Chapter 4: Brave
Ganondorf sat in
’s west garden, beside a bubbling fountain carved with the strange, birdlike figures of the fabled Ancient Ones. His fingers played over the Ocarina of Time, which he had demanded be given to him three days ago. He’d spent time like this in the morning, alone, practicing countless songs. Small changes in pitch told him that he wasn’t quite getting them right. Ganondorf had musical ability – he was a master of the organ, or anything with keys for that matter – but not all musical instruments were the same. Perhaps, he thought, it was comparable to a watercolor painter learning how to paint in oils – the underlying talent could be there, but it needed practice to be brought from one tool to another. Hyrule Palace
And this is precisely why Ganon came out to any given garden around the palace alone. Link – the true one - had been extraordinary with the ocarina. While long fingers with quick reflexes had come with his body, the ability to play the instrument with his mastery had not. He knew that it could be telling that “something wasn’t right with Link,” if he was caught playing off-key. It did not help that the fingers had been growing progressively stiff.
He continued to meet with the Children of Guinan for the magical infusions of blood that were necessary to keeping Link’s body mostly alive. It seemed that he needed greater quantities of blood, and more often. He’d nearly killed Jova the other day. His desire had been to drink her dry, but he forced himself to stop. There was a need to maintain his cattle.
Zelda had touched his hand last night and recoiled, claiming that his skin was cold. He could feel himself that he was, more or less, beginning to reflect the temperature around him. He’d scratched himself on the thorns of some of the bushes in the south garden yesterday afternoon. He’d bled that obnoxious dark ichor he’d grown to despise. He had been quick to cover up the wounds. He had no hunger, anymore, for customary foods and ate very little when he was expected to take meals. His muscles felt sluggish – in a strange combination of stiff and loose. He felt as if they were struggling to keep his bones connected to each other.
Ganondorf had also noticed a most disturbing inconvenience: He’d been passing an inordinate amount of gas. He knew very well that, after death, if a carcass was left to decay naturally, after a time, the middle would bloat up with inner gasses. This had not happened to his borrowed body just yet, but he knew that in his fight with nature, that nature would eventually win. He felt a disturbing wet weight in his lower abdomen. He was sure parts were beginning to liquefy. If this continued on, no amount of his people’s blood would be able to hold him together. Strangely enough, there was no strong smell about him, as would normally accompany this kind of rotting. He attributed it to magic, and perhaps a bit of his own powerful will. Still, time was important.
When Thera had come to him to give him her blood, she’d told him to keep his patience as she continued her research. Surely, the power of the Triforce would restore the body completely for him. She’d also informed Ganondorf of something he’d found especially interesting: if all else failed, she knew of a way she could transfer him into the body of one of Link and Zelda’s children. He could not hop to just any body – for his soul was bound to Link and to Zelda – and especially to Link. It was possible, however, for him to transfer to someone in his direct bloodline. The fact that the children were also of Zelda’s bloodline made it all the more possible. Ganon did not want it to come to that. It was not compassion, but politics. Taking over a child would leave him powerless within the royal court. In Link’s body, there was much he had the freedom and the power to do. As “Link,” he already had the trust of the people, however misplaced it was, and, in the meantime, there was no greater power available to him.
Ganondorf continued to practice, without success. Several birds had gathered around the area since he’d sat down to play, which puzzled him. If he could not get near the
to take the Master Sword, perhaps he could open the Gate from afar with the Ocarina, and once open, anyone could enter – as he remembered. Givanna had confirmed for him that the three sacred gems remained there. He felt a wriggling sensation in his right ear. He cupped it and shook his head, as if he were shaking loose water trapped after a swim. He examined his palm to find a small, writhing maggot. Time – he was definitely running out. At least, Ganondorf mused, Link would never be using this body again. Templeof Time
He’d seen his ghost a few times around the palace, almost always as a flickering impression in his periphery. He’d seen him trailing behind Zelda and entering the children’s’ bedroom. It was rather pathetic, really, that helpless, lingering desire to protect – at least that’s what Ganon assumed it was. The shade had not spoken to him since the night he’d first seen him, when he’d been with Zelda.
Ganondorf wondered if Link would eventually become a Poe. Poes were malevolent spirits, ghosts with great desire and great anger – Ganondorf was quite familiar with them. They were thought by some to have healing properties, and, in fact, if drank from a bottle, they would either heal or cause wounds or sickness, depending upon their whims, before exiting the body of the one who drank them to go back to their customary haunts. They were entities that suffered a deformation of the soul – twisted by their sorrow and anger into something almost always unrecognizable from the people they’d been in life. It would be a fitting end for the Hero, he thought - an eternity without rest, a true and complete defeat.
Zelda stepped out into the breezy archway that led to the west garden. She watched “Link” in silence and he did not seem to hear her approach. His back was turned to her as he played the ocarina and many colorful birds gathered in the trees above him. It would have been a beautiful scene, save for the lingering sense of distress she felt. The songs he played were all familiar, save for a key off here and a key off there.
There were some things she’d kept secret from Link. When she had sent him back in time, two interesting things had happened. First of all, she had gone back with him, into her own young body, and she’d remembered everything – from Ganondorf coming to the kingdom as an emissary, to meeting the boy from the forest, to donning the guise of Sheik, and finally, the harrowing battle in which Ganondorf was sealed. Link knew at the time that she’d remembered. What she did not tell him is that, soon after he’d left on his personal quest, she had forgotten everything. Time cycled just as it had before, with its tragedies repeated. Only after Link had returned from his long years in Termina did Zelda’s memories come back to her.
He had assumed, upon returning, that she’d tried to prevent Ganondorf’s rise herself and had failed at it. He blamed himself, yet he knew that if he had not left Hyrule, Termina would have been destroyed. His transfer had been different from Zelda’s. He had not gone back into his younger self – he remained a separate entity, therefore, Link would, also, have run the real risk of running into that former self. From what Zelda had told him of what she’d read in old spell books on time travel, the consequences of that would have either been a time paradox that would have destroyed the totality of existence – or both his selves would have merely fainted. The latter was deemed more likely, but he had not wished to risk the former.
Time travel and time’s flow was different in Termina. When he’d traveled back through time there, his spirit had always returned to his former body, yet he was able to keep several of the things he’d find over the three days he’d been running around until the end of the world. When Link had told Zelda about this, he’d admitted that he didn’t even try to figure it out.
What Zelda didn’t tell Link was that she could not have prevented Ganondorf’s rise because of her failed memory. She could only assume that Nayru meant for the flow of time to remain constant – even with its pain. She was unsure why she’d kept this from him. Perhaps she’d felt ashamed that she did not try harder to hold onto her memories.
The other thing that Zelda had never told Link was that the Ocarina of Time she had given him when he’d set out on the journey that eventually took him to Termina was a copy of the original. When she’d sent him to his own time, the Ocarina had “split.” She had been left with two, equal in power. The original artifact was something she’d sealed away in a special place once it was no longer needed, telling no one of its location. After Link’s return, he had given her back the instrument that he’d held. Zelda did not know why – whether it was because of overuse, or because it had traveled to a mysterious land – but its power was largely gone. The ocarina still possessed a small amount of magic: it was able to tame wild animals and to call birds. Zelda had decided that the original Ocarina of Time, which had retained its power, was best left sealed away. She would only give it to Link if times were dire and he truly needed it.
As it is, when he’d demanded the instrument, she’d given him the copy. She did not know why he would need the magical artifact to merely play in the garden. He had an ocarina of common variety for that. The world was in no need right now for a time traveler or for any person to manipulate aspects of nature at whim. There was something deep down within her that didn’t trust him. That feeling ripped at her heart. Until recently, she could not imagine not trusting Link. She’d put her confidence in him, even when they had been children, even before she’d fallen in love with him. Lately, he just wasn’t himself.
Besides that night when he’d been rough with her (and they hadn’t had martial intimacy since then), he’d been demanding recently, and he’d seem to forget things that were common knowledge to the both of them – like the names of the servants and soldiers around the palace. He had been treating them curtly, too. Link had never treated the servants like servants. Even as they’d given him the respect due a prince and a hero, he had treated them like equals. He’d often insisted upon getting things and doing things himself, as well, being an independent person. Lately, he had abandoned these “commoner’s quirks.”
The day before yesterday, she’d walked up quietly behind him as he was writing a letter. She wasn’t in a habit of reading over people’s shoulders, but she’d read a little of what he’d written.
“Do we really need more horses?” she’d asked. “It is not as though we are preparing for war.”
“Of course we do,” he’d replied. “We never know if war is on the horizon. If we take mares from Lon Lon and breed them to Gerudian stallions, we will have a breed unparalleled in speed, strength and fearlessness.”
“That is well, but that many? I do not think Lon Lon has that many mares of breeding age.”
“Then we can breed young.”
“Is there something wrong with your left hand, Link?”
“You are writing with your right hand.”
He’d explained that he was trying to train both of his hands to work equally, that it was a skill he wanted. Zelda thought that he was writing much too naturally with his right hand for someone who was trying to train himself to use a non-dominant appendage. Also unnatural to her were the words upon the parchment. Link had never used such an elegant mode of address and the writing was eloquent, not riddled with the confusing grammatical errors that were the hallmark of Link’s writing.
Zelda went back inside, leaving “Link” to his frustration and to his unwanted birds. She went on her way to the Throne Room, where she could hear the day’s business from her ministers and formal pleas from her people. She stepped over the plush carpet of a hallway and past a great mirror. She paused to brush some hair out of her eyes and to make sure her hair ornaments were straight. She saw something behind her reflected image. It seemed to take on a higher definition even as she felt something cold – yet strangely comforting – upon her shoulder. She squinted into the mirror. A face? Yes, no?
She stared, mesmerized, as something that looked like white smoke coalesced and formed a distinct and familiar visage. “Link?” she asked before turning around.
Nothing was there.
Twilight was falling in the south garden as Zelda spent some time with her children. “Link” had taken over with the ministers, allowing Kafei and Zelda Anju to spend some playtime with their mother.
Hide N’ Seek and Tag were difficult to play in a dress. That is why the young queen insisted that little Anju not be required to wear dresses except on formal occasions. The girl ran around in pants or shorts, and a tunic not unlike her brother’s. She had Impa’s backing on this before the court. She’d wished that she did not have to wear dresses all the time when she was a child. Her father had insisted upon propriety. For Zelda, that only meant that she’d ripped a lot of expensive fabric to pieces and had ruined a lot of shoes climbing trees and playing with the royal hunting dogs when she was a youngster. She’d only been allowed to be out of a dress during her self-defense training sessions with Impa. She wanted to give her daughter more freedom.
“When are you and Daddy gonna take us to see the Forest Children?” Kafei asked as the three of them sat down on a brick planting bed after a session of a game they’d invented with its own rules that was something like Marco Polo without the swimming pool. “We’ve been good this whole year!”
“Maybe when things become a little more settled,” Zelda said. “Your father still seems unwell.”
“Daddy said he wants to talk to you,” Anju spoke up.
“Daddy’s with the ministers right now, honey,” Zelda said.
“Nooooo!” Anju insisted, “Not that Daddy, the other Daddy!”
Zelda laughed, thinking it was a game.
“Inside Daddy is scary,” Kafei said.
Anju wandered toward a row of bushes. Dusk was falling rapidly. It was just about time to go inside.
“Anju!” Zelda called, “Don’t wander. It’s time to go inside and have your bath.”
Anju seemed to be talking to a bush and Kafei didn’t seem to find anything out of the ordinary. If this was a game, it was certainly something they’d conspired on. Anju walked back toward Zelda, holding her hand out by her side as though she were holding the hand of some adult. The sun passed behind a row of trees, dipping over the peaked roofs of
beyond. Castle Town
Zelda nearly had a heart attack.
There was a person holding her daughter’s hand. He glowed with a greenish white light. His eyes held an unfathomable sadness, but he smiled a gentle smile.
“Link?” Zelda yelped. “But… you… you’re inside with the ministers. What are you doing out here and how come I can see through you? What does this mean - ?”
“I died, Zelda,” the ghost simply said. “I’m so very sorry…”
“But you came back!” Zelda said, disbelieving. “You’ve been with me!”
“That… that’s not me,” Link said slowly, his translucent eyes cast toward the ground.
Zelda shivered, partly in fear, partly in longing, and partly in pure confusion. “Who is it, then, Link?” she asked, wanting answers more than anything.
“Guh,” Link began, as though he did not want to say it, “Gan-Ganondorf. It’s Ganondorf. He was brought back... using my body. It hasn’t been me in there, it’s him. I never came back from the dead – he’s just using my remains as a puppet. I couldn’t move on with that going on.”
Zelda gasped softly, putting her hand to her lips.
Link nodded sadly. “I tried to stop him from hurting you, but I couldn’t do anything. I’m useless like this.”
“No, you’re not,” Zelda said, stepping forward to give him a mock-embrace. She felt cool wind against her skin, like ice but not burning. “You were able to speak with me.”
“After… a lot of practice,” Link said. He stooped to give an incorporeal embrace to his children. They took stances as though they were used to this.
“The faith of little children,” Zelda mused.
“You have to stop him, Zelda,” Link said. “He’s keeping my body alive through magic. I’m basically rotting around him. If the witch that brought him back completes the binding, Hyrule will become a monsters’ country once again… people will die. What’s more - he may take one of the children.”
Zelda gasped again.
“He’s bound to our bloodline….somehow… if he can’t get my body to work, he’ll take Kafei, or Anju. We can’t let that happen.”
“Daddy?” Kafei whined fearfully.
“It’s going to be okay,” Zelda said. “I’m not going to let that happen.”
“You cannot do this my lord,” Givanna protested. “It will make you no better than them. Just wait!”
Ganondorf paced about the Armory. “Givanna, the blood is no longer working – not yours, not anybody else’s. Look at me, Givanna, look at me!”
Givanna looked into his face. Blood, dark brown and syrupy, was oozing from his nose, his lips and from his tear ducts. The makeup was falling from his skin, which was pale and gray. He was every bit a corpse.
“My eyes are beginning to fail,” he complained. “All my senses are dull. I will not go back to that prison again!”
“But they are children, Lord Ganon,” Givanna replied. “They are not our enemy.”
“They are!” Ganondorf roared. “They are his! They are Hylians! Why should I care about their welfare when I’ve seen the soldiers of this people murder ours? Why should I care when I’ve watched little Gerudo girls starve to death in the middle of the drylands? I have no compassion for ignorant fools that live in luxury, no matter how old or young they are.”
“Do you know the reason why I took part in brining you back?” Givanna asked, edging toward the shadows.
Ganondorf took a long, double-edged sword off the wall behind him and looked at his blurry reflection in it. “You brought me back because you wanted a strong king.”
“No,” Givanna answered. “I wanted to bring you back because I wanted my father back.”
She rushed toward him, brandishing a scimitar.
“Foolish child!” he growled, bringing his blade to clash with hers. Despite the sluggish, tender feeling in his muscles, this body retained some of its former skill. His reflexes were surprisingly sharp. He sent Givanna back, crashing into a suit of armor and a rack of axes.
He stood over her, watching her pant and bleed. “I’ll leave you to think about your actions,” he said before exiting the room.
Ganondorf strode through the castle corridors, careful to avoid court members and guards. He kept wiping his face on a handkerchief, but the ichor continued to ooze out of him. Zelda had been outside playing with the children earlier. They had probably been bathed and put to bed by now, and Zelda was probably taking her bath.
He burst into the children’s bedroom. He would take both of them to Thera – if one young body failed, he’d have another. He was not thinking of propriety, politics or consequences now. He felt his hold on this world slipping. Ganondorf would not let himself be sealed within that vacuous white prison again. He thought about how to go about killing one or both of the children in a way that would not cause significant trauma to the body. Even if Thera’s seal once again failed to be complete, it would buy him more time – more life.
The children were awake and huddled on their beds, staring at him with fear in their eyes.
“Come here,” Ganondorf said. “Daddy wants to take you somewhere.”
“We aren’t going!” Zelda Anju cried. “You aren’t real Daddy!”
“You’re a bad man,” Kafei said.
“You’re coming with me!”
“No, they are not.” Oh, that voice again. Ganondorf watched the white smoke coalesce. The little boy and the little girl stood behind it. There stood the ghost of Link, sword drawn, determination etched upon his spectral face.
Ganondorf laughed. “Like you are going to protect them. You are powerless now, you know. Go on, swing that sword at me! It is a farce, a shade, just like you!”
Ganondorf felt a swift, sharp punch under his breastbone. He turned around to see the face of Zelda. She gripped a long dagger in both hands, the tip of it thrust into his heart. “Guh?” he managed.
Her gaze was like steel, determined, hard and as sharp as swords. “Goodbye,” she said.
He watched her as he fell, toward the ground and into the white light that would consume him.
The guards had found her weeping in the children’s bedchamber, on her knees before the corpse of Prince Link. Impa ushered the children away and Zelda told a story that was seen as rambling and incoherent. She was escorted to the castle dungeon, for fear of her safety as well as that of others.
She sat in a dark cell, her only companion the spirit who held her hand.
“They think I’ve lost my mind,” she whispered. She felt the cold presence beside her, his icy “breath.”
“It will all work out in the end.”
“You think so?”
“I know so. You are the destined queen of this land. That cannot end with you in a cell.”
“What will you do now? Aren’t you supposed to move on?”
Link regarded her with a bittersweet gaze. “I don’t think I’m destined to,” he said. “I feel a need to pass some things on, I guess, but Kafei and Anju are not yet ready. I don’t know if they ever will be. I’m just around until the Goddesses decide otherwise, I guess.”
“What do you want done with…. You know, your body?”
“Just burn the thing. It’s not like I need it anymore.”
Link vanished as Zelda heard the clink and clatter of chains and armor. A guard approached her cell and unlocked it. He was followed in the corridor by two more guards leading a young Gerudo woman in chains. She wore fresh bandages and looked like she’d had something rough happen to her. The guard that had opened Zelda’s cell bowed before her.
“Our most humble apologies, my queen,” he said. According to the physicians, your story seems to be quite true. The poor prince, to have that done to him!”
“Who is she?” Zelda said with a nod of her head.
“An intruder on the palace grounds, but she testified on your behalf. She claims she is a part of that Children of Guinan cult and told us of the very wicked things they have done. Her fate is up to you, Queen Zelda.”
Zelda chose to remain in the dungeon, outside of the cell of the woman who called herself Givanna. She heard the Gerudo’s story with great interest.
“I await execution,” Givanna said.
“You say it without passion,” Zelda replied.
“Cowardice is not the way of my people,” Givanna answered. “Sometimes, the best we can do in life is to die well, when it comes to it.”
“You shall not die,” Zelda said decisively. “You have committed serious crimes, but you stood up to Ganondorf in the end. Go back to your country and be at peace. The problems that your people face have already come under my consideration.”
People came from all corners of Hyrule for Link’s funeral. Many of the dignitaries thought it strange that the queen and her children did not weep. They stood and watched the priest scatter the ashes from an urn onto the winds that blew out into Hyrule Field. The testimonies and eulogies from the leaders of the races brought the gathered crowds to tears, but the royal family was serene, at peace.
Some say that if you go out onto Hyrule Field at night, you might catch a glimpse of a wandering spirit, dressed in green and carrying a sword, waiting for the time when his country will need him again.
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