Crowns of Deception

By Forlorn Rain

Chapter XXI - Sunlight

The masked man's hand never slipped from mine as he dragged me along. My right hand prickled uncomfortably from his grasp… and it had not ceased since his first touch.

We ran in a southerly direction and soon enough, the ruins of the execution grounds disappeared from sight. We reached a field, strewn with boulders and started across at a swifter pace. The sky was completely dark when the path we followed turned into an incline, leading up a steep hill littered with trees. From our height, I could see the faint glimmer of the sea in the moonlight and I realized how far my capture had brought me from Hyrule; forlornness flooded through me and I wondered if I would ever see my kingdom again.

My heart grew heavy as my thoughts turned to my father. I recalled the state I left him in and I chastised myself inwardly; I had been too consumed with my own troubles and had not thought upon his welfare. Ganondorf told me he would live… but I had not seen him with my own eyes before I rode away… something I deeply regretted. I prayed for his well being, for I knew the injuries the beast had caused would leave him bed-ridden for weeks.

I will live to see him again.

In my moment of reminiscence, I stumbled; my emotions got the best of me and I quickly forced my mind back to the matter at hand. We had yet to see the hooded man during our escape. I hoped he would not return but I knew the vision, despite my vague remembrance of it, assured me he would seek us out…

And with this knowledge… and my failure to use my magic correctly… my vulnerability frightened me. How I wished I knew what was wrong with me; I did not feel whole, I felt helpless and that… disgraced me. As grateful as I was that my life had been spared by divine intervention… my life was now in the hands of a man I knew nothing of and I prayed I had been right to follow him.

Reaching the top of the steep climb, a small meadow stretched out before us. The tall grass rustled with each step we took, and upon reaching the other side, the masked man led me into the brush, not even stopping to consider finding a clear path. I did not know how he was able to see, for thick branches caught my dress and I heard numerous ripping noises. The masked man wove through the branches fluidly and paid no mind to my distress. I tripped, predictably, and he pulled me up with ease and continued on.

Even with my strengthened resolve to press forward, my pace slowed and I said breathlessly, "I cannot move this quickly!"

"You can and you will."

I could not read his character; his sudden changes in disposition were ever so tiring. "We should find a main road that will lead us to Calatia's capital—"

"Orihm?" he scoffed. "I think not. The roads will be watched."

"Then where are you taking me?"

"Away from he who tried to kill you," he answered darkly.

"And you will not attempt to do the same?" My legs felt like lead and I slowed further, my impatience growing at his mysteriousness. Why did he answer so ambiguously if he intended to help me? Perhaps… he did not have a plan…

The masked man stopped abruptly and turned to me. "Are you so willing to die, My Lady?"

My mouth fell slightly agape at his blunt inquiry. I was infuriated, but I held my tongue to prevent myself from angering him. Yet something else stirred within me from his words…

"I have no wish for death," I replied curtly. "I owe my life to the Goddesses."

The masked man's eyes narrowed. "… The Goddesses…?"

"I have followed you blindly on my faith alone." I paused, not wanting to admit to this man I had seen him in a vision… foresight. No… that was something I could not even admit to myself.

"I have… dreamt… of one leading me from darkness, just as you are now."

His eyes widened in the slightest before rolling them in mockery. "Your implication is obvious; you believe the Goddesses sent me to you?"

I glared. "If I did?"

His hand tightened upon mine and he roughly pulled me closer to him. "Why do you worship deities who do nothing for their own people? Your Goddesses did not send me; it was by my own instincts that I found you."

I was somewhat taken aback; the masked man's anger, nay disdain, for the Goddesses surprised me. He was offended by their mere mention. I shook my head; I could not let myself doubt them again. "It was their whisperings that guided you… it…it is the only way you could have…"

His eyes burned with anger and he suddenly turned away, releasing his grip upon my hand. "Your faith is meaningless, My Lady."

It felt as if a needle pierced my heart as realized his voice sounded just as—

No, do not compare. My head suddenly throbbed and I pressed a hand against it; those forbidden thoughts were clawing at the back of my mind. I did all I could to ignore them, for I still did not feel complete control of my magic; I knew the use of a memory suppression spell would go awry. My efforts were only just enough.

"My Lady," the masked man called quietly, looking to me with what I imagined feigned concern. I could not have him addressing me so familiarly. It was unbearable. The strain of the imprisoned memories weighed heavily upon me and I found it difficult to breathe. My power to overcome them was beginning to wane; I cannot stay with him further. His presence alone threatened to provoke more unwanted memories… something that I could not let happen. I was already weakened and most of all… I did not wish to be swallowed up in the darkness… in the pain of times long since past.

Even if the masked man was sent from the Goddesses, I knew nothing about him apart from my knowledge that he may be the savior from my dreams. And he had done what he was sent to do; he had led me away from peril. But will not release me so easily...

The masked man reached out to me. "Z—"

"Do not address me so!" Not wanting to risk another hapless spell, as reckless it was, I turned into him, splaying my palm to hit his chest, knocking the air from his lungs. His grip slackened and I ripped myself away, praying the attack would prevent him from pursuing me in haste. I tried to ignore my guilt for abandoning him as I flew through the remaining brush. I had so fervently expressed my faith that the Goddesses had sent him to me; he must think me a fool, perhaps even a liar.

And the Goddesses… I now refused their help for my own selfish need not to remember.

"Where is your courage, O daughter of wisdom?" The voice carried on the wind, and my heart soared and fell at the beautiful whisper.

I have none. Hurrying on, I came upon another rocky plain that led to the foothills of the mountains. My body ached terribly as the path I followed steepened, but I continued on nevertheless with the hope that the view would direct me to Calatia's capital, Orihm.

I reached the top of one of the smaller hills and looked expectantly about… but there were no distant lights to be seen. I sighed heavily and continued forward, looking to the stars above to guide me. Just then, I felt a vice-like grip on my arm pull me to a halt. I gasped in surprise as I turned to see the masked man. I struggled against him and his knee knocked beneath mine and my balance slipped. I fell to the ground, continuing to fight him off. He countered each offense, which I found most peculiar; few knew the secrets of the Sheikah combat. He soon overpowered me and pinned me on my side, one arm above my head, the other behind my back.

"That was unwise," the masked man muttered, his sharp eyes narrowing at me.

The blades of grass pricked my face as I caught my breath. "Release me."

"Without your magics you are hardly a threat; save your remaining strength."

I clenched my jaw and my face flushed with anger. I tried to kick my legs free but he quickly trapped one beneath his knee and the other with his foot.

"Enough of this deception," I snapped. "Tell me what you are—"

"Do not think you can command me. Will you not understand that I am trying to help you?" I believed him… but his refusal to disclose his identity and his plans caused my apprehension to grow.

"Whatever your intentions," I warned. "You will be brought to justice if you harm me."

The masked man stared at me intently for a moment, then suddenly erupted into laughter. He fell quiet after a few moments then lowered his face to mine and said with a smirk, "Your biting words instill no fear in me, My Lady." At his closeness, I could smell the faint hint of sweetgrass… something I had not noticed before.

Coupled with his words, I fought against the recognition of the familiar scent and before I could retaliate, the masked man released me and was on his feet, looking down at me humorously. "Ah, my apologies, dear princess," he condescended with a mock bow. Pursing my lips, I sat up to dust off my dress, hiding my shaded face from him. The masked man sighed, clearly irritated. "Rest a moment." I said nothing and tried to stand. He put a hand to my shoulder and knelt beside me.

"Why show mercy now?" I asked unsteadily, my eyes still averted.

"You are very delicate, Princess… but I do not think you would want me to carry you; the subtlety of your dislike for me is rather discouraging."

"Dislike? You compliment yourself."

The masked man chuckled. "Tell me—since clearly you are incapable—who will be this righteous dealer of justice?"

"I cannot believe you are concerned." Sakon had seen to it that Calatia was framed for my capture, yet… who would come for me? Had my father informed Impa of what happened in the field? Had he sent Commander Virnen in his stead along with an armed fleet? No… I knew who would come for me…

"Hardly," he scoffed. "I'm entitled to know…"

"Does it matter?" I asked stiffly.

"Your confidence interests me."

I paused for moment, deliberating whether or not to disclose. Would Ganondorf come me? If his valor was as true as I had witnessed in Hyrule Field, then surely…

"Prince Ganondorf is a man of great skill."

The masked man stifled a laugh and stood. "That pompous blaggard is your beloved savior? How romantic, your dearest love coming to rescue you," he mocked bitterly.

I stood to equal myself with him, questioning his bitterness, but was more bothered by the personal offense he seemed to have taken… and the offense I had taken to his assumption. "I did not say I love him, but he will find me."

The masked man folded his arms with a glower. "You admit you care not for him? You're a rare find indeed, Princess, to possess such honesty."

"He knows I do not love him."

"You're incapable of it you mean," he retorted.

My blood heated at his words, igniting my anger so quickly, I could not stop myself from striking him across the face. "I have loved more deeply than a killer like yourself could ever dream." No longer could I feel that so called love; I knew only of its existence, of the pain it caused… and how deeply rooted it was within me.

"Hold your tongue," the masked man whispered dangerously.

"You dare impugn me so callously when you strive to live as a pirate, inflicting misery upon others? If you despise me so, why do you suffer me—?"

"Silence!" he bellowed, roughly taking me by the shoulders. "You are nothing but a naïve child, concerned only of your own hardships. You know nothing of world and therefore consider yourself above it. The world is cruel and it's time you were—" His words died on tongue and his eyes widened as he looked about warily. I felt a great heaviness encompass our surroundings and my breath stilled; the dark presence of the hooded man was unmistakable. I turned around, sensing him lurking nearby.

Suddenly, the masked man slipped a gloved hand over my mouth and I recoiled from him, still furious for the spiteful words he spoke against me…but he would not release me. His arm wrapped about my waist as he nearly dragging me behind a large tree. I struggled in vain as he held me tightly to him.

"Be still," he breathed against my ear. I held my breath, sensing the hooded man nearing yet I heard not his footsteps. My heart quickened as I recalled the power of his dark magic and I clutched the masked man's arm without thinking, praying the hooded man would not find us. I felt the masked man's heart beating rapidly against my back and I feared the pounding of our hearts would lead the hooded man to us. The masked man's hand slipped from my mouth, lingering against my jaw. I turned my head to meet his eyes, questioning this strange gesture and he held a finger to his lips. Slowly, he moved to peer around the tree, for nothing could be heard on the other side. I ignored the rush of blood that heated my face from his touch and peered around the opposite side of the tree.

And there was the hooded man moving about beneath the moonlight. Yet it was… and was not him. This dark figure was hooded but possessed no extremities. It floated above the ground, gliding silently in the air. Its shape was not solid, but black all the same.

It was an illusion… a shadow brought to life.

Before I could observe further, the masked man pulled me back to him. He put his lips against my ear and I nearly shuddered. "Is it him?" he breathed, hardly audible. My flesh rose and I shook my head. He said nothing else and simply tightened his hold upon me. My mind raced; the shadow would surely find us, but there was no where to run.

Dare I risk using magic?

The wind moaned, shaking the dead leaves from the trees and I was struck with an idea. I peeled the masked man's hand from my waist and gestured for him to stay. He looked at me, bemused, as I quietly stepped away. I picked up a leaf from the ground and whispered a spell into it. Even with my lack of control, surely my magic would allow me a simple spell? I held the leaf outward and out of the corner of my eye, I could see the masked man shaking his head furiously. I let the leaf fly, guiding towards the trees below the foothills; the spell I placed upon it would allow the leaf to cut through a thick branch; the noise would hopefully draw the spying shadow away…

But I heard not the dull thud of a felled branch.

A deafening crack, much akin to lightning, cut through the air, echoing across the mountains. My eyes widened and I held a hand to my mouth.

The dark presence vanished instantly.

The masked man stared at me with wide eyes before peering around the tree. I cautiously joined him and we found the illusion of the hooded man to be gone. Before I could breathe a sigh of relief, the masked man roughly snatched my hand and took off in a mad dash up the mountainside. He said nothing for some time, and even through the uncomfortable pricking upon my hand, I could sense his fury and impatience in his grasp.

The moon slowly drifted behind a curtain of clouds, causing my clumsiness to return for I could hardly see the path in front of me, but the masked man did not waver once. Nearly an hour passed since we had escaped the shadow when the masked man finally stopped.

"Why did you do such a thing?" He asked icily as he caught his breath, releasing my hand; the prickling died. "I know not what that bastard did to you, but you have no control of your magics; what if you had kill—" He stopped suddenly and simply stared at me. I was grateful he did not mention Sakon; I was still heavily burdened with guilt. I could see the anger calming in his eyes and he moved forward as if to take a step, but then decided against it. "Do not use your magic; it will only draw attention."

"If I had not distracted the shadow, it would have found us," I reasoned.

The masked man shook his head. "For your own protection then," he muttered. I glanced at him and he looked away with a scowl, staring off down below from where we had come.

"Unless the need is dire," I agreed. "But for now I will not call upon it."

"…Very well."

We then set off once again. I continued to struggle to keep up, but the masked man displayed no further sympathy; I did not understand; he had treated me gently in the vision, and claimed to be helping me, yet now… he seemed to hold such contempt for me. Was this impudent, mysterious man truly the hero the Goddesses had meant to find me?

We reached the top of the foothills a long while later, and the masked man slowed to a walk. I looked about, noticing the stars had brightened dramatically, but I still could not see any sign of a town in the distance. The wind howled, bringing with it a cold chill of warning. The masked man then released my hand.

"We shall rest here for tonight," he said shortly. He walked further ahead, towards the sound of water, and stopped beside a bank of a small stream. He knelt down and cupped his hand, bringing a handful of water to his mouth. "Drink," he commanded.

Glancing to him warily, I knelt beside him, my thirst becoming overwhelming. I nearly inhaled the water as it parched my burning, dry throat. The masked man stood and I heard his footsteps behind me as I began to wash my face and neck, the wind against my wet skin causing me to shiver. I sat back to catch my breath, trying to calm the rapid pulse of my heart. The faint gleam of the moon behind the clouds revealed it was just a couple hours short of reaching the middle of the sky. I could feel my body demanding sleep, but my mind would not let me rest; I still held misgivings about the masked man's true intent.

His efforts to lead me to safety were commendable; he was formidable to say the least. Magic had no effect upon him, and his fighting skills were far superior than my own…

But how was it that he was able to endure his exhaustion? We had been running since nightfall, but still he carried on as though he had strength to spare. And how had my own strength returned? Recalling my state upon the altar, I had been sapped of nearly everything.

"…Her power was beyond reckoning…"

Had the hooded man… been right? Did I truly possess a hidden power?

"…But the elements that make it one were broken, and the thief was left only with Din's essence of power. The remaining two were hidden, marking their vessels."

I looked to my hand; the markings had become more visible…

"Upon first glance, I thought it the Triforce."

But how could I believe it existed?

"The other power… you have found it?"

Realization descended upon me; it was not only me the hooded man and the gold-eyed demon wanted; the masked man was being hunted. He must possess magic just as I; how else could he have survived the dark magic without injury? Was he perhaps marked as well? If he was... did that mean that the Triforce—

The snapping of bark startled me and I turned to see the masked man gathering twigs from the dry trees around us. I watched as he built a small fire beside the shelter of a boulder, and within minutes, I felt the heat against my skin. I studied him from across the fire, watching the flames dance in the reflection of his eyes. If this man truly possessed great power... he was doing everything he could to hide it... or did not even know of it. If this was so... I could not confront him. The only way to know was to steal a glance at his hands, which were covered by black gloves.

I cursed him inwardly; just who was this man… and why did he hold such resentment for me? I felt only anger and frustration towards him… but… I also felt an odd connection, a pull, to this hauntingly frightening, yet familiar masked man. His eyes then met mine and I suddenly felt a sharp pain within my chest. I looked away, trying to ignore it. For reasons I did not understand, I was drawn to him. I let out a haggard sigh and stood, making my way closer to the fire; how I wished I could tear off that insufferable mask.

"Sleep now," the masked man said as he lay down upon his back. "We move on at daybreak." He folded his arms behind his head and closed his eyes. Reason prompted me to slip away quietly, make my way back to the coast in hopes there was a town nearby…

Yet…I was moving towards him; I could not take my eyes from his mask; I must know who he is. I held my breath, the gnawing of anticipation growing. I fell to my hands and knees and reached over his shoulder… but my hand merely glanced over the fabric of his mask when his eyes shot open and he suddenly grabbed my wrist. He pulled my arm away and flipped me onto my back into the grass.

"That will be the last thing you do if you attempt that again," he muttered dangerously.

I blushed heavily and could only stare into his steeled blue eyes, feeling the same sense of recognition.

And my heart… fluttered.

"Do you believe… it is possible for your heart to know something you do not?"

"Who are you?" My voice broke.

I thought I saw his gaze softened ever so slightly and his face lowered to mine. I could feel the warmth of his breath against my cheek as his lips hovered just above mine. "If you do not know… then so it shall remain."

"My indifference… it was to keep you from seeing the truth."

My heart ached with such intensity, a burning formed within my chest.

His eyes held such unspeakable sadness…

He looked away and sat up, leaving me breathless upon the ground.

My lip trembled and I rolled to my side to hide my wet eyes, huddling into myself.

The hole in my heart I had tried so desperately to fill…

…Was beginning to bore open.

I felt I had only slept for moments when something roused me from sleep.

My eyes fluttered open, my surroundings hazy and foreign. The sky had paled; it would be sunrise soon. The fire was nothing but ashes, and I could hear the wind disturbing the grass and the breathing of someone next to me and feel the heat of their body.

"You've rested long enough, Princess." The masked man sat me up, and I half-heartedly pushed away from him, still on the edge of sleep. "We must move on." Clumsily, I stood and he guided me to the stream. I tiredly sunk to my knees and filled the hollowness in my stomach with the cool water.

And just then, the faint sound of horses began to echo up the mountain.

Hope and relief were born in me once again.

The masked man paused to listen, letting the cup of water in his hand run down his arm, and he cursed under his breath. He stood and hurried to the edge of the mountainside.

Cursing again, he snapped, "come, Princess." Reluctantly, I obeyed, but he strode back to me with an impatient click of his tongue and nearly dragged me over. "Look yonder," he said, pointing down into the valley below. I saw a number of horses and their riders exploring the grounds; they were unmarked.

"Do you know them?"

"…No." I had suspicions they were Hylian soldiers.

"Do not trifle with me," he threatened.

"Your biting words instill no fear in me," I taunted.

The masked man paused, then gently turned my face to him. "Though I will not kill you, I know of many things worse than death," he hinted dangerously.

I was not intimidated by his words but I did not know why. "The distance is too great," I said curtly. "I cannot be of help to you."


I pushed his hand away from my face and made my way further to the edge. A rush of wind blew up the mountainside and I inhaled sharply. I looked down, trying to distinguish anyone familiar. Then I saw a person with white hair and another with red; I nearly cried out in relief.

Ganondorf, and Impa had come for me.

"…Your prince is quite a courageous character now isn't he?" The masked man mocked, seeing the recognition in my face. He then grabbed my hand, pulling me away from the edge, and started across the stream.

"Please," I began, "Let me go to them; there is no need to stay with you any longer."

"I promise to return you, but not to that prince—"

"The promises of men are worth very little… especially that of a pirate."

The masked man smiled. "You are very cold," he said dryly. "Very cold and hostile and if you keep—"

"Why do you vex me so!" I nearly shouted. "I am giving you a chance: release me, and you shall be given mercy."

"…Mercy…?" The masked man scoffed. "That's very amusing, Princess." Rounding a bend just beyond the stream, we came upon a sudden steep drop, a deep crevice open betwixt the mountains, and my stomach lurched from the height. The masked man stopped only for a moment before beginning to run alongside the edge of the ravine.

Digging my feet into the ground, I pulled against him, trying to pry his fingers from my wrist. "I will go no further."

"You still have no patience," he said, releasing my hand as he flung me towards a small boulder.


"Very well. Shall we wait here to see if your precious prince is as merciful as you believe?"

"Why do you despise him so?" I asked coldly

The masked man looked past me and muttered, "he took something from me."

I furrowed my brows. Sitting down upon the boulder, I became even more bewildered.

"Something… I may never get back." The deep sadness I sensed from him returned.

"...And that is?"

The masked man then looked back to me, his face devoid of emotion. "I won't say. However, if you loved him, I would tell you just to shatter your image of him; I'm cruel that way, you see."

I raised a brow. "Indeed."

"So… since a prince is not worthy of your love… who is?"

"…Love is nothing more than a burden."

"Do not lie to me; you mentioned love before," he continued. "I would assume it relates to that title… 'My Lady' was it?"

I glared. "It matters not."

"I think it matters a great deal… considering you cower from it."

"Nothing you say can upset me," I lied stiffly. Why did he question me so? Why was he so enraptured with me… and I with him?

"So you say," he commented offhandedly. "What harm would it do to ease my curiosity?"

I pondered his words. If I kept his interest by conversation, then perhaps time would allow Impa and Ganondorf to find me before he changed his mind to wait for them. Did I dare divulge the things I had worked so hard to forget?

…I must… there wasn't a choice if I had a chance at returning to Hyrule safely. I breathed in deeply then sighed unevenly. I searched my mind, dredging up vague details without provoking the emotions tied the memories.

"I did love once."

"Another rich prince, I suppose?" The masked man said expectantly, beginning to pace before me.

"No," I retorted, "he was a knight… my guardian..." This was the first I had spoken about him to anyone. I could feel the deep anguish I kept hidden stirring, emerging infinitely closer, yet remaining just out of reach.

"You said 'once', princess, do elaborate."

I shook my head. "…He… he has long since gone… the Dread Pirate Raven saw to it."

The masked man did not reply for a moment, seeming to be studying me very intently. Finally he let out an exasperated sigh. "…It seems I've killed a man of high status."

I suddenly felt as if I had plunged into the Great Sea again. His words repeated in my mind, ringing loudly with realization…

I looked at him and my blood stilled, the warmth stole away.

"I must admit… I do pride myself on such a feat." The masked man's voice sounded distant, unnatural.

Face paling, lips parting, my eyes widened. Fool! What a fool I am! It had been him all along… Raven! How did I not see it before? He told me himself that he was a pirate and knew of every occurrence in the Great Sea! How was it not impressed upon me it was him? Though I feared him upon first meeting, I did not feel any warning against him. I shuddered and my courage dissipated into the wind.

"Don't act so surprised, I couldn't have survivors now, could I? If the Dread Pirate Raven was rumored merciful, there would be no reason to fear him; piracy thrives on fear."

I said nothing; breath had yet to come.

"Describe your love to me, Princess, perhaps I'll remember," he sneered.

Tension rose in my throat and I looked away.

"Don't tell me you've forgotten him?" he continued to taunt. "You disgrace his memory; poor soul."

His words stung yet still I did not reply; I closed my eyes, trying to fight the burning tears behind them.

"Remember what I told you…"

No, do not dwell upon it. Do not feel it!

Raven sighed. "No matter then, fortunately I remember your knight. Four years ago was it?"

I kept my face hidden; I would not give him the pleasure of knowing he caused me pain.

He then moved and withdrew something from his belt.

…An old blue instrument...

"This belonged to him."

My lip trembled, and my throat tightened further. I could not look away from the ocarina.

"Do you recognize it?"

"I trust you to return it."

No, no, I had lamented enough!

"He forced his way on my ship and nearly killed some of my men, dropping this along his way." He paused and chuckled, as if the memory were a fond one. "Such impudence he had…" Disdain dripped from his voice. "…Such foolishness…"

The words echoed hollowly and my vision spun. Stop.

"He died honorably, as a knight should. No bribes or needless pleadings." Raven looked to me. "He simply said 'please… I must live.'" His voice was a near whisper. "I asked him why it was so important he live." He paused for but a moment. "'Her,' he replied."

Flashes of past memories, painfully assaulting, bore open the hole in my heart. I clenched my teeth, trying to control the emotions battling within me.

Tucking the ocarina away, Raven continued. "He then spoke of a beautiful girl with violet eyes and hair of gold; I can only assume he meant you."

Alas, it was to no avail; the burning in my heart became insufferable. I gasped in pain, clutching a hand against my heart.

"I've told you at every reply… that I—"

"Enough! Stop this!" I cried.

"Do you regret so much for loving him?"

The burning traveled to my head, feeling as if it would burst apart from the flame, begging me to remember— "Please!" I begged, grabbing my head. "No more! I… I cannot…"

"Cannot what?"

"…I… cannot remember…"

He paused; I could feel his eyes upon me. "Tsk, you should be grateful I killed him before he found out what you really are," he muttered scornfully.

"And what am I?" I hissed, rising to my feet unsteadily.

"Faithless, Princess, disloyal and yielding; shall I go on?" He bellowed. "Now tell me truly, were you engaged to your prince that same month, or did you mourn for the knight you supposedly loved?" Accusation dripping from every cruel word, they pierced though me, cutting me open, letting my emotions spill outward. I moved to strike him and he caught my hand.

"You've mocked me enough, never do it again… I died that day!"

Raven stared at me in stunned silence, his eyes blank and wide. My lips trembled and I looked away, shamed by my outburst. The burning in my heart and head became too much and I swayed on the spot, my knees buckling, nearly giving way beneath me.

Raven held tightly to my hand and put an arm about my waist, attempting to steady me. "Listen… I'm—"

"No!" I cried, pushing away from him. "I will not hear another word. You are nothing more than coward hiding behind a mask!"

"…You know who I am," he said with near gentleness as he released me. "And there is more you must hear."

I looked to him with uncertainty; despite the returning sadness in his voice, there was more to his words. "Then show me your face; I wish to look upon the one who killed my Guardian."

Raven eyed me. "I shall only frighten My Lady."

This time… I was certain of it; his voice rung with strange familiarity. I moved towards him, disregarding everything he had exposed in me; this fervent desire to see Raven's face—it would only bring more suffering… but I had see him. "Your reputation insists you must kill me just as you did him; what harm would it do to ease my curiosity?" I questioned, throwing his words back at him.

Raven stepped away as I reached a hand to his mask, and he caught my wrist. "You go too far, Princess." I tugged my hand away, then forcefully grabbed his head. He pulled back and twisted my hands together. "Enough," he muttered severely. I struggled against him, trying to wring myself free.

Suddenly the sound of galloping horses sounded in the distance once again.

"Surrender yourself," I commanded.

Raven glared, his face nearing my own. "Never."

Staring into his steeled blue eyes, the need to see his face was overpowering. "Then you shall pay for your crimes with your life." I pulled myself free from his grasp and moved to strike his chest, but he was prepared and jumped back. As he attempted to regain his balance, I lunged towards him again, my fingertips just grazing his mask as he evaded me…

…And the ground disappeared beneath him.

My eyes widened, my mouth fell open; time stilled as I watched him fall over the ravine's edge, regret and retribution coursing through me.

Raven then looked to me purposefully.

"As you wish."

His voice was so faint, so gentle; I thought I had imagined it…

…My heart ceased to beat.

"Yet through all these awaiting changes…a thing that doesn't change with time is a memory of younger days."

Tears blurred my wide eyes. It cannot be…

Raven's black mask flittered into the air…revealing sunlit hair and silvered blue eyes.

"… As you wish…"

My breath left me…and my hand burned with searing pain. The flame traveled through my arm, into my body until...


Light burst within me. It filled my blood, my bones, the marrow, and sinews...

And at last… my heart.

At those three words, the words I had purposefully forgotten yet hoped, nay ached to hear, the shackles about my soul shattered into nothingness. Sunlight poured from the darkened skies above and the painful memories I had kept locked away for all these years, broke forth from confinement.

"…I will always come for you."

And I remembered him.


The world began to turn once again, and the sudden movement was overwhelming.

He lives.

Tears fell freely as I repeated his name again and again, welcoming the pain it brought. The incomprehensible relief that consumed me left as quickly as it came…

…For I had condemned Link to the clutches of the mountain. I cried out for him as I watched in horror as he fell. My body screamed for me to move and without thinking, I dove after him.

The wind whipped violently through me as I fell. Reaching out, Link grabbed my hand and pulled me into him. His scent of sweetgrass filled me and a sob escaped my lips as I watched my tears fly to the sky above. I held him tightly and began to mutter the incantation of Farore's Wind with a broken voice and our descent slowed in the slightest. I repeated the spell with more urgency, frantic desperation beginning to take hold.

Link then whispered my name, his voice mellow and comforting and I nearly lost my concentration. We slowed further and I nearly cried out the incantation. The ground loomed closer and suddenly, we halted just before we impacted, then fell to the ground with a dull thud. The incline of the ravine forced us to topple down the mountain and just as Link's arms tightened about me, a sharp rock grazed the side of my head.

I could only breathe his name as I was torn from his side.

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