Chapter 19: Fate Sealed
Artemis's steps echoed throughout the castle as she angrily made her way through the halls, the bitter disappointment that she had unearthed only moments ago with Zelda I's horrible mistake was still fresh in her usually sweet eyes. The Sage's expression was murderous, almost as though she could turn on a single person in the hall and slaughter them with little or no effort.
Link and Zelda followed behind her, watching the Sage wrench the wooden door open to a room and slam it shut in their faces. They flinched as the sound of marble and wood clanging together met their ears, and to their great thrill, they could walk through the wall and see within.
Artemis's room was filled with books of all sorts. They littered the ground, the tables, and even the bed. Each one was lovingly stacked and kept according to the color of their jackets, but at the moment, Artemis was flinging books back from a stack of red.
The young Sage's gray eyes flittered across the page of a particularly large book she had opened in a flash, thin fingers skimming lightly across each page as though a child were the one under her gentle touch.
Suddenly Artemis stopped, closing her eyes and putting a hand to her forehead in somewhat disappointment… or perhaps fear?
"Tell me, oh sands of time, show me the future… show me the events bound to happen unto this time period. I, Artemis, Sage of Cosmos and beloved of the Goddesses ask this of you!" the Sage said, her voice becoming deep and echoing.
For a moment all was deathly silent; like death had come and covered them all in a veil of uncertainty. Link and Zelda were beginning to doubt the effectiveness of the Sage's spell when suddenly the window shutters burst open; a fierce wind whipping through the room with the force of one thousand Gods.
Amid the flying papers and books though, Artemis stayed calm. Her eyes were firmly shut and she seemed to be listening to the wind, almost as though it were telling her something.
And for a moment, Link could not hear the gentle voice making its way through the torrents of wind. His ears strained and struggled for quite a while until he was able to make out a faint and soothing voice speaking through the wind… not quite like the one he had heard in the Temple, but somehow more full of wisdom and age.
"Artemis, Sage of Cosmos, thou hast felt the unrest of the Cosmos, I assume?" the voice asked the Sage.
"Yes… I believe it is due to the boy still being here, if I am correct, Most Holy One," the Sage replied, calmly opening her eyes and crossing her hands casually on the desk before her; her long hair whipping wildly in the wind.
"I should have guessed that thou had felt it… Thou hast such remarkable senses…" the voice spoke, seemingly considering the young Sage. There was a moment of silence, only the sound of the wind before it spoke again. "Yes, the boy is the problem. Princess Zelda has been listening to her heart and not to her head. I could never have guessed that the bearer of my Daughter's triforce would use her power as selfishly as such."
"Please tell me, Oh Great One, what changes will there be upon our timeline… Will everything be thrown out of balance?" Artemis asked, calmly staring at the stone ceiling of her room. "The Cosmos are out of balance, and with it, the people. Monsters will begin to lurk again, brought to life by the rapid decay of order. The Seal on Ganondorf was weakening, but I was able to place a couple of binding spells upon the original seal, strengthening it. The Evil King will not be freed, so long as my seals stay intact."
"Yes, you can sense the climate of evil descending upon our land once again, can thou not, Artemis? Though it will not be as great as Ganon's hard oppression, it will certainly be trouble for the people…"
"I cannot interfere with these matters unless I have orders from your beloved Daughters… This matter is large, yet I sense that the Trio wishes me to remain here and watch developments rather than act…"
"Aye, it seems as though they wish to be entertained by the suffering of others… However, if the boy is not sent back to his own time soon, then this World as we know it will cease to exist. Without him in the past, he never grew up, and there was never a Hero of Time to save Hyrule from Ganon, and with it, the seal will break once again and history will repeat itself, dooming Hyrule to every last inch of Her fertile plain."
"What has me even more suspicious is the movement in the South… The Prince of Emmaus, Sigon, has begun his march toward us. I am almost positive that he will demand something in exchange for the safety of Hyrule. If I think it is what it is, then I fear for Zelda," the young Sage closed her eyes, sighing heavily as she gazed up again, her eyes weakening in resolve. "One small and selfish decision has changed the course of our entire world… Without law, the races would destroy one another…"
"I'm afraid that law cannot even stop the onslaught of terror that is headed our way, Artemis. The swell of terror that is headed toward us cannot even be stopped by the strongest of people."
Artemis' delicate lips opened slightly, as though she were about to say something before a light knock came to the door.
The Sage's eyes opened wide and she whispered a quick apology to the one whom she was speaking to, getting to her booted feet and slowly opening the door, smiling.
"Kaoru… I've been waiting for you."
A cloaked stranger strode through the doorway; their head bowed solemnly, a wisp of brown hair escaping the black hood. A delicate hand was placed to the rim, and features were put into light for the first time.
The stranger named Kaoru was a young woman, probably no older than Link himself.
Her hair was long, going down to her chest and curling out slightly at the ends, the ends jagged as though cut by a razor. Liquid brown eyes accented fair features; delicate lips were curled in a tight frown. The woman's pointed ears were pierced, glowing blue gems attached to long chains of silver. The only mark of imperfection marring her beautiful visage was the seven shaped scar that adorned the right of her cheek, long and ropy… a blow from a dull blade.
Artemis' gaze fell upon the scar and her gray eyes seemed to flare with rage. Obviously the blemish hadn't been there the last time that Artemis had seen the young woman, and whoever had done this to Kaoru, Link could tell would be skilled. Kaoru had an air of strength about her that hung around like a thick and stifling cloak, overwhelming every single person with her presence.
"I am sorry to interrupt you, Teacher," Kaoru began, her voice was oddly pained, so unlike Artemis' voice. It somehow brought tears to Link's emotionless eyes and made him relive his painful and life changing years when he was away from Hyrule. "But there is something of great importance we must speak of… Something that cannot wait."
"Sit down, Kaoru," Artemis said, taking the young girl by the hand and leading her over to the Sage's small cot.
The young woman limped weakly on her feet, a dark pool trailing out from behind her. Within the second of seeing the collecting drops of crimson on the floor, Link knew that Kaoru was injured… And he had a feeling these wounds wouldn't be a pushover.
Artemis reached out with a gentle hand, magick glowing around the surface like a comforting light in an attempt to heal her young pupil. Kaoru, however, simply pushed her teacher's hand away with a shake of her head.
"What I have to say will require your immediate attention," Kaoru explained weakly, her hand grasping the side of her torso where her clothing seemed to be dampening. "You should not waste your strength healing me… I will be able to take good care of myself, you, however, are needed."
Artemis' hand stopped glowing, although her worried eyes never left her student's bleeding side. The Sage tore her gaze from the wound just long enough to look up into Kaoru's brown orbs, awaiting whatever news the girl had to give to her.
Kaoru took a quick intake of breath, her eyes flashing with pain before she parted her chapped and bloodied lips to speak.
"I was traveling toward Termina, just as you instructed, Teacher, to receive the Tome of Magick from Master Matthias. I had just left his home, the Tome in hand when a figure dressed in black leather came upon me in Ikana…" Kaoru shivered, her eyes glazing over in horror as she recalled the events. Like a robot, she continued speaking mechanically, her voice never faltering, "He demanded I turn the Tome over to him, and in exchange he would free me without harm. I naturally refused, and he came upon me so quickly, his massive sword drawn and ready to strike."
"He nicked my face with this scar, then he was able to bring the blade cleaving down on my side, resulting in this wound," the young girl motioned to her bloody and ripped side with her clean hand, "Just as he was about to kill me, I was able to throw off his hood and I was stunned by what I saw, Teacher…"
The silence in the room was deadly, pressure mounting as they waited for the name of the offender. Artemis' hands were clenched into fists of rage, her gray eyes never quitting their determined gaze upon the girl.
"As I cast a transport spell, I was shocked… It was no mistaking his flaming red hair, gruesome expression, and eyes full of malice, Teacher… The one who attacked me was Ganondorf himself."
Artemis' study faded into blackness, replaced with a familiar scene that Link had known since childhood: the garden.
It was still the same, with its vast fields of fragrant flowers, the plush green grass and the maze of water trickling serenely through recesses cut skillfully into the wall.
Link looked at Zelda, who was looking about the scene around them, her eyes wide with confusion. What had happened to the scene with Kaoru and Artemis? Was that not a crucial moment, so why would the scene suddenly change…? This moment must have played a crucial moment, else Artemis would not have dared showed them such a private piece of her memory.
The young soldier looked up to see that standing atop the peak of the tall steps were Zelda and Link the first.
Zelda I was dressed in the best fineries of a Princess, her beautiful Royal purple and white gown accenting every curve of her beautiful body. The tiara composed of finely wrought gold, silver, and emerald glittered upon her golden locks. But still, even dressed as well as she was, nothing could hide Zelda's sadness. It hung about in her wise aura, and every single delicate feature was creased with it.
Link I looked handsome in his bottle green tunic and hat, gauntleted hands clasped behind his back. A slight breeze made his tunic ruffle in the wind, exposing hard and chiseled muscles. His shaggy blonde bangs stirred, revealing a slightly confused expression.
"Princess, what is it that you wanted to speak to me about so suddenly?" Link I asked, observing the Princess' downcast expression. Link I could see was well as his incarnation that Zelda I was distressed, it must have come from the knowledge that the two had grown up together, much as Link and his Zelda had.
"Link…" the Hero of Time's name came out in a pained voice as Zelda I struggled to keep her sadness at bay. "You've always been the one that I've confided in… Well, when we were but children, I could always come to you for help… But now, I'm going to have to do something to correct a foolish mistake I've made."
"Zelda…" Link I took a gentle hand and placed it gently to the wise Princess' shoulder, his expression tender. "You made no mistake in calling me into the future… Ganon has been destroyed and now we are at a time of peace, that is all that matters, is it not?"
"Link, you still have the mind of a ten year old… Yes, that is what you are, a child trapped in a man's body…" Zelda I murmured. Her delicate hand wrapped around the Hero's and fondled it with love. "I've been terribly selfish, and because of it, everyone will suffer unless I do as I must…"
The Princess drew in a sharp breath, her blonde hair forming a curtain about her face, shielding the sobs that Link saw wracking her shoulders violently. A crystal tear flickered in the sunlight and fell to the cold marble, forming a dot of life giving water.
"Link… I'm sending you back to your own time."
There was a moment of silence as the Hero of Time's hand quickly fell from Zelda's gentle grip as though it were a poison viper. His bright blue eyes widened as he reeled back in surprise, almost as though the Princess had slapped him. He was in shock.
Zelda I put a hand to her eyes and wiped them, looking up with a stoic expression, trying hard to keep her emotions and desires contained. Again she spoke more words that would no doubt make the Hero even more surprised than he already was.
"You must return to your own time for the sake of this future. Your very presence here makes the Cosmos unbalanced," Zelda said, taking a shaky breath and trying to calm her erratic breathing. "Link, give me the Ocarina of Time, and with it I will return you home… To the form you're meant to be… to where you're supposed to be.
Link I stood as still as a statue, watching as Zelda I held out an outstretched arm, patiently waiting for him to hand over the Ocarina…
This would decide the very fate of this timeline. If he were to refuse, this world would end… however, if he were to go, he would return to being a child and have everyone forget about what he had done, she would forget him and they would never be friends…
"No." A single world split the air, and made Zelda I eyes widen in surprise. Her eyes blazed as she held out her hand more insistently, begging him.
"Give me the Ocarina, Link. You do not belong here, you make this timeline unbalanced. Go home, live out your life, it is better that way," Zelda I hissed angrily, but still, something behind her eyes seemed to be gleaming with triumph.
"No," he said again, shaking his head, he stepped toward Zelda I, taking her small and frail hand in his and wrapping her in a loose embrace. "If I were to go back in time, you wouldn't remember me, we would never meet… I'd rather burn and die here, letting down one hundred worlds if it meant being with you. Yes, this timeline will be in danger, and yes I will miss being a child. But Zelda, without you, my life is empty... I'll save this land over and over again, just because I want you to continue living and because I want to be with you…"
The depth of his words seemed to impact Zelda I deeply, as her eyes teared up and she buried her face into Link I's chest. The two young ones embraced each other with new passion, the passion of love and dedication. No longer was the Hero of Time a ten year old trapped in an adult's body, but a fully grown man in love with a beautiful and wise woman.
As they pulled apart, for a moment the two looked at each other, smiling as they faces drew nearer and nearer. Suspense filled the air and broke as the Hero of Legend and the Princess of Destiny's lips met in a gentle and soulful kiss.
Zelda I's hands ran through Link I's wild gold locks, knocking his cone shaped hat to the ground.
The Hero, however, didn't seem to mind, as his arms were about Zelda I's waist, crushing her tiny figure to his body as their lips warred with one another for dominance.
Oh, it all seemed so wrong, but never before had anything felt so right to the two young ones!
Link's shock suddenly snapped as he observed someone standing in the darkness watching as the two young ones confirmed their newly found love with their sweet words and kisses.
Artemis' eyes closed in disappointment and sadness as she shook her head. In frustration, she bit her lip, cutting the soft flesh and sending a trickle of warm blood down her chin. Slowly her figure retreated into the darkness, but the look of horror and resignation upon the Sage's face was burnt into Link's memory.
Zelda I had failed to do as the Sage of Cosmos had warned her to do… And with her foolish and selfish choice of love over her beloved homeland, she would pay the ultimate price.
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