found that Hyrule, the land I called home, had been abandoned! The Hylians had fled to the forests of Holodrum, the coast of Labrynna, and beyond.
It was a simple task to call the Triforce of Courage to my possession once more. I shattered it into eight pieces, hoping to forestall the Hero's descendant, and hid them in dungeons guarded by my servants. I turned my attentions to research, hoping to find a way to shatter the Hero's bond to the relic without revealing myself.
The third Triforce was another matter. Its lesson learned, the Royal Family of Hyrule sealed away the Triforce of Wisdom, and bound themselves to it as fully as they could. It was futile, in a way, for their blood had diluted beyond the point of being able to truly draw upon it.
I was impatient. I wanted to remain hidden, but I felt the Triforce's power flowing from me like sand from an hourglass. Seeing the opportunity to kidnap the reincarnation of the Maser Sage that sealed me away in the Golden Realm so long ago, I took it. But I failed to destroy all witnesses, for the nursemaid of the Sage's descendant escaped me. She found and informed the Hero's reincarnation.
This reincarnation, bearing the same name as his ancestors, found my storehouses that held the pieces of the Triforce of Courage. My servants had grown lax over the years, and failed to stop him. He invaded my fortress, armed with the accursed Arrow of Light. Even thought it was in the hands of a boy whose blood was as diluted as a pinch of salt in a river, the arrow was too much for me. A single shot destroyed me once again.
Yet still the Triforce refused me death. I have reformed again. Again it has returned to me. Now I wait here, in the chill morning air. The mark of the Triforce on my hand once shone as brightly as the sun; now it is but an odd-shaped jaundice upon my swarthy skin.
Now I wait here to end this once and for all...
My reverie is broken by the sounds of oncoming hoofbeats. Moblin and goriya voices rise in an expectant babble. A moblin tries to speak Hylian, his mangled syntax probably confusing the newcomers more than welcoming them. I sit back in my seat, waiting for what is to come. Now, it begins.
The flaps of my tent open, and a green-clad warrior whose thin face has polluted more than one era steps inside. A sword rests at his hip, a dagger is stuffed into the top of his right boot, and a bow, with quiver, is strapped across his back. He is tense; his hand blushes against the hilt of his sword several times. The presence of goriyas and moblins outside do little to put him at ease.
The warrior is followed by a woman with hair the color of gold, carrying herself with a regal bearing and dressed in a gown cut for riding. Once, I considered her ancestor beautiful, now I see her as a poisoned oasis; a thing of beauty, but far surpassed by other qualities of more immediate concern. She too is nervous, frightened even, by what she expects to come.
"Sit," I invite, motioning to the seats I had placed before the table.
"Who are you?" the warrior demands.
"Link!" The other hisses under her breath, believing it too low for me to hear. She takes a seat in the chair to the left. Link slowly has a seat in the other, his wary eyes never straying from me.
"I am Princess Zelda of Hyrule," the woman says, "and this is my knight, Link. We have come in response to a missive promising us a peaceful meeting with Ganon. As a sign of trust, we have come unescorted. We wish to speak to Ganon, if you please."
It's not surprising they do not recognize me. I no longer wear the form of the demon; I lack the power to maintain it. After centuries of living as a demon, I am in my true Gerudo form once again.
"I am Ganondorf, " I proclaim, "Known to you as Lord Ganon." I see a tiny flash of surprise in Zelda's face; my origins have become obscure legends - she must know a few of those legends.
"A trick," Link counters, his eyes flashing.
"No, he tells the truth," Zelda says to him.
"What have you brought us here for?" Link asks, an impetuous edge on his voice.
"I am tired," I say. Again, surprise flashes on Zelda's face, mistrust is evident in the eyes of Link. "I have endeavored to conquer Hyrule for centuries. I have fought your ancestors more times than I care to recall." Standing to add emphasis to my words, I declare, "I have struggled and I have failed; I desire to end this once and for all.
"I have witnessed much during the centuries. I have watched the Gorons die out. I witnessed the Kokiri vanish from the forests, and seen the demise of the final Deku Tree. I have seen the end of Royal House of Zora, and beheld the Zoras' fall from a civilized nation to savage predators. I have seen my own people, the Gerudo, become absorbed into the Hylian Race and vanish. I witnessed the same with the Sheikah people. I have lived for centuries, seeing all this and more, and I am tired."
"All because of you," Link mutters.
"Link!" Zelda hisses again.
"Let him speak," I respond evenly. His prejudices irritate me, but I know he won't be agreeable unless he can voice them. Then, perhaps, we can end this.
"It's all your fault," Link accuses. "All those things you said happened because you keep attacking us, letting your armies overrun Hyrule to spread their evil."
I can't help but chuckle at the boy's na´ve accusations. "And you're proud of all the destruction you caused!" He accuses hotly, leaping from his seat and pointing at me. "You don't care a bit for all the lives lost to your greed. All you want to do is dominate and enslave everything!"
"No," I say, biting back anger from his foolishness, sitting down once more, "but it is not important now. I offer you peace. If I am allowed to go my own way, untroubled by Hylian retribution, I will surrender the Triforce of Power to you. All I ask is to be left alone. I will trouble this land no more."
"Is this all you ask?" Zelda inquires.
"Nothing more than peace," I answer.
"Agreed," She says. "After centuries of war, I will happily grant you amnesty to end the strife."
"Good," I answer. "Give me your hand, Link." He stares at me, brimming with suspicion.
"Do it," Zelda orders, a surprising amount of steel in her soft voice, "I feel we can have faith in him."
Link says nothing, but extends his hand toward me; the other rests on the hilt of a sword that has been my bane for as long as I can remember. I do not doubt that both of the people before me are completely ignorant of its true history. On the Hero's skin, I see the mark of the Triforce; latent, silent, and inert. The heavy gloves I favor hide my own mark. Grasping his hand, I close my eyes and concentrate.
"I renounce you, Triforce." I whisper, "Begone from my life and trouble me no more."
My wrist tingles; I open my eyes to see my mark glowing brightly through my glove! Could I have revived its power within me? This thought lasts for only a moment, before the glowing triangle lifts from my hand and floats, translucent, in the air. I notice that both Link and Zelda are spellbound; it is probably the first time they have ever truly witnessed the power of a Triforce. The mark hangs in the air for a moment, as if unsure as what to do. Then it lazily glides over to Link, and gently merges with the mark he already has.
It is done. I feel a curious hollow feeling deep within me, as if a hole had just been torn in my soul. Is it because I am mortal once more? The mark of the Triforce glows like a tiny sun on Link's hand. The other joins in a moment later, reawakened after lying dormant for so long. Link feels their power flowing through his body; I can see it in his eyes.
"It's over," the warrior says to himself, "It's done. The centuries of evil at the hands of Ganon are over!"
Evil at my hands? At my hands! I will not stand for so many insults, not after humbling myself before them! "Impertinent fool!" I declare, standing again, glaring down at the warrior. "Only your feeble mind exceeds your insolence!" I stop for a moment, letting myself calm a little. I will not fall to his level!
"I witnessed the birth of your precious kingdom, centuries ago," I continue coldly. "I was but a child when Lord Croseus I brutally slaughtered the dukes that called this very plain home, conquering the people of what became Hyrule. I remember tales of entire families being slaughtered to keep the conquered from challenging his reign. Only the Sheikah survived, after Croseus extracted a vow of fealty from them, then breaking their spirit through that vow. My people endured only because Croseus's armies were powerless in the Gerudo Desert.
"The greed and cruelty inspired by Hyrule's founder have become only worse with the passing ages. The Kokiri vanished when Hylians began to cut down the Lost Woods. The Capital of the Goron Nation starved when your kingdom began to mine the Death Mountains extensively, breaking the back of their entire race. It was Hyrule who denied aid to the River Zoras when plagues threatened the stability of their kingdom. Then Hylians shattered what was left of Zoras' Domain when the River Folk invaded, seeking the medicines that they could not produce. Only a tiny remnant of that nation remains, hidden beyond the coasts of Labrynna. Hyrule annexed my people, and stomped out the culture and racial identity that the Gerudo proudly held. The same had already begun with the Sheikah when I took the Triforce of Power! Are you aware, Zelda, that your beloved nursemaid is a descendant of the Impa the Traitor, who threw open the gates to total Hylian domination over the Sheikah?
"Even your own culture has declined. No longer does the Temple of Time stand; it fell due to neglect. The names of the three goddesses who created our world have been forgotten! The Oracles no longer exist! You have even abandoned the heart of your kingdom to the wolves in your relentless expansion! New towns bear the names of Sages that time forgot! Do you, Link, know who Ruto was? Can you, Zelda, tell me of Saria, or of treacherous Nabooru?"
"What are you saying?" Zelda asks, her voice equal parts confusion and outrage.
"Hyrule is dying," I answer coldly. "It has been in decline since its bloody conception. In its prime, Hyrule was a greedy and grasping nation, seeking to subjugate all and ignoring the needs of others for its own profit. In its fall, Hyrule tries to drag everyone else down with it. It is under your pathetic dynasty, Zelda, that all of these evils have happened. All I desired to stop this. That is my crime! I desired to save Hyrule from itself, to save it and the other peoples and races of these lands from your kingdom's greed and negligence.
"But every time I neared victory, you or one of your wretched ancestors have stopped me! I have had to endure the shame of defeat at the hands of a succession of ever-weakening 'heroes' and 'sages'. Every generation dilutes you blood further, robbing you of your power and worth. Already you are both little more than peasants, sitting upon the blood and deeds of your ancestors."
"But no more. I am through with it all. Hyrule has fallen too far to save, and no one remains to protect from Hyrule. I will take my leave now."
I walk around the table and toward the exit, but Zelda calls, "Ganon."
"My name," I growl, not turning to look at her, "is Ganondorf."
"Ganondorf," She corrects, "What are you going to do? Where will you go?"
"I don't know," I reply.
I step out of the tent, and breathe deeply the frosty air. "Master!" a nearby moblin barks, and bows.
"No longer," I answer as I walk over to a hitching post. Two chestnut mares idly graze at one end of the post. At the other end, a charger with a coat as dusky as my skin looks up at me and whickers softly.
The moblins have saddled him as I have requested. The Sage and the Hero step out of my tent as I finish unhitching the steed. I ignore Zelda as she calls to me, and leap onto the charger's back. A kick of my heels sets him into a swift gallop down the open path that divides the tiny camp in two. Within minutes, the camp has shrunk to a dot on the horizon.
I take those moments to enjoy the wind upon my face. Yes, Link, the reign of Ganon is over. Now your reign begins. Everything I told them was true. I am tired of the war, tired of trying to claim a land that has destroyed itself. Nothing remains for me to conquer.
However, it is not the way of the Gerudo to idly surrender. I will not allow my failures to go unavenged. And you played into my hands perfectly, mistrustful Hero. The two Triforces you now control will slowly eat away at your sanity, demanding to be whole. Soon enough, you will try to claim the third for yourself. But the third Triforce is the treasure of the Royal Family, a symbol of its power. The Sage will never give it to you; she will guard it with her life. But you will have it, Noble Hero, or die trying.
The bloodline of either the Hero or the Master Sage will be ended permanently. The survivor will inherent the all three parts of the Triforce. Then, absolute power will begin to corrupt absolutely. Perhaps I will be the one to stop the survivor. If I care to.
If it is the Hero that survives, I hold no doubt he will blame me for his fall, and ruthlessly hunt me down. I don't care anymore. I have died before; the Reaper and I have met and I fear him no longer. If I perish, then it is simply release. This world means nothing to me anymore.
I am tired, but retribution is worth any exhaustion. What will become of the prophecies of old when the Hero falls prey to corruption of absolute power, or when the Sage and the Hero destroy each other? What chaos will rise from this? What will it mean for the dying land of Hyrule?
Such is the vengeance of the Gerudo.