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The Lament of Dusk

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Prologue

The war between light and dark has been raging for seventeen years now. Perpetual twilight shadows half of our world while the other is governed by the purest of light. It is as if time stands still here in this world, the sun never fading... the moon never rising...

It didn't use to be this way. But as to what changed it, no one is sure. All we know is that the Twilight did not appear on its own.

There is a man garbed in the robes of purest night, and it is speculated that, with his birth, the Twilight was called forth. When this mans tiny cries came forth to the world, sounding like the wail of a banshee, it moved like a sentient being to cover half the planet in a thick shadow, one that even the light of the Goddesses could not dispel. Those with pure souls were warped into spirits, doomed to live out their lives as such without a clue as to their condition. But those with hearts corrupted by sin and evil were transformed into terrible beings, into lurking giants of all different sizes and varieties that came to patrol Hyrule and its Twilight. They are ruled by the man in the robes that shimmer like the night sky, and act as his own personal army to fight any and all who oppose him. To fight the light and its people. Its ruler.

It is said that any who venture out of the light to dwell in the Twilight are transformed as well, but there are very few who come to do so. It is also said that no matter your location, the haze of Twilight is visible in the sky. And to this day, seventeen years later, it still billows thick and cold over the remains of Hyrule.

Do not worry though, the armies of Twilight dwellers do not easily make their way into the light. For an army just as strong and determined as their own is defending its purity.

An army ruled by a man of a dying breed.

The light and its people, the Hylians, are protected by a man who was but a year old when the Twilight appeared. Yet even as a baby he was already confirmed as the next in line to govern the armies of Hyrule, or, at the very least, what was left of it. He spent the entirety of his life learning the ways of the blade and dagger, and how to use the ancient arts known only to those of his own blood. And it was these things that he used to combat the Twilight and its ruler when he came of age. He grew up with neither a mother nor a father, his only purpose being to destroy the ruler of the Twilight. And truly, if he is incapable of doing so, then we are all truly doomed.

Yet, there is another thread to the tale of the story. Something that very few are aware of. It is said that on the very day the Twilight appeared, the cry that rang out did not belong to the baby who has grown to be the ruler of the darkness. But instead, a fair-headed boy who was immediately shunned and taken away. His blue eyes and creamy skin made him unsuitable to the demon who had birthed him, the demon who had only planned to have such a child to destroy the light of Hyrule.

But before he was taken, it is said that a spell of the darkest magic was cast, one that rent the poor child and left not one, but two of him. The fair-headed boy was then promptly removed from Hyrule, whereas his double remained under the growing cloud of Twilight, his ebony hair a perfect opposite to the blond he had been cloned from.

As to where the original child was taken, or if he still remains to this day, the mystery is just as sure as the origin of the Twilight.

One thing, however, is considered certain. Or, at the very least, it is what the people of Hyrule pray to their Goddesses for.

They pray that little blond baby, should he still live, will rise once more to have his revenge.

Because an army alone could never be enough to save them from a ruler so purely evil.

And that's nothing but a tale of absolute drivel.

"What did you say, boy?"

"I said... your story is nothing but a tale of absolute drivel."

The clatter of knives ceased in the gloom of the tavern, cups half raised lowered once more, drinks hastily swallowed. There wasn't a pair of eyes in the room that weren't on the figure sitting at the counter, a man who continued to casually sip from his steaming mug despite the stares. Clearly confused, or perhaps annoyed, the middle-aged man who had been telling the story of Hyrule's past and present turned in his seat to give the man in the cloak his full attention, "Absolute drivel? What's that supposed to mean? Are you one of those people who don't believe in stories and history?"

Another sip, a pregnant pause, "I believe. Just not in Fairy Tales."

"F-fairy tales? I beg your pardon?" The man stood and hovered close, his fist clenched on the counter. He was positively livid, so furious that his entire body shook like a leaf, "How can you call our history a fairy tale? Are you that selfish? Does the sacrifice of the General, and the impending doom coming our way mean nothing to you?"

Finally, the man sat down his mug, "Well it sure doesn't mean much." Licking off the excess liquid on his lower lip, he tipped his hand at the woman behind the counter, "How many rupees for this?"

She had been eying him just as curiously as the rest of the Hylians in the bar, and at his sudden question she stuttered, "Ah, ten. Ten rupees, sir."

Digging around in his cloak pocket for a moment, the man pulled out a single yellow piece and set it down on the counter by his half-empty mug. Standing, presumably to leave, the man turned away from the peering eyes and the man at his side and said, "Surely you don't really believe in something that farfetched. At the very least, if you do, you shouldn't. Things like that don't happen, not in real life. Clones? Dark magic? I truly doubt such things."

"I suppose you don't believe in the Goddesses either then, hm? You will surely find yourself in the deepest pit of hell, boy." Sneering, the man turned away, sitting back in his seat. But the man in the cloak had stilled, his fingers flexing beneath his cloak.

"You will be the one the Goddesses are damning, good sir. For saying such things to a person you don't even know. You haven't seen the things I have, you don't know how it is."

"I think I know enough." Was the mans reply, but if there had been more it would have been cut off regardless. A blade was at his throat, threateningly close to slicing right through it. A collective gasp rang out in the bar, not a soul having even seen the man in the cloak draw his sword. To have drawn so quickly, this man could be nothing less than a master swordsman.

"I suggest you watch what you say to people in cloaks, you never know just who it is beneath them."

Frightened, the man looked into the depths of the others hood, trying to discern who it was that stared back at him, "Who are you? Why are you doing this? I was only telling a story, I didn't mean to offend anyone!"

"Your words are too late, the damage is done. Be mindful of what you have seen and heard today, and do not forget this lesson. It may save your neck someday." Quick as the strike of a serpent, the cloaked figure angled his sword and swung downwards instead of the presumed sideways strike. A shriek rent the air as blood splashed over the floor, the man nursing what was left of the stump his arm now was.

"M-monster! You're a monster!" He shouted, tears flowing down his cheeks. The man in the cloak simply swung his sword once more, making everyone in the tavern flinch. But it was only to rid his blade of the blood dripping from it. With that, the cloaked man silently swept away from the counter and the man, away from the people who shrunk back from him as he passed. Some rushed to treat the bleeding, crumpled man at the counter, while others watched as the figure stopped at the doorway, sheathed his blade and whispered, "May the Twilight spread just as quickly here as it has in Hyrule. For surely no clone has survived all these years. There never has been, and never was." Inclining his head just a fraction to the side, the mans cold, ruby gaze met that of a half-drunken man, "Feel free to spread the word of what has happened here today. Let people know that it is quite wise to watch ones tongue nowadays."

The door creaked forward, the man stepped out, and not a soul in that particular tavern saw hide nor hair of that mysterious charcoal cloak for the remainder of their lives.

But out in the chill of the night and the strong breeze, the fresh air filtering over the branches of trees as the moon watched over them, the hood on the mans cloak flew back, and hair as stark as the nighttime sky was thrown askew.

Chapter One

He couldn't remember the last time he had eaten, nor the last time he'd had a proper drink. One that wasn't scooped out of the bottom of a barrel or sucked out the end of a discarded bottle. Food that hadn't been found dead or killed hastily, raw and bloody as he put it away as fast as he could.

Because blood and death attracted the dwellers of the Twilight, and they were too close to the haze to be so unguarded. He sighed for what felt like the thousandth time and ran his fingers through his hair, praying that the rain would come soon. The last time he'd had a proper bath... he shuddered to even remember. So very long ago... it had all been.

Shaking his head, he turned his gaze away from the hazy sky and looked instead upon his troops. Earlier that day they had happened upon a few straying dwellers, and had quickly ended their advances. Battling without earning a single casualty or injury was impossible though, which was why they were camping out, waiting for broken arms, legs and burns to heal over. Waiting was always the worst though... when the people could stop and think, truly remember what it was they were fighting for and against... it was hard. So very hard.

"General sir?"

He turned to raise acknowledge the elderly man behind him, "Yes?"

"We've gotten word that there's an outbreak further down the road. They're requesting backup. What are you orders?"

The falcon perched on the mans shoulder cocked its head, eying him just as earnestly as the one it was perched on. Rubbing his jaw, the General sighed and said, "Send out a few of our best, try to pick people who haven't been injured. We don't need any more casualties today."

"Yes sir." Bowing, the man turned and ran back to camp, the falcon on his shoulder screeching in protest at the sudden motion. Turning, he looked up to where the haze of Twilight met the bright blue sky and shuddered, pulling his cowl further up his nose.

On the way back to camp he passed a group of three, two women and a large man. Each carried a spear and were adorned in the typical attire of soldiers, the crest of the Triforce shining in blazing gold on their breastplates. As they passed him they saluted clumsily, knowing their orders were to get to the other camp as quickly as possible. He let them go, uncaring of the less than perfect show of respect.

Because what was respect in a dying world.

Hastily, he put that thought out of his mind, reprimanding himself for even daring to think it. He was the General after all, and people of his position didn't think such things. If they could help it.

But oh, how he remembered how the world had once been... Daylight shining, birds chirping happily, water clean and fresh no matter where you were or went. And now, now everything consisted of death and decay, disease and garbage.

At camp he found the Hylians and soldiers eating the few scraps they had found, some bandaged and wounded, favoring limbs even as they reclined in comfort against discarded weapons.

"I got a letter the other day." He heard a man say, "from my sweet little Cara. She wrote about a man that came into her tavern and wreaked some havoc. Cut a mans arms off, of all things. Can you imagine? Said it scared her to death, can't even go out without someone with her."

The woman he was addressing shook her head sadly, Times are hard. People will do crazy things."

"Yes, but, cutting a mans arm off? And that isn't even the weirdest thing. She said he refused to show his face, that he was wearing a cloak. That he carried a sword."

Gasping, the woman leaned forward to whisper, "One of ours, you think? A guard gone crazy? A Hylian gone insane from the stress? Or, maybe," He didn't feel it, but the weight of two gazes was heavy on him as he walked past them. "maybe someone else entirely...?"

"Don't say such things." The man said, shushing her. But their thoughts were as one, knowing fully well that the ruler of the dark army wielded a sword that shone like the night.

Their housing was nothing but a few hanging branches thrown together and soft sand pushed into piles. But they didn't need to luxury to keep them going. Regardless, it would have been nice to sleep on an actual, real bed for a night or two.

'Soon.' He reminded himself, 'Very soon we'll be back home. Any day now Princess Zelda will send us her word, and I have the feeling that it will be one calling us back home.'

He had just sat himself upon a log someone had dragged over from the forest when a low rumble caught the attention of everyone in the camp. A howl rent the air, followed by a dozen others as a pack of Wolfos and a single Twilight dweller appeared on the horizon. The General stood and drew a pair of daggers, his posture tall and defiant as the enemy drew closer.

"Stand and fight, everyone! Don't let them get us now, not when we're so close to going home!"

And as the camp prepared to defend their meager home, the General could only hope that whatever messenger the Princess was sending would run a little faster.

/ / /

Well, if there was one person he had never expected to hear from that day, it would surely had to have been the Princess herself. But no sooner had he ambled out of his home, sleepy-eyed and stretching against the tightness in his joints, a fairy had appeared and informed him that the Princess herself was expecting him. The fairy had disappeared before he could ask for any specific details, but in his hand she had dropped a fancy sheet of parchment that simply said, 'Please come to Hyrule field. I will have a guard of mine waiting to bring you to me.'

And because it was the Princess, he couldn't just say no. In fact, all he could do was rush to meet her, his belongings hastily thrown into his rucksack as he packed. He had heard of people being drafted by the Princess to work alongside her as a guard, so he suspected he wouldn't be returning to his home anytime soon. Not that there was much of a home for him anyway. He had woken up in the forest one day without a single memory as to how he had come to be there. And in that time, he had happened upon a tree larger than life itself. Not only that, but he'd come to find, after a week of sleeping outside it in the shadows of its branches, that the inside was completely hollow. So he'd moved in, knowing that it was probably the safest place he could ever be. As happy as he was there, he'd never had a reason to find anywhere else to live, and the tree had since then become his one and only true home.

And now he was leaving it.

With the tree at his back and the rest of the forest looming before him, he walked merrily on, swaying in time to a tune he whistled. All around him the forest was coming to life with the rising sun, chattering ans squawking as he passed. The sun was high overhead, beating down upon his flaxen hair, warming him up as the dew evaporated from the grass and leaves. It was a great day to be outside, and he only hoped that everyone else in the world was having just as much fun as he was.

Not that he knew much about what was going on out there. He hadn't left the forest in years, choosing instead to live in the quiet secrecy of the forest, away from the people and the hustle and bustle of towns.

If he was right... he hadn't been back in Hyrule for nearly eleven years. And seeing as how he was seventeen now, well, it made him a bit uncomfortable, going to see a Princess and all. What would she be like? Would she find him uncouth? Would she find his way of life unconventional and strange? Such thoughts made him want to turn and run back home, but the heavy pack on his back reminded him that his home was with him at that very moment, and because he had come so far, it would be foolish to turn back.

So he carried on, walking well into the afternoon and evening, stopping only to munch on a few strips of dried meat and berries. After his meager meal he pulled out his prized possession: an Ocarina that a friend had made just for him so many years ago. Its well worn surface was smooth beneath his fingers as he brought the mouthpiece to his lips and began to play his favorite tune. He didn't know where it came from or how he knew it, but the notes had simply flowed from him the very first time he'd ever held the instrument. As he walked an played, the animals seemed to follow him, enjoying the music and his presence. But soon the sky and the sun began to appear before him through the trees, signaling that he was very close to leaving the safety of the forest behind. Preparing himself for whatever was on the other side, he slipped his Ocarina back into his bag and turned his head to take one last look at the trees he was walking away from. Who knew when the next time he'd come to see them would be. Breathing in deeply, he latched onto the scent of pine and oak and held it deep, memorizing it so he could call upon it later.

And with that, knowing that he was keeping both the Princess and the guard she had sent waiting, he stepped through the trees and into the bright sunlight on the other side.

Almost immediately he wanted to turn and run back in, but the hulking, giant of a man had already grabbed his hand up into his own ham sized one, shaking him like a toy as he grinned from ear to ear.

"Good t'see you made it, Link!"

Yes, that was his name, as much as he wished it wasn't. Link was the name of a Hero, not of some lowly forest boy who didn't even know how to properly return a handshake.

"Hello there." He managed, smiling bashfully up at the man. Upon his head was a helmet, but the grate was lifted upward so Link could see his face. What he saw almost made him laugh, as impolite as it would be though, he managed to hold it in. The man had a beard so scruffy and full the it hung out the front of his helmet as well as the bottom, the color of ginger and copper a few shades lighter than his eyebrows and the unkempt hair flowing out the back of his helmet. The man wore the signature armor of the royal knights, and on his breastplate was the intricate symbol of the Princess' family. The triforce. Link glanced down at his hand and turned it so that the crest there would be easily overlooked.

He had no idea why or how, but the very crest that adorned the royal family was also printed on the back of his hand, just as vibrant and golden as the original. Not that he had ever seen the Triforce, but it was all speculation and rumor. That was where he'd first heard that his name was the name of a Hero as well, and how he had come to hate his bloodline.

Forgetting himself, Link flushed and bowed to the giant before him, apologizing for his absentmindedness.

"May I have your name, sir?"

"Ah, my name is Gigantis. Kind of ironic, hm?" He let out a laugh that shook through his entire body, one so infectious that Link couldn't help but laugh as well, even though he had no idea what the man was talking about. Names meant something, right? So maybe his had a funny translation, he would have to ask someone else later, assuming they'd be meeting with others at some point.

Wiping a tear from his eye, Gigantis turned away from the forest and put a hand on Links shoulder, guiding him to follow, "I'd tell you to call me Giga for short, but it just sounds so... feminine. Do you think it sounds femenine, Link? Of course you do, everyone does. Well, anyway, Gigantis is all I can offer you. I hope that's alright."

Overwhelmed, Link could only laugh and pat Gigantis on the arm, "Gigantis is fine, don't you worry."

Smiling broadly, Gigantis began to walk a steady, fast pace, "I wouldn't dream of it. Anyway, we should be getting you to the Princess as fast as we can. I'd hate to keep her waiting any longer than she already has."

Link flushed, "Ah, I'm sorry. I would have come quicker if I'd known it was an urgent matter. Though... I guess I should have known it was, seeing as how it's the Princess who is calling for me."

"You ramble about as much as I do when you're nervous, Link." Gigantis said, amused. "The Princess is a very peaceful woman, I'm sure she won't mind having to wait a bit longer for someone as kind and polite as you."

Gigantis had already turned his head away, and because of that he missed the rosy tint dusting the young mans cheeks.

Setting off into the field before them, Link was content to quietly bask in the sunlight. It didn't bother him that it was perpetual, in fact, he rather liked being immersed in light all day, every day. Most likely because he feared the dark, but that was another matter entirely. His irrational fear of something so harmless... well, it was foolish. Only children feared the dark, he reminded himself.

Gigantis was just as silent as he, surprising him. The man had seemed to be such a talker, rambling on and on just a few moments ago about the species of birds he remembered from the old days.

"They're all gone now though." He'd said sadly. "Everything is gone."

Link wondered if the birds and the other animals had sought out the woods he lived in, knowing that the monsters rarely ventured within. It was said that the Goddesses themselves protected those woods, and because of that, only the purest beings could enter it.

Relatively empty, the fields of what used to be Hyrulian territory were nothing special, a simple expanse of rolling grass and flowers. Trees were sparse and ponds were small, the sky stretched tightly over all of it, a glowing blue over a world stuck in time. Link wondered why the Princess would have asked him to meet her here, seeing as how there was nothing here. But suddenly Gigantis was steering him off the path they'd been following, one that was worn and well loved, to walk down another. He could see the prints of boots and the circular indent of spears that had been dropped or settled for a spell. And it was this path that they followed for quite a while, heading further and further away from the forest Link loved so dearly.

Wondering where they could have possibly been going, Link failed to see the barrier looming up before them, and if Gigantis hadn't stopped him he would have run right into it.

"What is this?" He asked, touching it gently, pressing against it to see if the wall would give beneath his hand. "Why... in the middle of nowhere... what is this?"

"This, Link," Gigantis said gravely, all joy and amusement gone from his voice, "is where we hide."

"Hide?" The young man asked incredulously. "You're hiding? The Princess is hiding? From what? Who?"

"You ask many questions. Ones that I haven't the right to answer. But I know someone who does."

At the moment, after being confronted with something so suddenly strange, Link wasn't sure if he wanted to follow this man anymore. Because... well... why would they need something like this? What was really going on here? And why him, of all people? Why did they call a man from the forest into their hideaway?"

"Link?" Concern was plain in his voice, Gigantis staring down at him worriedly, "I know this is all very odd to you, but trust me, you'll understand everything if you just come with me. The Princess is waiting inside, and she'll explain all of this insanity to you."

And while he still hesitated, Link nodded his head, setting his jaw. "I'll go with you. Lead the way."

"If it makes you feel better, I actually did run into this damn wall the first time I was brought here. Scared the hell out of me."

"That helps... a little."

Gigantis chuckled and put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing it briefly. "Alright then, let's go on inside then."

The man raised a hand, staring up at the wall as if he could see it, despite the fact that it was truly invisible. On the other side the field continued ever onward, but Link wondered if it wasn't some sort of illusion, one there to dissuade normal passerby, and to keep them from coming too close. Beneath his breath Gigantis was murmuring nonsensical words, his eyes slipping closed in concentration. Link could only hold his breath as a blue light emanated from his palm, glowing brighter and brighter, larger and larger, until the wall before them shuddered and simply... fell away. It was like watching ice thaw at the speed of light, one second the wall was there, and the next a door was standing in its place. Link gaped up at it, stunned. How in the world?

"Was that... magic?"

"Magic?" Gigantis laughed, his beard swaying with the force of it. "You sound so surprised! You've truly been gone far too long, Link."

"Gone?" He repeated, raising an eyebrow. "Gone from where?"

"If you'll follow me, I'll show you to the Princess." Completely disregarding the young mans question, Gigantis opened the door and ushered him inside.

His first thought was, 'Impossible.' His second, 'Incredible!' And his final, 'Why though?'

But as he tipped his head up, searching for answers in Gigantis' malachite eyes, the man shook his head, "Wait."

Gigantis led him through a short hallways, one that was lit by nothing but a pair of sconces. At the end was an iron bulkhead door, which easily swung aside at Gigantis' push. Light spilled over them as the door flew to the side, and Links jaw dropped at what lay before them.

Everything was bright and clean, porcelain and marble. White and clear, absolutely marvelous. He knew then that this place could only be one thing. A castle. Nothing else could be this perfect and beautiful, something right out of a child's books. Pillars held up the ceiling, engraved with angels and depictions of the Goddesses, the triforce held in their hand as they descended. The art above him was not made of paint, but was carved just as lovingly as the pillars, images of a war and what could only be history, the making of Hyrule itself, all of it playing out on the cool stone. Link could have stood and stared all day long, feet planted on the lush crimson carpet beneath him. But Gigantis was pushing him along once more, urging him up the spiraling staircase he had failed to notice. It spiraled up and up, portraits on the walls at his side showing the growth of the royal family, of who had once ruled, their predecessors, their family... When they reached the top, it was Zelda's face he saw, a portrait freshly painted. She looked morose, reluctant to be there. It surprised him to see this side of her, having always thought her to be a vibrant, peppy woman, ruling her kingdom with kindness and equity. Perhaps that was a bit too stereotypical though...

Another long hallways stretched out before him, lit by the same sconces he had seen earlier. On closer inspection however, he saw that it wasn't fire flickering behind them, but fairies chattering amongst themselves. A few turned to stare curiously at him, tiny wings flickering behind them. But his feet kept moving, carrying him towards the large, ornate door at the end of the corridor. He felt that the Princess must have been close, and when he looked to the man beside him and saw that he was furiously combing his fingers through his beard, straightening his armor, he knew his hunch was right. At the door itself, Gigantis turned to him and placed his hands on Links shoulders, looking at him right in the eye.

"Now Link," he said seriously, "you're going to hear some pretty strange things in here. And not everything you see is going to make sense. But I want you to promise that you will hear the Princess out. She's only doing what's best for everyone in Hyrule, keep that in mind at all times."

Knowing that it was pointless to fight it at that point, Link nodded. Gigantis smiled at him and ruffled his blond hair, making the young man pout. But as the giant of a man pushed the doors open, he let it slip from his face, a look of wonder taking its place.

It was similar to the first room the had been in, what with the intricate pillars and paintings, but there were no side doors that led away, going who knows where. This was a single room with a single table, round and broad, sitting square in the middle of everything. Light shone down upon it, illuminating maps and parchment, writing utensils, discarded shields and inks, papers of all kinds, abandoned helmets and dozens upon dozens of weapons. The light itself spilled in from a window so large that it consumed the entire wall itself, a window of color and stained glass that shone with the images of the three Goddesses themselves: Din, Nayru and Farore.

Link felt his breath leave him, but when the sensation of being watched overwhelmed him, his mouth snapped shut, a blush rising on the crest of his nose at having looked like a moron.

Men and women of all shapes and sizes were gathered around the table, their livid conversation halting at the arrival of the two men. Gigantis raised a hand and waved while Link tried his best to hide behind him, suddenly shy. It didn't help that everyone's gaze seem to be fixed on him. But a kind, gentle voice was speaking above the sudden, rising murmur, and he found himself unconsciously moving toward it, leaving Gigantis' side, approaching the table. The stares only grew more intent when he reached it, his bright blue eyes focused on the figure at the head of the table, whose eyes, so similar in color to his own, were staring right back at him. And instantly, despite the heavy navy cloak thrown around her shoulders, he knew who the woman was.

The one and only Princess Zelda.

"Welcome Link, to our humble home. I've been expecting you."

Link bowed deeply, all the while keeping his eyes focused on the woman, "I'm sorry it took so long to get here, Princess."

She waved him off, a small smile on her pale face, "It's fine. I'm just glad to have you here."

Before he could ask the obvious, the Princess cut him off and said, "I know you're wondering just why it is I have called you here, and I will be happy to tell you. But first, I must ask you a question of my own. You have been gone from Hyrule for... twelve years now?"

"Eleven." He corrected. Zelda nodded.

"You have been gone for eleven years then... Tell me, did you know we are in a war right now?"

Link nodded. Everyone knew about the war, it had been raging for nearly two decades, after all. He couldn't help but be surprised that it was still being waged though. Link had assumed Hyrule had managed to end the battles. But he supposed that explained why the world was still stuck in time, the moon never rising over what remained of Hyrule Field...

"Yes, we are in one of our history's longest, toughest wars... As of now, we have no clue as to when it will be won, or, well... No, we will win. Regardless, we have put forth every last one of our citizens into this war, and we are trying our very best to combat the Twilight and its evil. But things are beginning to grow dire, and we must fear the worst. So, I began to research a bit, looking for anyone who could possibly help us. And that, Link, is where you come in."

"Me?" Link laughed, "Me? What could I do? I'm just a humble man living out his life in the forest. I don't know how to fight or cast magic, nor could I possibly fight in a war. That's just... not me. I'm sorry, Princess. But I just don't think I can help you."

A fist colliding with the round table made a few people jump, and Link turned to see a man with bright amber eyes glaring at him. "You fool, do you really think the Princess would bring you here if she didn't think you were capable of helping us? Trust me, she wouldn't waste time and energy that could be used on bigger, greater things on some peon if she didn't have to."

"Ganon." Zelda interjected, giving the broad man a stern gaze, "Hold your tongue. Link is confused and modest, do not treat him harshly."

"I'm only saying what the rest of us are thinking, Princess. Forgive me." Bowing, Ganon backed away from the table, sliding the front of his helmet down over his eyes. Link failed to miss the dark glare sent in his direction though. It made his stomach flip, fear twisting in him like a coiling snake. Princess Zelda was speaking again though, drawing his attention away from the amber eyed man.

"Link, are you familiar with the tale of the Hero in green?"

Of course. He should have known. Suppressing the urge to roll his eyes, which would be most rude in such company, he simply nodded his head. "The Hero in the green tunic. It's said that he defeated many a great evil so many years ago. That he defeated a cruel man who sought to turn Hyrule belly up and destroy it from the inside out, rule it as his own. But that's just a legend. None of it has been proven."

It is not legend, Link. It is history. The man in the green tunic had a trait that ran in every Hero that has come before and after him. Blond hair and blue eyes, and, if you would turn your hand over..." Link did so, the silence in the room growing, the tension palpable. He knew what she was referring to, but the gasp that echoed throughout the room told him that no one else had expected it.

The Triforce shone like a polished tablet of gold on the back of his hand, seemingly brighter at the sudden attention it was receiving.

"The Hero is said to have the Triforce of Courage blazing on the back of his hand, just as you do. Not only that, but you are unmistakably blond and blue eyed. You're the spitting image of the Hero of old, as we can all see. And it is because of that that I have called you here today. Link," Zelda's warm blue gaze was fixated on him, pinning him to the spot. "you must help us. As the Hero, it is your duty to save Hyrule. It is in your blood to do so. You are the pure, benevolent being that has been depicted in the old written text, said to be able to live in even the purest of places, including the forest of the Kokiri, where Gigantis found you."

Said man had seated himself at the table, but at the mention of his name, he tipped his helmet.

"The resemblance is truly uncanny, isn't it Princess? It's almost unsettling."

"Indeed, it is." A few of the guards nodded as well, confusing Link even further. He had no idea what they were talking about.

And he was still adamant about refusing his ancestry, wanting to be known for himself, not for who he may have been in a past life.

"If you need more proof, I have but one last thing to say. The Heroes name, just as yours is, was Link. Link, the Hero of Time. That is you, the Hero of Time, or at the very least, it is who you must become."

"No... No!" Shaking his head, Link began to back away, "I can't, this is too much. Hero of Time? Impossible. That isn't me, I promise you. So please, just let me go. There are more people out there, probably in hiding. You just have to look harder for them. So, if you would." A weight settled against his back, a pair of hands gripping his shoulders. Tipping his head back, Link met the gaze of the same amber eyes of Ganon, just barely visible through the slats in his helmet.

"I'm sorry, Link. But we have no choice. You have no choice. I beseech you, as your ruler, please help save Hyrule from the Twilight!"

With so many eyes on him, some pleading, some hard, he felt the pressure begin to grow inside him. His heart beat terribly fast against his rib cage, fighting to break free. Sure, he wanted to help them, but not as a Hero! Link just wanted to be himself, to fight a bit, then to go home and forget it had all happen. Forget that, yes, he had thrown away his peaceful manner and bloodied his hands. But for the greater good!

At the same time though, he knew he couldn't accept. It was too much for someone like him. A war? He wasn't fit for that kind of thing! Not to mention that he was completely untrained, unused to the cold, harsh battlefield...

So it was with a strong, resounding no that he tried to twist away from Ganon, a no that rang out and stunned every last Hylian in the room.

But, to his utmost surprise, it was a stunned silence that did not last any longer than a heartbeat

"Fine." Princess Zelda said, her demeanor slightly ruffled, clearly unused to being denied. "Then at the very least, would you deliver a message for me?"

Links jaw dropped. First, she propositioned him to join the war effort, and now she was telling him to play messenger boy? It was a complete turnaround, but it was one he was willing to stomach and deal with.

"I can do that. But as soon as I have delivered this message, I am returning to my forest. And please, I must insist that you do not call for me again, Princess Zelda."

While everyone expected her to shoot him down immediately, she simply tipped her head, lips pressed into a firm line, "Of course, Link. Now, my message... I would like you to travel to the front line and tell the General that he is to return home at once. There is only so much they can do now, it is time to come home and regroup. To rethink our next move and our plans for the future. Can you tell him this, Link?"

It was a simple enough message, one that he had already memorized, fully intending to do just as she asked. If it would be enough to satisfy her, and to let him return home, he would happily deliver it.

"I will do as you have asked. The General will receive your message very soon. Do not worry, Princess."

"Thank you, Link. If you are ready, you may go."

Shouldering the bag on his back, he let out a breathy little laugh, "I'm quite ready. I'll be leaving now. It was nice meeting you, and to see this place, it is truly something incredible."

"You like my castle, Link?" Zelda asked him, a faint smile playing across her face. Link nodded, "I've never seen anything like it. How did you do it?"

"Hm..." The Princess fumbled idly with the sleeve of her cloak, thinking something over. "How about this... after you have successfully delivered my message to the General, follow him back here, back to my castle. And then, but only then, will I tell you just how and why it is here, hidden, in the middle of a field."

He should have known it wouldn't be easy. But, not wanting to be disagreeable once more, he smiled and nodded. But the smile didn't stay, the gloom hovering over the table suppressing it. Expression suddenly somber, the nip of guilt at the back of his mind, Link said, "I really am sorry. I just couldn't live with myself if I knew I was responsible for the death of others. War is not my calling, but I hope you can find someone else whose calling it is. May the Goddesses watch over you." Bowing deeply, Link took his leave, frowning up at Ganon as he passed him. The Princess let him leave, calm and composed much to the dismay of the guards.

When the door closed behind Link, the woman at Zelda's side couldn't hold back her words of protest, "How can you just let him leave like that? He was our last hope!"

A multitude of agreeing complaints rose, men and women alike shaking their heads, offering to go and teach the man leaving their hidden castle a lesson. But Zelda only shook her head, "Relax, all of you." Folding her hands neatly at her waist, she let her eyes fall close, ignoring the burning dryness in them. "I have the feeling that once Link sees what life on the battlefield is like, that he will have no choice but to stand and fight. And besides..." She couldn't help herself, a laugh slipping from her lips. "If there is anyone who can get him to fight, it's General Sheik."