This is a sequel to my oddly beloved fic, Reflections. If you have not read Reflections, do so now. It is in the Archives, under Ocarina of Time. If you do not read it, you will not have a single idea of what is going on.
Footsteps echo down the hallway. The princess sighs, knowing what must be done. Her heart feels as though it is about to shatter from equal parts terror and sorrow. Tears well in her eyes, and she wishes for all the world that she could let them flow. But the she has to be strong for a little while longer, she cannot show any weakness or regret. There will be time for tears later, an entire lifetime for tears.
The footsteps grow louder still, until a man dressed in green appears at the open doorway. He walks into the simple side parlor of the palace, the smile on his face a dagger in the princess’ soul. He still wears the plain green clothing of a forester despite his rank, but he has laid aside most of his equipment. He is handsome, but stress has taken a toll on him. Dark rings lie beneath his eyes, his cheeks are slightly hollow, and his blond hair hangs limp under his hat. But the warrior’s green eyes sparkle with a light that betrays something beyond his haggard appearance.
“Will you finally give it to me, Zelda?” he asks sweetly; manic eagerness just barely concealed underneath.
“Yes,” she sighs, “Come forth, my knight.”
His smile grows even wider, and his eyes seem to dance with a crazed light as he walks forward. Zelda imagines she almost sees his lips twitch, as if he were about to begin talking to himself.
She closes her eyes, gathering her mind and concentrating, and nearly sobs. Her knight is gone. Long has she suspected it so, long has she prayed it was not so. Another prayer echoes through her thoughts, but she knows it to be futile. Once, Ganon had told her that the goddesses bore names, now forgotten. She would gladly trade her soul at that moment to know those names, in hopes that the powers that be would hear her more clearly and answer her prayers.
When did it begin? she wonders. How long had she seen the signs? Had he simply disguised them before that fateful night a month ago, or was she just blind? Either way, Zelda had no choice but to realize the truth when he approached her one night and literally threw himself at her feet, begging for the Royal Treasure of Hyrule, the Triforce of Wisdom.
What he requested, what he pleaded for with all his heart and soul, was impossible to give. Since before Hyrule’s histories could recall, the monarch of the land held the Triforce of Wisdom. The Triforce was a symbol of her family’s right to rule, a symbol preserving that right for as long as the kingdom has existed.
Even if she could give it away, she could not give it to him. The Triforce of Wisdom is but one of three relics. Together, those three relics would grant unimaginable power to anyone who holds them. Link possesses the other two artifacts; one his by birthright, the other given to him by an elder evil that desired respite.
Every day since that fateful night, Link has begged her for the Triforce, pleaded and debased himself for it to no avail. Finally, he began to demand it, and left Zelda with no choice. Her knight, the Hero ordained by fate, had gone mad. She tried to deny it, but she cannot deny the truth that glitters madly in the eyes of the man she loves more than life itself.
She opens her eyes once more as Link kneels before her. He gazes up at Zelda, and she nearly recoils at the desire reflecting in his eyes. He extends a hand, and it begins.
A tapestry at the far wall, bearing the picture of a lone woman in peasants’ clothing singing in the crow’s nest of a ship at night, suddenly flies open to reveal a robed man standing in a niche it concealed! Before Link can do more than look over, the man conjures a field of green energy. That energy envelopes Link more swiftly than the eye can follow, and lifts him off the ground. Another sorcerer emerges from behind another tapestry; this one of a silver-haired elf in purple robes playing a lute in a secluded garden; and weaves a spell of his own on the knight as the latter kicks in the air. Link’s motion ceases as the spell paralyzes him in a spread-eagle position. Still, he is able to look down on Zelda, his eyes brimming with fury!
“Traitor!” he spits, “Wretched treacherous woman! You lied to me! You promised me what I desire, what is mine by rights! Will you declare yourself Queen next, and rule with Ambi’s fist?” No ruler in the known world has borne the title of King or Queen since the reign of Queen Ambi, in the earliest days of history. None would seek to honor her mad reign by taking such a title.
“Link,” Zelda answers calmly, fighting back sorrow at her beloved’s vitriol, “you ask for something that no mortal can have.”
“I must have it!” he cries, “I must be complete! Release me, I have done nothing to deserve your betrayal!”
The last word wounds Zelda’s heart so badly she cannot bear to speak for a moment. She knows that some of his words are very true. “Link, you must understand. No mortal is meant to hold the power of the complete Triforce. Not Ganon, not I, and not you. Please, release your hold on the Triforce of Power. I beg you to let it go!”
“Never!” Link screams angrily, Zelda imagines that he is beginning to froth at the mouth, “It must be complete! I must be complete! The Triforce will be whole again!”
“Then you leave me no choice,” answers Zelda, a sob nearly shattering her outward composure. She begins to weave a spell of her own, a spell found in the darkest depths of the Royal Archives, hidden away from mortal eyes for countless centuries. Link immediately senses the magicks that the Princess weaves over him, and howls like a soul descending into the inferno!
“NOOO!” he wails, “I will not be bound! I am not Ganon! I will not be sealed away!"
Other mages step in from the two chambers adjoining the parlor and begin to add their power to the binding. Over two dozen of the greatest sorcerers in the realm have come to aid, but not a single one lacks a shard of remorse as they concentrate their power on binding away the man who saved their kingdom.
Link’s denials have become an inarticulate ululating cry. Then the mark on his right hand, two triangles resting side by side, begins to shine as brightly as the sun. A great shattering sound reverberates through the parlor, like an enormous pane of glass slamming into a mountainside. The sorcerers wail out in pain as a wave of energy rolls over them like a tidal wave. The shock overwhelms Zelda’s vision, leaving a fierce ache in her head after it vanishes and her sight returns. Looking around, Zelda realizes she is lying on the ground.
Dazed, the princess pulls herself up to a sitting position before she notices a figure in brown boots standing before her. Her daze vanishes as she sees that only a few of the mages are moving at all. Slowly, fearfully, Zelda lets her gaze climb up to look in the face of the man who held her heart.
His visage is as cold and unfeeling as granite. No longer can Zelda see his eyes; hot white energy more blinding than the noon sun fills his eye sockets. Terror unlike any the Princess has ever known fills her soul.
Fighting back the urge to run, she stands, and begins to weave a new spell, like the power of the Triforce of Wisdom flow into it. For a moment, she is tempted to do as Link has done, as Ganon had done, and draw upon the artifact fully. But she knows that is a path of corruption, one she cannot risk.
"So you still fight, traitor," Link spits angrily, his glowing eyes narrowing dangerously. "What possesses you? Where is my loyal and loving Princess Zelda?"
Zelda does not answer, as she continues to weave her spell. Hope begins to well in her heart. If Link is arrogant enough to let her finish this spell, perhaps she can bind him yet! There is non way she'll be able to survive channelling so much power, but so be it.
Her hope turns into a cold lump of gnawing terror as Link's hand drifts to the hilt of the Master Sword...
The peaceful bustle of Rauru is broken when a column of light suddenly erupts from the palace recently built in the center of town. Some watch in quiet terror as that light reaches into the sky, others hide their faces and avert their eyes as if to deny what is happening. Some begin to panic, but no one has time to act on that panic. A few would claim that they heard an agonized, frenzied scream echo from the palace before it erupted into a sphere of blinding light. Those looking in that direction barely have time to register that light before it expands to engulf the town, leaving nothing but fine ash in its wake.
None see the comparatively tiny mote of light that escapes from the ruins of the palace, escaping into the sky.
The cool breeze against my face is something I have come to savor these past few months. It is surprising how quickly I have become acquainted to being human once more, how soon I have forgotten the form I once wore. It is as if I had never drawn upon the form of the demon.
It is behind me now. With a grunt, I dismiss such thoughts and enjoy the last bits of the wind before the breeze dies. The waterskin in my hands grows heavy with the weight of the clear stream water flowing into it. I lift it from the brook and replace the seal, then tie it to my belt as I stand up.
I stretch, and wipe the water from my hands on my face, letting the sweet cool liquid ease away the day’s heat. It is odd not to see the mark of the Golden Power on the back of my right palm anymore, but I hardly pay it any heed as I spread the moisture over my face. In truth, the heat is meager at best to one raised in the Gerudo Valley, but I feel no need to tax myself. I don’t really need a waterskin at all, for I could find sufficient water in a salt flat; there is no necessity to test myself so.
Refreshed, I begin to walk northeast. I have traveled this direction since that fateful day, when I renounced everything I had believed in. I have traveled past plains, over mountains, and now through this idyllic forest. I do not know where I am going, but I know what I seek: a land not touched by the hands of Hylians. A place never seen by the eyes of Hyrule. Somewhere that is free from the taint of that dying land’s greed.
I cover a mile in silence, enjoying the periodic breeze and keeping an eye open for a bush with some kind of edible berries, or perhaps a fat juicy rabbit for supper. The thick canopy of the woods filters out most of the sunlight, keeping it the heat from being even an annoyance. Shade is something I was raised to value, for it is a luxury in the desert. If only this forest had never suffered the touch of Hylians...
But it has. I have found charred spots left from the fires of others, and seen more signs of Hylian hunters. However, it is not Hylians I encounter when the bushes and foliage suddenly part to reveal that I am not alone!
One moment, I am enjoying the peace of the forest, the next I am surrounded by four blue-skinned creatures wielding long spears! Their bulldog faces are etched with a look most would interpret as hostile, but I know to be wary.
“I bear no blade in my hand or my heart,” I say in their language, a grunting tongue that sounds vaguely like cursing, “I wish only passage and peace, and offer the same.”
They look at each other in confusion, clearly not expecting the swarthy-skinned human before them to give a traditional greeting in their own language. Then, one of them barks, “Savior! The Savior has returned to us!”
Immediately, the four fall to their knees, necks bared to receive punishment if I deem it necessary. “I am not your Mahdi,” I tell them, using the Gerudo word for savior, as is my habit. “I am only a traveler who desires safe passage.”
“If you claim not to be the Savior,” one of the moblins says, “we shall acknowledge that. Know that you shall always have welcome and safety in the lands of the Broken Sun people.”
It is clear they think that I still desire to lead them against Hyrule. I have told my armies that the war is over, and they have scattered. Still, most would return if I called them. Time will end that sentiment, or the Hylians will hunt them to extinction. I no longer care. It is too late to change that.
I take my leave of the moblins, and it is to their credit that they do not try to trail me, as some of my old followers have. Soon, I have covered another two miles and the woods begin to thin. A mountain range becomes visible in the distance through the forest’s canopy. I take a sip from my waterskin as I try to determine how many hours of daylight remain.
As I look to the west, I notice a light in the sky, like a star shining in the middle of the day! As I watch, it seems to move lower in the sky, and grow larger. I stand, spellbound, as it arcs toward me. This realization stuns me for a moment, then I begin to run.
My feet touch the earth three times before I am blasted off the ground! There is no explosion or sound of impact, just a wave of force that sends me flying. I twist over in the air, and land on my back. Thankfully, I am able to keep from dashing my head against any rocks. Before my eyes can refocus, a bright glow washes over them. I throw up a hand to shield them, until they can adjust, then look up. What I see steals my breath.
Hovering over me is my nemesis, a man whose face has polluted every era this land has witnessed. But, he is no longer a mere Hylian. From his back extend at least a half dozen pairs of wings made of fiery blue-white energy, each set flapping independently of the others and creating a hypnotic tandem. His skin glows, as if the sun’s fire runs through his veins. His clothes are silver in hue, and are almost reflective enough to be mirrors. His face is etched with hatred, his eyes glowing like hellfire. His hands are sheathed in energy that is shaped vaguely like blades. The mark of the Triforce, three triangles all shining like golden suns, marks his hand.
“You made her betray me,” Link says calmly, but with the weight of a man declaring a death sentence, “You made Zelda betray me.”
“I made no one betray you,” I answer evenly, relishing the sight before me. He is going to kill me, but I have met the reaper before. “All that betrayed you was your blood. Your ancestors could have handled the power of the Triforce. You were just too weak. The fault is no one’s but your own. Now, go rule your perfect empire of Hyrule; the one you were so afraid to see me destroy.”
“Liar,” he replies calmly, as if noting the weather, “It is your fault.”
I note that the scabbard at his side is empty, and chuckle. “I see you no longer carry the Master Sword, boy.”
A muscle on Link’s face twitches, then raises one of his hands. The energy that engulfs it suddenly extends at me, like a pit viper’s strike, and slams into my chest! Agony races through every nerve of my body: I would scream if a terrible weight on my chest hadn’t crushed out my breath! I feel flaming tendrils like molten steel wrap around my shoulders and around my waist like a raptor’s claw, driving the agony even further. White pain overwhelms my vision, until comfortable, familiar darkness washes over it, and the pain fades away...
The darkness becomes less dark, which confuses me greatly. Then it becomes truly dark once more, then fades to merely dark a second later. I become aware of a crackling sound behind me. The darkness fluctuates again, and I realize that I was blinking. I don’t remember death being like this before...
A face appears over me, a beautiful face with brown skin and scarlet hair! Disbelieving, I reach up to touch that face and find that it is indeed flesh. “How?” I ask, “The Gerudo are no more...”
The woman smiles, and replies, “I am not Gerudo, not like you think.” She then looks away, and says, “He has awakened.” A moment later, two more women are kneeling over me. One has fair skin and long wavy hair the color of sapphires; her ears bear the points of a Hylian, but her face is more delicate than any Hylian I have ever seen. The third looks like nothing more than an adolescent Kokiri, impossible as that may be. Her large eyes are the color of grass after a storm, her hair colored the same and pulled up into afro-puffs.
“How are you feeling?” the Kokiri asks.
“I don’t know,” I answer after a moment.
“I guess that’s better than ‘in terrible agony’,” the Gerudo says, looking to the Kokiri. Her words make me realize that I do not hurt at all.
“We were afraid you wouldn’t make it,” the Hylian says softly, “Link had almost destroyed you! We were lucky he decided that you deserved nothing less than to die alone from your wounds.”
Like a damn bursting from floodwaters, memories from long ago come to me of these three women! “Oracles,” I whisper, “You’re the Oracles!”
“Good,” the Kokiri says; I remember that she is the Oracle of Secrets, “That will make this much easier.”
The Oracle of Ages, the Hylian, speaks next, “We did not save you out of the kindness of our hearts.”
The last, the Oracle of Seasons whom I mistook for one of my own, continues, “Link must be stopped.”
Looking around, I see that the Oracles have built a small fire, and set up camp around it. A huge scar, at least three yards in diameter, marks where Link tried to kill me. The earth has been scorched bare, and I doubt anything will grow here again for a long time. Stars twinkle above; the sun must have set hours ago.
I chuckle darkly as I pull myself to my feet. “Good luck. I doubt even the mortal avatars of the Goddesses can stop him.”
“Exactly,” the Oracle of Secrets answers, “You are going to help us. After all, you did give him the Triforce of Power.”
“And he took it, Farore,” I answer. The Oracles, though born as normal mortals, soon take the aspects and the names of the Goddess they represent. “His weakness is no concern of mine.”
I look each of the three Oracles in the eye. As I tower at least a foot over the tallest, it is not hard to talk down to them. “Link had everything he desired. I gave him what he wanted, and I am through.”
Farore’s jaw hangs open in surprise, her eyes so wide they seem to swallow half her face. Nayru’s face has fallen; the Hylian looks to be on the edge of tears. The Oracle of Seasons takes up an angry look worthy of any Gerudo.
I am more than a little curious about Din’s Oracle. The Gerudo were assimilated long before I could return to Hyrule, so how could the Oracle bear a Gerudo’s appearance? Was she just born a Hylian, and changed as she grew, or could she actually be Gerudo? I have heard legends that state the Oracles are immortal; could she have lived that long? I cannot help but wonder the same about Farore.
“Don’t you care that Link will kill you?” Nayru asks.
“I have met the reaper before,” I answer, turning to leave.
“He might destroy the world in his madness!” Din exclaims, “Don’t you care?!”
“I tried to save the world before,” I tell her, walking away. They follow me “Hyrule refused to be saved. I am tired.”
“But so many innocent people will suffer!” Farore cries.
“How many suffered during Croseus’ conquests?” I counter calmly, “How many Gerudo suffered when Prince Erelim forced them to give up wandering, to stop speaking their language? How many Kokiri suffered when Hylians began to log the Lost Woods, or when floods eroded away the soil and left it mostly barren? How badly did the Zoras suffer when Queen Iris refused to enforce a fair price on the medicines they needed to cure the Cerulean Plague? I recall that even the Royal House could hardly afford more than enough to treat themselves and their closest retainers. If suffering is so important to you, then you should have opened your eyes sooner.”
“How can you be so callous?” Din demands, “You have no right to talk like that!”
“You did more than your share of atrocities,” Farore points out coolly. “Didn’t you freeze over Zoras’ Domain? Didn’t you revive the ancient wyrm Volvagia and give it Goron City?”
“You have a lot to atone for,” Din continues, “This is a way for you to set right the vile deeds you committed!”
“Redemption?” I answer. “Why? What I fought was more wicked than any deed, than every deed I have done. Make that offer to Hyrule, they have far more to answer for. What I did was war. The Zoras, the Gorons, the Kokiri, all of them; they were blind to the truth that the Gerudo and the Sheikah knew well. Would they oppose me now? I have nothing to atone for.”
“We can reward you,” Nayru says, as they begin to fall behind.
“There is nothing worth having anymore,” I tell them. “Hyrule has destroyed the land beyond saving. No reward can change this.”
“I thought that it wasn’t the way of the Gerudo to meekly surrender,” Farore says.
“Surrender?” I answer, “Link got what he wanted, and destroyed everything he had. His sanity is gone, he slew his own love, and he has forsaken what shred of honor he thought he had! I ask you, who truly surrendered?”
“Haven’t you?” Nayru counters, “Then why do you refuse to face him again, after he soundly defeated you?”
“I have ended it,” I answer, as they finally stop pursuing me. “Link failed to hold true to his beliefs. He has fallen, and seeks to ruin as much as he can in his downfall.”
“We could revive the Gerudo,” Din calls.
I pause. Slowly, I turn to face them once more, as they catch up to me once more, and I ask, “You can bring back my people?”
“It is possible,” Nayru says, he face even.
“Swear upon it,” I tell her, and the others, “and I will stop the Hero.”
“It will be done,” Din says, “We swear upon our bonds to the Goddesses themselves!” The other two nod in agreement, their faces serious.
I cannot help but laugh a little. These three, who once fought so hard to keep me from returning to this world, long ago, are now begging for my help. Not only do they beg, they are willing, even eager, to reward me for it! They ignore my mirth, and try to keep me from seeing the consternation on their faces. The Oracles too are well aware of the irony, and it galls them.
Nayru draws a pendant from around her neck; Farore does the same, while Din unwraps a similar jewel she wears around her wrist. They place the pendants in my hands, much to my confusion. “Why are you giving these to me?” I ask. Then I take a closer look at one, and laugh at the top of my lungs until my sides start to hurt!
Holding up a chain with an emerald dangling from it, I say, “I once cursed the Deku Tree to suffer a slow, lingering death to obtain this. One of the eldest beings in the world sacrificed its life to keep this from me.” Next I hold up a pendant bearing a ruby that sparkles in the weak firelight. “For this, I threatened the capital of the Goron nation with famine. They were willing to starve so that this would never fall into my possession.” The last is a lovely sapphire the color of a pristine lake. Contemplating the facets of it, I say, “I nearly destroyed the one that the Zoras held sacred above all else to have this. Their own princess was willing to flee and destroy her entire society to keep it from my grasp.
“Once, my mother told me that all things will come to those with patience. How right she was!” I break out into gales of laughter again. “There was a time when I would have given anything, done anything to hold these three stones. Now, I hardly care that you willingly handed them to me. What use are they now?”
“If you are going to defeat Link, you will need the Master Sword,” Nayru says, “These pendants will allow you to claim it.”
“So I am to wield the sword of evil’s bane?” I inquire, “How quickly the world changes its perspective! If these pendants are required to wield the blade, how did Link ever possess it?”
“When you broke the Seal,” answers Farore, “We realized that swift action might be needed when you returned. We told the Hero who stopped you then to pass the blade to a worthy heir, instead of leaving it in the Lost Woods. The test is required only when someone tries to claim the sword after it has been laid to rest; an heir can wield it if given the previous owner’s blessings. One of those heirs eventually passed the weapon to Link.”
“We aren’t sure what happened to the Master Sword,” Din says, “But Farore claims that she doesn’t sense him carrying it any longer. If we give you the pendants, we know you’ll be able to use it, no matter what.”
“Where is it, then?” I ask.
“Rauru,” Farore answers, “I can teleport us there.”
“Do it,” I say.
“Now?!” Farore and Din exclaim as one.
“Rest first,” Nayru orders, gently but firmly, “Let your body recover from the shock you suffered.”
I shake my head. “I am going to do as we agreed. I have no intention of dying if Link shows up again, so I will have that blade. Rest will come once I am satisfied that I am no longer defenseless. Now, Farore, use your spell and take me to Rauru.”
When the haze of the Oracle’s spell fades away, what I see makes me pause. In the light of the swollen half moon, I see a desolation where a town once stood. In fact, there is no evidence that Hylians had ever settled here!
All around me is emptiness. For at least a mile across, all there is to be found is ash and bare earth scorched as black as the night sky. There is not much ash; if gathered together it would not make a pile reaching my waist. Here and there, I can see tiny puddles of metal and glass that the destruction of Rauru failed to evaporate. That is all.
At my side, Farore is speechless; I am nearly so. The Oracle of Secrets simply casts about in mute horror, and I cannot blame her. In all my centuries, I have never seen anything that compares to this. I have tried to topple societies, tried to break the strongest nation in the known world with all of my might, and fought to my last to win; but I have never done anything like this. Never have I totally obliterated an entire city like this! I have done everything I could think of to shatter Hyrule and create a better nation, but I never did this. Nothing could have survived this, nothing. Even Hylians deserve a chance to run.
“I can feel the sword nearby,” Farore says after a few moments of walking around, taking in the desolation, “It’s this way.” She begins to move southwest, toward the center of the devastation. It does not take long to find the sword among fine silt and bare earth. It lies on the ground, like a beacon in the emptiness. I close in on the blade, and smile despite myself as I gently take it into my hands.
What was once the Master sword is no longer a threat to anyone, let alone the bane of evil. It has been burnt almost to charcoal. The blade has been twisted and warped in a dozen places, and nearly melted through in two spots. Bubbles left over from the metal boiling mar one side of the weapon. Shapeless slag is all that remains of the crossguards, and the hilt fares no better.
What interests me most is what was not consumed. Somehow, miraculously, a small patch of leather remains on the hilt, fused with the slag. It is burnt beyond use or recognition, but I know what it is, and what it means.
“He... destroyed it...” says the Oracle of Secrets, her voice dead of feeling from shock. She is on the verge of tears, already a couple slide done her face and a torrent threatens to follow.
“Link tried to use it when he killed Zelda,” I tell her, “and it rejected him. Some of his glove remains from where the sword electrocuted him. He probably destroyed it out of spite.” Despite the gravity of the situation, I cannot help but chuckle. The greatest symbol of the Hero’s power rejected him, as he rejected his beliefs. Such is the vengeance of the Gerudo.
“What can we do now?” Farore asks, trying to hold back her devastation with resolve worthy of a Gerudo.
“Fix it,” I answer.
“How?” says the Oracle, half-asking, half demanding, “There’s not a force in the world powerful enough to reforge the Master Sword, save the Goddesses themselves!”
“Then we will simply have to find them,” I reply.
“That’s not possible,” Farore lectures, “The Goddesses left the world soon after creating it. Even if we could find them, they wouldn’t do it.”
“Why not?” I inquire.
“It would take time to explain,” the Oracle demurs, “Let’s find somewhere to make camp, first. Maybe we can think of something to do, but we’ll be helpless if you collapse from exhaustion.”
From frightened child to concerned mother in moments, how hard Farore works to hide her despondence! “Fine, let’s rest for now,” I concede, “But we will leave here first; I have no desire to remain in this place any longer than necessary.”
With a fire crackling, our bellies full of dried venison that I made several days ago, and what was once Rauru two miles behind us, I ask, “Why wouldn’t the Goddesses repair the Master Sword?”
“What is the only constant in the world?” the Oracle counters.
“Hmm?” I respond.
“Tell me,” Farore presses, “What is the only thing that is eternal in the world?”
“Pain, foolishness, and death,” I answer after a moment, quoting a Gerudo proverb. “From birth, one is assured to find these three things.”
“No,” the Oracle replies, “Those would vanish if the universe ended.”
“Not that, either. If decay were a constant, how could new life ever thrive? Even decay would end with the universe, for nothing would be left to fall apart.”
“Make your point,” I say.
“There is only one thing that is eternal,” Farore answers, “The Goddesses themselves.”
“You have yet to answer my original question,” I growl.
The Oracle holds up a hand to forestall any other arguments, and tells me, “Just listen for now. The goddesses are the only eternal things in existence. Now, let me ask you another question. Let’s say you built a monument. Wouldn’t you want it to last as long as possible?”
“Presumably,” I answer. What do eternity and monuments have to do with the Master Sword?
“What if it fell apart before you passed on?” Farore continues, “What would do?”
“I would rebuild it,” I answer. I think I’m starting to see the point she’s making.
“Would you?” Farore asks, “Or would you build a new one? It would be futile to repair something that failed to survive on its own. But it would not be so futile to create a better monument.”
“How is the Master Sword like a monument?” I demand.
“It’s not,” Farore answers, “This world is. The Goddesses created and shaped this world in an effort to make a monument that is mirrors their own eternal nature. They will not interfere with it in any way, for that would mean that their monument is not eternal after all.”
“I had never thought of that,” I reply after a moment, “If this world is to be eternal and untouched, why are you allowed to affect it? Why is anyone allowed to risk affecting it in some way?”
“Because we are part of the monument,” Farore answers, “Everything born of this world, this universe, is part of the Goddesses’ creation. Our actions are simply part of what the monument does, what it stands for.”
“What is the Triforce, then?” I ask. “How does it play into this monument?”
“The Triforce is many things,” Responds Farore, “It is a symbol of the Goddesses’ power. It is the force that binds the various parts of the world together; without it the world would dissolve away. It is nearly perfect, for only the Goddesses can destroy it. The Triforce was an emblem of hope, as well, for it the Goddesses hoped that we could use its power wisely. It could be used to save their eternal monument, or destroy it.”
“So,” I say, “This is why the ancients built a temple to Time, and not the Goddesses. If the Goddesses would not listen to our prayers, only the hand of fate and the forces of change would.”
“The Goddesses listen,” Farore corrects, “But they do not act.”
“Then what are you?” I question, “If the Goddesses do not interfere, why do the Oracles exist?”
“We serve as the eyes and ears of the Goddesses,” answers the Oracle, tossing another bit of wood onto the fire. “They do not affect the world, but they take constant delight in viewing it. The Goddess Farore experiences the world as I do. She sees everything that I see, hears all that I hear. My senses are hers to experience.
“But we serve an important purpose here, as well. We Oracles maintain the forces that affect the world. Din makes sure that the seasons stay under control, that they last three months and no longer, and that they come and go in the proper order. Time is Nayru’s domain; she makes certain that its flow is steady, and always forward.”
I knew much of what she said, but hearing it in the perspective the world as a monument is intriguing. “What is it that you control?” I ask.
“That’s a secret,” she answers serenely, with a little wink that makes her seem even more like a Kokiri. “Now, tell me about how you intend to repair the Master Sword.”
“Have you ever visited the Sacred Realm?” I reply...
The next morning, Farore teleports us to the ruins of old Hyrule. I find it odd that she does not return to the other Oracles first and tell them of the Master Sword’s fate. When asked about this, she simply says that they know already, and that they have their own tasks to attend to. When pressed about the nature of those tasks, she tells me that Din is following Link, while Nayru is working to uphold the Oracles’ end of our agreement.
In truth, I really do not care about the actions of the other Oracles. My task is my own, and that is all I have time to worry about. As we stand before what remains of Hyrule castle, I find my thoughts carried back to the past...
Once, Hyrule Castle stood as a symbol of King Croseus’ arrogance and Hyrule’s greed. It was crafted by the finest Goron stonemasons and decorated with Gerudo weavings and Kokiri woodwork. The treasures of a dozen fallen lords decorated its halls, as well as armor worn by those who fought Croseus and lost. Croseus’ successor, Xerxes I, was particularly proud of those suits of armor. I remember my days as a Knight of Hyrule, when he would proudly boast of his father’s conquests as if they were his own.
I also remember the Sheikah honor guard that he kept; how they had to endure serving the one who defeated them. Were it not for the oath of loyalty that Croseus extracted from their Elder, I have no doubt they would have slain Xerxes without a moment of pity. I am still surprised they did not slay the one who made it possible for Croseus to claim that vow, Impa the Traitor. I recall most clearly of all how they hated her, how they refused to speak with her or even acknowledge her presence. I sometimes wonder if she ever felt sick at accepting Croseus’ honors in exchange for betraying her people and becoming a pariah?
I took especial joy in destroying Hyrule Castle when I first claimed the Triforce of Power, and creating my own mockery of it. But there was no joy when I had to cut down a legion of Sheikah, honorbound to follow Xerxes’ last frenzied commands to stop me at all costs. I saw how they wanted to join me, but they were bound to the Royal Family. I made sure that Xerxes suffered for many months before perishing for wasting his soldiers’ lives so blatantly.
After my exile, they rebuilt the castle in the middle of Hyrule Field. But, the destruction I failed to wreak was done instead by time and Hylian arrogance. Old Hyrule is dead. The soil has been leeched by centuries of careless farming. The Lost Woods have become little more than a small copse of trees since Hylians clear-cut most of it away; erosion then ruined the topsoil. Death Mountain is riddled with old mines that now serve as homes to slimes and worse. A graveyard marks where Kakariko once stood; a fitting monument to the fate of the Sheikah who once lived there.
What is left of the castle itself cannot even be called ruins. When the Hylians abandoned the land nearly seventy-five years ago, Prince Solon VIII commanded that the Castle be taken apart, and as much of it as possible be brought northwest of Rauru, where it was rebuilt. All that remains of the original castle are a few weathered foundation stones too large for the Hylians to take. Still, more than enough is left for my purposes.
Farore is silent as I lead her to a pair of massive stone blocks that tower over me despite decades of weathering. These two stones, set about five yards apart, mark where the castle’s gatehouse one stood. Something else remains here as well, the work of my puppet wizard. Since my demise over a century ago, it has laid quiescent, waiting for another to call upon it. Foolish Hylians, they probably believed that it had vanished. Or, perhaps its presence was the true reason that Solon VIII moved the capital.
“I can sense it,” Farore says, “But it’s weak. Will it still work?”
“I thought that secrets were your realm, Farore,” I reply with a sardonic grin. I take a moment to clear my throat, then call upon sorcery that I have not used in centuries. I begin to invoke in my native tongue.
“O thin veil that separates worlds, part now for one who hath sheared thine bindings! Release thy hold upon reality and allow the forces of this world to mingle with the next! Part for thine master, O fractured veil!”
As I speak, a thin line of light about ten feet in height appears in the air. It grows outward as I invoke, widening to touch both foundation stones. A yellow glow emanates from within the tear in the fabric of reality, its light soft yet blinding. “Come,” I say, and step into portal.
For a brief moment, all I can see is golden light. Then, it fades away to reveal a place I had once hoped to never see again. The land is verdant and emerald green, like the descriptions of paradise that the elders once told me about when I was a boy.
All around me is a forest so lush and beautiful that I wonder why I didn’t try to come here sooner. This is the land that I have searched for, I realize, a land untouched by Hylians! The sunlight cuts through the forest canopy, pooling on the ground like liquid gold. The air is cool and sweet, and the sounds of a dozen different kinds of birdsong weave together like a symphony.
The portal stands open behind me, but it closes moments after the Oracle of Secrets steps though it. An afterimage of the portal remains for a few heartbeats, then fades away. Farore’s green eyes widen a little as she takes in the soundings, and she says, “Reminds me of home.”
“Does it?” I respond. Maybe she is Kokiri, or perhaps she lived among them.
“How did you open that gate?” Farore asks, changing the subject, “I’ve never heard of a spell like that! How did it go? ‘And-ak, ya veil... um....’
“It a simple command, spoken in Gerudo,” I tell her. She has obviously never heard my native language before, but her pronunciation is not terrible for hearing it just once. I smile as I recall a time when King Xerxes forbade me from speaking Gerudo within the palace, afraid that I was invoking dark powers. In truth, I was simply outlining his many fallacies.
“You’ll have to teach it to me someday,” says the Oracle.
“Perhaps,” I say. “Ironic, isn’t it? When I first came here to claim the Triforce, the veil between our world and this one was too strong for anyone to break. When the Master Sage called upon the Triforce’s power to seal my away, she actually damaged the veil enough that I could easily escape once the Seal was destroyed. Had I been able to do this earlier, I could have claimed the Power of Gold with hardly any effort at all!”
“Didn’t this gate connect to your palace in this world?” Farore asks.
“It did,” I say, as I begin to walk north, “But my palace was destroyed when the previous hero used the Triforce to restore my realm to its previous form. We should be thankful that the gate shifted locations, instead of opening about a hundred feet above the ground where it previously was.”
“True enough,” admits the Oracle, struggling to catch up to me, “Where are we going? It should be safe now. I don’t think that Link would be looking for us here.”
I nod in agreement. Last night, I had declined to tell Farore much about my plan. It is possible that Link could use his newfound power to overhear us if he had even the slightest reason to suspect that I survived his attack, or that Oracles might oppose him. I still don’t feel safe speaking aloud, but I don’t want Farore to think that I am trying to abandon my side of our agreement. I am certain she can communicate telepathically with the other Oracles, and I won’t have her convincing Nayru to cheat me.
“We are going to visit an old friend of mine,” I say.
It is fortunate that the Sacred Realm remains much as I remember it being when I was first trapped here. I recall little of that time, for the power of the Triforce overwhelmed my mind after I drew upon it too heavily. But I do remember the lay of the land.
I had never really walked through the Sacred Realm before. When I was first trapped, my sanity was gone and I only cared about sating my basic instincts. Later, once I had regained my mental balance, I twisted this land to reflect Hyrule’s true nature, so that I might always remember why I had to break free. But now, I can simply enjoy the walk.
There is nothing more I can do to stop Link from finding us, so I do not worry about it. Instead, I simply enjoy the cool wind and the sweet water, the music of the birds and the serenity of the forest. As we put miles behind us, tiny motes of light begin to appear among the foliage. They don’t allow themselves to be seen directly, I only catch glimpses of them out of the corners of my eyes.
After walking for nearly half the day, we come to a lake, nearly a mile in diameter. Its mirror-like surface is perfectly calm and absolutely still; the breeze died away moments ago. Here, merely a century past, my pyramid once stood. Now, there are no traces of it to be seen. Farore and I walk to the lake’s edge. Looking down, I see my reflection perfectly, as well as Farore’s beside me. The water looks like glass; it almost seems as though I could walk across it.
I reach to my side, and unhook the remains of the Master Sword from my belt. Then I give it a light toss. Arcing about ten feet over the water, the charred metal hits and sinks beneath the surface of the lake with hardly a sound. I watch as ripples from the impact speed toward the bank, distorting our reflections. Then the ripples vanish, and the lake becomes an expanse of glass once more.
We wait, as the seconds crawl by. Then, a figure appears before us. She simply materializes out of the air, like heat waves rising from the desert sands. Tall and radiant, she stands on the surface of the lake without disturbing it. Gossamer wings extend from the faerie’s back, flapping gently but not quickly enough to be holding her aloft. Her face is beautiful and regal, her long wavy hair the color of willow bark. She wears a simple grass-green dress, free of ornaments of any kind. The charred ruin of the Master Sword, not even wet, rests in her hands.
“What have you done to the Master Sword!?” exclaims the faerie, until her eyes fall upon me. “You!” she growls, “Begone from my home!”
“Is that any way to greet an old friend, Queen Venus?” I ask with a smile that is anything but friendly.
“Why have you returned?” She demands, her voice harsh and icy.
“The Hero of Time has the entire Triforce!” Farore exclaims, “He’s gone completely mad! Already, He’s devastated an entire town and slain the last of the Sage’s bloodline. He destroyed the Master Sword, as well.”
“So why is he here?” Queen Venus asks, pointing at me. She says ‘he’ as though left a bad taste in her mouth.
“Ganondorf is the only one who can stop him,” Farore answers, “No one else can even hope to match Link now that he has the Triforce.”
“We need you to repair the Master Sword,” I say, cutting to the heart of the matter.
“Why should I do anything for you?” Venus retorts, putting her hands on her hips angrily; the sword’s remains float where she left them, “You drained my power and changed me into a bloated hag! Even if I could repair the Master Sword, I won’t. I’ll not do anything for you, Ganon!”
“My name is Ganondorf,” I growl, then calm myself and continue, “and you will repair the sword for me. I had to drain your power, otherwise you would have tried to destroy me; I can’t help it changed your appearance as well. Would you rather that I had just slain you? Or perhaps I could have enslaved your people instead. I distinctly remember them helping the Hero on several occasions.
“And I know you can repair the sword, Venus. Don’t try and play me for a fool with your lies. Do you think I am ignorant about the history of the weapon that has been my bane for ages? I know that your predecessor, Queen Maeve, forged it, and I know that you have the power to restore it.”
“You presume to give me orders after what you did?!” Venus exclaims angrily, her eyes flashing, “I wouldn’t reforge the Master Sword to save the world!”
“You will reforge the Master Sword so that I can save the world,” I tell her, “I did you the mercy of allowing you to live long ago. Don’t make me regret that.”
“When did you care about saving the world?” Venus demands.
“I don’t. My reasons are my own,” I answer.
“I have no intention of working with you, filthy Gerudo!” exclaims the Faerie Queen. “I’d rather let the Hero destroy the world than help you!”
“Then I’ll just have to do his work here,” I reply, letting cold anger creep into my words. Without any sort of invocation, I begin to gather magical energy into my palm. A dark nimbus spring into existence around my hand, and Venus’ eyes go wide.
“I won’t let you threaten me!” She declares, folding her arms across her chest.
“I make no threats,” I respond, now feeling the frosty rage that I spoke with, “Only promises. Don’t think that I’ll stop at just destroying you physical form. I know how you are connected to this lake. I have no qualms about damming the streams that feed it, and letting the water grow stagnant. Nor will you subjects escape my wrath. I will hunt them down, one by one. None will be spared. You know that I am capable of these promises, Queen Venus.”
“Even if Ganondorf fails to deliver what he assures,” Farore says, breaking her silence, “do you think that Link will be happy just destroying his own world? Do you think he will stop there? He destroyed an entire town full of people who virtually worshipped him for his deeds. I have seen the ruins, Queen Venus; there was nothing left but ash and the sword, nothing. If he would do that to his own people, imagine what he would do to faeriekind. Ganondorf showed you mercy, however twisted, when he ruled this world. Do you think that Link would do the same?”
“I-I had heard from my children in Hyrule that Rauru had been destroyed,” Venus answers weakly, dropping her previous stance, “Oracle of Secrets, do you truly believe that this one is the only hope we have?”
“Yes,” Farore answers evenly. I look at her with more than a little surprise. I had not though Farore capable of such cold speech. The nimbus around my hand fades away, as my attention diverts from holding it.
“Then I have no real choice, it seems,” Venus says with a sigh. “I will reforge the Master Sword, but it will take some time. If I start now, it should be done by tomorrow morning.”
“I don’t just want you to restore it,” I tell her, “I want you to make it more suitable. The previous Master Sword was made for one-handed use. I desire a larger blade; one made for two hands”
The Faerie Queen gives me an angry glance, a momentary glance. Then she sighs, beaten, and says, “Yes, Lord Ganon.”
“My name is Ganondorf,” I reply. Long ago, she had to call me Lord Ganon. Those days are no more.
A thousand little lights hover over the lake in the darkness, all swarming around a much larger glow; each flying in an intricate and hypnotic pattern. The sky is clear and a new moon leaves the heavens lightless. The stars here are not familiar to me; I never took time to study them before. Farore sits beside me, and a pleasant fire crackles in front of us. Several fine fish taken from Venus’ lake warm our bellies.
“Are you a Kokiri?” I inquire, breaking the silence between us.
“What?” Farore responds, breaking from her reverie.
“Are you a Kokiri?” I repeat.
“Once,” she answers, looking down, “Long ago.”
“I thought so,” I reply, “I’ll assume being an Oracle explains how you were able to leave the Lost Woods without perishing.”
She nods a little, “It’s been so long since anyone’s recognized me. No one remembers the Kokiri, not even the other Oracles. Both were born after my people disappeared.”
“I was always told that Kokiri never grow up,” I say.
“Normally, no,” answers the Oracle, “Farore favored the Kokiri, but she desired to experience everything life has to offer, so her Oracles matured as other races do.”
A rather calm answer; I thought she would be a little bitter over being the last of her kind, and an outcast of sorts as well. “Were you the first Oracle of Secrets?”
“No,” She answers, “It’s hard for my kind to stay severed from the Lost Woods for more than a few generations. There were three others before me.”
“What about Oracle of Seasons, is she a Gerudo?”
“No,” Farore answers with a little smile, “But it’s hard to tell the difference, sometimes. She’s from Saria, I think. Din favored the Gerudo, but you’re the only one left now. So her Oracles are born Hylian, and take on Gerudo appearance when they mature. Her current Oracle isn't even thirty, yet.”
“Why did the Oracles seclude themselves away?” I inquire.
The Oracle of Secrets smiles again, a hint of mischief in it this time, and replies, “What makes you think that we did? The people forgot the Goddesses, why wouldn’t they forget us?”
I shake my head in disgust. “Foolish Hylians.”
“Not just Hylians,” Farore corrects, “The Zoras have also forgotten us. I’ve visited what remains of their kingdom in the Labrynnan Sea; they have forgotten just as much as Hyrule. They refuse to acknowledge that they ever had a kingdom inland! The last of the Gorons were just as bad. They didn’t even remember the legend of Volvagia!” She sighs, then adds, “ But I cannot judge too harshly; I know nothing of the Sheikah. They had vanished long before I was born.”
“I remember the Sheikah very well,” I tell her, “I spent some time among them before King Xerxes I broke them completely...”
We talk late into the night about the Sheikah. Farore’s thirst for knowledge is hard to sate, but eventually I am able to tell her enough that she finally allows me to go to sleep.
It feels as though I have hardly closed my eyes when the Oracle suddenly wails at the top of her lungs! In a smooth, instinctive motion, I leap to my feet and draw upon the power to send a bolt of destructive magic flying at whatever threatens us. Looking around, I see nothing but the faeries over the lake. I glance down at Farore to see that she is white as a sheet, breathing heavily and clutching her blanket to herself tightly, her eyes unfocused as she stares ahead.
Letting my spell fade away harmlessly, I kneel down and give her an inquiring look. “What are you so frightened of?” I ask.
It takes her a moment to realize that I asked her a question. She looks are me, terror shining in her eyes, and says in a quavering voice, “I spoke with Din. In my dreams; that’s how we communicate with each other.”
“What’d Din say?” I urge.
“She, she found him,” Farore answers, “In the ancient cemetery south of Mido. She told me that Link had exhumed every grave and incinerated every corpse, wailing in frustration. Then, he went to Mido itself, and called the entire population to the town square. There, he stared every man, woman, and child in the eye, and destroyed without mercy those he proclaimed to be criminals.”
Farore has regained her composure a little, but she starts to tremble as she continues, “Din told me that Link then flew across the sea, toward Darunia. She was about to tell me that she was looking for a boat to follow him. Then... then...”
“Then what?” I encourage.
“Link found her,” Farore whispers, looking down, “Right as she was about to say whether she had found a boat or not, Link found her! I can still hear her scream echoing in my mind! I felt her die, Ganondorf, I felt it! Then, a voice spoke in my mind as I awoke. I could hear it even though I was screaming. It said, ‘Rauru’.”
“Him,” I declare, steel in my words.
Farore nods mutely, then says, “He destroyed the Oracle of Seasons! He killed Din! No one’s ever killed an Oracle before!”
“Do you know what will happen?” I ask.
“I’m not sure,” Farore says, “Sometimes, an Oracle would step down before her successor was ready to take her place. When that happened, the mere presence of the successor was enough to keep things reasonably in order, though one of the other Oracles had to do the actual work... But... Din was so young! I don’t know if anyone who could take her place has been born yet! If even if we stop Link, the seasons might run amok if there’s no Oracle to tend to them!”
Farore seems to have calmed down a little: she’s no longer on the edge of hysteria. “We’ll just have to end this and find out,” I tell her. “I think he knows what we’re doing, now. That is why he said ‘Rauru’, he wants to meet us there. In any event, there is nothing we can do until Venus finishes the sword.”
Farore doesn’t go back to sleep that night. My own rest is light, for I awaken several times to find the Oracle of Secrets sitting by the remains of the fire, shivering. I recall the words, ‘I felt her die’. Dying is something I remember all too well. If Farore truly felt that, I pity her.
Morning comes slowly, but it does come. I awaken to find that my companion has finally fallen asleep. Her face is peaceful, so I feel no need to wake her. With luck, her dreams will be distant memories when she awakens. I leave the Oracle to go foraging, hoping to find something better than fish for breakfast.
The woods seem lifeless without any faeries appearing at the edge of my vision. There is little in the way of birdsong, nor do the animals seem quite so active. The forest feels mundane, like any forest I might find in Hyrule. I wonder if it has something to do Queen Venus calling the faeries to aid her in reforging the Master Sword, or if I have just adapted to the Sacred Realm to the point that it seems ordinary?
There is much to be found in the abundance of Sacred Realm, so it does not take me long to find a patch of wild blackberries. That brings a little smile to my lips; berries of any kind were a rare treat in the Gerudo Desert. I spend about an hour or so harvesting them from the briar patch that they grow in, emptying out my waterskin to hold them.
I return to the Venus’ Lake, liberally partaking of my breakfast along the way, to find Farore awake and the Faerie Queen at her side. The Oracle looks miserable, to say the least. Dark rings have developed under her eyes, and it looks as though she has been crying recently. It makes me wonder if she had ever lost a friend violently; outlanders can be sensitive about that sometimes, Gerudo rarely live to their fifth year without losing someone to the desert or its predators.
Queen Venus leaves the Oracle’s side and approaches me. “It’s done?” I ask.
“It is,” She answers tersely. She moves her right hand in a quick motion, summoning the blade to her side. I take the blade, and smile.
The Master Sword is hardly recognizable as the blade that has been my bane for ages. The hilt is mostly unchanged, it still bears the same distinctive H-shape but it has been widened to accommodate the larger blade. The mark of the Triforce still rests between the crossguards, ironically. The pommel is longer, extended from a hand and a half to three in length. The blade itself is nearly as long as Farore is tall, iridescent purple and green in hue from the enchanted metals composing it
“Beautiful work, Venus,” I say, turning the sword in my hands, testing its balance. I take a basic stance, and feel that the Master Sword is perfectly weighted, I can hold it in any position without an ounce of effort. “Beautiful work, indeed!”
“It is temporary,” answers Venus, “We had to rush to complete it. None of its enchantments will last more than a month of two, and the faerie steel will start to decay after ten weeks. After a season, it will revert back to the ruined lump you tossed in my lake yesterday. It would take months to reshape it with proper metal and seal the enchantments. Even if I did have the time, I won’t permanently alter it.”
“That doesn’t matter,” I reply, “Once I am through with Link, I have no intention of ever touching it again. But, I can’t deny your excellent work, even if it is only temporary.” I take a few slashes with the sword. Despite it weight, the balance makes using it almost effortless. “I am indebted to you, Queen Venus.”
“Never set foot in the Sacred Realm again, and I will consider your debt amply repaid,” Venus answers coldly, before vanishing.
Having no sheath for the weapon, I simply hold it at my side. Farore stands and sighs, then declares, “Let’s end this before Link can commit any other atrocities.” There is far more steel in her voice than she feels, but her courage is commendable nonetheless.
We trek back to the portal in grim silence. Farore’s teleportation doesn’t work in the Sacred Realm, so we are left with no choice but to walk. The Oracle is distraught, that much is obvious, but she works hard not to let it show. Doubtless, she is worried about how our world will fare without an Oracle of Seasons. I think she has also realized how dangerous Link is; no one has ever murdered an Oracle before, she might have thought herself beyond the Hero’s reach. Good. She will fight that much harder when we meet him.
The only thing Farore really tells me is that she spoke with Nayru after returning to sleep. My reward has been granted; the Oracle of Ages stepped back in time and found a Gerudo destined to die in the desert. Nayru saved her, and brought her to the present. Immediately, I ask why Nayru didn’t stop Link from claiming the third Triforce if she could travel to the past. Farore’s answer is that it would cause too large a change in history, and do immeasurable amounts of damage to the fabric of time.
We stop for a quick rest at the site of the gate. I take the time to make sure that I still have command of all my sorcery. Since claiming the Triforce of Power, I had no use for it. After revoking the relic, I never really had to draw upon any magic before returning to the Sacred Realm. Thus, I am pleased to find that I can still draw upon all of my old evocations.
I also take time to familiarize myself with the Master Sword. This does not take long, for the weapon’s balance and weight lend themselves to my fighting style easily. It is like an extension of my arm at times, as I switch between using it with one and two hands.
Thus prepared, I open the gate, and we return to our world. The castle ruins are unchanged, and Farore teleports us away as soon as we are sure that Link is not lying in wait to ambush us as emerge from the portal.
As the haze of the teleportation fades away, the scar upon the earth that was once Rauru stretches before us. The sky is dark with heavy gray clouds that threaten to unleash a storm at any minute. Idly, I wonder if the clouds are the result of the Oracle’s death, a mad whim of Link’s, or nature mirroring what is to come. The wind smells of ozone, as if lightning had recently struck. An electric tingle in the air accompanies the odor. He’s here, waiting.
Holding the Master Sword ready and keeping a spell near the front of my mind, I begin to walk into what was once Rauru. Farore follows silently, her face set. I can feel his presence nearby. But, there are no signs of him.
I nearby leap out of my skin when three descending musical notes echo from nowhere! Angrily, I cast my gaze about as a flute plays a slow, chaotic sonata. The notes echo from random directions. Farore casts a spell, but it doesn’t seem to have any real effect as the music continues.
After nearly two minutes, the last note fades away, and a soft voice from behind us asks, “What do you think?”
I whirl around to see Link, standing a couple of yards away. I can hardy recognize that he ever was a Hylian now! His skin glows with near-blinding intensity, as if his muscles were made of light! Wings still grace his back, now folded into a homogenous mass of blue-white energy. His face is literally radiant; it is hard to see more than an outline unless I look closely. No longer does a cap confine his hair, now it hangs unbound; glowing like the sun. His clothes are no longer coporeal, it seems, for they look to be wrought of silvery energy! Green ovals mark where his eyes once were, glowing with such intensity that I see afterimages of them after look away. In his hands is a flute made of emerald fire, which he lowers from his lips. He wears a smile, though it is not easy to see against the glow of his face.
“I am told my ancestors favored the ocarina," He says, "but I’ve always been more comfortable with a flute. What did you think Ganon? I wrote that piece myself, and I’m rather fond if it.
“But,” he sighs, letting the flute dissolve away, “there are other matters to attend to that outweigh music. I have considered your words, Ganon, and you might be pleased to know that I’ve decided to govern Hyrule myself. The previous dynasty is no more, so I am the only one left to rule. You are quite right; this kingdom is a mess. I never thought that Mido could house so many lawbreakers. They all seemed so... trustworthy when I first visited there.”
He shakes his head and stretches his wings, then continues, “I’ve been thinking about other things, as well. I executed a number of criminals in Mido, but they are nothing compared to you. But, ironically, they received no mercy for their lesser crimes, while I’m prepared to offer amnesty to you despite your atrocities!”
“Oh?” I ask, amused despite myself. “And why would I be worthy of your mercy?”
“A good question indeed,” Link answers, then his mercurial visage fades to a harsh glare. “There is something you know, Ganon, something that I very much wish to know. I will honor the amnesty that my former liege agreed to if you would be so kind as to part with it."
"And that is?" I inquire, savoring the irony.
"Tell me how to return the dead to life,” he says, his voice as harsh as fate.
“You can’t be serious!” Farore exclaims, but Link ignores her completely, not even glancing her way.
“You have died before, and you came back. Tell me how you did it!" He exclaims, his voice growing more and more frenzied. "Tell me how to return the fallen to this world! No matter what I try, I cannot make it work! I spent an entire day in Mido Graveyard trying to bring the dead to life! At best, the remains simply disintegrated; at worst I created stalfos! Tell me the secret, and I’ll let you live!”
“Only the Goddesses have the right to raise the dead!” Farore cries. “You dare to challenge the Creators of this world?!”
“There isn’t a secret,” I tell Link, “I have dabbled into such magicks, and I know it to be impossible. The best I could do is animate molten rock from Death Mountain and instill it with a semblance of intelligence. The dead remain as they are, fallen hero. My own revival was due to the call of the Triforce of Power, it drew me back because I had bound myself to it.”
Link’s eyes change hues, darkening from bright emerald to poisonous jade as he shouts, “Liar!” Magic explodes from his right hand, a column of white energy capped with a rudimentary eagle’s claw roars toward me! I snap up the Master Sword and slash through it in a single motion
“Well done,” Link says, as the column of energy falls away in two halves and dissolves away. “I’m impressed. I see that my old blade serves you well indeed. Seldom do I get to be... creative.” His wings beat against the air, sending him into the sky before I can call upon a spell to strike him!
“Move!” I shout at Farore, but my words are unneeded. The Oracle dashes below Link as he, now about thirty feet or so in the air, raises his hands. I can see the mark of the Triforce on his right hand, a golden speck against the white intensity of his flesh. Suddenly, a score of fireballs erupts from his hands and fly at me!
I call upon a shield moments before the fireballs hit me, and wince as they smash again it with a number of staccato crashes! Link laughs as I let the shield drop, then darts off to the south.
Now little more than a glowing dot on the horizon nearly half a mile away, he conjures a huge wave of light from the ground below him, and sends it racing my way! I run eastward, knowing that I can’t deflect that much energy, as the wave of magic rushes forward like a tsunami. I keep an eye on it, knowing the ground to be level and clear, and run as fast as I ever have. Seeing the edge of the wave from the corner of my eye, I dive forward as the spell nearly washes over me.
I hit the ground hard, but that hurts much less than the wave that roars by behind me would have. I leap to my feet in time to see Link speeding toward me, two blades of blue energy as long as my sword extending from his hands. Taking a defensive stance, I hold my weapon with both hands as he swoops at me, one of the blades held forth like a lance to impale me. I take a spilt second to look westward and see a green speck, telling me that Farore escaped the wave, then return my attention to the Hero.
At the last moment, I abandon the position and dive aside, while starting to gather energy for my own spell. I turn in the air and land on my stomach, catching myself with my hands and leaping to my feet in an eyeblink. Link has already turned, and races at me with his arms crossed; hoping to catch me in a scissor-slash. I smile as I raise my hand, engulfed in a dark nimbus, and send a bolt of energy flying at his face!
Link is flying far to fast to avoid it, and cries out as the dark energy slams into his face and bowls him over! He lands hard on his back; I try not to dwell overmuch on a pleasant memory of doing much the same thing to the original Hero at the gates of Hyrule Castle long ago. Instead, I close the distance between us in a few swift strides, and bring the Master Sword down on him in with a powerful two-handed slash.
It is blocked as one of his wings snaps up to deflect my blade! Still, the sword bites deeply into that wing, drawing another cry from his throat. Before I can follow through, he does a back flip from his prone position to hover off the ground two yards before me. With a wave of his hand, he sends forth a wave of invisible force that slams into my chest like a charging bull!
It sends me flying off my feet and flipping end over end into the air! I try to ignore the ache in my chest as Link’s magic fades and I begin to fall headfirst toward the ground. Managing to get a hand out in front of me, I use the momentum to vault backward and land in a defensive position. Link, now some yards away, languidly takes to the air and speeds toward me. He’s too fast for me to counter like last time, so I simply stand ready to meet his charge while fighting off the fierce ache left by his spell.
Before I can do anything, a bolt of lightning slams into his side, arcing from the hands of Farore! I pay her no mind as the Hero tumbles from the air once more. I pounce on him, bring the Master Sword down on his abdomen. Several wings snap up to deflect it, but they are too slow to keep me from scoring a gash across his belly though they block a killing strike. This time, he simply vanishes, and reappears a few yards away.
I anticipate his tactics this time, and slash through his wave of force before it reaches me. Charging as I cut through it, Link meets my counter with an energy blade of his own. I pivot just in time to avoid being impaled by another blade from his other hand. His gash weeps blood that glows like the sun, and seems to evaporate in moments. We trade blows, as I work to counter his two large but unwieldy hand blades. Then, after deflecting a stab at my midsection, I close the gap between us and slam my forehead into his nose with as much force as I can muster!
His glowing jade eyes go wide with shock, giving me time to draw the Master Sword in an upward slash along his side, gouging it viciously and biting deeply into his lowest wing! Before I can wreak more damage, he vanishes and reappears about a hundred yards away! Farore rushes to my side, and asks, “Hurt?”
“Not badly,” I answer.
She stoops down to draw a long knife from the top of her boot as I speak, and says, “Draw him, and I’ll try to take advantage of it. He seems to be completely ignoring me."
I nod, as Link takes to the sky once more. He stops about a hundred feet above the ground, and makes a grand motion with his hand. Columns of light suddenly roar from the heavens; I barely have time to raise a shield before one rains down on the Oracle and I! By the time that the light clears, Link has vanished.
I gather power for another attack spell and walk forward cautiously. Farore doubles back, knowing that we’re harder to hit if we’re apart. Suddenly, Link appears at my side, flying at full speed with both blades ready to catch me in a scissor chop! I leap back and unleash my spell, seeing four bolts of black energy raging at him as he flies by!
He blinks out once more before they can strike, but they arc toward him again has he reappears above me! Unfortunately, Link dispatches the bolts with an easy slice from one of his blades. I gather the power for another spell as I run forward, then whirl to face him.
Link settles on the ground, and I see that his wounds have healed. Cursing, I unleash my next spell, then dash after it. The Hero deflects my spell with no trouble, but is unable to stop me from scoring a deep slash from his left shoulder to his opposing hip. He vanishes again, muffling a cry of pain that returns a moment later to my left! I leap back just in time to avoid a slash that would have cut me in two, but he leaps into the air before I can counter it.
“Crawl!” he shouts, and conjures a thin beam that flies into the ground. I leap back, then dash away as the ground starts to rumble! The earth suddenly bucks, and sends me to my knees! I let myself fall to the ground, and throw myself to the right. Looking up, I see a huge sword of blue energy drive into the ground where I fell, missing my shoulder by inches. I throw myself aside once more to avoid a blade of green energy, then roll toward the second blade to avoid a huge scimitar of orange energy that erupts from the ground!
I hear Link cry out again as lightning crackles, and silently thank Farore for the distraction as I leap to my feet. Link is starting to descend again, so I take the opportunity to shout, “Why don’t we fight on the ground like men!”
“I see no men here,” comes Link’s voice from behind me! I whirl in time to stop a wide slash from his hand-blades, now shortened to the length of his arms for better speed. “There is Farore, who is a woman, and a traitor for joining you.” I deflect two stabs to my abdomen. “There is I, but I am as much like a man as the ocean is like a snowflake.” I step back from a scissor-slash, and try to use the Master Sword’s length to hold him back, “And there is you, once a man but now a monster!”
He lunges, and another lightning bolt from the Oracle of Secrets slams into his side! I see my opportunity, and seize it as I bring the Master Sword down before me. It cuts into his extended right arm, and slices through his elbow cleanly!
Link’s illuminated eyes go wide with pain as the hand that bears the mark of the Triforce falls away. I kick it as it hits the ground, sending the glowing limb flying. Unable to teleport without the direct connection to the relic, he is helpless as I bring the Master Sword around in a powerful overhand slice! The golden mark appears on his forehead, called back by the will that is bound to it, a second before my blade severs his neck. I bring the blade around and use the momentum to slash downward, using all my strength to cleave the sword down through his body.
A sort of silence comes over the field, without the cries of agony or blasts of magic ringing in my ears. The two halves of Link’s glowing body fall away, and begin to dissolve away. The liquid light that was his blood evaporates like sand before a wave, while glowing mass of muscles and organs seem to burn away at the power left behind, like a candle flame dropped in lamp oil. I ignore the corpse, for only one thing interests me now.
Link’s head sheds light and heat like a tiny sun, and the mark of the Triforce glows strong on it. “Come forth,” I command. It obeys, as the mark lifts into the air and expands, taking on three-dimensional shape. The three golden triangles, each as long as my forearm and thick as a finger bone, hover before me, whole. I smile at their brilliance.
Once, I said that there was no reason for me to fight anymore. Time had won the war that I began. Sheikah, Zoras, Gorons, Kokiri, and Gerudo had fallen; most were gone from this world completely. But no longer. The Gerudo live once more, the Kokiri have not all died out. Hyrule has been shattered, and the bloodlines of my ancient enemies erased. The world has been saved. All that remains is for a leader to come forth and usher in a new age.
I reach out to touch the Triforce, and pause. I stop, my fingers inches from the relic, and muse. Unless...-“ARRRGH!”
Unholy agony flares between my ribs, as a thin length of steel slides between them! The pain is so great I fall to my knees, clutching my side! I feel blood well up my throat, and cough it onto the ground. Rage drives away my pain as I stand again, and turn to face the one who stabbed me.
Farore stands there, holding her knife, its entire length soaked in my blood. Her eyes are wide with fear, and I see regret sparkling within them. “I’m sorry, Ganondorf,” She says, “But I can’t let you have the Triforce, either.”
“Traitor,” I growl through a mouthful of blood, and gather my magic for one last spell. "Die." A dark nimbus engulfs my hand and I raise it, leaving the other to hold my side. Farore simply bows her head, not trying to run or resist futilely...
Almost, Link, almost... You almost won. But not this time.
I let the spell dissipate. Farore looks up at me, and I smile. Then, I fall to my knees, and the darkness lingering at the edge of my vision closes in. I feel Farore’s hands cradle my head to her heart. Almost, Link, almost...
The howling winds of the unfamiliar desert have died away to a simple breeze when Jamila bint A’lia emerges from the safety of a cave she in which she sought refuge. She checks the position of the morning sun to determine what direction she will travel, then looks down at the map given to her by the blue-haired Hylian that had saved her life.
Jamila is still unable to comprehend how a Hylian could have survived in the middle of a waste that had seen no rain for a decade, or how that Hylian had found enough water to share so freely with her. Nor is Jamila sure how that Hylian had drawn her from the Gerudo Desert to this mysterious wasteland.
The Hylian’s map says that a town called New Kasuto lies beyond the forests to the north. If the map is correct, the Gerudo is confident she can reach that forest long before food or water becomes a problem again. What she does once she finds this mysterious New Kasuto will be dealt with when she gets there. No sense worrying about the next step until the immediate one is finished...
In an ancient structure, the Triforce waits. The elder palace was once known as the Bastion of the Goddesses, the Citadel of Time, and a hundred other names in a dozen different languages. All those names have been forgotten, and it is simply called the Grand Palace now. Once, it teemed with guardians, but they lie dead at the hands of a Hero who has also fallen.
The Triforce waits, knowing others will come. Bonds centuries old draw at it, as well as bonds yet to be made. It waits patiently, for it is whole. It cares not if it shall always be whole or if it will be shattered by the rival claims on it once more. It is whole. And it is patient...