Story: The Lost Years (chapter 18)
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Title: Year 6 & 7: The King's Triumph
[Author's notes: This spent a long time in beta. Not much else I can say.
5/23/2010: Not long enough it seems. This chapter created a hole in continuity. The previous chapter has been edited to close this hole.]
Lina woke up with a crick in her neck and a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach. She thought it was hunger at first, but she could hear an argument, just on the edge of her hearing.
She slowly crawled out of bed, trying to figure out what was going on. As she approached the window, she could make out what was being argued. She could barely see the figures of the two people arguing, the rain was pouring too hard.
“...saying that you cannot simply take the horse! She’s not for sale, she’s too young!” Talon’s voice was hoarse, probably from the stress he had been putting on his throat (the most stress he had likely endured in some time).
“And I’m saying that the King demands the horse right now.” The other voice sounded familiar, but Lina could not see who was speaking. “Now, I am authorized to take the horse, by whatever means necessary.”
“Are you threatening me?” Talon’s voice was as loud as his hoarse voice could muster. Lightning lit up the ranch for a fleeting moment, and Lina clearly saw that Talon’s brow was furrowed.
Another bolt of lightning soared through the air, and Lina could finally make out the features of the second man. He was at least a head taller than Talon, with faded purple hair and purple garb...
It couldn’t be that small a world, could it?
“Maybe I am,” the man in purple told him. “That horse is property of the King!”
“Then the King’ll have to buy it,” Talon replied. “I may not be a great businessman, but I know that horse is worth money and that the ranch would go under if I just gave away horses!”
“Lina?” Lina turned around to see Malon, groggily rubbing her eyes. “What’s going on?”
Lina was as sure as the rain what was about to happen, she knew she was beginning to live on borrowed time. She’d been hoping that she’d have at least another year though.
“I’m going to have to leave soon, Malon.” Malon seemed to shake herself awake at the news. “I said I couldn’t stay the whole time.”
“But you can’t leave now! Not like this!”
Lina looked at Malon, a sad look in her eye. “It has to be like this. Send Saria and Ruto a letter saying that I’m sorry I couldn’t make it.”
“But you told me everything was going to be okay!”
“It will be eventually.” Lina leaned against a nearby wall and slid to the floor. “You have to trust me. Everything will be okay eventually.”
Malon stared at Lina, flabbergasted. “But you said-”
“I told you that I’d save the world in seven years. That was true. I’d be saving a world where Talon is no longer running the Ranch.”
There was a lull in the conversation, as Malon sat on one of the beds with her head in her hands. “You told me everything was going to be okay...”
Lina stared at Malon, trying to stay calm. “It’s going to be. I promise.” Malon continued to hold her head in her hands. “Malon, please, look at me.”
Malon did as she was asked, but what Lina saw broke her heart. There were tears freely streaming down her face, and she was sniffling. “W-Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because I knew you’d try to stop me,” stated Lina. “I know how you feel about the animals and the ranch.”
“It’s not fair,” Malon complained. She was getting angry now. “You knew this was going to happen, and you didn’t do anything about it!”
“It’s not that I didn’t, it’s that I couldn’t!”
The door to their room opened suddenly, and Talon poked his head inside. He was soaked to the bone, and the rain was flowing off his astounding facial hair. “What are you two doing awake?”
Malon and Lina looked at each other for a moment before Malon lied, “I had... had a bad dream.” She would have given anything, at that moment, to be telling the truth.
Talon nodded his head and tried to smile, but Lina could tell that it was a hollow one. She knew time was finally running out for the both of them.
The next day, Lina stayed in her room. She was checking and double-checking to make sure she wouldn’t be leaving anything behind. The Golden Gauntlets, the Longshot, the Fairy Bow... everything had to go. She couldn’t break the chain of events that had led to her... no, his... inevitable victory.
There was a silver lining in all of this. Once Ganondorf was defeated, she could be honest again, find a cure for her condition. The curse that had been placed upon her was a powerful one, but Zelda or Rauru or someone had to know something...
It hit Lina just then. The Triforce.
The Triforce could grant any wish with the power of the goddesses. Ganondorf had used it to become the King of Evil, it couldn’t be a stretch to ask it to remove the curse. Of course! Why hadn’t she thought of that sooner! Once Ganondorf was defeated...
The answer to that question seemed obvious now – so many things had distracted her. The shock of being cursed, her trip to Termina, fighting against Veran and Onox...
Lina’s heart sank. Onox. General Onox was still alive. Onox had brought with him a force of Darknuts, creatures that he had never fought while on his quest. The status quo had not been maintained. Oh sure, the Darknuts and the Iron Knuckles were similar, but the simple truth was that she still hadn’t faced a single Darknut during his quest.
The General had to be defeated, or everything would be for naught. Oh sure, perhaps Link would still have succeeded, but it would have definitely been a different journey.
Outside, she could see Talon staring at Ingo in shock. No doubt Ingo had been offered the ranch by Vaati or Ganondorf after Talon’s refusal the previous night; he had a wide smile on his face.
Lina made one last check, and found that she had nearly forgotten those boxes the Keaton had given her at the Milk Festival those years ago. It only took a few seconds to pack those away. It was during that last check that she realized she had a few clothes too many.
Lina... Link placed the kimono on Malon’s bed with a small note of apology. She... no he... had to succeed. He would succeed.
As Link slowly made her way towards the castle walls, he couldn’t help but dwell on Malon’s teary face. Ingo would be taking over the ranch any day now. Talon would be kicked out. Malon would stay to make sure Ingo didn’t mistreat the animals. All would be as it was when he found it.
He was at the castle moat now, and the sun was beginning to set. The drawbridge was already rising, and he wouldn’t be able to jump onto it. This was practically going to be a suicide mission; he was wearing clothes from the ranch, not any of her tunics or the kimono.
Atop the walls, he could see Darknuts patrolling for intruders. He took out her bow and took aim, he would only get one shot...
As the arrow flew straight and true, Link knew he still had it. The Darknut slowed down as ice began to form around it, until there was a block of ice. Link smiled as he fired the Longshot at the block, and found herself flying over the moat and into the ice. When he hit the frozen Darknut, the block shattered into pieces and flew into the streets below.
He followed right after, not giving any other Darknuts the chance to see her. The fall down to the ground of what remained of Hyrule Castle Town was mitigated thanks to a timely roll.
Making her way through the town was like retracing her... his steps. Play the Sun’s Song, freeze the Redead, move on. He took a moment to look at the Temple of Time.
That was where it had all started. The adventure had begun with the Deku Tree, but his problems had begun with the Temple. It was there that he had been sent to sleep for seven years. It was there that he had unwittingly allowed Ganondorf the power of the Triforce.
But everything would be coming full circle soon enough. In about a year’s time, maybe less, he would be waking up to the sight of Rauru.
Lina, Link, she, he, none of it mattered anymore. All that mattered was the timeline. He had to focus on the timeline.
He went in the direction of the castle, knowing now that Ganondorf had certainly replaced it with his own. Sure enough, the castle lorded over all that stood around it, surrounded by a moat of molten hot lava.
There would be no bridge this time, no Sage-assisted walk into the belly of the beast. This would have to be all her.
Lina began to take steps away from the castle, knowing he would need a running start. He knew from experience how much room he’d need... but he took an extra couple steps back, just in case.
He reached into her pockets and took out a Roc’s Feather. It had been so long since her misadventures in Termina. But she wasn’t sure if just the Feather alone would cover it...
It would have to do. Lina broke into a sprint, trying to get as much out of the jump as possible. At the edge of the ground, he took her chances and leap forth.
The Feather made her jump far, but at the height of her jump Lina could see that he was not going to make it. Thinking quickly, he unheathed her Gilded Sword and pointed the blade at the incoming wall of rock.
He felt undeniable pain as he collided with the rock, but smiled as he also felt her sword sink into the rock. With her free hand, Lina dug into the rock with the Golden Gauntlets.
The sword and gauntlets helped her cling to the surface and to slow her descent into a fiery grave. It took a bit longer than he would have liked, but Lina finally came to a halt at least a dozen feet from the entrance to the castle.
It would be one hell of a climb.
The General of Darkness stood in the main hall, with his right-hand Darknut. “He spends too much time with that boy,” he grunted. “I swear to the Goddesses, I’ve about had it with him.”
The Darknut grunted in agreement.
Onox continued, “I’ve already given the order to my men. If he ends up screwing me over, we go back to Holodrum.”
The Darknut was silent.
“You don’t talk much, do you?”
The Darknut howled as he suddenly was enveloped in light before exploded in a beam of said light. The sudden death of his lieutenant caught his attention, and he came face to face with Lina. “Little woman, I have no idea who you think you are, but I know what you really are.” He held out his right hand, and a handle materialized in his grasp. A chain appeared attached to it, and on the other end of the chain was a large spiked ball. “A fool.”
Lina pointed her Gilded Blade with one hand and prepared her Mirror Shield with the other. “Only a heroic one."
He could see a smile under Onox’s helmet as he began to twirl his impossibly large flail with a jerk of his hand.
The flail came at her much faster than he thought possible, nicking her shield. But the force behind it made her take a step back and to the right. The ball returned to its master with just as great a speed, and began to be twirled around once more.
Lina slowly took steps to her side, as a plan was slowly forming in her head. It would take the right timing, but he was still fast enough...
The ball would have hit her if he’d kept going in the same direction. Instead, he quickly side-stepped in the other direction as soon as he saw the flail launched her way.
The stone floor shattered under the strike as bits of rock easily flew a foot from the point of impact. As Onox began to pull the weapon back to his person, Lina ran towards him as well with her blade beginning to pulsate with a green energy.
The flail had caught up with Lina by the time the energy changed from green to a reddish-orange. She spun her blade around herself, managing to slice through a chink in the General’s armor. He grunted audibly in pain as he brought the flail around in retaliation, barely giving Lina enough time to jump back and out of the way.
Onox’s free hand went to his side, where blood was beginning drip down his armor. “You bitch.”
Lina couldn’t help but smile as he began to charge her sword once more. This was going to be fun.
Ganondorf and Vaati made their way down the stairs and quickly as they could, trying to make their way to where they knew Onox was fighting. “Do we have any idea who’s stupid enough to come here?”
“No idea,” Vaati claimed. Time, torture, and training had taken its toll on him, and what had once been a spoilt young boy had become an embittered young man. “I’m sure it’ll be an interesting answer.”
As they descended, they passed by several Stalfos which stood at attention, and a large number of Darknuts whom all were speaking in whispers. The latter worried Ganondorf; he would have to crack some heads and get answers once this was done.
They were only four flights away now, and they could distinctly hear the sound of stone being shattered by something. As they approached the third flight, a loud yell erupted from downstairs. Ganondorf and Vaati looked at each other for a brief moment before doubling their efforts.
Bright lights were lighting up the area around them as they approached the second flight. All of the Darknuts were being enveloped by blue light and beginning to disappear. They appeared solemn and almost sad as they disappeared from the castle. Ganondorf stared at the Darknuts as he asked a more corporeal Darknut, “What in the name of the Goddesses is going on?”
The Darknut handed the King of Evil a piece of parchment before being enveloped by the same light as his brethren and fading away.
Ganondorf began to read the parchment as Vaati went on down the remaining flights on his own. The budding mage seemed to fly down those final steps as he finally arrived, and could be nothing short of speechless at the sight before him.
The room had been broken into several pieces, with random tiles all over the chamber missing pieces or missing in entirety. Onox was laying face first on the floor, not moving an inch. His armor was covered with blood, his flail easily a foot from his hand.
Vaati stared at the fallen General’s body as he felt Ganondorf approach. “The Darknuts. They’re all gone.” The young man turned to face his master, who was holding that piece of parchment. “It’s apparently a tradition of the Darknuts that when their leader dies, they’re bound to leave in order to elect a new leader.” He crumples up the message and allows his fist to create a purple flame, burning the note. “Such good lackeys.”
Vaati stared at the passage that led out of the castle. His master seemed too distracted by how to counteract the sudden removal of his best minions, so he would need to find the answers.
Link leaped from building to building with her Roc’s Feather, deciding to avoid the Redead as much as she could. Escaping the castle and the surrounding town was surprisingly simple, much more so than getting in. The Feather proved very effective at letting her cover ground, and she soon found herself jumping atop the castle wall.
She stood still for a moment as she looked over the landscape. Link knew this would be the last time she would be able to do anything; she would have to wait for her past and future self to catch up to her.
Her heart sank as she heard someone walk up next to her. The new arrival seemed quite snide as Link heard it say, “Oh, I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”
Link barely had enough time to look at the man before a strong wind blew into her, sweeping her off her feet and straight into a battlement. She finally looked at her assailant, and knew that the world was indeed, that small.
The purple-haired man stood before her, an ornate rapier in one hand and a ball of condensed wind in the other. “Vaati?”
“Oh good,” he sneered, “she remembers my name.” Before Link could respond, she felt a sharp pain in her right shoulder; Vaati had plunged his rapier into it. As he took the blade out, blood began to soak Link’s garb. “I don’t know how you did it. Killing Onox. But you’ve been a pain in our collective sides for far too long.” Link barely had enough time to dodge Vaati’s next strike, nearly being stabbed through the heart.
Link finally got to her feet and unsheathed her Gilded Blade and the Mirror Shield. “You’re just bitter because you couldn’t stay on the ranch.”
“Bitter is only scratching the surface.” Link deflected another of Vaati’s thrusts with her shield before attempting a slash of her own. He redirected it with the rapier as the two stared at each other. “Bitter was me getting sent away from the ranch. It’s not just bitterness, Lina. It’s full-fledged hate.”
Link was having a difficult time keeping up with deflecting Vaati’s blade, not because Vaati was that good but because pain was shooting up and down Link’s shield arm. He was a surprisingly good swordsman, perhaps Ganondorf had taught him more than mere magic?
Vaati fired a blast of wind from his free hand, with Link barely having enough strength in her right arm to hold up her shield. The spell hit the shield, forcing Link to take a few steps back. The force of the wind intensified the pain in her right arm, but the spell itself into the shield for a moment before blasting back at her opponent.
The sheer pain from trying to stand against the momentum of the spell was horribly painful, and Lina was forced to put her shield away.
As their blades clashed once more, Link felt naked. She was fighting without a shield for the first time in fourteen years. She had no protective tunic, not even the kimono from Termina. Link quietly activated the magic spell Nayru’s Love, hoping the magic could stop any lucky strike Vaati might score.
It was a wise move. Link’s swordsmanship was thrown off by the absence of her shield, putting her at a massive disadvantage. As she felt his blade meet the magical shell time after time, she knew it was only a waiting game for him.
As Link felt the shell begin to weaken, Vaati relented for a moment, content to taunt her. “And to think you gave me so much trouble when we were kids.” Link stumbled a bit as she prepared to defend against Vaati once more.
Vaati prepared to stab Link once more. He missed and hit the Gilded Blade with a strong blow, shattering the sword. “There’s something not right about you. I can sense some sort of taint upon you.”
Link laughed hollowly at that as the golden steel fell into her hands. She was so close to that seventh year... she wasn’t about to let some purple-haired prick stop her now. A quick glance at her empty bottles told her all of them were empty save one. “Isn’t it customary to give the condemned a final request?”
Vaati stared at her coldly, but nodded. “Not like you’ve got anything left in you.” He watched carefully as Link pulled out the Fairy Ocarina. “What are you doing?”
“My final request.” Link began to play a tune from memory, one she hadn’t played in years. It was darkly soothing to play it again, even if the memories attached to the notes weren’t happy ones.
A smile came to her face as she put the ocarina away. Vaati seemed amused. “That was pitiful.”
Link smiled as she closed her eyes and slumped against the stone. Vaati stared at her, disbelieving. “Pitiful.” He prepared to finish her off when a swarm of purple lights enveloped Link’s body.
She had disappeared seemingly into air.
When Link regained consciousness, she found herself looking at a wood ceiling. It was puzzling; the Nocturne of Shadow should have placed her in the Kakariko Graveyard.
“You’re awake.” Link tried to get off the bed, but a strong hand forced her to lie down. “You looked like you went through the wringer. I thought you were a goner.” Link took deep breaths, trying to understand what had happened.”You were covered in blood and sweat, and I couldn’t see you breathing. I brought you back here, and the strangest thing happened. I heard a bottle uncork, and this fairy just started flying around. Next thing I knew, you started breathing.” She paused before she told Link, “I don’t know what you were doing there, but don’t go back. There’s something wrong with that part of the graveyard. Call it a bad vibe.”
Link tried to laugh, but it hurt too much. Besides, there were bigger things on her plate besides the food that Impa was giving her. The Gilded Blade was in pieces. Malon wasn’t speaking to her, and was all alone with Ingo. The friends that had kept her going for the last few years couldn’t see her anymore, and Link knew that everyone was going to start being attracted to the Temples soon. Impa had already shown signs of interest.
“Can I stay here?” Link’s question caught Impa off guard.”I don’t really know anyone in town.”
“Here? Why can’t you stay on the ranch with Malon?” Link’s silence told her everything she had to know. “...I see.”
Of course she didn’t know the truth. All she knew was not to push the issue.
The hourglass was almost empty.
Link stretched in Impa’s house the way she had for months now, trying to force time to go faster by wasting as much of it as she could. It was not a successful effort, and all it did was make Link feel she wasn’t being honest with herself.
Speaking of honesty, Impa had been going on trips recently. Impa said they were business, but Link suspected otherwise. She suspected the Mayor was visiting the Shadow Temple, but she couldn’t prove that. Regardless, Link hadn’t seen her for a few days now. She was getting worried. A knock at the door gave Link a fleeting hope that Impa had finally returned.
The door swung open, and there was Din. The Oracle of Seasons had visited from time to time to Impa’s chagrin (or was she faking it?). “I’m terribly sorry Lina, but have you seen Impa? I’ve been looking all over for her.”
“I’m sorry. I’ve been a little concerned too.” Din seemed depressed by the lack of news as she slowly walked back into the town.
Link sighed as she closed the door behind her. Things just didn’t seem right. Everything had been returned to the status quo, but the status quo still felt wrong.
A quick look in the mirror told Link all she need to know about what was wrong. He was still a she. The pert breasts and womanly figure told her that. After growing up as a woman, she still felt trapped. There was nothing right about this situation.
Link stared at the bed and decided to waste time by sleeping.
She woke up with a start as someone was shaking her. “Wake up, Lina! Wake up!”
Link rubbed her eyes bristling for a moment as she heard her cover name. She quickly woke up when she saw who it was that’d woke her up. “Sheik?”
“There’s no time,” Sheik told her. “Get to the high ground while you can! Hurry!”
It was then that Link knew what was going on. She quickly gathered her belongings and followed Sheik to the Death Mountain Trail. The windmill was turning into a circle of fire, buildings everywhere were blazing wildly.
As Lina finally made it to the Trail, Sheik took a deep breath. “You’ll be safe here. Just stay here for a bit.”
Sheik ran back into town a few moments later. Another minute later and Link could see a fairy accompanying a man dressed in a green tunic, the strange duo running into the fire.
Everything was finally coming full circle.
[End notes: And now we're almost full-circle. But of course, there's a few loose ends that are still around....]
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