Thanks, Windy. I'm taking a break for the moment - too much to do, now that my day of unintentionally skipping class is gone - but watch for an update by the end of the week if you're interested in seeing how it turns out.
Hey, here's a thought - this thread's gotten a lot of views (130? Are you kidding?), and I doubt the four people posting (myself included) checked back that many times throughout the day. I'll only finish the story if enough of those people who read it without commenting come back and say they want to hear the end. Ha! The power-mad little king triumphs again!
Of course, it's likely that only three people read it and the rest just checked to see if it was something to look at; it's highly likely this little stunt of ego will backfire... well, let's see.
Yar, I know. I was already working on this when I made the request. Just a gamble, to see what happens. Maybe to point out that we writers need our support to.
(and maybe I should practice what I preach and go read something.)
Link rode through the night. This close to the last lands of Hyrule, the Tower all but his, a great and powerful mount to speed him on - as he twisted his fists in the horse’s mane and gritted his teeth, bowed his head to wind-whipped grit, he left thoughts of grief and doubt leave him. Just for the moment. They would always be nearby, anyway.
I am here. I have made it at last. The simple thought filled his head with song.
How old was he, now? He’d long lost count of days, weeks, months, years. He knew places, he knew deaths, he knew moments of agony and victory - those above all - and knew how old he was when he left. A boy. Just a boy. Like any other.
Why me? he thought, as he had a million times - but here and now it was different, somehow less-edged. He thought of Ganondorf’s head, silently screaming at all that they’d left. Why any of us.
It was nearer than ever before. The night air took on strange smells - like warm light and dewed grass. When he closed his eyes, he saw a dim, sparkling gold.
Had any of his distant selves come this far? He didn’t think so - Ganondorf said they had, but what did he know? He admitted he hadn’t always won against the many twins of Link. Which this Link took to mean he was too dead to know what happened to them after. Perhaps not - Ganondorf had had unspeakable powers. But Link felt alone.
What if the Tower did not yield to them, either?
And then he remembered the dead, the many dead, the many, many miles. Victories, small and sure. The journey in all it’s pitiful romance. It was worth it, he thought fiercely, and the golden glow behind his eyes faded.
No. I’ve lost it.
But his panic didn’t hold. For when he opened his eyes, there it was - smaller than he’d expected, but in the end, he wasn’t too surprised. A fat moon had risen behind it, and he jumped down from Grimghest in it’s shadow.
As if he couldn’t bare to look at it, he swiftly turned his attention to the horse. He unhooked the mouth-piece that gagged the animal, unstrapped the saddle from Grimghest’s strong back and let it crash to the ground. The horse did not flinch at the sound of its burden released, but shook his mane defiantly.
Link quickly rubbed the animal down, whispering prayers of thanks and fear as he did. You took me here in moments what would have lasted days. I am afraid of what I’ll find at the gate. I’m afraid I’m not worthy. Thank you, thank you. You saved me many nights of worry. Here it is. Here I am. He ended facing the horse, his face pressed against the star bloom on the black muzzle.
“Leave here. Tell them of my return. Those who will still stand to listen. Those who don’t spit at my name as they once spat at the name of your Master.” He fought tears, and then realized it was hopeless - and more, it was needed. He could not weep in the Tower. He needed to approach the topmost room where the Triforce lay trapped with a heart clean of grief.
So he wept. Grimghest shed a big, horsey tear for his own reasons, and gave what comfort he could.
“Tell them I’m sorry. Tell them I’m so very, very sorry.”
He held his breath for a spell, pulling back from the horse, and let it out it a cry that was heard in the dreams of all who’d had faith - and there were many more than he suspected.
“I! Link of Hyrule! Wielder of Courage! I come AT LAST to the Field of Glory! THE QUEST WAS NOT IN VAIN!”
And mothers and fathers wept, and sleeping children stirred, and wives held tight to their husbands; husbands held tighter their wives. He faced the road behind him one last time - the Tower waited at his back.
“It was not in vain,” he whispered, and turned.
The moon was peaking around the smooth shoulder of the Tower. A fat moon. It’s face was stoic, revealing nothing of it’s thoughts. The light it cast showed him all the glory of the thing hidden by the night. It was no dark tower, as he’d feared, but a smooth and shining monument of pearl. Each brick winked at him as the moon rose higher, and when the moon was at it’s peak, the whole surface of the Tower shimmered with an uncanny blue glow.
There were windows marking it’s surface in an ascending spiral. It was the one at the top he was interested in.
It was the only one that mattered.
The golden glow of the Triforce beckoned, winking out of the window on the Tower’s forehead: the godlight of an all-seeing eye.
Heh, so much cheesey goodness. Though you should know I rarely will leave a review/reply after being told the author will "post no more unless so and so replies/reviews" I hate that. Well whatever. Have a good nite.
Yeah, there's a bit more Drama than I usually like, but I'm trying to make the point that it's been bloody awful for him. Maybe I've gone to far...
Oh well. The end is nigh.
And it was kind of a joke, the no-love-no-story policy. But I did get one person who was reading but not writing anything to say hi. Sometimes I'd just like to know how many people have actually read it, as opposed to how many just looked in and then quickly walked away.
He ran to the base of the Tower, through the Field of Glory. He’d heard rumours of what he’d see - the walking dead, faces in every flower, laughing, crying, teasing - but now that he was here, with the Triforce’s pitiful cry (a despairing cry; all the tears of the world), still echoing into nothing someplace deep within him - now, he chose to close his eyes and run. He wouldn’t feel safe until he was in the Tower. He was coming at it blind, but he would not fall. Not now.
Despite his resolve, an eerie creaking noise made his eyes fly open. Not fifty yards away, the doors at the base of the Tower parted, slow as kissing lips. Link felt a pull, sudden and irresistible - his feet left the ground for a moment, and in that instant the distance between him and his goal had halved. He landed with a gasp. The doors parted further and Link grit his teeth. He could almost hear the Tower’s indrawn breath. His feet left the ground again before they touched the first pearly flagstones, and the door slammed hard behind him.
Grimghest, who had watched the man fly off his feet into the waiting mouth at the base of the Tower while he stamped his own, ran away. The rest of his long life was largely good.
Link feared he’d be squashed against the stones on the wall opposite the door - or perhaps speared on some sinister arrangement of sharp things.
But as the door closed behind him, he floated gently down and stood in a pool of light. He squinted. It shone down bright as the sun at noon, but devilishly focussed in around him. He couldn’t see anything other than the dust-motes drifting in and out of the beam.
Hands to daggers, he took a step forward.
The light followed. He rolled to the right, and the beam never missed a move.
Link stood and shook his head. Then he closed his eyes.
It took a moment as his ears adjusted to being bumped up in rank - in the growing noise he heard his heart. It’s beat was steady - no regrets, here, no fear. He had mourned the dead; it would only shame them if he didn’t finish.
He reached into his satchel and pulled out an old, pock-marked boomerang.
He flicked his wrist hard - the scrapes on it’s surface made the boomerang sing as it plinked off the walls of the room at the Tower’s base. He followed it’s progress with little nods of his head, eyes firmly shut. He raised his hand and the boomerang sailed back.
A deep breath.
Link jumped, kicked off the wall to his right, grabbed a hanging sheaf of tapestry, ran across the closed door and landed on the stairs. He opened his eyes cautiously, but the light had left him. Out of it’s glare he could see much clearer - the room at the base of the tower was filled with dusty relics - high-backed chairs hulking around like trolls, rolls of carpet, a suit of armour, and (as he peered over the wooden banister) a reception desk. Behind it were rows of tiny shelves, numbered in sequence ending at 99 in the bottom right-hand corner. Some of the holes dangled key chains like dry tongues - a few wagged at him as he watched.
He would need no key.
It was not arrogance, but fact. The Triforce told him so.
The Triforce said without saying - he heard no voice, but felt a sudden, glowing assertion - I won’t need a key. It’s just a glammer.
No sooner had he finished his thought and the ground shook violently. His hand shot out and clutched the railing. The light flickered. In the rumble, he distinctly heard the sound of a dozen keys dropping to the stone floor.
It didn’t last long. A few seconds, maybe, long enough for Link to wonder if the whole thing was going to come crashing down. The Triforce is restless. It wants out. It struggles.
I come, he thought, running up the stairs. He was in complete darkness as the wide staircase curled up towards the second floor.
This next floor was lit an eerie, icy blue from the moonlight shining through the many widows and bounced of the ghostly stone. It was much larger that the reception area, it’s floor spanning nearly the entire diameter of the Tower - a hundred yards or more.
As he left the stairs, he felt a swoosh of air behind him, and heard a loud thud. He spun, expecting anything, but all he saw was stone - the way back was blocked.
It didn’t matter. He wasn’t turning back.
He noticed stairs on the far wall. Their flat tops caught the moonlight and made it seem they were floating in shadow. He spun on his heels as he traced their path, up and up, each swoop smaller that the last, shorter - doors broke through the gleaming wall at regular intervals the whole way, alternating with the windows.
He started across the room and abruptly stopped. The Triforce pulsed inside him. It is not that easy.
As if on cue, there came a growling from shadow of the stairs.
Link held his daggers out, spun them a few times around his swift hands and crouched.
“Come!” he cried.
The beast that stepped into the reflected moonlight grinned at him, revealing a mouth the size of a wheelbarrow and dripping tusks nearly as long as Link’s arm. It’s gleaming snout let out a puff of steam; beady, sinister red eyes peered out from beneath a sloping brow. Curled horns, like those of the goats once thick on Death Mountain, jutted out at odd angles on either side of it’s head. Red tufts of bristly hair dotted its massive chin. The thing’s head nearly reached the third door along the staircase when it reared back - when it settled on it’s knuckles and stepped forward, Link heard the distinct click-clicking of hooves.
“No,” breathed Link. “You’re dead.”
Ganon let out a hearty laugh - Link could smell dead things. His voice echoed like thunder.
“There have been many Ganondorfs, boy. But I, like you, am unique.” He then let out a roar that sent ice into all the darkest corners of Link’s being. His hands flew up to his ears just as the ground again began to tremble.
Ganon struck out a massive arm against the staircase; it was all Link could do to stay on his feet.
“Quiet!” he roared. “Toy of the b*tch-gods! HE’LL NOT HAVE YOU!”
At the Triforce’s response, which sifted dust and grit down from the top of the tower and sent a lighting-bolt crack down the far wall, Link lost his footing, and fell with his daggers out - they hit to floor and scattered away into darkness.
He looked up and saw fear on Ganon’s face as the monster gazed towards the top of the tower - he knew then he would succeed. Knives or no. The Tower was his.
Tower had calmed again, but echoes of the Triforce’s rage sent tremors though the stone. Link ran at the creature. Ganon looked surprised, but only for a second - he turned and stretched out his arms, as if he intended to catch Link in a crushing embrace.
At the last moment Link turned to the left, grabbed Ganon’s forearm and swung himself onto the beast’s shoulders. He grabbed hold of one of Ganon’s misshapen horns and swooped down to face him. I gave him great satisfaction to see those piggy eyes crossed in pain as he feet kicked him sharply in the chest.
Before Ganon had a chance to grab him, or shake him off like dog does water, Link darted out a hand and took Ganon’s left eye.
He jumped away and felt a claw from Ganon’s swinging hand catch his shirt - the fabric ripped and the near-blow sent Link off his course. He landed roughly on his left arm, snapping it. The wounded beast squealed and bellowed, one hand to his face and the other reaching out, his good eye momentarily blinded in fury.
Link rolled into a crouch - he felt the bones in his broken arm crush, but no pain. Not too far to his right one of his daggers gleamed in the moonlight.
Ganon finally saw him and came crashing forward like a mountain slide. Blood coursed through his fingers and his mouth let out a wail that nearly froze Link to the spot.
He rolled again, grabbed the dagger with his good hand, and let it fly.
The sickly popping sound that followed told him he’d hit the mark - that, and Ganon let out a howl of both rage and defeat, a sound so sour and vicious that Link clutched first his ears then his stomach - he retched and let out a stream of green and black bile onto the floor.
When Ganon felt to his knees, the floor shook. But nothing from the Triforce. It was silent in its gloating, and Link was grateful.
Ganon tantrumed like a child, pounding his fists on the floor and kicking out his pitiful hooves, striking sparks off the wall. He gnashed his teeth. Flecks of foam flew out of his maw with each agonized cry.
Link approached the fallen creature with his blade proceeding him.
“Quiet,” he said, and was faintly surprised when Ganon quit his bellowing. He drew breath in gasps and blew out the foul smells of all that rots and moulders, all that poisons and pillages. Link had no satisfaction in his smile, but smile he did.
The beast raised it’s head. Empty, oozing sockets pulsed with each breath.
“I am ever-lasting,” growled Ganon. “There are other worlds than these.”
Link dropped to his knees beside Ganon’s great, smelly head and put his knife against the monster’s throat.
“Then go to them if they’ll have you, villain.”
On the last word he slit Ganon’s throat.
No spear to stick you on, he thought as he worked like butcher on a tough cut of meat. You’re blind head will stare into nothing until it is dust.
There are other worlds than these. Yes. Other worlds. Other selves. They are just echoes - echoes of us. And you can not escape your singularity, Ganon. No more than I. So quit this living with the knowledge that it is now, finally, done.
He tried the first door - locked. Same with the second and third. His broken arm throbbed but he scarcely felt it. It hung limp at his side.
By the time he came to a door he could open, the shadow of Ganon’s corpse was just a smudge on the faintly glowing floor below. Looking down he felt a wave of vertigo, stumbled back, waving his good arm. Instead of coming to rest against the wall he fell through the door - Number 17 in the sequence. He landed with an oof! in a pile of papers, some of which scattered around him like leaves.
“Lucky you didn’t fall out a window,” said a voice behind him. “We’re high up, you know.”
Link slowly got to his feet and looked around. He wasn’t worried about the voice. He was done dealing death - from the Triforce to his heart, he knew it was true.
The room looked like an office of some sort, although in a very sorry state; the writing desk by the window was stained with ink and watermarks; towering piles of paper leaned against the walls, and the floor was covered with them - a few were caught by a draught and came dangerously close to the open fireplace, where a log burned brightly.
Behind the desk stood a man. A short, happy-looking fellow with dark hair and mysterious, slanted eyes. He regarded Link with something like contempt, and Link didn’t like that much at all.
“Who are you?”
The man shook his head and stayed behind the desk. “You’re not the curious boy you once were. It’s a shame. It was never meant to come this far.”
Link took a step forward. The man did not move. Paper rustled dangerously close to the fire.
“Do you know me?”
“I do. Or I did, very well, once.” He narrowed his eyes and made a sour face. “You are not who I’d hoped you’d be, sorry to say.”
Another step, and Link could see the pain in the man’s eyes.
“What do you have to say about it? Who are you to judge?”
“My friends call me Shiggy.”
“That means nothing to me.”
Shiggy picked up a piece of paper, crumpled it, and tossed it over his shoulder into the fireplace. It landed on the log, began to uncurl like a blooming flower, and did not burn.
“I didn’t think it would,” said Shiggy. “None of it makes any difference now. Go to it. The Triforce calls, just as it always has. You’re close. You’re so close.”
This sounded too much like teasing to ignore. “Do you mean to stop me?”
Shiggy shook his head sadly. “No.” He shuffled out from behind the desk to the tune of chains - Link looked down and saw his ankles were shackled to the desk. “Your success means my freedom, too.”
“Then why aren’t you happy?” Fool, thought Link. So used to the cage you see only the safety, not the bars.
“Because it got out of my hands so fast. I couldn’t control what people dreamed of you. Your legend lived long after I’d stopped telling it. This is not the conclusion I’d have had you come to.”
Link shook his head. “How proud,” he whispered. “How sad.”
He turned and left to the sound of another piece of paper refusing to fall to the fire.
Up and up. Nearly half-way there.
Number 45 was ajar. Link could see more flickering firelight. He peered in, expecting another mysterious mad-man or some other oddity that would stall but not stop him. But he knew he couldn’t just pass these open doors by - they were things he was meant to see, and if he couldn’t understand there importance - there would be time to mull it over.
Zelda sat on the floor by the fireplace. If Link had not lost his wits at the sight of her, he’d have noticed this room was identical to the previous one; instead of a desk and a thousand loose pages, there was a bed and a lush red rug, tapestries on the walls boasting the Royal Crest and a small vanity with a candle on it. But the room was exactly the same, and some part of him recognized that each one would be.
“Zelda,” he whispered. Her crown was in her lap; she stroked it sadly and gently. A cascade of golden hair hid her face from him save the curl of her nose, her strong jaw and the fullness of her lips. It was not Zelda as she had been when he’d last seen her - then she had been the warrior, the proud princess-queen, and her eyes had been fierce. Now she was just a girl. She wore her nightdress - he smelled lilacs.
Link stumbled into the room and fell to his knees before her. She did not look up - her eyes were fixed on the crown.
“Do you see me?” he asked, heart breaking all over again. He knew the answer but he had to try. “Can you hear me?”
She said nothing. She stroked the crown; the firelight made her fair skin glow.
“I loved you, Zelda. You above all things.” He thought about it, and closed his eyes in shame. “Save one. Forgive me. Please.” He reached out to touch her, and was surprised that he could.
Her eyes flew to his and she gave a startled gasp; she pulled back and let out a terrified scream.
“You were in my dream! It was you! Murderer! Murderer!” Each word came at Link like a spear, pinning his heart to his chest. He took it without complaint. It was his to carry.
“I’m sorry,” he said as he got to his feet. She did not hear. Her screams chased him up the next flight of stairs but he didn’t run.
Up. And Up.
There was only one more door spilling a sliver of light - not firelight this time, but a golden glow that made his heart skip. The Triforce, he thought, but there were still more stairs to go.
The same room again (was this truly a Tower? Was he really climbing?), except this had no fire, no furniture - just a misshapen creature holding a glowing, angular object tightly to his chest.
“It’s mine,” growled the man-beast when he saw Link enter. Link said not a word. He wouldn’t, here. He’d said all he’d had to say to both faces this creature had worn. The Tower’s Ganon looked like a haphazard amalgamation of the two - part monster-pig, part thief-king, entirely hideous and somewhat pitiful. There was drool on his chin, and madness in his eyes.
Up and up. And finally there was just one door left - the walls had slowly circled in on each other to make the space at the top of the Tower as small as its haunted rooms.
His heart skipped again, and kept skipping.
The door was open. The light was true.
He had done it. Once he crossed the threshold, his quest was over.
He did not linger long.
There it was - somehow smaller than the one Ganon coveted, and a deeper, darker light came from it’s heart, but every fibre of his being sang out: There it is! The Triforce! There it is!
He stood uncertainly before the pedestal.
“I am afraid.”
Do not be. Your troubles are over. Touch me, and make your wish.
“I only came to save you. I have no wish.”
The Triforce chuckled - the light emanating from it throbbed.
You have many. What you lack is the courage to pick one.
Link bowed his head. “Have I failed you?”
Not yet. Touch me.
The hero stepped forward, took a deep breath, and placed his hands upon the Triforce. Words cannot adequately describe the sensation that ran through his body - it felt like falling, winning, losing, flying, despairing, hoping, birth and death at once. It felt like the voices of the goddesses whispering sweetly and sadly to every nerve inside him. It felt like peace. It felt like thunderstorms and butterflies.
Link closed his eyes, and made a wish.
The Triforce chuckled again - it was the kindest sound he’d ever heard.
So be it, hero. A good wish. It is granted with my thanks.
In the moment before the whole world changed, Link asked, “What will happen now?”
The Triforce said, Life. As it always has and always will. But maybe a little less hard for the living.
Link smiled. The darkness behind his eyes began to sparkle. “I’m ready,” he said.
He could hear the tremble in the Triforce’s voice as it gathered the power of gods behind it.
Yeah - Shiggy in a room full of fan fiction that wouldn't burn. Poor man.
As for more on this story - nope. I wanted to see if I could convincingly create a long and troubled history without actually writing it. If you're left wanting more, that makes me feel I've succeeded somewhat. So, yay!
And as for other stuff... we'll see. Thanks for reading - it is much appreciated.
Thanks Windy. I sort of intended this piece to be my swan's song here at ZU.
Now it's finished, and I hereby announce my retirement from the forums.
I'll still be around, of course, but I'm going to limit myself to this board and the Team of Writers - I'll keep doing articles, because any excuse to write is just that, and always welcome. But the time has come for me to take myself out of the loop. I have nothing to add anymore. I realized that a long time ago. I'm the oldest person posting on the boards - many have said it doesn't matter, but you know, it does. I'm sure each one of you will come to understand that same thing in time.
And I realized I've been using ZU as a way to escape from my real life. Time to grow up, time to move on.