Story Setting: A mixture of worlds, most notably and initially the cartoon series The Legend of Zelda and secondly, the N64 game Ocarina of Time, with tidbits from other games and genre history as well.
A/N: Though I am a major fan of the Link and Zelda games, I’ve never ventured into the fandom. I don’t know what’s out there, or how much life it has left. I was issued a challenge to write a story after a marathon run-through of The Legend of Zelda cartoon series. Although I didn’t exactly meet the challenge requirements, it was issued four years ago, and I doubt she remembers. More recently, over Christmas, I did another marathon run-through of the series. This time with my baby brother walking in on occasion and pointing out the serious differences between Link then, and Link as he’s been established since Ocarina of Time. The idea for this story was born, and I decided to try another crack at it.
Moblins. At least once a week, sometimes more, he woke to find them in the Triforce Chamber. Half of their numbers intent upon stealing the Triforce of Wisdom, while the others attempted to kill him in his sleep. Such trials were nothing new to him. Such Moblin attacks were no different then their brethren or bandits in his travels before Hyrule. No, it was life in the Palace, or rather the two females there with him, that he was utterly unprepared for.
Spryte wasn’t so bad. Sometimes he suspected she knew more about him then she let on, but she wasn’t so pushy…or nosey. But then, her people were more in-tune to the world outside of Hyrule. When he stopped to think about it, he wasn’t truly surprised.
Then there was Zelda, the Hylian Princess. Beautiful as any Princess could dream, and powerful in magic as befit the Hyrule Heir. Her mother had passed on while she was very young, leaving her an only child, and spoiled rotten by her father in his grief. Highly intelligent, there was no questioning her devotion or love for her people. That was, after all, why he was there; her “humble” request to protect the Triforce of Wisdom from Ganon. The occasional attempt to retrieve the Triforce of Power kept him from becoming entirely bored, but….
‘But that shouldn’t matter. That’s not why I’m here.’ He had admired Zelda’s zeal and devotion, at first. But as weeks turned into many months, he had come to realize just how narrow-minded she was. And how blue-blooded. Prince Façade had made her opinion painfully clear. Only when she had no option did she turn to him, her wounded pride and fear lashing out at the prince once Ganon’s minions were thwarted. ‘I’d held my breath for two days afterwards, waiting for an apology or any hint of remorse for her behavior and actions during Façade’s stay. But to no avail.’
The belittlements, scathing remarks and degrading words increased after that event. As if she regretted her choice of a lowly, traveling adventurer/hero over a dirt-a-phobic yet heroic Prince. “A Hero? No, but I suppose Link will have to do.”
But by far, the “adventure” that had truly frightened him was when Zelda’s fumbling with the Triforce during one of Ganon’s attacks, split his spirit from his body, leaving his body to be captured and taken to Ganon’s Evil Jar. He hadn’t let on to it at the time, or even afterwards; Zelda never asked after him either. She had been more concerned and flustered over Ganon’s comment about her feelings for him, and from there angry with them both. It was just as well, but that made it no less depressing.
He still tried to barter a kiss from her, but with notably less enthusiasm…though the encounter with the disguised Gibdo Mummy had a small hand in that as well. What was the point, really? Or so it seemed to him at least…even Spryte had noticed. She hardly felt the need to break them apart whenever too close anymore. Zelda, the focus of the attention, never noticed. She was the Princess, it was expected that she be fawned over; another blue-blood trait.
Waking up from dreams of his travels before Hyrule to those depressing thoughts, made for a poor morning. Being drawn from those thoughts by a Moblin club to the chest made it bad; dealing with the larger-then-normal group with bruised ribs made it worse. The last of them laid a hand on the Triforce before he could fire a shot at it. He’d fumbled a routine back-flip from the last two, but his ribs flared in pain, and he collapsed without breath. But even on his belly, the pressure building behind his ribs, his shot was true and perfect.
Climbing to his feet with a groan, one hand tugging his night shirt back down, Link grabbed the top sheet from the bed and wrapped an arm around his throbbing ribs. Twisting his body as little as possible, he tossed the sheet over the Triforce and gathered the ends of the sheet into one hand. Drawing in a deep breath, he braced himself and turned his back to the Triforce. With the sheet over his shoulder and arm braced against his upper body, he pulled the Triforce back to its proper position over the podium. Shoulders dropping in relief, Link released half of the sheet then tossed it back to the bed.
‘This life here is making me soft. I shouldn’t be so hampered from a single blow…I shouldn’t have been caught off-guard either. Having to rely on Moblins and the rest of Ganon’s crew to keep my skills sharp is ruining me. That fight with the Octorok, even that run-in with Sleazenose are proof enough.’ Lost in thought, Link wondered around the Triforce chamber, fixing the damage done by the fight.
‘All of Hyrule’s vaunted magical strength, and they can’t even erect a barrier around this one chamber. I feel like a prisoner here; I’ve never been in the same place for so long since leaving the village. I suppose it’s for the good of the Hylians. But…what good am I if I can’t keep my skills sharp?’ Taking his blade up, Link took up a defensive position with a wince, but otherwise ignored the pain in his ribs. ‘I can’t leave the Triforce to go train, or to even get a breather in the forest. Nothing to do but press on.’ That was another depressing thought. He hadn’t been tied down since leaving the village either, something he had fought to keep from happening. To not be able to take off for the forest or a secluded trail had almost killed him the first few months in Hyrule. The novelty of “city life” had quickly worn thin on him.
Fighting to keep his expression clear of all but the strain of his maneuvers, Link moved through the familiar steps of a warrior’s dance for an hour without interruption. When that interruption came, it was abrupt and walked through the Chamber’s door without so much as a knock for announcement. ‘Such respect. If the same had been done to her, instant punishment or the dungeons. Though, the dungeons would be counter-productive to protecting the Triforce…not that it would matter.’
“Ugh!” Three steps into the room, Zelda held a half-curled hand to her mouth, as if truly disgusted. “Honestly Link,” a hand went straight to her pants-covered hip. “Is it so difficult to clean up after yourself?”
Finishing his final form before he would lower his weapon, Link swept his eyes over the room before he focused his attention on the princess. ‘I didn’t miss anything from the attack…. Is she talking about the bed?’
Spinning on her booted heel, Zelda walked towards him with a purposeful stride. “And you haven’t even dressed for the day!” Stopping before him, she shoved a manicured nail into his chest. “You’re so irresponsible Link! You skipped morning meal to play with your sword. You’ve no manners to speak of!” With a final jab, she stepped back and waved a neglectful hand towards the dresser she’d had moved into the chambers for him. “Get dressed and come down to the reception hall. It needs to be scrubbed to perfection before noon. We’ve a very important guest arriving, and you’ve already wasted hours. Spryte’s already working on the throne room and dinning chamber.”
She was already out the door before he could open his mouth. “And how am I to protect the Triforce if Moblins enter the Chamber again?”
Zelda turned around in the arch-way to look at him. “Again? It doesn’t look like they’ve been here for weeks. You’re not getting out of chores that easily.”
Link felt his eye twitch, but stood his ground; he felt his heart beat grow harder in his chest as he kept his voice even. “Which is more important Princess? Chores or Duty?” he asked her, eyes locked with her own. “Don’t you employ staff to maintain your Palace?”
Princess Zelda’s expression tightened and her eyes narrowed on him. “There you go, pushing your responsibilities off onto others. We’re giving you room and board in the Palace without any fee. It is only proper for you to help in maintaining the place you are living. Is that so difficult?”
Anger tightened his throat, while pain, both physical and emotional, stole his breath. He put his back to her and after a moment, walked towards the dresser. He couldn’t even say the line she’d become so familiar with from him, knowing words far worse would be given breath instead. His sword was trembling at his side, he was clutching the hilt so hard. He heard a triumphant, superior little sound from Zelda’s throat before she shut the door, believing she’d put him in his place and giving him his privacy to change as a reward.
Looking around the chamber walls, barren save for the single window he’d often stared through, and a framed portrait of Zelda that the Princess had hung herself, he made his decision.
“You certainly took your time Link.” He heard Zelda’s voice before he saw her. Rounding the corner to enter the reception hall, Link released the deep breath he’d been holding. “I was going to offer you some fruit before you got to work, but you’ve wasted enough time already.”
“Packing takes time, Princess, even when you own as little as I do.” He’d also taken the time to wrap his ribs as a precaution before dressing. A painful endeavor in its own right. Zelda spun on her heel to face him, an eyebrow arched in sarcastic disbelief. Her eyes quickly took in the straps over his shoulders and the pack against his back, beneath his shield, and she wavered. “I’m sure I can find something to eat in town or on the road, so do not worry about your un-offered fruit. Good life to you, Princess.” Inclining his head towards her, Link turned to leave.
“W-wait,” Zelda called after him. Taking a single step towards him, she raised a hand as if to stop him. “What about the Triforce? And Ganon?”
Link stopped, but did not turn back to look at her as he spoke. “What of them? They are as they were before I arrived. Back then, you asked me to aid you in protecting the Triforce, but I see now that you only desired another hand-servant. The danger to the Triforce was a wonderful excuse Princess, I give you that.”
“Your concern is touching,” Link replied, his eyes closed and voice quiet. “I managed well enough before I came to Hyrule, I will do so again. …I apologize Princess. It was a mistake to come here before the crisis. I feel I’ve only delayed the inevitable, and worsened the situation, rather then prevent it before it might happen.”
Lowering her head to a normal level, Zelda half-turned it to look at Link in confusion. “Crisis? What are you talking about? The only crisis will be if Ganon takes the Triforce of Wisdom. Hyrule would fall into darkness then.”
Tipping his head back, Link looked out through the high, shattered glass mural and sighed. “It’s always and only Hyrule with you, Princess. What of the rest of the land?” Shaking his head, he glanced back over his shoulder towards her. “Again, my apologies for arriving too soon. I’ll be on my way.”
Laughter, deep, dark and far more ominous then anything they’d heard from Ganon filled the reception hall. Still watching Link, Zelda witnessed true fear widen his eyes before the sound faded. It was followed immediately by a dark force that struck Link, lifting him from his feet. His back connected with the hall’s wall with a sickening sound, then released him to slide down limply. “Well, this is a twist!” A tall, dark figure stood shrouded in the reception hall’s entrance, where Link had stood moments before. “With every new threat, every incarnation, the Princess is the first to realize the situation and to seek your aid. But this time the Hero realized it, and rushed off to protect the Kingdom and the Land.”
That awful laughter filled the hall once more. “What a fool! You’ve wasted so much time here, catering to an un-awakened Princess’ whims! Although I must admit, this was the last place I expected to find you, Hero. I’d given up my search for you, and was going to proceed without you. But now….” Stepping forward, the man’s hood fell back to reveal a dark skinned man with painted eyes and a jewel strung above and between large crimson eyes. Link stirred as the man took another step forward. With a cruel smirk, the stranger lifted a hand palm out towards the fallen Hero. “What a quaint disguise. Your glamour’s worn thin over time. Perhaps you gave up on me finding you as well?”
Darkness surrounded Link. Before she lost sight of him completely, Zelda saw his lips peel back in a silent grimace of pain. She stood motionless and watched, helpless. She didn’t have her crossbow on her, and Link still had the boomerang. The darkness faded before she could think of a plan, and her concern for Link kept her watching to learn what had happened to him. Before her eyes, his shoulder-length brown hair lightened to a dirty blond beneath his green cap. His eyes were closed, but the shape of his face seemed slightly different. Link shifted, drawing her attention to his shorter tunic…but his clothing hadn’t changed, so that meant he was taller. Link opened his eyes to glare at the stranger, and Zelda felt her breath catch at their sharpness. He stood slowly, and she caught a glint of something in his left ear. ‘An earring? I never realized he was pierced….’
“You’ve not been to any of Farore’s Temples for a long time, boy. The Goddess may think you’ve deserted her and her path at this rate…as you deserted your village.” Sharp, pale-blue eyes narrowed, but Link said nothing. The stranger laughed, and Zelda gasped, recognizing him.
“Ganondorf,” she breathed. Staring at him with wide eyes, she felt her stomach clinch when he turned his gaze to her. It was the man that had requested an audience with her father. A king from lands outside of Hyrule. ‘What is going on here?’
“I can see Nayru’s touch upon you, Princess. You must commune with the Triforce quite regularly.” Ganondorf’s expression hardened. “Bring it to me at once.”
Eyes widening, Zelda became indignant and put one leg forward, her hands going to her hips. “I will do no such thing! The Triforce of Wisdom protects this kingdom.”
Arching a brow, Ganondorf glanced at Link briefly before shrugging. “Very well. As I have no need to use you as a hostage to draw out the Hero, I’ll just kill you now.” He fired a blast of dark magic at her, faster then she could raise a protective barrier. Ganondorf smirked and watched as Link leapt in front of the Princess, his blade striking the blast back at the sorcerer. But his angle was off, the blast went too high and shattered the stain-glass relief. Ganondorf laughed as the colored bits of glass fell around him.
“Link! Princess Zelda!” A small voice cried. Ganondorf watched curiously as a little female fairy darted into the room and hovered between the two Hylians. “What happened?”
A second blast struck Link’s shield, forcing the young man down to a knee. A third forced him from his feet and back into Zelda, collapsing the two to the stone floor without breath. The fairy erected a dome-shaped shield around the three of them, but Ganondorf didn’t care. With the barrier between himself and the Hero, he could hear Nayru’s song from her Triforce, and turned to follow it. “Wait for me here, Hero. I’ll return with Nayru’s Triforce of Wisdom, and force Farore’s Triforce of Courage from your body. After that, retrieving Din’s will be a simple matter.” His laughter echoed back behind him as he left their sight.
“Link!” Zelda and Spryte both cried out, the former faintly irritated that the Hylian was still laying on top of her legs. She pulled them out from under him, curling them at her side; Link stirred when his head hit the cold stone. He coughed and rolled onto his side as a sticky, coppery substance tickled his throat. Another cough pushed it out between his lips, and he clutched his ribs with a groan.
“Zelda, I smell blood!” Spryte shared a worried look with the princess before darting beneath Link’s shield. He’d curled onto his left side, and wrapped his right arm around his stomach--his shield still attached to his right arm, effectively hiding him from their view. “His lips are red!”
“Quick, unlatch his shield Spryte. Then alert the guards. We can’t let Ganondorf take the Triforce of Wisdom!” The little fairy quickly released the latch on Link’s shield, then hesitated for a second before darting out into the many halls, alerting everyone she found about the intruder.
‘I don’t understand everything that’s just happened,’ Zelda thought, pushing the shield away. She then looted through Link’s pouch until she found the boomerang and a crossbow. She left the bombs alone, knowing they wouldn’t be any good. Next she removed the bulbous jar beside the pouch; removing the cork, she slipped an arm beneath Link’s head and lifted him up enough to pour the potion down his throat. ‘You truly were going to leave. You should be up in the tower, protecting the Triforce…not here unconscious, after protecting me.’
Setting the jar aside, Zelda rubbed Link’s throat, coaxing him into swallowing the red-colored potion. ‘Who is Farore? Nayru and Din? I know the other lands worship various Deities, but I’ve never learned about them. Just like I never realized Link followed a Goddess.’ Blinking, Zelda stared down at the Hylian, still unconscious in her lap. His features weren’t the only things that were different. She could feel a different air, a different power about him, within him. ‘A glamour Ganondorf said. You’ve hidden so much of yourself, all these months…almost a year now. And what did Ganondorf mean, Triforce of Courage? I thought there were only two, Wisdom and Power?’
A groan from Link broke Zelda’s thoughts. She looked down to watch as he opened his eyes; they still held a gleam of pain, but the fog of confusion was quickly dissipating. He started and jerked up, eyes darting around for any sign of Ganondorf. Seeing nothing, he frowned and reached up to touch Spryte’s shield. It wasn’t as strong as he’d expected…and if he listened hard enough, he could hear the heavy fall of multiple feet running towards the Triforce’s tower. ‘Spryte must have alerted the guard. The further she gets from her shield, the weaker it grows. …He’ll be returning soon.’
Only vaguely aware of Zelda’s hands on his shoulders, Link opened his secondary pouch and felt around for the item he needed. Relief briefly shown in his eyes before he twisted up to his knees and around to face Zelda. Holding the item with both hands, he shook it out and spun it around her shoulders and clasped it there like a cloak.
Zelda, confusion obvious, was motionless in her stupor. But when he pulled her boot off, her anger snapped her from it, and she in turn snapped at him. “Link! What do you think--!” Crystal blue eyes widened and dropped down to stare at the finger Link was pressing against her lips. Looking back up to see the serious expression on his face, and the sharpness in his eyes, her anger cooled. Link motioned for her to look at her shoulder, then removed her second boot while she fought her initial reaction to scream. Her shoulder was missing, an half of her chest! But when she shifted her body, everything felt whole and uninjured…. ‘What did he give me?’ Reaching up, Zelda touched a hand to the light weight she felt on top of her blouse. ‘The clasp for a cloak? Yet I see nothing…literally! What magic is this?’
Zelda looked up in time to watch Link slip her tanned leather boots into a third pouch. Her eyes widened when he leaned forward and attached the pouch to her own belt without hesitation. When he straightened, he locked eyes with her immediately, and Zelda felt held in place by what she saw there. “You have the crossbow?”
Inhaling sharply, Zelda nodded after a moment. Even his voice had changed! No longer arrogant or grating, he was almost…soft-spoken, with the underlying edge that his eyes held. Link returned her nod, then reached around her to bring the cloak properly around her shoulders. “It will drain its own magic before tapping into yours. Use it until you’ve escaped Hyrule city, then only if you need to rest in the fields. Never stop in the fields at night; if you must rest, climb as high as you may in a tree. Do you know where Kakariko Village is?”
She had to think back to her geography classes, and nodded once she had a map of the land firmly pictured in her mind. “Yes, but--”
Again, Link cut her off. “Then run, and quickly. I put additional bolts and a potion in the pouch, but don’t stop and don’t fight unless absolutely necessary. Once you get there, seek out Impa. And…tell her she was right.” Reaching over Zelda’s shoulders, he found the hood with practiced ease and lifted it over her head. “Farewell Princess, safe journey.”
Standing, Link helped Zelda up to her bare feet, grabbed the edge of his shield, then pulled them both through Spryte’s barrier. Zelda hesitated once Link released her, and Link stared at her, as if knowing she was still standing before him. She opened her mouth, her lips moving without sound as she tried to decide what it was she wanted to say. But that evil, ominous presence was descending once more. Ganondorf was returning as he’d promised. Steeling herself and her will, Zelda nodded once before running on silent feet from her home, her people…and certain death. With every step her soul cried out in protest. She shouldn’t be running, she should be standing at Link’s side, fighting this darkness as they had always fought Ganon. But something in Link’s eyes had warned her from even thinking about such an act.
‘But this power, it’s so much stronger then Ganon’s, and that was before he stole the Triforce of Wisdom. What will it be like now? Oh Link, please be safe…and…I’m sorry….’