Chapter 24: The End of the Hero
A faint splash of blood… the pungent smell of death hanging in the air like a thick cloak… the cries of men as the Sage of Cosmos impaled them viciously upon her bare hands. These were the sounds that greeted Link's sight as the darkness once more lifted from about them.
The scene was a gristly one, the worst that Link had ever seen in his many years of training.
Legions of men lay splayed upon the ground, all bearing expressions of pure horror in their blank eyes as they stared motionless toward the yellow faced moon. Blood sparkled on the cobblestone streets as several soldiers fell in an armored heap upon the bodies of their comrades. Women, children, and the old screamed as they ran past, their belongings in their arms as they rushed past burning houses with horror etched on every feature of their faces.
"What is this… My Goddesses…" Zelda whispered, her eyes dilated with horror. She watched in revulsion as a young child was pushed upon the ground by a soldier that Artemis had failed to kill took his javelin and thrust in through with a sickening crunch. Blood spewed up as the soldier gave a bloody grin of delight, reveling in the crimson mess flooding every nook of his already grime caked mail.
Link gnashed his teeth in frustration. How could he feel the heat from the infernos, feel the blood leaking into his boots, and imagine the terror that these poor civilians were being subjected to? Artemis' magic was making him feel and see every single detail of the bloody battle and comprehend the sorrows that she felt for every life that she could not save.
These moments were before she had her legendary magick perfected into a beautiful art. Before she had become the wise and solemn person she presently was.
These were the moments she still had her heart.
Amid the utter chaos and disarray, Link made out the blood red crest of Termina, along with the royal blue of Emmaus. Several Hylian soldiers were fending off the invaders and scowling with disbelief at the banners of the two supposed 'allies.'
"Guard the castle, do not let a single man in!" Artemis snarled toward a soldier clad in bronze armor. "The Princess must be kept safe at all costs, defend her with your life!"
The Sage's silver eyes glittered with anger and bloodlust as several enemy soldiers fell motionless upon the ground, their blood spewing and falling as rain upon the already flooded grounds. Her silvery blue robes had become dark and stained brown, her beautiful features locked in mortal anger as she impaled yet another soldier with her invisible forces.
Then suddenly as an arrow came flying toward Artemis, flaming and shining with molten fury, the scene froze, suspended in time.
"Jakkob sent these soldiers to take Hyrule and bring Zelda. We had not expected such a lash of power at once… From here on I cannot show you the contents of this battle… there are such images of carnage embedded into my memories that I mustn't…"
"What happened it Link I? Had he and Zelda I already made their vow?" Zelda asked, closing her eyes to shield her eyes from the bloodshed and manic scene surrounding her. She clasped tightly onto Link's ripped tunic, biting her lip as she awaited the Sage's answer.
"One man was able to make it into Hyrule Castle, Link I was taken captive, and Zelda I hidden with Impa very much against her will… The two had already made their vow, and the last they saw each other was that very night. Link I was taken to Jakkob, tortured and then magicked into doing his bidding. Which comes to my final memories…"
The scene flashed and materialized once more, instead changing into the ruins of a village.
Rain melted the ground, turning it to mud. Burned wood lay scattered upon the charred remains of the ground. Pieces of broken pottery, metal, and human bones littered the ground…
Artemis stood amid the wreckage, her magnificent clothing ruined beyond imagination along with her present state.
Young Artemis's tunic was ripped through, a large gash ripping through her back as torn muscles glistened and blood leaked from it. Her beautiful face was marred with cuts and bruises, they littered her torso… The bone in her right leg shone through her ripped clothing. Silver eyes looked straight ahead, looking toward a lone figure that stood among the blankets of rain.
Link's eyes widened in shock as he saw his double standing, clad in the rags that had once been bright emerald.
Link I stood, his bare torso adorned with scourging, burn, and branding marks. His once handsome face was marred with a familiar scar that Kaoru had worn on her cheek… the seven shaped scar that had adorned his sister's cheek…
Chains rattled on his torn and bloodied arms as dull, lifeless blue eyes peered out from grime covered bangs. The Master Sword shined with radiance, dripping the blood of the proud Sage upon the hungry coal black grounds… The grounds where the Sage had lived upon for the first thirteen innocent years of her life.
Artemis cursed in the silvery language that Link recognized as an angelic dialect that the Sages had written in many years ago. Her gray eyes flickered with hesitation as Link I rushed forward with his sword aloft, ready to strike Artemis to the ground with the rest of his strength.
Artemis jumped back with grace, reaching out with a ripped and bloody hand toward the Hero of Time in an attempt to dash his sword to the ground.
Link I merely ducked, rolling into the mud and then raising his sword up with inhuman speed and aiming for the Sage's already ripped posterior.
"Nayru's Love!" Artemis hissed hurriedly. A bluish shield of magick formed around Artemis' tall form, throwing Link I's sword back, the recoil of the blade causing him to freeze for a moment, just enough for Artemis to act.
Within moments the Hylian Hero was lying in the mud, Artemis holding him down with her superhuman strength, arm drawn back and bloody hand ready to deliver the final blow. Hesitation and sadness was wrought upon every feature of the Sage's young face… She was about to kill someone that she considered almost like a brother.
Link I blankly stared into her eyes, the magick upon him making him merely an emotionless puppet. He was too far gone for Artemis to save him, the very hopelessness of the situation could be seen in Artemis' sorrowing eyes.
For a few moments they stayed in this position, reading each other's eyes and souls.
The words echoed through the rain as the Sage drew back her arm and brought it down with crushing force upon Link I's chest, crushing his ribcage about his lungs and no doubt sending the Hero's heart into uncontrolled spasms.
Within moments blood rose from the young Hylian's throat and spewed out toward Artemis, only to be washed out by the furious blankets of rain pelting them.
Link I's eyes became clear once more with the gentle and kind understanding that they had bourn before the incident. A smile lit his face, taking years from him… He looked like a ten year old, carefree and happy once more. He parted his lips as he took a final shallow breath.
As these words left his lips, the young Hylian gave a gasp and a violent shudder. For a few moments he spasmed, blood leaking forth from his shattered innards before he gave a final rattling gasp and shrunk deeply into the mud.
Eyes closed upon sky blue eyes and a smile never left his mutilated lips…
At the young age of 17, Link of the Kokiri, Hero of Time and Lover of Princess Zelda passed away… Killed by the Sage of Cosmos, Artemis.
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