Chapter 18: Selfish Love
Link and Zelda stared in wonder upon the two look-alikes at the table. Link I and Zelda I were exact copies of their modern day incarnations, right down to the last hair on their heads.
They were in a place long ago, with the legendary Sages of Hyrule and the fabled Hero of Time before them, and all they could think about was how frighteningly similar they were to their counterparts.
The Sages were seated at a great round table made of darkly stained wood. The light in the great windows shone freely through the window as natural lighting.
Each Sage held the power of their element, their eyes seeming to be teeming with their respective personalities. Still, no matter how powerful, they had all bowed their proud heads in respect to the young Sage Artemis that had sat across from the beautiful Princess and her Hero.
The first to speak of the Sages was Artemis herself, young eyes sparkling with seriousness and anger. What had caused the young Sage of Cosmos this much despair?
"Before we start our meeting, brothers and sisters, I feel the need to thank you for summoning me with the news," Artemis said softly, her voice slightly low. "It is well to see you all once again, it has been a good many years since we have last set eyes upon one another."
"I'm sorry that we had to summon you on such short notice, Lady Artemis," the blue eyed Zelda said, eyes softening considerably from their harsh glare of regality. "But it was important that we all speak of Hyrule. Ganondorf has been defeated and sealed within the evil realm, thanks to all of you My Siblings, and thanks to you, Hero of Time." Zelda the first looked at the green clad Hero, giving him a soft and affectionate smile.
Artemis' eyes widened considerably when she heard the name of the Hero mentioned. She looked to Link I, mouth gaping in surprise. The Sage of Cosmos had been struck dumb.
"Your Highness, what is he still doing among our world?" Artemis shouted, raising a finger to point at the stoic and ever smiling Hero, who was now looking at Zelda I confusedly. "Do you know what you have done by keeping him among us?"
Zelda I simply looked to the young Sage with pleading eyes, begging the younger Artemis to stay silent. Her hands fidgeted under the table, her smile twitched slightly.
Artemis immediately calmed, but not before narrowing her eyes in slight disgust at the Hero of Time. She took a seat, folding her hands on her lap, her hands clenched into tight fists. Link saw the girl fight to control her shouts by biting her lip, a tiny trickle of crimson blood flowing down her chin.
What was it that the Sage wanted to say? Link's curiosity was rising by the moment, even though he had only been in this 'dream' for a few minutes.
"Hyrule must be rebuilt," Zelda I said, crossing her hands casually on the table. Her fierce blues eyes met every single one of the Sages' seemingly staring through them and into the depths of their very souls. Link had never before seen such a determined glare before, even from his Zelda. "I have called you all here because each of you represents your element, and with it, your race. Is there anything I can do for you as the new monarch of this land…? Anything that must be rebuilt, anything at all… I am indebted to Hyrule and Her people, She has kept me safe from harm during these dark years."
"The Zora are still frozen hard under the ice," a young fish looking woman said, crossing her finned arms. "They will return to normal after a time, the ice blanket is already thinning, I can sense it in the ebb and flow of water… We will not need your help, Zelda. But we will aid Castle Town and any else who need help. The Zora are with you, Highness."
A large and burly Goron spoke up, shaking his lion mane of 'hair,' his muscles bulging out as much as his generous belly. "We of the Goron Tribe are still recovering. No one was harmed in the Fire Temple, but we would appreciate it, Your Highness, if you would allow us to eat boulders near Castle Town, our food supply is running quite low, since we do not yet have the courage to wander into Dodongo's Cavern anytime soon."
Zelda I nodded to the Zora and Goron, smiling pleasantly. "Thank you, Ruto, your kindness is appreciated. Darunia, you and your people may eat as many boulders as you please. You needn't ask, you have done and sacrificed so much for Hyrule."
A slim, tanned, and scantily clad woman stood up, hand placed rebelliously on her hip. Her long red hair was gathered in a thick ponytail, a large jewel, amber in color, was mounted in the middle of her forehead.
"We of the Gerudo tribe are much happier without Ganon's influence. Our fortress is stronger than ever, and we have barely lost a single ally. However, if your Highness ever desires it, know that the Gerudo band of thieves works for the side of Her Highness, Princess Zelda." Without another word, the woman sat down, crossing her arms across her chest and chewing her tongue in thought.
A young, green haired girl dressed in the same bottle green fabric as Link I piped up, her blue eyes dancing merrily. "We of the Kokiri are quite alright now that the Deku Tree Sprout has arisen in our protection."
"Rauru and I have nothing to desire," a white haired woman said from the end of the table. Much to Link's great surprise, the woman was wearing tight clothing and armor, her eyes were blood red… How unusual… Could this be the legendary Sage of Shadow said to be of the cursed Sheikah clan?
The Sage of Light hummed in agreement, his hands thrust into the sleeves of his billowing robe. He looked as he did today, it appeared as though time stood still for the Sages of Hyrule. Link wondered what it was like to live forever, eternally young, never fearing death…
"I see all is well with my brother and sister Sages," Zelda I said softly, smiling in contentment. "Know that because we have worked together and strived out for the best together, we are as good as family. You may come to me for anything you may need, and I shall help you with your cause."
"Thank you, Your Highness," the Sages murmured softly, inclining their heads. After a ripple of speech it seemed as though the Sages were done speaking. They rose from their chairs, bowing their heads to one another as each left the room, soon only Artemis, Link I, and Zelda I remained in the room.
Artemis bowed to the young Princess standing formally before her with a straight face. The mischievous look in her eyes had faded into nothing but the deepest respect, every gesture she made was powerful. The Sage had transformed before them.
"Your Highness…" Artemis said softly, looking deeply into the Princess' blue eyes. "I believe that you and I must speak… alone."
The Princess' smile almost immediately faded from her face, she spoke to the Hero of Time softly, with words filled with something that Link was familiar with, for he had heard it from his Zelda when she had almost kissed him… love.
The Hero gazed back lovingly, his lips quirking into a straight smile as he bowed to the Princess, taking her delicate hand into his gauntleted one and kissed it, gazing straight into her eyes before he turned and exited the large throne room.
Artemis' respectful gaze lowered as she turned to the Princess, crossing her arms and glaring at her as though she were scolding a tiny child.
"Zelda, do you know what you have done by allowing the Hero to stay in this time period?" Artemis said furiously, glaring daggers into the young Princess' blues.
"Artemis-," the young Princess began.
"You have altered the past, Zelda! You've taken away his seven years, and you've destroyed our world!" Artemis shouted, glaring. "The Cosmos are out of balance, Zelda, and someone will suffer for your decision!"
"I love him!" Zelda I shouted suddenly into the air.
Artemis' rant instantly stopped as she stood for a moment, completely shocked before her face contorted into a vicious snarl.
"Zelda, you don't understand the depth of what you have done," Artemis said slowly, "You've tampered with our timeline… I cannot even begin to imagine what will come of this, but I guarantee the change will not be good. You've changed our world for your own selfishness!"
"I love him," Zelda I simply replied, her eyes filling with tears, her expression almost as though the words that the Sage had said slapped her in the face.
"Zelda, you've been selfish, do you even know if he loves you in return?" the Sage asked calmly, eyes hardening considerably.
Silence filled the room, the tension building past the boiling point. The words that the Sage of Cosmos had said had obviously hit Zelda I hard, her shoulders had begun to shake with tears, her face buried in her hands.
Artemis simply stared a moment before walking toward the door, ignoring Zelda's sobs of pain. As she neared, she stopped before it, turning her head slightly, sighing.
"Zelda, of all the things that you have done, this is by far the most foolish," the Sage's voice was quiet, gentle, and contemplating, "If you know what is right, you will return him to his own time and that will be that… If you do not, I can assure you that the price will be paid in blood."
Without another word, Artemis, Sage of Cosmos, left Zelda in silence. Little did she know that her words were more true than she hoped that she would believe… The price would be paid in blood… it would be doused in it.
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