The Lengthening Shadow

By Wm. Jay Carter III (Hero of Geeks)

Prologue ~ Tales of Future Past

1391 HR (Hyrulean Reckoning)

Link leaned on the Master Sword like a cane. His heart pulsed through every portion of his body, though his limbs were numb with adrenaline. As he panted and heaved through rattling lungs, he coughed and spat. He shook his arms to return the feeling to them. The shield of the Hylian Royal Guard had long since grown heavy on his right arm. The battle had been long, but it was not over; he would need to weaken his foe only a little more. Most importantly, he had just recovered the Blade of Evil’s Bane from the ground where his opponent had tossed it. It was the only weapon that could harm the crazed King of Evil. Presently, a young woman’s voice brought him out of his repose:

“Link, you can’t just stand there, he is prone! Finish it!” Zelda bellowed from behind a wall of flame.

“Excuse me, Princess, but…” But Link had little time to argue. He leapt to the side, a hairy black fist the size of a crate pummeling the ground where he had stood moments before. Thrashing menacingly before him was the very King of Evil; Ganon. Link’s enemy was a thirty-foot tall half-human porcine monster bearing down on him with a pair of swords as long as lumber saws. Zelda, Link and Ganon stood amidst the ruins of Ganon’s tower, a pile of rubble strewn across a mass of earth hovering half a mile over a volcanic crater that had once been the fair castle of Hyrule. The darkness surrounding the three of them was unnatural and fraught with turmoil. And all the time the monster before him loomed more threatening.

Link backed away and circled his opponent until he was close enough to the princess for her to hear. “As I was saying,” Link hollered over the roar of the fire, “I don’t see you in any mortal peril!” The heat drew long lines of sweat over Link’s face. As Link blinked through the salt in his eyes, Ganon’s massive fist pounded the ground with a crunch that threatened to split their floating island in two, hurling both Link and Zelda off their feet.

“Yes,” Zelda replied, pulling herself away from the edge of the floating island, nearly escaping an end in the pool of lava below. “I’m fine. If you like, I could just wait for you down there in that pit of molten rock!”

“Whatever suits you, Princess,” said Link, raising himself up again, “I’ll be right back.” And he dove under the legs of the gargantuan pig. Rolling into the movement, he emerged standing before his enemy’s short porcine tail. With a swipe of the Master Sword he disabled Ganon’s left hamstring and the King of Evil released a bellow that caused Zelda to clasp her hands to her pointed ears. The beast fell to one knee with a crash, causing the remains of a ruinous rock wall to crumble. Ganon faltered, and then collapsed altogether, his huge form spread-eagle on the rubble.

“Finish it, the Sages are ready!” Zelda hollered.

And with a battle-cry rattling from his lungs, Link scaled the mountainous backside of the beast and traversed his way over the large corded knots of back muscle. He leaned forward and fell onto the monster’s neck, sinking the Master Sword in hilt-deep. The monster squealed and its body went limp. And as the creature’s life ebbed, the flames hedging the floating island dissipated, and then the only sound was the churning of the lava far below.

All was deceptively quiet—until the muscled mountain upon which Link was perched reared to throw him off. Link held fast to the handle of the Master Sword, refusing to let go. Despite the superior grip of the shining gauntlets he wore, the beast would not bear him, and the sword slid clean out of its neck, throwing Link to the ground from the height of four men. Link fell to his back and lay stunned, the wind knocked from him, the Master Sword loose in his grip.

The King of Evil clutched his neck and his breath gurgled in his throat as he heaved himself up to an unbalanced crouch. Then, slowly, Ganon pulled his massive porcine body to where Link lay prone and unconscious.

Then Zelda rushed forward. “No!” she screamed, planting her feet on the uneven broken rock. “You will not have him!” And suddenly, as if the sun had broken through the unnatural night and shone only on her, Zelda’s whole body began to glow with a golden light. Ganon stopped, his beady pig-eyes squinting. The next moment Zelda made a movement like she was attempting to topple a large stone pillar and the light surrounding her solidified in a column that shot from her hands, long and bright in the darkness. The column of light ploughed directly into Ganon’s chest, flinging him into one of the only remaining stone walls. The ground reverberated from the impact and the King of Evil lay still as air bubbled from his neck.

The princess glared at the fallen Demon King, a picture of spiteful elegance, nearly as fearsome as the beast. Then she turned; Link stirred and his sword rang as he dragged it over the gravel. In a moment Zelda was at his side, cradling his head in her arms. “You’re okay,” she cooed, “you’re fine.”

Link gritted his teeth. “Relative term, Princess,” he murmured. The rock covering Ganon’s body shifted, and he began to rise from the rubble. Link cleared his throat. “Whenever you feel like it,” he said, his eyes still closed.

Remembering their foe, Zelda gently lowered Link’s head and gripped a gray stone amulet hanging from her neck. Sages, banish him now! she thought. Open the door to the Golden Land and seal him in! All at once the air became thick with threads of multi-colored light weaving in and out of each other. The mass condensed below Ganon’s feet and then a light illuminated the beast from below as a rift appeared in the rock. Tentacles of colored light leapt out of the rift, wrapping around Ganon’s legs and neck, pinning his arms to his side. Squelching gasps eked from Ganon’s lungs as the net of light drew him down, down into the rift ever widening below him. Then the Evil King had worked an arm free and slammed it down just short of where Zelda stood, black claws gripping the stone at her feet. Ganon spoke in a harsh, rattling bellow:

“Curse you Sages. Curse you, Zelda! Curse you, foolish boy!!” Zelda gasped as Ganon began pulling himself out of the rift. He was gaining ground; in moments Ganon would have another arm free. “So long as I have the Triforce of Power,” growled Ganon, “I will exterminate you! I will not rest until I have exterminated every one of your children, and their children…” Then Ganon’s other arm was loose and he raised it over his head…

But then Link rose up with the Master Sword and charged, throat grating with an indignant battle cry, plunging the blade deep into the pig’s snout. Ganon shrieked and threw his hands high into the air, looking like nothing more than a thrashing, wounded animal. The tentacles of colored light seized him again and the portal to the Golden Land consumed the King of Evil, leaving golden energy bubbling and crackling in the unnatural darkness. In moments the rift of light dissipated, and it was as if neither it nor Ganon had ever existed, where both had raged only seconds before. The only light was the dim redness that glowed under the floating island.

Link let the Hylian shield slide from his right arm. Zelda’s eyelids grew heavy, and she faltered. But Link was there with an arm around her waist, and they leaned against each other in the red-lit night.

* * *

“Link, you have to go home, now,” Zelda said. The space around them was brilliant white, only just accented by thin wisps of blue fog. Under their feet was a pool of water that extended endlessly out into the fog. “I have to send you back,” Zelda repeated.

It may have been a dream for how she looked, but Link knew that it was certainly Zelda. They both appeared as if they had not just been in a battle. Link was wearing his green tunic, trousers and boots, but they were all clean, and his blonde hair was well combed within his long green cap. Zelda wore the gown of her station; the white dress covered by a long purple vest and the long apron with the royal crest that hung from her waist. She was certainly beautiful when she was clean, he thought.

“Link!” Zelda said, becoming impatient.

“Sorry, I got distracted. What?” he said.

“Link, I have to send you home, now,” Zelda said. She looked at her hands. “Give me the Ocarina.”


“Because, Link, you don’t belong here,” she said, her voice buckling. “I never should have asked you to do this, any of it. You missed seven years…”

Link couldn’t believe what she was saying. “And you waited,” he rebutted. “You brought me here, and now after seven years of playing at being a Sheikah just so you could avoid that spawn of Gerudo filth, you showed yourself for who you were and got caught…and who came and saved you? And helped you banish him? And now you want to send me back!?”

Zelda cleared her throat and a streak of wetness lined her face. She looked away into the white as if she wanted to banish some enemy she still saw there. “Link, give me the Ocarina,” she said before looking at him again.

Link’s hands clenched the air as he resisted the temptation to throw the precious instrument. He looked away, his jaw set. When he looked back Zelda was staring at him with folded arms. Link’s head bobbed in begrudging futility. “Fine,” he said, and reached into the medium sized pouch at his side to draw out the Ocarina. It was a hollow, smooth lump of blue clay the size of a large potato. On its protruding neck it bore the insignia of the Triforce, three triangles arranged to form a larger triangle. Zelda had given him the instrument seven years before when she fled from Ganon’s first attempt on her life.

By entrusting the Object to him, she had allowed Link entrance into the Sanctuary where the Master Sword had stood, waiting for the Hero to draw it. When he did so he also inadvertently permitted Ganon entrance to the Golden Land where he seized the Triforce and made his evil wish, throwing the land of Hyrule into darkness under his reign. But after Link had grown old enough and strong enough to bring the Master Sword to bear against Hyrule’s foes he had sought the evil that plagued the land. He had faced all manner of strange creatures—demons and dragons alike, nearly perished from heat exhaustion in the belly of Death Mountain, avoided drowning at the bottom of Lake Hylia, and now that it was all over she just wanted to send him back? Link held the Ocarina in front of him. “Just tell me this,” he said. “If you don’t want me here, why did you ever even give this to me? You didn’t seem to think it was what Rauru wanted…”

Zelda looked as if she had been stabbed. Her mouth curled downward in a frown that disgraced her clear face, her small mouth contorting. Her eyes searched Link’s expression for some hint of sorrow, but when she found nothing she looked at her hands again. Her eyes clenched shut, squeezing out tears. “I…I have regretted that decision for seven years,” she said between gasps. “I thought it was the only way; it was our only chance. I thought…I thought you were the greatest chance Hyrule had for survival. We needed you. I…” but she broke off as another trail of wetness streaked her face. She suddenly gulped for air and quickly pressed the fingers of one thin, gloved hand to her mouth. Then, unable to compose herself, she wept openly into her open hands.

Link felt as if his chest had been yanked into his stomach. The Ocarina was lead in his hands. He cast his mind about for what he might do, but all he could think of was to put his arm around her, and then they were in each other’s embrace and his head was bowed; his jaw nestled on her shoulder. He could feel her body shaking, her lungs gulping unevenly for air. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I…I’ll go. Please.” He lowered his hands to her waist and her chest pulled away from his. “Take it,” he said, offering her the Ocarina. “I’m sorry.”

She looked at the instrument and placed one thin hand over it. She lifted the Ocarina to her chest and pressed it there, raising her eyes to see directly into his.

“Link,” she said, purposefully, “I can send you back so that no time will have been lost. You can make of your childhood whatever you will.” Then she looked at him intently. “Whatever you will.” And she kissed him lightly on his cheek. She lingered there a moment and whispered, “Goodbye Link, Hero of Time.”

Link could not feel anything but his feet tingling in his boots and his head buzzing in his cap. Then, before he realized what was happening, he heard her playing a familiar melody with solemn, breathy alto notes, and the fog advanced to envelop him. Her blue eyes were the last thing he saw before he passed out of that world.

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