Twilight thought that by now, he was used to the world shifting. Used to the feeling of the ground under his very feet tilting and tilting until the sky was the ground and the ground was the sky and there was nothing in between but the nine of them, anchored to the ground by heavy gear and backpacks one moment, weightless and adrift between universes in the next.
Twi closed his eyes in an effort to fight the oncoming nausea.
With a thud, they landed on the ground and Legend let out a groan. “Ow, I landed right on my boomerang.” he complained and rubbed his bottom. Wind snickered. He had landed rather elegantly on his two feet and was exceptionally proud of himself for not falling over.
Time was adjusting a couple of straps on his armor that had come undone in the shift and dusted himself off before he set to help Sky to his feet, who had landed in a couple of bushes and was currently struggling to free the belt of his shirt from some branches.
Warriors' was facing a similar problem and was giving Hyrule very specific instructions on how to untangle his scarf from the underbush without tearing it. Hyrule was nearly sweating with stress, not prepared for the dire consequences he would have to face if he really did rip Warriors' scarf.
“YES!!” Wild surfaced from the tall grass that was growing all over the hill they were on, Sheikah Slate clasped in both hands, obviously with a signal on his ‘not-magical’ device. A few stray blades of grass were poking out from his long braid. He pushed himself to his knees and waved the slate around “We’re on top of the Popla Foothills!” he announced. With a swift motion he clipped the thing to the magnetic hook on his belt, pushed himself up and turned around himself to find the way to go. “This way, if we climb down the hill, there is a stable and Beedle too. We can stock up at his shop.” he said, pointing down the hill on his right side.
Two incredibly tall mountains rose against the horizon there, separated only by a wide chasm that almost seemed like something big had once forced its way through, dividing the twin peaks forever.
“Wait Beedle? Like a sort of bug themed merchant?” Wind asked and Sky perked up “You have one, too?” he asked, bewildered amusement displayed on his face.
“Oh my god …” Four said from his position next to Legend, dusting off his multi-colored tunic and helping Legend pull his tunic in places where it was still uneven. “I have one, too.” he said and Wind’s grin spread from one ear to his other.
“Wicked.” he smirked and launched into a detailed description of his Beedle’s home, Sky soon joining in and telling Wind about Beedle’s shop that he held in the air solely by the power of his thighs.
As the four were exchanging stories, Time straightened and did a head count. All seemed to be accounted for except for-
“Pup?” he asked carefully as he spotted the black pelt and dark green tunic among the tall grass, a bit ways of where Time had landed himself. Twilight perked up, his hand pressed to his mouth and his face a color nearly matching the grass around him. “Sorry”, he mumbled after a significantly deep breath. He wiped his hand on the cloth of his tunic and sat back.
“Are you okay?” Time asked, his hand landing on Twi’s shoulder in a reassuring gesture. The younger waved him off. “Sure, ‘s just the breakfast didn’t go all too well with the world shifting.” he said, fumbled around with his canteen and took a few gulps from it.
Time looked him over, one eye narrowed and seemed satisfied with that reply. “Sorry”, he said in turn and offered his hand to pull Twilight up. “Can we go?” he asked him and received a nod in return. The little sway of his protege had not gone unnoticed and he held onto his hand for a moment longer.
If Twilight noticed, he didn’t comment on it. Instead, he, too, pulled his clothes in place and started walking, following the rest of the company who was already beginning the track down.
Chatter among the group was animated due to the prospect of a warm bed, food and Beedle. Legend and Hyrule were talking among themselves about variation of magic spells while the Beedle-Gang (trademarked by Wind, thank you very much) was still talking about the merchant. Time and Twilight were the quiet rear of the group.
Twilight should have known that his dizziness would not go unnoticed by the old man. Since he had helped him up, the eldest watched him like a hawk. It was in his good right, Twi supposed. Never before had a world shift caused him to completely throw up his breakfast. Even though his stomach was empty now, he still felt like retching. Like the bile was just waiting at the back of his throat for the next gross thing to cross him and force it all out. It wasn’t just the stomach sickness. A headache was pounding just behind his eyes, radiating into his skull all the way down into his neck but he was sure he had not fallen on his head.
At first, Twilight couldn’t place the weird feeling he had ever since they first entered Wild’s Hyrule. He felt hypersensitive to everything around him, every voice too loud, every touch too much. Even though it’s been well over an hour since they had set out, it still felt like Time’s hand was pressed to his shoulder.
He was aware of Time’s gaze on him.
He smelled the grass around him in an intensity as if it had just been cut.
In the distance, beyond the mountain he could hear the gurgling of an unseen river. And yet, Twilight knew exactly where it was.
He smelled rotten wood, mushrooms, a couple of deer in a nearby group of trees.
He smelled Time next to him, the scent of hay, deep woods and dust ever present around him.
When all the pieces finally fell into place, all this intensity finally explained to him, Twilight stopped in his tracks and stared at the ground, his chest heaving as he breathed, his nostrils almost flaring as he took in the assault of scents around him.
He closed his eyes, cautiously, and saw the world for what it was - a low blue filter over his surroundings, sounds winding down as if someone pressed cotton to his ears.
There was Time, next to him, his aura shining in a blinding gold.
There was Wild at the head of the group, four colors swirling through his light blue aura.
This was what he saw, when he was a wolf. These were his wolf senses. But he wasn’t a wolf right now. He was Link, the Hero of Twilight. He saw his own hands in front of him, but they were surrounded by a bright orange aura, an orange the color of Midna’s-
He gasped and the world came back to focus, color and sound returning and the feeling of a hand on his shoulder intensified. “Pup!” Time said, a certain edge to his voice as Twilight blinked at him.
The others had stopped, too and gathered around. “Are you okay?” Time asked him once more, “You were spacing out and just breathed like you ran a marathon. Do you want to take a break?”
Twilight wanted the feeling to be gone. He didn’t want anyone touch him, he didn’t want them to crowd around him, all their smells combining to a mess that he learned to distinct in a fight, but never dealt with as a human. “I’m fine”, he choked and stepped back from Time, back from this oppressive hand on his shoulder.
That was the feeling.
The air here was oppressing, suffocating even.
What in the world was going on?
It’s never been like this the other times he had joined Wild on his quest. What was different now?
“Queasy from the shifting, I just need some … some space.” he said and wrapped his arms around himself in an almost protective manner. Time’s hand was still hovering in the air but he dropped it with just a small frown. “Alright”, he said, smiling.
“Just tell us if you need a breather.”
Twilight hated this attention on him, hated how they all looked worried even as they marched on. There was no reason to be worried, he thought. It was just from the shifting, it had thrown him out of balance. A couple of hours, give or take and he would be alright.
He tried desperately to ignore the shadow crystal burning hot against his skin underneath his shirt.
In the end, Twilight could trust his friends to respect his needs and no one commented when he fell in place a couple of steps behind Time, glad that the wind was blowing in his favor and away from him.
The Popla Foothills ended in a steep way down that definitely was going to be a challenge for all except for - well Sky and Wild.
“Race you?” Wild asked but by then, Sky had already sprinted past him and threw himself off, legs and arms spread. Wild gasped and ran, too and from the edge, the remaining six could watch them descent with Sky landing on his feet elegantly and way ahead of Wild.
Luckily, almost all of them had some sort of hookshot that assisted them in their descent. As Twilight stood at the edge - he and Time the last to go - his head was pounding and when he bent down to find an undisturbed piece of rock to hookshot into, his view went black.
His hand scraped along the rough rock, tearing through his glove and his skin and he felt himself shifting and was sure he would fall down the cliff and break his neck.
In the back of his mind he felt this should happen faster.
He should already be rushing through the air but there was still grass under his knees, he thought?
He wasn’t sure, he only knew he was ever moving forward.
“Pup!” A strong arm wrapped itself around his middle and yanked him back in the last moment pulling him back into the grass. Worried hands roamed through his bangs, cupping his face and Twilight blinked, the touch like fire on his cold cheeks.
“Twi… ..ok … at me....ease...” Time, he thought.
He couldn’t tell, not really. Sound was muffled and his headache was almost louder than words. He lifted his hands and found Times arms, holding on to them, trying to stop his world from spinning. “‘m here …” he mumbled and Time talked some more, but he couldn’t hear.
The hands left his face and instead wrapped around his body, hoisting him up and he was half slouching over Time’s shoulder as the older got up and decided to get them both down together.
Wild was at their side the moment they touched down and grabbed Twilight’s other side, gently guiding him over to a tree that he could lean on. Twi slumped against the bark, eyes half closed again. The others were talking around him, that much he could tell.
“What’s wrong with him?” Hyrule wanted to know and knelt down. Hands in his bangs again, checking for a temperature, finding it completely normal.
“I don’t know”, Time sighed “he was leaning over and suddenly blacked out and almost fell.” he explained and sat down next to his pup, just in case the younger would fall to the side.
“Maybe we should wait here until he is feeling better. How long until the stable?” Hyrule suggested and looked at Wild, who checked his slate with a thoughtful expression. “An hour, maybe two if we walk slowly.” he said and checked the sky.
“We still have plenty of time until nightfall. Maybe taking a small break would be best. Wind, help me find some firewood?” he asked and Wind followed him right away, giving Wild a worried expression.
Even though Twilight was barely responsive, Time pulled off his glove and cleaned the deep slice in his palm and wrapped it up with a bandage.
It was nice to put down the heaviest of their gear and so the lunch camp was set up quickly around the tree and Wild set up the campfire to roast some fish he and Wind had caught in the nearby river.
Wind and Sky watched as Wild rubbed some stonesalt over the scales of the fish and eventually pierced them on a couple of sticks, placing them around the fire in a tight circle. After a couple of minutes, a delicious smell filled the air.
The scent alone seemed to be enough to pull Twilight from the weird haze he had been in. In the last hour, he had sat against the tree, his face buried in his hands, his breathing slightly shallow and with a good distance between him and Time, avoiding any sort of physical contact. Finally, he looked up and seemed to search the source of the smell.
It was funny, Wind thought, the way Twilight was leaning forward with his nose first, almost sniffing . It reminded him a lot of Wolfie.
Suddenly, Twilight moved and snatched one of the fish away from the fire
“Twi- wait!” Wild reached out but was too slow. Twilight had already sunk his teeth into the half cooked dish and Warrior knew no other way to describe it than that he was wolfing it down .
A stunned silence fell over the remaining eight as they watched how Twilight grabbed another and chomped down on it. In a span of ten minutes, he had devoured three fish - fishbones, head and tail included. He breathed out and made a sound that almost sounded like a growl and just for the fraction of a second, Time thought he saw a set of fangs. But when he blinked, Twilight had closed his mouth again.
Four cleared his throat and broke the silence “Uh … are you feeling okay, Twilight?” he asked and only earned another growl “Yes, I do!” the older snapped back in a tone Four had never heard of him before. “Why is everyone asking me this, I’m fine!” he said and scooted back until he was leaning against the tree again, resting one arm on top of his knee while he used index finger and thumb to poke between his teeth and tried to get some scaly skin out his interdental spaces.
The others kept on staring, baffled.
Sure, sometimes Twilight was rough around the edges - lacking an etiquette that most of the other Links had learned by being around Princess Zelda (or Malon) for an extended period of time - but they had never seen him like this. Never this rude, this feral.
No one knew what to say.
“Uh … dig in.” Wild said hesitantly and reached for one of the remaining fish himself, testing if it was done. He deemed it good enough and began eating. The others followed suit and the lunch went on in silence.
In the early afternoon, they geared up again - Twilight’s weird outburst still on their minds. The break however seemed to have revitalized the hero. He was the first on his feet, all geared up and walked ahead in a hasty pace. Wild watched with a frown as he dashed left and right, checked in bushes and behind rocks, his head held high and into the wind.
It was almost as if … as if Twilight’s mind had shifted to Wolfie, but his body hadn’t. Which was nothing short of weird.
Wild reached out and pulled at Time’s sleeve, so the older would look at him.
“What should we do?” he mouthed and for the first time since he had met him, Time’s expression was completely clueless.
“I don’t … I don’t know …”
They had never seen Twilight like this, no other world had ever affected him in such a way.
The river was rumbling along on their left side and in front of them, the Dueling Peaks were rising above, casting a shadow onto them as the sun moved across the sky. “We just have to pass through the mountains and cross a bridge and then we’ll be at the stable.” Wild announced, half watching Twilight walking briskly ahead.
“Lizalfos!” the other suddenly called out, drawing his blade and shield.
His call to arms went not unfollowed and so when the set of Lizalfos jumped out of the river and came running for them, they were met with nine blades and stood little chance. The Octorocks that were drifting through the currents nearby were swiftly eliminated by Twilights bow and by the late afternoon, they passed the Big Twin Bridge and arrived at the Dueling Peaks Stable.
Luckily, Tassaren, the young man working at the counter, had enough beds for the nine of them so they were looking forward to a night between pillows and blankets and not their bedrolls. Warriors even decided to pay the extra rupee to sleep in one of the Soft Beds.
Usually, it would be too early to turn in now but Time could tell that they were all tired and still a little weirded out by Twilight’s outburst and straight up strange behaviour, so he decided to cut them some slack and dressed down, too. The only thing he kept on him were his sword and shield.
They scattered about the surroundings of the stable, Warriors, Four, Hyrule and Legend had set out to check the nearby shrine and calm their aching feet in the cold water of the pond surrounding the strange glowing stone structure.
Time settled down on the little benches around the cooking pot, conversing lightly with a bearded man that was already sitting there, exchanging tips on ranch work and animal handling.
Sky and Wind had climbed the roof of the stable and sat down, eagerly watching the horizon for any signs of Beedle walking in while they started talking about the merchant again, comparing their own with the other’s.
Wild in the meantime was trying his hardest to stop Twilight from straying too far away from the stable. He knew Twi was able to handle himself, that he was strong enough to defeat an enemy by himself but the Ash Swamp was right around the hills and the area was still scattered with Guardians the occasional Bokoblin.
“Twi, please! Tell me what’s wrong!” he demanded, both his arms wrapped around Twilight’s arm and holding him back with all his body weight. It worked - sort of - and Twilight finally stopped his frantic march further down the hill.
“There are enemies down there.” he said “Bokoblins. I can smell them. I’m going to get rid of them, that way, they can’t attack us!” he explained in a condescending voice, as if he couldn’t believe that Wild was even asking him this.
The place was surrounded by enemies and they all had the nerve to dress down and just settle in for some free time! It was almost like they wanted to die.
“Trust me”, Wild said “they are never moving close to the stable. It’s safe, we’re going to be fine for tonight.” he said.
Twilight turned around, then, in a swift motion and snarled at Wild. He shoved him off his arm, bearing fangs at him - fangs, Wild realized suddenly. He flinched back and stared at the set of sharp teeth and his look flickered upward.
Twilight's eyes were no longer the deep steel blue color that Wild had come so accustomed to, but were glaring orange with slits instead of pupils as he glowered down on him.
“We’re never safe!” he snapped “And you should know this. I’m doing this for the group, for all of us! Now, leave me be!”
“Twi …” but Wild’s words were unheard as Twilight turned on his heel and stomped off through the grass towards the swamp. Wild was torn. Should he keep going after him and stop him from running head first into more danger? Should he go back to the stable and ask for help?
Just what in the world had gotten into Twilight?!
Wild could still see him at the foot of the hill, sword drawn but soon he disappeared behind a deactivated Guardian. From the stables, Wild heard a whooping sound and when he turned around, he saw Wind and Sky clambering down from their position on the roof and approaching Beedle, who had finally arrived at the stable. He was obviously flustered by the attention he was suddenly receiving and presented his stag beetle shaped backpack with a swollen chest.
Seeing his companions, Wild realized that he needed help.
Whatever was going on with Twilight, it was nothing he could handle by himself. The sun was beginning to set, descending quickly across the sky as Wild walked back and from the stable doors, he noticed a man emerging and taking a seat by the cooking pot. When he recognized him, Wild’s stomach suddenly sank to the ground and a terrible thought occurred to him.
Hasty steps developed into a sprint and soon he crashed back into the campsite, squeezing through Warriors and Legend who were inspecting the octo balloons Beedle were selling and skidding to a halt in front of the man, who was talking to Time but looked up upon Wild’s arrival.
“Hino!” he gasped, leaning on his knees “Hino, what’s the moon tonight!?” he asked. Time had stood up, alarmed by Wild’s sudden appearance.
Hino ran a hand through his dark mustache, nodding carefully. “Now that you mention it …” he said slowly “I'm getting that feeling again... Something is going to happen tonight. I can taste it. It hasn’t been like that in a long while. I thought it stopped entirely after the defeat of the Demise but now…” he said carefully and Wild stared at him, wide eyed.
“Cub? What’s wrong?” Time asked. The last thing they needed now was Wild freaking out as well.
“That’s bad.” Wild said and reached up to wipe some blonde strands out of his scarred face “If it really happens, Twilight might be affected by it. But why now? Wolfie never had these problems …” he mumbled to himself, twirling his hair between his fingers as he paced back and forth. Time’s confused look totally went over his head.
“Why is it happening again …? I thought after we defeated Ganon that would be … I thought it was something he did. Could it be because of the Shadow …”
“Wild!” Time called and grabbed him by the shoulders, stopping him from walking back and forth.
The oldest hero was getting increasingly annoyed with the way control seemed to slip from him ever since they entered this vast and beautiful Hyrule.
Twilight was acting completely besides himself - snapping at them, growling, marching ahead when the territory was foreign - and now Wild was starting to lose his marbles, too?!
“What’s wrong?” Sky wanted to know, putting his newly acquired Restless Cricket into a glass container with a holed lid. The rest of the group gathered around the campfire and Wild looked at all of them.
“The Blood Moon”, he said “back on my journey, it was an extension of the Demises power. It put the restless spirits of the monster back into bodies it formed from ash and dirt. No matter how many monster I defeated, the Blood Moon would revive them once a month and I would be faced with the same problems.” he said.
Legend shook his head slowly “You’re telling me the moon was out to kill you even more than just this land?” he asked. Time seemed to acknowledge this with a grim face “The moon cannot be trusted.” he said and sounded so serious about it that no one dared to defy him.
“So what now?”, Hyrule asked. “It’s a dark energy. Is it going to happen tonight?” - “Probably.” Wild said “It may have been triggered by the Shadow who brought us all together.”
“But we only defeated four monsters and they weren’t even that hard to beat. I mean, Twilight warned us soon enough!” Wind said, his arms crossed and his face pinched. Sure, it sucked to have Monsters be revived but if all they had to worry about were the couple of Lizalfos and the Octorocks, then what was the big deal?
When he mentioned Twilight’s name, Four tensed and found Wild’s gaze.
Of course. The fact that Wolfie and Twilight were one and the same being was still a well kept secret among the three of them. If this Blood Moon really was just a dark energy affecting the land, who was to say if it didn’t affect the more animalistic side of their companion as well? It would match up with the dizziness and the strange behaviour at the camp back at the Popla Foothill. It would explain the running ahead, because that was what he usually did as a wolf. Scouting ahead, determining where the enemies were and how many were laying in wait.
“We have to get Twi back to the stable.” the smith said and Wild nodded, relieved that he got the hint “We may be safe around here but who knows what else could happen.” he said.
“Nothing is going to happen.” Twilight’s rough voice caused them all to turn to its source. Twilight had just arrived at the foot of the hill, sword and hands dripping with thick, corrupted blood. It was dark, so in the halflight of the campfire, Wild couldn’t be sure but it looked like he was wiping his face clean off the blood with the sleeve of his tunic.
It made for an absolutely terrifying entrance and Wind swallowed, especially when he noticed the way Twilight’s eyes were shining in a ghostly yellow in the half dark.
But- that was just a trick of the light, right?
Twilight didn’t have yellow eyes.
And he certainly didn’t have fangs the length of his little finger protruding from his upper jaw.
Twilight’s face wasn’t this sharp and long, his shoulder never this tense, his stride never this long and heavy.
In that moment, Wind was convinced that this wasn’t Twilight standing in front of them but someone that had taken his form and was trying to fool them. He reached for his sword - he had rested it against one of the wooden pillars of the stables - and drew it, pointing it at Twilight.
“Wind!” Warriors’ said, confused but just as alarmed as the younger.
“What did you do to Twilight?!” Wind wanted to know, his hand trembling at the thought of having to raise his blade at his friend.
The man standing in front of him was grinning impossibly wide, revealing even more of the sharp teeth. The markings on his forehead were pulsing in a red light. “Nothing, Wind”, he said “I’m fine.”
“Twi …” Wild said slowly, unsure what to do.
The tension was broken by a roaring sound echoing through the sky above them. Red and black particles were beginning to rise from the ground and what had previously been a low summer night suddenly turned cold. The stable, the grass, the benches, all of it around were bathed in a glaring red light as Wild looked up.
The Blood Moon rises once again … please be careful …
Zelda’s words were so etched into his brain that even now, Wild thought he could hear her. Of course he couldn’t. She was somewhere safe in Akkala. She was no longer locked into the castle with the Demise.
...She was, wasn’t she?
Wild stared at the moon above them and only really got back when Wind let out a yelp and he felt the other Links scrambling for weapons.
In front of them, Twilight had slammed to his knees, a scream ripped from his throat.
It sounded so full of agony that Wild feared he was dying.
Frantically, Twilight tried to pull something away from him, dragging it out from underneath his shirt but to no avail. Little by little, black and red energy crept over his body, forcing him further to his knees. The energy was accompanied by snapping and tearing sounds, crunching as if bones were being broken.
“Twilight!” Sky called out and reached for him but just in that instant, the black energy was bursting away and in front of them, crouched on the ground was no longer Twilight but a massive wolf, dark as the pitch black night, square patterns pulsing over its body. Tendrils were protruding from its neck, whipping back and forth.
A heartbeat or two passed before it got to its feet, threw its massive head back and let out a high pitched, shrieking howl.