Chapter 16: Into the Dawn
Her feet echoed upon the cold concrete as she made her way to the workshop. She disliked wearing formal attire, but it was expected of her when she came out into the public – at least during those occasions when she was not riding or rowing, or engaged in a royal hunting excursion or involved in one of her many explorations of old landmarks and temples. Within
, however, it was heartening to the people to see their newly coroneted queen dressing the part. Still, she made sure to wear comfortable shoes (boots beneath the frilly dress) and to carry a derringer concealed beneath that same dress, tucked into a little holster on her thigh. Castle Town
The months had not been kind to Queen Zelda, but she tried to appear well. She had to come to terms with the fact that she had killed her own sister. Even though Cecelia had thrown away her humanity and had become a demon, she had been the last of Zelda’s family. Sometimes, knowing that the deed had to have been done was nothing more than cold comfort. Her other sisters were gone and, save for her faithful Impa; she was quite alone in the new endeavor of running a country. She may have had lifetimes of experience, but none of them were the same as this lifetime. Navi had left to live at one of the new fairy springs that had cropped up. She had found a lover there and finally wanted to start a family. Midna and her advisors had wholly disappeared. Zelda figured that they had gone back to the Twilight Realm, though she wondered why her fellow queen had not seen fit to give her a goodbye.
She entered a shaded building – a vast complex – and took the hat off her head. She felt silly wearing it over her less-formal light crown, but it had been a fun way to transport it. She had received several strange looks from townspeople. The clanging and din of artists at work filled the foundry. Half-finished projects in clay were everywhere – garden statues, religious works and things to furnish the newly rebuilt portions of the palace. “Miguel!” she called.
The reason for her visit to this place was to check upon the progress of the memorials. She’d commissioned two – one commemorating the sacrifices of the people and one commemorating a most special individual. Miguel – a man who went by only one name and would get quite agitated if anyone tried to call him by his surname – was the foremost sculptor in Hyrule. Word had it that his assistants had finished final preparations on the general memorial to those that had died under the reign of Ganondorf and Cecelia. Zelda had given him many photographs and drawings she had scrounged up of specific individuals to depict, including Kara, Anya and Link’s uncle.
The robust old man came striding up to her. “Oh, you brought it! Wonderful, wonderful!”
“It is just a hat,” Zelda said, I don’t know why it is necessary for you to see it – you could have picked up one like this at Mallard’s Market.”
“Ah,” Miguel said, taking the object gently, “but this is his hat. I strive for accuracy! I strive for perfection! The Goddesses are in the details, as they say.”
Zelda had kept Link’s hat as a memento of him. In fact, it was the only physical connection to him that she had left. Normally, it stayed upon a shelf in her bedchamber. She’d kept it in excellent condition.
had kept his old sword – his father’s sword and Zelda had personally tapped and struck the Blade of Bone (which had fallen out of his pocket in the throne room) into the ground at the entrance to the Adelaide . The Master Sword and Link’s gun had both disappeared along with his body when Farore had decided to take him. Bone Temple
“Come see the wax model, my queen,” Miguel said. He led her to a table. Spread upon it were many sketches and many photographs of Link – provided by his cousin Malon of Ordona Ranch as well as a young shutterbug that had lived in Old Kakariko. In some of them he was smiling, in some of them he was not. Also upon the table was a two-foot high sculpture in brown wax depicting Link holding the Master Sword aloft in his left hand. “As you can see,” Miguel continued, “I got some details of the hat wrong. Allowing me to borrow the treasure for direct reference is a great help to me.”
Zelda looked down at the back of her right hand. Two triangles of her Triforce mark were light in color. The third was dark. Power and Wisdom evidenced their presence. She wondered why she had not received Courage. The only answer her mind could come up with was that she was unworthy. She had not fought her sister herself. She had come in too late and had let her Hero die. Every day, the tasks ahead of her seemed overwhelming. Perhaps she was a coward and Courage was in the keeping of the aether and the Goddesses or was already transferred to a new life.
She had the census takers on alert to inform her of any Hylian babies born given the names “Link” or “Linnette.” Considering the fact that everyone wished for peace and had a greater understanding of the name’s portentous meanings, it was not likely to become a popular name for a long time. Zelda knew that he wouldn’t remember her, but if she could hold him (or her if the Goddesses wished for some variety the next go-round) in her arms for a few moments and know that his life continued, it would make her happy.
“My queen?” Miguel asked, snapping Zelda out of her private thoughts, “Before my crew commits to the full-sized sculpture to be cast in bronze… What expression do you think he should have? Do you wish him to look stern, ready to punish evil? Or would you like a more kind and pleasant look?”
“He should be smiling,” the young queen answered. “He did well. He should be smiling.”
Beep, beep, beep.
What was that horrible noise? It was annoying, awful!
Beep, beep, beep.
It had the sound of a heartbeat, but sharper. It sounded like impending death. Yes, that’s what it sounded like. Maybe it had to do with that dream he’d once had where some mysterious person was in control of his every move. They were getting him hurt, running him into spikes and fire and gruesome creatures - and there was this horrible beeping noise before he woke up screaming.
Beep, beep, beep.
He could not scream now. The voice would not come. He could only breathe deep from what felt like… was this a mask over his face? No, just over his nose and mouth.
Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep!
“He’s waking up! My queen, there’s been a change in his condition! He is awake!”
Voices above him sounded like they were swimming through water. He cracked his eyes open. The light felt like razors in his eyes and a club to the back of the head. He breathed deep again and blinked away the fuzziness. Ah, they were working again. The entire room seemed dark, yet light. The walls and the ceiling appeared to be black but with many lines and symbols in glowing cyan and red running along them. He closed his eyes again and felt fingers brush along his ears. Before he could flinch, the brushing became rhythmic and he felt… soothed.
“Midna,” he managed to whisper before opening his eyes again. The ear-brushing stopped and he felt her hand cup his chin and left cheek. He gazed up at her and saw her gazing right back at him. Her face was very pleasant. She smiled sweetly.
“Link,” she said softly. “I’m glad you finally woke up. Sleepyhead. Lazy, lazy Hero. After all this time, I was worried you wouldn’t be able to. I was expecting you to slip away one of these evenings.
Beep, beep, beep.
“What’s beeping? Can you make it go away?
“No, silly. That’s your heart monitor. We need that to know your condition, especially since…”
“Especially since what?”
“Especially since… well, my doctors had to make a few… replacements… Link. The Goddesses allowed me to take care of you. I brought you here. This is the medical wing of my palace in the Twilight Realm. We rely on technology here, not on fairies. It is a part of our magic and our technology is far in advance of what Hyrule knows. You were very bad off when you came here… barely alive. Many of your internal organs were badly damaged. Long story short, you have a few artificial organs now, including a new heart. Oh, don’t give me that look! It’s quite strong! It can withstand more than a natural heart, actually. You should be grateful.”
“Thank you,” Link began, “for saving my life, but will I have to hear this accursed beeping forever?”
Midna laughed quite loudly. “Once we’re able to get you strong again and out of bed, you won’t need the monitor anymore. The beeping will stop. I promise.”
“You’re not hurt anymore. How long have I been here? Does Zelda know?”
“In Light World time measurements you’ve been here… let’s see… a little over half a year. I have not been in contact with Zelda in that time. From what Farore told me, she is well, but I imagine she thinks you dead.”
“Zeldaaaaa.” Link whined. “I gotta get back to her. Help me up outta bed and call me up a portal.”
“Your wounds are mostly healed,” Midna said, “but you have been in bed a long time. Your muscles have not seen use. You haven’t even had solid food in a while – we’ve been feeding you through your veins. You don’t want to see how thin you are now. You’re as weak as a kitten, my dear. We need to get you strong again before you go anywhere outside of this palace.”
Zelda steeled herself, the only copy of her hand-penned speech in her hands. She was wearing a formal dress – pink and white with golden shoulder-armor and a frontpiece covered in sacred symbols. Her crown was gold and tails of her black hair were bound with golden threads. The rest of it trailed down her back. Her advisors had suggested doing it up, but she had refused. He had liked it this way, long and down. She could hear the murmurs of the crowd gathered in the palace courtyard. Every kind of person was there from dignitaries in formal attire to cowhands in jeans and chaps. Gorons milled about the crowd. Rito and their cousins, the Watarara perched upon the high courtyard walls. Every living member of the newly-awakened Zora race was there, though that was not saying much since their tribe was currently quite small. Gerudo were among the crowd, doing their best to show their peaceful and good intentions.
Even a few fairies were fluttering about – now that people believed in fairies again – though Navi was not among them. This was excusable – she and her husband had to keep a close watch upon their clutch of delicate, developing eggs and could not leave their spring at this time.
The temporary platform had been set up, across from the Peoples’ Memorial and right in front of Link’s statue. Sunlight glimmered off his gun holster, the representation of the Master Sword and the well-formed cheekbones of his gently smiling face, despite the shade of his hat. Miguel had done a beyond-excellent job. It really was perfect. Both of the bronzes were large and towered over the courtyard.
asked, clapping Zelda softly on the shoulder. Adelaide
Zelda nodded. “I know you did not believe in him at first, but he was a good Hero this time – he was.”
“Security is nice and tight,” the Impa said, “Some of those Rito are snipers. Go ahead and address the public.”
Zelda stepped up to and stood upon the platform before the microphone, staring out at the sea of faces. “It has been one year to the day since the tyrannical reign of Cecelia Claudia Nohansen the First and Only and Ganondorf Dragmire the Eternal ended,” she began. “In that time, I have witnessed the people of Hyrule – all of you – behold a magnificent hope and strength. Although miracles have happened and the desert has begun to bloom, the road ahead of us is very long. Although the worst is behind us now, many of the coming days will be continue to be days of hardship. We must stay strong and work together to create the future and to honor those that are not with us to see it.” She shook her fist in the air, “We are HYRULE, now and forever – we are the
! We always rise from the ashes!” Phoenix
A thunderous cheer went up from the crowd. Zelda motioned with her hand for everyone to calm down. She was glad that this was coming so fluidly to her.
“We must not forget the sacrifices made. I ask now a moment of silence for everyone that was lost in the tyrants’ rise to power and in the fight against them.”
The crowd collectively bowed their heads and went completely silent for several minutes before Zelda began to speak again. “Many of you have lost important people – mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, other relations and friends. Some of you have even had your races decimated. Those that have been lost can never be brought back. We can only honor them and hope that their spirits have found rest. I have lost all of my own family and stand before you the last of the ancient Royal Bloodline. I will do my best to honor it… and all of Hyrule.”
Another cheer, unbidden this time, went up from the crowd. Zelda hushed them again and gestured behind her. “And to the man who has no bloodline left, the one who sacrificed everything to bring us liberty and peace – Link Daphenes Ordona Jr. I was with him in his journey and saw him grow from a kid caught up in circumstances he did not understand into the Hero. He accepted the many impossible tasks that were laid before him and gave Hyrule his heart. He brought the balance to the land – a success, though he never got to see it. I know that, for the rest of my life, I will miss him. He deserves the utmost honor – always in our hearts, never to be forgotten.”
The crowd began chanting. “To Link! To Link!” they cried. Zelda sniffled and tried to fight back the fresh tears. Her face carried a sad, affectionate smile before she joined the crowd in chanting “To Link! To Link!”
Suddenly, the crowd parted as a man began running through it, pushing people aside, insisting people get out of the way. “Zelda!” he cried, waving a hand, “Zelda!”
One of the Rito sitting on the wall behind Zelda readied his rifle and asked the Watarara sitting next to him “Should I take the shot?”
“No,” the Watarara said, holding his companion’s rifle down. “My sharp eyes can see something. That character looks familiar.”
“Isn’t that a sword on his back?”
“He’s not doing anything with it. He’s just calling her name. Stay your shot.”
People in the crowd began murmuring. One woman shouted; “Ghost!”
The man pushed his way closer to the queen’s podium. “Well, I’ll be!”
gasped. “That rascal! I’m going to put him in intensive care for making my Zelda cry!” Adelaide
Zelda, for her part, nearly had a heart attack. Instead of that, she cried out “Link!” and leapt right off the platform. Her subjects rushed to catch her. As soon as her feet were on the ground, she ran to Link and embraced him tightly. The crowd parted as the two spun each other around, enjoying the solid feel of each other’s living bodies.
Link looked up at the huge statue of himself. “I take it all ya’ll missed me?”
“You’ll never know how much!” Zelda sniffled. “What happened to you?” The queen then stood apart from him and gave him a sour look. “I thought you were DEAD, you jackass!”
“Easy now,” Link said, “It’s a long story. We should discuss it over tea or milk or beer or something.”
The crowd, now looking upon the queen and the Hero, started in their chanting again, only this time, with joy instead of reminiscence, with gusto and life. “To Link! To Link!” Then someone started peppering it with “To Zelda!” and soon the crowd was chanting both of their names.
And they shared a long, deep kiss.
“I’m not one-hundred percent yet,” Link lamented as he sat upon a plush couch in Zelda’s tea room.
“I can see that you’re very tired,” Zelda said, sitting across from him. She poured him a mug of strong black tea – not a cup, for Zelda was a firm believer that those that truly enjoyed their tea enjoyed lots of it. Prissy little mannered teacups were not enough for her, nor did she think they were enough for a strong young man. As such, she only kept large teapots around and she did not care a bit over her lack of daintiness in this or any other area of her life. Hyrule was still a hard land right now, despite new growth and the beginnings of a return to proper, temperate seasons in most areas. In this lifetime, Zelda’s Hyrule deserved and needed something different than a dainty queen.
“I was asleep for a long time,” Link said. “I really don’t know how Midna did it, but she and her people saved my life. Her personal doctor, T’leth, came with me because he was worried about my being up as soon as I am, actually. I hope your guards do not detain him for very long.”
Zelda rose from her seat and cracked the tea room’s door open. She spoke to a servant, and then sat back down. “Taken care of,” she said.
“I’ve been in physical therapy in the
for a while now… I’ve gotten back most of my looks, but I’m not as strong as I’d like to be yet.” Twilight Palace
“You may stay here at the palace for as long as you like.”
“Really?” Link asked, “I mean, I don’t want to impose. You’re a queen now and I’m sure you’re very busy, and I’m just a commoner…”
Zelda gave Link a mildly annoyed look. “Link, you saved the frigging world. Stop being so humble. Take a little honor now and again.”
“I like the statue,” he replied, “Though seeing that ‘In Loving Memory’ plaque on an image of myself is a bit creepy.”
“I’ll have the plaque changed,” Zelda said, “But the statue stays. Do you have any idea how much I paid for that out of the remains of my family’s funds? I didn’t feel it right to use the people’s taxes with so much needed to be done in the land. And I’ll never hear the end of it from my chief sculptor if I take it down. He is a brilliant, but very sensitive man. You’re just going to have to get used to it, Mr. Humble.”
Link stifled a small laugh. He was feeling better already.
“Besides,” Zelda said, curling a bit of hair around her finger, “I was thinking of making you a permanent resident at the palace.” A gleam sparkled in her eyes, “Every queen needs a consort and I can’t think of anyone who’d make a better king. That is, unless Midna already has tabs on you.”
“No,” Link said with a small, slow shake of his head. “No… Midna does like me a lot, but the man she fell in love with was a previous incarnation. I consider her a wonderful friend but… I am no longer the Wolf. I am the Coyote now and can never be the Wolf again. What is in the past is in the past. This time around, my heart is yours, though… currently… it is artificial.”
Zelda’s eyes went wide and her ears perked.
“Cecelia hurt me very badly at the end, there. Twili… well, they have strange ways, medically. Some of my organs are no longer natural, including my heart. They say the Triforce of Courage kept my spirit with me just long enough for them to get me into surgery and hooked up to their machines. It’s an artificial pump, but Midna and T’leth assure me that it is very strong and will keep me alive well into Hylian old age. It does feel a bit weird, though… it’s got a different rhythm than my old one.”
“Let me listen?” Zelda asked. They both stood up and moved out of the way of the tea table. They held each other and Zelda put an ear to Link’s chest. She closed her eyes. “I like it,” she said, “It’s soothing. It’s not much different than a natural heartbeat.”
“Oh, I almost forgot,” she said suddenly, parting from him and reaching for a little wooden chest upon a little desk in the room. She withdrew an item and set gently upon Link’s head. “It’s just a little national treasure,” she said. “Every king needs a crown.”
Link touched its brim. “My old hat!” he exclaimed. “You… you kept it?”
“Of course I did. It was my memento of you. It looks better on you than on my bedroom shelf or in a chest.”
Link and Zelda took a very long tour of Hyrule, for after being told about the changes in the land, Link wanted to see them for himself. When he’d requested to go to
the day he caught up with Zelda, he’d simply been sent to the southern gate on a Twilit warp portal. He did not get to see any of the land. The queen and the Hero traveled in an open-carriage in order to better enjoy the newly bursting spring in the land. The entourage that traveled with them was large, but they tried to ignore it. Zelda, being Hyrule Queen now, had to have security (headed by her Impa) and, of course, servants eager to do their jobs. She humored them and tried to get Link to ease into it. She’d grown up with this kind of treatment before their adventure began. Link was wholly unused to having people do so many things for him. Castle Town
Wildflowers covered the hills, even in the Tantari Waste, which, obviously, had wanted to stay a desert. It was as it should be – some deserts had always been a part of Hyrule. Link and Zelda visited the Gerudo tribe’s fortress there and Link introduced his queen to Givanna and little Shana, who presented Zelda with hand-picked flowers. The tribe was doing well, living off drought-resistant crops and using farming techniques that had been pioneered by Link’s father. They even saw the grave of Ganondorf. Zelda had his body commended to his tribe to do with as they saw fit. Cecelia, however, she had cremated and scattered to the four winds for fear that some of her power lingered after death and that she could come back somehow. There was a small monument to her in the royal cemetery because she had been, after all, a king’s daughter.
Zelda and Link then proceeded to take a tour of
which had become a proper lake, full of water. It had even, inexplicably, become filled with fish. Zoras swam and sunned themselves. They played beautiful music for Queen Zelda and their leader, Laru, had even composed a song to honor the Hero. Link blushed and felt embarrassed, but for Zelda’s sake, accepted the honor. He’d been informed that the Lake Hylia still lay at the lake’s bottom, near another temple that had long been a place of worship for the Zoras, newly uncovered. Steel Temple was so vast that it had its own, minor tides. Lake Hylia
The queen and Hero moved onto Old Kakariko village, which had grown up into what people were calling
or, alternately, the Old Kakariko Forest . The village itself was still small, but had become a very happy place. It was filled with children – and not just the ones that had before lived in the village, but fresh young Kokiri, which had been born from the cocoons that had grown on the Great Deku Tree. They’d come out long-limbed and gangly, self-sufficient but with the joy of youth. None of the Kokiri were anyone that Link had ever known. The Great Deku tree spoke to him and told him that they drew their energy from the forest, and eventually, the forest would draw their energy from them. Everything was reborn in the forest, eventually. Saria’s willow was strong and proud. New Kokiri Forest
Ordona Ranch had become very prosperous. Malon smothered Link with hugs. A flush of green had covered the land and the hills were covered with grass for the cattle, goats and horses to graze. Streams had formed nearby and even Lady Gwen seemed to be getting along better, hobbling less. Blake Bladebringer had come down off his hill and had carved out a place for himself on the ranch as a wrangler. Link had found his Rhiannon there, pregnant with a foal that would fetch the ranch a very high price from being the offspring of the Hero’s steed.
New sacred springs had begun to form throughout the land, some hidden, and some in the open. The guardian spirits had been brought to peace, and since Cecelia had been vanquished, they had scattered out to their respective areas. Link and Zelda had found Navi and met her hatchings, one of whom had been named after Link. Ordona’s spring was now clean and deep enough to swim in. Its color was mineral-blue.
Link took a personal trip up to
. The Goddesses’ Abode had disappeared entirely, leaving behind the garden of statues. Three white marble statues stood in a triangular pattern – the large one with piglike features, the woman in the crown and the swordsman. He wondered if Din was finally able to make the ship fly. Perhaps it had vanished entirely into the aether, becoming one with it, along with the mysterious ladies. Apex Mountain
He came down the mountain and went back to the ranch to spend a few more days “at home,” before he and Zelda headed to the sandy shore of the newly-restored
. They walked along the beach and watched the tide roll in. Calatian Sea
“The aether channeled through you, with your good wishes,” she told him, “The springs of water, the tides of the lake and the seas, it is because you united the powers and provided a new channel. The tides of change have come to Hyrule. This is why you are the Hero of Tides.”
A raucous sound overhead caught Link’s attention. “Hey, its’ a gull,” he said. “I thought they’d all lived in the cities, dining on scraps.”
“Well, the sea has returned,” Zelda said. “He has found his home.”
As Link looked at sparkling waters out ahead of him, the seagull landed upon a rock. It cocked its head at him. Suddenly, Link saw a little boy in front of him – a handsome blond lad in a bright blue shirt bearing a white crawfish design.
“Hello,” Link said to the kid, “I thought these visions would stop. Isn’t my quest over? In any case, I actually remember being you. The Hero of Winds, if I’m not mistaken.”
“Yep!” the boy replied.
“Nice shirt,” Link said, pointing. “I remember that. I loved it. Grandma made it for us.”
The Hero of Winds smiled. “I always preferred it to the Hero’s Clothes. You may remember me now, but it does not mean that you do not need me. Anyway, I am here to thank you.”
“Thank you for bringing back the sea.”
“Am I to learn anything from you?”
“Not really. I’m here, pretty much, as an encouragement. You are a little insecure. I was, too, during my time. You shouldn’t worry, though. The journey ahead of you is long, but the winds are blowing in your favor. You are going to become a great king, the greatest that Hyrule has yet known. You’ve brought balance to the sea of sand. You should be proud and confident.”
With that, the Hero of Winds vanished and the seagull returned to the rock. It flew away, out over the waves. Link watched it go before turning back to his queen. She smiled, as if she, too, had seen everything that had just happened.
“You’re going to do just fine,” she said.
“When I communed with the aether,” Link began, “It told me that I was to unite the powers.” He looked out over the sea again, and then took Zelda’s right hand in both of his. With a sense of ceremony, he placed his left hand over her right, his Triforce mark over hers. “I think, ultimately, this is what it meant.”
They leaned in close to one another, dropping their hands. Her hands snaked around his middle. In the salt spray of the restored ocean, their lips found each others’. The Hero held his Princess; the Queen held her future King, and a refreshed, timeless land greeted the dawn of a new age.
Head Writer, Western Generator and Beast Wrangler – Shadsie
Co-Idea Jockey, Editor, Science Fiction Generator and Mastermind behind the Aether – Sailor Lilith-chan
Random Inspirations provided by - Trigun and Trigun Maximum (story mood and quirks, and a few direct quotes from the manga in Chapter 3), The Twelve Kingdoms (for Kokiri/Great Deku Tree reproductive biology), Arizona (where Shadsie grew up), and Texas (where Sailor Lilith-chan grew up).
Background Music While Writing provided by – U2,
, Genesis, various artists/whatever Shadsie felt like putting on play. Kansas
Legend of Zelda-specific Background Music provided by – ZERO (Zelda Re-orchestrated).
“The Legend of Zelda,” Link, Zelda, Ganondorf, Midna, Navi, et al. Copyright Nintendo.
To Shigeru Miyamoto, Eiji Aonuma and Nintendo for looking the other way when people do fanworks, for being so kind as to let the fans write completely bizarre stories like this one, and, most of all, for creating videogames that can enchant hearts as much as the LoZ games do.
And to our readers, for muddling through this long, strange story.
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