Chapter 14: Blind Ambition
Wind stirred the leaves of the Kakariko forest. Some of the leaves on the trees were beginning to turn yellow, red and brown as the days became slightly cooler and much shorter. Large, pale cocoons rattled upon the Great Tree – no one in the town knew quite what to call it these days – it had been a mesquite tree but had revealed itself to be the Great Deku Tree. Either way, the spirit inside it remained silent. The great face upon the trunk appeared to be perpetually sleeping.
Midna and Navi walked upon the grass in the forest’s shade. This was the first day in several that it was not raining. Rain had been falling upon the desert more often of late, but it seemed that gray clouds hung over this little forest almost perpetually. Many green things had been sprouting, but Old Kakariko was feeling decidedly gloomy.
“Saria’s willow has grown,” Midna observed, “The fronds are touching the ground. She is weeping hard.”
“She’s mourning,” Navi replied. “The whole forest is. Though he was a different species and many lifetimes have passed since they’ve played with him, he was one of them.”
“But we don’t know anything for sure,” Midna said. “We just saw that section of the palace collapse. We haven’t heard any news. Maybe Sheik…uh…Zelda and Link got out.”
“It’s been weeks… the national television and radio systems have been cut off… we can’t get any newspapers… the posse Givanna’s leading hasn’t found anything…I fear the worst.”
“I do, too, little bug.” Midna sat down on a flat stone and gazed up at the great willow. She could see
up on the side of the mountain beyond the temple, doing her daily patrol. “My advisor and physician, T’leth wants us to return to the Twilight Realm. He is worried about me. He says that he sees the beginnings of age in me – such cheek! I told him that I want to wait just a little bit longer for Princess Zelda. I have not yet decided to summon my army. I want to give it more time... just in case she’s still with us. This is the first place they’ll come back to, if they are still alive. I do not know about Link, but if Zelda were gone, I think there’d be more sign of it in the natural world. As it is, everything is just getting greener and the springs are getting bigger.” Adelaide
“Then maybe Link is still out there,” Navi chimed. “He was restoring everything.”
“Perhaps, but we both know that he would have died to take care of Cecelia and to save Zelda.” The Twili queen sighed very deeply. “I remember the time when he almost gave everything to save me – but that was lifetimes ago. I didn’t want to see him in this life, really. I didn’t want to… lose him again.”
“There were times after I left the Hero of Time that I wanted to find his other incarnations. I think I did once, long ago. I was doing work around the forests and was hanging out with some of my brothers and sisters at a small sacred spring. A young man came staggering in, bloody, an arrow in his shoulder. He tossed off his outer clothes and sat down, letting the healing fairies do their work. He looked so much like my Link, except his hair was darker and his features were a little rougher. I stared at him and he stared at me. He gave me this really sour look, like he was wondering why I wasn’t trying to heal him along with the others. His shadow kept flickering.”
“That was my Link,” Midna said, smiling gently. “I actually remember that. He’d been caught in an ambush and had managed to fight off the enemy, but not without getting his tail handed to him. He told me later that he was wondering why that little blue fairy was just looking at him. I’d apologize for the both of us, but we had no idea who you were back then.”
“I knew that Sheik was Zelda this whole time,” Navi confessed, “long before
told you. I knew right from the start. You see, she pulled that trick before – during the Hero of Time’s era. I agreed with her to keep it secret. She told me that she was tired of being the one to be rescued and kept safe all the time. She wanted to return to favor… to… not be the ‘princess’ for a while.” Adelaide
Midna craned her neck forward and narrowed her eyes. “What’s that up ahead on the mountain? It looks like
found an enemy!” Adelaide
The sun glared down and the light colors of the rocks and dirt hurt his eyes. It wasn’t as hot today as it had been, but the sun’s light was giving him a headache. Link scratched at his chin where the beginnings of a beard grew. This hillside was familiar. He knew he was in the right place, but why was he here again? He’d passed out in the desert from the heat more than once. He did not know why he was alive right now, and more importantly, he did not care.
Then, he saw her. Impa Adelaide called out to him and ran to him. “Link? Link, is that you?”
Perhaps she didn’t recognize him for how dusty and grimy his clothes were. She stopped several paces away from him. He regarded her silently.
“You’re a mess!”
exclaimed. “Where’s Zelda?...Or er..Sheik…” Adelaide
“I know who Sheik was,” Link said in a hoarse voice. “They were one and the same because Zelda had to get involved with the danger - brave, stupid girl…”
“Do you know where she is? Link, we’ve got to know what happened to you.”
Link stood straight and regarded her very seriously. “I killed her,” he said coldly.
“I killed her,” Link repeated, his voice perfectly calm.
“How… how COULD YOU?!”
screamed, reaching for her jian. She advanced toward him and he drew his gun – but instead of aiming at her, he pointed it to the ground. Adelaide
Midna came running up the slope, shouting, Navi winging beside her. The fairy threw herself protectively in front of Link while Midna tackled
to the ground and grabbed her sword. Adelaide
“What are you doing?” the Impa protested.
“Stopping you from making a big mistake!” Navi shouted, then she turned to Link, who holstered his gun. “Oh, Link, you look awful!” she lamented, “Can you tell us what happened?”
struggled against Midna, who held her to the ground. Both were equally matched in physical strength, but Midna had the added advantage of her prehensile hair. “He said he killed Zelda!” the warrior grunted. “He’s gone to the dark side! Justice must be dealt!” Adelaide
“Don’t be an idiot,” Midna groused. “Just look at him. Don’t you know a broken man when you see one?” She let
back up gently. “Something happened and he needs the chance to tell us about it. We should get him inside out of the sun and get him cleaned up.” Adelaide
“I think I was supposed to come here,” Link said with a cracked voice, “but I don’t remember why.”
and Navi convinced Link to take a bath and coaxed him to shave. They couldn’t get him to eat more than a few bites of food, but they got him to sit down at a table with them and to detail what had happened in the throne room and after that. Midna and Navi helped him to explain to Adelaide about the rather interesting nature of the Goddesses. Adelaide
“She…” Link said swallowing, “She took the ice-spear for me…and…and…and…well, even Farore said she was dead…I…I.”
“Sssh, now,” Midna said, rubbing his back. “She said they could bring her back. You have things you need to do, don’t you?”
Link grabbed his left arm and winced. “This was Cecelia’s power… I fear that it’s tainted.”
said, rising from her seat, which squeaked as she pushed it back from the table, “Wandering around the desert alone like a fool didn’t solve anything. Neither is letting your strength wane doing anyone any good. You didn’t eat but three bites of the grain and cuckoo I prepared. How about I make you something you really, really like? Will you try to eat more then?” Adelaide
“Zelda would want you to be strong,” Navi added.
Link looked out the open window at the blowing leaves on the little trees that had sprouted up outside
’s house. He gasped as he saw a little bird fly right in through the open window. He had seen cardinals before, but he’d never known them to fly right into people’s houses. It was a cute little bird with very bright red feathers – a male. He hopped across the table and pecked at the unfinished plate of cooked grain with his fat little beak. In spite of himself, Link began laughing. “Navi, do you see this? Bold little bird – he just came right on in here! I can’t believe it.” Adelaide
Navi remained silent. “Navi?” Link called, looking around for the little blue fairy, “Navi?”
The cardinal hopped up to him and cocked its head. Link held his hand out to it and the little creature hopped right up on the crook of his index finger. Link then remembered what the Hero of Twilight had told him about the visions of past Heroes. One of them was to be a cardinal. The bird danced about and chirped. It flared out its little wings and its little tail – as if trying to entertain him, to cheer him up.
Link smiled before finding himself within the empty courtyard of a grand palace. Strangely enough, he recognized this place. He’d been here before. This was the place beyond the Glass Waterfall, where he’d fought lynels and the aquamentus. This place was where he’d gotten the Pendant of Power. The towers were intact and vines climbed the walls. It looked, if not new, well-kept and glorious – so different than when he’d seen it in waking life.
“So, are you going to save her, champ?”
Link turned to the voice behind him. A man stood up from the bench he’d been sitting on. He was dressed in a green tunic with brown leggings and the customary floppy green hat – though this one was shorter than the long head-socks the other Hero-visions had worn. His hair was bright – a red-brown - and his bangs were long. The shock of hair stood out from his face in a robust manner.
“Do you mean Zelda?” Link asked as the man approached him. “I… I’m sorry. She died because of me. I can’t save anyone.”
“Listen to yourself!” the man with the long bangs said, “You know that there’s a way to save her and if you save her, you save everyone. Don’t tell me that you’re just going to give up on your love?”
The bright-haired young man, though he acted quite chipper and casual, also carried himself in a strangely regal manner. As if he was sensing what Link thought, he brushed a hand over his own hair, then over his body. His tunic and cap disappeared, replaced by light knight’s armor, a shimmering dark green robe trimmed in ermine and an elegant golden crown.
“A king,” Link said.
“Yes,” the man replied. He wrapped himself in his robe, spun around, and instantly was back in the commoner’s tunic and hat. “Though I was always more comfortable in these clothes. So goes the Hyrule Royal Family, so goes the world. That is how it always has been.”
“How are you doing that…. that which you did right now?”
“Magic,” the reddish-haired man replied. “And that is my lesson for you. In my day, I was very in touch with magic. I learned many different spells – from simple spells to impart strength to my tunic and mail, to leaping high… to even restoring my body when I’d been injured.”
“Hmm,” Link grunted, “Very useful – but if you could use magic to restore your life, how come I’m not still you?”
“I had no specific title,” the young man replied, “I was most often called the Hero of Hyrule, which is rather generic, but in my latter years, I was called the Hero-King of Hyrule. No amount of magic can make someone live forever, nor would I have wanted to. I died too young with a problem on my hands, but new lives are needed for new eras.”
Link pointed at the Hero-King. “You… You’re the Hero-King of Hyrule who ruled during the time of the Great Plague, aren’t you?”
“Well, I didn’t think it was so great,” the Hero-King pouted. “I died from that sickness and let me tell you, it was pretty awful.”
“But you tried to save everyone,” Link replied. “According to the history I’ve read, the measures you enacted saved many lives.”
“No amount of magic can trump nature,” the Hero-King said with a rueful smile. “You have my magic in you and it is tied to nature. You have to let it flow through you. Don’t be afraid of it.”
The Hero-King sidled up behind Link and grabbed his arms, holding them out. “Just concentrate, time it with the beat of your heart. The Triforce will tell you want to do. Don’t be afraid. Now that you have it in full, it is not tainted. Don’t be afraid.”
“How do you expect me not to be at least a little afraid?” Link asked, “The power of ice is something I saw kill my uncle. It feels different than the others.”
“The enemy held it for a while,” the Hero-King said, running his hands along Link’s left arm, “but we have a knack for cleansing dark and tainted powers. However, power itself is something you must be careful of. Without wisdom, it becomes corrupt and can corrupt the wielder. I found that out the hard way once. Even a heart with the best of intentions can be led astray.”
“But you did not become corrupt, did you? I would hope not, your being a king.”
“I was speaking of another happening from before I became king, but yes, I did become corrupt for a while. Zelda – my Zelda… saved me. I was never without wisdom again.”
“Zelda told me some things, and I’ve learned some history, but I wonder why I haven’t learned more of you.”
“Well,” The Hero-King replied, “by the time my era rolled around, the idea of Heroes rising was a well-known and accepted concept, as was the idea that we were reincarnated. I can’t say I actually remembered anything from past lives, but while I had no specific title, there were many people who called me the Hero of Time. I don’t know whether they were taking the reincarnation thing into account – a Hero for all time – or if it was just because the previous era of Ganon’s darkness had wiped out a lot of the literature and what you would call technology, but, yes, it was one of the titles I was known by. Most people looked back to the proper Hero of Time’s legend to compare me to because more records of it survived than any of the other legends. I did my best to carve out my own name, but, in the end, I think a lot of the legends were lost again after I died, just before the era of the flood. I don’t think any of us but the Hero of Time was widely remembered – at least until your era, where most people seem to think of the Heroes’ great deeds mainly as exaggerations and fictions.”
“Don’t be. You know me now and in the end, Heroes do not fight for fame or glory, or even to be remembered. We fight to protect those we love…to just to do the right thing.”
“Glory would be nice, but what’s important is Zelda.”
As soon as Link shook his head clear of the vision at the table,
set a dish of grilled beef and vegetables before him, along with some soft bread and a tall glass of milk. He ate heartily and asked for more when he was finished. Adelaide
Link walked alone into the
of the Goddesses. His footsteps echoed in its cavernous hall. While the temple was huge from the outside, he could have sworn that its interior was vaster than its exterior. He started toward the back area, the place that Zelda had once told him had strange inscriptions. He felt drawn to it, plus he remembered her saying that she’d seen old lettering meaning “fire” there. He guessed that that area was what he was meant to unlock with “fire” “ice” and “forest.” He was in the temple to “unlock” it somehow. There was only one way to find out if that area was the door. Temple
Clap, clap, clap.
Link tensed and drew his revolver when he saw a figure step out from behind a pillar. Normally, he’d feel guilty for drawing a weapon in a house of worship, but as soon as he saw who had surprised him, all regret was lost. The man’s dark robes trailed on the tiled floor. He gave Link a baleful, yet somehow bored look and continued clapping slowly.
“Ganondorf.” Link said
“It is nice to be recognized,” the Evil King said before he stopped clapping. “I am impressed that you have made it this far. Perhaps you will open the gate for me, as you did many generations ago. Perhaps I shall just take from you what should be mine – the minor forces and the part of the major that you possess. Either way, I grow tired of this game.”
“Why aren’t you back at what remains of the palace?” Link asked. “Is it because I destroyed your pawn?”
“Cecelia?” Ganondorf said, quirking an eyebrow. “You did not destroy her. She lives and has become quite unstable.”
“What?” Link mocked, “Did she kick you out of the palace? I don’t believe that. You’re supposed to be the head honcho of nastiness, aren’t you?”
“I left the palace of my own accord,” Ganondorf answered. “She is unworthy of Power. If she had taken it, you would have wished for my reign, boy.”
Navi quickly flew inside and hovered by the doorway. “Ganondorf!” she exclaimed.
“And the exposition-fairy is as astute as always,” Ganondorf laughed. “Next she’ll tell you that this place used to be known as the
.” Templeof Time
Midna entered and stood shock still in the doorway. “You!”
“So, it’s a party,” Ganon said. He waved his right hand and a strange, orange translucent barrier rose up from the floor and cut Midna and Navi off from Link and Ganondorf. Navi flew into the wall repeatedly, trying to break through, to no avail.
“Don’t,” Midna said, gently cupping the fairy in her hands, “You’re hurting yourself. The only thing we can do is watch now. We must have faith in him.”
Ganondorf drew two long, thin swords. Their hilts trailed dramatic red tassels. “I want to end the Goddesses’ game, boy. They are not worthy. Neither is Cecelia, or Zelda or you! I will become the new god of this land – as it always should have been!”
Link dodged as one of the long swords came for his neck. It bit into a pillar with a loud clang. Link grit his teeth and fired the contents of his gun chamber for Ganondorf’s copious form. The warlock drew his swords up, crossed them, and sent out a mighty wind-like force. Link’s bullets came right back toward him. He jumped, but one of them caught him in the left leg.
“Augh!” he yelped, but he did not fall. It was a shallow wound and one he could work with. Another good pair of jeans was ruined, though. He grit his teeth and ran when Ganondorf’s other sword came for him.
“You can’t keep dodging forever, gunman!” Ganondorf bellowed. “Death isn’t that bad. You’ve tasted it before!”
“You arrogant bastard!” Midna yelled from behind the barrier.
“Gunman,” Link said to himself, “That’s it! I can’t be one here! Everyone’s been saying that the Master Sword is Ganondorf’s weakness!” Link drew it off his back, along with his shield. He ignored the pain in his leg and charged his enemy. He concentrated on blocking blows and looking for a good place to strike. Ganondorf was good… very good, better than
. His swords danced and Link tried to concentrate on the blades and upon Ganondorf’s movements. He remembered the time Adelaide had given him a training session using a spear with a similar bright red tassel. She’d said that such fancy additions to a weapon were meant to distract the enemy, to catch his eye so he could be taken off-guard. She’d tripped him many times before he’d learned the concentration she’d been trying to instill in him. Now, he was using it and he made a mental note to thank her profusely later. Adelaide
Of course, he also remembered that the purpose of a spear or sword tassel was to soak up blood. One of the blades sliced across his chest. Link brought the Master Sword to slice across Ganondorf’s belly. They both hopped back at the same time, wincing and grabbing at their wounds.
“Well-matched!” Ganondorf hissed, “But I have not shown you my full power!”
“Link, watch out!” Navi called. The barrier began fading. Black clouds swirled around Ganondorf. He fell to his hands and knees. His muscles grew and burst from his skin. Link could hear bones cracking. Long, bristly hair sprouted all over him and he became enormous. When the transformation was done, Link found himself before hooves larger than he was tall and the long, snorting nose of a gruesome creature. The beast had the menacing fangs and the proud, straight shoulder-ruff of a javelina, but the heft and curving tusks of a feral boar. His hair was copious, long and as thick as needles. It took upon a blue cast in the light coming in through the temple’s windows, dark at the base and light at the tips. A mane of red-orange hair stood proud upon the beast.
“Ganon in his glory…” Navi gasped.
Ganon roared and the foundation of the
of the Goddesses shook. The sound was something of a perverse mix of a hog’s squeal and a lion’s roar. Saliva glimmered off the creature’s tusks. Temple
Something within Link would have found the beast magnificent if he didn’t have the knowledge that it wanted to kill him. Midna stepped forward and sent up her magical hair as a giant hand, ready to fight. Ganon snorted and galloped toward her.
“Midna!” Link screamed. He passed the Master Sword into his right hand and threw out his left to send a beam of ice for the giant boar’s legs, calling upon his newfound
. The shot missed, leaving an ice-patch on the floor, but Ganon immediately turned and charged for him. One of his monstrous hooves hit Link hard as he thundered past the Hero. Link was sent to the floor in a shivering heap. Crystal
“Link!” Midna shouted, running toward him. Navi flitted about the room and hovered right in front of Ganon’s face.
“He’s blind!” Navi exclaimed. “Ganon is blind in this form! He’s a magic-seeker! No spells! No magic! He senses it!”
The fairy narrowly avoided being eaten by the demon. She zipped out of the way and tried to use her faint fairy-magic signature to lead him away from Link. Link winced and groaned as Midna helped him up. He choked and grabbed his stomach. He vomited a gout of blood from his mouth.
“Oh no,” Midna whispered. “Internal injuries… you cannot last long unless we get you some help.”
“I can fight,” Link said, brushing her off. “Get out of the way.”
Link passed his sword back into his left hand, held up his right and sent out a shot of fire into the air. Ganon shorted and turned towards him. Link stood still, grabbing the Master Sword in both hands.
“Link, what are you doing?” Navi shouted.
Link crouched low as the boar came for him. He thrust the Master Sword into its neck and leapt out of the way at the last instant. As he pulled the sword with him, swine-blood sprayed the floor and dappled his clothing. The wounded Ganon came after him, trailing dark blood as he ran. Link caught a glimpse above his head. He saw cracks in the ceiling of the temple, no doubt caused by Ganon’s rampaging around. He crouched, braced the blade of the Master Sword behind him and called up the energy deep inside him – the energy the Cardinal had encouraged him not to fear. The triangle on the back of his left hand glowed golden-green and bright.
“Thunder,” the young man whispered. The temple shook. Midna and Navi sheltered themselves as everything around them shook, as lightning ignited the interior of the temple and as parts of the roof came falling down. Midna used her hair to shield both her and the fairy. They looked around for Link, but he was lost in the dust. A huge piece of marble came crashing down and there was a horrible squealing noise.
When the dust began clearing, Link stood, though doubled over in pain, before Ganon. Blood flowed from Ganon’s snout and he lay still, crushed beneath a massive chunk of the roof.
“Link!” Navi called, winging over to him. Midna re-bound her hair and picked up her feet. Before they got to him, he picked up his own feet and ran to the back of the temple. He left spats of blood upon the broken floor tiles from the wounds on his leg and chest and from the trail of blood that was dripping down his chin.
“Come on, Link, you need help,” Midna said. He ignored her and spread out his hands upon the wall with the broken inscriptions.
“I have to unlock the temple,” Link said weakly. “It’s what Zelda wanted me to do. Something is back here.”
He stood, closed his eyes and breathed deeply, trying not to vomit again. Spheres of light glowed from his arms and chest, red-orange, blue and green. Midna and Navi both gasped as the temple wall instantly vanished. What lay behind it could only be described by either of them as “pure light.”
Link stood tall and got a very distant look in his eyes. Midna readied herself to catch him in case he collapsed. He stepped forward, into the light.
Link looked around himself and saw nothing but light and what appeared to be wispy, golden glowing clouds. He wondered, for a moment, if he’d died, as he’d always imagined that this was what the entrance to the Afterlife must look like. He felt no pain and his wounds were healed. His clothing was likewise whole.
You have made such efforts to find me, oh one of valiant heart…
“Who are you?”
I am the negative space, that which is around and between…That which holds this world together…
“Have I died?”
No, brave one, you have not. You are very well and alive.
For a moment, Link felt at once divided and united. He could feel every one of his past incarnations with him – the ones that he met in his visions: The Hero of Twilight, the Hero of Time, The Hero of Nature, The Lost One, The Hero of Dreams, and the Hero-King. He also felt specters that he had yet to meet in any formal vision and possibly would not get to in this lifetime. They were nonetheless a part of him, as well. Most of all, however, he felt himself. For the first time in his life, he knew with absolute clarity the man he was.
Your heart is true – you are a true Hero in every lifetime. What is it that you ask of me? I know your heart and what you ask.
“Balance,” Link whispered. “Make the land what it is meant to be. Shining, beautiful…varied, wonderful, peaceful…alive…”
It shall be done, but for one last effort, valiant one. The virtues must be brought together. Courage, Wisdom, Power. These three…fragmented…made whole. Power is to be broken and united into one who is worthy. Defeat the one who is unworthy.
“Zelda?” Link asked, “Is there a way to save her? To make her awake and alive again?”
Midna and Navi stood (and hovered, respectively) and looked at the light.
“Do you think he died in there?” Midna asked.
Someone coughed behind them. They turned around and yelped in collective shock. Ganondorf, in his “normal” Gerudo form stood behind them. Beaten and bloody, he looked with awe into the light.
“I’m only blind in my other form,” he said, “It happened… because I got too old…too many times defeated…too tired…of...the endless game…” His jaw hung. “I’d never thought I’d see this.”
In that moment, Link came stumbling out of the light and the wall that had vanished reappeared. “You!” Link said with a slight snarl. “I guess I didn’t finish the job.”
“I have a proposition for you, Hero,” Ganondorf said.
Midna readied a ball of twilit magic. Navi hovered beside Link doing her best fairy battle-stance.
Link waved his hand. “I want to hear him out,” he said.
“What?” Navi gasped.
“Don’t you realize who this is?” Midna groused.
Link gave the Twili a look that told her Don’t worry, I’m in control of this.
“Me, you and Zelda united,” Ganondorf said. “I will stay my hand… for now. Cecelia has become a greater threat and I want my revenge. I believe that only the Triforce can stop her now. She will leave this land in ruins and nothing left for me to rule.”
“But you’ve left the land in ruins before…” Navi began before being cut off.
“With her, it shall be worse! Even when my desire got out of control, I had my people to think about-”
This time, Link cut off Ganondorf. “Like that little girl you left back at the fortress in the Tantari Waste? I met your little princess, Gerudo-King and she is a very sweet little girl. She deserves better than the life of struggle you left her with!”
Ganondorf grunted and wrinkled his nose.
“Still, I accept your offer,” Link said.
“What? Are you an idiot?” Midna protested.
“I never said I trusted him,” Link said, cocking an eyebrow at her. “Consider this… utilitarian – a relationship born of pure necessity in a time of desperation. I know that you know all about those. Yes, Midna, I remember now.”
“He’ll never grow to love you like I did,” Midna quipped sourly.
“So, it is settled then,” Ganondorf said.
“Yes,” Link agreed. “First we take care of Cecelia. We can kill each other later.”
“We have to find Zelda,” Ganondorf added with a quirky little smile that was more than creepy. “You do know where she is, don’t you, boy?”
“Yes, but I’m going to need quite a bit of power to get us all there. Midna, hold him down, please.”
In one swift movement, Midna unbound her hair and caught the wounded warlock off-guard. As soon as he slammed to the floor, Link drew the Master Sword and plunged it into the back of Ganondorf’s right hand. Red energy spiraled up it to join the green motes of energy that Link generated to slide down the hilt. The two differing energies hit where the blade joined the hilt, at the golden crystal decoration. Navi tucked herself under Link’s hat and Midna held onto his shoulders. Leaves and wind spun round about them.
In an instant, the entire party was standing before the Abode of the Goddesses.
End Chapter 14.