The Great Desert

By Shadsie & Sailor Lilith-chan

Chapter 6: I Believe We Met in Better Times




The sound was clear, metallic, and too familiar.  The lock fell away. 


“That’s the eighth key you’ve broken!” Zelda complained.  “Don’t you know how to turn them gently?”


“I can’t help it!” Link countered, “They’re all rusted and the lock mechanisms… nevermind.  We only have one key left, the last one we found… that big one the length of my arm on my belt.  I sure hope it’s the last one we’ll need.” 


He pushed the door free into yet another musty chamber.  Link did not like this place.  The whole of this labyrinthine temple had been very dark, with the only light provided by sun that filtered in weakly through skylights in the roof.  The light had grown weaker the deeper within the temple they ventured, prompting Zelda to bring out her matches and a candle.  They’d found a lantern left behind on the wall of one cavern with oil still in it that smelled of olives.  They did not know how much longer it would hold out. 


Zelda suddenly set the lantern down and pressed her back against Link’s. He knew what this meant.  As one, she drew her bow and knocked an arrow and he drew his gun.  It was amazing what bullets could do to undead creatures.  Just a few months ago, Link wouldn’t have believed these creatures existed if you’d told him.  Now, he was pumping .45 caliber bullets into the leathered flesh of moaning zombies.  Zelda called them ReDeads, but Link did not care.  Their cracked hides split and shredded all the same, leaving them to fall and return to the dust to which they should belong.  Link got so good at picking them off that he took to between-the-eye shots with them.  The secret, of course, was not getting too close to the things. 


His first encounter with them hadn’t been triumphant.  Link had wandered ahead into a narrow, dark corridor and was frozen in place by a high-pitched scream that constricted his heart in panic and paralyzed his limbs.  All he could do was stand there, helpless, as a ReDead climbed onto his back and began doing indecent things to it.  Link was in his clothes, including his blessedly thick blue jeans, but he still felt like a leg to an excited dog.  He’d felt his spirit being sucked away – tiredness, loneliness and a general, indescribable pain until several swift arrows implanted themselves into the beast and it fell off him.  He’d thanked Zelda for the cover, lied and said he was alright.


The creatures that Zelda called Stalfos fell quite well to Link’s skull-shattering bullets, but he found his father’s sword and the shield he’d been given by Adelaide to be more effective in dealing with them.  In their case, Zelda’s skilled archery did nothing, but some gunpowder bombs they’d found in a chamber with swinging and floating platforms suspended above a deep chasm had proven very effective weapons against them, as well. 


Chasms, inexplicable swinging pendulum blades that hung from the ceiling, ReDeads, Stalfos, strange phantom creatures that only fell to the Blade of Bone that Shadow Felix had given him, the musty, distinctive sour smell of bone, the strong rusted-iron scent of blood, the scent of rot, decay – old meat… the darkness and the stupid keys he’d find that would snap whenever he put them into their proper locks… Link hated the Bone Temple.  It was extremely clear that no living being was meant to pay homage here.  This was a place for the dead and only for the dead. 


And he did not want Zelda or himself to be among them. 


The two looked upon the remains on the floor.  Zelda slung her bow on her back and picked up the lantern.  They made their way down a flight of steps to a huge double-door with an impressive lock and chains.  Link took the long key from his belt and unlocked it.  To his surprise, the key did not break, but it stayed stuck within the lock as it fell to the floor, releasing the slightly rusted chains.  He and Zelda cautiously stepped inside an enormous chamber which was tiled in large, square stone tiles, but had a ceiling like a natural cavern.  Aside from some fallen stone pillars and scattered bones from indeterminate specie, the chamber appeared to be empty. 


Link sneezed from the dust.  “There doesn’t seem to be anything here,” he said.


“Do not be deceived,” Zelda replied, looking around, her stance very tense, “The greatest dangers more often than not come unseen.  I feel something very dark here.” 


Link, too, was weighted down with a feeling of oppression.  Suddenly, he felt something slam into his back, leaving a wet sensation.  He regained himself and swiveled ‘round to see something that looked like a gigantic lizard’s head, dark gray and translucent curl up into the air.  It looked like a cross between snake and smoke.   


“Link, you’re bleeding!” Zelda exclaimed.  Another smoke-snake head appeared out of nowhere and dived straight for her.  Link shot at it, but his bullet went right through. 


Zelda dodged and rolled.  She shot an arrow, which did nothing to injure the phantom but did gain its attention.  The head chased the arrow like a dog chasing a thrown stick.  “Use the sword!” she cried, “The ivory one!  That’s what Shadow Felix said to do!  I’ll play decoy!” 


More of the Shadow Gleeok’s heads appeared, their necks curling up from a central area of the chamber where there appeared to be the fossilized foot bones of some dinosaur.  Link brought out the Blade of Bone and enacted its full size.  He swung and hacked at the heads flying all around him.  Zelda ran about the chamber, letting her arrows sail high into the air to break upon the ceiling and walls, capturing the attention of several heads so that Link could concentrate on fighting those closest to him. 


Several of the beast’s heads dissipated into nothingness.  Several more appeared.  It seemed to both of the little humans within the dragon’s chamber that there was an endless supply, hundreds of them.  Despite her best efforts to lure them away, Zelda watched as head after head swept into Link, tearing into him.  He’d yelp, regain his composure and keep fighting.  His blood flew and dripped as he jumped and danced.  She despaired as she saw him, for a moment, put his hands upon his knees and pant.  


Link’s ears twitched as he heard a voice.  It was not Zelda’s and certainly wasn’t his own. “Hey!” it cried, “Watch out!” 


He turned ‘round to see a Gleeok head coming right for him from behind.  He ducked and rolled out of the way. 


“Listen!  Look!” 


The young man leapt out of the way of another diving head.  He brought down the Blade of Bone to cleave it.  The mysterious voice kept telling him to look, listen and watch out.  He did and handily dispatched every flying head until only one remained. 


It dove right for Zelda, toothy mouth agape.  Before she could dodge or run, it caught her in the right side.  Link let out an inhuman roar and charged after the thing.  He leaped into the air and stabbed downward, impaling the phantom’s forehead.  It vanished.  Link reduced the ivory sword to charm size and pocketed it as he made his way to Zelda.  She staggered to her feet, grabbing her side, which had a deep and obvious wound. 


“Zelda…” he said helplessly, “You’re hurt.”


She gave him a saucer-eyed stare. “Not as bad as you,” she managed.  “D-don’t look at yourself.  Try to walk.  We have to get out of here.” 


The heat of battle was wearing off.  Link felt stiff… and wet, like he’d dived into a reservoir.  He hurt, but the pain was more of a dull throb than anything else – the kind of pain one does not notice upon receiving a wound, but only feels later one when one has calmed down or takes notice of it.  Why did he suddenly feel cold and like he was dropping down somewhere?  Dizziness washed over him.  He reached out to Zelda.  She was hurt and he wanted to help her walk.  He fell, first to his knees, then flat on his back. 


The princess called his name.  Darkness clouded his vision.  Pain enrobed itself around him.  He felt himself choking and tasted blood in his mouth. 


“Stay with me,” Zelda said. Painfully, she knelt beside Link and brushed his face with her fingertips.  Her head swam and her side throbbed.  She was pretty sure that he was dying and that her wound was also fatal.  She had to keep fighting, though, for as long as she could and to keep this young man with her for as long as she could.  If she got back to Kakariko, there was a chance they both might survive.  Perhaps it was just wishful thinking, or the strength of the human survival instinct, but the princess had heard of people escaping seemingly fatal situations and surviving seemingly fatal wounds. 


He choked again and twitched.  Blood stained her clothes.  His blood, her blood, commingling.  She bent down, her face to his face.  “Maybe next lifetime?” she whispered before giving his bloody lips a soft kiss. 




Zelda’s head whipped around, trying to find the source of the voice. 




Zelda found the voice’s source and smiled.  Her heart lifted immediately.  They still existed, and here of all places. 


“Follow me!”


“Can you bring them here?” Zelda asked.  “I’m not sure I can get up… I know I’m not strong enough to carry him.”


“Can’t,” the voice replied forlornly.  “Try to carry or drag your friend if you can.  I’m so sorry.”   



Drip, drip, drip.


There was a rather pleasant coolness and an unbearable stinging sensation on raw muscles and organs flayed of skin.  There came a heavy liquid feeling of something invading fresh cavities never meant for its touch. Link was helpless against these sensations.  All he saw was darkness.  He couldn’t even moan.  He heard strange tinkling noises and the running of water.  The young man felt and heard his own pulse in his ears growing steadily fainter. Where was Zelda?  There was a panicked animal fear – then an inexplicable feeling of peace.  Breath came with more difficulty and left him.  Something was calling him away – a new land… a distant oasis…another time.  Why was this a familiar feeling, like an old friend or enemy? He definitely knew this feeling, though he thought it should be foreign to him all the same.


He heard Zelda calling his name, as if through water or cotton.  He wanted to tell her that he was sorry, that he’d botched everything up after all.  He felt like he was floating and fading away and he was powerless to stop it, no matter how much he wanted to hold on. 


At least he wasn’t feeling any pain anymore.  That had just stopped.


He was about to reach out and grab the hand of a Goddess…to let her guide him to the distant oasis…


The thrum of his pulse became a whisper.   


His heart stopped.



Red.  Everything was red.  He seemed to remember darkness, but he wasn’t sure.  He remembered being called by something… white light, the power of gold, hands of silk, then a distinct falling sensation.  He’d been sure that he’d been dying and he knew he wasn’t dead because the pain was back, though it wasn’t as bad as it had been before.  He vaguely remembered being dragged across the floor, the rough stone brick biting into his back through his shirt and the back of his vest. He remembered Zelda’s voice… what was she saying?  She was begging him not to die and all he could do was rise toward that mysterious thing that was calling him, higher and in.


 Zelda! Was she okay?


Link felt slightly cold.  He realized that he was wet and he heard the sounds of gently running and sloshing water.  It sank into his ears in an irritating fashion.  The young man cracked his eyes open and found that he could see.  There were lights above him, floating, bouncing.  He heard many high pitched voices like the tinkling of bells or the chirping of songbirds, but they formed words he understood. 


“The kid could use some chain mail, couldn’t he?  I’m not a fan of the modern fashions.” 


“Wha?” Link asked as he slowly sat up, letting water drip off his skin. 


“Hey! Don’t move around too much yet! We’ve sealed your wounds but we aren’t done recharging your blood! You’re still weak!” 


Bouncing balls of light were everywhere, mostly white, but colored subtly pink.  They appeared to have wings – the lacy wings of insects, as large as the wings of dragonflies.  He stared at one that was hovering near one of his shirt sleeves.  There was a tiny strand of light next to it, looking like a needle and thread.  A tear in his shirt was being mended.  Link looked harder at the winged halo of light and saw a small, glowing woman.  He could not tell if she was wearing anything or if she was nude, for the light emitted by her little body was very strong.   It was then that Link noticed that he did not have any open wounds.  He ached all over, and he could see trails of blood swirling in the water around him, dissipating into nothingness, but he did not feel torn skin anymore.  Aside from a general weak feeling, he felt unhurt.    


Link blinked.  He grabbed his head.  “I must have fallen hard,” he said to no one in particular.  “I’m seeing things… or maybe I’m dead.  I’m somewhere off in Fairyland.”


One of the balls of light giggled.  “This isn’t Fairyland,” it said in a high-pitched female voice, “but we are fairies.  This is a sacred spring, one of the few left!” 


“And they’re talking,” Link said, again, to himself.  Then he realized something and stood up.  “Gah, my gun’s gotten wet! The water will rust the mechanisms! I’ve gotta take it apart and clean it now!  And I bet water’s gotten into my scabbard – Dad’s sword!” 


He turned and immediately saw a black-haired lump on the edge of the water.  His heart felt like it had leapt into his throat.  “Zelda!” 


He knelt beside her.  Blood flowed around her, dripping into the water and tainting it pink.  A swarm of lacy-winged orbs were spinning and dancing around her.  Link felt her face and her neck. A pulse still resounded.  She was still breathing. 


“We’ll take care of her,” a fairy said, “Don’t you worry.  It’s not easy to heal a punctured liver and a damaged kidney, but our powers are better than any human medicine.  She saved your life.  You were worse off than she was and she dragged you here, even as she was – quite a miracle in and of itself, I’d say.  The poor dear must have been in so much pain…  But you were very bad off, sir.  In fact, just she got you in the water, you actually died for a moment. We had to capture your spirit and force it back into your body! We can do that, you know – restart the heart the instant it stops, but only then. Much longer and you would have been a goner.  You need to be more careful!” 


Link was only half-listening, checking Zelda over, worrying over her frantically.  He watched with amazement as the ugly tear in her side and middle began to mend.  The dark blood gelled, then stopped and the skin seemed to knit itself over it.  The ragged edges of Zelda’s clothing likewise mended together. Several fairies bumped into him, flapping their irritating little wings over his nose.  He heard a distinctly male fairy voice command him to leave them to their work and to wait for her to wake up.   


Link sat upon a set of steps that lead into the waters of the spring and sighed.  Everything was walled in white marble.  There were gorgeous bass reliefs lining the area near the ceiling in an ovoid arc. 


“Where were you little guys when I was a kid?” he asked forlornly, watching the spots of light flit about.  “I wanted so badly to meet a fairy when I was a little boy.  I wanted… a friend.  I’d stopped believing… why do you show yourselves to me now, when I’m this?” 


“The springs are few.  We cannot live in lands without water and this is a sacred place,” someone said.  


There was a little winged light orb that was different from the others.  Instead of a pink aura, its light had a bluish cast.  The tiny woman hovered and stared at him, as if she was unsure of what to say or do and she was trying to figure something out. 


“Hey there,” Link said, holding out his hand to her, “Are you alright, miss?  I’m okay.  Your friends helped me.”


The blue fairy sniffled and looked up into his eyes.  “You look very familiar,” she said in a strong but spritely voice, “but I am not sure if you are a boy I once knew.  You… you feel very familiar, too, but I’m not sure.  I’m sorry to bother you, sir.” 


The little fairy turned her back and began to float away. 


“Oh, don’t go!” Link said.  “I’m sure you’ll find who you’re looking for.”


The fairy turned around and floated back towards him.  “It isn’t likely.  He was just a human – a Hylian, like you.  He would have died centuries ago.” 


“Aw, I’m sorry,” Link said, holding out his hand for her to alight on.  “If you’re lonely, maybe we can talk a little.  What is your name, little one?” 


“Navi,” the fairy said.  “I don’t really belong here.  I’m not a healing fairy.  This place is a ‘hospital’ for travelers, but I am not a doctor.  I cannot heal people like everyone else here can.  This is one of the only places left where I can live comfortably – the surface is so hot and harsh.  I’m something of a researcher.  I know a lot – about animals and monsters, stuff like that, but I cannot do my research out on the surface anymore because places with water are few and far between and I’ll die if I travel long without water.  As you can see, my wings are pretty tiny, so long distances are hard for me!” 


“I suppose you can hang around with me if you’re lonely,” Link said.  “I always keep a couple of canteens with me and I’m on a quest - maybe that can help your research.”


“A quest?” the fairy asked, her top wings sticking straight up. 


“Yep.  My name’s Link and-” 


Before he could finish the sentence, he found himself tackled to the floor by the surprisingly strong little blue fairy, which was hugging his chest and weeping.  “Link!  Liiiiiiiiiink!  It is you! I thought I’d never see you again!  You’ve been reborn… I didn’t think I’d catch up to any of your incarnations!  I’ve missed you so much!” 


Link slowly sat up, his head still swimming from the residual weakness left by his healed wounds and blood loss.  He cupped the little fairy on his chest as he wondered if she suffered from a form of insanity.  “Hey,” he soothed, “You don’t have to cry.  Can you tell me what you’re talking about?”


“You mean you don’t remember, Link?” she asked, lighting once again upon his open palm. 


“He doesn’t.” It was Zelda’s voice.  She slowly sat up from her place on the fountain’s floor.  Link turned his head immediately.   


“Zelda…” Navi said, flitting around her.  “Your hair got dark this time.”


“Yes,” Zelda said, smiling softly.


“And you cut it so short…”


“I had to do a little hiding… from my own family this time around,” Zelda replied sadly, “But I’m glad to see you again, Navi.  It has been much too long, too many lifetimes.  It is nice to see the legendary fairy agelessness in action.”      


Navi flew back over to Link and sat on his left shoulder. 


“I am remembering bits and pieces of my past lives;” Zelda said calmly, “Link doesn’t remember any of his yet.  He may never come to that knowledge.  I remember you, Navi, but you are new to him now.” 


Navi’s wings drooped for a moment.  Then she tackle-hugged Link again.  “That means we can become friends all over again!” she piped cheerily.  “Hi, my name is Navi!” 


Link laughed.  “Alright, my name is Link, pleased to meet you.”


“I’m so happy I found you again! I can be a great guardian! I can pinpoint the weaknesses of dangerous creatures and really help you out!” 


“Wait a minute… was that your voice I heard in the Shadow Gleeok’s chamber?  I kept hearing someone telling me to look and watch out when its heads were coming for me.  I don’t think I could have slain it if I didn’t have that voice telling me to dodge.” 


“Uh huh,” Navi said.  “I tried to help the others that came up to the temple, but they didn’t listen…You did so well with the other monsters – I didn’t have the courage to speak up until you were really in trouble.”  


Navi cuddled up to Link’s chest.  “It’s so nice to hear your heartbeat again.  Hey! There’s something strange under your shirt here…”  Quickly, she flew down into Link’s shirt and came out, withdrawing a small, shining green pearl upon a golden chain that was hanging around his neck. Link took the pearl into his hand and stared at it. 


“The Pendant of Courage,” Zelda said. “You did it.” 


“But how did it get on me?” Link asked.  “Magic,” he said, answering his own question, “Oh, I can’t wait to dangle this in your Impa’s face!” 


Zelda laughed softly. “Well, I’m feeling better. I guess we can go back to town.”


Link nodded and got up.  He grabbed his wide-brimmed hat from the shore of the spring and put it on his head.   


“I’ll lead you out of the spring,” Navi said, “Just follow me.” 


Link and Zelda walked up into the daylight and onto a path down the mountain that lead by the Temple of the Goddesses.  They talked as they walked – mostly about the Hero of Time.  Navi said that she found it weird to hear Link when he talked about the legends he’d read as a kid, since he spoke of the Hero of Time as another person and because there were a few things amiss between the ages-long stories he recounted and the history that she remembered having lived.    


Navi continued her part of the story.  “And then I left,” she said.  “It broke my heart, but I heard a voice beckoning me on, telling me that if I did not leave Link that he’d never be able to be fully independent, to grow up as he should.  Fairies of my type were for the Kokiri children, not adults and Hylians.”


“You’re with me now and I’m Hylian… and a grown-up.” Link said.


“You’re on a quest, I have an excuse,” Navi insisted.  “Besides, I don’t know if leaving you…er… leaving the Hero of Time was the right thing to do.  I went back to the forest. I never found a Kokiri child that was right for me.  I spent the rest of my days, along with some of the other fairies, being a caretaker of the forests… before they disappeared.”


Zelda gave her a nod and patted Link’s shoulder.  “He’s going to bring the forests back,” she said. 


Link gave her a skeptical look.  “Remember, princess,” he said, “I’m in this because I want to avenge my uncle and I want this country right again – what I mean is, I want the palace to be safe for you.  The desert’s big… I’m not sure there’s any way to go back to the way things were in history.” 


“The legend will unfold,” Princess Zelda said cryptically. 


“Aren’t the Kokiri extinct, anyway?”


The trio made their way past the temple and the large tree that stood on the east end of it.  Link gave it a wide berth, as did Zelda.  Navi floated very close to it. 


“Careful, Navi,” Link warned.  “That’s a mesquite.  Don’t you see those long thorns?  With your size, you might impale yourself.” 


Navi floated back to Link’s hat, resting atop the brim.  “A huge tree that can survive on little water,” she marveled.  “And well-protected from predators.  A mysterious thing…” 


“Disguised yourself well, didn’t you, you old rascal,” she whispered to herself so that her Hylian companions could not hear.  There were mysteries that were meant to be revealed only in time.    





“I got it!” Link gloated as he let the green pearl dangle on its golden chain from his fingers in front of Impa Adelaide’s nose.  “I got it; I got it, I. Got. It!” 


She brushed his hand away.  “Very good,” she said, “but from the story you’ve related, you nearly got my dear sweet Zelda killed.” 


Link looked down, suddenly fascinated by his boots.  He slipped the chain back over his head and neck.   Navi flitted about in front of the warrior-woman’s nose.  “Show Link some respect!” she demanded, “He almost died back there, too!”


Link grunted uncomfortably. 


“Not something that should be a source of pride,” Adelaide said, “and not something that gains much of my sympathy.”  She clapped Link’s shoulder.  He looked up cautiously.  “You will need to watch yourself better, kid.”  She turned to Navi and gave the fairy a small smile. “Be assured that I am hard on him because he is our last best hope.” 


“I’ve got the Pendant of Courage,” Link said, “I need the two others… I don’t know where to find them.” 


“From the tales I’ve heard,” Adelaide explained, “The Pendant of Power is to be found at the Glass Waterfall, far in the north.  The Pendant of Wisdom is slightly closer to here. It lies northeast, in the dry bed portion of Lake Hylia – or what was once Lake Hylia.  It is said that the Pendant is kept in a secure place within a structure known as the Steel Temple.  Which one you seek out first is up to you.  After you have all three Pendants of Virtue in your possession, you should go to the Painted Canyon, past the Drywood Waste.  Once there, you will know what to do.”


“Alright,” Link said with a nod.  “I’ve got my gun cleaned, I polished up Dad’s sword… it will not take long to get some traveling supplies ready… get Rhiannon…”


“Rhiannon,” Navi said with a laugh.  “Not Epona this time, but still a goddess?”


“Here,” Adelaide said, thrusting something silver toward the young man.  “Take it.”


Link took the hip flask and looked at it, puzzled. 


“Medicine, of sorts,” Adelaide said.  “It’s not any of the great potions of ages past.  Mushroom-brew is hard to come by in these arid lands.  It won’t cure you if you get hurt, but it may keep you going… its good for sterilizing tools in a pinch and its one of the best painkillers I know.”


“What is it?” Link asked innocently.


“Whiskey,” the Impa replied with a broad smile. “Use it in moderation.  Drunkards make for poor heroes.” 


She nodded to him.  “Turn around, your back to me,” she said.  “I have something else to give you.” 


Link turned around obediently, his eyes darting to try to see what Adelaide was doing behind him.  She reached her right hand over him to show him a small object in her hand.  It glowed orange, a perfect flame in a perfect ball shape, encased within a clear crystal.  It floated over the palm of her hand. 


“This is sacred magic,” she explained.  “I have been keeping it safe.  You have gained the Pendant of Courage, which tells me that you are brave enough to handle it.  I am entrusting it to you.  It is now yours to use and to keep safe.” 


Without warning, she snatched her hand away and slammed into Link’s right bicep.  He roared in agony as he felt the crystal dig into his flesh and what came immediately after.  He felt like he was burning alive.  A heat stronger than the sun coursed through his veins as quick as lightning.  Then, it was over.  Adelaide brushed his arm with her fingertips delicately and then pointed to a scrawny greasewood bush.


“Set that bush on fire,” she ordered. 


“Huh?” Link asked. 


“Concentrate upon the bush.  Will it and the incantation will come to you.”


Link looked at the bush for several seconds and nothing happened.  Navi flitted to and from his hat.  Suddenly, his eyes snapped open.  He realized what needed to be done and the strong fire coursed through him once again, only this time, it was warming and welcoming, like a hearth side after working in the rain.  He arched his back downwards and sent his right hand out before him, his fingers clawed.  “Fuego de Din” he whispered under his breath.  A wall of flame spread out around him.  Adelaide stood back. Navi stayed under Link’s hat, sheltered in his hair.  As the wall of fire faded off, the bush was set ablaze.  Adelaide clapped. 


“Excellent,” she said. 


“What did I just do?” Link demanded. 


“I have given you the Essence of Flame,” the woman answered, “otherwise known as Din’s Fire.  Quite apparently, your body and spirit can handle it.  If they were unable to, you would have simply been burnt to ashes.” 


Link scowled.  “I don’t like being an experiment,” he said. 


“Stop complaining.  You have something new in your arsenal, and something quite holy, at that.” 


A pair of townspeople frantically beat the flaming greasewood with blankets, trying to put the fire out.  They coughed from the smoke and yelled at Adelaide regarding starting uncontrollable wildfires.  “You’re our town protector, but don’t think we won’t throw you in the old jail if you burn down half the town, woman!” one of the men said. 


She and Link both laughed.  Link wondered if Navi had fallen asleep in his hair.  He could feel soft little wingbeats brush his scalp.  Somehow, that felt really familiar.


Zelda walked up to her Hero and her Impa, carrying a loaded knapsack. “Alright, Link, where are we headed to next?”


“We?” he said.  “No, no, out of the question.  You’re staying here. This town is peaceful, a nice place to stay.  I’m going on alone… well, with Navi and Rhiannon, but… you know what I mean.”


“What do you mean ‘out of the question?’” the princess demanded, “We are in this together!  Don’t you DARE tell me that I can’t fight, because you saw me fight!”


“Zelda,” Link sighed, his ears dropping slightly, “You were magnificent, but… but… you almost got killed, okay?  When I saw you lying there at the spring, blood all around you…I… I… Listen, Zelda, I never want to see you like that again, ever.  You almost died because you followed me… I just don’t want that to happen again. It will give me peace of mind if you stay here with your Impa for a while.  The country needs you, Zelda… more than it needs me.  Please understand.” 


“May I remind you,” Zelda started, “that YOU were the one worse off!  According to the fairies back there at the spring, you actually kicked it for a few moments! I dragged your half-butchered carcass all the way to that spring… not to mention shooting the ReDead off your back… you owe me your life, Hero.”      


“It’s true,” Link admitted.  “I do owe you my life many times over… Please allow me to return the favor?  I really want you to be safe… Impa Adelaide is right – It is I who should be in danger, not you.  I know that I’m your “Chosen Hero” and all, but if I’m lost along the way, what is the nation losing?  Just some kid from a backwater farm that most people are wantin’ dead or alive, anyway.  If you’re lost… the royal heir and the bloodline are gone, too.  I don’t think your remaining sister’s got the guts to take back the throne like you do.”


Zelda had tears in her eyes.  “Link, you don’t have to be alone…”


“Please…Zelda.  If you want to help me, give me a little peace of mind.”


Adelaide placed a hand upon the princess’ shoulder.  “Let him go,” she said.  “You do believe in him, right?  Then let him go.” 



Not an hour later, Link was streaking across the eastern desert on Rhiannon, beginning the long journey to Lake Hylia as dusk was beginning to fall. 


As they watched him go, Zelda turned to her Impa.  “I can be stronger than I am and you know it,” she said.  “And I can remain hidden from sight.  I wish to follow him without him finding me.  I wish to be his shadow.” 


Adelaide gasped.  “Surely you do not mean-”


“I do,” Zelda said.  “It is how you came into the Order, is it not? None have been born into it since ancient days.”


“The magic is very old,” Adelaide replied, “And it is very dangerous.  It will draw from all your energies, including the Triforce of Wisdom in your case, specifically.  With it’s fading, it could…”




“He wants to protect you.  It is in his nature.  It is also in mine.” 


“The cycle might be broken in this age, Impa,” Zelda said dourly, “If that happens; I do not wish to leave my country in rack and ruin.  His survival is vital – though he does not believe it, it is more vital than my own.  Teach me the shadow magic.  Transform me into a Sheikah.” 



The sun came up like thunder over the barren land.  Link rode toward it, squinting his eyes.  He kicked Rhiannon into a gallop through a corridor of natural stone, banded in tan, white and red.  He did not notice the young Sheikah woman perched atop one of the rock ledges, watching him as he passed. 


“You forget,” she whispered to herself, “that we protect each other.”       





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