Chapter 15: Into the Sunset
Link had brushed all of the film-frost off the chamber. He gazed down at Zelda. There were several things he noticed about her that were different than the last time he was here. She was in different clothes – a loose white nightgown - and there was bandaging about her middle. Her hair had grown and was laid out down to her thighs – this was most strange. The feature that filled Link’s heart with hope was the fact that she was, ever so softly, breathing. She didn’t appear to be frozen solid anymore, though the chamber was cold. She had multiple tubes and wires attached to her arms, legs and neck and snaking beneath her skin.
“I will restore the land,” Link said, “And I’ll get you out of this coffin. I’ll see you warm and alive again. I swear it.”
He heard footsteps and voices in the hall outside. Ganondorf and Midna were talking.
“All this doesn’t faze you at all?” Midna asked.
“Why would it?” Ganondorf replied. “I have never been to this place before, but I’ve known about the…fraudulent…nature of the Goddesses for a long time.”
“I don’t know if it’s fraudulent so much as non-traditional.”
They entered the room, followed by Farore. Navi hovered by Farore’s head. The Goddess smiled at Link. “The Triforce of Wisdom has been strengthening,” she explained. “We were able to patch up her wound and I believe she is strong enough for me to bring her up now – to waken her. If you are wondering about her hair, it is because of the new strength imparted to the Triforce. You found the aether, didn’t you, boy?”
“Found it and communed with it…something like that,” Link said, not taking his eyes off Zelda’s sleeping face. “She’s really going to be alright?”
“She’s a strong girl,” Farore said. “As you can see, she’s not in a full-stasis right now, as evidenced by her ability to breathe. Rest assured, her spirit has returned to her, though she is still in a coma. The state she is in right now is not unlike the state we had you put in during your life as the Hero of Time, when your young body wasn’t ready to handle the energies of the Master Sword.”
“The seven years when I was king,” Ganondorf mused with a wicked smile.
“Alright,” Farore said, stepping over to the chamber and to the various devices surrounding it. “I’m going to try to bring her up. Then you three Bearers can fight the rogue element together, as discussed.” The scientist-turned-Goddess worked some of the controls and the glass lid of the chamber cracked open a few centimeters with a cool steam as it was un-sealed.
Ganondorf continued to smile wickedly. He made great, lumbering steps toward the chamber as Farore did her delicate work. “How about a new plan?” he said. “I take what is rightfully mine – the Triforce of Wisdom - then I kill the boy and take the Triforce of Courage. I get my wish to rule and replace you fraudulent idiots. That sounds like the best plan.”
He lunged for the chamber.
Link shouted and took the Master Sword off his back.
Midna screamed and threw out her magical hair. “You leave her alone!” she roared.
Ganondorf managed to grab her. With powerful, magical force, he threw her against one of the walls of the room. The Twili moaned and fell limp. Just as Link was about to bring his sword to bear on the large Gerudo, Everyone in the room was thrown back by a mysterious and mighty force. It arrived from a flat portal that appeared against one of the walls without touching it – black with boxy cyan streaks.
The figure that emerged from it stood in her blue dress and white-blond hair. Half her body appeared as though it were covered in hard ice. Her right arm was missing and she dripped with water. Her skin appeared raw. Parts of it were peeling off – it was as if the woman, herself, was melting.
“Cecelia?” Link gasped.
“The portal...” Midna groaned. “How did you learn my peoples’ magic?”
“I am a sorceress of immense talent,” the thing that was Cecelia hissed. “It is only fitting for the world’s new Goddess to know all manner of magic.”
“Sacrifice…” Midna managed, “To make that kind of a portal… had to have made blood sacrifice…doesn’t smell…like beef blood…”
“I am here to take what is mine,” the ice-mage said. “Oh, would you look at that, is the Hero afraid to strike me?”
“Step away from Zelda!” Link demanded. Cecelia was too close to her chamber for him to strike without worrying that he’d disturb her waking process and accidentally kill her. As far as his gun went, he was out of ammunition at the moment. “Come on, fight me in the open! Use some dignity and honor!”
Cecelia laughed. “You cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, to quote a tired old adage. If you are unwilling to make some sacrifices, you will never be great.”
She clenched her hand into a fist. Suddenly, Ganondorf fell to his knees and wheezed. He winced and gasped in pain. A red light shone and floated in the air. It was triangular in shape. The woman grabbed it. She held her fist high to show the golden-red glow of the Triforce of Power firmly embedded within her left hand. Immediately, her body began restoring itself. Her skin mended and became pale and soft. The ice on her body turned to vapor and hissed away from her. The most astounding thing, perhaps, was what happened to the stump of her severed arm. First, bones formed. Quickly, they were clothed with ribbons of muscles, whipping out over it like snakes, attaching themselves in the appropriate places. And finally skin, new and pale, covered the appendage.
“I became used to channeling my energies through Nayru’s crystal,” she said, “Too used to it, in fact. I came to rely upon its power too much. The sudden severing of that power was quite traumatic to my body, but I managed to escape the palace, all the same. Now that I have this little baby, I can do what I want. Power has chosen a new wielder. Pity poor Ganondorf…he’s now just a weak old man!” She smiled an evil smile at the Gerudo-king, who was now on all fours on the floor, choking and cursing her. “You thought you were using me,” she hissed, “but, the entire time, I was using you. I think I will let you die slowly now that you are no longer useful to me.”
She then turned her attention to Link. “Shall we play a game, perhaps? I have not tired of the chase.”
She snapped her fingers and disappeared. The portal closed behind her. Zelda’s chamber was flung wide open and Farore yelped the words that sent cold horror through Link’s spirit.
“She’s gone! Zelda is gone!”
Link had a lot of trouble piecing together in his mind the events that had led him to this moment. The aether – the magical force that bound the world – wasn’t helping him much. It wanted him to “unite the powers” and wanted him to destroy the one that had grabbed a hold of and was misusing a portion of its energies. It honored him, but was apparently neutral.
The Goddesses had taken care of Midna. She was back on the ship, lying in a bed and being fed painkillers. Ganondorf had thrown her against the wall hard. A few of her ribs had been broken and her right shoulder had been fractured. She had assured Link that she’d be alright.
“Go save her,” she had said. “She is your princess and you are her Hero. Don’t feel bad. Every age goes as it must. Little Midna is patient, my wolf. I can wait another lifetime for you.”
He’d responded by giving her a tender kiss on the forehead. “Get better,” he’d said before he’d set out.
Link was lucky in that he was able to call his horse to the base of the mountain with an old whistle Nayru had given him. Mysterious thing, it was. He was now riding across the northern desert, toward the Glass Waterfall and the old
now, with Navi riding the brim of his hat. Something told him that it was where Cecelia would take Zelda. That something was seated behind him on Rhiannon’s saddle. How in the world did he get talked into letting Ganondorf come along? North Castle
The ageless warlock was much too close for comfort. His huge arms were wrapped around him. If it were Zelda, this would have been romantic. As it was, Link had to force himself not to think about it or he’d feel acutely ill. Without the Triforce of Power to channel, Link couldn’t get all the way to the
ruins with the energy of the forest crystal – at least, not without killing himself. North Castle
Ganondorf wanted revenge on Cecelia. Ganondorf claimed to be intimately familiar with her magic. Ganondorf claimed that he’d be an ally, at least until Cecelia was destroyed and he got back what was his. Ganondorf claimed that Cecelia was unworthy of fighting Link like he was and that he couldn’t give her the pleasure of killing him. Ganondorf claimed that only he could properly control the Triforce of Power, having been its longtime wielder and that he still had some power to stabilize it, even as it was within the cryo-witch. Ganondorf, Ganondorf, Ganondorf…
The only reason Link had tenuously agreed to this was that Din had pretty much said the same thing: She confirmed that Ganondorf had a better control over the Triforce of Power than anyone in Hyrule possibly could and that he would be necessary in the battle ahead as a stabilizing force. Although the Goddesses were not quite the deities Link had long believed in, he knew that they knew a lot more about the workings of the Triforce than he did, so he decided to trust her, even though he did not trust his current “baggage.”
Link began to feel rather woozy. He shook it off. This was no time to be tired. By the time they’d gotten up to the ruins, night had fallen. The moon was full behind the towers and its light leant an extra eeriness to the old, broken castle.
“What are you looking at, boy?” Ganondorf asked as he saw Link staring at the north tower. “We’d best get within the walls before our footsteps awaken the lynels. The moblins will definitely obey me, but I am unsure the lynels will if they sense that I am bereft. I could destroy them all, easily, but I would rather not stain my clean robes with blood – at least, not until it is time to spill yours.”
“The south tower…” Link began, “After the first time I defeated you during the lifetime in which I became the Hero-King, before I became king - I lived there while I helped rebuild Hyrule. It’s broken now… my old room’s gone. The north tower… it was the royal bedchamber when I was king…with Zelda as my queen… There’s a little light up there… it’s very faint. I’m sure that is where Zelda is being held.”
Link raced along familiar corridors and halls with broken ceilings exposed to the sky. He did not care if he lost Ganondorf, but the Gerudo-king was always, inexplicably, two steps behind him. As he entered the first chamber at the base of the north tower, an enormous sword came for his head - then it vanished into thin air. He ducked and brought out the Master Sword. He looked and listened, but could not see who had attacked him. Ganondorf stood in the doorway and grunted. Navi flitted about, trying to find the enemy.
A phantom appeared in the shadows – a large creature in heavy armor and a horned helmet. “Those without honor shall not pass!” it boomed.
“I don’t remember him being here before…” Link said. “Is he replacing the aquamentus?”
Ganondorf begun to laugh. “Why if it isn’t my loyal Darknut Prime!” he said, “How have you been?”
“I’ve been DEAD, you swine!” phantom replied, “As for loyalty, you do not have the Power. I no longer owe fealty to you. I await one who capable of defeating me.”
“I’ll take you on,” Link said.
“I may be a ghost, but trust me, if you fail, it shall be you eternally haunting these halls.”
“It’s a deal,” Link said, putting away the Master Sword.
“Link, what are you doing?” Navi squeaked.
Link reached into one of his vest pockets and felt the hard little object. He hadn’t used it in a long time, but it was still there. Though the Goddesses had given him ammunition for his revolver, Link did not feel it quite honorable to fight a knight of the old order with a gun. The Master Sword would have been a wonderful weapon to do the job, but he remembered that he a weapon that had been specifically crafted to put to rest the spirits of the dead. Link brought out the heavy and long Blade of Bone and held its hilt, when it came to its full-size, in both his hands.
He dodged when the phantom’s massive broadsword came for him. The end of it was strange, almost like a round axe. Link was lithe and quick. He jumped behind the old Darknut and sliced at the spectral binds that held his dark armor in place. It clattered to the floor and vanished. Darknut Prime rounded on him and drew a long, thin sword from his belt. The ghost was quick but Link was quicker. He wedged the tip of the Blade of Bone under his enemy’s helmet and gave it a quick, powerful thrust.
Darknut Prime vanished like oil upon water and dissipated like smoke. “Well-matched,” his voice boomed as he departed to wherever creatures like him were supposed to go, “You may pass. Vanquish those that have no honor.”
Link reduced the Blade of Bone to its little carrying-size and slipped it back into his vest pocket. He wiped the sweat off his brow and sprinted for a newly-opened door and up the stairs it led to. At the top of the tower, he found Zelda tied up onto a pedestal with thick ropes. Her hands were cuffed and she’d been gagged. Strangely, however, she was in clothes of her usual type. Link ripped the gag from her mouth, and drew the Master Sword to cut both her ropes and her chains. Immediately, she leapt for him and threw her arms around him.
“Where’s Cecelia?” he asked before finding her mouth thrust over his. Link returned her kiss with gusto. Ganondorf and Navi then entered the room.
“I think I may vomit,” Ganondorf commented.
Zelda separated her lips from Link’s. “We must hurry,” she said. “Cecelia left me, headed back to the main palace. She’s got this place rigged with explosives. You didn’t trip any seals or fight any guardian beasts on the way in here, did you?”
“Guardian…beasts…” Link said dully.
“Curse you, Darknut Prime!” Ganondorf shouted before thundering back down the stairs. Link grabbed Zelda by the wrist and fled after him.
Once they got outside, the north tower became a dazzling fireball. The blast lit up the entire area. Lynels roared and stampeded. Moblins and lesser creatures squealed and ran. Debris rained down. Link pushed Zelda in front of him, shielding her with his body. Navi tucked herself under his hat and shivered in his hair. For unknown reasons, even as he ran, Ganondorf was laughing. It was no laugh of joy or of victory, but something rueful, something nostalgic and bitter.
As Link and Zelda made it past the Glass Waterfall and to where Rhiannon obediently waited, Ganondorf shouted to them. “Don’t think you’ve gotten rid of me, Hero!”he called. “I have ways to follow you! I shall meet you in
!” He raised his fist and then vanished in a puff of smoke – not unlike Zelda had the many times she’d disappeared before Link’s eyes as Sheik. Castle Town
Link helped Zelda onto the saddle before climbing on in front of her. “If he could do that, why did he make me carry him on horseback?” he asked.
Zelda leaned against him and wrapped her arms around him and over his chest. “We have to get to
before my sister does something truly horrible,” she said. Castle Town
In the light of the full moon, the sands of the desert sparkled like the waves on an endless sea. Link remembered that now – the sea – though vaguely. Zelda held onto him tightly. This felt a lot better than before.
was in chaos. People were running everywhere, trying to secure what was precious to them or looting what was not theirs from shops emptied of proprietors and customers. The streets were broken, as if the city had been hit by a massive earthquake. People spoke of seeing a huge white wolfo headed toward the ruined section of the royal palace that was being rebuilt. Shadowy figures, armored creatures and crazed wildlife ran through every side-street and alley. Castle Town
Link had ridden Rhiannon right into the heart of this chaos. Zelda vaulted off her. “Head to the palace,” she commanded. “I’ll meet you there. I’m headed to the training grounds to see if I can find myself a proper rifle or bow.”
Link jumped off his horse and started running, the Master Sword drawn. His feet screeched to a halt when he saw Ganondorf.
“Did you cause this?” he demanded.
Ganondorf yawned. “As much as I enjoy seeing this city laid low, this is not my doing. The Triforce of Power has run amuck. Come. Let us fulfill our deal, then, as you said earlier, we can kill each other after this is all done.”
Navi flitted back and forth from Link’s hat, looking around. She and the unlikely allies made it to the remains of the royal palace’s throne room. It was much easier to do so than the last time Link had done it, seeing as it was partially destroyed with many gaping holes in the walls that had yet to be repaired. The guards normally stationed around the area had fled, save for the few that lay bloody and broken in the courtyard and upon the steps, torn to shreds and very obviously deceased.
Sitting upon the throne, under the open sky and amid rubble was Cecelia. She smiled broadly at Ganondorf and Link. “You made it here, I see. Such a fun game. It is nice to have adversaries that are not easy to kill.”
“You disgrace the Power, madam,” Ganondorf said. “And the Goddesses’ game gets very tiresome after a while. I would not recommend it to a newcomer. You are, as you always have been, unbalanced. The toy is too much for you, little girl. Give it back to me. Playtime is over.”
“Give up true Power when I’ve just found it?” Cecelia asked sarcastically, “What do you take me for, a fool?”
“Yes,” Ganondorf said simply. “You are a foolish little child who does not know how to wield it properly. You do not even seek Wisdom. The way you challenge Courage is a joke. You are… pathetic!”
“Her dark energy is very strong, Link,” Navi said. “I do not yet know where she is weak.”
Cecelia laughed darkly. “For a god, Power is the only thing that matters.” With that, Cecelia’s form began changing. Her nose and mouth shifted in a grotesque manner. Her already long Hylian ears became longer and broader. Her hair spilled over her chest and back and began to meld with her dress and skin. Her neck extended, as did her legs. She grew in size. Soon, standing before the throne was not a woman, but a beast – a huge, pure white wolflike creature with a pair of jagged golden horns upon its head and spikes protruding from its spine upon its entire length until they stopped at the tail. She glared at Link and Ganondorf with yellow eyes as drool dripped down from her open mouth. The Triforce of Power glowed brightly on the back of her massive left forepaw.
“Power was my birthright!” she roared, “denied to me from birth because I did not have the spirit of Zelda! What rubbish! Treated as a second-class princess…I was the firstborn of the king’s daughters! I was meant to rule! I have proven…that …I …will …always …get …what ...I …want!”
She dove for Link, her jaws wide and open. He dodged and swiped his sword for her back legs, hoping to hamstring her. He missed and skid upon the floor. Ganondorf mustered up a bolt of dark energy and slammed it into her shoulder.
Link’s eyes went wide. “Ganondorf! Aim for me!” he shouted.
“Do you have a death wish, boy?” the warlock asked.
“No! The Master Sword – it repels your kind of energy! It’s all coming back to me now!”
Ganondorf complied, sending a sphere of black and purple energy for Link. Link swung the Master Sword at it as if it were a bat. The ball of dark energy slammed into Cecelia’s side. She roared and rounded on Ganondorf, who was not as quick at dodging as Link was. She tore into his shoulder as he sent a bolt of black energy into her mouth. Link stabbed one of her hind paws. Cecelia spit Ganondorf out onto the floor and came for him. The young Hero dodged and jumped, landing upon the throne, his feet on the armrests.
Ganondorf coughed, but stood. He conjured another ball of energy to send Link’s way. He batted it at Cecelia just as he came at him with her jaws wide open, ready to snap him up. Link sent the ball of black energy right down her throat. She howled and fell to the floor. Link jumped to the floor, ready to finish her off when her form shifted back into that of a human and a mighty, cold wind burst out of her.
Quite suddenly, Link staggered, feeling woozy. “What’s happening to me?” he asked.
Navi spiraled around him as if she were a healing fairy. She could not heal him, but she could make a rough diagnosis. “You’ve been weakened,” she said. “And it’s not by anything Cecelia’s thrown at you. It looks like someone gave you a delayed-reaction spell.”
“A delayed-reaction spell?”
“Din damn it, it’s working too soon!” Ganondorf groused.
“You did this to him?” Navi demanded.
“I set him with it while riding to
,” he answered. “I wanted him weak after we finished this witch off so I could take care of him easily, but she’s still al-” North Castle
Ganondorf’s voice was cut off as a long dagger of ice slammed through his throat. Several more slammed into his body. He choked up a gout of blood and then fell to the floor.
Link dodged a volley of ice daggers that came for him and almost fell to the floor, himself. He was very dizzy and trying his hardest to fight it. Even the Master Sword – usually light in his hand – felt very heavy.
Navi flitted away from him, then back to him. “Ganondorf is dead!” she reported.
“Yes,” Cecelia sneered as she floated about the room, her feet hovering mere centimeters from the floor. “It may have been an easy kill, but for one bereft of Power – quite an appropriate end.”
Link faced her and staggered toward her. He turned when he heard footsteps clatter up the steps into the throne room’s remains. Zelda stood, tall and proud, brandishing a bow with an arrow ready to fly. This arrow was no normal arrow, however. It glowed with a golden beauty, surrounded by pure light of the same kind Link saw when he’d communed with the aether. It snaked and spiraled around the tip of the arrow in motes like eccentric fireflies, only brighter.
“Wound her!” Zelda commanded. “The holy blade and the arrow of light can put her to rest together!”
As Link moved toward Cecelia, he fought the dizziness of the delayed-reaction spell and tried to keep his head clear. Suddenly, Link felt the cold, sharp, cruel bite of ice in his chest and in his middle. Wicked ice daggers slammed and ripped into him. He grit his teeth, tried to ignore the agony and lunged forward. He thrust the tip of the Master Sword right into Cecelia’s heart. She lifted her head and howled. As soon as Link withdrew his weapon, Zelda’s arrow of light slammed into the open wound.
Cecelia looked skyward, her eyes rolling into the back of her head. Her hair flew out behind her, as if blown by a mighty wind. She roared a human-then-inhuman scream as ice, forming from her feet upwards, encased her entire body. The chunk of ice fell hard before the throne, then shattered.
Ice, water, blood and bones – their former flesh in remnant tatters upon them – lay upon the throne room floor. Lank white-blond hair lay soaked, attached to the skull, which seemed to regard Link in one last broad, perverse smile. Light had fled the arrow that Zelda had shot. It looked like any other arrow, struck between Cecelia’s greasy ribs. Link tried to ignore the queasy feeling that washed over him, along with his pain. The ice embedded in his body began to melt. Frigid water mingled with his blood and both fluids trailed down his legs to drip upon the floor in steady drops.
He could hear Zelda’s footsteps behind him. He saw it floating before him, sparkling, golden-then-red, having quit Cecelia’s corpse. It emanated a gentle red light. Link sheathed the Master Sword and held his hands out to cradle the space around it. He did not touch it, but merely held it. He felt a strength flow through him, enabling him to withstand his wounds. The blood running down him stopped, though he knew that he was not healed. He could be if he touched the object. He could have strength without limit if he accepted it into himself.
He turned around and faced Zelda and Navi, who was hovering beside her. He smiled.
“The Triforce of Power!” Navi gasped.
“Zelda,” Link said, stepping toward her, “It didn’t depart.” He grabbed her by one hand while the mystic triangle hovered above his other hand. “H-here… you should have it.”
“Link! Are you sure? I think it’s chosen you.”
“It hasn’t chosen anyone yet,” the young Hero replied. “And I can’t take it. I know that I would not use it well. I could become worse than Ganondorf or even Cecelia… if I had this.” He took his hand from her wrist and pointed to his head. “You have the Wisdom to use this well. I’m too straight n’ narrow…up here.”
“It is your sense of justice that makes you a Hero.”
“It is my sense of justice that could also make me a villain,” Link answered. “You have the Wisdom to temper Power. And perhaps you’ll soon have Courage, as well.”
Link shoved the Triforce of Power right into Zelda’s chest. She gasped as she felt its essence enter her and she saw the topmost triangle on the mark on the back of her right hand glow. As soon as this task was done, Link collapsed.
“Link!” she and Navi called at once. He fell first to his side and then rolled onto his back. His wounds reopened and the whole of his body from the neck down glistened with blood. His head rolled and he made little shivers of pain. “Ow…ow…ow…” he whispered weakly. His breathing became a soft wheezing.
Zelda knelt down beside him and stroked his hair. “Stay, please?” She asked. She looked over his wounds and held her right hand over him, sweeping down his torso, as if trying to sense the hurt and take it away. She wished she could do that. Inwardly she prayed, hoping that the Triforce of Wisdom would light up like it did that night at the ranch when their journey had begun. She searched deep within herself, trying to call forth the healing. She even tried calling it from her newfound Power.
It wasn’t coming. Zelda’s heart constricted when she saw Link’s left hand. The Triforce of Courage mark was pulsing – and fading. Its glow seemed to be timed to an ever more languid heartbeat.
Navi hovered in front of his nose. “Navi is here,” she said with a breaking voice. “I haven’t left this time…. Not this time. You are not on the battlefield alone. Navi is here for you.”
“Thank you,” Link mouthed, sliding his eyes halfway open. He cracked a faint smile. He turned his gaze to Zelda. He coughed and winced, then tried to give her his best smile. “You have a lot to do,” he said, “a country to run and all – with many good people to take care of. Do well and don’t let me down. Your life isn’t just yours.”
The princess held his left hand in both of hers. She tried to fight back her tears for his sake and smiled in spite of herself. The last thing he should see before entering the Sacred Realms, or being captured by the Goddesses or finding himself in a new life was something reassuring, something hopeful and beautiful.
“I like your hair down like that,” Link said, smiling. “It’s all long… so beautiful. You’re so… beau..ti…ful.”
Link closed his eyes and his head fell to the side. His hand went limp in Zelda’s grasp. She set it down beside him. “You will be remembered,” she said softly. “This lifetime of yours… I will make sure it is remembered.”
“Huh, what’s that?” Navi gasped.
A strange, sparkling light appeared beside the fallen Hero. A figure emerged from it.
“Farore?” Navi asked. The woman was, indeed, the woman she’d met at the great ship on
, but she was also quite different. She had features that Navi recognized – that same face, but her glasses were gone, hair was wild out behind her and appeared to take on a green tinge. She appeared to be taller and there was something in the way she carried herself that told the little fairy that she was much, much stronger than she had ever appeared to be before. She looked, truly, like the most formidable of her artists’ depictions over the centuries, though she still had the round, normal-human ears. Zelda stared. Apex Mountain
“I will take care of him now,” Farore said in a voice that echoed, yet was kind and comforting. She bent down and picked Link up in her arms, cradling him as a mother might cradle a gangly child. His hat fell off his head and too the floor. She turned and sparks of light enveloped her until both she and her cargo vanished.
After staring into the empty space left by her departure for several moments, Zelda gently picked up Link’s wide-brimmed hat. She held it to her chest and softly wept.
End Chapter 15.
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