Chapter 1—Princess of the Lullaby
Link and Midna sat beneath the comforting shade of one of the trees flanking the Temple. Its familiar earthy scent provided little true comfort, rather mocking them of the mission they failed to achieve in saving all such trees...and peoples...and all creatures in Hyrule.
“Link,” Midna breathed, inhaling a deep, difficult breath. He glanced up at her, forcing himself to watch those eyes struggling with any, last bit of strength to fight back the tears and the knowing defeat creating them.
“I did not account for a Song of Light along with the Song of Twilight,” she whispered, her voice softer than the dying embers of a flame extinguished by the mightiest ocean wave. Her eyes fell too, the tears glistening within tumbling like broken waves. “In my selfish foolishness, I sought only to travel alone with you, Link, to collect the notes for my Requiem. I was blinded because I...”
The oceans settled to rest upon him. Grey, overcast with clouds of sorrow, deep remorse, and hatred for what trouble she’d caused in their quest, spite against herself for considering herself above all the peoples of their three realms. But, nay, she thought of more than herself. Through the clouds of her eyes, waves of passion surged up with flecks of sunlight that could not help but dance within, despite all the turmoil. As she looked at him, it was plain she could not contain such joy and hope. It was plain that her “because” was him and the love so clearly fixated in her heart, radiating from those small but significant flecks of light. No words could have ever replaced such beauty in her eyes. If she was blinded in their quest, it was by love; nothing could amaze or humble him more.
Effortlessly and almost without thought, his hand crept to her cheek. It was surprisingly warm, balancing the cool silver hues of her skin and matching the fires flickering in her eyes at his touch. He did not know exactly why she loved him.Perhaps by some memory of the Link she once knew. Perhaps entirely for who he was, though he could only be honored and humbled by such a thought. It didn’t matter though. He loved her too. The same urge that had gripped him so many times on their short but vital quest again took hold, and with it, the courage that he needed to lean in close to her.
Her eyes softened as if melting, their clouds lifting as the stars’ reflection peeped between the shadows, dispelling them. Then, her eyes closed, and she exhaled a sweet, ocean zephyr which lightly caressed his hair. Even closer he drew, heart beating wildly. His lips could almost taste hers—
Her eyes opened ablaze with longing but deep and sudden caution. Though crushed, he obeyed and instead kissed her forehead.
“I’m sorry,” she breathed, heaving a sigh as heavy as though the weight of so many waters crashed once more upon her shoulders. “I’m sorry, but I’ve already possibly messed up our chances of saving Hyrule. I’d like to save us until it is the right time. I couldn’t bear to mess that up too...”
He nodded, eyes fervent with a desire for her to see it was okay. When she wouldn’t look at him, he squeezed her hand. She shivered at his touch. Faintly. He almost grinned, half awed and half pleased that he could enlist such a reaction in one so sure of herself as Midna, that she would dare to let her guard down for him, however slightly. She looked up, studied his eyes, and permitted the light to shine in the storms of her eyes once more.
With a small smile, she said, “Come. We should sleep. Nothing can be properly thought over and decided upon without good rest for both mind and body.”
Waving her cloak in a wide, almost magical arc, she swept it down to cover the earth then curled up upon it. Link laid his blanket out and got comfortable the best he could. Still, he couldn’t quite complete this without taking her hand in his. With small but sure smiles, they drifted to sleep as one, connected by that small touch and the even greater touch of their hearts.
Midna stirred at the onslaught of restless dreams. None were concrete, just snatches of shadow, fire, and fear, signs of such enemies which would surely befall Hyrule, Termina, and her shadow world if evil was not soon banished...
Abruptly, she woke. Shock gripped her, so starkly it took a moment for the gasp to escape her lips. Complete darkness enveloped her. No sign of even the stars crept from the heavens overhead. Had darkness already come? Were they later in saving their worlds than even she fathomed?
A light shimmered faintly. Glancing over, she fixated upon the thin stream of light cascading vertically through the dark. It was hard to tell from how high above, since she could not tell whether the light shone from sky or up from the ground or if either sky or ground still existed. She herself, while feeling secure, also felt light, almost weightless.
Then, a figure gradually materialized in the column of light , and as the figure stepped from the light, Midna gasped again.
She was swathed in an elegant, elf-green cloak which shimmered like stars in the pillar of light, bright and pure. Her Zora eyes gleamed with a smile that encouraged Midna’s heart. Even if this was the end, how good to see a friend in such a time of need...
Pami stepped towards Midna slowly, and Midna started steadily forward in turn. But when she had half-way closed the gap between them, Midna stopped again. The closer Pami drew, the more and more she...transformed.
Hair grew in short locks down her back, a dark blue at first. Quickly though, it lightened into a golden hue like a queen lion’s fur or a valley of sunflowers, lengthening into soft curls. Her skin morphed from blue to a lovely porcelain cream. Her eyes, while ever maintaining their sapphire loveliness, became rounder, fuller. Her ears lengthened to bear the prestigious points of Hylians. The leather band about her head changed into a gold circlet encrusted with rubies. Then, at the last, the cloak fell from her shoulders to reveal a simple but stunning gown of soft pink and white, adorned with gold. And threaded with golden silk into the dress’ pattern was the royal crest, the winged Triforce.
“Zelda,” Midna gasped, spurred back to a time so long ago yet seeming sudden, as though it only happened yesterday. Just as when she first beheld Link. This may not be the Zelda she knew, but the same spirit lingered so strongly within...
“Midna,” Zelda returned, bowing her head in respect, and Midna returned the gesture. “I apologize for worrying you and Link, but I believe in doing all things in the right time. And now was that time for me to reveal Pami’s true identity. Do forgive me and accept my explanation.
“I traveled in an alternate form because I was brutally sought by Ganon, especially being alone and vulnerable. I did not wish to be captured and not be able to help you on your journey, especially as one of the three Hylian descendants.”
“Thank you,” Midna breathed. Then, in the next moment, storms brewed over her heart. She longed to glance away to speak her next words but could not show such cowardice. Zelda was her equal, as both a ruler and sage. She deserved to be told the truth and to be looked in the eye while hearing it.
“Thank you,” Midna repeated more solemnly. “But then...perhaps you know that I have failed in protecting your kingdom, as well as my own and Termina too. In my foolishness, I led Link on a quest to find my Requiem, forsaking the possibility of your Lullaby...”
“But I did not.”
Midna’s eyes snapped up. The princess’ smile and gaze were calm, placid as the sea of lilies Midna read of once in a tale of another land. Gentle, open, welcoming, completely at peace.
“You have a good heart, Midna. Sure, strong, brave, and pure. I did remember my Lullaby, and you did all that you were meant to. As I said, I could not have peace without knowing I was helping in whatever way I could. You see, you could not have known my lullaby. The Sages' Songs must be first known to their specific sages who must, in turn, teach them to others. As you collected the notes for your Requiem, I followed and listened. When the protectors of the songs played their notes, while you heard those of your Requiem, I heard those of my Lullaby. I have saved my song that I may play it for you now in this dream. Commit it well to the memory of your heart...”
In a flash of light, a lyre rested in the princess’ hands, and in Midna’s, her silver flute.
Zelda’s eyes met Midna’s with a new intensity and question. Midna nodded. Then, the Princess of Light began to play.
As the Princess of Shadow echoed, a new calm yet excitement flooded her. Peace, and an exhilaration because of that peace. The song enveloped her heart until it penetrated deep, nestling close beside her Requiem.
There was a moment both princesses somehow knew the song was inscribed perfectly in both their hearts, and they ceased playing.
With a smile, Zelda lowered her lyre, gazing with that mingled serenity and thrill glistening in her eyes. “There. You truly do have a good heart. Go now and teach my song to our Hero. He will need it to wield that final weapon against evil. I must tarry in your world a little longer as a stranger. However, know that when the time comes, I will meet the battle alongside you, whatever may come...”
Midna nodded and opened her lips to thank the princess, but already, a great light wrapped around her until eventually, it blocked all else out.
Midna’s eyes opened, and a small gasp slipped from her. Sitting up, she sidled over to shake Link, hardly pausing to reflect how beautiful he looked as the soft moonlight washed over his features, so much less troubled in sleep than wakefulness.
When at last he stirred then sat up, gazing at her with all concern, she said,
“I have seen Zelda. And obtained the song of Light. Let us make straightway for the Blade of Evil’s Bane.”
With a hearty nod, Link helped Midna pack up their few things. Then, once more, undaunted by the dark of night, they started towards the Temple of Time.
Chapter 2—Weapon of Shadow
As they burst through the grand doors of the Temple, the Spiritual Stones shimmered, more brightly than before, like dear friends congratulating and bidding them make haste before it was too late.
Pausing before the altar, Midna breathed, “This is it,” with all the finality of one who truly knows that now, at the last, in this moment, the it has truly come, the it which will forever send one’s destiny careening down a different and unknown path.
She released the rest of her breath in a long, drawn-out gust, as if hoping to prolong that moment just a little more. Then, glancing at Link, she reached into her cloak to reveal the flute. It glinted sharply in the light of the Stones, as if responding to their urge to complete its chosen task. Link delved into his satchel until he drew out the ocarina. Then, placing it to his lips and Midna her flute to hers, they shared a final nod before beginning to play.
Zelda’s Lullaby and Midna’s Requiem. A Song of Light and a Song of Darkness. One set in a major key, the other minor. Two songs which, when entwining, should not fit; indeed, dissonance lingered between them. Yet, glimmers of cohesiveness which rippled with more and more frequency the longer the two played showed that, though very different, they truly were meant to be played at the same time—now—and place—here.
They played until losing themselves completely in the passionate pleading of Midna’s Requiem and the calm soothing of Zelda’s Lullaby, until the notes began to merge in their minds as one, until their fingers almost forgot who played which song, and then, at last...
A rumbling bid them lower the instruments from their lips and look up as the stone doors parted, receding into the thick temple wall beyond the altar. Then, all lay still, and the pathway was open. Not even taking time to glance at each other, Link and Midna made their way around the altar and slipped into the dark opening.
At first, utter darkness. But then, beyond the short hallway, a pure while glow. Stepping into the circular room , they stopped short. The room was black, not of evil but of calm, like a sea after a storm—or perhaps before. And beaming like a single star illuminating that water’s surface was the Master Sword of so many legends and past generations of heroes.
They approached the stone dais in which the sword rested fast, slipping up the steps without a sound, hearts pounding. Here was a place even more deserving of silence than the grounds of the Spirit Temple. That was just it—this place, more than driving the need for silence into them by fear, literally deserved it. A need for reverence cloaked their shoulders as thickly as the blackness engulfing them.
The handle of the sword was encrusted with black and white diamonds. Swirls of a glittering dust steadily spiraled in a continuous loop about the sword’s blade. The swirls combined in alternating bands of faint light and dark shadow, merging in places as a silvery sort of half-shadow, half-glow, embedded with new—yet ancient—powers of dark and light.
“This truly is the Weapon of Shadow,” Midna breathed.
Link looked up. How fervently the awe glittered in her eyes, and no wonder. It amazed himself that this was the weapon he was meant to use, that this would defeat the great evil they’d been pursuing for what seemed now like an age.
“Well, go ahead, Link,” Midna urged, almost sounding impatient. “Go ahead and claim your true destiny as the Hero of Time’s heir. Take the sword...”
Link nodded slowly, focusing on the blade. Resting his hands gently on the hilt, he suddenly felt connected by some strange, magnetic pull. His heart pounded in rhythm with the power pulsing from his fingers, up his arms, through his entire body. He feared to feel such conflicting powers of dark and light flooding him before he even hefted the blade from the stone. Would he be able to handle the sword's full potential when he did?
But then, beyond the fear, a new courage seeped in and, almost effortlessly, he slid the blade from its hold. Holding it aloft to examine it, its edges gleamed with a brilliant silver hue, sharper than any blade he’d ever beheld. He held it towards Midna who continued to stare, incapable of speech or any type of reaction save utter amazement.
When it was apparent she would not break her gaze of her own will, he carefully drew his sword from his sheath and instead slipped the Master Sword within. The sword yet glowed faintly within its new hiding place, but the spell was broken enough for Midna to take Link’s old sword and say, “Well, I finally got my sword back. Good going, Hero.”
She sheathed her own blade haughtily but shared a smile accompanied by proudly gleaming eyes; he could not resist a broad grin. The sword retrieved, some of the need for silence had been lifted. Perhaps because the two of them were now actually part of the sacredness, woven into its fabric. This place was now as much theirs as it was the sword’s.
“Now where?” Midna asked, face drawing serious again. “Do you think Ganondorf would hide in the castle of this Hyrule or the present one?”
Link didn’t need time to respond. Ganondorf sought to destroy the old Hyrule; he only valued it for what ancient powers he might extract in the Stones and for how it might ultimately lead him to Link and Midna. But Ganondorf’s true desire was to establish a new Hyrule and make all forget the ancient, true Hyrule...
Link held up two fingers, and Midna nodded. “Choice two it is. What I would have guessed myself, actually. Come then, to the castle. I suppose that’s the last stop in our journey.”
With a small nod, Link took her hand, guiding her down the steps, through the doorway, and from the Temple of Time.
Chapter 3—Prince of Two Hearts
Solemnly, they made their way through the old Hyrule. With the crossing of the threshold of the Temple of Time, they’d left their time behind. Time for them as they knew it began to slip away as quickly as the sands of the Spirit Temple. They knew the end would come, so there was no need to prolong its coming.
No need to rush it either; they slowed at times, enjoying the quiet serenity of a wood ignorant of the evils pressing in so closely on its borders. Yet, as the birds continued to sing, the squirrels to chatter, and the foxes to frolic, it only made them wish for that sort of ignorance. Such truly seemed like bliss, to not know the evil until it actually met you face to face, until it was too late, so late that the end would be swift and hardly noticeable. Such an end would meet the wood and much of Hyrule, if they failed. It was this knowledge which drove them on.
In such solemn silence they floated through the fields of Old Hyrule, drifting last across the wasteland of the desert whose stormy winds had entirely ceased. In the distance rose a mound of sand, shattered glass gleaming like bits of buried treasure. They dared not stray too close to such a place which felt haunted. Link shuddered, all the while driven on by the knowing he did not wish his Hyrule to ever become that way, especially not because of something he did or did not do.
The outskirts of the desert met the outskirts of the Kokiri Forest of his Hyrule, the present Hyrule. They soon emerged into the field where Hyrule Castle Town rose like a hopeful beacon yet loomed like an encroaching storm at once. The skies surrounding it were bluer than a Zorita’s eyes, yet hovering directly over the castle, a ring of dark clouds. Evil dripped from the sky, shadowing the castle, evil so strong it made Link shiver from where he was. Perhaps, because of the Triforce, some link between him and Ganondorf existed which made him feel his enemy’s evil more poignantly. Link could not know, only trudge forward with purpose.
No life met them within the town walls, as if the death of Old Hyrule had already extended its grappling reach and extinguished the remaining life within. Once, they caught sight of a man scurrying towards his shop. With a half-glance up at them, he flung himself in and slammed the door shut. Link jumped at the sound, so startling in that darkness, but he understood. He had viewed only one thing in the man’s eyes. Perhaps Ganondorf’s power did not yet consume all Hyrule, but the fear of his coming power did.
Silently, they wound through the town, heading straight for the castle. Even as it loomed before them, not a single guard stood in sight. The only sentinels were the amassing clouds circling overhead, and certainly they would tell no tales, save perhaps to announce the heroes' already-expected presence.
At some point, Link realized how perfectly aimed their path was. They seemed just to scroll along. Even now, they glided towards the gates, standing ajar, a perfect target for their entrance. He grabbed Midna’s hand, heart pounding, glancing at her with suspicion and concern. Without looking at him, she said quietly, “I know this place from a dream.”
Then, they continued. His heart hardly settled but at least felt a little calmer. Better Midna lead them towards doom than the doom itself lead them by an unseen force.
Curling through the many passages of the castle, they at last scaled a long stair and then traversed a long hall. At the end waited massive double doors, the winged Triforce painted upon them. Passing through the doors, they wound up a final, wide stretch of stairs laden with a crimson cloth which, in times past, might have signified the glory of Hyrule, the passion and rejoicing of its people. Now, the death and destruction which Ganondorf waged in the past, coupled with the new blood he thirsted for, flowed through its ruby threads.
Approaching the end of the stair, a final doorway awaited them. However, this time, the doors were thrown open wide, as if in anticipation to their arrival. Voices echoed from within, though no coherent speech could yet be made out.
Finally, reaching the throne room, they stopped short in its arched doorway.
The room was long, the ceiling vast and supported by pillars. The only light was that of dismal grey gleams through tall arched windows. Mingled with the sickly glow of torchlight, it gave the appearance of stepping into a graveyard.
Three figures stood at the end of the room closest to them.
Ganondorf, his back to them, holding the wrists of a frail figure in his large hands and shaking her violently—Aniya. Her feet dangled a couple feet off the floor like a puppet as he snarled . Half in the shadows, not far from where Ganondorf stood, Majora. Tall, long, thin as reeds, skin striped with every color imaginable to man, her wild hair a shimmering mass of violet and ebony curls, eyes blacker than cloudless midnight. Her eyes grinned gleefully, hands folded across her scantily clad lap like a patiently waiting child who rejoices in its sibling’s being caught and punished, whether justly so or not.
“You,” Ganondorf growled, scathing the word as if it was an entirely filthy piece of garbage ruining his tongue, “you betrayed me. You were my chief wife!”
He shook Aniya, the muscles of his arms bulging and pulsing like a wound. Link flinched, knowing the deep wounds he must inflict upon her delicate arms. She showed no sign of pain or even fear though, glaring back with all the malice and challenge in the world.
“’Chief wife’. You mean your chief whore!” she literally spat back at him.
With an animalistic snarl, he threw her back. She crashed hard against the wall before toppling into a pitiful heap, breathing hard and struggling to sit up. She only reeled, eyes blinking slowly, as if momentarily blinded.
“Forget her, my darling,” Majora crooned, slinking up behind him and winding her long, lithe, snake-like arms and legs about him. Her spidery fingers stroked his cheeks and tousled the thick red waves of his hair; his body began to relax. “I am your true wife. The good wife. I will never abandon you as this filthy wench. I give you everything you need, my handsome prince...”
She nibbled his ear, flicking the tip of her tongue. He shuddered, and she began to massage his shoulders, kneading deep into his neck, a wickedly satisfied yet desiring grin curling across her lips—
Link swung the sword as hard as he could. Swirls of light and dark energy somersaulted down its edges, rolling off the tip; a sphere of shadow surged into the wall mere inches from Majora and Ganondorf, exploding with a noise like shattering glass, only magnified ten-fold. At the same time, Midna snarled, “Enough, Majora,” Majora’s head snapped in their direction but she did not move, clinging to Ganondorf with her cat’s claws, glaring and hissing wickedly, while Ganondorf turned to behold them with the same malice—
“Welcome!” He threw his arms open wide; Majora slid off his back but trailed close on his heels, one hand pressed firmly on his shoulder. “Welcome at last! Hero of Time, reincarnated and in the flesh before me, and—my, my. Dearest Midna. You really have grown since I last saw you. In both height and beauty, I might add. You were a rather hideous little squirt when last we met, not to mention irritating. But Zaruman says you have grown in maturity, if not in wisdom—isn’t that so, son?”
Even as Ganondorf’s eyes strayed, Midna’s darted in their direction, while Link’s followed.
They hadn’t yet noticed the throne perched at the end of the long corridor flanked with pillars and tall arched windows. Half concealed in shadow, half illuminated by the deathly pallor streaming through the windows and the sickly orange glow of the torches’ flame, the young prince perched upon Zelda’s throne. He was the perfect image of his father—flaming red curls, deeply tanned skin, muscular though more leanly so. Only his eyes were his mother’s, their shape and, perhaps in a different time, their temperament. Now, however, they gleamed with the same, steadfast iciness as their father’s.
“Zaru!” Aniya gasped, crawling towards him then stopping as her limbs shook unsteadily. “Zaru, my Zaru...look at me, my Zaru!”
His eyes stared straight ahead, as if peering right at her. Yet they seemed to behold nothing, nor his ears to hear her cries, their pleading quiet but clear in the echoing emptiness of the chamber. Even the passion which flickered so vehemently in his eyes the first time Link saw them seemed to have vanished.
Link glanced at Midna, but her terror of Zaruman’s presence seemed to have waned, as if a new courage took control. Instead, a sort of pity glimmered in her eyes for the dark prince, and a greater pity for Aniya.
“Zaruman, please look at me—you don’t have to do this—please, Zaru, please—”
The more frantic her cries accelerated, the less he seemed to look. His eyes stared straight at her yet viewed nothing. As if blinded to her trembling body and deafened against her pleas—pleas which fractured Link’s heart as though she was his own mother—he just stared, unblinking, unchanging, unreadable, as if hewn of stone.
“Zaruman, please!” she shrieked. Then, that final cry diminishing her remaining hope and strength, she whispered pitifully, as if uttering her last breath, “Look at me...”
This time, Zaruman looked. He looked so intensely that, more than seeing her eyes which so visibly reflected the agonized longing of her heart, Link swore he must be able to survey her very soul. Yet in being intense, the look was intensely cold. Empty. Like stone, but a different sort of stone than he’d looked only moments ago. Then, the stone of his heart shining in his eyes was yet unformed. Now though, his mind was made up, having crafted the final product. His eyes decided and remained hard, hard as the stone of the Goron’s caves, and harder still in seeming to be completely unbreakable, not even crackable in the slightest. Unblinking, unchanging, he stared, granting his reply: He did have to do this, and he would.
Even as Ganondorf’s wide strides echoed dully, like bodies falling limp and lifeless, Zaruman rose, gliding silently down the dais and along the same, blood-red carpet. As father and son passed, their shoulders lightly brushed as if in some secret agreement or promise. Ganondorf lighted upon the throne, sitting back comfortably.
Zaruman reached Majora who laughed a high, maniacal cackle; he drew his blade, and Majora’s smile vanished as she presented a whip from thin air and swung it in a high arc, like a cloud swirling over a volcano preparing to blow—
The next moment, it did blow, as all hell on earth broke loose within the throne room of Hyrule.
Majora’s whip swung wide about the room. Midna and Link leapt over its thick leather streamers just in time, and Link barely blocked the sword strike Zaruman wielded against him.
“I’ll keep Majora preoccupied; you focus on Zaruman!”
With that command, Midna drew her own blade, leaping across the room as if hoping to protect Link from the extensive reach of Majora’s whip.
Link’s and Zaruman’s swords sang, weaving and dancing with an almost grace and beauty as silver scintillated and clashed melodiously. The fierce gleam of Zaruman’s eyes promised this was no mere symphonic target practice though. Link stayed fast on his feet, blocking blow after blow, managing to nick Zaruman’s shoulder at one point. Though he cried out, not once did he falter; he was nearly as skilled as his father in agility, though he might not possess all of his strength.
At some point, Majora’s cackle rang high, chilling Link. Then, he and Zaruman were both forced to jump out of the way, Zaruman cursing as the whip literally exploded into the pillars, sending several toppling to the floor along with bits of the ceiling; the noise echoed with the terror of a brilliant thunderstorm, and the dark clouds loomed close between the bits of ruined ceiling.
For a few moments, Link was blinded by clouds of dirt and dust swirling wildly on all sides with the collision. Coughing, he struggled to see as the darkness slowly dissipated.
Then, Zaruman leapt over the debris with renewed force, challenging Link as they scaled higher and higher up the pillar fallen diagonal. As they leapt off, they chased each other like a wolf after a solitary hare and back again. Once, Link glanced at the Triforce upon his hand and realized how fiercely it glowed. Glancing upon Zaruman’s Triforce, Link saw his illuminated as well, though not quite as vibrantly, whether because he held only a small shard of the Triforce compared to Link or whether because the Triforce granted him less power or else began to wan, Link could not know. He hoped for the latter—
At first, Aniya’s cry broke through the madness like a small, pitiful zephyr struggling to survive amidst a great tornado. Link glanced down at the woman, eyes shining like hauntingly luminous candles amidst her dirt-smudged face. She reached a hand up, fingers brushing the hem of Zaruman’s cloak as he and Link waltzed past, swords still entwining.
Zaruman froze. Aniya’s plea this time held no anger; no bitterness lined her voice, only a pure love for her son which shone vividly in her eyes, consuming like an unquenchable fire. Link too paused, sword raised high. For just a moment, he contemplated taking the chance to strike, but as Zaruman’s eyes locked with Aniya’s, it didn’t feel right to interrupt that sacred moment...
At last, Zaruman saw her. Beyond the deep wells of vacancy in his eyes, just a little bit of feeling emerged. It was slight, so very subtle Link surprised himself in catching it. But there it glimmered.
Zaruman’s hands lowered just the tiniest fraction, as if he considered withdrawing. Then, his eyes fell, as though he tumbled from the highest cliff top into the deepest, most inescapable ravine; there, the shadows cloaked his eyes. Shadows of resolve, apology, and renewed coldness.
Aniya glanced then at Link, and he at her, and she nodded. After another brief pause, that final moment of hope was shattered, the poignant decision made. Zaruman turned and swung his blade in a wild arc, leaving Link to jump back and block the blow barely in time—
Only to spin and disarm the prince, sending him tumbling to the ground, hard, and skidding across the marble floor, yelling out as he left behind him a streak of blood. Link stared at the tip of his sword, realizing he must have done more than disarm his foe. Then, sweeping up to the prince, Link raised the sword high, its blade towering triumphantly above him...
Even then, he hesitated. It didn’t feel right. The prince deserved his chance. But the prince’s eyes, beyond the darkness, gleamed with his own, silent plea. All his chances were spent. One of them must die, and he longed for it to be himself.
With a cry, Link brought the blade down fast, looking away as it speared the young prince’s heart. He glanced down only to withdraw the blade, catching a glimpse of the face lying motionless, grossly, grotesquely, but, Link hoped, peacefully so.
He turned just in time to block a blow from Majora who had aimed her whip perfectly at Midna and prepared to launch it. The whip’s long, leather strands coiled about Link’s sword, and she whirled, staring stunned then spiteful. She struggled to yank her whip back, but instead, whip soared through the air along with Master Blade. Half a lightning’s step later, Midna leapt up from behind and plunged her own sword close to the sorceress’ heart.
Majora’s eyes widened, and a sharp gasp escaped her as Midna pulled the sword out. As she stumbled, Link stepped aside, swallowing the small bit of bile wanting to worm its way up his throat. He’d seen so much blood before, but not human blood. Even if the one was a prince corrupted hopelessly by his entirely evil father and the other an anciently wicked spirit posing as a lady—even then, it sickened him to see such violence. As did the silence accompanying so much blood, the silence screaming the horrors of the graveyard which the throne room so quickly became.
Majora staggered drunkenly towards the dais, eyes never wavering from the false king she so entirely adored. She, a greater and far more ancient, powerful spirit, yet consumed with a passion for his passion.
Upon reaching the first step, she tripped and collapsed, no longer able to carry herself. Link winced at the thick trail of glittering blood she’d left in her wake. Ganondorf watched on, unreadable.
“I’m sorry, my sweet lord,” she whispered, her voice fading, even as her feet began to dissolve into an iridescent dust, then her legs, her waist, the nothingness steadily devouring her entire body. Even then, her eyes beheld only him, captivated by his unmoving stare at her rapidly withering form. She reached up, “I’m sorry, my lord. I tried...and I died...for you. May we meet in the realm beyond...”
A single nod, barely noticeable, his last gift to her. Yet her eyes shone with the grateful tears of a prisoner granted her last and most precious meal before they too dissipated with the rest of her. The wind swirled the dust and carried it through the window. Then, Majora was no more.
Link tore his eyes from that spot, but his gaze fell only upon the young prince drowned in an expanding ocean of blood. He wanted to look away from him too, but there was only Aniya to behold, or Midna—who winced before painfully looking away from Zaruman. Or Ganondorf, who beheld the Triforce crest on his hand with disgusting satisfaction; with the passing of both son and lover, two new shards of the triangle of Power were filled in.
Though vast, the throne room suddenly felt very small, stiflingly so. Link’s entire world rested in that small space, and it could not contain everything he felt coursing through him like a million knives—fear, pain, vengeance, grief, remorse, tainted victory—
The accusation brought Link back to that reality and the someone else besides himself who inhabited it. Aniya, crawling towards her son, cradling his limp head in her hands.
“He was your son,” Aniya half hissed, half shrieked, trembling violently, as if on the verge of literally falling apart like the sands of the Spirit Temple. Her eyes hissed, raging fire barely contained. “He was your son—you killed your own son—!”
“He knew the risk!” Ganondorf thundered. Then, more quietly, “As did Majora. Such is the price to pay. The weaker must give way for the stronger to rise. Zaruman would have done anything to win the title and glory as Hyrule’s next Prince of Shadow—”
“You mean the ‘Prince of Evil.’ Can nothing but evil filth spew from your mouth?” Midna challenged, crimson eyes ablaze.
Ganondorf glared at her. Then, his look softened, taking on the same, cold hardness as his son’s, save one difference. Zaruman’s stare was completely empty, unfeeling, detached. But Ganondorf felt something—pride, passion, desire, and an already-victory gleamed in his eyes. Zaruman did not allow himself to feel, but Ganondorf did, because nothing he felt could strip him of the desire of his quest for power.
“There is no evil,” he said, voice quiet though teetering on the edge of an imminent choice. “There is no evil, and there is no good. Only power, and those strong enough to seek it...”
His gaze shifted so quickly to Link that Link jumped, not noticing the transition. All of a sudden, Ganondorf just was looking at him. Nothing could shift his focus, nothing save the sight of Link’s body lying distorted, bloodied, dead before his eyes, and perhaps even then he would not turn away—
“Wait. This battle is not fairly fought without my presence. This is my castle, and he my Hero, after all.”
Link glanced up. A tall, cloaked figure swept into the room, gliding silently as a shadow to rest beside Midna. Lowering the hood, Zelda raised her head with a slight sense of pride, though a calm humility shone ever in her eyes. As she granted a slight smile, he realized—the pride was towards him. She already granted him the victory in her mind.
“You are late, Zelda,” Ganondorf snarled, “as ever.”
“I am exactly on time as ever, I would say,” she returned, folding her hands in front of her like a chamber maid waiting for instructions.
Her eyes fervently locked on Link; she gave a subtle but meaningful nod. Turning back to Ganondorf, Link saw his eyes still loathed him. Link knew they had not moved from him, not even upon Zelda’s entrance. Link took a deep breath, steadying his nerves as he realized how truly embedded Ganondorf’s hatred was, both in mind and heart.
Link waited. He waited for the venom boiling in the dark lord’s eyes to froth to the point of exploding. When it did, and Ganondorf surged from his throne at him at last, Link was ready, swinging his sword high to block the blow—
He stumbled back. What a force hit him as metal sang against metal. As the power of an ancient man challenged the courage of a young boy.
Chapter 4—Valliant Maiden
Blow after blow Ganondorf waged and Link blocked, seeking to land a few of his own, but his time was better spent dodging and rolling from harm’s way. At some point, music perked his ears, and he caught snatches of Zelda and Midna, hands folded as if in prayer, each chanting their song beneath their breath. As the Triforce glowed just a little brighter on the back of his hand, he knew: Midna sought to send her Wisdom to Zelda, and Zelda sought to send its power and hers to him.
Of a sudden, Link and Ganondorf simultaneously swung their swords in a wide arc; dark energy spiraled off the tip of one blade, shadow and light bounced off the edges of the other—
But this time, Power and Courage did not ricochet off walls, pillars, or come close to hitting their targets. Rather, they combined, spinning together and locking in place, forming a great, long beam of light and dark that connected their two swords in a horizontal beam of incredible energy. Link felt it pulse through his arms and then his entire body like a real, breathing, tangible life. He prepared to jerk his sword away, but then thought shattering the connection would bring all that energy surging at him, wounding him severely, possibly even to death. No, he must hold his own and overcome...
He and the false king braced their feet, gathering all the strength their muscles could hold and trying to force the energy back at the other. At times, the darkness crept a little further towards Link. At other times, the light and shadow crept a little further down the beam towards Ganondorf’s sword. For a while, Link thought he might prevail...
Ganondorf’s lips lit up with a small but meaning smirk. Pushing with pulsing muscles, the darkness sped up the beam, nearly blackening the light from Link’s sword. Link pushed back, stopping it just in time, but the exertion it took him to do so was exhausting. Was Ganondorf right after all? Link held more pieces of the Triforce, to be sure. But could courage and wisdom truly conquer such tremendous power?
His vision began to blur; he stumbled, and darkness slipped up the beam again. It touched Link’s fingertips with an electrifying shock which awakened him with a shudder. He didn’t even want to imagine how getting hit full throttle by such Power would feel—if it left him alive to feel anything at all.
Despite his urgency to press on and the increased intensity of Zelda’s song, his feet began to slip. His muscles shook with tiredness. His eyes again weakened, and he blinked hard, trying to focus—
Suddenly, a silver blur burst between Link and Ganondorf, in the exact midst. A tremendous explosion like lightning ricocheting with millions of tiny tendrils echoed across the vast chamber. Just as quickly and surreal as that moment seemed to occur, the next happened with startling slowness and realness…
Link saw her stumble beyond the beam of Power and Courage, their bond already reforged. He saw her look up at him, grant a small smile, eyes gleaming even in the last with an impish sort of victory. Then, as her eyes closed, her body collapsed, and somehow, the exhale was deafening as her soul left her body sprawling lifeless on the ground, cloak shielding her like a coverlet for a funeral...
Zelda’s chanting intensified. He allowed her song to enter his mind and allowed himself to glance over only as a necessary distraction. Otherwise, his eyes would remain locked upon her, and the longer they did so, the more vulnerable he would become, and the more easily he—and all they’d fought for together—would fall...
Zelda remained transfixed, hands folded prayer-like, lips moving with all the softness of an ocean zephyr kissing the morning sun as she sang her lullaby. Tears streamed from her closed lids, glistening in the glow of the thin but vibrant beams of light radiating from the Triforce on her hand, one more shard filled in. The Triforce on his hand gleamed too as Wisdom’s power poured into him...
Power. Even as his eyes met Ganondorf’s again, still cold and unfeeling save for the new taste of victory gleaming within, Link did not forbid the tears fall from his own eyes burning with sorrow and fury. Ganondorf possessed power, but no courage. In lacking courage, he lacked anything worth fighting for. But Link possessed everything in the world worth fighting for. Midna, his love for her, and her love for all the living of all Realms. Power could be taken from Ganondorf, but Link’s love could never cease burning, however painfully.
With a cry, Link gripped the sword tighter and pushed forward. The swirls of light and shadow rippled just a little closer to Ganondorf, consuming just a bit more of the darkness. For a moment, the false king’s eyes widened, maybe surprised, even impressed. Then, any hint of a smile vanishing, he leaned in, grounded his feet, and pushed back.
But Link would not have it. He was Midna’s love. He was consumed with it. It consumed his entire being, and it would consume the evil of Ganondorf’s heart. He would make it. He focused on that love. He focused on Zelda’s song until it echoed wildly, almost deafeningly in his ears. There was only that song, that love, that courage, and all it stood against.
With a final shout of anguish, rage, but victory, Link marked a vertical slice through the air with his blade. The tendrils of light and shadow curled swift as lighting about the dark beam. Ganondorf had only time to stare in disgusted horror before he was thrown backwards off his feet, spiraling through the air and landing with a hard thud.
Link rushed over, glaring down almost with pity upon the heavily panting false king who struggled to rise to his feet but could only glare back, entirely loathing. How old he looked in that moment. Power fading, he was left only with the old age its obtaining had granted him. That, and his hatred, which caused any lingering pity to flee Link for good—
The moment he plunged the blade into the dark king’s heart, the moment the king released a final, hideous shout, the shadows of the sword were dispersed by brilliant beams of light which radiated out, shattering the clouds over the castle, purifying that which had been marred by Ganondorf’s hand.
Then, all lay still. Breathing hard, Link removed the blade. Turning in disgust from the contorted body lying motionless on the floor, he looked up at Zelda; her hands lowered but remained folded, smiling with sad but definite pride.
“It is over,” she whispered. “It is finally over...”
It was over. For him, at least. Rushing over, his knees gave way as he reached her, and he collapsed at her side, the last of his strength finally extinguished. He did not have courage for this. Shakily stretching forth a hand, his fingers graced her long, red waves. The moment he did, the sob escaped his lips. Uncontrollably. Irrevocably. Softer than dawn’s softest morning rays, just as he always imagined. Trailing his hand to her cheek, it too was soft, and especially, her lips. The lips he never...
Quiet footsteps. Then, Zelda’s shadow, cast by the sunlight which was too white, now streaming freely through the window, making her hair shine like the fires of Midna’s eyes. Fires he would never see dance again.
“Truly,” Zelda breathed, “she had a good heart...”
“Indeed,” came the concur, raspy and broken by tears; then, Aniya’s hand upon his arm.
He nodded slowly. Still weeping, he held Midna close to his heart. Zelda quietly sang her lullaby. Link knew she meant to grant solace, but he could only scorn the melody because of its counterpart. “Midna’s Requiem”, her song had been called. Had she known? Did she always guess her fate would be tied only to death in the end?
None of it really mattered though, because he would never know. Hugging her closer still, he allowed his heart to break and pour forth its grief in full. He had done all he was meant to do. The sun shone anew on Hyrule. But it could not illuminate his heart. There was only to wait until the shadows consumed him.
Chapter 5—The True Hero
With the final blow, brilliant beams of white light radiated from the Master Blade in all directions, dissipating the shadows lodged within, no longer needed, and shattering all shadows cloaking the castle. In that brief but pivotal moment, Hyrule knew peace again, most of its inhabitants ignorant of the true evil that could have befallen it.
Link could not share their bliss though. Ever in his dreams and memories, as he envisioned that brilliant moment of triumph, the dark clouds returned. They returned in the form of her face, floating before him but a final second before she snatched herself from him for all time.
Even Zelda’s declaration: “Truly, she had a good heart,” did not console him by granting a beautiful memory of Midna. Its beauty was marred by the fact that, at the end of all things, such beauty could not be his to hold and treasure forever.
Why? Twas the constant question bombarding his mind night after night as he lay wide awake in his tree house, staring at the stars through the window in his ceiling. They twinkled like old friends, but even their familiar sparkle could not illuminate his lonely heart. Zelda offered him grand honor as chief amongst her guard—an offer he knew she knew he would refuse—but there was nothing for him save to return to its wood. His ventures completed, he desired nothing more now than quietness. He’d tasted adventure. Tasted it with another. Now, he wished again for his normal life, except to live it...
Even Sarita could not be that other. Even she, in her constant visits and encouragements, could not dispel those clouds from about his heart. Even she, as she suggested a visit to the Gorons or even the world of Twilight which Link had drawn her many pictures of—though he could only imagine what half his drawings should look like—could not distract him. Even she...
Even she was not she.
And, above all things, his deepest regret was the most human thing he’d never allowed himself to feel. He never kissed her. He never allowed himself that simplest expression of his love. Before, how unworthy he would have felt to do so; now, he didn’t care. If he could, but just once...
Her face, floating towards him through the darkness. Then, her entire body. This was new; his heart pounded. Was this reality instead of memory? Did she yet live?
But then, he realized he was surrounded by darkness. He floated not in the midst of time and space but of dreams. She drifted towards him in his dreams…
“No, not a dream, silly boy,” she assured with a half-smirk. “Though also not in your realm, as you might think. I am, indeed, dead to that realm. But I visit you from the spirit realm, just this once, before allowing my soul to pass on completely.”
He knew he should have thrilled, attempted to throw his arms around her and hug her tight. But perhaps shock still triumphed over joy, for only anger and hurt swelled inside him. He frowned, tilting his head demandingly.
Midna bowed her head humbly and said, “Of course, you want to know why. I think, in your heart, you know why—I did it to save Hyrule and all it stands for. But of course, why sacrifice myself?
“The Goddess of Time, being a Spirit, could not die. She passed her Triforce to Zelda willingly. But for the full Triforce of Wisdom to be obtained, either Zelda or I must perish. And I knew the Triforce could only be passed to and wielded fully by Hyrule’s heir, the heir of the Light Realm. From there, Zelda could impart her power to you...
“So I had to do it. It was the only way.”
The more she spoke, the more his heart softened, leaving room only for sadness, love, and a longing physically throbbing all over his body and in the deepest cores of his heart. Just to hear her voice again…and the more its melodious sound resonated, cutting the wounds of his heart deeper while patching others...
Stepping even closer to her until their noses nearly touched, he slowly reached up a hand and cupped her cheek. She felt solid and warm beneath his skin, as if still living, whether because she brought him into the spirit realm or because they really did exist in some sort of dream together, he didn’t know. He didn’t care. For now, she was real. She was realer still as she raised a hand to press his more closely to her cheek. She was realer still as he leaned his face close to hers, his lips drawing so close to hers that he could taste her sweet exhale...
She was realest as she pressed a finger firmly to his lips, making him back away just enough, crushing his heart once more as she breathed, “No, Link. No.”
He studied her eyes. Their fire flickered, wavered, shattered with her heart and his both. Again, the question: Why? So clearly, she desired the same as he. What harm could it do? If it bound him to the spirit realm by some strange magic, he would do it. If it was the only kiss they ever shared and the pain lingered with him through the rest of his life, it would be worth it. If...
As Midna took a deep breath, she took his hand from her cheek and instead lifted her hand to touch his, stroking it gently.
“Link,” she whispered. “I must go. I must be with them. I must find peace. I cannot take you with me this time.”
Link glanced up as the soft white glow glittered in her eyes. The outlines of many white, floating souls glittered behind her, singing in soft whispers, beckoning their new child home. As if the gates of the spirit realm opened behind her, they waited.
“Link,” she said quietly, her eyes embracing his firmly and with all the love she could give, “I once thought it was good I leave you so you could belong to one of the Light, one of your own kind. Now, I see you belong not to one, but to all Hyrule. If I—or anyone—was to bind myself to you, then you could no longer be that Hero which Hyrule will always need. If not in this age, then another. For his spirit, the Link I knew before, burns just as fervently in you. If the line of heroes was ever to cease, especially because of me...
“So I must break my own heart to spare the hearts of thousands. I must kiss you only in the dreams of the Spirit Realm.”
Her hand slipped from his cheek as gently as a cloud whispering good-night to the setting sun. Shimmering like two oceans, their crashing waves begging the sun to return to its horizon, his eyes watched her. If ever a man could speak, none could pour out his heart so fervently as did his eyes in that moment. Her eyes mourned in return but loved just as passionately. Strength shone within as well, the same strength he knew he would need in the days to come without her, the only strength that could make him bear, the strength which came from knowing...
They did the right thing.
As she floated slowly back, preparing to merge with the sea of celestial, floating souls, a single, sapphiracal tear slipped down her cheek. Lifting a slender finger, she caught it, gracefully raised her hand, and let the same wind carrying her away carry that tear to him. It hovered over his heart and then solidified into a perfectly round sapphire. The gem dropped in his pocket, and then, gently, the brilliant light enveloped him...
He was in his tree house again. Lying snug, safe, and secure in his cot. It was as Midna said. Nothing had changed. He was safe, okay, where he always belonged, if only he’d known it.
Tears quietly greeted his eyes as her absence lingered heavy upon his shoulders. But its weight was lifted just a little as he realized that he yet owned all the people of Hyrule, and they him. This was where he belonged, and as time healed, he could take comfort in that. He was home. He was who he was meant to be. He was a friend to the Kokiri, the Hylian, the Zora, and all other peoples of all other realms.
He was forever a true hero.
Back to Story Menu