Yin and Yang by Sage of Winds
Summary: The crops are dying. A drought is approaching. The three golden goddesses are nowhere to be seen, and another prophecy is being whispered on the wind's breath. It is time for the forgotten gods to rise, and for Shadow and Light to come together once more. But how can that happen, when the Twilight Princess has severed the only tie between their worlds?
Categories: Fan Fiction Characters: Link
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 5 Completed: No Word count: 11970 Read: 17274 Published: Aug 02, 2013 Updated: Aug 02, 2013

1. Chapter 1 by Sage of Winds

2. Chapter 2 by Sage of Winds

3. Chapter 3 by Sage of Winds

4. Chapter 4 by Sage of Winds

5. Chapter 5 by Sage of Winds

Chapter 1 by Sage of Winds

Disclaimer: I do not own Zelda, or Nintendo for that matter. If I did, Nintendoland would be real place.

Arbiter's Grounds is a quiet place. To every creature that dwelled within these crumbling stone walls, this was a common known fact. When the humans that had inhabited the reckoning grounds left, the building became a safe haven for many monsters. All were used to the peacefulness that usually accompanied no humans. The only thing that dared to disturb the silence was the quicksand. If all was still, the sound of quicksand greedily sucking in on itself could be heard. Many of the monsters knew that the sand here was always hungry for a victim, and that was why most stayed away from it. Sometimes the sand even hid spikes, ready to mercilessly impale any unsuspecting creature the passed over them. Quite simply, the sand was a death trap. But no matter how deadly this place seemed to be, it had an almost serene atmosphere. If one walked here for some rest, they would certainly achieve that goal. It was so calm and―

"What's the point of trekking through this place, Midna?" I've been here twice before and this place still gives me the creeps," a tunic-clad young man complained. He sneezed as the dust in the room reached his nostrils and continued to trudge up the stairs behind his two companions.

Midna and Zelda exchanged glances, but did not answer his question."Oh shut it, Link," The Twilight Princess muttered, loud enough for the young man to hear. "Zelda has never even left the shelter of her castle, but I don't hear her whining."

The princess's blue eyes flashed with irritation as she rolled her them, but she was more amused than irate. They've been at this for a while now . . .

Link snorted. "Look who's talking! You're the one who complained most of the time while we were on our journey. And don't forget how you yawned constantly while you were on my back. That was really distracting, you know."

"I was just stretching my jaws."

"Right."The hero drew out the syllable of the word and smirked.

"Right? Oh, so now you know what I'm thinking, huh?"

"Yeah." Link said matter-of-factly.

"Then tell me what I'm thinking right now." Midna had to stop so she could turn and look at him, but she nearly lost to her feelings as she did. When she had first met the young man, she only wanted to use him so he would save her homeland. Indeed, at that time, he was a disposable tool; one that she would throw away as soon as she was done with him. But over the course of their journey, Midna had grown very attached to him. After days and days of traveling together, she knew his personality very well, and he hers. In the eighteen years of her life she had never grown so attached to a young man. Sure, when she was in her castle she would flirt with the occasional servant. However, she felt as if Link was special. She enjoyed to talking to him, and being with him even more. She liked him. But she knew that this relationship would never be possible.

Light and Shadow cannot mix. They both belonged in their own separate worlds. That is why we are here, she answered Link in her mind. I must return to my homeland, while you stay here in yours. Even now, as she gazed at his handsome face, this reality pained her. But the Twilight Princess was not one who allowed others to be dragged down with her sorrow. That was why she covered all her feelings with a happy mask.

"Hmmm," The hero placed a hand under his chin and leaned closer so he could get a better view of her face. A few moments passed as Link looked intently into Midna's eyes, and for a fleeting second the Twilight Princess feared that the young man actually could read minds. Then she pushed away that irrational thought away when she told herself how stupid she sounded.

"Right now you're thinking that I'm a useless dumbass," Link concluded, "and that I should go jump over a cliff and kill myself." He paused. "Oh, and I'm ugly," he hastily added.

She almost scoffed at how inaccurate he was. Especially about the "ugly" part. "Close hero. But not quite."

He looked disappointed. "Darn."

Midna snorted with amusement and shoved the boy playfully to the side. "Quit pouting," she laughed, "I said you were close, didn't I?"

Link pushed her back, "I wasn't pouting."

"Was too."

"Was not!"

Was too!"

A sigh of irritation stopped their childish argument. When the quarrelers looked up, they saw Zelda waiting patiently at the top of the stairs, even though she seemed weary.

"If you two are quit done," she murmured, "I would like to tell you that we have arrived at the Mirror Chamber."

Something like a dead weight came crashing down on Midna's heart. Her legs felt heavy as she climbed the remainder of the steps. She knew, she knew that she would have to do this, but for some reason she couldn't bring herself to accept this fact. Every time she tried to forget it, it only came back worse than before. And now, now that she was standing in front of the Mirror of Twilight, she felt as if she was a criminal awaiting her hanging.

"Oh." The Twilight Princess looked own, unable to meet anyone's gaze.

Link followed the women up the stairs. "The Mirror Chamber? Why didn't you just warp us here?"

Silence.

"Midna? What's wrong?"

She shook her head and turned to him, a fake smile plastered on her face. "Nothing," she said. "I just wanted to show you something. Wait here." Without waiting for a reply, Midna raced over the altar and to the Mirror.

In response to her presence, tendrils of light snaked out of the mirror and shimmered in the sunlight. There, they curled into the pale spiral that created the portal which spun into the space of the stone in front of it. Finally, like the last note in a trumpet blare, a transparent staircase unfurled from within the entrance of the portal.

"You mean the opening of the portal," Link asked. He stepped closer to Midna, hoping to draw attention from her. "It's mesmerizing to watch every time."

When she turned to him, her vibrant eyes were dull with sadness. The crimson in her eyes was the setting sun, and the gold the swan song of the dying sun's rays. And was it just his imagination, or were those tears starting to make them shimmer?

Something was wrong. Alarmed, the young man looked around for any nearby ledges. He didn't want her to jump off any of them and hurt herself―

"Link."

The poor hero looked absolutely clueless. In truth, he was more worried than curious. He had always imagined Midna as a woman full of spunk and spirit. During their journey, she never hesitated to call him an insulting name or distract him with a sarcastic comment. Never before had he seen his Twilight Princess so. . .depressed.

"Do you know what happens when black paint and white paint is put in a pail, side-by-side?"

The hero cocked his head slightly to the side. "They stay that way, don't they?"

"No." Zelda's voice came up from behind him. A moment later, the princess had walked up to his side. "Eventually, the two colors will blend, creating a shade of gray. That gray is chaos for us. Two worlds cannot exist in the same pail."

What's so bad about gray? He thought to himself. I like gray.

She forced back the tears that were threatening to surface, hoping to drown them. "Link, I must return to my own pail. These past months, I've been living on borrowed time. If I don't leave soon, the balance of the world―both our worlds―will be thrown off. And I. . .I can't allow that to happen. I won't be responsible for it."

The boy was finally beginning to understand. Midna was going back to her home. "I understand. But why are you so sad? If you're just going back home, I can visit you any time. After all, the Mirror is right here. Hey, and maybe I'll bring friends."

Pity flooded the Twilight Princess's heart. Optimistic as always, that boy. At least he doesn't have to wear a mask like the rest of us.

A tepid desert breeze blew in between them, making the scene almost cinematic. That was bad. Link knew. In books, bad things always happened after a cinematic moment.

"No, my hero." Midna's voice wrenched him away from his thoughts. He watched as a single tear trickled down her cheek. She caught it in her hand, hoping that no one noticed. But it was too late. In the sunlight, it sparkled, making it seem as though there was a liquid diamond sitting in the palm of her hand. She cradled it as if it was something precious. "This time, I'm going to take all of my paint with me." She and the princess of Hyrule both exchanged glances.

"No." Link felt frustration boiling in his mind. "Do not send some silent message in between yourselves. I want to know what the hell is going on here. What's happening? Why are you so sad? Tell me!"

"I will tell you something," Midna managed a convincing smile. Deep inside of her, there actually were flecks of happiness. "I did enjoy the time we spent together, even our last moments here in Arbiter's Grounds. I'll treasure those, always." She looked at the tear in her hand and instantly felt the urge to confess all of her feelings. In front of the Mirror, her emotions were running high. Any word, any memory could trigger an emotional breakdown. But she would not allow that to happen. If she was going down, than she would go down with dignity.

Zelda dipped her head. "Farewell, Midna."

"Farewell to you, princess." The Twilight Princess did not hesitate to reply and looked back down at the tear. How convenient emotions can be, she thought. She released her hold on it and watched as it floated to the surface of the Mirror. When it touched the cool, black metal, the Mirror cracked. Thin, almost harmless-looking cracks began to spread from the center of the Mirror until it was entirely covered. Link gasped as each one appeared. "Midna, what are you doing?"

She turned to her two companions and imprinted each of their images in her mind. The tall, stoic expression of Zelda and the shocked expression of Link. She would never forget them and everything that they had done for her. For her, and her homeland.

Then she decided. Now was the moment that she would confess all her feelings. Now was the best. "Link, I―"she started, but when she thought about it, this would only make things harder for both of them. This was the only, or rather, last time that she was going to take advantage of Link's innocence. It was good that he would stay oblivious about her feelings. And like she said earlier before, she was not going to bring down others with her sorrow. "See you later." And with that, she leaped off the altar and into the portal, disappearing into the spiral. The Mirror shattered a moment later, severing all ties in between the two worlds. Only the frame remained.

"Midna! Midna!" Link's voice rose an octave as he tried to rush over to the Mirror, but Zelda grabbed his arm and prevented him from doing so. "MIDNA!" He screamed one last time. Within him his feelings were raging out of control. With a strangled sob, he started crying.

The breeze returned, but this time it was weak and cold. As if it was reflecting the heart of the hero.

Author's Afterwords: Ay! It's done.*throws personal party*

 

End Notes:
For some reason, It was really hard for me to write this. Maybe because I have a short attention span. Maybe because I have a 200-point Bio project that I was researching for at the same time. Or maybe because I had to make Link cry. Eh, I don't know. Besides, I usually finish big projects the night before they're do. That's how responsible I am.

I really wanted to rewrite the "Midna-is-gone-forever-because-she-broke-the-Mirror-like-a-loser" scene because Nintendo made Link too stoic. I mean, seriously, he's freaking in love with Midna but he just stands there while she disappears forever like, "Goodbye. Hope you don't cheat on me and have kids with some other Twili! Oh, and happy travels!" Sorry, the way that scene was staged kind of pissed me off. Not that I don't like the game. . .

Chapter 2 by Sage of Winds

It was several hours before the cries of anguish stopped echoing throughout the Mirror Chamber. By that time it was past sunset. Night had stained the sky a deep blue, covering everything in darkness, The only source of light was the thin, slender crescent moon as it rose steadily above Arbiter's Grounds. On the altar, thousands of bits of glass glinted in the moonlight, rivaling the stars. In the weak breeze, the tattered flags that had once bared the crest of the royal family waved mournfully.

The desert had cooled significantly. Sitting against the wall, Zelda grabbed and pressed her legs closer to her body as the chill settled into the marrow of her bones. She silently scolded herself for not bringing a coat or pelt to keep her warm. The fire that she had started with her pathetic magic was good as nothing. Even when she was an apprentice, her mentor was never impressed with the princess's magical ability. It was so cold, even the fire seemed to have lost it's vigor. All it did was cast an ocherous light around it. The bored princess watched as the shadows around her jumped and withdrew as if they were dancing; and out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of the crumpled form of Link on the ground not too far away.

A few moments ago, the hero had been crawling around on all fours, deaf to all of the princess's attempts to stop him. He pawed and scraped at the ground until hid fingers bled. Once, while slinking around, he found a particularly large mirror bit. With a cry of triumph, he lifted it in his hands, proclaiming that he would find the remaining pieces, even if it would take him the rest of his life. As if the bit refused to be reunited with its brethren, it dissolved into dust and slipped away between his fingers. An unearthly scream tore through his throat, and soon he was crawling around the altar searching for other pieces. He did, but just like the first piece that shard turned into dust as well.

He didn't give up. His doggedness wouldn't let him. Even when another shard disappeared. And another. . .and another. . .and another. . .

Eventually, he collapsed from exhaustion. Fatigue filled his every limb, spreading throughout his entire body. Unable to move, he laid there for hours, not even stirring when he felt darkness surround him as night approached. Nothing mattered to him anymore. He didn't care about anything anymore. Let him shrivel up in the sun. When afternoon arrived, let the Kagoroks eat his carcass. He didn't care―

A shudder shook his body as the cold sank into his bones. He gave a grunt of irritation and wrapped his arms around his torso; a feeble attempt at trying to keep himself warm. Why was it so damn cold in the desert? It was blistering hot during the day.

Strangely, the cold seemed to revive feelings in him. He was grateful for the cold, in a way. Funny;a few hours ago he had lost the will to live, and now the cold had to come in like some stupid message. "Have hope!" or "Don't lose faith―

"Y-You know," Zelda's voice, soft as a whisper, interrupted his dark thoughts.

"You kn-know," she repeated herself and shuddered violently. Her teeth chattered loudly as she spoke. "Th-The fire here m-might not seem that big, b-b-but it does provide s-some comfort."

Silence. Then, "I'm not cold."

The princess was relived. Those were the first three words Link had said since the hero had fallen silent. She was beginning to fear that he had lost his mind somehow after Midna destroyed the mirror. Zelda couldn't blame him though. The circular frame of the mirror remained as serene and clam as it was before the mirror was destroyed; almost as if it were taunting them. The way it stayed there made one want to believe that the mirror was still accessible; as if one could walk through it and end up in the Twilight Realm just like it allowed before.

It was enough to drive anyone, even her, insane.

"Of c-c-course you're c-cold," Zelda stated. She watched as a shudder ran along the length of the hero's body. "Your sh-sh-sh―" irritably, the princess swallowed and tried to regain her composure. "You're shivering."

A loud sigh rang came from Link as he shakily stood up. With one arm he gripped the other and slowly walked over in front of the fire, He yawned loudly and sat down, crossing his legs under him. His shoulders slumped down as he placed his elbows on his knees and stared into the fire. The flames reflected solemnly in his eyes.

. . .More silence. Zelda shook again as the chill worsened.

Should she start a conversation? Or should she just let this continue on? Link wasn't the kind that liked to talk much. She didn't want to prod too deep into his soft spot and get put onto his "Does not like" list by poking into his uncomfortable side―

"Midna and I used to have staring contests."

Link's voice jerked her away from her musings. "Oh?"

"I would start a fire." His eyes widened as he realized what he had just said. "I-I mean, I promise your highness, I never started any fires in Hyrule! I mean, I did, but that was only to keep warm. You know, little campfires and such―"

Zelda smiled in pity. "Yes, yes. I understand."

"Dammit!"

She was surprised by his sudden outburst. So much so, she jerked away from him like the shadows around her. Noticing her reaction, Link's eyes softened. He looked away from the fire too, as if he had somehow insulted it. "I-I'm sorry. It's just that, well. . .I-I. . .every time I open my mouth to say something, it always ends up sounding really garbled or stupid. And then I get really frustrated. This-this never happened when. . .well, you know. When she was around."

"I understand."

He doubted it. Everyone always said that they understood, but they didn't. Words were just words. But when he looked at her, her deep sapphire eyes were full of real, true sympathy. She did understand. She really knew how he felt. Somehow, that made him feel ten times as better. Finally, someone who understood.

"D-do you mind i-if I come closer to you?" Zelda asked. Her teeth started chattering again. "It's very cold over here and if we're close together, we can preserve body heat. Like ladybugs do in the winter."

Link couldn't help but smile. He gave another grunt, this time in movement as he scooted closer to her and wrapped an arm around the princess's shoulders. "Here you go, my ladybug."

He had an infectious smile, she realized. When he smiled, it made you want to smile as well. Which was what she was doing. (Authors Note: Okay, before you get all crazy fangirl/fanboy on me, I am well aware that this fic is filed under the LinkXMidna category. This is just a brief moment of tenderness between Link and Zelda. If it bothers you that much, you can skip though it. Besides, I like ladybugs. Save the penguins!)

"Well anyway, back to what I was saying earlier. You see, when me and Midna set up camp, I would start a fire. As always, she wanted to pick a fight with me, so she would challenge me to a staring contest―into the fire."

Zelda looked at him in surprise.

"Yep. I'm really surprised that I didn't lose my sight from doing that. We never figured out who won in the end, mostly because we both would cheat," He laughed. "Sometimes, I would pretend to sneeze so I could close my eyes and re-water them. Other times, Midna would point behind me and shriek that there was a moblin or something ready to attack us." His smile grew wider. "I always fell for it. She was a good actor.

"But those times are gone." His happy demeanor faded away as soon as it had come. Once again his face fell, this time into sadness. The fire dancing in his eyes was snuffed out. "She's gone. There's nothing I can do about it. I keep expecting her to come out of my shadow again and tell me how stupid I am. I keep waiting, but it never happens." His eyes teared up as he buried his head in his other hand. "And it never will. You see, that's the worst part. The waiting. The expecting. That feeling of futility you get in your heart every time." He started whimpering as tears spilled down his cheeks.

The princess worriedly wrapped her arm around him. Pity flooded her heart when she realized that Link was shaking not because of the cold, but because of the sobs that shook his body.

"Oh great. Look at me," Link sniffled. "Gods! I'm helpless."

Zelda's grip on him tightened and she snuggled him closer. At the moment, it was all she could do to comfort him.

And for the rest of the night, Link's sobs of anguish were all she could hear. And all she could do was hold him close, trying to comfort him. That was she could do, like some helpless damsel in distress. She hated this feeling. But the damsel in distress was who she was supposed to be. She wanted to be who she wanted to be; not a princess who cowardly hid behind this stoic mask. There was a time, she could faintly recall, when she actually had feelings. Then she decided such things, these "feelings" were unacceptable. She was the princess; a member of the Royal Family who was blessed by the goddesses. One by one, she stored them away until she had none left. There, after many laborious years, she lost track of them. That was why she was the serene, calm princess she was now. Serene and calm, just like the mirror frame. And that was all she would be. An empty frame, promising nothing.

With nothing to entertain the princess but her thoughts, weariness tugged at Zelda's nerves. As her eyelids drooped, she gently laid Link down beside her. The crying young man didn't notice. If he did, he didn't say anything.

Lulled to sleep by his sobs, Zelda eventually fell asleep.

End Notes:
I'm hungry. Oh so hungry. . .
Chapter 3 by Sage of Winds

An eerie silence had settled over the Twilight Palace. When the wind blew through the Palace garden, the bushes and growth refused to rustle, as if they did not dare break the silence. Even the hawks that normally flew around the Palace were perched nonchalantly on the ledges and windowsills. The burnt copper cloud of Twilight hung still in the amber sky, as if moving would somehow create noise.

When Zant was dead at last, the grotesque spell that he had cast on the Twilight Realm was lifted. Sensing the absence of threat, the Twili emerged from their hiding places. Upon doing this, they noticed that their realm regained their former beauty, and so had they. Their faces were no longer round lumps of flesh with two circular eyes. Instead, each face could now be told apart: sharp, chiseled, elfin, feminine, soft. . . There was plenty of celebration―and plenty of noise―for now the things were back to normal. Naturally, they worried for their Princess, who went missing at the time Zant took over. That jubilant day, there was a large crowd of Twili flooding into the Palace. A mixture of Palace guards, lords, ladies, servants, and even cooks came gushing into the Palace. Only a moment later, when they searched all the halls and rooms of the Palace, did they notice that their beloved princess was not there. Since then, there was silence.

The Twili simply did not know what to do without their Princess. She was what kept them working, like the central cog in a clock. Without her no one could move. The servants that once busily rushed to and fro around the castle were now lazily lying around in their personal quarters, entertaining themselves with their own thoughts. Guards that formerly patrolled the halls of the Palace now permanently stood still, exchanging bored glances.

"What should we do, Syll," asked a boy servant. He was lying flat on his back on the floor of the room, picking at his nails.

The older girl that was sitting in a chair next to him leaned back and sighed. "For the eigth time, Clem, I don't know." With one fluid motion of her arm she took her hand and strung it though her raven-black hair, stretching it out and admiring the way that the light filtered through it.

If Clem was older, this action would have sent the boy's heart into a frenzy, but being the age he was, he was immune to all of this. Although Syll did not know it, most of the Palace pages and servants were infatuated with her. Compared to the other wenches, Syll was a spectral beauty, and the owner of a irresistible natural charm. Unlike most Twili, who had eyes of deep amber or yellow, Syll had pale green eyes; the shade of a young bud that had survived the winter. Yellow, but just with a splash of green. Because of her unusual appearance, most of the other girls were scared of her, and some older women thought that she was a witch.

But Syll was unaware of all of this this, nor did she use these traits to her advantage. When the women scowled at her, she thought it was because she was doing something wrong. When the boys of the castle did not hesitate to do her favors or help her, she thought it was because they were incredibly kind. Quite simply, Syll was the epitome of naïve.

As for Clem, he was one of the youngest servants that was serving at the Palace. Shortly before Zant had taken over the Twilight Realm, Syll had found Clem abandoned on the streets. Emaciated, filthy, and covered in tattered rags of clothing, the boy barely had any energy left to move. Still, he managed to croak out a joke and make Syll laugh. Feeling pity for the boy, Syll took him under her wing. Eventually, she invited him into the Palace, where he agreed to be a servant as long as he was provided with food, water and shelter in return. Ever since then, the boy had been following her around. But Syll didn't mind. Almost everyone avoided her, so it was nice to have someone that cared every once in a while.

Clem had an admirable spirit. He was one of the few unfortunate servants who witnessed the bloody murder of the King. All of the other servants had gone insane, but Clem was an exception. Although he tried to forget it everyday, it was permanently forged into his memory. He remembered it just like yesterday: It was just a normal day for him; as always he was making his daily trip up to the Throne Room to clean the soot off the torches. He never saw the reason why; they would always be re-lit the next day and attract more soot. He never complained though. Upon pushing open the heavy metal doors open, the first thing that he noticed was the atmosphere of the room. Usually it was boring and stuffy, but that day there was something foreboding and. . .evil about the room. The second thing that he noticed was the fact that Zant was arguing with the King. It was a common known fact that the King and his adviser did not get along, but the argument that the two were having that day seemed to be raging out of control. Even the guards seemed to be scared. Clem didn't remember what exactly they were arguing about, but he did remember clearly what happened next. Zant stormed out of the room, kicking over a small table in rage. The King only shook his head and took a long sip of tea out of the cup that was next to him. One moment he was smiling, assuring them that everything was fine, and in the next, he was on the ground, writhing with convulsions.

The guards instantly rushed over, but they stopped short. The King was coughing savagely, spraying out blood from his throat. He twisted in pain on the ground and hissed as he tried to stop it, but it only made things worse. Blood was gushing out of his mouth―no, he was vomiting blood. Yes, Clem thought. That was the right term. Vomiting. The poor servant was close enough to the King so he was splattered with a small amount of blood. But he did not clean it off. He was too shocked to even do anything. Everyone was too shocked. All they did was watch in horrified silence as the King bled his life out. When it was all over, the body of the King lay still. Although it lasted only for a few heartbeats, it seemed to have lasted for an eternity.

No one could figure out what happened that day. The best doctors in the Twilight Realm could not figure out how he had died. There was no sickness in the King's body,and everyone knew that the King was in good health. His death remained a mystery.

Despite the traumatic experience, Clem was as cheerful and happy as ever. And that was what Syll admired about him.

"Without her highness, we're pretty much useless, huh," Clem thought out loud

Syll looked surprised. "Don't think like that. We're not useless. We just don't have anything to do if she's not around. We, uh. . .don't have a purpose. Yeah, that's it."(Later, when she thought back to this conversation, she realized that she was pretty much saying the same thing.)

"Maybe we should find a purpose, then." Clem sat up. "It was fun just laying around here for a while, but you know, it gets old after a while, and―"

He stopped when he heard a faint humming sound fill the room. Confused, he looked around, trying to locate the noise. It seemed to be coming from everywhere, and it was driving him insane. Finally, he turned to Syll. "Do you hear that?"

The young wench looked puzzled. "Hear what."

"That humming sound. Oh come on. I know you can hear it. It's everywhere. Stop that Syll. It's annoying."

"What? I'm not doing anything."

The humming grew louder and more intense and seemed to fill the entire Palace. By this time, it had attracted the attention of everyone in the castle. Clem heard the cries of startled people outside the door, and he ran over to open it. As he stood up, he could feel his muscles aching. After many days of lying around, they had grown used to staying out of activity. Even the walk to the door was an ordeal for him. I'll need to get more exercise soon. . . There were many Twili sticking their heads outside their door, just like he was doing.

"You hear that too, don't you?" He asked.

They nodded their heads and looked around, still trying to locate the noise. Now it was so loud it was unbearable, and seemed to shake the sturdy walls of the Palace. It was almost as if the humming was punishing the Twili for being so quiet. If this kept up, they might have to leave the castle again―

"Hey!"

Everyone looked over at the sound of the voice. It was a young girl. Standing on the tips of her toes, she was looking out one of the tall, nearby windows that had the view of the Palace entrance and pointing to something outside. "Look! Over there!" she called out.

The Twili, including Clem, left their doorways and ran over to her, trying to get a look. Clem tried his hardest to claim a space by the window, but the other adults packed close together, making it impossible to pass through. When they gasped in awe, it only made the poor boy more curious. His brow furrowed in irritation at the adults immaturity. Giving up on trying to go with the crowd, he padded over to another window and looked out.

There, near the entrance, was a ball of white light. Because of their sensitive eyesight, the Twili were not very fond of light. It hurt their eyes, and at the extremities, blinded them. Some Twili even considered light to be cursed. Considering that the Twili were Light dwellers exiled into this land, they were right. In a way. But for some reason, the light at the entrance was mesmerizing. No one could look away as it grew larger and larger. However, when it engulfed the entire land, it forced everyone to close their eyes. When they opened them (to their wild surprise, may I add) there was their princess, standing tall and proud. The humming had stopped. A collective sigh of relief rang out through the hall.

As if on cue, Midna stepped out of the light. As soon as her foot left it, it receded into the shadows, never to be seen again. She watched it fade, knowing that that was the last bit of the Realm of Light she would ever see.

When it disappeared, she looked at her surroundings. Midna was glad that her Realm had been freed from Zant's spell. Before it was as if the Realm was frozen in the darkness of night. Now, it had returned to its former state; an entire realm frozen in at the time of the sunset. Oh, If only Link could see this. . .No! She chided herself. I am not going to distract myself with thoughts of him anymore. I need to move on with my life

"Your Highness!"

"You're back!"

She turned at the sound of a voices. Two Entrance guards were trotting over in her direction. The princess did her best to smile. "Yes?"

"Oh, thank the cloud of Twilight that you're safe!"

"We thought that Zant had killed you. Or even worse," he scowled. "Those dreaded Light dwellers might have taken you hostage."

"Zant did not kill me. And the Light dwellers, they're called Hylians, and they're not evil at all. Most of them are very nice. The reason why I'm still alive is because one helped me." And in thanks I left him.

"Don't be ridiculous, your highness," The other guard said. "They're the reason why we're here in the first place. If it wasn't for them, Zant wouldn't have taken over."

That's not their fault.

"Those matters aside, your highness, we must get you to your room immediately." The other guard linked his arm in hers, which Midna allowed. "After all this time without the proper care, you must be tired."

The three left the clearing for the princess's room. The guards continued to talk about how glad they were to see that she was safe, and when they entered the Palace, the other servants crowded around her and told her that they were grateful for her safe return. Of course, Midna believed them, and she was glad to be reunited with her people. But deep inside of her, there was a part that longed to be back in the land of Hyrule with Link.

Chapter 4 by Sage of Winds

"Link, slow down!" The hero's ears almost twitched with irritation as Zelda's exclamation reached his ears for the eighth time. The walk down the stairs wasn't even that hard, and yet the princess was lagging behind. Sure, they had just woken up. Sure, they had nothing to eat that morning. But seriously, they were going down the stairs. It wasn't like they were climbing up a long, never-ending flight of stairs.

It was Link's idea to leave early in the morning. He simply didn't see the reason in going out during the day only to get dried up by the sun. It was cool at dawn, but not frigid like the night. The time to travel was perfect. Besides, they had brought no provisions with them. Already Link could feel fatigue creeping into his body. Little by little, by tiny amounts, it was getting increasingly harder to move. If they didn't make it out of the desert by the end of today, they were screwed.

Despite this fact, the princess was taking her sweet time down the stairs. He didn't get what was taking her so long. For a second he was tempted to leave her behind, but he decided against it. If he did that now, he would probably get tried for treason or attempted murder and be burned at stake or something. Which most likely would not be pleasant.

He turned around and waited patiently for the princess to catch up. A few heartbeats later, she was at his side, panting lightly. "Th-Thank you for waiting. It's just that I'm very tired and―"

"Yes, yes, I get it." He began to walk again. "Just try your best to keep up, okay? If you fall behind and get captured by a monster, I may not be able to pull through the fight."

Zelda sighed. Not again! She tried her best to walk next to Link, picking up her skirts to increase her speed. His hurried pace reminded her of the way a wolf ran; tenacious and . The way he never seemed to get tired intrigued her even further. How could he keep this up for so long? And with no food nonetheless.

But what if that was just another one of his masks? What if he was really strung out and exhausted inside? What if the previous events had scarred him beyond measure? She knew an eternal parting with a dear friend could distort emotions. This knowledge suddenly triggered new feelings in her. What if he was hiding a suicidal longing inside? What if, inside, his feelings were raging out of control? She was scared for him.

During their descent, Link casually looked over his shoulder to check on Zelda. He was very surprised to see that she had a frightened look on her face. When their eyes met, she looked away, but Link was well aware of what she was thinking.

"Is there a spider on me," he asked, feigning innocence. With one hand he reached over and pretended to feel around the back of his tunic. "I don't feel anything."

The princess shook her head. What was she thinking? She couldn't let Link know what she was thinking about. "No, no spider. I just. . .uh, thought I saw something."

"Ah." Link seemed to ponder that for a moment, and then started walking again. "Well, let's keep moving."

Silence.

Awkward Silence.

After a while, Link dug around in his heart and found enough courage to start another conversation. "Do you like spiders?"

The question was so out of the blue and random that Zelda was almost dumbfounded. Did he really just ask me if I liked. . .spiders? Luckily for her, her brain had an emergency supply of answers ready. Without hesitation, the princess vigorously shook her head.

"Me neither. Then again, who does?" He chuckled.

"Heh heh. . .yeah. Spiders. Who likes them?" Zelda nervously laughed. "I certainly don't."

Silence again. Only this time, they were staring at each other, and it was becoming physically uncomfortable. Probably because they were climbing downstairs, and it was hard to look at someone and walk at the same time. Even though the princess wanted to look away, for some unknown reason she didn't dare to.

They were so intent on having their unintentional staring contest that they did not realize they had reached the end of the staircase. The sudden change in terrain caught Link off guard, and he tripped. With a dull thump he landed spread-eagle on the floor, trying his best to stop the embarrassed blush rising to his face.

Zelda screeched. "Are you alright? Oh Nayru, this is all my fault―"

"No, I'm fine." Link's reply was blunt. Mortified, he got up. With one fluid motion of his hands he brushed himself off and looked up at the princess, forcibly smiled, and turned away to avoid anymore happenings.

They were in the room of the entrance. The hero gazed at his surroundings silently, trying to find a way to the other side.

The quicksand that was greedily sucking at the platforms even now lapped over the edges, threatening to suck the two in at any moment. Link knew that no matter how terrifying it seemed, the quicksand would not hurt them as long as they were on the platform. Still, the thought was unnerving.

He turned to the princess and ran a hand through his hair. "There's no way that we can both wade through this quicksand," he pointed out.

Zelda nodded.

"You see those grates on the walls?" This time he literally pointed.

Zelda nodded.

"Well, I have these clawshots here. It'll latch onto them and we'll be well. . .shot across. But in order to do that," he cleared his throat. "You'll have to grab me. Tightly. N-Not in that way!" Link cried as he saw the insulted blush appeared on the princess's face. "I swear! If your grip is too loose you'll slip off and fall into the quicksand, and I won't be able to pull you out."

Zelda sighed and nodded again.

Link frowned and took this to be her way of saying I understand, but the instant you start taking advantage of my situation I'm going to stab you.

Instead of asking why she was wasn't talking, he decided to equip his clawshot. When he felt the thick coating inside the contraption snugly fit around his arm, he opened and closed the claw a few times to see if it was still fully functional. Relief washed over him as the claw obeyed without any squeaks or complaints. For some reason, it felt weird to use the clawshot when Midna wasn't hovering around him. He shook his head. No. He couldn't think about her anymore. That would only cause more problems.

Silence.

"So then, uh. . .Shall we be on our way?" Link asked nervously.

Zelda hesitantly walked over and wrapped her arms around his torso. She found it surprisingly soft unlike the rough, muscular body that she was expecting. Her shoulders drooped a little as she relaxed, but the tension returned when a large wave of quicksand spilled over the edge of the platform. With a soft splat it stretched across the cobblestones as if they were nothing and reached Zelda's shoes, almost as if it was wanting to pull her in.

With a screech of fear she tightened her grip on Link. The young man gasped for breath as he felt the air in his lungs rush out of them. "P-Princess, can't breathe. . ."

She looked up to see the pained expression on his face and loosened her grip. "Sorry."

He gave a sigh of relief. "That's fine. Honestly, this place of gives me the creeps too, you know? Let's just be on our way and put it behind us."

After feeling around the inside of the clawshot, the hero felt the little trigger that would activate the claw. Turning his arm so that it was aimed toward the grate, he fired.

The ringing of the chain echoed throughout the room as they sped toward the side of the wall. It didn't affect Link very much, mostly because he had done this so many times. It was an entirely different matter for Zelda, however. First, the earth underneath her disappeared without warning, and if that wasn't bad enough, she felt as if she had forgotten her stomach back on the ground. There was nothing that she could do but close her eyes and hope for the best, and that was exactly what she did.

It was all over as suddenly as it had started. The claw had successfully pulled them toward the wall, and Link had placed himself between the wall and Zelda so that he would receive most of the impact. To his surprise, he noticed that they were still shaking.

Panicked, he inspected his clawshot to make sure any vital parts weren't rusted. When he found none, he realized that it was just Zelda trembling with fear.

"Erm. . .princess. We're done now. Well, I mean, we still have to do this one more time—"

He was cut off when she whimpered rather loudly.

"With that grate over there. . . Nevermind. I'll just get it over-with, okay?"

Without warning, Link fired the clawshot once more. It wasn't as terrifying this time for Zelda, as she was mentally prepared for what was coming. This experience was much shorter, and in the blink of an eye, the hero released his grip on the grate and gently fell toward the ground.

Zelda was extremely grateful for feeling solid ground underneath her feet. As she released her hold on Link, she promised herself that she would never take it for granted again.

"We're finally done here," Link sighed. "Now all we have to do is take the long walk home."

As soon as they stepped out of the entrance to Arbiter's Grounds, they were met with an intense heat and a blazing light that was uncomfortable. With almost inhuman speed, Link gave a cry of pain and shielded his eyes.

Learning from her partner's mistake, she covered her eyes in advance before standing beside the hero.

"Oh great Din, that hurts!" He moaned. "It's like someone took a needle and stabbed me in the eye."

"I'm sorry," the princess answered. She really was.

The lack of emotion in her voice made Link turn around. He raised an eyebrow at her, as if silently inquiring if anything was wrong.

"I'm fine. Really."

He let his gaze linger on her for just a moment more before shaking his head and trudging on.

The faint crunch of the sand underneath their feet was all that accompanied their endless walk through the desert. With each step the sun seemed to get hotter, with each breath the air became drier, and with each each blink the land around them was bathed in a supreme bright light, bleaching the earth of its color. It didn't bother either of them at first, but what was once unpleasant was now unbearable.

After a few hours of walking, Link gave up and sat down on a nearby boulder. The way it abruptly jutted out of the sand made Link think of an island surrounded by a sea of sand.

He breathed heavily as he wiped the sweat off his brow. "There's no way that we're going to get out of this desert by nightfall," he said. Zelda wordlessly watched him talk to himself "We're gonna have to too, because there's tons of dangerous stuff out here at night." Despite the cold, he shivered at the thought of fighting the scythe-wielding Poes without his wolf-senses.

They had to leave the desert! They had to! Deep in thought, Link placed a hand under his chin. Zelda noticed that he tended to do that whenever he was thinking about something.

On foot maybe, we won't make it. But we have—no. She never came here before. . .but back then, Ganondorf was still alive. Oh well. Can't hurt to try, can it?

Standing up, Link rummaged around in his pack until he found the Horse Call, remarkably still in good shape after being thrown around in so many battles. After brushing off the dust that had settled on it, Link raised it too his lips and blew.

For a brief short moment, the three high-pitched notes pierced the silence of the desert as if it were a substance-less arrow. When the echoes subsided, the land seemed to be holding it's breath and waiting along with the hero for his steed to arrive.

As if in answer, there was a distant rumble of thunder. Link was disappointed until he realized that the sound was too soft for thunder. In fact, it actually sounded like the thumping of horse's hooves.

To confirm his thought, he heard a cheerful neigh, and a few heartbeats later the swiftly approaching figure of his beloved steed appeared in the hazy horizon.

"Epona!" Rider and horse alike seemed to share the same joy as they saw each other for the first time after the battle. The flaxen-chestnut mare reared in happiness when the hero approached her.

"Oh, Epona. Girl, I've missed you!"

The horse nickered softly and nuzzled him aggressively, causing the hero to stumble a bit. When he regained his balance he laughed. He continued to stroke the horse until remembered that Zelda was behind him. Then he turned around and smiled. "Sorry, princess. I haven't introduced her to you yet have I?" Without waiting for an answer, the hero turned back to the horse and lead her by the rein, right in front of where the princess was standing.

"This is Zelda," he told Epona. "Epona, you remember Zelda, don't you? She rode with us when we were fighting Ganon."

Zelda couldn't tell if the horse understood or cared, for all it did in reply was look the princess up and down and give a nonchalant snort.

"Oh. Well then. . . uh, nevermind. Come on Epona! Let's get out of this dreadful desert, shall we?"

He's very collected when he talks to that horse, Zelda thought. It's almost as if they're close friends. I suppose that I should be happy for him. After losing a friend, he needs comfort from those he's close too. But still, it is quite sad that his closest friend is a horse

"Princess?"

Link's voice pulled her away from her thoughts. When she looked at him, he was wearing an irate expression while trying to keep Epona calm, who was nervously pacing back and forth.

"Do you want to sit there and continue thinking?"

It took her a while to comprehend what he was trying to say. "Oh," she finally said. Now she was guilty for spoiling Link's good mood. Without saying another word, Zelda hoisted herself up on the saddle and sat behind the hero. When the reins were snapped without him giving her any warning, the princess knew that she had upset him and was too scared to do anything. That was a first. She felt something.

The rest of the long ride was spent in silence. At one point, the tension was so thick Zelda leaned forward to start a conversation with him, but when she saw his angry demeanor, she decided to keep her mouth shut.

To pass the time, the princess tried to focus on the thudding of the horse's hooves and write a song to the rhythm. When it wasn't successful, she tried to create pictures out of the one, tiny cloud that was in the desert sky. Needless to say, that failed too. Finally, when she had managed to collect all the scattered bits of courage in her heart, she managed to utter a single sentence.

"So. . .how much longer until we're there?"

Link didn't answer, and at first, she thought that he didn't hear her. But her assumption was deemed incorrect when the hero flatly said, "We are here."

"Don't be ridiculous! We― Oh."

They were indeed in right front of the bridge to Castle Town. Zelda mentally slapped herself. Did she really zone out for that long?

"Are you going to get off?" The hero was obviously trying to be polite, but the tartness that sneakily crawled into his voice was like a bad note that stuck out in a harmony. It struck the princess's nerve.

She tried her best to answer equally. "Yes. Of course. Thank you. For the ride I mean." She couldn't recall a time when she had ever wanted to be off a horse as this. With one swift motion of her feet, she swung off and landed gracefully on the ground. "If you come with me, I'll tell every citizen of Hyrule what you've done―"

"No. That's fine."

"What?" She sounded indignant. "How are we going to thank you for saving our lives―"

"You just did."

"Link―"
"Look, princess," Link placed a hand behind his head and scratched, letting out a loud sigh as he did so. "If you haven't noticed it yet, I'm trying to forget that all of this happened." When Epona began pacing again, Link pulled back on the reins. He murmured something gently into the horse's ear, and she stilled as if under a spell.

"Well if you come with us, we have spells in the castle that can help you."

"I'm going to do this by myself this time." He had a tone of finality in his voice. "The reason why I'm so torn up now was because I kept depending on people."

"Well, at least come back with us and rest. You must be exhausted after everything."

"In case you have forgotten, you don't have a castle anymore." The words came out of his mouth before he could stop them. "I mean―"

It was too late. Link didn't even have enough time to prepare himself. One moment he saw a blur of white in front of his eyes, and in the next a blossom of pain erupted on his cheek. Zelda had slapped him. After muttering a rather offensive Hylian curse, she turned around and stormed off toward the castle.

The hero was about to chase after her and apologize, but he stopped. Seeing that she was a princess, all she had to do was give the order and he could be hanged. It was best to just flee the site and forget that it happened. Forget that anything happened.

Epona seemed to have more concern for Zelda. Looking at her retreating form, she nickered and started to follow her.

"No girl. It's fine. Let's just go."

It took a while, but Link finally got the horse to turn around and headed for Ordon.

Chapter 5 by Sage of Winds

The days seemed to pass as sluggishly as the clouds drifting lazily across the sky. Time itself seemed to be walking through water, and every living moment felt as if it was drawn-out and never-ending. The weather had gotten noticeably colder. The residents of Ordon found this unusual; usually the tugs of winter didn't come until later in the year. However, they all passed it off. They had seen stranger things in their lifetime. Early frost was not much of an oddity anymore.

What was peculiar though was the unusual behavior of their beloved Link. Not long after the kidnapped children had returned home, the young man had come riding in on his horse, not interacting with anyone, save for the weak smiles that he would occasionally give someone. Oddly enough, he was even quieter than when he was before he went to go look for the children, and no one had thought that possible. Because he had no parents, Link was like a son to everyone, and everyone shared their concern for him. However, he would not voice what was bothering him, and therefore, any effort to help turned out to be futile.

So they let him be.

Link knew that there were rumors about him spreading about the village. If this had happened a few months ago, Link would be doing everything to stop them. Now he could care less. After what he had been through, rumors were the least of his worries.

Upon the moment he arrived in Ordon, he had nothing to do. It had been a while since Zelda had slapped him, but the sting of her hand was still on his cheek like a humiliating reminder of what had happened. Knowing that it would be best for him to forget it, he concentrated on cleaning his house. While he occupied himself by washing the rugs, hanging them to dry, scrubbing the floors, and dusting every shelf, he found himself forgetting everything that had happened over the course of his journey. When all was done it was sunset, so he lied down on his bed, preparing to rest for the remainder of the day. As he absently watched the suns rays filter through his window, Link noticed that there was a crawling feeling in his back. He did his best to try and ignore it—he hadn't lied on a mattress for awhile, and this feeling was almost new to his body. He shut his eyes tightly, and mindlessly thought of whatever came to his mind. His thoughts began to nosily probe into his more personal side as they unconsciously drifted into the subject of Midna. This, combined with the increasingly annoying sensation along his back, forced him to give up trying to sleep and rise out of the bed. Irritated, Link groped around the dim-lit room and searched the for his lantern, determined to see what was causing him so much trouble. When he felt the cool metal curve of the handle, he slid his hand down, found the spark switch, and flicked it.

He instantly wished he hadn't.

The bed was flea-infested. His mattress wasn't gray because it was excessively dusty; it was gray because of the millions of fleas that had taken residence on his bed. As the light spread around the sheets, the creatures crawled away from it all at once, creating an odd ripple-like effect.

The hero would have fainted, if he wasn't so startled. He wouldn't have been so startled if he wasn't so scared.

An ear-piercing scream rang out in the sleep, silent village of Ordon, causing everyone to look up from their work. A few of them went to fetch their weapons, thinking that someone was being attacked. They stopped when they saw something flying out of Link's window. Upon closer inspection, they saw that it was a mattress. The split second it landed on the ground, the hero tore out of his house, taking the lantern that he was holding in his hand and throwing it on the mattress. The instant the device came in contact with the surface, the mattress caught on fire with an audible whoosh, sent an array of sparks shooting into the sky, and shocked everyone in Ordon simultaneously.

If one had seen the events just mentioned happen before their eyes, they would have described the scene as "baffling."

Panting heavily, Link looked down in horror at the blazing inferno that was his burning mattress. He was glaring at it so intently, it took him a while to realize that all gazes in his hometown were fixed on him. He could feel it. When he thought about how worried they were about him now, he didn't have the courage to look up and explain his actions. Instead, he walked over to where Epona was tied up, freed her, and walked out of the village, yelling "I'm going to the spring!" over his shoulder.

Many people were surprised after what had just happened, and some of the mothers were even scared of Link. The children were the only ones who were excited.

It was the first dose of action that they had had in days.

The soft gurgle of flowing water soothed the pounding of his heart as Link approached the Faron spring. Time always moved to the tempo of it's own metronome in Hyrule, leaving every creature to dance with the beat or be left behind. The spring seemed to be the only place where time stood completely still. It was almost as if it was a safe haven, where tortured and weary souls could flee from their worldly problems and heal their injuries.

Letting go of the lead on Epona, Link padded over to the spring and crouched. With trembling arms he scooped water into his cupped palms and splashed it on his face. He sighed as the coolness of the water sank into his skin. Wanting more, he continued to wash his face, until something out of the corner of his eye caught his attention.

The sand on the bank of the spring was extremely soft. Any weight on it would leave a deep print that wouldn't be erased until someone stepped on it. Unfortunately, not many people went to the spring, so the split hoof-prints that were left behind after a herd of bullbos trampled the grounds were still on the sand, unblemished.

Until now, all of the memories that Link had of his journey was pushed to the back of his mind, in the process of being forgotten. As he looked down at the footprints, the memory of what had happened on that day at the spring came leaked into his head. With it came everything else.

Ilia hit over the head―have to chase after her―cant move―pain!―in a sewer―I'm her slave―why does it have to be me?―the bridge is gone―in a field―underwater now―who is he? Zant? No! Leave her alone you bastar―I have to hurry! The castle!―No! Can't you see? It's me Link! Stop―No! Get away! I have to get to the castle―

The stream of thought abruptly stopped when he found it hard to breathe. His face was submerged in the water. Gasping for breath, he helplessly flailed around before sitting up, sending water droplets spraying in all directions. Somehow, he must have lost control of his body and writhed about on the sandbank, for he had moved from the spot where he originally was. The water that had once comforted him was now cold and hostile, and the chill sent a shiver down Link's spine. Shakily he stood up, and massaged a temple in a feeble attempt to calm himself down. It was a childhood habit, and eventually turned into a permanent part of his behavior.

In the midst of his self-therapy, Epona nickered softly. This was her way of alerting her rider that there was someone nearby. Naturally alarmed, he stopped the movement in his hand and turned, seeing Fado standing at the entrance of the spring. The look of worry on the ranch hand's face made him mentally cringe.

"Link? Are you okay?" Fado asked. He warily eyed the hero's wet tunic that was slightly plastered with sand.

For a moment, all that could be heard was the gentle gurgle of the water. Then, "Yeah. I'm fine."

His partner sighed. "People―everyone in Ordon is worried about you."

Link tried his best not to snort. "Yes, I've noticed."

"Well, I just want to say. . . whatever is bothering you, you're welcome to tell me, o-or the others whatever you want. You're still young, so I understand if your having problems with a certain someone―"

"I'm fine." It was just a suspicion, but Link was starting to feel as if Fado was inquiring whether or not anything was wrong with the "other gender." Which he really, really didn't want to talk about.

Fado didn't seem to believe him, but he didn't question any further. "Alright then," he replied. His voice contained the hidden note of a sigh. "I came here, actually, to ask if you wanted to help out again."

It took a while for Link to understand. Then he perked up. "Really?"

Fado's mood brightened as well. "Well, the ranch can always use another hand. And besides, you always worked there. Unless―" he trailed off as a thought came to his mind. "Unless you found a place to work somewhere else on your journey. . ."

"No! No!" Link interjected a little too suddenly, and it seemed to have startled Fado. Of course, through his giddiness, the hero failed to notice. "I'll gladly start herding the goats again! When do I start?"

The ranch hand cleared his throat in embarrassment. "You can uhstart tomorrow. Morning." He added quickly.

Link grinned. "Good. I'm looking forward to it."

Fado returned his smile, and left the spring without another word.

"You hear that Epona? We're going to start working again!"

The mare looked at her rider long and hard for a few heartbeats. Then she turned her head and snorted.

"Well, I can't expect you to be happy about it, I guess. You never liked the goats, did you?"

"I suppose. Your whooping nearly drove me to the brink of insanity as well."

Battle instincts kicking in, Link whipped around quickly to face whoever had spoken. To his surprise, no one was there except Epona, who was currently drinking.

Am I going crazy? I know that heard someone talk. It wasn't anyone from Ordon. . .

But Epona hadn't nickered, and she always did when someone was there. The hero gazed thoughtfully at his horse, who gazed back equally.

Silence.

He shook his head and grabbed the mare's lead. It was just his imagination.

Trying his best to ignore the dull, aching pain in the back of his head, the mage laid a hand on his forehead and focused on the pile of rubble in front of him. Blocking out the shouts and barks of the workers behind him, he strained his ears. After a brief heartbeat of searching, the mage heard the familiar deep, low hum of his magic. Closing his eyes, he uttered a spell under his breath. He watched mindlessly as the pile of pebbles, splinters and dust rearranged itself. A moment later there was a heap of bricks and wooden beams where the rubble once was. He sighed, completing his routine that he would soon have to do again.

How many piles of rubble had he restored? Twenty? Fifty? A thousand? It might as well have been. Along with many of the other mages, witches, and sorcerers that had been summoned here, his job was to use his magic to restore Hyrule Castle. One pile of rubble at a time.

When he had heard the instructions, he almost groaned. The magic users here were very powerful. Couldn't all of them stand around the castle and cast a regeneration spell together? That would be much more effective.

Not to mention the fact that they were actually using old material to build a new castle. The mage didn't know much about architecture, but he did know a lot about politics, and he didn't think that it was a brilliant idea to house the individuals that were to govern the kingdom in a castle built from old materials. Especially ones that had crumbled.

The pain in his head came again, and this time it was slightly stronger to the point where he grunted quietly in pain. He saw the witch standing next to him frown in concern, but he ignored her.

All this thinking was making his head hurt. On second thought, maybe it wasn't the thinking. He had been called here in the morning and hadn't rested since then. He almost silently cursed his bloodline, but then remembered his kind, gentle mother and stopped. Oh well. It wasn't as if he could do anything about it anyway. Now if only he could get out of the sun―

"Cadeyrn! What are you doing? Get to work! This rubble isn't going to fix itself!"

The mage was snapped out of his thoughts by the supervisor's bark-like voice. He turned to him, but that only caused his headache to return, stronger, and caused him to grunt in pain.

"Don't you grunt at me! You were called here to fix the castle, so do your job!"

Cadeyrn was not in a very good mood. He was not in a good mood at all. In fact, when he thought back to this moment, he wondered how he had managed to reply to the supervisor without insulting him in any way.

"Sir Rothl," the mage said respectively. "I think I have restored enough piles of rubble for today. May I go rest now? Sir?" He added.

"What!?" Rothl growled. "You want to rest?"

"Yessir."

"Boy, you've only restored a hundred-fifty-three piles, and you're asking if you can rest?"

Only a hundred-fifty-three? "Well, yessir. That's the idea."

"NONSENSE!" Rothl exclaimed so loudly it caused Cadeyrn to jump. "You've got to be out of your mind!" His voice was so loud that it had now drawn the attention of the many builders, workers, and sorcerers that were working and stop them in their tracks. "We want this castle to be finished by the end of this week! How do you expect us to reach our goal if you only restore a hundred-fifty-three piles of rubble! Look around you boy! There's thousands of piles around you! They need restoring"

The mage opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the supervisor's insistent yelling.

"Youth these days! So careless and lazy! Your kind have been causing our glorious Hyrule trouble since the beginning of time! That's all you're useful for."

Although Rothl wasn't insulting his ethnicity, the word "kind" still stung. And even if the supervisor did know about Cadeyrn's background, he doubted that Rothl would show him any respect. Regardless, there was no spell or medicine that he could use to suppress the effects of the sun. He needed to get out of the light before it started hurting him.

"Sir, please. I have to get into some sort of shade. I can't stay in the sunlight to long. It's a. . .um, skin condition." He couldn't find any other way to explain it. "I've had it since I was born."

"Really now?"

The mage felt his shoulders loosen. So the supervisor understood―

"That's an awful shame isn't it?"

. . .What?

"Looks like you will just have to tough it out, my boy." Rothl smirked. "If it gets too unbearable, feel free to take off your shirt."

"No."

The man raised his eyebrow. "No?" He stretched out the single syllable as if it was on a fermata.

"Yes, no. I think that me, and the rest of the sorcerers here deserve a break. We've been working tirelessly since dawn."

"Then keep on working."

"Rothl, I think that you have a disability as well."

Before he could chastise him for using his first name, the mage had Walked over to where the he stood. Cadeyrn furrowed his brow once more and pretended to observe him closely. His eyes lit up with mischief and a bit of curtness as he gave an exclamation. "A ha! I've got it. You don't seem to comprehend Hylian."

For a moment, everything was still. Every workers' movement stopped, the sorcerers lowered their hands, and one witch's mouth was frozen mid-spell. Even the wind had stilled, as if it was surprised that the mage had insulted the supervisor. The one supervisor who prided himself on being pure-blooded Hylian.

"Y-y-y-" Rothl began to stutter in fury. His face was steadily growing red. In fact, his reaction would have been comical if the situation had been different. "Y-y-you. . .filthy swine! Useless, filthy swine! You and your kind. . .no respect for others―"

"Excuse me, but by saying 'kind' are you calling us magic users 'swine' as well?" A bearded wizard inquired.

At this, every sorceror, witch, wizard, and mage began to close in on Rothl.

"Yes, is our blood to unclean for you, o high pure-blood?"

"Are we not worthy enough to be in your presence?"

"What are we but 'useless, filthy swine'?"

For a fleeting moment, Cadeyrn feared that his mischief had caused something bigger than he intended. He started to step in between the now terrified Roth and the angry sorcerers but was stopped.

"May I politely ask what is happening?"

It was Zelda. The mage could recognize her voice anywhere.

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