Chapter 12: The Gods Must Be Crazy
Zelda sat in the common room of the Elde Inn watching television. She was gripping her hands together so hard that her knuckles were white. Her Impa Adelaide stood beside her, her hand resting on the back of the chair. Nearly the entire population of Old Kakariko was gathered around them. Everyone was watching a live news broadcast.
Or, more precisely, they were about to watch the first televised execution in Hyrule’s history.
“Kara…” Zelda said, wringing her hands, “How did they find her? I didn’t know… if I had known…”
“Not even I can help her now,”
said, “And Link has no knowledge of this. We do not even know where he is at the moment. We can be glad that they bypassed this place, at least… her home was so close to us…” Adelaide
The broadcast went on from the palace’s south garden. Princess Kara stood tall and refused to disclose the whereabouts of Zelda. She was accused of high treason against High Queen Cecelia and King Ganondorf. She was held tightly by guards in plate armor. Ganondorf stood away from her, raised his right hand and sent a bolt of black and electric purple energy right into her chest. The result made everyone watching in the Elde Inn scream in horror.
A tear fell down
’s right cheek. Zelda shook and began throwing up. Adelaide
exclaimed. “Zelda…sssh…sshhh.” The Impa attempted to soothe her, taking her hand and rubbing her back. Zelda fell against her in sobs and dry heaves. Adelaide
The camera turned from the shocked soldiers holding the shreds of Kara’s corpse to Ganondorf’s face. “Such is the fate of all traitors,” he said coldly and dark, “The faithless have nothing but a well-deserved death to look forward to. Today, Hyrule, know that I am your god!”
Link sat in a metal chair, his left arm buckled down into a strange, moveable but currently stationary apparatus. His hat rested on a table alongside many strange and delicate instruments. Farore was cleaning small tools and walking around the brightly lit, clinical-looking room in a loose white lab coat. It was what she’d said she felt most comfortable in. Navi had gone with Nayru to another part of the complex to see the “mother fairies.” Midna was standing behind Link, gently stroking the edges and tips of his ears. Farore had instructed her to do that, claiming that it had a calming effect on Hylians.
Midna recalled, to her suppressed embarrassment, that ear-stroking had been something she’d seen young Hylian lovers do to each other as they kissed deeply. Perhaps, this is as close as I’ll ever get, she thought ruefully.
“Can you still move your hand, Link?” Farore asked.
He flexed his fingers feebly. “A little,” he said.
“That won’t do… your hand needs to be completely numb or this is going to be torture on you.” The Goddess grabbed a small syringe and plunged the needle into Link’s wrist. “There. It should go completely slack in a few minutes. You’ve taken more medication than I expected.”
“Why are we doing this again?” Link asked.
“I need to retune your fragment of the Triforce,” Farore replied simply. “Give it a little cleaning… make sure all the connections are functioning, see if I can liven up the power…At least it’s in your hand this time around. In some of your past lives, its’ been in your heart. If it were so this time around, it would make this procedure much more precarious.”
“Just who are you, anyway?” Midna asked, “You are awfully….scientific…for gods.”
“And just what is science?” Farore answered, “It is merely the method of explanation for the workings of the universe… or universes, rather. It should not surprise you that we have similarities to mortals, including behavior and technologies. Any technology sufficient enough is indistinguishable from magic, though we did not know much of true magic, per se, until we began creating this world.”
“What in the world are you doing to Link?” Midna yelped. Farore had begun cutting into his immobilized hand with a scalpel and peeling back the skin. Blood dripped between his fingers onto white towels Farore had placed on the hand rest.
“Keep stroking his ears, please,” Farore commanded. “You don’t feel anything; do you, my dear boy?”
“Nothing at all,” Link replied.
“We’ll give him something for the blood loss when this is over… now where is it… come on, ya little bugger…”
“You really don’t seem terribly divine, if you don’t mind my saying so,” Midna said sardonically. “I don’t get the feeling that you’re going to smite me.”
“Oh, I won’t,” Farore said, not looking up from her work, “I’m too nice, but I wouldn’t challenge Din to a fist fight if I were you. She’s quite tough and brutal when she wants to be. Actually, we are scientists, or we began that way. Nayru’s a physicist – astrophysics, theoretical physics, you name it. That woman has the numbers of the universe running through her head. Din is an expert engineer with a specialty in terraforming. As for me… I am a biologist – zoologist, botanist…physician, a geneticist by specialty, but… that entire domain. When you’re the successful product of an experiment in human physical immortality, you have time to study just about everything.”
“So, you three were human once?”
“Yep, back home. The honest truth is that we don’t like being worshipped. We like to help our little world, but on the place where we come from, we were once very average people – if highly skilled and well-educated - before we became the subjects of the project that made us what we are. It is why we don’t meddle in your affairs much, I suppose. The aether takes care of you quite well.”
“The aether?” Link asked.
Farore had peeled back the skin on the back of his hand enough to reveal a small golden triangle nestled against his muscles and bones. It appeared to be flat, like sheet of gold leaf or thin gold-colored tin inexplicably there. Growing into it was a multitude of tiny blood vessels and nerves. Farore scraped at it gently with a small pick-like instrument.
“The aether,” Farore repeated, “Magic…the life-force of the universe, the Fourth Force…God-essence… there’s no truly accurate way to describe it. We tapped into it accidentally when we began terraforming this small planet – er… creating the world. We’ve become subject to it, ourselves, and it allows us knowledge and powers we did not have before. It has contributed greatly to the evolution of every type of creature on this planet. Despite our vast knowledge, there are things that even we “Goddesses” cannot explain. This world operates upon a combination of the explainable and the un-explainable.”
“Everything can be explained if you search hard enough, I’m sure,” Midna said.
“Hmm.” Farore said, continuing her meticulous work. “An excellent example of this principle is the Master Sword. It is made with a metal that can repel certain energies and is attractive to others – almost like a magnet, but not quite. That is the scientific, explainable nature of the Master Sword. What is less explainable is the fact that it has a soul in it.”
“Huh?” Link grunted. “Feels like an old friend.”
“It is a living blade,” Din said as she stepped into the room. “And it considers you and you alone to be its partner. It lends its power to you by choice. That is why you must respect your sword, for it respects you.”
Nayru and Navi came in behind Din. Navi immediately flitted over to Farore and spun around her head. “What in the world are you doing to Link?”
“It’s okay, Navi,” Link assured. “She’s trying to help me.”
“This is another example of the combination of the explainable and the un-explainable,” Farore said, “The Triforce. You can see how Link’s Triforce of Courage here is a part of his body.” She motioned to various nerves and blood vessels with the tip of her pick. “There are places where it connects right to his brain. Each portion of the Triforce has its own attributes. The physical side of it serves him as a stamina-booster. It keeps his adrenaline up in times of stress… you know the famed ‘fight or flight’ instinctual response? This little baby triggers the “fight” in him most of the time. Where most peoples’ first impulse may be to flee, his first impulse is to take something head-on and fight through it. It also increases the amount of endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers – in his system, so when he first gets hurt, he might not even feel it right away.”
“Whoa,” Navi said simply. “But, wait a minute… he didn’t always have it inside him like that. When I knew him in another lifetime, he was one brave little kid without all that adrenaline and endorphin enhancing stuff.”
“Well,” Farore said, “I never said that Link wasn’t brave on his own. The portion of the Triforce he has just… helps him along in fights. The Triforce of Wisdom has the quality of increasing nerve connections in the brain – for quick thinking. It turns the one it connects to into a genius. We’re actually surprised that it doesn’t cause insanity. The Triforce of Power has the stamina-increasing effect that the Triforce of Courage does, but it also promotes muscle-growth. Each part has its own effects on the host body. It is also an experiment of ours, the one and only time we three ever tried to control the aether.”
Link’s ears perked. Midna suddenly stopped stroking them. Navi bobbed and hovered in place. Instead of answering, Farore went back to her work.
“Hey, be careful there,” Din cautioned, “You don’t want him to have a seizure or start drooling or something.
Link grit his teeth and twitched involuntarily.
“Sorry! Sorry!” Farore said, immediately stopping what she was doing. “Hit the wrong nerve there. Sorry, Link. Are you alright?”
Link took in a sharp breath and nodded an affirmative. Midna went back to stroking his ears, causing him to relax. “Thank you,” he told the Twili.
“So you tried to control the aether with the Triforce?” Midna asked. “…. The banishment of my people…” she muttered.
“Yes,” Nayru explained, “The Triforce is a combination of elements – that which is close to the corporeal and that which is not. We were trying to understand…”
“So were we,” Midna sighed, “So were we and we were sent to another plane.”
“Couldn’t be helped,” Din said flippantly, “Your ancestors did not have our knowledge and were doing things that could have disrupted the very fabric of existence. The rest of the population was suffering. We had no choice but to open the gate and send your tribe there. The only alternative was extermination and Farore would not go forward with that.”
Farore looked up and smiled. “The evolution of the Twili has fascinated me ever since it began. Your people are very adaptable.”
Navi bobbed. “So the…Triforce was an experiment?”
“It started out that way, yes,” Nayru said. “It took on a life of its own. Essences from each of us reside with it as well as those attributes that the mortals have ascribed to us. Wisdom makes sense for me, but how little Farore became associated with courage we’re still trying to figure out.”
“Hey!” Farore retorted, “I created all the basic life forms of this planet and life is a very brave thing.”
“One of the true mysteries of the Triforce, however,” Nayru continued, “Is that it’s become something of a soul-catch.”
“A soul-catch?” Link asked.
“Yes, honey,” Farore said as she gingerly stitched up his hand. “It is why you and Zelda don’t ever go the way of spirits. You keep on being reborn. It is why Ganondorf cannot truly die and can only be sealed away. You are each connected to the Triforce and thus to the aether, as well. It chose your souls for the qualities you already possessed. Ganondorf goes to another dimensional ‘plane’ when he ‘dies.’ You and Zelda come to us, where we keep you in a form of spiritual stasis until the world needs your qualities again. Your connections to the Triforce are particularly strong this time around, even as the essential base energies of Wisdom and Courage are fading.”
“I don’t feel faded,” Link said.
“I had to give you a tune-up. You’ll start feeling even stronger now. Any magical spells or essences you’ve gained will only flow better for you now. However, it’s not completely tuned… in balance. Our wisdom experiment is fading even faster. We’re afraid that it will fade away… and take its chosen soul with it.”
Link jerked up in his chair, his arm still deadened. “Zelda?”
“Sssh… sit down, sit down,” Farore coaxed. “If the aether can be brought into balance, there’s hope – just as there’s hope for the unbalanced world. We think the aether desires a connection to a mortal heart in a way greater than just the general magic of this world. It wants to channel its full strength though a righteous soul.” She pointed to his chest. “Yours.”
“Or Zelda’s,” Nayru corrected.
“Oh, I think he’s going to be the one to win.” Farore contended.
Link sat passively as Farore undid the belts on his arm. She smeared a clear jelly onto his hand and wrapped it up. “Midna, would you help me get him to that bunk over there?” she asked.
Midna nodded and complied. They led Link to a bed in the hollow of one of the walls and laid him down in it, propping up his head with a soft pillow. “He should rest here,” the Goddess said. “Feeling will come back to his arm and his hand shouldn’t take more than a few hours to heal with the stuff I put on it. Open your mouth, Link.”
“Do I get a cookie?” the young man joked.
Farore held up a small round tablet. “Even better. This will replenish your lost blood. Gotta put it under your tongue.”
“You do certainly know very much,” Midna admitted. “That’s a godlike quality.”
“We know all that occurs on this planet and within its various realms,” Nayru said, standing by. “Or at least the major stuff. We track the Royal and Heroic genetic lines. We watch the wars. We assist the patron ‘deities’ of the various races and hand instructions down to them. We may not hear every prayer, but we can feel when people are tapping into the magic that we are connected to. We do not like to interfere directly, but we do care about our creation. We continue to create as we feel the need. Din’s got seismic disruptors running all through this planet, for example. She’s rearranging the landscape all the time. I’m always drafting new plans and ideas for governments and languages to pass on covertly to the various nations. Farore creates some new, useful forms of life on occasion, or improves upon some of the breeds that already exist. Though we did not start out as gods, we remain the Golden Goddesses, unseen, indirect, but always watching.”
“So, what about when you flooded the world?” Midna said in a particularly gutsy way. “I may have been in the Twilight Realm at the time, but I heard about that.”
Nayru’s eyes shifted to Din. Both women’s faces took on very guilty looks. “It was a terraforming experiment I did with Din that went wrong,” Nayru said quickly.
Farore sighed as she tended to Link to make him comfortable. “There was also the matter of losing the Hero’s soul for a while. You drifted for a bit, and at the point by which we could recapture you, you were fading. We’d learned you’d spent some time as a forlorn ghost after the Great Plague period, and that wore on your heroic essence. I couldn’t risk releasing you for another incarnation to fight Ganondorf with the state your spirit was in. I had to keep you for a while. Eventually, we released you into a body conceived outside of your normal bloodline because we’d lost the old bloodline.”
“Who is that?” Link asked, his gaze upon a picture on the wall opposite the bed. It was a sepia toned photograph of a beautiful young man with dark hair and long ears – a perfect Hylian.
Farore smiled sweetly. “That’s the first of your race, Link,” she said. “That’s my dear Hylia.”
“The first Hylian,” Farore answered. “He was actually something of a mistake… the result of my…playfulness. When we came to this world, our mission was to re-create our own people – not immortal like us, of course, but our own race. We needed to find a world that was reasonably like our home and to make it even more livable. Din set to work with her various tools for terraforming. Nayru assisted her, dealing with the finding, rerouting and the generation of water. I was in charge of the genetic materials… to re-create the plants and animals of our home world and to eventually tap into the human materials we brought with us. This was all much more feasible, at the time, than just flying a sufficient number of people from our world here you see. Our home is very distant among the sea of stars.”
“Did you get lonely?”
“Of course, but we had our work. You can also say that the experiments done upon us to give us our immortality killed….certain natural drives and eliminated certain needs. So, we were lonely in some ways but not in others. We did used to have a small crew with us, long ago… not immortal like us, so we kept them in stasis in freezing chambers for the long trip through the stars.”
“Like the Zora!” Link exclaimed.
Farore nodded and smiled. “One of my first advanced creations were the Oocca. For many complex vertebrate animals and especially for humans, I needed to incubate the stuff in life in enclosed, artificial wombs: in short, birds’ eggs. I didn’t want to work with chickens…er... I mean cuckoos… you call them cuckoos…eating their own eggs or doing any of the other stuff they sometimes do, so I had to create creatures with a degree of intelligence and parental instinct – to keep the precious eggs safe, you know. The Oocca produced ‘blank’ eggs into which I could inject certain base materials and do other things far too complex to get into for the sake of brevity. The mother hens would keep the eggs warm and safe until such life was ready to be transferred into one of our larger artificial wombs…tanks. I allowed the Oocca to reproduce their own people after that, though you might find it hard to distinguish between their roosters and hens.”
Midna was fascinated. Link was confused, but relaxed, as Midna went back to comforting him. Navi listened, as well, from her comfortable spot on Link’s chest.
“As for Hylia,” Farore continued, “Originally, I was going to produce only pure humans, as our mission mandated. I decided to play a little with the genetic materials of one egg… only a little. I’ve always found long ears on animals aesthetically pleasing… horses, deer…rabbits. I didn’t mix any animal components into the human base, though; no… it doesn’t take much to tweak the formation of a body part here and there. I’d also worried a bit about some of the natural elements of this planet at the time and wanted to see if I could produce a person better suited for it than a normal human. The long eared male was born along with a small group of standard human children. I named him Hylia on a whim – there was no significance to the name back then, it just sounded nice to me.
Nayru and Din scolded me terribly over him and demanded that I chemically castrate him when he came of age. They reminded me that our mission was to re-create the human race, not to improve upon or tweak it. They did not want Hylia reproducing. The plan would have gone underway except for the fact that Hylia, as he grew, was a very robust little boy. He hardly ever got sick. Many of our first children died because their bodies could not handle some of the native viruses and energies of the planet. Upon seeing how well he adapted, we held off on turning poor Hylia into a eunuch and we allowed him to take one of our surviving human girls as a mate. She was happy, too, for she loved him very much.
“He had very many children, some with short ears but most of them with the pointed ears and his ability to adapt to magic. He ultimately became the father of the entire Hylian race. He died very happy… at one-hundred-and-three and his soul went the way of spirits. He’s buried in a special chamber on this ship. I find his remains useful for study to this day.”
“Do you think he would have been proud of me…and Zelda?” Link asked.
“Very much so,” Farore answered. “After that, I was allowed by my comrades to create other races suited to weathering various parts of this world. The Gerudo were quite easy, though the sex chromosome glitch they suffer is unfortunate. The combination of fish and human bloods to create the Zora was an odd creative experience. Creating Deku beings by combining plant and animal elements was even trickier. Gorons, by far, were the most difficult race to create – they entailed combining the organic with the inorganic! To this day I don’t know how I pulled it off! Twili I cannot claim…” she turned to Midna, “What made you what you are today is the nature of your Realm.”
The Goddess stroked Link’s cheek. “My favorite race by far,” she said, “Are you Hylians. You’re the closest to regular humans… a race I cannot claim to have created, the race I once was. As far as my creations go… the Hylians. You may be the most simple, body-wise… you are not suited to any specific environment… you are not especially sleek or swift, like the Zora, nor are you strong, like the Gorons. You do not fly like the Rito or the Watarara… Your bodies are quite fragile and you struggle much. That is precisely why I like you. Nayru may have teased me earlier on the courage thing, but the fact is that I do have a great affinity with courage. Hylians are not a strong race – that forces you to be a brave race.”
Midna had stopped stroking his ear tips. “He’s asleep,” she said.
“I hope I did not bore him,” Farore replied.
“I’m sure that you did not,” the Twili Queen replied. “It’s just a lot to take in.”
Link spent some time exploring the Goddess’ abode. He saw cold-stasis chambers ready to be put into use should the need arise. He saw what they called “mother fairies” – beautiful women trapped within tanks of bubbling fluids, the genetic precursors to all faeriekin in Hyrule and beyond. Most of them were asleep, but one of the women smiled at him very sweetly. Farore assured him that they felt no discomfort in their unusual existence and that it was the only way they were able to survive. Also, according to her, they were very old. Link found notes written in a language he’d never seen before – they had drawings. One set of notes had drawings of Oocca and their eggs upon it. Another set depicted a tree with cocoons growing upon its branches, and, in the margins, diagrams of cocoons with fetuses inside.
He spoke with each one of the Goddesses regarding magic and what technologies they were willing to explain to him. They explained that the sacred crystals he had gathered inside him – and the one that he lacked – did carry a small essence of each of them, as taken from them by the aether. They were powers lesser than those of the Triforce, but still quite important.
“Even we may fade someday,” Nayru said with a cough. She gave Link an art lesson. She sat him down at a desk with a sheet of paper, a soft brush and a well of ink. She instructed him to draw a tree with many thin branches, close to the side of the sheet of paper. Midna watched the lesson.
“There are things that artists know,” the Goddess said, “You obviously have had some art instruction in this lifetime, or at least a good amount of practice. That’s quite lovely.”
“Thank you!” Link said, flattered by the praise.
“Notice a few things about the image, if you will. Notice the shadow and the light. They do not exist without each other. Shade and direction of light… those are things that artists know.”
Midna smiled beatifically. Nayru continued.
“Also notice the importance of the negative space,” she said. “The image is the positive space, and what people most often focus on. It takes a little training of one’s mind to really notice the negative space - the area outside of and between the branches. Much like how light cannot be rendered in a drawing except by the shadows; the positive space cannot exist without the negative space. They define one another.”
“Hmm,” Link said with a nod.
“It is the same with the Triforce. It is defined by that which appears to be missing. There never was any ‘fourth piece,’ as some of you mortals have claimed. There never needed to be. That which is missing has always been there, within it and surrounding it. That is the aether, boy.”
“And my role in all this is?”
“To maintain the balance,” Nayru said. “It is what you were always destined to do.”
Din stepped into the open door of Nayru’s quarters. “Tell him the truth,” she said. “With as many lifetimes and hardships as he’s been through, he deserves to know. After all, he’s seen this whole place and his brain hasn’t exploded yet.”
Farore had come in behind her, Navi flitting around her head. “Din,” she said pleadingly, “We should not be cruel to him.”
“Haven’t we been already,” the much taller woman replied. “Go on, Farore; tell your boy that he’s a part of a bet.”
“A bet?” Link asked, his ears perking up. “What do you mean? Farore, is it true?”
Farore nodded sadly. “After the initial creation work was finished, Din, Nayru and I… we got a little bored. We wondered which base attribute of the Triforce was the strongest. When your soul, Zelda’s soul and Ganondorf’s soul got caught up in it we…um….we decided to watch. We place a bet upon which one of you is going to ‘win’ each go-round, though even Din doesn’t like that Ganondorf got her essence. He does not treat it correctly and has gotten out of control more than once. We are careful to capture and keep your soul and Zelda’s for the next round precisely because of Power’s unstable nature… also, there’s been small victories for each of us, but there’s been no ultimate end to the bet.”
Link just stared at her, mouth agape.
“Power has won out before… We usually declare Wisdom the winner because, though you are the one to save the kingdom and spare the population of Hyrule or whatever other kingdom you’re in a terrible fate, Zelda has always outlived you.” Farore shook her head, “You’ve saved the world many times but have yet to ultimately win.”
“I am a game to you?” Link said slowly, rising from his seat. “Our lives are nothing but entertainment to you.”
“Link, my child, please…” Farore pleaded.
Link pushed past her and brushed past Midna.
“I’ll go after him,” Midna sighed. Navi followed her. They wandered outside the ship. Midna wove her way between the statues in the silent garden by its entrance. She looked up at the white marble statue of the swordsman and shook her head sharply, blinking back a few tears.
She found Link standing upon a precipice, looking out upon open desert far below. She cursed and started running to him, fearing that he was about to do something stupid, like jump to his death. Midna knew what cognitive dissonance did to some people. Finding out one’s gods aren’t all-powerful and all loving could be enough to send even him to suicidal thoughts. He might have been thinking of getting rid of the knowledge, of ‘resetting’ himself.
“Link! Wait!” she shouted.
He turned and looked at her and then quick as a wink, he was a sleek, golden-furred coyote.
“What?” Midna groused to herself as she felt the area around her neck. The cord she kept the shadow crystal – or what Farore had taken to calling a ‘cellular shifter’ – on was gone. “That little sneak…”
Link gave a little half-howl and leapt over the edge. Navi rocketed after him. Midna followed to the precipice only to see Link running and leaping over steep rocks at a pace too quick for her to keep up with. After a while of running down the slope through bushes and rocks, he disappeared from view.
Navi came back up to where Midna was a few minutes later, breathless. “I lost him!” she cried. “I don’t know where he’s going or what’s running through his mind!”
“Idiot!” Midna hissed. “We have to find a way down the mountain if we have any hope of catching up to him.”
The Goddesses came out to meet her. Midna glared at each of them, in turn. “Do you see what you’ve done to him?”
Nayru nodded. “We wondered if he’d be better off not knowing.”
“You think?” Midna retorted.
“We will get you down the mountain safely,” Din said. “The rest of what happens is up to you… and to him.”
“I hope he wins this time,” Farore whispered, bowing her head low.
Link raced across the desert. He knew that he was playing right into the game but he also did not care. Everything was the same as it had always been throughout history, but he knew that he was helpless to defy it. To defy it would mean that the land would die and that everyone he loved would suffer. Those that had made sacrifices to see a better world – those that had made sacrifices for him… he could not let what they’d done and what they’d lost go to waste. The face of his uncle flashed through his mind, as well as the faces of Saria and all the Kokiri, both young and old. Malon. Everyone at the ranch.
and the people of Old Kakariko. Shadow Felix. Medli. The Zora in their frozen sleep. Givanna and her little girl. Adelaide
And Zelda. Zelda. He could not let her be found and executed – or worse, fade away if what the “Goddesses” had said about the Triforce of Wisdom was true. Zelda… he could not let her down. She was more than a friend to him – he was hopelessly in love. So, he was headed to
and to the palace. He wanted to end this go-round as soon as possible. He still had the remaining spring spirits to help and he had been warned about his lack of strength at this point. He didn’t care. He was going to put an end to the reign of Cecelia and Ganondorf quickly, even if he died doing it. Castle Town
As he ran across the open desert, he remembered that Midna had been the only person to control his transformation. While he knew that touching the shadow crystal to him was the way to turn him into a golden beast, he had never been clear upon just what she did to turn him back into a human – whether it was taking the crystal out or loosing the Master Sword from its scabbard in mystical storage to touch him. He had run off without thinking, sure that she would try to stop him if she knew where he was headed. He decided he’d figure it out on his own. It couldn’t be too difficult a thing to do.
Link wandered the desert for several days. His feet were swift but he was small. He’d remembered meeting visitors to the ranch who had the false notion that coyotes were large creatures, the size of good shepherding dogs. He’d corrected such people by telling them that they were thinking of wolves. Most coyotes were not very much larger than foxes.
He had gotten himself lost somehow. He had not eaten anything more than a few desert grasshoppers he’d found along the way and he had not slept. He was determined to get to the palace and did not want to waste his time sleeping. His feet were sore and the pads bled from the sharp rocks he’d been dashing over and a patch of cacti he’d recklessly run right over. It was and the sun was bright and hot when he’d seen the cat. Link staggered and shook his weary head. His throat hurt. He hadn’t bothered to sniff around for water for a while, either.
Normally, Link would never harm an innocent cat. He liked cats a great deal. However, a coyote’s instinct was toward the eating of animals smaller than itself and domestic cats were among any given coyote’s favorite prey items. Link’s stomach growled as he saw the black cat duck behind a group of tawny rocks. It hissed and growled as he came near. He was ready to run after it upon his weary legs and was surprised when it did not flee. He thought that it perhaps was injured and could not move. He’d snap its neck quickly to end its misery.
As he got near to the feline, he could see just how skinny it was. It looked worse than he felt. Link wondered briefly if he should eat it or even touch it, for it could give him some nasty disease. He ventured his long snout toward the cat and sniffed it. It glared at him with big yellow eyes and bravely extended its claws and swatted his nose. Suddenly, Link found himself within his human body. He also found himself within the gray chamber of what appeared to be some sort of dungeon or palace.
“Alright,” He sighed, looking around the gigantic room, “I guess I know the drill by now. You’re one of my predecessors and you have some sort of lesson for me. I take it you’re the Black Cat the Wolf talked about.”
Link heard clapping echo off the walls, but did not see its source. “Bravo,” a voice said
Link then noticed the floor and picked up his boots with a surprised and disgusted yelp. There was a dark substance everywhere and he was pretty sure that it was blood. He took in a sharp breath when he finally found the source of the clapping. A tall, gaunt young man stepped out of the shadows toward him. There were features to him that were not surprising. The man wore green – a tunic in an old style similar to what Link had seen worn by the Hero of Nature, with some chain mail similar to that worn by the Hero of Twilight beneath it. He had a brown undershirt with long sleeves. The man’s facial structure was similar to what Link saw in the mirror, though the man’s skin was pale and his eyes mildly sunken.
The man’s hair was shoulder-length, lanky and as black as coal. His ears were long and looked as sharp as blades against the black hair. He wore a long, floppy cap. Link wondered, briefly, if he’d worn that same darn hat in every lifetime but his current one – to his modern sensibilities, it looked terribly silly. The man’s clothes sagged upon his sickly frame. The most striking feature about this erstwhile Hero, by far, was the gaping wound in his chest. Link shivered and stepped back from the man. Beneath the torn tunic and mail, amid the deep, horrible red of blood and sheared flesh, he could see the light color of the man’s split sternum.
“Am I so ugly you have no words left?” the man said mockingly. “Come now, don’t be afraid. This is only a vision.”
“What…what happened to you?” Link asked, calming down.
“The same thing that will happen to you if you don’t act more wisely,” the walking dead man said. “I am the Link in the chain that the legends forget. I am the Lost One.”
“You…” Link began, “You died before your time.”
“That is correct.”
“Aren’t you supposed to appear to me the way you were when you were alive? I mean, you are my memory and all.”
“The spirit you carry is a resilient one,” the Lost One said, “sometimes it lingers just enough to know things it really shouldn’t. I was so in shock upon being killed that I had to float around and watch as Ganondorf ripped my heart out and devoured it. I even watched as the pair of Darknuts he summoned took me out to the
square to the slab where I was laid out as an example to the people. Poor Kasuto… at least she mourned me well – hanging around the slab, moaning little cat-cries. I never knew what happened to her… poor Sage, robbed of her powers and cursed into that black cat form. I failed to break her curse. I failed everyone. In fact, I’m surprised that I’m talking to you – that our essential essence even continued.” Castle Town
Link felt sick. “Why are you telling me all this?”
The Lost One clutched a hand delicately to his torn chest. “I don’t want you to fail like me. Your era cannot afford it.”
“I’m not. I was on my way before I was interrupted by this.”
“YOU WERE ON YOUR WAY TO YOUR DEATH!”
Link stood shock still. The Lost One was glaring at him. He had quite a powerful stare.
“You aren’t the manifestation of my dark side, are you?”
“No,” the Lost One said very seriously. “Just because I have dark hair does not mean that I’m the Hero’s Shadow. We have to conquer ourselves in every lifetime. Sometimes, the spiritual forces of this world give shape to that which we must conquer. Sometimes, it is more subtle. You and I are similar. What we were given to conquer is unseen – our own pride. I succumbed to mine.”
“You are just a ray of sunshine, aren’t you?”
“My wife thought so, as well as my twin boys.”
“But you look to be my age.”
“In my era, people married young. Perhaps that was my problem – I had too much to protect. My emotional attachments were too strong. It made me fight very hard, but I did not take care of myself. You are not taking care of yourself.”
Link sighed and shrugged. “I really don’t care what happens to me anymore. I’ve always cared more about keeping others safe, but now… now that I know I’m just a game of the Goddesses, I suppose I don’t care at all.”
“You are a stubborn fool, then, like me. Listen. Even when your heart is not in it, you have to take care of yourself. If you keep on running without eating, without sleeping and without tending to your wounds, you’re just going to exhaust yourself. Get enough rest. Eat well. Take care of your health. Let those who care about you take care of you, too. You may be the Hero, but you cannot do it all alone and you cannot do it all right away. Do you want to know the reason why I failed?”
“Ganondorf killed you, right?” Link said.
“Yes,” the Lost One replied, “but he wouldn’t have had I been taking proper care of myself. I wasn’t. I was so eager to end the nightmare and the threat that I ran myself into exhaustion. I was starving and burnt down with fever when I entered Ganondorf’s chamber to challenge him. Sure, I managed to dodge a few times and I got a few licks in, but I was slow on my feet and couldn’t concentrate on my sword in front of me. The next thing I knew, I was being ran through. I can’t say I know much of what happened afterward, besides what was done with my corpse, but I do know that Ganondorf killed Zelda very swiftly thereafter – only a six year old girl at the time, too. If you’re lucky enough to pick up a history book that tells a little bit of my story, you’ll see that Hyrule and surrounding nations were plunged into darkness and tyranny for a good century. The world lived in fear. All of this just because my stubborn self wouldn’t stop for a day or two to get a little sleep and nurse my infected wounds!”
“Don’t be sorry, kid. Just take care of yourself.”
The next thing Link knew, he was back in the searing sunlight of the desert and back in fur. He felt water being poured into his mouth, past his sharp little coyote-teeth. He felt hands brace themselves under him. He wondered how this person knew him in this form…
Sheik sighed deeply. “You are an idiot, you know that, don’t you?” she gently scolded, “but I guess you’re my idiot.”
End Chapter 12.
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