Chapter 22: Sage's Emotions
Link and Zelda watched as the young Artemis sit at her book ridden desk; beautiful gray eyes shining in the dull moonlight.
Since she had gotten back from the meeting Artemis had not spoken a single word or touched a single thing in her room. She'd shut the door on a worried Kaoru and simply sat; staring blankly at the table and seemingly contemplating what she'd done.
The young woman spoke out, burying her face in her hands and sighing heavily. "This is such a mess… a quagmire of problems that all started with Her Highness' petty desires for love. I cannot foresee the upcoming events…. It scares me to no end that I cannot perceive any amount of things that will occur. Never before have the Cosmos been so unbalanced: I can hear them and their cries for order, they haunt me in my very sleep."
A few moments of painful silence passed. The moon climbed higher and higher into the sky, the candle that the Sage had lit during her tirade was growing low into a pool of wax. Still Artemis sat; her eyes darkened with guilt and something else.
"I owe Hyrule nothing, and I curse the very fiber of my existence," Artemis murmured. She got to her feet, stumbling like a drunk until she sat down upon the simple bed, springs creaking under her light weight. "If I hadn't been conceived, Iseed would still exist and my parents wouldn't have had to defend me because I was destined to be the accursed Sage of Cosmos… They probably knew the moment they saw these damned eyes of mine and the marking upon my arm."
Artemis' shoulders shook slightly as she inclined her head, hair concealing her pained features from view. The flame of the candle flickered for a moment, almost as though the Cosmos were trying to communicate a simple message.
A single beautiful tear fell to the cold wooden floors and sparkled in the moonlight. As it fell, the world and fate fell with it, the Sage of Cosmos had finally broken.
"It was all my fault! My father and mother, my sister and brother… I wish that I wasn't chosen for this accursed title! Now I do not know what to do! Will anyone ever be around to dry my tears and to give me help when I need it? I've been alone all this time, I want someone to give me an answer… Give me a reason for my pathetic and painful existence! I'm no Sage of Cosmos, the supposed wisest and most powerful of the Eight! I am the most foolish of the Eight, so why did you choose me, Goddesses, even before I was born! Answer me!"
There was no answer to the Sage's question, only the unending silence of the night…
For the once and only time in his life, Link pitied the Sage of Cosmos.
It was the middle of the night when Artemis stepped out from her room and into the pale, moonlit corridors of Hyrule Castle's noble quarters. The young Sage had clothed herself in the familiar blue cloak of fine material that she still wore to this day.
Link and Zelda followed Artemis down stairs, through winding halls, and past a good many servants, who sent glares of fear and hatred toward the cloaked figure. So this was how they drew their opinion of Artemis' coldness? Upon the fact that she had nearly killed the Hero of Time in self defense they had biased their opinion against her.
How cold could they be toward one who had lost everything? Even the Hero of Time had something left in the world, but Artemis had nothing and she never would. Their lives were like a passing dream: they would die and she would be left alive; eternally young.
She could never fall in love, grow old, or have any friends. If she were to, she would outlive them all and be left forever with a permanent wound to her heart that would ooze for an eternity.
As if sensing his thoughts, Zelda placed a gentle hand on Link's shoulder, causing him to stumble in surprise. She never touched him, even when they were children… well, apart from that kiss that she had given them when they were seven…
"Link… are you alright?" she whispered, almost as though she were scared to awaken those that could not hear her. In this world, the two of them were ghosts; no one could see, hear, or touch them.
"Yes, yes Zelda, I am fine…" he said. Truthfully he hadn't quite gotten over the shock of the scenes he'd seen. His sister's cold and stiff body lying upon the cool ground leaking her lifeblood, her face tortured and sorrowful as a single lone tear dripped from her closed lids. She'd died apologizing to him… He should have been the one to die, not her. He should have been the one apologizing…
Zelda, however, was still the wiser of the two. Stepping in front of him, she crossed her arms rebelliously and glared at him with her furious violet eyes.
Link knew this glare all to well: it was the one she used when she was on the border of punching him… He knew it all too well from their childhood, but he had not seen her as such ever since his return to the castle. Frankly it scared him how close she was. They might end up in another awkward situation.
"Liar, tell me what's wrong," she whispered furiously.
"Zelda, Artemis is leaving, we must follow her-."
"Will you forget about Artemis for one moment? Your emotions are more important than these images. Now tell me what is wrong, I know something is troubling you."
Link sighed, his shoulders dropping in a resigned fashion. Nothing could be put past Zelda, she was just too intuitive for her own good. No doubt she meant every single word that she said, all of it emphasized by the angry and concerned glare etched upon her pretty features.
"It's… her," Link whispered, his gaze flickering upon the moon outside the dimly lit corridor. He could look anywhere… anywhere except for at her.
Knowing to who her friend was referring, Zelda's eyes instantly softened as she placed a gentle hand onto Link's cheek. Fingers danced across his rough and course flesh as he found his muscles relaxing slightly as some of the worry left his mind.
"…Link, I've already told you, it's not your fault," Zelda whispered. "She was an extremely beautiful and sweet looking young woman. She loved you and she was willing to protect you. The instant her life ended she was freed from all her sorrow and suffering."
"If I hadn't been born she never would have died!" Link said suddenly. His wild sapphire eyes became feral as he shrugged Zelda's hand away. "She never would have been killed so violently! …If I had never been born, we never would have made the vow and have been in this situation!"
"I never regretted one moment I spent with you, Link," Zelda whispered, "You're my dearest friend, and I rather would have gone my whole life dead than risk never knowing you. You must move on… it's… what Amelia would want you to do."
Link went silent… Could he really just forget about everything? No, Zelda wasn't asking him to forget his sister or her sacrifice, the Princess was asking him to move on and remember that Amelia's sacrifice could not be in vain.
As they continued down the hall, for the first time in many years Link's large hand slipped down and gripped Zelda's slender one. For the first time in many years, Link could feel his heart returning to him.
Link and Zelda followed Artemis' path through the many winding corridors and soon found themselves outside a door that Link had known very well when he was a boy: the hospital wing.
Slipping through the small Sage sized gap, Link found that the wing looked so familiar… the smell of potions, the deep coolness, and the smell of soap… All of them brought back fond memories.
The smooth white marble the room was comprised of glowed faintly in the moonlight as a full moon shone through. Multiple cots crowded the tiny room to accommodate the vast number of soldiers that would come day in and day out to have their wounds bandaged or ailments healed. The only vast difference between the hundred year time period was the lack of finery in the room, in their future the room had red tapestries hanging from every wall. At least, that was Link saw when he had last been there.
Artemis was sitting at the end of the ward, conversing with someone in a tiny whisper. Each step closer caused shock to engulf Link further and further: the Sage of Cosmos was speaking to Link I after she had just sent him flying.
Link I seemed intently drawn onto the young Sage's face, his brilliantly blue eyes glinting in understanding as he nodded his head. Only when they were mere feet away did they hear what the Sage was saying.
"I once again apologize for my erratic behavior, Lady Artemis," Link I whispered hoarsely. "It was most unbecoming of me to attack you in such a way."
"We have spent the past few minutes speaking of only that issue, may we get past apologies and continue on toward the main issue?" Artemis asked quietly. She was polite and sincere this time around, none of the distinct loathing existed in her tone and demeanor. Artemis was being kind.
There were a few moments of heart wrenching silence before Link I dared to ask a question, his feral eyes alight with caution as he carefully chose his words.
"My Lady, why can you not help us?"
Artemis sighed heavily as she looked out into the black night. Her eyes slipped in and out of that same aged look that she would wear permanently in her eyes in the distant future.
"As the Sage of Cosmos, I am bound by rules unlike you and any Sage. I was created intentionally by the Goddesses, who shaped and molded my soul especially for the purpose of my duty…" Artemis put a hand to her shoulder, the shoulder that bore the mark of Yin and Yang… The marking that had cursed and blessed her fate since the moment she'd been born. "Apart of my job is to make sure things in Hyrule do not get out of hand. I can only step in when the Cosmos are extremely out of balance and the Goddesses will me to act. If humanity can sort out its own messes, then I remain silent."
"I see… You have told Zelda that the Cosmos were out of balance because I remained in this time period…" Link I whispered. "That is why you were in a rage at me, correct?"
"Yes. I have protected Zelda since she was a mere child and she is more dear to me than any sister. She is a spirited and wise girl: the wisest of her line. However if you were to stay here than this timeline is in danger and could spell more trouble than you could ever imagine," Artemis whispered.
"Yet you cannot act which means that the Goddesses wish to see how this plays out…" Link I murmured quietly. His gaze averted away from the dark haired angel who sat at his bedside and joined Artemis' to the outside's inky darkness.
"The Goddesses truly believe that you and Zelda will be able to sort your differences and pull through," Artemis said, looking down to the patch of triangles on Link I's bare left hand. "Especially Lady Farore."
"We of the Triforce have the Goddess' love and dedication…" Link said, looking down to his war torn hand. "They have given us so much and in return I follow their service."
Artemis looked hesitantly to Link I and opened her mouth to say words that shocked Zelda and Link. "I have no choice but to serve… I loathe them for the fate they have given to me. Can you imagine? An eternity of living Hell because I was chosen to become the Sage of Cosmos…"
"Lady Artemis." Link I's voice was sorrowful and slightly appalled when he heard what the young Sage had said.
As if ignoring Link I, Artemis stood while pulling the hood of her cloak over her dark curls. She turned and stood for a moment at the door.
"I trust you, Link. But if you hurt Zelda in any way, I'll kill you."
Before Link I could respond, Artemis was gone, left in her place was a single drip of clear crystal liquid. A single tear of pain, hatred, and sorrow.
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