Disclaimer: If I owned the rights to the Legend of Zelda, I wouldn’t be renting a little apartment across from a cemetery. I’d own the place. No profit is intended – this fanfic is not for sale or rent.
This story is based upon a fan art painting of mine by the same title. There are references to other fan fictions of mine throughout the text, but this does not directly connect to any of them.
Leaves fluttered down from the tree canopy high above as the cool breeze played through the trees and made him shiver. A song was on the wind, lively and woven into the forest itself. The Skull Kid must have been playing it. Although he knew that the immortal trickster must have been near, Link anticipated no trouble. Hyrule was at peace and he was allowed to be here. He wondered if there was more than just one Skull Kid in these woods. When he was a child, Sera and Uli used to scare him with stories about naughty children who didn’t listen to adults and got lost in the deep forest to became twisted and entrapped among the trees forever.
Despite the spirited music, this was a quiet place for Link – a peaceful place, a place for solace. He was wholly unused to the celebrity he had garnered. After he’d defeated Ganondorf, quite a bit of his story had been revealed. He tried to keep the secrets that were entrusted to him but the knowledge and rumor of some things were inevitable. For instance, the Resistance Group had met Midna in her restored-form. She’d helped them take care of him after the fight with Gandondorf. He had run to her immediately after running the tyrant through, but when the passion of battle had worn off him, the pain of the wounds he had incurred had come upon him in full force. She’d followed along as his friends carried him to Telma’s Bar to get cleaned up and to have a stiff drink before getting stitched up by Telma and Rusl. She’d been a delight to Shad, who’d asked her anything and everything he could think of to ask about her realm and the Twili, letting his words run into one another.
Shad… Link smiled. He’d shown him the City in the Sky. The scholar was not much for transportation-by-canon. He’d arrived in the landing-pool shuddering with frayed nerves and had immediately found the nearest edge to make an offering of his breakfast to the world below. He was very happy to see the great city, though, and told Link that he could spend the rest of his life studying it. As it was, he was also making studies of other locations of historical and mythological significance. He’d been poking around these woods lately, making investigations into the ruins of the
. The Skull Kid had apparently seen fit to allow him into the forest. Only time would tell if the forces that guarded the temple would allow Shad the same privilege that Link had of being outside of Time in the secret extra-dimensional inner part of it. Perhaps the scholar would take Ashei on a date there someday. The thought made Link laugh. Templeof Time
Link had confided in his mentor, Rusl, about his beastly nature. The man had not believed it at first, but Link had explained the situation very calmly. He did not want anyone else to know of it. Zelda knew, of course, but it wasn’t something Link wanted the world to know about, least of all the people he considered as family in Ordon, who would be frightened. He had been moved to speak to Rusl about it only because Rusl hunted and patrolled around the village as a protector. Link had kept the fused shadow crystal that enabled his transformation should he ever need it again for some reason. Midna had taught him a trick to using it without her help. He did not want Rusl doing something tragic like shooting him in wolf-form and skinning him by mistake.
Link often thought about going back to a normal life. He did visit Ordon every now and again, and helped Fado with the goats every once in a while, but he was restless. In many ways, he was still that goatherd he used to be, a simple person of simple needs and pleasures. He didn’t really feel like a Hero, when it came down to it, but at the same time, he wondered if that’s the way heroes were supposed to feel. He just wanted to help people, whenever and wherever he could. That is why he couldn’t stay in Ordon or, indeed, any one place for very long. He had so many unique skills now and so much strength that he had to put them all to use. They itched within him, talents eager to be expressed and to seek out those in need of them. It made him wonder what was better, what had more honor in it: To be the savior or to be one of the ones worth the saving.
He’d been riding all over Hyrule and even out to the borders of the kingdom. He’d been seeing the world and seeing all kinds of things. He helped with the rebuilding efforts. He ferreted out and took care of lingering evils. He ran errands for his sovereign, Zelda. He helped Shad with his archeological work. Hyrule was rather blatantly built upon ruins. They were everywhere – from all the stonebrick work along old paths in
to the Lanayru Province in Faron (which had been left to the monkeys since before Link was born. People left offerings in front of it, but Link was sure that he was the only person to have gone inside it in close to a century). Forest Temple
Ruins were what brought the young warrior here today. The last time he was in the area of the Lost Woods and the Sacred Grove, Shad had insisted upon showing Link something he’d discovered. He was speechless when he’d seen it, and the two of them decided that it was best to keep it their secret. Perhaps it was the way people would swarm to him when he visited Castle Town, or the way people would gasp and look up at him when he rode into a village, or those portraits Queen Zelda had him sit long hours for… Maybe it was the way even the people of Ordon saw him now…
“As it is, I don’t think I’m going to know peace again until I’m dead,” Link had said when he and Shad were deciding what to do about the discovery, “He deserves his peace.”
Shad, the adventurer-archeologist, had discovered nothing less than the grave of the Hero of Time. It was an important discovery, to be sure, but Link just couldn’t stand the idea of this quiet area becoming a place of tourists.
He could stomach even less the idea that his ancestor’s poor old bones might be dug up and moved to a more publicly-accessible grave for the sake of national morale. He’d read that it had happened a few times to prominent historical knights. It was bad enough that he’d heard a rumor that there was some secret chapel somewhere within the underground of Hyrule Castle where relics of saints and sages were kept – bits of remains, bones, a mummified pinky finger of some ancient Sage of Light… a lock of hair from an ancient Sage of Forest… kept through the times the capitol and the castle had moved. It was said that the heavily-embalmed heart of the Hero of Time was down there, in a crystal heart-shaped box, a specially-crafted heart-container, as it were. It was just a rumor, but if it were true, it wouldn’t surprise Link in the least. It made him want to undergo some secret exploration missions into the bowels of the castle just to satisfy his curiosity.
Link walked past the ruins of the temple complex, listening to the subtle sound his boots made on the moss-covered stones. Shad was not here today. Link was alone. On this side of Time, in its broken state, the
was still as brooding as ever. The air had gone silent. Even the Skull Kid’s music had faded off. Link walked past the Master Sword in its pedestal, feeling a strange twinge when he passed it, a fond sense of loss, a sweet melancholy. He knew that as bonded to him as the sword’s soul was, it was a power meant only for the most serious of circumstances. The sword crafted by Rusl that rested against his back was sufficient for the minor monsters that lingered in the kingdom. The Master Sword still glowed faintly with something other than just the light of the sun. He could see the ghostly remnants of the Sols’ light in the blade. That brought him another twinge of loss and a not-so-sweet melancholy. Templeof Time
He wasn’t even carrying his usual metal Hylian shield. He had the shield of Ordon on his back – his first shield. It was crude, wooden, and had limited effectiveness, but it was sufficient for the forest environment and far lighter than the metal one. There was no need to carry a burdensome shield that was heavy on his shoulders in a rain-kissed woodland. Besides, it had the goat’s head crest of his homeland on it. He felt a sense of pride when he carried it.
He strode through a tract of forest and clambered over a broken stone wall to enter the clearing he’d been seeking. It was overgrown with grass, so tall that it reached his knees. The monument was rather large, but no larger than many of the headstones for important people and families he’d seen in the Kakariko Graveyard, or in the hidden graveyard of knights on the grounds of
. It was not fancy – just simple, elegant gray stone with the mark of the holy Triforce engraved upon it, the name of the deceased, and the epitaph: Hyrule Castle
Hero of Time
Savior of Hyrule
He lived and died a hero.
May Time never forget his deeds.
A part of it was written in a strange language – the name. Link recognized the letters, however. They spelled his own name in that ancient language that was sometimes used in novelty, usually just to engrave names on things. It was a predecessor-language to Hylian, or so the stories would have it. There had been at least two languages that pre-dated Hylian, according to Shad, and that didn’t even take into account the Sky Language, which was something else entirely. Something very interesting that Shad had pointed out the last time Link had come to this place was that the Hylian on the stone was their own, modern Hylian. The Hero of Time had lived when an older form had been in use. Link had guessed that the Temple of Time perhaps had changed it, given its mysterious powers – just to make sure the old Hero would be remembered with a proper and readable epitaph. Shad’s guess was more mundane – he’d speculated that after the linguistic transition, there had been people who’d known of the grave and had given it a fresh headstone. In any case, the tombstone was quite old by now, worn subtly by rain and wind at the edges.
Link stood apart from the headstone, about a man’s length so that he guessed he was at the feet of what lay below, took out the Ordon sword, put its tip into the ground, and knelt. After a moment’s reflection, he stood up and sheathed his blade. He kept his head bowed slightly, his eyes falling onto the name etched into the stone.
“I came to pay my respects, I guess,” he said slowly, “though it’s kind of weird to talk to a dead man I never even knew. I wonder sometimes if I might have met you… that bony old ghost who gave me sword-training. I don’t know. I hope he wasn’t you because he wasn’t at peace. According to all the stories I’ve heard… if anyone in Hyrule ever deserved peace, it’s you.”
The breeze stirred the grass and Link listened to it for a moment, wetting his lips.
“The legends are kind of… odd, actually, garbled. I’ve heard and read stuff about split timelines – you saving some time that isn’t this time and the people of Hyrule somehow remembering it, even though you prevented it all from happening… And some weird otherworld where you stopped a moon from destroying everything. We all know you became a protector of Hyrule after that and did many things to help the country. People still speak of you. In fact, they’ve been comparing me to you… a lot.”
Link looked up for a moment.
“I’ve always been proud to have you as my ancestor… always felt special to be a part of your family-line. But…I saved two worlds as well, it would seem… I’m not used to the fame and the accolades. I’m not used to being treated with the reverence the people have been treating me with lately. Did you have to put up with this? Of course you did. At the very same time, I feel like I am just a shadow of you… People love me, but all anyone ever does is compare me to the ancient Hero who came before. I am loved, but you are still loved more, it would appear. I suppose I’ll get remembered, too, but it will be only as a shadow of you.
“It’s okay. I’m not complaining. It just feels strange to me. Just strange, that’s all. It’s like I’m not even my own person anymore – not like before the clouds of Twilight fell.”
Link stirred a bit of dirt and grass with the toe of his boot. “I guess the only thing I’m really wondering, now,” he said softly, “is if you have been able to watch me from beyond somehow. If so… did I do good? That’s the other thing that scares me. Ganondorf… he’s an ancient evil, right? He was supposed to be dead but survived his execution. Power… such power. When I drew the Master Sword out of his body, he didn’t just drop like you’d expect. He vanished… He turned into ashes and scattered on the wind. I don’t know what to make of that. Does it mean that he’ll come back someday and the cycle of darkness and pain will begin all over again? You took care of him once - then I took care of him again. I guess what I’m wondering is… one day, will some descendant of mine be standing before my grave after having to finish what we both started? Is this an endless chain?”
The young Hero sighed very deeply. “I don’t know if I’ve lived up to your legacy, sir. Would you be proud of me? Are you proud of me? I have always felt honored to have your blood in me. A lot of it was spilled and I have the scars to prove it. Was too much of it spilled in my sloppiness? I was just a goat herder, groping in the dark, wanting to rescue my friends and finding the world along the way. I still don’t feel like a real Hero. Not like you.”
Link paused and thought for just a moment, re-reading the inscription on the tombstone. “People have told me that I have your essence. Some claim that I’m you reborn.”
And he stared at the ground and tombstone in horror. For a moment, for just a few seconds that ticked away into minutes, the young man was struck with a profound thought. It disturbed him greatly, especially upon reflecting over his previous thought about an endless chain. What if he’d been the man in the ground? What if he was an ancient soul, a reincarnation? Was he, in fact, looking at his OWN grave?
Link shook his head. He felt a breeze tickle his right ear, which he twitched. He felt a pressure on his shoulder and turned around. Nothing was there, but he was so certain he heard something – a voice echoing in his mind. Perhaps it was just a feeling – a gentle warmth that welled up within his heart. He felt assured all of a sudden.
I am so proud of you.
The Hero of Time stood behind the Hero of Twilight, a spirit unseen. He put his hand on his successor’s shoulder.
I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to carry on my legacy – our legacy now. You did good, kid, very good. You have many more adventures ahead of you. Live your life, for life is precious. At the end of it, I will be waiting to welcome you home.
With that, he departed, back into the wind and back into a place that was outside of Time.
Link turned around and watched as what seemed to be mild whirlwind kicked up some fallen leaves and stirred the grass for a moment. He smiled and nodded once more to the grave before walking back across the clearing to clamber back over the wall. He was feeling much better now than he had been when he’d entered this area. The strains of the forest’s music began to pick up again. As he walked past the
, a single sentence curled itself around his mind. Templeof Time
“I am so proud of you.”
I seem to remember when I originally made the fan art painting, imagining the grave as being in some secret area on the grounds of
. When I got the idea for the fanfic, I changed my mind just because having it near the Hyrule Castle made more sense to me. Strangely enough, I did the painting quite a while before I moved to my current residence. Templeof Time
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