Chapter 27: Broken
Link awoke in the lap of his princess awash in the clean light of dawn. The trio was spread out in the tall grass alongside the brunt remains of the half the village.
Navi in the dead of night had returned with a mere single pink fairy. The knife has since been removed and Zelda was saved from her mortal wounds, leaving the others to heal on their own due to the fact that the little pink creatures have become continually more rare.
The hero was weary and wounded, the cuts to his arm were serious
.But the most critical wound laid deep within, an unseen wound that may never heal.
Link looked up to his princess with remorseful lost eyes, he was still only just barely conscious.
" Zelda said sadly looking down to him, she gently touched one of the red Oni marks "What was that, how could that happen to you
With her words Link's mind fully returned to this world and images of the previous night flashed through his mind.
The tormented hero pulled away from her hand nearly falling to the ground. He could hardly speak through the haunting pain that cloaked him.
did not want to tell anyone
since the merge I have not been okay. For the most part I was fine
Link's words trailed off as he sat up and moved out of Zelda's arms and to the grass, afraid to touch her.
Kaepora's voice reached them, his emphatic connection with the heroes had struck him greatly and he was still reeling from the emotions that hit him that night.
"Link you should have said something before
it sounds like the Oni is out of balance
I did not expect this.
This is a worse price than I thought you had already paid
Link You must continue to fight it, don't let it consume you as it did last night.
if the Oni takes over completely, your soul could be lost forever
Link's face grew fallow at the mentioning of the Oni. When he wore the mask gifted to him by Majora, the Tenshioni with the angel half removed, it seemed to eat at his very soul and he could hardly remain in control
When his forms became merged the demon became a part of him along with the angel
. but now it had torn away from the angel half, the Oni was breaking free of the balance and it's dark power was fighting to consume him.
Zelda reached out and placed her hand atop Link's. The hero pulled his hand away as if his touch alone would cause her to burst into flames.
The queen's expression was soft and calm "Link, as far as I am concerned that was not you last night
It was not you..."
Link's eyes were dark and dismal
"Those were my hands!" he snapped, voice cracking
And that darkness is still part me
waiting for its chance to kill
" Link said moving away and turning his body so as not to face Zelda. He could not bear to look at her after what he nearly did that night
he had almost killed her.
Zelda's face grew stern, she stood up, walked over to him, reached down and grabbed Link's arm forcefully making him look her in the eye.
"Link even after the horror of last night I still love you. I would gladly give my life to save you
That is why
.that is why I let your demon strike me.
If I had to face a choice that required me to give up my life so you could live
I would die happy knowing I could save you." tears filled her eyes with each word, she fell to her knees, fists clenched to his shirt sobbing with her head against his chest.
Link sat in shock over her words. As she cried the hero's expression softened, his eyes became lost and sad as he embraced his princess.
Chirin was sitting in the grass feeling heartbroken, Navi was sniffling and crying in his hands.
Zelda's tears ceased though she still held her broken hero close. Link wrapped his arms around her firmly, never wanting to let go. They sat in each other's embrace, resting upon each other's shoulders
Their closeness trying to repair what had been done to the hero's now broken soul.
Some of the villagers had returned under the protection of Darunia, but they ventured no further than the gate to Death Mountain trail.
They stood in silence trying to understand what was going on.
Their gentle king seemed broken, his body covered in blood alongside his queen who likewise was splashed in red. The young prince sat in crimson stained clothes and the atmosphere seemed extremely melancholy despite the fact that it was obvious they had vanquished their foes.
Darunia with his burly body silently motioned for them to return to the Goron City, they would return later. For now they should give the royal family some privacy to recover from wounds unseen.
The trio rode back to the palace somberly on horseback.
Link placed his hand over the scar on his neck, his mind lost in thought
he had never desired such vengeance for the death mark on his throat
Or perhaps he did, deep down, and the demon had merely acted on his deepest darkest desire.
Link shook his head trying to dash that thought, he tried to hold onto what Zelda had said, that the demon was not him, that none of what he had done were his own actions
he had to believe this
even if it was not true.
As they arrived at the palace Aryll ran up to her family but then stopped at the sight of their bloodied clothing, the look on her face made Link hurt all the more.
Zelda tried to pull up the collar on her dress to cover the bruising around her throat.
Link got down off the horse and just stood there, looking at his adopted daughter with somber eyes.
Aryll walked up to her father with a soft and sad look. She touched his hand and looked up at his painful expression.
The little girl then silently and sadly wrapped her arms around his legs and hugged him.
Link fell to one knee and held her close to his aching heart as she hugged him back. If this innocent creature could still love him despite what he had done then perhaps there was still hope for his broken soul.
The next few days were spent recovering physically and emotionally. Zelda's wounds had been healed by a fairy but the king and prince still were in need of care.
Link's arms were cut fairly badly but the hero had dealt with worse wounds in the past
despite this fact Link spent an awful lot of time just laying in bed.
Link had become quiet and withdrawn. Zelda tried to reach out to him, she tried to help him heal in the same way she had when they were children, but Link was tormented in a far greater way this time.
In the past hurtful memories and emotions were to blame
This time he had been stricken with an inner demon that laid in wait for its chance to consume his soul and kill everyone in sight
The source of Link's depression was his own existence.
The image of his hands clasped around Zelda's throat still haunted the hero. Link feared that one day he may have to commit an unthinkable act in order to prevent the demon's wrath from claiming the lives of his loved ones
His soul seemed to break at the thought of his family dying in the grasp of his own hands
he would rather take his own life than let that happen
Finally on the sixth day Zelda dragged Link out of solitude and sat him down to have lunch with the rest of them.
Link hardly ate a thing, his gentle spirit was still shaken and his mind kept drifting to unpleasant thoughts.
He sat in his chair staring at the table with eyes unfocused mindlessly pushing around the contents of his plate with a fork.
After almost an hour of this he got up, returned to his bed and flopped down face first into his pillow with wings limp to either side.
The sight bothered Zelda greatly, she had never seen Link in such a state of depression and she was unsure what more she could do to help her hurting hero.
Not knowing what else to try she suggested that maybe Kaepora could help. The emphatic connection with the sage only worked one way so they had to go to him to seek assistance.
That evening the trio got ready to leave. They geared up prepared for battle, bows, arrows, the works, including Chirin in his armor along with the Oni blade and Zelda kept the Sheik mask close. This may be a leisurely tip but they were no longer living in a time of peace and never could tell when danger would strike, and the three of them always remained as a group for when the time came
they were determined to face his nightmare together.
Link hugged Aryll close and tight as each said goodbye to his little princess.
They set off for the land of snow via the aid of Yubreit and Kia, the dragons had taken up residence at the castle in light of the current drama.
When they arrived up at the Wind Temple the sun was dipping below the horizon, Kaepora was surprised to see them at all let alone so late in the day.
The sage looked to Link and was hurt to see such an expression on the Hero's face
He invited them inside, Zelda gave her explanation for the visit as they walked to the main hall.
The winged Chirin excused himself from the group, he claimed to be heading to the guestroom he uses when staying on overnight lessons to retrieve something he'd left behind
but in reality the boy was sneaking off to give Luda a gift that he had made to thank her for the flute.
"No I am afraid I cannot help
" the sage said sitting at the table motioning them to join him.
Kaepora was deeply saddened by the forlorn look in the hero's eyes
"Link I am dreadfully sorry that the price you paid has become so steep, I knew you would feel a sense of loss as the two forms merged
What I did not foresee was that the balance of the Tenshioni half would be so disrupted by the presence of your Hylian self
The sage looked at the hero with strong commanding eyes "Link, would you say that you would have rather died that day." he said sternly.
Link stiffened in shock "No." he said with a shaken voice.
"Then fight for what you want to live for!" The sage said bringing a fist to the table, he stared at the startled couple and his stance softened
"I wish I could aid you in more ways that with words but this is beyond what I can change physically."
The sage sighed with a heavy heart "When I saved you that day I very much hoped that you would one day regain the inner peace you so deserved. I thought the upset within would only return you to a state similar to what you were in as a child, back when Zelda brought you into her life. I thought that in the end your spirit would leave this world at peace and repaired
I now worry dearly for the state of your future
if the demon overshadows your soul then nothing will remain of you in this world or the next."
The sage's last words were frightening, his eyes became stern, his gaze reached out to the hero, urging him to be strong.
"Link Your family, especially your princess, share a close bond with you, it was the near breaking of this bond that released the demon. Keep them close and keep them safe, they are the key to your soul's recovery. The demon thrives on fear and unrest so you must stay positive. Be strong for your princess, for your family. It would be a tragedy if your bond was lost. " he said all the while walking over to Link, he put a comforting hand on the hero's shoulder fingers grazing Link's feathers "You have vanquished much evil from this world Link and the evil that lies within you will be no different."
Link smiled, it was a faint one, but it was there. The first smile to grace his face since that night when the demon within was released.
The hero and his princess got up to track down Chirin and head home "Oh, wait. Before I forget." Kaepora went to the shelf and came back with the wolfose mask "I think you should keep this. The spirit seems restless here, I think it would like to be back where you had it before you brought it to me." The hero took the mask.
"Link, now you remember what I said about it
He sighed "Don't worry, I have no plans on splitting myself three ways." Link said while putting the mask in his side bag next to the ocarina strapped to his belt.
It was dark as the family returned by dragon back, Chirin by his own wings.
Link was still greatly worried about what the future would hold concerning the demon, but he had regained a bit of his old self having heard Kaepora's speech. The sage wished he could help beyond just words but he had indeed helped Link greatly.
The beat of the dragon's wings filled the air as the great beasts lumbered back to Hyrule palace in the darkness of the recently settled sun.
The hero was getting tired, his sore body and aching arm begged to be at rest in bed. At least tonight maybe he could sleep more peacefully than he had all week
Link's thoughts of peace however were short lived and the darkness gripped him once again.
As they grew closer to the palace
there was a glow in the sky
and dawn was several hours away
Panic welled within each of them as the dragons hastened their pace, part of Hyrule field was on fire and as they came closer to the palace they saw part of it burned as well.
As they made their approach on the castle Link was hit with a sudden jolt atop Yubreit who shrilled in pain and faltered nearly falling from the sky. Link looked around in confusion and then he saw their attacker, the red wyvern, Argorok, minus his passenger.
The red beast turned it's attention to Zelda atop Kia. The princess urged Kia to head for the ground, the dragon went into a nosedive as it fled, trying desperately to get her flightless passenger safely to the grass below.
Before the female dragon could land The armored wyvern grabbed Kia by the tail jolting Zelda loose as she fell to the ground, the princess gasped as the wind was knocked out of her upon impact.
Kia was thrown into the flames. The dragon fled the fire, the hiss of steam following her as the flames licked at her cold flesh leaving behind black scorch marks. As the burned Kia escaped her trial by fire Argorok struck the female dragon again this time knocking her to the ground, leaving her unconscious.
Link dove in on Yubreit, the brave dragon was prepared to fight even though this red beast was twice its size and covered with armor.
Link struck with his sword as Yubreit grabbed at its tail but the blade merely clanked off the metal plating.
All the while Chirin was preparing an attack with the Oni blade, at the last second Argorok realized the child's intent.
The red wyvern dealt a drastic blow so as to distract the winged prince, Argorok tore at Yubreit's wing shredding it to pieces.
The dragon faltered towards the ground screaming in pain with Link holding on for dear life at his back. Chirin halted his attack to go to the dragon's aid. He cast Farore's wind to catch Yubreit and his father transporting himself along with them safely to the ground below.
Chirin fell to his knees as he felt the drain on his body caused by using such magic, the effect was quite strong this time considering the dragon's size. He collapsed to his chest to the grass gasping in pain and swearing at the cost the spell came with.
As the team laid broken on the ground trying to collect themselves each suddenly realized the red wyvern was gone.
And then they heard Aryll scream.
The wyvern returned into view this time with the man of black feathered wings was a atop his back, and under Dragmire's arm was Aryll kicking and screaming furiously.
The tenacious little girl bit the man's hand hard. Dragmire looked at the girl coldly and with one touch of his other hand the girl screamed and grew lip and quiet. Dragmire grasped the base of Aryll's red ponytail, he held her up for those below to see and looked down at them with a deep vicious grin.
Chirin growled at the sight, he became sick with rage and took to the air.
The great wyvern turned and tore off through the sky with the winged Prince in hot pursuit, Zelda and Link screaming for him to stop.
The citizens of the castle town came when they saw the fire, they alongside the soldiers tried to put out the flames. One of the soldiers came out of the main hall which was just starting to burn, supported at his side was the greatly wounded Impa.
" she said with great sorrow "I failed as a Sheikah and as a grandmother
I failed to protect Aryll."