Once Upon A Time In New Hyrule

By Joran


 

Note: This is a Zelda western story. It's an idea I've always loved but I never thought I'd write one. An idea came to me while listening to a song called 'A Horse with No Name' and this is what came of it. The story is based in the world of Spirit Tracks but I tried to make a reference to every Zelda game in the series. There's some bad language in this, just as a warning, in case that kind of stuff bothers you. Hopefully you enjoy this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

            The gathered crowd looked on at the two men out in the street. They stood facing each other, hands readied at their holsters. The crowd had been murmuring excitedly but now everything was deadly quiet.

 

The two men stared each other down as each waited. The signal would be given soon. Each was ready to draw and shoot the other down when it happened.

 

The sound of a church bell ringing was then heard, breaking the dead silence. It sounded three times and then stopped. It was then that the men each reached for their guns.

 

One man, a man of fair complexion, with blonde hair and pointed ears, was far quicker than the other, a much larger man with dark hair and yellow eyes.

 

The blonde man’s aim was true and the man opposing him fell down into the dirt.

 

A well-dressed man rushed out to him to check his pulse and see if he was still alive. He knelt down and felt both his neck and his chest. He saw where the wound was; straight over the man’s heart. He felt a faint pulse and then very quickly felt nothing more. He then stood up.

 

“He’s dead” he proclaimed.

 

With that, most of the gathered crowd let out a raucous cheer. Another man stepped up and raised the right hand of the blonde man, who still held his gun in his left.

 

“Once again, his aim is true! Link is still the fastest draw in all of New Hyrule!”

 

As people around him cheered, the man called Link simply stared at the dead man in the street. He held no joy in his gaze and felt no happiness at his supposed victory. He stared at the man with guilt and regret in his heart.

 

He holstered his revolver and as soon as the man let go of his right arm, he walked over to his dead opponent. He knelt down and closed the man’s still open eyes. He then stood up and adjusted the wide brim of his green hat and stared down at the man.

 

“I am sorry. It is a barbaric way to live. I wish I had another way.”

 

With that, Link turned around and saw the gathered crowd exchanging rupees over the gun duel that had just taken place. It always sickened Link when he saw these people betting on men’s lives. But this was the only way, he thought to himself. He knew that it wasn’t true, not anymore. But still he kept doing this.

 

He knew he’d have to stop doing this one day or risk losing his sanity. Link hated what he did for a living.

 

Link was a competitive gunfighter. He’d started doing this at a very young age to try and help his starving, poor family. He knew that gunfighters and bounty hunters got paid exorbitantly so he decided to take it up. Ever since his father had taught him to shoot, he had had a natural talent for it. With all the practicing he did, he became a deadly shot; so much so that he was something of a legend in New Hyrule, though he refused to revel in it.

 

Competitive gunfighting had actually been banned in all the provinces of New Hyrule except the Faron Province, the one in which Link currently lived. This was because the governor of Faron, Governor Cole, had been a fan of the competitions ever since he was a boy and refused to co-operate with the royal family and chancellor of New Hyrule. The pressure to issue the ban mounted with each passing day, however, so it seemed inevitable that it would happen.

 

Gunfighting was also extremely popular in the town Link lived in called Aboda. The town was actually where the horrific blood sport had started. Link had done it at first to save his family. He even took several bounty contracts and was well-known by the local law enforcement, particularly Marshal Colin LaFaron.

 

As years passed by and it was clear that Link and his family were saved, he continued. He did not know what motivated him to continue his sickening job. His sister, Aryll, once accused him of being greedy but they both knew that it was not true. Link justified it by telling himself that he was giving his family a comfortable life but that wasn’t what motivated him either. He simply couldn’t explain it.

 

With his latest fight behind him, Link couldn’t shake the man’s image from his mind. This had happened to him from time to time but something was different this time. He had recognized that man. He knew him from his past somewhere.

 

He sat now in the local tavern, known as The Golden Cucco, at the bar and tried to remember where he had seen the dead man before.

 

It was then that he received a pat on the shoulder. He turned around and saw the sparkling blue eyes of a young boy staring back up at him on his stool.

 

“You were great out there! I want to be just like you when I become a man!” he said excitedly.

 

This only served to sour Link’s mood even further. Someone had actually brought their child to watch this terrible blood sport? ‘What the hell is wrong with people?’ he thought. It wasn’t the first time a child had witnessed him kill another man but it always made Link angry.

 

“Great isn’t how I would describe it kid” Link replied. “And another thing, do something wholesome and good with your life. You don’t want to end up like me. Be a doctor or a lawman or, hell, anything else short of being an outlaw!” Link said, his voice rising slightly.

 

His voice attracted the attention of the other patrons and they now hung on Link’s words.

 

“You don’t want this life, kid. I don’t want this life. The only reason I ever did this was out of desperation and I regret that decision every single miserable day of my life! Do you want that?” he asked firmly.

 

The boy shook his head, and fear entered his eyes. Link was sorry for scaring him but he meant every word he said.

 

“Good. Now go back to your father and tell him what a fucking idiot he is for allowing you to witness me take another man’s life!” Link said, adding a quick “Pardon my language” to the boy before turning away from him.

 

He hated swearing and the words only came out when he got especially passionate or angry.

 

He looked up and noticed the patrons of the bar staring at him.

 

“Don’t you people have anything better to do?” he said before storming out of the tavern, shoving the swinging doors as hard as he could.

 

As he walked, he heard someone shout his name from behind him. It was a man’s voice he didn’t recognize. He didn’t want to turn around but he did anyway. He had a feeling about who it would be.

 

He was approached by a very well dressed, stocky man. He wore thin-rimmed glasses and had a very thin, dark-haired moustache on his face. He wore a small, round-brimmed hat and walked with an air of self-importance about him. His eyes were also the same colour of the boy he had just spoken to.

 

“Did you just talk to my son in The Golden Cucco?” he asked, angrily.

 

“What of it?” Link asked, coldly.

 

“Who the hell do you think you are saying things like that? You’re supposed to be a role model! He idolizes you, for Din’s sake!”

 

Link could feel himself growing even angrier at this ignorant man.

 

“What kind of role model is someone who kills for a living!? Are you insane!? That boy needs a real idol!”

 

“If you hate this so much, then why do you keep doing it? You’re sending the wrong message here.”

 

As much as he disliked this man, this last statement really rang true. Link had contemplated quitting before but this was the first time it felt like he could really do it.

 

“You know what? That’s a good point. I guess that means I’m done. I quit.”

 

The man was taken aback by this and the shock he felt was evident by the look on his face.

 

“What did you just say?”

 

“You heard me” Link said, his anger subsiding slightly. “I said I quit. I’m done with this.”

 

The man stood in silence for quite some time. So long in fact that Link turned his back and began walking away. The man called out as Link started walking.

 

“You can’t do that! This town needs you to keep doing this! Think of all the money you’ll cost honest betting folk like myself.”

 

Link stopped in his tracks when he heard the man’s words. This man’s statement had arisen such anger in Link that he didn’t know how to respond. He turned around and walked back toward the man. At first, he thought he had managed to get Link to reconsider but that quickly changed when he saw the look in his eyes.

 

He wasn’t quick enough to avoid the blow Link struck to his jaw. It knocked him off his feet and he hit the ground hard. A cloud of dust settled around him where he had fallen.

 

“You dare to say that men like you are honest?” Link said, through gritted teeth, glaring down at the man.

 

His voice had gotten quieter as his anger grew.

 

“You who dare to put a price on the lives of many a good man, you accuse me of costing these supposed “honest” folk their ill-gotten, filthy money?  You tell me that this town needs me to continue taking lives just so that you sick bastards can keep playing your repulsive fucking game? Is that what you mean to tell me?”

 

The man did not respond as he lay on the ground, stunned.

 

“If that is the case then you have only served to doom the cause you advocate for. You will hear my words. My days as a gunfighter are over. Go back into town and tell your fellow degenerates that their prize pig is out of the competition.”

 

Link then turned around and walked angrily back toward his house and his family, who lived just outside of town on a privately owned piece of land in Faron.

 

He calmed down on the long walk home and his thoughts turned back to the man he had killed. He tried again to remember where he had seen him. He stopped as he finally reached his family’s home and as soon as he stepped onto the front porch, his memory finally succeeded and he gasped as he remembered who the dead man was.

 

 

 

 

 

            Link had a past full of trouble. His life as a boy had been fine when he lived with his parents and sister. It was the event that uprooted them all that started everything.

 

He remembered this part of his past vividly. His father had come home one day when Link was ten years old and he had seen a look in his father’s eyes that he did not like.

 

His father owned a general store in Aboda. They were never a rich family but his father was good at what he did and the family lived in relative comfort. His name was Darrin.

 

He and his wife, Myla, ensured that their children were both educated and did whatever they could to keep them happy and safe.

 

On that day, Link looked to his father’s eyes and did not see the usual sparkle of contentment there. He saw that they were dull, glassy, and contained a great deal of worry.

 

As soon as he entered the door to their house, Link walked over to greet him. Darrin looked down at his son and forced a smile. He did not say a word as he tossed the young boy’s hair. He still would not speak as he walked past his son and into the living room where his wife sat.

 

Link heard his mother greet his father as he entered. As soon as his father replied he could hear the worry and urgency in his voice. Link crept closer to the doorway and did his best to listen to his parents’ conversation. He strained to hear their lowered voices.

 

“What will you do?” Myla was asking.

 

“One thing is certain” Darrin replied “you must take the children and run. Go to your mother’s. They won’t look for you there.”

 

“Do you expect me to just abandon you in your time of need?” Myla asked vehemently, though with a lowered voice, trying to keep the children from hearing.

 

“I am your wife and I love you. I can’t just leave you here to die!”

 

At this Link gasped and as soon as he did, his parents stopped talking. They had obviously heard him and they knew he had been listening.

 

“Link?” Darrin called out into the adjacent room.

 

He turned to Myla and she saw the tears forming in his eyes.

 

“Darrin I think you should talk to him. He needs to know what’s going on.”

 

Darrin closed his eyes and lowered his head, wiping his eyes.

 

“Link, son, would you come in here for a moment?”

 

Link walked timidly into the living room and approached his father.

 

Darrin took a deep breath and stared down at his son in silence for quite some time. He couldn’t think of any words to say to try and minimize his son’s worry. He couldn’t lie and yet he thought that telling him the truth would be worse. What could he say?

 

Darrin had gotten himself into a very difficult situation. There was a very notorious group of outlaws who had taken to calling themselves “The Bulblins” after the thieving, pillaging creatures of legend. They had wandered into Aboda and immediately began stirring up trouble.

 

They had attempted to break into Darrin’s store but he had planned ahead after he saw the outlaws enter town. He had convinced Aboda’s sheriff to lend him a hand in stopping them from stealing from him. They had managed to capture two of them but the rest had escaped. The Marshals of Castle Town arrived to take the prisoners back to Castle Town soon after.

 

The Royal Family and New Hyrule government had personally put a bounty on every known member of the Bulblins. Everyone across the country were to immediately report the death or capture of any known member of the Bulblins to the Castle Town Marshals.

 

Darrin was offered the position of Deputy but he declined.

 

It was a few months after the incident that the Bulblins had returned. The leader of the Faron Province Bulblins, who had chosen to call himself Bellum, had come to Aboda.

 

Bellum was one of three sub-leaders of the Bulblins and people rarely saw them show themselves. It was unheard of to see the Bulblins actual leader. In fact, there were only rumours and speculation about what the man looked like. All that was truly known about him was that he had named himself after a horrible Gerudo tyrant from ancient times known as Ganon.

 

Bellum confronted Darrin in his store and informed him that he would pay a heavy toll for capturing two of the Bulblins’ number. When Darrin replied that he did not fear Bellum it was then that Bellum named off the members of his family and his place of residence. With a final threat to find Darrin’s family to kill them all, he left.

 

This is what weighed on Darrin’s mind as he tried to find the right words to say to his son. After taking another deep breath he finally managed to speak.

 

“Link, I don’t know how to say this. But I guess I can tell you that there is going to be trouble. Uncle Rusl is going to come and take you, your sister, and your mother to your grandmother’s house in Whittleton for a little while until the trouble passes.”

 

“But what was that mom said about you?”

 

Darrin paused at Link’s question and wasn’t quite sure how to answer it.

 

“She didn’t mean to use the word ‘die’.”

 

“Then what did she mean to say?”

 

Darrin knew his son was too smart to buy that. He sighed and closed his eyes for a brief moment. He reopened them and spoke once again.

 

“Everything will be fine, son” Darrin said, his voice beginning to shake slightly.

 

“I just need to get you three away from here for a little while.”

 

“Two you mean” Myla said. “The children are going but I am not.”

 

Darrin turned to Myla.

 

“Myla please. You have to go. They need you.”

 

It was then that Darrin realised that Link was still in the room. He turned back to his son and knelt down to look him in the eye.

 

“Link, could you go and find your sister? Do your best to tell her what is happening. I will explain everything to her later. Right now I need to talk to your mother.”

 

Link nodded slowly and turned and left the room. He walked out the front door and walked around to the back of the house to try and find his sister, Aryll.

 

Aryll was behind the house, picking dandelions and tearing the flowers from their stems. It was something she would do when there was nothing else to do or nothing else she felt like doing. She noticed her brother approaching and walked to meet him.

 

“Aryll there’s something I need to tell you” Link said.

 

Aryll could tell from the monotony of his tone that whatever he was going to say deeply troubled him.

 

Dad says that we need to go to grandma’s for a little while. He says that there’s going to be trouble here and that he is going to stay here while the rest of us go to grandma’s. Uncle Rusl is supposed to be coming to get us.”

 

Aryll had so many questions in her mind that she didn’t know what to say in reply. All she could muster was one word.

 

“Why?”

 

Link shook his head.

 

“I still don’t really know. Dad wouldn’t really tell me.”

 

Aryll knew that whatever was happening was serious but didn’t understand what possible reason their father would have to just send his family away from home.

 

While Aryll and Link spoke, so too did Darrin and Myla. She was insistent on staying with him and was doing everything she could to convince him.

 

“I will not abandon you to die alone to those barbarians! I cannot live with myself knowing that I could have helped you.”

 

“There is nothing you can do, Myla. It is my sole purpose in life to keep my family from harm and that is exactly what I intend to do!”

 

Myla would not be swayed.

 

“We can protect the children together. I have not abandoned you after all these years, I’ll be damned if I do so now.”

 

Darrin rubbed his forehead in frustration.

 

“Think of the children, Myla. What will it do to lose both of their parents? At least they’ll have you to console them.”

 

Myla was equally as frustrated as her husband.

 

“You would have me bear the pain of knowing that you died here alone while those bastards dancing around our house, firing their guns in the air like savage fools? I cannot do that. I will stand and fight by your side and we will die together if necessary.”

 

Darrin turned away from his wife and took a few strides toward the living room window. He sighed and ran a hand through his dusty blonde hair. He stroked the thin beard on his chin and sighed deeply again as he placed his hands at his side to rest once more. He did not turn around to speak to his wife again.

 

“It’s taking all of my strength to keep my mind from slipping into madness. I have resolved to die for the three of you and I cannot bear the thought that one of you will have your life taken before your time.”

 

“It isn’t before my time, my love” Myla replied softly.

 

“I am not going anywhere and I have resigned to my fate as well. I will die with you and the children will be safe. If I can be of any use in this life, ensuring my children grow and live full lives is the best use of it. If that requires me to die by my husband’s side defending them from outlaws then so be it.”

 

Tears formed in her bright green eyes as she spoke.

 

“I am not going anywhere. I am here with you and for you, always.”

 

Darrin felt tears forming in his eyes as well. He turned to face his wife and they embraced as soon as he did so.

 

“I am sorry for bringing this on us” he said, choking slightly on his words.

 

“Don’t you dare blame yourself” Myla said firmly, stroking the back of Darrin’s head.

 

“If you do I will never forgive you.”

 

They stood in their silent embrace for quite some time, shedding tears on each other’s shoulder. When they finally ended their silent embrace, Darrin spoke.

 

“I’ll have to get the message to your brother” he said, still choking back his tears.

 

He left the room and managed to scrawl out a hurried letter and immediately left the house. He made his way to the Aboda post office and paid for a rushed delivery of his letter. He was promised that it would reach its destination, Rusl of Whittleton, before sundown. It was with that letter that the wheels of fate were set in motion.

 

It was just after sunset when Myla’s brother Rusl arrived with his horse and cart. As Myla and Darrin said their goodbyes to their children, Link’s mind was suddenly swimming. He knew that this would be the last time in his life that he would ever see them. He was reluctant to leave. He panicked. He cried. But in the end he was finally whisked away by his uncle’s cart with his parents’ teary-eyed faces lingering in mind, forever to haunt his dreams.

 

It wasn’t until a few weeks later when he was told that his parents had been killed. He and Aryll cried together for hours. Their uncle and grandmother did everything they could to comfort them but the two only seemed comforted by the presence of each other. They didn’t know it at the time but they never strayed from each other’s sides for weeks because they were all that was left of their broken family. They wanted to at least protect what was left.

 

Life was relatively peaceful for the two years the family of five was all together. Rusl had adopted a boy named Cal a few years prior to Link and Aryll moving in. He was a few years older than Link at the time when they had first met. Link and Aryll didn’t dislike Cal but they remained wary of him for a very long time. Their trepidation was only caused by the fact that he was not a blood relative and that they had become highly protective of each other.

 

It wasn’t until the Bulblins tracked them down again that their wariness of Cal disappeared.

 

Link sat with Aryll on the front porch one day when they saw Rusl running toward the house very quickly. He had walked into town for the day but obviously something had gone wrong. Link stood up and watched, shielding his sister.

 

“By the gods, not again!”

 

“What’s he running for?” Aryll asked, still not fully aware of the situation.

 

Rusl started shouting for them and it was then that Link noticed he could hear the sound of hooves beating behind his uncle.

 

“Run!” he was shouting. “Get away from here!”

 

It was then that the booming shot of a rifle could be heard. Link was startled by the sudden noise and watched in horror as he saw smoke flow through his uncle’s chest. Rusl hit the ground hard and tumbled and rolled on the ground until finally stopping. He did not get up.

 

Within seconds, Link caught his first glimpse of the Bulblins. There were six of them riding straight for the house. Link immediately turned to his sister and grabbed hold of her arm. He dragged her inside. Once they were in, Link turned to his uncle’s gun cabinet and pulled out Rusl’s revolver.

 

“Go down to the cellar” Link instructed “I’ll get grandma down there too.”

 

“But Link, they’ll kill you! You haven’t used a gun for years! Not since dad taught you!”

 

It was true that Link had not used a gun for a few years. His father had taught him to shoot when he was around nine years old. Darrin had said at the time that it was for his own good but Link had always hated guns, in spite of his natural talent for using them. But he had made up his mind that he would protect his family at any cost.

 

“Get downstairs” he said sternly. Before she could do that, they heard a rifle being fired from the front porch and the distant sound of a horse’s whinny. Link immediately ran to the porch and was startled by what he saw.

 

Cal stood there, one of his yellow eyes closed, taking aim at the charging outlaws. He brushed his long black hair out of view and quickly fired again. Link looked at where he had fired and saw one of the charging Bulblins fall, lying next to one of his comrades.

 

Cal continued on like this until there was only one left. Link watched him in awe without realizing that the final Bulblin had gotten very close. As soon as he did, he saw the man raise his pistol and point it directly at him. Link tried getting his uncle’s revolver ready but it was far too late. The man was going to fire and Link was going to die, as far as he was concerned. Before the man could fire though, another loud shot from Cal’s rifle was heard. The bullet ripped straight through the outlaw’s chest, knocking him off his horse. He hit the ground and did not get up. Link was frozen in place. So many emotions threatened to overwhelm him that he could not think. It was then that he could hear Cal’s voice.

 

“Hey, Link! We need to go. They’ll surely be after us now.”

 

Link finally managed to compose himself and speak but he still only managed a single word.

 

“Why?”

 

Cal’s strong, deep voice that had changed even before Link had met him replied quickly.

 

“We just killed, or at least injured, six of these guys. If they had already tracked us down then surely they’ll notice that these guys didn’t come back. We need to go.”

 

Link realized that Cal was right. But where would they go?

 

“What’s going on out- by Farore no!”

 

Link turned to the front door and saw his grandmother standing there. She looked out at the horrid scene in front of her and could not speak.

 

“It’s the Bulblins. We need to get out of here. They’ll be coming for us again if we don’t” Cal repeated to his adopted grandmother.

 

“Where’s Rusl?” she asked, suddenly panicked.

 

Cal shook his head and turned to Link. He knew Link had seen what happened. Link’s expression turned grim as he pointed out to the front of the house to where Rusl had fallen. She rushed past him off the porch and out to the place where Rusl had fallen. When she found him she knelt down to him and shook his shoulders. He slowly opened his eyes and looked up and saw his mother staring down at him.

 

“I’m sorry” he said hoarsely.

 

“Don’t apologize” she said softly, tears forming in her eyes.

 

She did her best not to go insane right there in front of him at the thought of losing her second child. First Myla and now Rusl, she thought.

 

“No I have to. I’m sorry I couldn’t do anything to protect you and the children. I’m sorry that I’m joining Myla now and causing you more pain. I wish you wouldn’t grieve for me.”

 

“No, Rusl. Stop that” she said.

 

She knew he was dying but she still tried to console him.

 

“You need to get the children out of here. They are sure to come back.”

 

“Yes, that’s what Cal said.”

 

Rusl closed his eyes at the mention of his adoptive son.

 

“How is he? Is he all right? Is he safe?”

 

“Cal saved us, dear. I saw him on the porch with that rifle of yours. He defended us. You’ve raised him well. I saw him save Link from being shot as well. You did help protect us, dear.”

 

Rusl’s eyes welled up when his mother told him this.

 

”I’m glad that I could be some use then. Tell Cal that I’m proud of him, won’t you?”

 

“I will.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

With those last faint words, Rusl could hold on no more and joined his sister and brother-in-law in death.

 

Cal and Link had walked out to their grandmother as she knelt next to her dead son.

 

“We need to go, grandma” Link said softly.

 

She nodded and slowly stood up, walking back toward the house with the boys. They packed what they could into burlap sacks and various carrying cases. The loaded up Rusl’s cart, reined the horses and, with Cal driving, moved quickly away from their house.

 

They lived out of that cart for years after that. The four of them travelled around from place to place in Faron province. Link and Cal did what they could to find work but neither of them was successful. They lived a meagre and poor life until Link was sixteen. It was then that he decided to start taking on bounties. Cal would help him occasionally but it was clear that he was soon to move on.

 

A day came that he finally did. It wasn’t because of bad blood or that he didn’t feel loved by his adoptive family, he simply had a desire to travel. He knew that they wouldn’t need him because Link was around. Link was angry with him at first for wanting to leave and as a result, he didn’t for the longest time.

 

They would fight about it often but Link didn’t resent Cal for his wanting to leave. He feared for him and had grown to love him as a brother and didn’t want  him to have to face the world alone. Cal did everything he could to reassure him and it took a while before Link finally relented and accepted Cal’s departure. It was a tearful goodbye when he left but Link decided that Cal would be fine. 

 

Link had become a highly successful bounty hunter but he didn’t earn enough consistently to feed both his sister and his grandmother. She would often pass up meals so that the children could eat. Every time Link tried to give her his meal she refused and wouldn’t speak to him until he ate. She was growing sick and Link desperately wanted to help her. 

 

It was soon after he turned seventeen that he met a man from Aboda who saw his prowess for shooting and his lightning quick draw. The man suggested to him to try out competitive gunfighting in Aboda. He was reluctant and hesitant at first but upon learning of how much money he could make from it he decided to do it. He had to save the only family he had left.

 

His first gunfight was against a man known as Byrne “Dead Shot” Harlem. He was widely known as the fastest and most accurate shot in New Hyrule. When Link finally got the chance to face him, Dead Shot didn’t even stand a chance. He had hit the ground before his gun even cleared leather. People were stunned at this unknown kid’s speed and accuracy.

 

Link hated what he did but, in the end, it saved his family. Link would participate less and less in the gunfights with each passing year.

 

Their grandmother died when Link was twenty. He did not take it well and for years he would mourn for her. It created a great deal of anger in his heart and only served to scar him further.

 

He continued gunfighting for fourteen long years. He was haunted by the faces of sixty-seven men he killed until that final day when he killed the dark-haired, yellow-eyed man. It wasn’t until he got home that he realized that the man he killed was none other than Cal.

 

The man who, so many years ago, had saved Link and his family’s life; the man who had become a brother to him. Link had shot him to death with his very own hands. Apparently he had turned to gunfighting as well. Link didn’t know if Cal had recognized him but guilt and grief swept over him as soon as he realized what he had done. If he hadn’t made up his mind about quitting earlier then this surely would have done it for him.

 

 

 

 

            Link’s mind was racing from this horrifying revelation. He stood in front of his house, unable to move forward. So many thoughts and emotions crossed his mind as he stood there.

 

He suddenly thought of Aryll and didn’t know how he would tell her. What would she think of him now? She was his sister but even so, how could she forgive him for what he had done? At last, he could hesitate no longer and decided to just face up to what he had done.

 

He entered the foyer and looked around, hoping that his sister would be somewhere in the immediate vicinity.

 

She heard him enter and knew he would be in a foul mood from what he had just come back from. Aryll walked to the foyer to see her brother standing in front of the closed door. She didn’t think anything of the look on his face. It was a look she had seen time and time again after one of his gunfights and had grown used to seeing it by now.

 

“Back already?” she asked after a short silence.

 

Link hesitated before answering.

 

“This was the last one” he said quietly.

 

Aryll had heard this before, too. He had been consistently ranting about how he was going to quit and that he fought his last gunfight. But it would never stick and he would go back to the next one despite his own objections so Aryll brushed this comment off.

 

“You will forgive me if I don’t believe you” she replied. “What exactly makes this one different from all the other ones?”

 

Link didn’t know how to respond. His heart was still heavy with grief and guilt.

 

“It truly was this time.”

 

Aryll brushed this aside as well.

 

“You always say that, Link. I don’t know why you bother to keep doing this if you hate it so much. You’re always miserable for days afterward and, frankly, I’m tired of it. I just want you to be happy but you don’t want it that way, apparently.”

 

She paused to let her words sink in. She was about to speak again when Link held up a hand.

 

“Stop. You’ve voiced your concerns before and I know you only want what is best. You’re right and you’ve always been right. This time was truly different, I assure you.”

 

Aryll was losing patience.

 

“Why, Link? Why was it different?” she asked, her voice now slightly raised.

 

Link paused again, trying to find the words.

 

“It was different because of the man I killed” Link answered.

 

“You’ve said that before too.”

 

“Let me finish, Aryll. There have been times when the man on the other side has affected me in some way but this time it was different. I actually knew him once. I knew him very well.”

 

Aryll was still impatient, wanting Link to just say what he needed to say.

 

“Come on then. Who was it? Just say it already.”

 

“It was Cal!” Link half-shouted, speaking quickly.

 

Aryll was taken by surprise by her brother for the first time in a long time. She couldn’t believe it at first and simply had to ask for clarification.

 

“What did you say, Link? Who was the other man?”

 

Link paused again. He knew that shock of the name caused her to not believe her ears.

 

“It was Cal, Aryll. I am sure of it. At first, I didn’t recognize him. But his face just stuck with me and I tried to think about where I had seen him before. It wasn’t until I was just outside of the house that it hit me. I killed him, Aryll. That’s what makes this one different.”

 

Aryll couldn’t speak. Instead she allowed the silence to continue. Link started speaking again.

 

“I’ll understand if you hate me for this. I don’t expect forgiveness for what I’ve done. I will do my best to atone for it but I know it will never be enough. “

 

Aryll finally managed to speak.

 

“Link, I don’t hate you. You may have killed our adoptive brother but the way I see it, he was equally as foolish as you were for ever entering into that hideous competition. If you had lost he would have realized he’d killed you and had the same crisis you are having now.”

 

Link was silent as he listened to his sister speak. Aryll continued with a question.

 

“How did he not recognize you? I mean, you’ve made a name for yourself and everything and he did grow up with you?”

 

Link looked his sister in the eye when he replied.

 

“He must have been gone a long time, Aryll. I imagine that wherever he went, he rarely kept up with what was going on here. He always did go on about the Great Sea and his desire to explore it. Perhaps he did just that and heard nothing.”

 

The two faced each other in silence. The guilt Link bore weighed down on the room like a looming storm cloud. Aryll asked another question.

 

“What are you going to do now?”

 

Link paused briefly to think before replying.

 

“First things first, I need to see the undertaker in town. I want to make sure Cal gets a proper burial. He should be buried right next to Uncle Rusl and Grandma. I want to make sure that happens.”

 

“And the gunfighting?”

 

Link knew, without question, that those days were behind him now.

 

“It’s done, Aryll. You have to know that I mean it this time, don’t you?”

 

Aryll was hesitant but, given the circumstances, she couldn’t help but think that Link did indeed mean it.

 

“Yes, Link. I know you mean it. I know you meant it every other time too. But for whatever reason you never gave it up. I have to say I am glad that you’ve made this decision.”

 

Link was about to turn to leave the house again when Aryll spoke once again.

 

“What will you do afterward? I mean, you’re restless. There is no way you’ll just sit around at home with me all day.”

 

Link turned around again to face his sister.

 

“You know the Marshal has tried to deputize me a great many times. He’s even said that he’d make me the Sheriff after awhile so that he can return to Castle Town.”

 

“You think he’ll still take you?”

 

“He just talked to me yesterday in town. He’s said it so many times but he told me that I’m better than the gunfights and that the town needs a Sheriff like me. So, yes I think he will.”

 

“Be sure to talk to him as soon as you’re done with the undertaker and making the arrangements for Cal. I feel like this is something you shouldn’t wait on.”

 

Link simply nodded as he turned around and walked back out the door, headed back to town.

 

Aryll watched the door as her brother left and felt a terrible sadness overcome her. But with that sadness, it felt like a great weight had been lifted.

 

Link would finally be doing something worthwhile that he felt good about. Her sadness at Cal’s death was almost overshadowed by that liberating feeling.

 

She returned to the living room and continued with the book she had been reading. Her thoughts would not turn away from her brother, however, and she greatly awaited his return home.

 

 

 

 

           

            Link wandered back into Aboda and avoided the stares of the townsfolk who by now would have heard the rumour of his quitting. 

 

As he walked toward the office of the undertaker he suddenly felt a sharp burning on his left hand. He reflexively grabbed it with his right and winced as the pain hit him. When it finally began to subside, he let go of his left hand and inspected it thoroughly. What he saw confused him greatly.

 

On the back of his left hand was the mark of a triangle, divided into three smaller triangles and an inverted triangular gap in the middle. He was even more confused when the triangle on the bottom right gave off a golden glow.

 

He stared at the back of his hand for a long while until he remembered why he had come to town in the first place. He’d have to find out what it was later. Right now he had to focus on Cal and getting him a proper burial.

 

As soon as he opened the door, the undertaker turned around to see who was there. The look on his face told Link that he was shocked to see who had come to see him.

 

“Mr. Link, sir. People have been talking about you all over town. They say you quit. Is it true?”

 

Link sighed. He knew he’d have to answer this question eventually, and probably frequently, over the coming days.

 

“Yes sir, Mr. Dampe. That is the truth. My last gunfight is what I’m here about, actually.”

 

The undertaker seemed satisfied with Link’s answer.

 

“Good. I always thought they should be outlawed anyway. What’s this about your last gunfight?”

 

Link paused as he thought about what to say. He decided to simply tell the truth.

 

“I want to see the man I shot. I believe I knew him once and I want to give him a proper burial.”

 

“I was just fitting him for his coffin, sir. Come this way.” Dampe said, motioning for Link to follow.

 

Link almost couldn’t bear to see his adoptive brother again in this condition, knowing that he had been the one who had killed him. But he followed the undertaker just the same into a dimly lit back room where various unfinished and finished coffins alike were scattered around the room. In the middle of the room was a table with a half-finished coffin on top where a dead man lay.

 

Link walked over to the table and, sure enough, there was Cal. Link’s eyes welled up at the sight of him. He knew he had killed him, but actually seeing him lying there made it all the more real for him. Dampe spoke as Link stared at his dead brother.

 

“I asked for his name and, apparently, he has no family to speak of. He was an orphan as a child, you see. I hear that he was adopted but I couldn’t find out who it was that adopted him.”

 

Link closed his eyes as he replied.

 

“I know” he said softly.

 

“Really? That is excellent. Now we can at least have a proper name on his tombstone. Who was it?”

 

Link paused again. When he tried to speak, he found more tears forming. He finally managed to say what he needed to say.

 

“It was my uncle. This man and I grew up together. I knew him after my parents were killed. He saved my life. He saved my sister and my grandmother. We may not share blood but we were brothers, he and I. Just look at what I’ve done to you, Cal. I’m so sorry.”

 

The undertaker was silent as he let the words sink in. He felt terribly sorry for Link at that moment in time.

 

“I see. I believe I understand why you’ve quit then.”

 

Link turned to the undertaker. He reached into his pocket and pulled every last rupee he had out of his pocket and handed it to the undertaker. The folded paper bills were quite thick so Dampe knew that this was quite a bit of money Link had just handed to him.

 

“I want you to build him the finest coffin you’ve ever built. I want him buried next to my grandmother and my uncle Rusl. I want you to hire one of the priests of the Tower of Spirits to come down here and give him his last rites. It will be a private family funeral but I want his spirit to travel to the Sacred Realm and join the Golden Goddesses with the most honour possible. He was an honourable man and deserved a better fate than he got. I will arrange a date but I want you to do all of this for me. Can you?”

 

Dampe thumbed through the money Link had given him and found that he had more than enough to do what Link had requested.

 

“Easily, Mr. Link. I will do everything I can.”

 

“Thank you, Mr. Dampe. I suppose I shall see you later.”

 

Link left the stunned undertaker in the back room of his office and headed off to find the Marshal.

 

As soon as he entered the Marshal’s office, Link watched him look up from his chair behind a desk and then a smile crept slowly across his face.

 

“Evening, sir” Marshal LaFaron said, clearly happy to see Link. “What brings you to my office?” he asked, slowly standing and then walking over to meet Link eye to eye.

 

Link stared at the Marshal and thought about what he was about to do. Was he truly worthy of being a lawman? After everything he had done, did he deserve to be one? These thoughts crossed his mind as he stood there but he pushed them aside.

 

“I am here to inquire about the job offer you gave me the other day.”

 

The Marshal laughed when Link spoke.

 

“Which day? I’m afraid you’ll have to be more specific than that. How many times have I offered this to you?”

 

Link did not say anything in response.

 

“I only have one question for you, my friend” the Marshal continued.

 

“What is that?” Link asked in reply.

 

“Why this sudden change of heart? I mean, you killed plenty of men before today, what was so special this time?”

 

Link felt another pang of guilt as soon as the Marshal asked. His entire body seemed to deflate as he sighed in response to the Marshal’s question.

 

“Perhaps it’s best not to ask right now” he said, clearly seeing Link’s despair.

 

“Anyway, I’ll get you your badge. Within no time we’ll make a Sheriff out of you yet.”

 

The Marshal walked back to his desk and opened one of the drawers. He pulled out a golden badge shaped like a bird with a triangle above its head, in between its outstretched wings. He tossed it to Link, who caught it and looked it over in his hands. He noticed the word “Deputy” written in Hylian across the triangle. He decided to pin it to his shirt then and there.

 

“Thank you for this opportunity Marshal” he said.

 

“Thank you for taking the job, Link, and welcome to the side of the law” the Marshal replied.

 

He crossed the room again and extended a hand to Link. Link shook the Marshal’s hand and thanked him once again. With that deed done, Link turned back around and headed home.

 

 

 

 

 

            Within weeks, Link learned a great deal from Marshal LaFaron. In one day, Link hunted a group of four thieves who had robbed the local bank by himself. He managed to bring three of them in alive but the fourth had actually gone so far as to kidnap a local boy and held him hostage. Link was forced to put him down and he saved the boy’s life.

 

It was on this day that the Marshal made Link the Sheriff of Aboda. As soon as the sun had set and the lawmen were turning in for the night, the Marshal handed Link another badge before they all left. This one was nearly identical to Link’s current badge except the word “Sheriff” was written in Hylian where the word “Deputy” was. The only other difference was that this badge was larger and the triangle between the bird’s wings was a brilliant green.

 

“You’ve more than earned this today, my friend. This town doesn’t need me anymore with you here. Take care of the other deputies for me.”

 

“You’re leaving now?” Link asked.

 

“Well, not right now, but I will be returning to Castle Town within the week. I will leave this town in good hands.”

 

Link looked over the badge the Marshal had just handed him. He removed his Deputy badge and replaced it with his new Sheriff badge. He thanked the Marshal and left for home.

 

Link arrived at home and stopped on the porch once again, lost in thought. He thought about Cal again and sighed as he remembered the ill fate he had brought upon him. He couldn’t fathom how a man like himself should deserve to become the Sheriff of any town.

 

He had to shake off those thoughts, however. Any lawman with doubts would be a hesitant lawman. Link knew that a hesitant lawman was as good as dead. He would be of no use to this town if some moral quandary about his past caused his untimely demise. Within moments he had shaken the feeling off and headed inside.

 

Link told his sister everything about the day’s events and his becoming Sheriff before the pair of them finally went to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

            It was only a few days later when Link and Aryll held Cal’s funeral. They were the only people to show up while the priest of the Tower of Spirits spoke, commending Cal’s soul to the Sacred Realm. Just as it was ending, Marshal LaFaron stepped up next to Link and placed a hand on his shoulder.

 

Link had yet to tell him what it was about his final gunfight that had made him quit and now the Marshal knew why.

 

“Link, I’m so sorry, my friend.”

 

Bitter guilt sank its claws into Link’s heart as the Marshal spoke.

 

“You have nothing to be sorry for. I do not deserve your pity. This man was my brother once and I shot him dead. And for what? Pride? Obligations? Honour?” Link said, ending his question with loud disgust and rage.

 

“There was no honour in what we did. No pride to be won. I still don’t know why I kept on going but now it has cost me dearly.”

 

The Marshal removed his hat and offered a silent prayer to Cal as they stood over the coffin. It was slowly lowered into the ground.

 

Just two days after Cal’s funeral, the Marshal was leaving town. He said his goodbyes to the deputies before finding Link.

 

“Sheriff” he said as he approached.

 

“Marshal” Link replied.

 

“It’s time I get moving on. The Marshals have got a lot of work to do. Those damn Bulblins are still everywhere.”

 

“Yes, I know. They are far more than a mere menace. They’re like a plague.”

 

“It’ll take time, Sheriff, but we will take them all down, all the way up to Ganon himself. Take care of yourself, friend” the Marshal finished, extending his hand to Link.

 

“You as well, Marshal. Be careful out there” Link answered, shaking the Marshal’s hand.

 

Link watched as the Marshal rode for Castle Town leaving Aboda under his guidance and care. Now that Link was in charge he decided that it was time for a few changes. The first thing on his list: outlaw competitive gunfighting.

 

 

 

 

 

            A few days later the seven deputies had gathered in the Sheriff's office. Link had asked them all to be there and wait for him. Within minutes the Sheriff burst through the door carrying two loaded rifles. He tossed one to one of the deputies, a young man named Garrickson, and he caught it deftly.

 

“Grab your guns boys. We've got work to do.”

 

“What's going on Sheriff?” asked a deputy, named Benn, who had been sitting in a chair but had since stood up when Link entered.

 

“Is there trouble?”

 

Link cocked his lever-action rifle before answering.

 

“There's a gunfight today boys. I aim to put a stop to it and you boys are going to help me.”

 

Benn was incredulous at this.

 

“What? But it's not even illegal in Faron. What about the locals? What if they turn on us?”

 

Link looked Benn square in the eye when he'd finished speaking.

 

“That's what the rifles are for Benn” he said darkly. “We need to assert our authority. As for the legality, now that I'm the Sheriff of this town, that's for me to decide.”

 

The deputies hesitated but not a single one of them had a second thought of challenging the man who was said to be the best shot in all of New Hyrule.

 

Each deputy grabbed a rifle and the group of lawmen headed into the center of town.

 

The scene they witnessed was the usual crowd for a gunfight. Two men with revolvers were already squaring off in the street as the viewing crowd placed bets with each other.

 

Before they could finish, Link raised his rifle to the air and fired a loud shot as a signal of his approach. He cocked the lever of his rifle again immediately afterward.

 

“Break this up, folks. Give any money you have taken back to each man you took it from. This gunfight breaks federal law of New Hyrule.”

 

The man who was running the fight objected.

 

“Sheriff it's not even illegal in this province. You can't break this up.”

 

Link would have none of it.

 

“In case you hadn't noticed there's a new Sheriff in town and I say that gunfights in Aboda will be strictly forbidden. Anyone caught starting one will be placed under arrest and sent to the county jailhouse. You betters get a free pass today but any further betting on gunfights gets a trip to the clink right along with the fighters. As for you two....” Link said, pointing his rifle at the two gunfighters.

 

“Hand over your weapons to the deputies and come with us. We'll be sending you straight to Castle Town.”

 

The onlookers couldn't believe what was happening before their eyes. No lawman in Faron had ever had the guts to stand up for the federal law like this, in direct defiance of Governor Cole.

 

Some of them were shouting in protest but Link ignored them. Some shouted “quitter” and “coward” in an attempt to anger him but he would not listen.

 

The two gunfighters turned in their weapons and quietly went with four of the deputies going with them. Link remained with the other three and they ensured that the betters all got their money back and quickly dispersed the crowd, sending them back to their homes. There were a few who were disgruntled but they opted not to test the patience of the Sheriff.

 

The whole ordeal only lasted ten minutes and, other than the shot Link fired into the air, no weapons were needed on this day. As Link and the deputies walked back to the Sheriff's office, Benn and Garrickson murmured to each other worriedly.

 

“What do we do when Cole hears about this?” Benn asked.

 

“We're sure to get into a load of shit for this. I hope the Sheriff knows what he's getting into” Garrickson replied.

 

“Somebody ought to tell him why nobody has messed with Cole's gunfights before. It might help him think a little clearer.”

 

They stopped talking when they entered the office and Link turned to face them.

 

“That was well done today boys. No bloodshed, nice and clean. It's always good to see things work out that way.  We'll see these two off to Castle Town tomorrow when some of the Marshals arrive.”

 

Garrickson turned and left while Benn stayed behind and stood in the doorway.

 

“Is something wrong, Benn?” Link asked, noticing his hesitation to leave.

 

“Sheriff, there's something you ought to know about what we just did.”

 

“Benn, I know its not illegal in Faron but it just doesn't seem right that one province has the right to dodge federal law because of one man.”

 

“But Sheriff, that one man is what I mean to tell you about. The Governor is not a kind or patient man and when he catches wind of what we've done, well, it'll be a load of trouble for us all.”

 

Link turned away from the Deputy and walked over to his desk. He removed his green, wide-brimmed hat and hung it on a hook next to his desk. He then walked behind his desk and sat down in his chair.

 

“If the Governor would like to dispute my actions then I expect he'll come down here and talk to me about it. I'll handle whatever he's got to throw at me, Benn. We'll be just fine, you'll see.”

 

The two remained in silence for awhile before Link spoke up again.

 

“You should go on home, Benn. Get yourself some rest. You did well today, Deputy.”

 

Benn turned and left as the Sheriff sat at his desk mulling over what Benn had said. Why was he so worried? Link would clear up any misunderstanding with the Governor and that would be that, Link thought.

 

 

 

 

 

            Within days, word had spread to the Governor about what Link had done in Aboda. As soon as the two gunfighters he arrested arrived in Castle Town, the Governor was notified. He ordered an immediate appeal to the New Hyrule Chancellor and then asked to be brought to Aboda.

 

Link had been given a letter from Marshal LaFaron as well once the gunfighters had arrived in Castle Town. Link sat at his desk reading the letter. The Marshal warned Link to put a stop to what he was doing. The Marshal mentioned Governor Cole and stated that crossing him would be “very dangerous” but did not go into specifics. As he read the letter, Link heard a voice from the doorway.

 

“Sheriff Link, I presume?” the voice said, calmly, with a slight inclination toward anger.

 

Link folded the letter up and slid it into the drawer of his desk. He then stood up and walked over to the man in the doorway. He had never met Faron's governor before and was a little surprised to note that he stood a full head taller than the provincial leader.

 

“That is me, sir. You must be Governor Cole?”

 

The man who stood in the doorway was immaculately dressed in a dark green suit and matching top hat. He had grown a meticulously groomed moustache but his eyes were what struck Link the most. He had dark hazel eyes that seemed to stare right through him.

 

“Indeed I am, Sheriff. I've come to speak to you about a rather pressing matter.”

 

Link knew what the governor wished to discuss so he did not bother asking.

 

“You were a gunfighter once so I expected you knew that it was not illegal in this province. But apparently you need to be reminded of that. You arrested two innocent men the other day and I have put in an appeal to the chancellor for their immediate release. So, I expect that this will be the only trouble I have from you? I'd hate to have to come down here again.”

 

Link paused as he thought about what he would say to this man.

 

“Mr. Cole-”

 

Governor Cole, Sheriff” the governor said, cutting Link off.

 

“Right. There is increasing pressure on you to change your policy on gunfighting, is there not? I am aware that the entirety of the rest of New Hyrule is wholeheartedly against competitive gunfighting and I intend to uphold federal law. It is my job as a servant of the public.”

 

The governor sighed.

 

“Very well. How much do you want?”

 

Link was taken aback by this.

 

“I beg your pardon?”

 

“How much, Sheriff? One thousand rupees? Ten thousand? Whatever it takes to make you give this up” the governor said, reaching into his coat pocket.

 

Link could feel anger boil up from inside of him but he kept it at bay.

 

“It is a crime to bribe a lawman, Governor. I have no interest in your money. I intend to continue to uphold the laws of New Hyrule.”

 

The governor stood there in silence feeling his own anger rise. After a long pause, he spoke.

 

“If that's the way you want it then you've just made the biggest mistake of your life.”

 

Link did not take this threat lightly but his anger got the best of him and he challenged Governor Cole.

 

“What do you intend to do? Have me killed? Frame me for murder? Try it all you want, you corrupt bureaucrat. I'll just keep coming back and as soon as I've got something on you, your head is going to roll.”

 

The Governor chuckled slightly at the Sheriff's boldness.

 

“You've certainly got spirit. But we'll just have to see how far that gets you.”

 

The Governor tipped the brim of his hat to Link.

 

“Good day, Sheriff.”

 

He left Link to stand in his office and think about what he had just done. What had possessed him to threaten the Governor of Faron? He did not know but what he did know was that there would be consequences for his defiance and he would have to be on his guard.

 

 

 

 

 

            After his confrontation with Link, Governor Cole sat in his office, stewing about what he could do about him. He had his ties with the Bulblins but how far did they go, he wondered?

 

Just then, it was as if his thoughts came to life. He heard a voice call to him from the doorway to his massive office. He peered out from behind his desk and saw a man that few would recognize in New Hyrule but whose name struck terror in all who knew it.

 

“You've picked a fine time to visit, Ganon.”

 

The large man who stood in the Governor's office doorway was of a heavy build and was very tall. He was an imposing presence based on sheer size alone.

 

His yellow eyes shone with malice and his thin, red beard on his dark face concealed a hint of a malicious smile. He wore a black, wide-brimmed hat and a matching black duster, which itself covered a black vest and shirt. In his hat he wore a red badge in the shape of a triangle. He also wore a green bandana loosely around his neck.

 

“A fine time indeed, Cole” Ganon answered, his deep voice echoing throughout the room. “I've come to you with something important and I need you to listen.”

 

Ganon slowly strode across the office, the spurs of his boots clanging with each step. He finally came to rest at the Governor's desk where he leaned forward and looked Governor Cole in the eye.

 

“You see this?” Ganon asked calmly, raising his right hand and displaying the back of it for the Governor.

 

On the back of his hand, the symbol of three triangles could be seen and the top one was glowing a brilliant golden colour.

 

“It's glowing. But why is that?” the Governor asked.

 

Ganon's expression did not change when he began to explain.

 

“This thing isn't complete, Cole. You know I've been looking for a young woman who's fated to be carrying one of these.”

 

“So? What's your point?”

 

Ganon gave the Governor a look as though he were the dumbest man alive.

 

“My Point? Cole, she's in your territory. I was passing by Aboda when I felt the power. She has to be here. So I've come to ask a favour.”

 

Governor Cole raised an eyebrow.

 

“Oh? What sort of favour?”

 

Ganon took a breath and began.

 

“We've been searching high and low and taking young women with pointed ears from all over the country back to the desert. So far, none of them have turned out to be this... bearer. But I feel that power, Cole. She has to be here. My boys and I need to get into Aboda and take all the young women with pointy ears out to the desert so we can figure out which one is the bearer.”

 

The Governor paused to let this all sink in.

 

“What exactly is it that you need from me? You're outlaws. You should be able to figure these things out.”

 

“Cole, we hear talk of this new Sheriff in Aboda. I don't want to lose any more of my men to another one of your “idealists”. I need you to get him to back down so we don't have to fight our way into town.”

 

Cole sat back in his chair and thought for awhile. After a long, deafening silence, the Governor spoke again.

 

“You clearly don't know this Sheriff, Ganon. He won't back down for anything or anyone. But, as it happens, I am trying to get rid of him. I could tell him that a number of your boys are outside town causing trouble. That is, if you're willing.”

 

“I just told you I want to avoid a fight with this guy.”

 

“A fight? Ganon, are you not familiar with setting up an ambush? Surely you've done it before. If your boys ambush this Sheriff and his dim-witted deputies they'll easily end it without so much as a scratch on your boys.”

 

Ganon still didn't seem convinced.

 

“Isn't this guy supposed to be the fastest shot around? I don't want to leave...” Ganon suddenly stopped speaking when an idea came to him.

 

“Tell you what, Cole. Since you need this guy done in, I'll get one of my best guys on it. The fastest shot we've got. I'll send Bellum in. Besides, he's dealt with this town before and I reckon he's a faster shot than your Sheriff.”

 

The Governor pondered this for awhile and decided that this plan was indeed the best course of action.

 

“Very well, Ganon. I believe we've struck a deal.”

 

Governor Cole stood up and extended his hand to Ganon. He had to reach up slightly to make his hand level with that of Ganon's. Ganon grasped Cole's hand and shook it firmly, smiling his malicious smile.

 

 

 

 

 

            It was early evening when Link had returned to his office after patrolling the town for several hours. He was surprised when he returned to his desk to find Governor Cole sitting there, waiting.

 

“Sheriff” the Governor said, standing and walking toward Link.

 

“Governor” Link said, not bothering to hide the irritation in his voice.

 

“I know I'm the last man you want to see right now but I have something urgent to discuss with you.”

 

Link glared at the Governor as he walked over to his desk to sit in his chair and listen.

 

“Make it quick” Link replied coldly.

 

Governor Cole equalled Link's glare but spoke in a calm and measured tone.

 

“Several of the Bulblins gang have been spotted just outside of town. I want you to gather all of your deputies together and track them down. I have information that suggests they mean to assault this town and root you out. I think it's best if you try to keep the townspeople out of it, don't you?”

 

Link was immediately suspicious but he couldn't come up with any reason why the Governor would lie about something like this.

 

“What information did you receive and why was I not privy to it?” Link asked.

 

“I have my ways of gathering information, Sheriff. Mostly through my own personal agents. Look, it doesn't matter. The fact is, there are Bulblins just outside of town. Are you not obligated to bring them in?”

 

Link was still suspicious but, for once, he agreed with Governor Cole.

 

“You're right. I need to gather some of the deputies and get after those outlaws. At least two will need to stay in town to watch over things.”

 

The Governor replied very quickly.

 

“No, you must take them all. There are likely to be ten or more of them. You need every man you can get. I have already asked a number of my agents to watch the town while you battle the Bulblins.”

 

Link would have none of it.

 

“I'm sorry but no one knows this town like me and my deputies. Two of them need to stay here.”

 

The Governor began to grow angry at Link's defiance.

 

“Sheriff, if any of your deputies remain in town, I will fire them myself. They must go with you.”

 

Link was even more suspicious now.

 

“Why are you so desperate to get every lawman out of town?”

 

The Governor calmed himself to try and avoid raising even more suspicion.

 

“I am concerned for your well-being, Sheriff. After all, this town needs a good lawman like yourself. I'd hate to see you or your deputies hurt or, even worse, killed. That being said, if my orders are not followed, any of your remaining deputies will be out of a job.”

 

Link was very reluctant but he finally, grudgingly, accepted Cole's orders.

 

“Fine. We will do as you ask” Link said quietly.

 

Link left the Governor alone once again and set off to find the deputies. He managed to find all seven of them and headed back to his office. The Governor was not there when he returned but Link knew he hadn't gone far.

 

“All of you, grab your guns and as much ammunition as you can carry. We've got Bulblins on the edge of town.”

 

“All of us?” Garrickson asked. “Shouldn't some of us stay behind to watch over the town.”

 

Link did not answer at first as he picked up a double barreled shotgun and loaded it with shells.

 

“What should happen and what actually happens are two different things, Garrickson. All of you come with me.”

 

Garrickson knew the Governor had spoken to him.

 

“Does this have to do with the Governor, Sheriff?” he asked.

 

This time, Link did not answer. Garrickson then made up his mind.

 

“I'm sorry Sheriff but you can't make me go. I'm staying to watch the town.”

 

Link turned to him as soon as he spoke.

 

“You will do as you are told, Deputy Garrickson. Our jobs are on the line here.”

 

Garrickson would have none of it.

 

“So what? Is the Governor going to fire me if I stay here? Let him. It won't stop me from watching over this town while the rest of you are gone. He won't scare me off.”

 

Link continued staring at Garrickson.

 

“Why are you doing this? There is no need for you to do this. I will not lose you this way.”

 

Garrickson would not be convinced.

 

“Sorry, Sheriff. I'm staying.”

 

Link walked over to him and held out his hand.

 

“Give me your badge, then.”

 

Garrickson was surprised by this.

 

“What? I thought you said-”

 

“Never mind what I said. If you feel like losing your job over this it may as well be me who does it and keep you from the indignity of losing it to that bastard governor.”

 

Garrickson removed the badge from his chest and handed it to the Sheriff. In return, Link handed Garrickson his revolver, grabbing one from behind his desk to put in his holster.

 

'You're giving me this?” Garrickson asked, stunned.

 

It was the same revolver Link had used in all his years as a gunfighter. He had carried it with him for many years. The handle had been custom made of a fine hardwood. There was a carving on the handle. It was painted black and depicted a howling wolf. The rest of the gun gleamed in the sunlight. It was, in fact, plated in silver and Link polished it often. He had it made soon after his first gunfight victory over Dead Shot.

 

“It's a fine weapon and deserves to be in the hand of a man braver than me. I think it's time for a new gun anyway.”

 

Link motioned for the rest of the deputies to follow and walked out the door. Garrickson watched them leave, still not believing that Link had actually given him his gun.

 

This gun was legendary. Garrickson made a silent promise to himself that he would cherish this gun for the rest of his days and would make every shot he took with it count.

 

Link, meanwhile, walked with the deputies over to the stables and every man saddled and mounted a horse and rode for the outskirts of town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            The lawmen had reached an old, collapsed barn that marked the edge of the Aboda territory. Part of an old fence still stood around the barn and they reined their horses there. They all walked toward the old, dirt road that led away from the barn. With Link out front, he motioned for them to spread out.

 

Link thought about calling out to the Bulblins when he felt the barrel of a gun touch the back of his head.

 

“Don't move, law dog. We got you and your boys outnumbered. Best if you drop those guns you got on you and follow me.”

 

Link saw two Bulblins to each one of his deputies, leading them all out in front of them, having taken their guns and thrown them in a pile by the barn. Link dropped his shotgun on the ground  and took off the belt that held his revolver. He turned around to face the Bulblin and immediately recognized the man.

 

“Bellum” he said, quietly.

 

The old outlaw had hardly aged since the day he had met with Darrin in his store.

 

“I remember you too, boy” Bellum replied. “You've grown to look a lot like your daddy.”

 

Link felt his rage boil up inside but held it back. Any action at this point was sure to get him killed.

 

“It seems that you and I have a long and sordid past. Look at you now. A famous gunfighter and now Sheriff of Aboda. I bet your parents are proud of you.”

 

“You will not speak to me about my parents” Link said, angrily.

 

Bellum chuckled.

 

“I won't, will I? And what makes you think you get to make demands to me right now? I hold all the cards.”

 

Bellum was silent for several minutes as he paced back and forth in front of Link. He finally spoke after several minutes of silence.

 

“You know I was sent here to kill you and your boys. But I don't always do exactly what Ganon tells me” Bellum said with a smile.

 

“What the hell's that supposed to mean?” Link said, his anger refusing to subside.

 

Bellum chuckled again.

 

“Settle down, boy. I'm not saying I won't kill you but I do have a proposition for you”

 

Bellum bent down and picked up Link's gun belt. He held it up in front of him as he spoke.

 

“Ganon says that I can beat you. I'm faster than you. I aim to prove it. One last gunfight. As a bonus, you get a crack at the man who killed your family. What do you say to that?”

 

Link could not believe the vanity that Bellum displayed. The temptation to kill Bellum also crossed Link's mind but he still shook his head.

 

“No. Those days are behind me. You'd best just shoot me and get it over with.”

 

Bellum motioned to one of the Bulblins who brought Benn before him, knocking him to his knees. Bellum, still holding his revolver, brought his gun level with Benn's eyes and drew back the hammer.

 

“If you win, my boys will let you and your deputies go. If not, I will shoot this piece of shit right between the eyes and make you watch as I kill every last one of your men” Bellum replied, his voice raising gradually as he spoke, to the point of shouting.

 

Link looked down at Benn and their eyes met. Link saw the terrified look on Benn's face and then lowered his head and closed his eyes. He sighed as he reached a hand out to Bellum.

 

“Give me my gun. We'll do it on that road over there” Link said, pointing to the old, dirt road leading away from the barn.

 

Bellum smiled.

 

“Good.”

 

Bellum handed Link his gun belt and he put it on. The two of them walked out to the dirt road, walking side by side. Bellum spoke to Link as they walked.

 

“You're just like your old man, you know. If I'm honest, boy, I didn't enjoy having to kill him. But those boys of ours that he helped arrest were good men and Ganon wanted retribution.”

 

Link stopped and turned to Bellum, eyes blazing, his rage nearly boiling over.

 

“You dare to try and justify killing my entire fucking family!? I told you not to speak of them.”

 

Bellum paused for a moment before speaking again.

 

“By the way, do you know why you and all your men were sent out here? Ganon needed you out of town. He got the Governor to do that for him. He's after some sort of power, he's never really explained it to me. He's had us taking women with pointy ears back with us to the desert. And I do believe your sister fits that description.”

 

Link's eyes narrowed as Bellum spoke.

 

“I'm not saying it's guaranteed but chances are pretty good that she's headed back to the desert right about now.”

 

Link took a step closer to Bellum until his face was mere inches away from Bellum's. His eyes bore into the outlaw as he spoke.

 

“If that is indeed what has come to pass, let me tell you something. After I kill you, I'll let your boys run for now. But if you've got my sister I will come for every single piece of shit in your gang. And I'm going to tell them that hell is coming with me!” he said, through gritted teeth.

 

The two men spoke no more after that as they turned and walked until about thirty feet lay between them. They turned to face each other and stared each other down. Several minutes of silence passed as the onlookers, outlaw and lawman alike, watched the scene unfold.

 

Bellum made a move for his gun first and it was the last mistake he ever made. Link never made the first move. It was part of why he was so successful. He could out-wait anyone. The key to his speed wasn't by catching his opponent off guard. His speed had been developed over time by simply knowing how to be faster than the other man.

 

Bellum was fast, the fastest Link had ever faced. Even so, Bellum barely got the gun out of his holster when a bullet tore a hole through his chest, knocking him to the dirt. Within minutes, he was dead. Link walked over to his dead opponent, picking his gun up off the ground. He grabbed the green bandana around Bellum's neck and pulled it off. He turned to the onlooking outlaws and noticed his deputies behind them, having gotten their guns back. Link spoke to them all as they stared at him.

 

“Do you see this?” he asked, holding Bellum's gun and bandana up in the air.

 

“This will be all of you if Ganon's kidnapped my sister. Tell everyone in your fucking gang that I'm coming for them. I suggest you all run before I start taking heads now.”

 

With a group of armed deputies at their backs, they all quickly mounted their horses and rode away.

 

When the last of them was out of site, Link walked back to their own horses, mounted his and, without waiting for his deputies, rode as fast as he could back to Aboda.

 

 

 

 

 

            While Link and his deputies were being ambushed, the rest of the Bulblins walked into Aboda without a fight from anyone. Ganon searched the town and inspected every woman in it, specifically looking for their pointed ears. Inside the Golden Cuckoo tavern he pointed to a woman at the bar and two Bulblins stood on either side of her and led her out toward their horses.

 

No one dared to try and stop them as they moved through the town. Soon they reached the edge of town where Link and Aryll lived. Ganon stopped in front of the house and turned to a very large Bulblin that stood next to him.

 

He was an enormous man that even Ganon had to look up at. He had just wandered into one of their camps one day and began following the Bulblins around. He had never spoken a word so they didn't know his name. He had several roc feathers in his hat and that was how they identified him. Based on his size and the feathers they called him the “Helmaroc King” after the ancient creature of legend. Ganon spoke to him now.

 

“Let's check and see if anyone's home.”

 

The Helmaroc King walked up to the front door and tried the handle. It was locked. He then stood back and threw a vicious kick at the door, knocking it off it's hinges. Aryll heard this noise and rushed to the front door to find out what it was. Ganon stepped inside and immediately noticed Aryll's pointed ears.

 

“Howdy ma'am” Ganon said, tipping the brim of his hat. “I trust there won't be any trouble? You need to come with us.”

 

Aryll thought about the situation. She noticed the green bandanas these two large men were wearing and identified them as Bulblins immediately. What they wanted with her, she did not know. What she did know was that causing any trouble was likely a very bad idea so she willingly walked toward the door.

 

“Helmaroc King, escort this lady to the waiting horses, would you? I'll finish searching the house.”

 

The Helmaroc king stood behind Aryll and led her away. As they walked into town, a man stepped out in front of them. He drew the shining revolver at his side and pointed it at the man behind Aryll. The Helmaroc King froze,putting a hand to his gun. He realized, though, that he had been beaten and didn't even bother to remove it from its holster.

 

“Stop right there” the man said. “You will let the lady go if you want me to spare your life.”

 

It was Garrickson, wielding Link's old revolver.

 

Just as suddenly as he had stepped out, Garrickson felt the barrel of a gun on the back of his head and he heard a deep voice speaking to him.

 

“Boy, now is not a good time to be interfering with Bulblin business. I didn't want to get my hands dirty but I will blow a hole straight through your fucking head if you do not get out of the way.”

 

Garrickson holstered his revolver and stepped to the side of the road again.

 

He looked to his left and saw the Bulblin leader glaring at him.

 

“Thank you kindly” he said coldly as he, Aryll, and the Helmaroc King made their way back to their waiting horses and quickly left the town without a shot fired.

 

Within hours, Link had returned to Aboda. He entered the Sheriff's office and found the Governor still there. He looked shocked when he saw Link enter.

 

“This was a damn set up! Where are your Bulblin cronies, Cole? Or did you already let them walk right out of here?”

 

The Governor was calm when he spoke.

 

“What are you talking about, Sheriff? The Bulblins didn't come into town after all. I've sent my men away and was awaiting your report.”

 

“Here's my damn report!” Link said.

 

He slammed Bellum's gun and bandana down on his desk. The Governor was even more shocked when he saw them. He picked up the gun and counted the notches on the handle. There were twenty.

 

“Who's gun is this?” the Governor asked.

 

“Bellum's” Link answered back angrily.

 

Just then, Garrickson burst through the door to the office.

 

“Sheriff! The Bulblins came! They took your sister and another lady from the tavern. I tried to stop them but I'm only one man.”

 

Link closed his eyes as the rage threatened to overtake him. He stood in silence a long while before finally speaking. He first spoke to Garrickson.

 

“I appreciate the effort, Garrickson. You're right. You are only one man.”

 

It was then that the rage within him finally took hold and he whirled around and grabbed the Governor by the scruff of the neck and held him off the ground, pinning him up against the wall.

 

“You fucking liar!” he shouted. “How long have those damn outlaws been in your pocket?”

 

He was pressing too hard on the Governor's throat and he couldn't breathe and, thus, couldn't speak. Link relaxed his hold a little to let him speak.

 

“I don't know what-” Link cut him off and started choking him again.

 

“Bullshit! I know you and Ganon planned this whole thing! Where did they take her?”

 

Link relaxed his grip again. Garrickson watched the scene unfold, terrified by this new side to the Sheriff he had never seen before.

 

“I don't know where, exactly. But they'd probably head to the desert” the Governor said hoarsely.

 

Link finally let go of the Governor, who dropped to the floor gasping for breath and clutching at his throat.

 

Link tore off his badge and handed it to Garrickson.

 

“You take care of the town from now on. I've got work to do.”

 

“Where are you going?” Garrickson asked.

 

“Castle Town” Link answered. “I need to see the Marshals about upgrading my jurisdiction. I'm hunting every last one of those sons of bitches down until I get Aryll back.”

 

Link then quickly walked away, leaving Garrickson and the Governor in the office, stunned at what had just happened.

 

Link made his way home, grabbing every last bit of ammunition he could find. He attached two bandoliers to his torso and filled his gun belt with revolver ammo. He then pulled a dark green duster off a coat hook and put it on. He then put on his green, wide-brimmed hat once again. He had an extra holster attached to his belt for another revolver and a sheath on his back where he stored his double-barreled shotgun. He also grabbed his rifle and headed out the broken in door to the stables.

 

He found his waiting horse and saddled it, attaching a holster for his rifle. He holstered the rifle, climbed into the saddle, and tore out of Aboda in the direction of Castle Town.

 

 

 

 

 

            It wasn't long before Link was in Castle Town. He hadn't been here very many times and the sheer number of people moving around the town always caught him a little off guard. He made his way through the crowded, cobble streets until finally managing to find the office of the Marshals. He entered and saw a man sitting at a desk just inside the door.

 

“Sir? Do you have business here?”

 

“I'm looking for Marshal LaFaron. Is he here?”

 

“Who may I say is asking for him?”

 

“Tell him the Sheriff of Aboda is here to see him.”

 

The man picked up the cone-shaped receiver of his telephone and turned the crank a few times.

 

“Marshal LaFaron? There is a man out here asking for you. He says he's the Sheriff of Aboda.”

 

As soon as the man said it, a door to the left of them burst open and the Marshal quickly emerged to see what was going on. He saw Link and eyed him up and down, noticing how heavily armed he was. So many questions entered his mind. He finally managed to ask one.

 

“Link, what are you doing here?”

 

“I've come to see about upgrading my jurisdiction.”

 

“But-” the Marshal couldn't speak.

 

He had too many questions and didn't know which to ask first. Link offered a suggestion.

 

“Is there a good place to get a drink in this town? We can talk there if you want.”

 

“Sure, Link. I know a place.”

 

The Marshal turned to the man at the desk.

 

“I'll be out for a little while. If anyone asks for me, tell them I'm out and I'll get back to them.”

 

The man nodded. Link and the Marshal left together.

 

Inside the saloon, the two men sat across from each other at a table. Once they were settled in, Link spoke first.

 

“All right, Marshal. Ask me whatever you are going to ask.”

 

The Marshal thought for a while on what he would ask first. He finally settled on something.

 

“Who's in charge of the town? Without you there we have no Sheriff.”

 

“I gave Garrickson my badge and my old gun. He's the new Sheriff.”

 

“For now, you mean” the Marshal said.

 

Link didn't answer this.

 

The Marshal moved on to his next question.

 

“So what's with all this?” the Marshal asked, pointing to one of Link's bandoliers.

 

Link took a deep breath.

 

“That will take some explaining. Turns out you were right about Cole.”

 

“I told you not to keep up what you were doing.”

 

“Did you know about his ties with the Bulblins?” Link asked.

 

The Marshal sighed.

 

“I'm sorry I didn't tell you. I've had my suspicions for a long time. Every time I've brought it to anyone's attention, even the Rangers, I've been told it's all circumstantial. I've got nothing concrete on him. However the hell he's hiding it, he's doing a damn good job of it.”

 

Link straightened a little in his seat when he heard the Marshal mention the Rangers. They were the most elite lawmen in the country. Each of the five provinces only had one. All except the Desert Province still had one as the Desert Ranger had been killed by Ganon.

 

The Rangers had a great deal of power and even had jurisdiction to arrest the Chancellor and even the King if they ever came under suspicion. In addition to that, the Rangers were the only people left in the kingdom to carry knighthoods and each carried the title 'Sir'. The Rangers were the ones to appoint the Castle Town Marshals. Link would have to impress the Faron Ranger if he wanted to become a Marshal and be able to enforce the law across the entire country.

 

“I almost got him to admit his ties to the Bulblins” Link said, continuing their conversation.

 

“How did you do that? What happened back in Aboda?”

 

Link took another deep breath.

 

“Cole sent me and the boys straight into a Bulblin ambush led by Bellum.”

 

This caught the Marshal by surprise.

 

“Bellum? The Bulblin's fastest shot?  I gather you were faster?”

 

Link reached into the pocket of his duster and pulled out the gun and green bandana and put them down on the table.

 

“Gather what you will from that” Link said.

 

The Marshal picked up the gun and counted the notches in the handle.

 

“Remarkable, Link” the Marshal said, still handling the gun.

 

“Once I show this to the Faron Ranger he'll make you a Marshal for sure. We've been hunting Bellum for a long time.”

 

Link was silent as the Marshal inspected the gun. He finally put it down and allowed Link to continue speaking.

 

“When we arrived back in Aboda, I found out that Ganon had come and taken my sister.”

 

“I'm awful sorry to hear that Link. I guess that explains all those guns you've got and why you're here. We've had reports of Ganon kidnapping young women with pointed ears. I never thought it would happen to someone I know.”

 

“Do you know why he's doing it?”

 

The Marshal shook his head.

 

“We have no idea. We've found a few of them around the edges of the province, telling us they'd been wandering the desert for days. No harm had come to them aside from being malnourished. But that probably came from the desert and not necessarily the Bulblins. None of us even has a theory of what Ganon's doing out there.”

 

Link sat in silence for a few moments before speaking again.

 

“Cole told me where they would have taken her. But the desert isn't exactly specific.”

 

The Marshal still had one final question.

 

“What exactly are you planning, Link?”

 

“I'm taking them down, Colin. All of them. Every last Bulblin. They've taken the only family I've got left. I have no other choice.”

 

“Yes you do. You could let us handle it.”

 

At this, Link started to get angry.

 

“Everyone knows the Marshals are afraid to go into the desert. Ever since the Bulblins killed that Ranger, its turned the Marshals into damn cowards! None of you has had the guts to strike at the heart of these shit-eating bastards!”

 

The Marshal sat in silence, wincing a little at Link's cutting words. Link continued.

 

“So to tell me to leave it to the Marshals is just not going to cut it, Colin! I need to get these bastards myself! I will get Aryll back and the Bulblins will fall. Do you understand?”

 

The Marshal lowered his gaze from Link and could not speak. Everything Link had said was true. The Marshals never admitted it but they were all scared of entering the desert territory. Marshal LaFaron felt ashamed of their inaction and their inability to carry out their duty to the citizens of New Hyrule. After a long silence, the Marshal looked up and spoke to Link again.

 

“I think you've answered everything I wanted to know. Come with me to talk to the Faron Ranger and we'll see about making you a Marshal” he said, quietly, standing up out of his seat.

 

Link felt sorry for getting angry with Marshal LaFaron.

 

“I wasn't calling you a coward, Colin. I know you aren't. I'm just angry right now and I hate that the Marshals won't do anything. I'm sorry.”

 

“You have nothing to apologize for, Link” the Marshal said. “You're right. We have all turned to cowards. But I aim to change that. I can't go with you on your insane hunt. My wife and daughter live here and I won't leave them for that long again. But I will make you a promise. Once you are ready to take down Ganon in his desert fortress, you will have me and as many Marshals as I can get at your back. Even if I get none, you'll at least have me.”

 

Link smiled as he stood up.

 

“Thank you, Colin.”

 

The two spoke no more on their way back to the office of the Marshals.

 

Once they returned, Marshal LaFaron and Link entered the Marshal's office and he called the Ranger, asking to see him in the office of the Marshals. It didn't take him long to get there and he entered the office, seeing Marshal LaFaron and Link standing there waiting for him.

 

“Sir Russell, this is Link” the Marshal said. “He has a desire to become a Marshal.”

 

“The Sheriff of Aboda? You've mentioned him often enough” the Faron Ranger said.

 

Sir Russell was a relatively large man with a fairly deep voice and very broad shoulders. His hair was exactly the same colour blonde that Link's was. Sir Russell wore a finely trimmed, blonde beard that stretched the length of his face. He was dressed exactly the same as the Marshals with two exceptions.

 

He wore a blue, collared shirt and a matching vest. He wore a wide-brimmed hat of similar colour but those weren't what distinguished him from the Marshals. On the left side of his chest was a gleaming, golden badge in the shape of two crossed swords. On his belt, he had a pistol on his right hip but, carrying on the knight's tradition from generations past, he wore a brilliant silver sword on his left hip. This was a personal gift from the king when he had been knighted.

 

He looked Link up and down when he entered the room.

 

“You're loaded for war, Sheriff. What's all that about?”

 

“My sister was kidnapped by the Bulblins. I aim to get her back.”

 

The Ranger thought about this for a moment.

 

“So you're here to do that fully within the law. Why not just hunt them all down anyway? I won't stop you.”

 

“That is exactly what I intend to do if you deny me. But I know the way the law works. I'm just a Sheriff of Aboda. If I operate outside my jurisdiction, I know you Rangers and the Marshals will hunt me down. I'm not interested in killing lawmen who get in my way. I've done enough wrongs in my life and that is not something I could live with.”

 

The Ranger was intrigued by Link's boldness.

 

“You would kill lawmen to save your sister?”

 

Link spoke darkly.

 

“She is the only family I have left. I would do whatever it takes to get her back. If you deny me then you may need to prepare to lose a few men.”

 

The Ranger chuckled slightly.

 

“What makes you think I would accept you with talk like that?”

 

It was then that Link pulled Bellum's gun and bandana from his pocket and handed them to the Ranger.

 

“I think you'll accept me because I'm better at hunting Bulblins than any of your Marshals. Maybe even the Rangers.”

 

The Ranger inspected the gun Link had handed him and then looked at the green bandana. He held up the gun and spoke to Link.

 

“Bellum's gun. He would never give it to anybody-”

 

“Unless he was dead” Link said, finishing Sir Russell's sentence.

 

The Ranger smiled and put the gun and bandana down on the Marshal's desk.

 

“I like your spirit, Link. That and proof of Bellum's death is more than enough to convince me.”

 

He led Link to another room at the back of the office and pulled a badge out of a locked box. The badge was gold, the same colour as the Ranger's, but it instead was the shape of a bird with its wings spread and a star above its head.

 

“With the power granted to me by  Chancellor Oshus and the great King Daphnes, I name you a Marshal of Castle Town and grant you the legal power that the title carries with it.”

 

Link accepted the badge and pinned it to his shirt, under his duster, on the left side of his chest. The Ranger led Link back to the Marshal's office.

 

“I wish you luck on your journey, Link. I must tell you that what you plan is clearly insane for one man to handle. I do hope you find some help on the way. If you have need of me, write to me and I will do what I can to find you and help in whatever way I can.”

 

“Thank you, Sir Russell.”

 

The Faron Ranger left the office and the two Marshals were alone once again. The Marshal gave some advice to Link.

 

“He's right you know. It's crazy for you to do this on your own. I have an idea. If you take the train a couple of stations from here you'll come to a place called Linebeck Trading. Go inside and ask for the owner. He might be a trader now but he is still a dead eye with any gun you give him and the best tracker I ever met.”

 

“What's his name?”

 

“It's in the name of his business. His name's Linebeck. He may not be fast but I've seen him hit targets from impossible distances. That and, like I said, you won't find a better tracker in the country.”

 

Link was hesitant.

 

“How do I know he'll help me?”

 

The Marshal smiled wryly.

 

“Well normally, he wouldn't. He's a bit of a greedy, arrogant, little man. He's also a bit of a coward but he'll do the right thing at the end of the day. Anyway, I saved his life. Twice in fact. He told me he owes me for it and that if I should ever need anything I should just ask.”

 

The Marshal quickly got out a piece of paper and pulled a pen from its inkwell. He quickly scrawled something on it and handed it to Link.

 

“Tell him Marshal LaFaron is calling in the favour and hand him this. Rest assured, he'll help you.”

 

“Thank you, Colin. I expect I'll see you again.”

 

“Yes you will, Link. I promised you after all and I am a man of my word.”

 

Link tipped the brim of his hat and left the office. He decided not to take the train but instead fetched his horse and opted to follow the Spirit Tracks to Linebeck Trading. He climbed into the saddle and rode out of Castle Town.

 

 

 

 

 

            As Link rode he spotted something in the distance. There was a man, a large man, laying face first on the ground. As Link approached he could see a green bandana clearly around his neck. It stood out from the rest of his black attire.

 

Link reached him and climbed down from his horse. He grabbed the shotgun at his back and rolled the man over, put a foot on the man's chest, and pointed the shotgun at his head.

 

“You conscious?” he asked firmly.

 

The man groaned and opened his eyes. He could see the blurry figure of a man pointing a gun at him.

 

“Conscious enough to see that shotgun you're pointing at me.”

 

Link suddenly felt a surge of heat on the back of his left hand. He winced and nearly dropped his shotgun. The man on the ground did the same, reaching for his right hand.

 

“What the hell was that?” Link asked, pointing the gun at the man again. “Talk, Bulblin.”

 

The man's vision had cleared and saw who it was that stood over him now. He chuckled slightly.

 

“Now isn't this a picture” he said. “You're supposed to be dead. Instead, you put one of my best boys in the ground. What a damn fool that Bellum was.”

 

Link realized then just who he was standing over.

 

“Ganon? What the hell happened to you?”

 

Ganon groaned again as Link glared down at him.

 

“Let me up and I'll explain.”

 

“Why would I do that? How do I know you won't try and shoot me?”

 

“I know your reputation, Sheriff. Well, I guess it's Marshal now, judging by that badge. Besides, I'm unarmed.”

 

Link still wouldn't move.

 

“What if I were to just put a shell right between your eyes? I'd end everything right here and now.”

 

Ganon chuckled again.

 

“Because I got two boys just waiting to step up and replace me.  Well, one now. That and I'm the only one who can stop the war that's about to start.”

 

“War? What war?”

 

“Like I said, let me up.”

 

Link stepped off of Ganon's chest and allowed him to stand, all the while keeping his shotgun trained on him.

 

“Explain yourself” Link said when Ganon had finally stood up.

 

Link was surprised that Ganon stood a full head taller than him.

 

“Malladus, one of my best. He turned on me. He and a group of about fifteen others just attacked me while we were travelling back to the desert. He said he wants to start his own gang. They were headed up toward Anouki Town.”

 

While he told Link all of this, an idea struck him.

 

“As a result, I have a proposition for you.”

 

“Proposition? You want to strike a deal? With me, a lawman? What the hell makes you think I'll accept?”

 

“The fact that Malladus is a wild card and will murder and pillage and the Gods only know what else. He'll do it far more than my boys did under my command. We killed people, yes, we stole from people but we never just massacred entire villages for the sake of it.”

 

Link was silent for a while before speaking.

 

“You want me to hunt Malladus for you? Why? What do you stand to gain from it?”

 

Ganon sighed.

 

“I really don't need someone like Malladus on my mind. He promised me that he'd kill any of my gang that he found. I really can't afford to have that. So that is where I need you.”

 

“Why don't you kill him yourself?” Link asked.

 

“For similar reasons. I'd need a group of my boys and I've lost enough to Malladus already. At least if I send you in I lose nothing if you die.”

 

Link was silent again and thought about what he would say next.

 

“What about me? What do I gain from doing this?”

 

“Now that's the question, isn't it? This is the part that gets interesting.”

 

Link narrowed his eyes. He didn't like where this was going.

 

“See, I've got this power here and I now know that you've got it too. So you and I will meet again at some point. I need all three pieces.”

 

“Pieces of what?”

 

“The Triforce.”

 

Link felt the power of the word as it hit him though he didn't understand what was so significant about this 'Triforce.' He'd read the word in a history book once. He learned that its power had been lost for centuries. He never really understood exactly what the Triforce was.

 

“Is that why you've been kidnapping young women with pointed ears?”

 

Ganon nodded.

 

“You're catching on. I'm looking for the piece called 'Wisdom.' I've already got 'Power' and I can see that, somehow, you got 'Courage'.”

 

Link didn't understand what any of it meant but he knew that whatever these three pieces of the Triforce did, it wouldn't be very good if it were in Ganon's hands. Ganon continued.

 

“See, I know that we just took your sister away and that's why you became a Marshal. You want to hunt us down. So I propose to you that once I determine whether she has the Triforce of Wisdom or not, I'll send her back to you in Aboda unharmed.”

 

“What happens if I refuse?” Link asked.

 

“Well, I don't necessarily harm them, I let the desert do that for me. I turn them loose in the middle of nowhere and let them find their own way home and it's a dangerous world out there” Ganon said with a smile.

 

Link did not answer. Ganon decided to push it even further.

 

“All right, I'll sweeten the deal. I aim to gain control of this entire country. I'll do away with laws and lawmen and kings and chancellors and all that other bullshit that holds this country back. I plan to grant amnesty to a few people. The boys in my gang are included in that. If you do this for me and hand over your Triforce of Courage willingly, I will grant amnesty to you and your sister.”

 

Link's eyes widened at this. He could not believe what was happening.

 

“Whatever you two need, you'll get. We'll never bother you and you'll both live a peaceful life, as long as you stay out of my way. What do you say to that?”

 

Link didn't know what to do. Ganon was asking him to hunt down former members of the Bulblins. They would be even worse on the people of New Hyrule than the Bulblins ever were. Link knew that he had to hunt them down anyway. He couldn't just ignore his duty and the vow he had made to Bellum.

 

If he did his duty, though, he'd be doing exactly what Ganon wanted. He'd be effectively doing Ganon's bidding. He didn't know what to say.

 

“I'm not working for you” he said.

 

“You're going to let innocent people die? Is that what you want?”

 

“No, I'm not going to let them die. I'm going to hunt Malladus down but I'm not doing it for you.”

 

“See, you say that but, in the end, you're still doing what I want.”

 

Link was stunned. He never imagined that Ganon was this clever. Link was also feeling ashamed of himself because, even though he knew it was not the right thing to do, he was very badly tempted by Ganon's offer.

 

If he could guarantee safety for Aryll, and do anything to get it, then this deal Ganon proposed seemed as though it would be perfect. He shook off those thoughts, though, and turned his attention back to Ganon. The outlaw smiled.

 

“You're tempted, aren't you? I'm giving you everything you want.”

 

Link paused before speaking.

 

“I'm still not doing it for you.”

 

“Even though you say that, I'll still take it that way. Your sister will be brought back to Aboda safely. You will both be granted amnesty, as long as you give me your Triforce willingly. Also, if you ever need my help, you know where to find me.”

 

“In the desert, I know.”

 

Ganon was about to turn to leave when he turned back and spoke again to Link.

 

“By the way, even though I can be injured, your shotgun wouldn't have killed me. Because of my Triforce, there is nothing that can. So even if you had wanted to blow my head off, it wouldn't have worked.”

 

Link didn't believe him but doubt still lingered in the back of his mind.

 

Ganon tipped the brim of his hat.

 

“Until we meet again, Marshal.”

 

 

 

 

 

            The meeting with Ganon had shaken Link. He felt horribly ashamed that he was still tempted by Ganon's offer. What if he could provide the solution?

 

Link strove to keep Aryll safe as long as he would live. The rest of his family had already fallen to pieces so Aryll's safety was the most important thing in the world to him.

 

He had finally reached a train station that read “Linebeck Trading.” Link rode straight to the front door and tied his horse to a hitch. He pushed open the swinging doors to the store and entered. He met the eyes of a man behind the counter.

 

The man had long, light brown hair. He wore no hat on his head, something rather uncommon for men to do in that particular era of New Hyrule history, though it was far from unheard of.

 

He also had a very thin beard and separate moustache, which was equally thin. He was rather well dressed for a shopkeeper, wearing a white, collared shirt with a red bow tie and light blue vest. His tailcoat was a darker blue with large cuffs. He gave Link a sly smile when he entered.

 

“Welcome friend. This is Linebeck Trading. It's a family business that's been run for centuries. I am Linebeck VI. What can I help you with?”

 

Link was wary of the sly, scheming tone with which Linebeck spoke. He reached into the inside pocket of his duster and pulled out Marshal LaFaron's letter.

 

“My name is Link. I am a Castle Town Marshal. I've come to request your services as a marksman and tracker.”

 

Linebeck chuckled.

 

“I'm afraid I don't do that anymore. I run this business now.”

 

Linebeck noticed the letter in Link's hand.

 

'What's that about?”

 

Link smiled.

 

“Marshal LaFaron sends his regards. He also says he's calling in a favour you owe him?”

 

The smile instantly left Linebeck's face as he snatched the letter from Link's hand. He quickly read it over.

 

“He can't be serious. He wants me to help you take down the Bulblins?”

 

Link nodded.

 

“I'm afraid so. See, my sister was kidnapped by Ganon and my goal is to get her back and take down every last one of those bastards.”

 

Linebeck couldn't believe what he was hearing.

 

“Are you insane!? What the hell is wrong with your brain? You'll get killed on your own!”

 

“Well, why do you think I'm here?”

 

Linebeck knew very well why Link was here but he was not interested in dying over someone else's crusade. Still, Marshal LaFaron was a man he owed a great deal to and he knew he could never live with himself if he turned Link away.

 

Linebeck had no right to refuse Marshal LaFaron. He made a promise and, even though he knew he had little courage to speak of, he had to do it for the Marshal.

 

“Fine” Linebeck said reluctantly.

 

“Let me get some things ready and I'll be right outside with my horse.”

 

Linebeck was about to start gathering up his supplies when he stopped.

 

“I will need to be compensated for this, you know.”

 

Link smiled again.

 

“Of course, Linebeck. You will be greatly rewarded for your efforts. There's a hefty bounty out for most of these men. I'll let you keep the payment for them all. How does that sound?”

 

Linebeck's eyes sparkled. The thought of all that money and the glory to go right along with it gave him an adrenaline rush. He was suddenly very excited to get going.

 

“Well? What are you waiting for? Are you scared or something? Come on! There's bounties to collect!”

 

Link laughed at Linebeck's sudden change of heart. As soon as there are riches to be had, Linebeck is all for doing everything he can.

 

Within minutes Linebeck had gathered everything he needed, including his rifle and revolver. He saddled up his horse started leaving before Link had even climbed back into the saddle of his horse.

 

“Come on, slowpoke! There's Bulblins to hunt down! Don't be scared, I'll be right by your side!”

 

Link laughed again as he climbed into the saddle.

 

“You do have an active imagination” Link said.

 

Linebeck was about to take off again when he realized something.

 

“Uh, where are we going, exactly?” he asked.

 

Link chuckled.

 

“We're headed toward Anouki Town. Malladus was headed up that way. He split off from the Bulblins and is trying to form his own gang. We'll start there.”

 

Linebeck's expression changed again from joy to fright.

 

“Malladus? Isn't he the crazy one?”

 

“That he is, Linebeck. We'll need to be careful. Come on, I'll lead us there.”

 

“That would be best” Linebeck said nervously.

 

Link and Linebeck rode side by side on a northern heading. This began a long and strange friendship between two very different men.

 

 

 

 

 

            By nightfall of their third day travelling, Link and Linebeck had crossed the border into the northern Anouki Province. They were just outside of Anouki Town, having entered a graveyard. Linebeck had tracked Malladus to this point.

 

Link and Linebeck had left their horses at the gate and were moving through the graveyard on foot. As they walked, snow began lightly falling, adding to the powdery coating that already covered the ground. As they moved, Link stopped them.

 

“What? Why are we stopping?” Linebeck asked.

 

Link shushed him as he stood silently and listened.

 

“I hear digging” he said. “And voices. I think they're here.”

 

They moved further into the graveyard and eventually saw Malladus watching six outlaws dig up various graves.

 

One of them had stopped and was saying something to Malladus. Suddenly and without warning, Malladus drew his revolver and a loud shot echoed across the silent night. The man collapsed as Malladus' gun smoked. He had shot the man right between the eyes.

 

“Does anyone else want to question me and tell me that there's no gold in this graveyard?”

 

There was nothing but silence to answer him back.

 

“Keep digging!” he bellowed.

 

Link and Linebeck looked at each other.

 

“Grave robbing? In the tundra like this? He really is crazy” Linebeck said. “There isn't actually any gold buried here, is there?”

 

Link shook his head.

 

“Of course there isn't. Not in the Anouki Province. It's just not how they do things. The Anouki have never buried gold with their dead.”

 

Linebeck shook his head.

 

“So he's made up some legend about Anouki gold in his head. He's more than just crazy. He's full bore, lunatic, insane!”

 

Link was staring out at the men, plotting.

 

“What is it?” Linebeck said, noticing Link's concentration.

 

Link counted the number of men and noticed the numbers were well short of what Ganon had said.

 

“There's supposed to be fifteen men with Malladus. Well, I guess it's only fourteen now. There are only five with him over there. That means there are nine missing. We'll have our work cut out for us.”

 

Link looked to their right and noticed a church. The windows showed light from the inside.

 

“I think they may be in that church. At least some of them are, most likely.”

 

Link took another long pause as he surveyed their surroundings. He noticed a rather tall mausoleum not too far from where they were. It would make an excellent vantage point for someone who was a crack shot.

 

“Linebeck” he said finally. “I'm going to boost you up to the roof of that mausoleum. Use that rifle of yours to pick them off if and when I get into trouble. I'm going after them head on. Keep your eye on the church, too, because I plan to draw them out.”

 

Linebeck stared at Link as though he were a madman.

 

“Don't look at me like that” Link said. “We'll be fine, trust me. I've been doing this stuff for years.”

 

They made their way to the mausoleum and Link boosted Linebeck up onto the roof. Before he left, he whispered up to him.

 

“Linebeck.” The man peered over the edge of the roof at Link.

 

“Make your shots count.”

 

Linebeck scoffed at Link.

 

“Please, who do you think I am? You might even learn a thing or two.”

 

Link did not respond to this and simply moved toward the group of outlaws. He found a particularly large headstone and crouched behind it. He waved a hand to Linebeck who waved back. They were ready.

 

Link took a deep breath and stepped out from behind the headstone. He called out to Malladus.

 

“Malladus! The Castle Town Marshals have come for you.”

 

The outlaw turned and saw Link standing beside a large headstone and quickly looked around to see if there was anyone else.

 

“Marshals? I only see one, law dog. You must be touched in the head to come after us all by your lonesome.”

 

Link steadied his left hand over his  holster as Malladus spoke and calmly answered back.

 

“We have the graveyard surrounded. I wouldn't suggest trying anything.”

 

Malladus grabbed the arm of one of the outlaws and pushed him forward.

 

“Zant” he said as he pushed him “Waste this dumb bastard.”

 

The outlaw called Zant reached for his gun and as soon as he did, a shot rang out and he hit the snow-covered earth. Link had drawn his pistol and fired faster than the man could even react.

 

A second man reached for the gun at his hip and he managed to pull it from his holster before the blast of a rifle was heard. A bullet tore through the man's skull and he, too, fell to the ground. Malladus and the three men remaining with him took cover behind various headstones.

 

“Come out here, boys! We've got trouble!” Malladus called out.

 

Link ducked behind the large headstone he stood beside and listened in the direction of the church. Sure enough, he could hear the door open and the footsteps of several men. After that, he heard two rifle shots in quick succession. He leaned out from behind the headstone and saw two men laying on the ground.

 

One was dead from a shot to his head and the other had taken a shot in the shoulder. He lay on the ground bleeding and it was clear that he was out of the fight. Link was impressed. Linebeck had already taken three outlaws.

 

Link watched and saw that every remaining man with Malladus had come out of the church. One of them spotted him leaning out from behind cover. He already had his pistol drawn and took a shot at Link. He quickly ducked back behind the headstone and the bullet harmlessly grazed the edge of the stone.

 

Just after getting back behind cover, he heard another shot from Linebeck's rifle and heard the man who shot at him hit the ground. It was then that Malladus caught on to Linebeck's location.

 

“Up there on the mausoleum, boys. Fire up there!”

 

Every man from the church turned and spotted Linebeck and he was soon under heavy fire. He crawled backwards off the roof and dropped in behind the mausoleum to escape the hailstorm of bullets.

 

Link suddenly jumped out from behind cover and, drawing the revolver on his right hip, began firing both at the men by the church. After a rapid succession of five shots, another of the outlaws fell. Link then bolted for the mausoleum and was quickly beside Linebeck.

 

Link looked at Linebeck's terrified face.

 

“How many are left?” he asked.

 

Linebeck hesitated but managed to remember.

 

“Nine, including Malladus” he said.

 

Link nodded and proceeded to lean out from behind the mausoleum. He was greeted with a gunshot and quickly ducked in behind the mausoleum again.

 

“I can't tell how many are coming at us.”

 

Linebeck started panicking.

 

“Well, what do we do?” he asked, frantically.

 

“We can't stay here. Our best chance is to take cover in the church.”

 

Linebeck was incredulous.

 

“What!? We'll get shot to pieces before we even get there!”

 

Link reloaded the chambers of his revolvers and turned to look at Linebeck.

 

“I'll go out first and give you some cover fire. You need to holster that rifle and run as fast as you can to the church. Wait for me there.”

 

Linebeck shook his head. He still thought this was crazy but he decided it was better if they moved rather than staying here.

 

“Ready?” Link asked.

 

Linebeck nodded.

 

“Alright, go!”

 

Link bolted from behind the mausoleum with Linebeck in tow.

 

He fired several shots at the outlaws as he ran for cover behind a tree that stood between the mausoleum and the church. The shots distracted the outlaws enough for Linebeck to run past them unscathed. He was almost to the church.

 

Link was now behind the tree and leaned out to take another couple of pot shots at the outlaws. When he ducked back behind the tree his heart sank as he counted how many outlaws he had seen. He only counted seven, including Malladus. There were two unaccounted for and Link could guess where they were.

 

Just as he was about to call out and warn Linebeck he heard one of the outlaws call for Malladus.

 

“Boss! We got us one of the law dogs, like you said we would.”

 

Malladus grinned and called out to Link.

 

“We got your boy over here, Marshal. I didn't see anyone else out there with you so I'm guessing you're all that's left. Holster your weapons and come out.”

 

Link quickly reloaded his revolvers and holstered them. He breathed deeply as he stepped out and faced the outlaws. Two of them were holding guns to Linebeck's head standing just in front of the church entrance.

 

Malladus continued speaking to Link.

 

“You sure got us pretty good. But it's all over now.”

 

Link stealthily reached behind him and unsheathed his hunting knife. None of the men noticed.

 

“Come over here. Slowly.”

 

Link took several careful steps toward the outlaws, concealing the knife in his hand. Malladus shoved one of his men forward.

 

“Take his guns” he said.

 

As the man approached, Link readied himself. Linebeck caught the look in his eye and shook his head. No, he thought. Please don't try anything.

 

The man stopped in front of Link and reached for his gun belt. In one swift motion, Link stabbed the man in the side of the throat and quickly shoved him toward Malladus. The man hit him and they both tumbled into the snow.

 

Link then quickly turned to the two men beside Linebeck and drew his left revolver, firing two lightning fast shots, hitting both men square in the forehead. They both dropped to the ground and Linebeck made a dash for the church.

 

This time, Linebeck made it inside and held the door open for Link.

 

“Come on, hurry!” he shouted.

 

Link drew his right revolver and fired two more shots at Malladus' men, hitting one of them in the chest. He then made his dash for the church and made it inside. Linebeck slammed the door shut and lowered the door bar to barricade themselves in. He turned to Link, incredulous.

 

“Trust me, he says. I've done this before, he says. Why in holy hell did I agree to come with you?”

 

“You're still alive, aren't you? Come on, draw one of your damn guns and watch the back window.”

Link stood at the door as Linebeck turned around and gasped.

 

“By all the Spirits of Good...” he said.

 

Link turned around to see what Linebeck was talking about and his eyes narrowed at the sight.

 

The Anouki grave keeper and monk who lived here were laying in front of the altar in a pool of blood. Their antlers had been cut off and it was clear that Malladus had tried to remove their heads as well but clearly did not have the proper tools to do it and so gave up. Malladus had also written a message in their blood on the walls but it was entirely illegible.

 

“Poor bastards...” Linebeck said.

 

“This why they all need to go down.”

 

They suddenly heard the voice of Malladus calling to them from the front of the church.

 

“This needs to end, law dogs. If you give it up now I promise I'll kill you quickly.”

 

Link and Linebeck turned to look at each other.

 

“Hear that, Linebeck? Malladus says he'll kill us quickly.”

 

Linebeck scoffed.

 

“Well, I'm honoured he would have such respect.”

 

Link motioned for Linebeck to cover the back windows behind the altar. When he was in position, Link holstered his two revolvers and pulled the double-barreled shotgun from his back.

 

“All right, Malladus. We're coming out.”

 

“Don't try anything this time” Malladus said, angrily.

 

Link lifted the door bar and started opening the door slowly. After opening it about a foot, he surged forward and raised his shotgun. He fired each shell at two men standing on either side of Malladus, dropping them as well. He then rushed Malladus himself and swung the stock of his shotgun at his head, knocking him to the ground.

 

Linebeck heard two men outside the windows behind the altar. The first one tried to climb in but was blasted away by a shot from Linebeck's revolver. The second man managed to get in and had just raised his gun to Linebeck when a second shot rang out. The outlaw dropped dead on the floor of the church.

 

Link stood over Malladus, having knocked him unconscious. He looked to Linebeck who exited the church proudly and surveyed the scene.

 

“That's all of them” he said.

 

“Where's that one you wounded in the shoulder? Find him and take him to your horse. We're taking these two back to Castle Town alive.”

 

Linebeck was confused.

 

“Alive? Why would we do that?”

 

“You've never been a bounty hunter before, have you? Bringing these two back alive means a bigger payout, especially for Malladus.”

 

Linebeck's eyes shone as he remembered Link's promise to let him keep all of the bounty money.

 

“Really? Interesting. I'll be happy to accept a bigger payout if that's the case.”

 

Link and Linebeck collected all the guns and put them into a sack. There were no green bandanas as these outlaws had disavowed their ties to the Bulblins.

 

Linebeck found the wounded man and dragged him back to his horse.

 

Before Link had even made it back to his horse with Malladus, Linebeck was already sitting in the saddle, waiting.

 

“Boy, you sure are slow. I've been waiting here for ages. Come on, pick up the pace! That bounty won't collect itself.”

 

Link heaved Malladus onto the back of his horse and tied him to the saddle.

 

“Let's get going then” Link said with a smile.

 

After their astounding victory, Linebeck was feeling very pleased with himself and couldn't wait for the payout from these bounties.

 

Link shook his head at the prideful grin on Linebeck's face as he spurred his horse and led Linebeck back toward Castle Town.

 

 

 

 

 

            The man sitting at the front desk of the office of the Marshals was busy reading some documents. He sat silently and no sounds could be heard other than the large clock behind him ticking loudly away. The ticking of the clock almost lulled him into a sleepy trance but he was focussed on his task.

 

He was startled when a man thrust the door open. He approached his desk, carrying a sack over his left shoulder. The man recognized the newest Marshal from Aboda.

 

“Afternoon, Marshal” he said. “What do you need?”

 

“I need to see the Ranger.”

 

“I'm sorry but even Marshals need to book an appointment with Sir Russell. He's a very busy man.”

 

Link dropped the sack from his shoulder.

 

“I'm afraid this can't wait.”

 

“I'm sorry, Marshal, but it has to.”

 

Link picked the sack up and flipped it over, spilling it's contents onto the desk. There were sixteen guns spread across the desk, though a few had slid off and clattered on the floor.

 

The man looked confused.

 

“What is this supposed to mean?”

 

“This means sixteen former Bulblins who had split off to form their own gang won't be bothering anyone anymore. This is sixteen men wanted by the Castle Town Marshals. Don't believe me? We've even got two of them alive, including someone I'm sure you'll recognize.”

 

Link turned to the door.

 

“Linebeck? Come in here please.”

 

Linebeck proudly marched the two wounded Bulblins into the office. The man behind the desk stood up when he saw the man standing to Linebeck's left. He backed away slightly at the sight of him.

 

“M-Malladus!” he stammered.

 

He looked at Link in awe.

 

“The reports had only just come in about Malladus betraying Ganon and heading north. I was just reading them. You've already got them?”

 

Link nodded.

 

“And you mean to tell me that just two men killed fourteen and captured two?”

 

Linebeck nodded this time.

 

The man could hardly speak as he reached for the telephone at his desk.

 

“I'll get the Ranger” he said.

 

Linebeck beamed as the man made the call. Link walked back to the door and leaned on the wall next to the doorway, waiting for the Faron Ranger.

 

It didn't take Sir Russell long to arrive. He had to see for himself what all this crazy talk was about. When he entered he spotted Malladus immediately.

 

“By the gods” he said.

 

When he entered he heard a voice from his left.

 

“Nice to see you again, Sir Russell.”

 

The Ranger turned and saw Link, a man who had become a Marshal only a week earlier, leaning against the wall.

 

“You? I knew you were bold but this...”

 

He turned to the front desk and saw the pile of guns. He then turned to Linebeck standing next to the two Bulblins. He could not believe his own eyes.

 

“Two men, charging into Anouki territory to take on sixteen and not only coming out alive but having killed fourteen and captured two. It seems this wasn't a fairytale after all.”

 

He turned back to Link.

 

“You and your friend are sure to become legends for this” he said.

 

Link shrugged.

 

“It means nothing to me whether I'm a legend or not. I just need to hunt Bulblins and get my sister back.”

 

The Ranger turned to the man at the desk.

 

“Get some of the prison guards down here. We need to find cells for these two.”

 

The man nodded and picked up his telephone.

 

“Now, as for you” he said, speaking to Link and Linebeck.

 

“A generous payout awaits you both. I trust you'll be splitting it in half?”

 

Link shook his head and stepped away from the wall.

 

“No, Sir Russell. It all goes to him” he said, indicating Linebeck.

 

“What? There is no way you weren't involved in this. You've earned at least half.”

 

“We had an agreement” Link said “he gets all of the payouts 100 percent.”

 

He turned to leave and clapped Linebeck on the shoulder.

 

“You can handle it from here, can't you?”

 

Linebeck scoffed.

 

“Are you kidding? I live for moments like this.”

 

Link chuckled and opened the door.

 

“I'll be waiting for you by the horses” he said.

 

 He stepped outside and closed it behind him, leaving the Ranger and Linebeck alone in the office. He then walked away toward the town gates.

 

He stopped when he noticed something. There was a wanted poster on the wall of a hardware store. He immediately recognized the man's face. The man's name was Stirling “King” Bulbo.

 

Link's memory flashed back to that day on his uncle's porch. He could see the smoke pass through his uncle's chest, watching him fall to the ground, never to get up again.

 

He remembered the pain of his parents' loss. He saw the man who raised a pistol to gun him down. He could hear the blast of Cal's rifle, the whinny of a horse, and a cry of pain. He saw the man fall from his saddle, kicking up dust around him.

 

The face on this poster was that very same man. The man who almost killed him. The man who Cal had gunned down, saving Link's life.

 

Apparently he survived his encounter with Cal and was now wanted for armed robbery, still a member of the Bulblins. He was last seen in Papuchia, the capital of Lanayru Province.

 

This face was the face Link associated with all of the pain of his past. This was the one man he wanted to see suffer and die over and over again. Link folded the poster and put it in the pocket of his duster.

 

As soon as Linebeck caught up with him, Link knew which Bulblin they'd be hunting down next.

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

            When Link first told Linebeck what they were doing, he was incredulous.

 

“What!? We've only just come back and we barely survived the last one! Are you sure you're not insane?”

 

Link's eyes darkened as he stared at Linebeck. His tone was very serious and Linebeck felt a chill from Link's cold eyes.

 

“This one cannot wait. We are taking him down and he will suffer. If you're not man enough for it then just go home. I'll just have to remind Colin what a damn coward you are!”

 

Linebeck felt the sting of Link's words and took exception to them. There was a pause as Link expected an answer.

 

“Well?”

 

Linebeck met Link with his own cold stare.

 

“I may be many things but I'm no coward. I made a promise to you and Colin and I intend to keep it. I never said I wouldn't go with you” Linebeck answered angrily.

 

Link nodded and then took off with his horse headed toward Papuchia and the Lanayru Province to the east.

 

It wasn't until after four days of travelling, including a ride on a ferry to the island Papuchia sat on, that they spoke again. They could now see Papuchia on the horizon and watched as the sun descended into the horizon.

 

Sitting in the camp they had made, Linebeck finally asked Link the question he'd been meaning to ask Link for days.

 

“What exactly is it about this guy, anyway?”

 

Link was kneeling next to the fire he'd made, staring into it. He did not look up when he spoke.

 

“He's a Bulblin, Linebeck. That's all you need to know.”

 

Linebeck rolled his eyes.

 

“Yes, I know he's a Bulblin. I'm asking what it is about him, specifically, that has you so riled up like a man on the path of vengeance.”

 

Link closed his eyes and took a deep breath. This time he looked up from the fire when he spoke to Linebeck.

 

“Like I said, he's a Bulblin. He's an outlaw. A thief and a murderer. We hunt him down because we must uphold the law. That is all you need to know” Link said with a touch of anger to his voice.

 

He wasn't interested in discussing his past with Linebeck.

 

Linebeck decided to let the issue go and did not bring it up again.

 

It was morning when Link and Linebeck awoke to gunshots somewhere nearby. They both quickly grabbed their gun belts and drew their pistols.

 

Link carefully watched the horizon in the direction he had heard the shots come from. He spotted a man on a horse, running fast from something. He watched behind him and two other men about 30 feet behind pursued him. He could not make out any more details.

 

It was then that the man out in front made a turn and was headed straight toward their camp.

 When they started getting closer, he could hear one of the two chasing men shout at the fleeing man.

 

“You thieving bastard! Get back here with that horse if you don't want to die.”

 

The man riding next to the one doing the shouting noticed Link watching him. He shouted toward Link.

 

“He's a horse thief! Stop him!” he shouted, pointing to the man riding in front of them.

 

Link watched as the man turned and fired two shots from his pistol. Both shots hit the riders and they tumbled to the ground, gravely wounded. Link stepped into the path of the man and the charging horse.

 

“Get out of the way or I'll run you down!” he called.

 

Link ignored him and waited until the man and the horse were very close. He then quickly drew and fired. He didn't hit anything but the ground in front of the horse but the shot had the desired effect.

 

The shot startled the horse, causing it to jump to it's hind legs in fright, boxing the air. The horse's sudden, wild movement caused the man to fall to the ground. The horse finally dropped back down to his forelegs and ran swiftly away.

 

Link holstered his gun and approached the man and noticed the green bandana hanging loosely around his neck.

 

“You son of a bitch! I almost got away with it! Why didn't you just mind your business?”

 

After taking the man's gun and throwing it away, Link stared down at the man's face and removed the poster from his pocket. When he compared the two, he noticed that the man who was now laying on the ground in front of him was older but most definitely the same man.

 

“Stirling Bulbo?” Link said, coldly.

 

“That's 'King” Bulbo to you, bastard!” the outlaw spat. “Wait, how do you know my name?”

 

Link was silent as he suddenly reached down and grabbed the man by the scruff of the neck. He picked him up off the ground and held him close to his face, glaring into his eyes.

 

“You ran with Bellum in Faron about 20 years ago, did you not?” he said, quietly.

 

'King' Bulbo was not impressed.

 

“So what if I did? What does that matter to you?”

 

“Do you remember a particular house Bellum had you attack in Whittleton? Two boys stood on the porch to defend it. You gunned down a man who was running and trying to warn them. You raised your gun to one of the boys. The other shot you, saving the other boy's life. But, because there is no justice in this world, you survived.”

 

The outlaw seemed confused.

 

“You mean the family that Bellum sent us to kill? The one related to that guy who had the store in Aboda? What the hell do you bring that up for?”

 

Link threw the man to the ground and stood over him. He stepped on the man's throat, choking him.

 

Linebeck watched all of this in shock.

 

“Tell me you don't remember my face!” Link said, enraged.

 

The outlaw's vision was beginning to blacken as he couldn't get a breath. Link stepped off his throat and the man coughed and sputtered. When he managed to get his breath back, he looked up at Link.

 

“Who the hell are you? I can see that you're a Marshal” he said hoarsely, pointing to Link's badge. “But Marshals don't act like this.”

 

Link bent down and grabbed the man again, delivering a swift punch to the side of his face, knocking him to the ground again.

 

Link 's breath was heavy from the rage that had boiled up from inside him.

 

“Look at my face!” Link shouted. “What do you see there?”

 

The outlaw, still laying on the ground, looked up at Link's face. He studied it for a long while before his memory finally found something.

 

“You were that kid on the porch. That one I almost shot. But that other bastard got a lucky shot in and knocked me off my horse.”

 

'King” Bulbo then finally understood why Link was doing what he was doing.

 

“I was just doing what I was told” he said, pleading with Link.

 

Link bent down and punched the man several more times before shoving him to the ground again. He stood up and glared down at the man.

 

“You're the second dead man to tell me that. Bellum was the first.”

 

The man was now battered and terrified.

 

“Don't kill me, please. I'll give up being an outlaw. I'll go with you to Castle Town, hell, I'll even turn myself in just don't kill me.”

 

Link drew the gun on his left hip. The man grew even more desperate.

 

“Please, I'll give you anything you want.”

 

Link ignored him and drew the gun on his right hip. He flipped it around, holding it by the barrel. He held it out to the outlaw.

 

“Don't let it be said that I left you with nothing” Link said.

 

'King' Bulbo was confused.

 

“What do you want me to do?”

 

“Holster it first” Link said coldly.

 

The outlaw did as he was told and grabbed the gun and then holstered it.

 

“Now get up.”

 

The outlaw didn't move. Link grabbed his arm and pulled him up roughly.

 

“I said up.”

 

Link then pointed straight ahead of him, toward the horizon.

 

“Walk until I tell you to stop. When I tell you to stop, turn around and face me.”

 

At first, 'King' Bulbo didn't move. Link shoved him forward.

 

“Walk” he said.

 

Link watched as Stirling 'King' Bulbo walked away from him. When there was about 40 feet between them, he called out.

 

“That's far enough.”

 

Linebeck was still in shock and felt he had to say something to Link.

 

“What the hell are you doing, Link?” he asked.

 

Link did not even face Linebeck. He focussed on his target and steadied his left hand over his pistol.

 

“Stay out of this, Linebeck.”

 

“Are you crazy?” he called back.

 

Link did not answer this time.

 

Link and 'King' Bulbo stared each other down. The outlaw was terrified. He had heard Link's name and realized who the boy he nearly gunned down had become. He was now staring down the fastest gun in New Hyrule.

 

Even in his terrified state, Bulbo was much more bold now that he had gun.

 

“I hear you're fast” he called out. “I bet I'm faster!”

 

Silence was his only answer.

 

The two stared each other down for what felt like ages. Link was patient as ever and the outlaw was losing his grip.

 

“Come on already! Draw and see if you can beat me!”

 

Link still did not speak as he stared and waited. Finally, Stirling 'King' Bulbo lost his patience.

 

“Fine, if you won't draw then I'll do what I couldn't do twenty years ago!”

 

'King' Bulbo reached for his gun and only just barely touched the handle when a bullet ripped through his chest. He hit the ground hard and lay there on the grassy plains of the island that housed Papuchia.

 

Linebeck could not believe what was happening.

 

Link walked toward the outlaw, still holding the gun in his left hand. When he reached him he heard him groan in pain. Bulbo was still alive. Linebeck finally chose to step in and he ran toward Link.

 

“Link, I think it's time we go. We should take him to Papuchia. I'm sure he's wanted there. We can take the bounty there and forget about this whole thing.”

 

Link looked up at Linebeck.

 

“By all rights I should leave him here to suffer and die on his own. Besides, he won't survive the trip to Papuchia. We'll collect his bounty there but we won't be taking him back.”

 

“So you're just going to leave him here to die?”

 

Link looked back down at the outlaw. He shook his head.

 

“No, Linebeck. It's something he and his kind would do. I'll end it quickly.”

 

Linebeck was relieved that Link had reconsidered but was surprised to see him raise his gun and point it at the outlaw's head.

 

“Link, what are you-” Linebeck was cut off by a gunshot.

 

Link ended Stirling 'King' Bulbo's suffering. He knelt down and removed his bandana. He removed the gun from Bulbo's holster and returned it to his own. He then turned to Linebeck, holstering his left gun as well.

 

“Go and find his gun. We'll take this proof back to Papuchia and you'll get your bounty there.”

 

“What about those two men he shot?”

 

“We'll check on them and if either of them are still alive we'll take them back, too. We'll have to try and gather up the three horses that are around here somewhere, too. Let's go.”

 

Link and Linebeck set to work. Linebeck found the outlaw's gun. When they checked on the two men who had been pursuing Bulbo they found that only one of them was still alive, though badly wounded.

 

They rounded up the two lawmen's horses as well as the stolen one and slowly made their way to Papuchia.

 

As they went, Linebeck stared at Link. He had seen a dark side to this lawman he had not expected to see. Even so, he trusted Link and would not waver from his promise to him. He just hoped he wouldn't see that dark side again.

 

 

 

 

 

            When Linebeck and Link finally reached Papuchia, people couldn't help but stop and stare at them as they rode into town. One in particular, a middle-aged woman who owned an orphanage, watched the two strangers with great interest. She focussed mostly on Link's left hand. When they passed she closed her eyes and breathed deep.

 

Link and Linebeck split up as Link headed to the Sheriff with the outlaw's gun and bandana as well as the stolen horse. Linebeck found the Doctor and helped the injured man inside.

 

“This man needs help” he said.

 

The doctor hurried over and helped Linebeck get him into one of the beds. The doctor examined the man carefully.

 

“Gunshot wound. Doesn't appear to have pierced any vital organs.”

 

He gently turned the man to look at his back.

 

“Bullet passed straight through him so we don't have to worry about that at least. How long has he been bleeding?” he asked Linebeck.

 

“I'm not sure. We picked him up about twenty minutes ago so, maybe half an hour?”

 

“I'll have to work quickly then. This man has lost a lot of blood. If I can seal the wound quick enough then he'll live; I'm sure of it.”

 

He waved a hand at Linebeck.

 

“Thank you for bringing him in. I can take it from here.”

 

Linebeck slowly left the doctor alone with his patient. He found Link in the Sheriff's office.

 

“I'm glad at least one of them made it back. Is he going to make it?”

 

The Sheriff was speaking to Link when Linebeck entered. He answered for Link.

 

“The doctor's looking after him right now. He's trying to seal up his wound right now but as far as I heard it looks like he'll make it.”

 

The Sheriff leaned back in his chair in relief. The two men who had chased after 'King' Bulbo were two of his deputies. He was fairly distraught over the death of the other man.

 

“Poor Anton. He was a good man.”

 

He stood up from his chair and walked over to Link. He picked up the gun Link had put on his desk and looked down at it when he spoke.

 

“At least you got the bastard who took him. You almost did that outlaw a kindness by killing him. You saved him from what I would have done to him.”

 

Linebeck shook his head. Were all lawmen this crazy and vengeful?

 

Link stared in silence as he remembered what he had done to Bulbo himself. The Papuchia Sheriff spoke again.

 

“I suppose I owe you gentlemen the bounty for Bulbo.”

 

“It all goes to him” Link said, nodding his head toward Linebeck. “That was our agreement.”

 

The Sheriff chose not to argue.

 

“Very well. If that is what you want.”

 

Link turned to leave but spoke to Linebeck before doing so.

 

“I'll be right outside when you're done and then we'll go check on that deputy.”

 

He stepped outside and walked around to the side. He leaned on the building and watched the town stir with activity. As he stood there, he heard a voice speak to him from behind.

 

“You're a fine lawman to take a Bulblin like that” it said.

 

It was the voice of a woman. Link turned around and saw a middle-aged woman standing there. In spite of her age, she was still spry and looked strong. Her hair had turned white but she still had some youth left in her face.

 

Her red tinted eyes bore into Link's, searching. Link stared right back at her, unflinching.

 

“It's my job. I am a Marshal” he said.

 

“I can see that” she said, pointing to Link's badge. “But I'm not interested in your badge.”

 

Link was becoming wary of this woman.

 

“Then what do you want? You must have a reason for speaking to me.”

 

She stared into his eyes in silence, searching once again. She stared for quite a long time until finally she seemed to find what she was looking for and spoke.

 

“You have done great deeds already, I can tell. You have faced many trials in your life and they will continue. They will only get harder from here.”

 

Link was not impressed.

 

“You could say that of anyone. What exactly are you trying to say? Are you some kind of fortune teller? I don't believe in that stupidity.”

 

She answered him sharply.

 

“Your courage is almost too strong, I feel, because it has made you headstrong and stubborn. I fear the old goddess Farore may have made a mistake in choosing you to bear the Triforce.”

 

Link snapped to attention at the mention of the word Triforce. It's the word Ganon had used to describe the mark on his hand. Link held up his left hand and displayed the back of it to the woman.

 

“You know about this? Do you understand what it means? Ganon has one too. So does a young woman somewhere in the country. What can you tell me?”

 

The woman smiled.

 

“So now you wish to hear what I have to say? What if I refuse?”

 

“You won't. You wouldn't still be here” Link replied.

 

Her smile grew wider.

 

“I see. You know this?”

 

Link nodded. She laughed.

 

“Of course you do. The Hero of our time would indeed know such things.”

 

“Oh, I'm no hero, ma'am. If you knew the things I'd done you wouldn't say that.”

 

The woman brushed this comment off and continued.

 

“You are the Hero and I can tell you how to find the bearer of the Triforce of Wisdom, the young woman Ganon is searching for. If you will come with me there is much for you to understand and to learn. I will take you to my orphanage. We can speak there.”

 

“Before we go” Link said “I ask that I know your name. I'm Link.”

 

She smiled again when she answered.

 

“Of course you are. That is always your name, Hero. My name is Impa.”

 

Link followed Impa back to the orphanage that she owned. They arrived at a rather large building and entered, stopping at a door near the back. Impa opened it and led Link inside.

 

She closed the door behind him and offered him a seat.

 

“No thank you, ma'am. I'd prefer to stand if you don't mind” he said.

 

“Whatever you wish, Hero.”

 

Link did not like that she kept calling him 'Hero'. He refused to consider himself one.

 

“Why do you keep calling me Hero? I already told you that I am not a hero in any way. Does it have to do with this?”

 

He held up his left hand and displayed the mark on the back of it.

 

“Do you know anything of our history, Link? What do you know of the ancient legends?”

 

Link was irritated that she did not answer his question but he decided that she would lead him to the answer he sought.

 

Impa walked to a bookshelf behind her, removing a very large book. She flipped through several pages of it until she was satisfied with the page she had found. She motioned for Link to join her by her desk. Link answered her question as he joined her, leaning over the book.

 

“I learned a little bit about the Hero of Spirit when I was in school. I was interested in the story so I did do some research of my own when I was younger.”

 

“What did you learn of the Hero of Spirit?” she asked, staring him in the eye intently.

 

“Well, it's been a long time so I haven't exactly retained all of it. But, as I recall, he was a train engineer. He fought an ancient demon named Malladus using the power of the Spirit Train and restored the Spirit Tracks. I can't really remember any specific details.”

 

Impa was silent for a while before she spoke again.

 

“What did you learn about his life after that?”

 

Link searched his memory but could think of nothing.

 

“I'm sorry I just don't recall if I even learned about his life after restoring the Spirit Tracks and the Tower of Spirit.”

 

Link sensed that Impa would give him the answer but she didn't do it just yet.

 

“And what of the Hero of Winds? Have you learned anything about him?”

 

“I've only ever heard him mentioned as one of the founders of New Hyrule. I have no idea what he did in his life.”

 

She closed her eyes and nodded. She opened them and directed her gaze to the book.

 

“The Hero of Winds was a boy living on an island on the Great Sea, years before this land was discovered. His quest began at a young age, far younger than you. He was recognized as a true hero by the Gods and given the right to bear the Triforce of Courage. He had to assemble it from broken shards but it is the same Triforce you carry with you now.”

 

Link shook his head.

 

“So is that why you call me hero? Because I 'earned' this the same way he did?”

 

Impa continued on.

 

“Before him came the Hero of Time. In an age before the Great Sea ever came to be, he saved the original Hyrule travelling through time to defeat Ganon. When Ganon touched the Triforce, his imbalanced heart caused it to split. The Hero of Time was given the Triforce of Courage to aid him on his quest, the very same one you now hold.”

 

Link was confused.

 

“All right so now I have it. What does this all mean, exactly? How is this all connected?”

 

Impa was irritated with Link's interruption.

 

“If you'll let me finish I will tell you.”

 

Link was silent and went on staring at the page Impa was now staring at.

 

“The three pieces of the Triforce, Power, Wisdom, and Courage, were all assembled once again by Ganon during the time of the Hero of Winds. The two did battle below the Great Sea on top of an ancient tower. Hyrule's last king, Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, had guided the Hero of Winds throughout his journey. He even gave him his title.”

 

Link stared at a page that showed a drawing of a young boy in a green tunic brandishing a sword and shield. He faced a large man holding two swords, bringing one down upon the boy's shield. Behind them was an old, bearded man who wore a crown. He was resting his hand upon three golden triangles.

 

“The king touched the Triforce before Ganon could. He wished for the rest of Hyrule to be washed away so that the Hero of Winds and the Princess Zelda of their time could find a new kingdom and start again. The Hero of Winds defeated Ganon and Hyrule was washed away, along with Ganon, the king, the Master Sword and the Triforce itself.”

 

Link was again confused.

 

“Wait, if it was washed away, then how in hell is a piece of it resting on the back of my hand?”

 

Impa looked up and glared at Link for interrupting again. Link lowered his gaze back to the page he was looking at before.

 

“The Hero of Winds and Princess Zelda found the new land and founded New Hyrule, the Triforce having granted the king's wish. This new Land was filled with evils of its own and soon a new hero, the Hero of Spirit, was needed. Long after he defeated Malladus, he returned to the top of the Tower of Spirit. He prayed there, hoping that the Spirits of Good would heed his call.”

 

Link looked up from the page and stared at Impa again. He was starting to see where everything was going.

 

“The spirits did not heed his call, however. Instead, the Princess Zelda of his time revealed to him that her spirit was that of the ancient Goddess Hylia. Hylia is a Goddess that is reincarnated every generation through a woman, usually named Zelda.”

 

Impa paused for breath and looked up at Link.

 

“The Hero of Spirit asked the Princess if she had the power to prevent future generations from having to fight off the type of evil he had to deal with. She told him that she could not but that she knew of an object that could help him. That was when she summoned the Triforce from the depths of the ocean and brought it into the Tower of Spirit.”

 

“Surely something of such power would need to be protected” Link said.

 

Impa nodded.

 

“Yes and that is exactly what the Hero of Spirit did. He made his wish upon the Triforce and, because his heart was balanced, it remained intact and New Hyrule began a Golden Age that lasted for centuries. To protect the Triforce, Princess Zelda summoned the powers of Hylia and was able to create a Sacred Realm where none could touch the holy relic.”

 

Impa paused and turned the page of the book. Link saw a picture of a room with a pedestal in the middle of it. A sword sat on that pedestal and it was bathed in a beam of light.

 

“Unfortunately, the Sacred Realm could not be protected without something to seal it. So, the Hero of Spirit used his own sword and, with the help of an ancient, sacred forge, created a sword that evil could never touch. It was much like the Blade of Evil's Bane, the Master Sword. He called it the Spirit Sword.”

 

Link could already guess where this was headed but he decided to let Impa finish to confirm his suspicions.

 

“The sword was infused with a spirit given to it by the Goddess Hylia so it could choose its master. There it has waited for centuries. It has not been pulled from its pedestal since it was used to seal the Sacred Realm.”

 

“What has all this got to do with me? Or Ganon? Or this other Triforce bearer?” Link asked, trying to understand and confirm what he thought she would say.

 

Impa breathed deep and calmly explained further.

 

“Somehow, Ganon, the current one, the leader of the Bulblins, managed to break that seal and enter the Sacred Realm. He touched the Triforce and had his wish granted. It must have been to create this massive gang he now leads. But he mustn't have a balanced heart otherwise the Triforce would not have split and you would not have been given the Triforce of Courage.”

 

Link straightened up from the desk and walked around to the front of it.

 

“How could he have broken the seal? Surely he didn't remove the Spirit Sword. He is clearly evil and it would not have chosen him.”

 

“Correct, Hero. Somehow, the prayers of the sages in the Stone and Fire Towers have stopped reaching the sword and its power was drained. Ganon must be behind that as well.”

 

Link turned around to face the door and took a deep breath. It was clear that what he had gotten himself into was bigger than he could have thought. Was he a destined Hero for his time? He could not possibly believe it.

 

“What can I do? He told me that I can't kill him by normal means.”

 

“You've met him already? Did you fight?”

 

Link shook his head.

 

“We didn't have a chance to. One of his more dangerous gang members turned on him and I was forced to hunt him down instead. What did he mean that I couldn't kill him?”

 

Impa stepped out from behind the desk and looked Link in the eye.

 

“He meant that there is only one weapon that can kill him. That weapon is the Spirit Sword. You are its wielder, you must be. You have to go to the Tower of Spirit and get it.”

 

“What about the other bearer? You told me that I needed to find her and that you knew where she was.”

 

Impa had not forgotten. She needed to explain this all to Link for him to understand just how important her role was as well as his own.

 

“Her name is Zelda, just as it usually is. She is the daughter of the King, though she doesn't know it. After his wife died, he came here on a visit and fell in love with another woman, a local bard. She died in childbirth and the King, ashamed of being unfaithful to his dead wife and heartbroken over the woman's death, left her here in my care. She left here five years ago.”

 

“And? Where is she now?” Link asked.

 

“She is in the Desert Province. She watches over a Bulblin controlled town called Kasuto. She is a bounty hunter and has disguised herself as a man called Sheik.”

 

Link nodded and thought about leaving when he had another question.

 

“So, Ganon kidnapping women is just an effort to reclaim the Triforce of Wisdom?”

 

Impa nodded.

 

“It is just like the time of the Hero of Winds. Tell me, do you have a sister?”

 

Link was taken aback by this but did not show it. He stared at Impa.

 

“How did you know that?”

 

“The Hero of Winds had a sister who was kidnapped by a giant bird. The bird mistook the girl for another and carried her off to the original Ganon who was trying to find the Triforce of Wisdom himself. What is your sister's name?”

 

“Aryll” Link said.

 

Impa nodded again.

 

“Yes, that was the girl's name as well. It's funny how history has a habit of repeating itself.”

 

It was then that they heard a knock at the door. Link turned and opened the door. Linebeck was standing there looking very annoyed.

 

“This is where you ran off to?” he said angrily. “What happened to 'I'm waiting right here, Linebeck. We'll go check on that other deputy, Linebeck.' Well, thanks a lot for waiting. The fella's fine, by the way.”

 

Linebeck peered inside the room and found Impa staring at him.

 

“Just what have you been doing?”

 

Link looked back at Impa and smiled.

 

“He's been travelling with me” he said.

 

“Ah, yes. His ancestor travelled with the Hero of Winds on a separate journey. He was a sailor. Am I correct, Linebeck?”

 

Linebeck's eyes widened and he pushed past Link and stood right in front of Impa.

 

“How do you know that? Are you some kind of witch?”

 

Impa laughed.

 

“No, I'm just the owner of an orphanage who happens to be an amateur historian. What about you? Are you still trading like your great-grandfather?”

 

“Well.... yes. I mean, our family hasn't left the land since the first Linebeck landed here. What have you two been talking about?”

 

Link placed a hand on Linebeck's shoulder.

 

“We need to go to the desert. A town called Kasuto. Come with me, I'll explain on the way.”

 

Linebeck could not believe what he just heard.

 

“I'm sorry, did you say the desert? Right into the heart of Bulblin Territory? Are you insane?”

 

“How many times have you asked me that now?” Link replied.

 

Linebeck sighed.

 

“You're right. I should already have the answer to that now. Of course you're insane. And I'm just as bad for following you time and again into the middle of hell.”

 

He quickly left the room, turning back to Link just outside the door of the office.

 

“Rest assured, I will be waiting for you outside and I won't run off unlike some people!”

 

Link sighed as he turned to the old woman one last time.

 

“Thank you for your help. Your advice and knowledge have been incredibly valuable. I don't know what I would have done without you.”

 

Impa brushed his thanks aside.

 

“Think nothing of it. I had to do it for the good of us all. The Triforce says that you are the Hero of our time. You must be the oldest one yet. There is also one last piece of advice I must give you.”

 

Link listened intently.

 

“In Kasuto an old man named Sahasrahla lives in hiding. He knows more about where to find the two towers of the sages, the Fire and Stone Towers. After you retrieve the Spirit Sword, you must go to each tower to find out what has happened to the sages there. Restore the sword to its former power. Defeat Ganon, just as you have done in the past, Hero. Do this for all our sakes. I wish you luck in your quest.”

 

Link was silent as Impa's words echoed within his mind.

 

“Thank you for your help, Impa. I hope to meet you again in the future.”

 

Link turned and left the office. Soon he was outside the orphanage and explaining the situation to Linebeck as they headed for the train station. They left their horses in the care of the town's stables and boarded the train.

 

They would ride the Spirit Tracks north into the desert to the only station the train risked stopping at, a small trading town called Malgyorg. There is where they would begin the trek to the middle of the desert and the nearly abandoned town of Kasuto.

 

 

 

 

 

            Link and Linebeck arrived in Kasuto in mid-afternoon. Link shook his head at the state of the town. It was nearly a ghost town. Most of the old town lay in ruin under Bulblin control. They walked together toward a much more intact part of the town.

 

“How are we going to find her?” Linebeck asked.

 

“First of all, Linebeck, for the sake of not giving her away, we will refer to her as Sheik and as a man. Second, he'll likely be hiding. We just need to figure out where.”

 

Link reached up to the badge he had pinned on his vest and placed it into the inner pocket of his duster.

 

“Link, what are you doing?” Linebeck asked, quietly.

 

“There's no law in this town, Linebeck. The Bulblins and townsfolk likely wouldn't take kindly to a Castle Town Marshal strolling through town. They wouldn't think any better of you, either, for travelling with a lawman.”

 

They stopped in front of a run down tavern.

 

“Come on, I'll buy you a drink” Link said.

 

Before they entered, however, Link pulled two green bandanas from his pocket. He handed one to Linebeck and tied the other loosely around his neck.

 

“What do I need this for?” Linebeck asked.

 

“There's two Bulblins watching us from across the street. They've been watching us since we entered town. They don't recognize us so they're already very suspicious of our presence” Link said, without turning to look.

 

Linebeck turned around and looked across the street. He couldn't see anything but the occasional cloud of dust from the wind picking up.

 

“I don't see anyone over there, Link. I think you ought to have your eyes checked” he said.

 

“Put the bandana on. Follow me into the tavern. You'll see for yourself.”

 

Link and Linebeck entered the tavern and walked up to the bar. The bartender noticed their green bandanas.

 

“You two boys are Bulblins, eh? I can't say I've seen your faces before.”

 

Link answered calmly.

 

“We've been drifting around here and there. We just rolled in from Papuchia. This is a haven for us so we figured we drop on by and get refreshed.”

 

“Sure thing” the bartender said. “What can I get you?”

 

“Two whiskeys, please” Link responded.

 

The bartender poured whiskey into two shot glasses and Link placed two coins of a rupee each down on the bar. He and Linebeck sat down and just as they did, they heard the tavern doors swing open.

 

“That'll be them” Link said, again without turning around.

 

Linebeck turned to look and saw two Bulblins standing in the doorway. He turned back to Link.

 

“What do we do now?” Linebeck whispered.

 

Link leaned toward Linebeck.

 

“One of them is carrying a picture of Sheik. It's their own stupid version of a wanted poster. They're going to ask people if they've seen him. They don't trust us so they're expecting that we might know.”

 

“What are we going to do?” Linebeck asked.

 

“No more talking” Link said.

 

Just as he finished speaking, the first Bulblin to enter took a few steps inside and spoke loudly and clearly.

 

“All right, ladies and gentlemen” he said to the sparse patrons of the tavern.

 

“My friend and I are looking for a man. A bounty hunter around these here parts. He goes by the name of Sheik. Have any of you seen him?”

 

No one responded and silence pervaded the entire room. The second Bulblin, the one holding the picture, walked over to a table where an older man sat by himself.

 

“You seen this man? His name's Sheik” he said, coldly.

 

The man, clearly nervous, spoke with a shaking voice.

 

“No, sir. I haven't even heard the man's name before.”

 

At this, the Bulblin grabbed the man's chair and tipped it over, knocking him to the floor. He pulled out his gun and pointed it at the man's head.

 

“How about now? Do you recognize him now?” the Bulblin said, angrily.

 

Link picked up his shot of whiskey and drank it back quickly. He slammed the shot glass down on the bar, knowing that this would draw the Bulblins attention. Both turned to look in his direction. Linebeck watched the situation nervously.

 

Link turned around on his stool to face the two Bulblins.

 

“I've seen your man” he said.

 

Linebeck could not believe this.

 

“Link, what are you talking about? We haven't seen him!” he whispered.

 

Link replied with a sharp look and Linebeck immediately stopped talking.

 

The two Bulblins slowly approached them, stopping just in front of both men.

 

“You two are Bulblins?” the first Bulblin asked.

 

“I haven't seen them around before” said the second.

 

Link answered back calmly.

 

“We roam around and don't spend much time around the desert. We just came in from Papuchia. We started way back in Faron.”

 

“I suppose you're running from that Marshal then” said the first Bulblin.

 

Linebeck, starting to get nervous, spoke this time.

 

“What Marshal?”

 

“You ain't heard?” the second Bulblin said.

 

Linebeck shook his head.

 

The first one answered him.

 

“After Malladus turned on Ganon we heard of this Marshal and some other guy taking him and all fifteen of his guys down. We heard this guy is from Faron and calls himself the fastest shot in New Hyrule. Any one of us from there would probably be looking to high-tail it out of there.”

 

Link shook his head, as though in disbelief.

 

“Sounds like a fairy tale to me. There's no way one Marshal could take down Malladus and his guys like that. You sure you heard right?”

 

The second Bulblin replied.

 

“It ain't no fairytale, boy. I went to that Anouki graveyard and I seen the carnage he left. The place was swarmed with lawmen at the time, trying to get an idea about what happened there. That Marshal is serious business.”

 

Link still seemed unconvinced.

 

“I think what you saw was the work of a bunch of those Marshal bastards. It couldn't have been one guy.”

 

“I'm telling you it was!” the second Bulblin implored.

 

“Whatever you say” Link said.

 

The Bulblin was annoyed that Link wouldn't believe him. The first addressed him now.

 

“So, where is Sheik?”

 

“He's holed up in the abandoned part of town. I'll show you where I last saw him.”

 

“That'd be nice” the second Bulblin answered.

 

Link turned and put two more one rupee coins on the bar for the bartender and walked out of the bar with Linebeck beside him. The two Bulblins followed close behind.

 

Link and Linebeck walked a short distance in front of the Bulblins. Linebeck whispered nervously to Link.

 

“Where in hell are we going? We don't know where this guy is. What are you thinking?”

 

“I've got a feeling that Sheik will show himself if we bring these guys out in the open. He'll show up to take these guys down and then we can explain the situation to him.”

 

“You've got a feeling? That's all you've got? Suppose this feeling is wrong. What happens then?”

 

Link whispered calmly in reply.

 

“I'm faster than both of these guys. I can take them out if there's trouble.”

 

Linebeck shook his head.

 

“I'll bet they've already figured out we're not Bulblins.”

 

“Oh, they've already figured that out” Link whispered.

 

“What!?” Linebeck whispered loudly.

 

He said it so loud he was certain the Bulblins behind them had heard him. He turned to look in their direction and then looked back to Link.

 

“If they've figured that out, what's stopping them from shooting us in the back right now?”

 

Link was calm as ever when he answered Linebeck.

 

“They believed me when I told them that I knew where Sheik was. They must figure that we're two lawmen looking to recruit him or something.”

 

Linebeck shook his head again.

 

“You're going to get me killed one day, you crazy bastard” Linebeck muttered.

 

They reached the abandoned part of town and Link stopped. The first Bulblin walked up to him and stood mere inches from his face.

 

“You boys ain't no Bulblins. Tell me what you're really here for.”

 

Link placed a hand on the man's chest and spoke roughly.

 

“I'd take a step back if I were you, partner. You trying to say we ain't who we say we are?”

 

The Bulblin did not show fear but he backed away from Link just the same.

 

“I know you ain't what you said you were.”

 

He and his partner each placed a hand over their holsters.

 

“You're going to tell me why you're here for Sheik, law dog.”

 

Link looked to the second Bulblin and noticed the look in his eye. The outlaw made a move for his gun and Link drew and fired. Two shots rang out and two Bulblins lay dead.

 

Link holstered his gun and then turned around to face an abandoned building. Linebeck was impressed.

 

“That was faster than I've ever seen you move. How'd you get the guy in front of you?”

 

“I didn't” Link answered. “Did you notice the way the one in front of me fell? He was pushed backwards like he was shot with a rifle.”

 

Linebeck was surprised by this.

 

“You don't think-” he suddenly stopped talking as he felt the barrel of a gun on the back of his head.

 

“Holster your gun. I've got mine on your buddy over here” said a very boyish voice.

 

Link turned to face Linebeck and saw a thin man holding a rifle to Linebeck's head.

 

The man Link saw wore a loose, purple suit which was covered by a white poncho with an eye-like symbol adorning it. The man's face was obscured by a wide-brimmed, white hat and a white bandana. Strands of blonde hair fell down from under the hat on the man's cheeks.

 

Link holstered his gun and removed the bandana around his neck, tossing it to the ground.

 

“Are you Sheik?” Link asked.

 

He received no response.

 

“Listen, I'm not here to harm you. I am a Castle Town Marshal.”

 

The man was unconvinced.

 

“Really? Where's your badge 'Marshal'?”

 

“I've got it right here” Link said, and he moved to reach for his pocket.

 

“Keep your hands where I can see them or I'll blow his fucking head off!” he said, angrily.

 

Link held his hands out to his sides and spoke again.

 

“All right. What if I called you Zelda? What if I said Impa sent me here to get you? What would that say?”

 

The man's eyes widened but he remained focussed.

 

“I don't know what you're talking about.”

 

Link moved his left hand forward and showed the back of it to the man.

 

“I know you've got one too, Zelda” Link said.

 

The bottom right triangle on his hand began to glow.

 

The man lowered his rifle and reached for his own left hand. He removed the fingerless glove he wore and stared at it. He dropped his rifle on the ground and moved quickly toward Link, grabbing his left hand and comparing the marks.

 

“I don't believe it” he said, no longer hiding his voice.

 

He pulled the bandana down, revealing the face of a young woman, not a young man.

 

“You're the Hero of our time?” she asked.

 

“That's what Impa tells me” Link replied.

 

She stepped in front of him and looked him in the eye.

 

“Are you really a Marshal?” she asked.

 

Link reached into the pocket of his duster and pulled his shining badge out, pinning it to the front of his duster once more.

 

“See for yourself. I wasn't reaching for another gun, you know.”

 

Zelda lowered her gaze.

 

“I'm sorry it's just so hard to trust people around here. And you were wearing those bandanas and I thought...” she trailed off before finishing her sentence.

 

“Don't worry about it. I would have done the same thing in your position. Though I think you scared Linebeck stiff.”

 

She turned to Linebeck and smiled awkwardly.

 

“Sorry about the gun to the head and everything” she said quietly.

 

Linebeck did not speak for a long moment.

 

“By the Spirits of Good, what in hell is wrong with all of you people!? First him and his insane schemes and mad charges and now you with your 'shoot first ask questions later' attitude! Why did I ever agree to go along with you? I must be crazy too.”

 

Link chuckled.

 

“Then you and I have a lot in common it seems, Linebeck.”

 

Zelda turned back to Link.

 

“I've got a camp not too far from here. You two could probably use some rest, right? When we get settled, you can explain just what you're doing in this gods forsaken town.”

 

“Sounds good to me” Link replied. “Linebeck? What about you?”

 

Linebeck took a deep breath.

 

“A rest? That sounds too good to be true.”

 

“It's settled then. Lead the way” Link said.

 

Zelda picked up her rifle and slung it onto her back as she led Link and Linebeck back to her camp.

 

 

 

 

 

            Two of them sat around the fire hidden inside an old, collapsed house. Zelda had covered the open roof with a large sheet of canvas to make the shelter.

 

They stared at the two rabbits Zelda had caught before she met them that were now cooking. Link stared into the fire and then looked up at Zelda.

 

“How long have you been hunting bounties?” he asked.

 

“Long time now” Zelda replied. “Five years I think.”

 

“How old are you?” Link asked.

 

“Twenty-two. I took my first bounty when I was seventeen.”

 

Link nodded.

 

“You weren't much older than me, then. I started at sixteen” he replied.

 

“I thought I'd heard of you, you know. I just realized it when we got into camp. You're that Marshal I've heard the Bulblins talking about, the one who took down Malladus. I also remember hearing that you used to be a gunfighter. I didn't know you were a bounty hunter too” Zelda said

 

Link nodded again.

 

“That all started just before my gunfighting days. I still took bounties for a little while during those days, too.”

 

“What was that like for you?” Zelda asked.

 

Link heaved a sigh. The thought of hunting bounties made Link remember Cal. He had gone with Cal bounty hunting on several occasions.

 

“In the early days I took a few with my brother” Link said. “He left just before I turned seventeen. I became a gunfighter shortly after that. I kept up the bounties until I was nineteen. My grandmother convinced me to give that up to decrease my chances of getting killed. She died the following year. Just me and my sister were left.”

 

“I kept up the gunfighting for fourteen years after that. It was only a few short months ago that I became a lawman. I was the Sheriff of Aboda then became a Marshal after the Bulblins kidnapped my sister. That's why I'm out here now” Link said, finishing the shortened version of his life story.

 

The two were silent for a moment. They listened and heard Linebeck snoring and asleep in the corner of the old house.

 

“I heard you took 'King' Bulbo. I've been tracking him for awhile but he never showed his ugly face around here” Zelda said.

 

“That one was a little personal” Link answered. “We took the bounty from the Sheriff in Papuchia.”

 

“Lawmen don't usually take bounties. It's a little strange that you are doing that” Zelda said.

 

Link nodded toward Linebeck.

 

“I let him take all of it. It's part of our agreement. Besides, I've got a bigger stake in this than money” Link said.

 

“What's your stake then?”

 

Link sighed again.

 

“Family. I'm getting my sister back and giving her the peaceful life she deserves.”

 

They were silent again. They stared into the fire, listening to the two rabbits hiss as the flames flickered and crackled below them.

 

“What about you, Zelda? What's your bounty hunting been like?”

 

Zelda paused. She thought back to the first bounty she ever took in Papuchia.

 

“My first one I took the day after my seventeenth birthday. I grew up in the orphanage with Impa. Well, I guess you already know that much. Anyway, there was a boy I was friends with who was a year younger than me.”

 

“He always got picked on by a boy older than both of us. I'm still hunting him, by the way. He joined the Bulblins when he got older. Anyway, this younger boy got adopted by a couple when he was ten and I was eleven. His foster mother loved him dearly but his foster father was a drunk and horribly abusive with both of them.”

 

“This boy put up with this shit for six years. One day, the father just snapped. I heard a lot of yelling and screaming coming from their house that day. I ran inside and the father was gone, the mother was dead, and my friend was on the floor, unconscious and bleeding.”

 

“I immediately went to the Sheriff and soon a bounty was placed on the father's head. I begged Impa to let me go after him but she just wouldn't. She's the one who taught me how to shoot, you know.”

 

Link was surprised.

 

“Oh? I thought she owned an orphanage and was an amateur historian. She knows how to shoot?”

 

Zelda nodded.

 

“She knows even more than that. She's a Sheikah. Her kind are natural warriors. She taught me to use a bow, too. If you think I'm a crack shot with a rifle, you should see me with a bow.”

 

“A bow? You're better with a bow than a rifle?” Link asked.

 

“If only my bow hadn't broken, I'd show you” Zelda said.

 

There was a short silence before Link spoke again.

 

“You were talking about your first bounty?” he said.

 

“Right. For my seventeenth birthday, Impa gave me her bow and her blessing to let me hunt the man down who had hurt my friend. We had taken my friend back to the orphanage by then, around a week later.”

 

“He was easy to track. I found him just at the edge of the desert, sitting at a crudely made camp. I told him I'd come for him. He laughed when he saw me. 'They've sent a girl to do a man's job' he said. I knocked an arrow, drew back the string and pointed it at his head.”

 

“I gave him one last chance to give himself up and he laughed again. 'How is a girl supposed to kill a man? Explain that one to me.' I didn't have to explain. I showed him how. I let go of the arrow and it shot straight through his throat.”

 

“I took his gun and shot him in the head to end his suffering.”

 

Link nodded his approval.

 

“You've got my kind of honour, then” he said.

 

Zelda paused for a short while before continuing.

 

“I brought his gun, belt, and hat back to the Sheriff to prove that the man was dead. One of his deputies at the time laughed at me too. He couldn't believe that a woman had hunted and killed a man. That Sheriff is a good man, though. I guess you've met him?”

 

Link nodded.

 

“I certainly got that impression” he said.

 

“The Sheriff told the deputy to shut up and gave me the money for the bounty. I told them where to find him. After that, the deputy always stared at me like I was some kind of demon.”

 

Zelda took a deep breath. She could still feel the rage at his mocking laughter and ridiculous attitude. What made him think a woman was so incapable?

 

“I left home shortly after that” Zelda continued. “I roamed and took bounties to make a living for about a year without my disguise. I always got paid only half the bounty because people couldn't believe I took them by myself because I'm a woman. That was when I became Sheik. I got tired of getting the short end of the stick.”

 

“I found this town about two years ago and took it on as my own, after seeing what the Bulblins have done to it. I've sort of adopted this town ever since.”

 

Link shook his head.

 

“The backward thinking of some people. I hate it. We've got people like Cole keeping gunfights alive and then we've got lawmen telling you that you can't do a job right because you're a woman. What a crock of shit” he said.

 

“I'm glad you don't think like the rest of them” Zelda said.

 

They were silent once more before Zelda finally brought up the question that hung in the air from the moment they met.

 

“You say Impa sent you here for me? What for?”

 

“All she told me was that you are a Triforce bearer and that I had to find you. Ganon is looking for you.”

 

“Me? What does he want with me?”

 

“Is it really that hard to figure out?” Link replied. “He wants your Triforce. Mine too. He's been kidnapping women all around the country trying to figure out which one is you. Obviously he hasn't succeeded yet.”

 

“I haven't heard anything about that. I guess I've been out of touch living in this ghost town.”

 

As she was speaking, a thought occurred to Zelda. Something Link had said earlier caused a wave of guilt to flow over her.

 

“Did you say your sister was kidnapped by the Bulblins?” she asked.

 

Link nodded.

 

“Like I said, Ganon has been kidnapping young women. My sister is a victim of his insane hunt” Link said.

 

“Then that means your sister was kidnapped because of me? I'm sorry, Link” Zelda said.

 

Link shook his head.

 

“You've nothing to be sorry about, Zelda. It is only Ganon I hold responsible and his damn Bulblins. You have nothing to do with it” he said.

 

“Still, I can't help but feel partly responsible” Zelda replied.

 

Link then finally said what he had meant to say the entire time.

 

“Look, I came to find you for another reason. I want you to come with us. If you stick with me, there's a better chance I'll be able to keep Ganon away from you. Besides, Linebeck doesn't like our odds and we could always use an extra gun. Or bow, if you prefer.”

 

Zelda paused thoughtfully. She didn't want to abandon Kasuto but she felt responsible for the kidnapping of Link's sister.

 

“I'd hate to leave this town. I want to help these people get their lives back. I can't leave” she said.

 

“Stick with me and we can stop the Bulblins at their source and restore peace to not only this town, but the entire country. I can't believe I'm saying this, but the fate of New Hyrule hangs in the balance. Everything Impa told me is making me start believing that maybe I have a large role to play in all this. So do you.”

 

Zelda was silent again. She had become so loyal to Kasuto that abandoning it would feel like a betrayal. Link spoke again while Zelda thought.

 

“Listen, I don't hold you responsible for what happened to Aryll, my sister, but you said yourself that you feel guilty about it. If you help me get her back, maybe it'll put your mind at ease” he said.

 

Zelda was still silent for a long while. Finally, after much deliberation, she spoke.

 

“Do I have to pretend to be a man?” Zelda asked.

 

Link shook his head.

 

“No. That's ridiculous. You'll travel with us as you are. Damn what the morons out there think” he said.

 

Zelda smiled.

 

“I have one condition” she said. “I want to track and hunt the Bulblin Groose, the one I told you about, first, before we do anything” she said.

 

Link tried to place the name.

 

“Groose you say? I saw an old wanted poster of that name back in Papuchia. It's probably the best place to start looking” he said.

 

“Good. Then let's head there first thing in the morning” Zelda said.

 

“Not so fast” Link replied. “I still have business in this town. We should take care of that first and then we'll hunt your Bulblin.”

 

“That's fair. What else are you here for?” Zelda asked.

 

“Impa told me about a man named Sahasrahla that hides out in this town. I'm supposed to find him and ask about the Stone and Fire Towers” Link answered.

 

“I think I might know where your man is” Zelda said. “I accidentally found him a couple of months ago. I'll take you there in the morning.”

 

“All right then. Just let me say that I'm glad to have you with us” Link said, extending his hand.

 

Zelda grasped Link's hand. They looked at each other and felt odd. They both felt like similar meetings like this had happened before, between the two of them. They both felt ancient and wise, as though they had done this task countless times before.

 

They let go of each other's hand and Zelda picked up the rabbits.

 

“I think they're cooked. Wake up your friend over there. I'm sure he'll want some of this” she said.

 

Link nodded and stood up from the fire, walking to the corner of the ruined house. He shook Linebeck awake.

 

“Let me sleep, damn it!” Linebeck protested.

 

“You've got to be hungry, Linebeck. We've got a meal for you over here.”

 

Linebeck snapped to attention and sat up.

 

“A meal, you say? To hell with sleep for now. A meal sounds heavenly.”

 

Linebeck got up and followed Link back to the fire. The three of them ate the rabbits and spoke of their plans for the coming days.

 

 

 

 

 

            Zelda led them to a cave entrance with a wooden door covering it. The entrance had been hidden from view by cacti and was purposefully built behind two ruined houses that obscured it from view.

 

The door was also the same dark brown as the rock around the cave, making it blend in further. Only when they were a few feet away from it could they even tell that it was a door at all.

 

“I came across this place by accident, like I said. I chased a couple of Bulblins this way and I wound up finding this place, thinking they had used it as a hideout. He was very nice to me, and a lot like Impa, but he won't exactly be welcoming of you” Zelda said.

 

“Why is that?” asked Linebeck.

 

“Well, it's not hard to tell that he's in hiding. He told me that Ganon is looking for him.”

 

“What would Ganon want with him?” Link asked.

 

Zelda shook her head.

 

“I don't know. He doesn't know either but when he caught wind of it, he immediately went into hiding. He apparently built this place decades ago” she said.

 

“It doesn't sound like he'd trust people easily. How'd you get him to trust you?” Link asked.

 

Zelda didn't say anything. She simply showed Link the back of her left hand.

 

“Like I said, he's like Impa. He knows a lot about history” she said.

 

“I guess that's why she told me to come here” Link answered.

 

Zelda lightly tapped on the door and it opened a few inches. They couldn't see anybody but they heard the voice of an old man.

 

“Who goes there? I warn you, I am armed” he said.

 

“It's me, Sahasrahla. Zelda. The one with the Triforce of Wisdom.”

 

There was a pause before the old man spoke again.

 

“You bring strangers? Do you know how dangerous that is? Get out of here, now!”

 

“Sahasrahla, wait! This man has a piece of the Triforce!”

 

There was a longer pause this time.

 

“Which one?” he asked.

 

“Courage, of course. We know Ganon has Power and I wouldn't very well bring him here, would I?” Zelda said.

 

“Show me your hand” Sahasrahla said.

 

Link stepped forward and put his left hand into the doorway. After another long silence, the door swung open.

 

“Come in, quickly” the old man said.

 

The three of them stepped inside the small cave. The room wasn't much to look at but Link immediately noticed the myriad of instruments strewn about the room.

 

“Are you a musician of some sort?” Link asked.

 

“That's not important. What is important is the fact that you are here. The Hero” Sahasrahla said.

 

Link finally saw the man's face for the first time.

 

He was completely bald but he had grown a long, white beard. He wore a brown poncho over an old, brown suit. He also wore a gun belt with an aged, weathered revolver in its holster. Link noticed the condition of the gun.

 

“Does that thing still fire? If you're looking to protect yourself, you'd better hope it does. It's awfully old” he said.

 

Sahasrahla looked down at his gun.

 

“This weapon is fine, don't you worry, young man. So, the Hero of our time has come at last” he said.

 

“People have been calling me that a lot these days” Link said.

 

“With good reason, lad. With good reason. Tell me, why have you sought me out today? Do you seek wisdom? Knowledge, perhaps?”

 

“I was told you knew something about these two towers. One is called the Stone Tower and the other the Fire Tower. I need to know where they are or, at least, why I need to find them.”

 

Sahasrahla nodded and sat down in an old wooden chair. He thought for a long while before responding.

 

“Those towers house two sages at their summits. Their prayers give power to the Spirit Sword to keep the seal to the Sacred Realm of the Triforce intact. That seal has been broken so, obviously, you wish to go there to find out what has happened to those sages. Am I correct?”

 

Link nodded. Sahasrahla continued.

 

“The Stone Tower is in this very desert, though its precise location is unknown to me. The only person who knows that would be the one who broke the seal” he said.

 

“You mean Ganon?” Link asked.

 

Sahasrahla nodded.

 

“You somehow need to get this information from him if you wish to find the Stone Tower. It would be an impossible task for most but you are the Hero. I'm certain you'll find a way” he said.

 

Link was silent. He dreaded it, but he would need Ganon to return his favour.

 

“And the Fire Tower?” Link asked.

 

“There is a Goron living in the Eldin province named Darmani. He is the mayor of Goron Town. He is the only one who can reveal its hidden location to you. It is invisible to the eye unless revealed by an item that Darmani has. That is all I know.”

 

Link sighed.

 

“At least we've got something” he said.

 

“Where should we head first?” Zelda asked.

 

“I'll head out to see Ganon alone. I think I've got a way of learning about the Stone Tower” he said.

 

“I strongly advise against this action unless you first claim the Spirit Sword” Sahasrahla said.

 

“Why? What good would that do?” Link asked.

 

“All the good in the world, my boy” Sahasrahla replied. “The Spirit Sword was a blade forged by the Hero of Spirit. He designed it so that an evil hand may never touch it. Its power will cut down evil. You stand a much better chance against Ganon with it than without it.”

 

Link sighed again.

 

“All right. The Spirit Sword is in the Tower of Spirit, right? Then we'll go there first” Link said.

 

“That is a wise decision, Hero. Is there anything else you need?” Sahasrahla asked.

 

“No, I think that about covers all I needed to know. Thank you” Link said.

 

“It is an honour to assist the Hero in any way I can” Sahasrahla said.

 

“It's no honour, trust me. You might call me one, but I'm no hero” Link said.

 

“Do not doubt yourself, Hero” Sahasrahla said.

 

“Whatever you say. Goodbye” Link said.

 

He led the three of them back out of Sahasrahla's cave. Linebeck closed the door behind them. They walked back to Zelda's camp.

 

“We can head out to find your man now, if you want” Link said.

 

“We'll need to get to Malgyorg then and take the Spirit Tracks. It's the only way out of the Desert that won't take ages unless you have a horse” Zelda said.

 

“Our horses are still back in Papuchia” Linebeck said. “We need to head there to get them anyway.”

 

“All right. Let's head out.”

 

They followed Zelda out of her camp. The three of them walked the distance to Malgyorg to wait for the train that would take them to Papuchia.

 

 

 

 

 

            Upon arriving in Papuchia, Link showed Zelda the poster he had found with the name Groose on it. It stated that his last known location was the Romani Ranch at the edge of town. She took it off the wall of the Sheriff's office and put it in her pocket.

 

She stopped by the orphanage to see Impa and tell her how things were. It was a relatively short visit and they were soon out the door.

 

They walked on foot to the edge of town where Romani Ranch was.

 

The three of them stood on the front step of the house. Zelda stood in front of the other two and was about to knock when she heard someone walking around the side the house. She stepped back and looked around the corner and met the yellow eyes of a young man.

 

He was large and muscular, walking with a distinct air of confidence. His red hair had been mostly covered with a brown hat. When he caught Zelda's eye, he seemed to recognize her.

 

Zelda recognized him immediately as well.

 

“You damn, filthy, Bulblin, Groose!” she ran around the corner and straight at him.

 

Groose turned tail and ran as fast as he could away from her but Zelda was far quicker than he was. She tackled him to the ground and pinned him down.

 

“Zelda, let me explain” he began to say before Zelda backhanded him in the face.

 

“I've got no time for your explaining! I guess you ain't heard that I'm a bounty hunter now and I'm taking you back to Papuchia. Alive or dead makes no difference to me. That's up to you.”

 

Link and Linebeck, meanwhile, had followed and watched the scene unfold before them.

 

“You're finally gonna pay after all the torment you put poor Gulley through” Zelda said.

 

As Link watched Zelda as she leaned over Groose, he noticed the back door to the house opening. A woman stepped outside with a raised shotgun. She pointed upward and fired it into the air.

 

Zelda turned and saw the woman point the shotgun at her.

 

“Get off him, now” she said, quietly.

 

Zelda froze. She looked toward Link who was approaching the scene cautiously.

 

Link approached the woman.

 

“Ma'am” he said.

 

She turned to him and pointed the shotgun at him. She noticed his badge.

 

“A Marshal? What in hell are you doing here? There's no outlaws around here” she said.

 

Link looked at the woman pointing the shotgun at him. She was rather tall, taller than Zelda, even. She wore a white dress, lined with yellow trim.  Her red hair was tied back in a ponytail.    She watched Link carefully with deep, blue eyes. Link answered her.

 

“It was brought to my attention that this Groose is a member of the Bulblins by my friend here. We are merely doing our job.”

 

The woman, still keeping her shotgun raised, sighed.

 

“Haven't people heard yet? Damn it, with how fast news travels you'd think some idiot would have picked this up already” she said.

 

“I'm sorry, ma'am. What are you talking about?” Link asked.

 

“This here is my brother, Groose. He joined the Bulblins about five years back but about a year ago, I found him and gave him what for and he quit that gang of outlaws. He's worked for me at my ranch ever since. He ain't no outlaw anymore” she explained.

 

“That's what I was trying to say” Groose said, still laying on the ground.

 

The woman turned back to Zelda.

 

“Get off of him, girl. He may have done wrongs in the past, but I made him make up for them” the woman said, lowering her shotgun.

 

Zelda finally relented and stood up. She reached down and helped Groose up. They looked each other in the eye for a moment before Groose lowered his gaze, shamefully. Suddenly, Zelda turned to the woman.

 

“You say he's your brother? Where have you been all this time? Did you put him in that orphanage?”

 

The woman nodded.

 

“I was young back then, still more girl than woman. He was too much for me. We've never known our parents and I knew that I shouldn't be the one to raise him. That's why I took him to Papuchia and left him in Impa's care. She did what she could but he's always been a bit stupid, Groose” she said.

 

“Hey now, that's not fair, Cremia!' Groose objected.

 

“It's plenty fair, Groose. If I hadn't come to my senses and come after you, you'd likely be dead by now.  As stupid as you are now, it doesn't hold a candle to how stupid you were back when you joined those pig-headed outlaws.”

 

Groose did not object this time.

 

Cremia had a question of her own to ask Zelda.

 

“You mentioned Gulley, a boy from the orphanage. Did you grow up there too?”

 

“I did. I defended Gulley from this scumbag for years. We fought a lot.”

 

Cremia smiled.

 

“How did those fights usually turn out, Groose?”

 

Groose grumbled.

 

“She was tough. Still is, I guess” he said, quietly.

 

Cremia nodded once again, looking to Zelda.

 

“She certainly seems that way, Groose. You should have been used to that, living with me.”

 

“I never said I wasn't” Groose replied to his sister.

 

“Don't sass me, boy” Cremia said firmly.

 

“Sorry” Groose said meekly.

 

Zelda turned back to Groose again.

 

“I'll take your sister's word for it that you've changed. I hope, for your sake, that you don't revert to your old ways because, I swear, if you do, you'll be begging me to kill you” she said.

 

“You still won't let go of your grudge?” Groose asked. “It's been years.”

 

“That doesn't change what you did. I will warn you one last time. Stick with your sister, Groose. She knows better than you. I'd hate to take her brother from her because he was stupid enough to make another idiot mistake” Zelda said.

 

“I get it, I get it. Believe me, if I didn't have Cremia to worry about, I'd be scared right about now. If I ever did something that stupid again, she'd beat you to me. I don't want that, trust me. I'm a changed man, Zelda.”

 

“Good. Then this is last time you'll be seeing me.”

 

Zelda turned away from Groose. She looked at Cremia and tipped her hat before walking back toward the front of the house.

 

Link and Linebeck were still standing there, staring at Groose and Cremia. Zelda called to them.

 

“Are you boys coming or what?”

 

Link looked at Cremia and nodded.

 

“Pleasure making your acquaintance, ma'am” he said.

 

He looked to Groose.

 

“I suppose we won't be taking you in after all. Count yourself lucky, boy. Stick to the good path and you'll be fine.”

 

Link tipped his hat and turned to follow Zelda.

 

Linebeck looked at both people and smiled nervously.

 

“Uh... um... Nice to, uh, meet you and stuff. I guess I'll be going now.”

 

Linebeck turned quickly and followed the other two. They walked back to Papuchia together.

 

When they returned, dusk was upon them. Zelda suggested they stop and rest in the tavern. They passed the sheriff's office again and Link stopped. He stared at one of the wanted posters that hung there.

 

“Link? What's wrong?” Zelda asked.

 

Link was silent as he stared at the poster. He walked closer to it to get a better look. He stared at a picture of a man he recognized somewhere in the back of his mind. He was brought back to the day on his front porch after his last gunfight. A wave of guilt and sadness rushed over him as he looked at the picture.

 

Above the picture was the word 'Wanted'. Below the picture was written “For Horse Thieving and collaborating with the Bulblins. Alive: 500 rupees, Dead: 250 rupees.”

 

Link tore it from the wall and stared at it for a long while. Zelda and Linebeck stood behind him, waiting.

 

“Who is that, Link? Do you know him?” Zelda asked.

 

Link was silent again for a long while before speaking.

 

“This man is dead, Zelda” he said.

 

“How do you know that?” Zelda asked.

 

“I killed him.”

 

Zelda was confused by Link's tone. Link spoke in a sullen tone as though he regretted something.

 

“Did you know him?” she asked.

 

Link did not answer her. Instead, he simply walked inside to speak to the Sheriff.

 

“Now here's a face I didn't expect to see again. Did you take on another bounty, Marshal?”

 

Link was silent as he put the poster on the Sheriff's desk.

 

“I suggest taking these posters of this man down. This man is dead” Link said.

 

“You didn't have anything to do with it, did you?”

 

Link sighed.

 

“He's dead and that's all you need to know” he said. “I won't be accepting a bounty for him and neither will anyone else.”

 

The sheriff decided not to pry.

 

“Fine. Thank you for the information. What is the fella's name? It looks like whoever printed the poster forgot to put it on here.”

 

Link turned away from the sheriff. He took a few steps before stopping at the door. Without turning around, he spoke to the Sheriff.

 

“Cal. The man's name was Cal.”

 

Link then left the confused sheriff behind in his office.

 

Zelda and Linebeck were waiting outside for him.

 

“Let's get to that tavern” Link said to them quietly, brushing past them.

 

“Hold on a minute” Zelda said.

 

Link stopped in his tracks but he didn't turn around.

 

“You need to tell us what that was all about. Are you hunting that man? What's going on?”

 

Link turned to face Zelda. His eyes were narrowed in an ice cold glare.

 

“It was nothing. I'm headed to that tavern with or without you.”

 

Link turned to walk away when Zelda ran up behind him, placed a hand on his shoulder and turned him around.

 

“Just a damn minute. Do you expect me to just let this go? I can tell that you're bothered by something. I just want to help you. It will help you to get it off your chest” she said.

 

Linebeck stepped up to her and leaned toward her, speaking quietly.

 

“Don't ask him about these things, Zelda. I tried once and I thought he'd kill me if I pried any further” he said.

 

“He wouldn't do something like that, Linebeck. Don't be stupid. Besides, if we've agreed to help him on his mad crusade, then I think we have a right to have our questions answered.”

 

Link's eyes narrowed further. He really did not want to talk about this.

 

“Link, I will ask you one more time. What was that all about? Did you know that man from the poster?”

 

Link closed his eyes and breathed deep. They deserve to know he thought. They're helping you. The least you can do is be honest with them.

 

“That man was my brother” Link said finally.

 

The guilt of his action back in Aboda still haunted him. Discovering the fact that his brother joined the Bulblins, joining the people he hated most, just made everything that much worse.

 

Zelda was silent as she waited for Link to gather himself.

 

“I shot him dead in my final gunfight back in Aboda. I buried him and held a funeral for him. I became the Sheriff of Aboda not too long after that. That poster said he was a horse thief and a Bulblin.”

 

Zelda remained silent. Link continued.

 

“The Bulblins are responsible for the deaths of my entire family. They murdered my parents, my uncle, Cal's adoptive father, and forced us to flee our home. The resulting life of poverty we had killed my grandmother before her time. They kidnapped my sister. And Cal, my brother, he joined them.”

 

Link could feel his rage beginning to rise.

 

“Why would he do that? He hated them for years for murdering Rusl. Why? He joined our enemies. They took everyone we cared about from us and he joined them?”

 

Zelda and Linebeck stared at Link as his anger grew.

 

“That bastard! He betrayed us! How could he do this to me? To us? Gods damn him! I'm glad he's dead!” Link said, his voice rising gradually.

 

Link was heaving breaths now in rage. He took a few moments to settle down and then spoke quietly.

 

“Yes. I'm glad I killed him now.”

 

Link did not know whether he meant it or not. He felt guilt at saying he was glad to have killed his brother but it helped quell the rage that was boiling inside of him.

 

“I'm sure you don't mean that” Zelda said. “I can see the guilt that you carry with you. His death  clearly still haunts you.”

 

Link did not respond to this. He turned around again.

 

“There. I've told you everything. Let's go to that tavern now.”

 

Zelda and Linebeck agreed and followed Link to the Papuchia Tavern.

 

Once they were inside they settled down at a table near a young woman playing a harp. They each had a drink and listened to the woman play and sing.

 

She played a particular song that Zelda seemed to have great interest in. Zelda stared at the woman's harp and listened carefully to the song. The harp was of a simple 'U' shape. The two ends looked almost like birds. There were eight strings strung across it that the woman played deftly.

 

When she finished her song, Zelda spoke to her.

 

“What is that song called?” she asked.

 

The woman looked in Zelda's direction. Zelda looked at the woman's face and almost felt like she was staring at herself in the mirror, the only difference is that the woman had light red hair to Zelda's blonde.

 

“That was the “Ballad of the Windfish” the woman said. “It is an ancient song. Legend has it that it originated on a far away island.”

 

“I've heard it before. I think I played it once when I was very little. I used to know how to play the harp too but I've long since forgotten” Zelda replied.

 

“It is a beautiful instrument that is incredibly rewarding to learn. You should try to pick it up again.”

 

Zelda shook her head.

 

“I've got no time, I'm afraid” she said, pointing to Link. “I'm travelling with him and what we're doing does not permit me the time.”

 

“What exactly are you doing?” the woman asked.

 

Link answered this time. He displayed his badge.

 

“Hunting Bulblins, among other things. It's gotten a little complicated but that's the gist of it” he said.

 

“A Marshal? You're the one I saw come into town the other day?” she asked.

 

Link nodded.

 

“That was me and my friend here” Link said, indicating Linebeck. “Zelda joined us soon after. She came from here in Papuchia, originally.”

 

Zelda spoke to her when Link finished his sentence.

 

“What about you? Are from around here?”

 

The woman shook her head.

 

“No. I've only been in Papuchia a few years. I used to live in Castle Town. Your name is Zelda?” she asked.

 

“Indeed it is. What's your name?”

 

“I'm Marin. Your name sounds familiar to me. Have I heard it somewhere before?”

 

Zelda did not answer. After a short silence, Link answered.

 

“Zelda has historically been the name of several princesses and queens of New Hyrule. It is ingrained into our history” he said.

 

“Of course. I should have known. Your parents had excellent taste in names, Zelda” Marin said.

 

“I've never known my parents so I don't know if they did or not” Zelda said quietly.

 

“Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know” Marin said.

 

“No need to apologize. It's fine” Zelda replied.

 

She stood up from the table and left a coin on the table for the drink. She tossed another one to Marin.

 

“Thanks for the music” she said.

 

She quickly left the tavern. Link and Linebeck watched her leave.

 

“Well, I guess that's our cue to leave” Linebeck said.

 

He paid for his drink and eventually tossed a coin to Marin before leaving.

 

Link pulled a ten rupee note from his pocket and handed it to Marin before placing a coin on the table.

 

“I hope I didn't offend her” Marin said.

 

“Think nothing of it. She wouldn't have tipped you if she was offended. I think she's just a little sensitive about the topic. I think she had the sense that I would bring it up too” he said.

 

Link stood up from the table.

 

“Good luck to you, ma'am” Link said, tipping the brim of his hat. “You keep performing the way you did tonight and you'll make a good name for yourself. Just make sure you stay out of trouble.”

 

“Thank you, sir. I will.”

 

Link turned and followed his two companions out of the tavern. He found Zelda outside, leaning against the outside wall. Link walked straight over to her.

 

“I know what you're going to say” Zelda said.

 

Link was silent.

 

“I suppose for all the prodding I did I owe you some sort of explanation” she said.

 

“That sounds fair” Link replied.

 

“It's a sensitive issue, my parents. Impa refused to ever talk about them. It always made me so angry. I still have so many unanswered questions about them. Who were they? What did they do? What sort of people were they? What happened to them? Impa didn't answer anything I asked. I owe her so much but if there's one thing I resent her for it's that.”

 

Zelda looked into Link's eyes and saw something there. Link looked as though he knew something.

 

“You talked to Impa, right? She told you how to find me?”

 

Link hesitated before answering.

 

“Zelda, I don't think-”

 

“What did she say to you, exactly? You know something, don't you?”

 

Link sighed. It didn't feel right that he knew more about Zelda's parents than she did. Impa had told him exactly who they were and he wanted to tell her desperately, but it didn't feel right that he should be the one to tell her, either.

 

“Zelda, I will tell you that I do know something. But I don't think it's right that you should hear it from me. Before we leave town tomorrow, I'll talk to Impa. She should be the one to tell you. If she refuses, then I'll tell you what she told me.”

 

Zelda breathed deep and wanted to argue but she knew that Link was doing what he felt was right and she couldn't slight him for it.

 

“All right. In the morning, then. We should head to the inn and get some sleep.”

 

“Good. Let's go then” Link said.

 

The three of them walked to the tavern, paid for their rooms and each fell quickly asleep as soon as they laid down to rest.

 

 

 

 

 

            The three of them gathered outside the orphanage. Link entered first, alone, and walked into Impa's office.

 

“Good morning, ma'am” Link said as he entered the room.

 

“Link. I'm glad you found Zelda. You know where to go next, do you not?”

 

“Don't worry. We're going to the Tower of Spirit as soon as all of our business in Papuchia is taken care of” Link replied.

 

“What business do you have with me?” Impa asked.

 

“Zelda asked me about our first meeting last night. She wants to know about her parents” Link said.

 

Impa paused for a long while before finally answering.

 

“I see. What did you tell her?”

 

“I told her nothing. I brought her here so that she could hear the truth from you, as she should” Link said.

 

“I presume that you will tell her if I do not?”

 

Link nodded.

 

“She deserves to know, one way or another” he said.

 

Impa was silent for a brief moment. Link stood in her doorway, awaiting her response.

 

“You're right. Send her in. I'll tell her” she said.

 

Link nodded and left the room. He walked outside and looked at Zelda.

 

“Well?” she asked.

 

Link opened the front door and held it for her.

 

“She's waiting for you” Link said.

 

Zelda stepped inside but before Link could close the door, she turned to him.

 

“Thank you for doing this” she said.

 

“No need to thank me” Link replied.

 

Zelda stepped inside the orphanage and Link shut the front door behind her. She walked to Impa's office and opened the door there.

 

“Hello Zelda” Impa said. “Close the door, if you wouldn't mind.”

 

Zelda closed the door and walked to the front of Impa's desk. She sat down in a chair facing Impa, who sat opposite her.

 

“Why did you decide to suddenly tell me everything now? Was it because of Link?” Zelda asked.

 

“Partially. He helped me realize how foolish I was for not telling you far earlier and how foolish I have continued to be by keeping the truth from you still.”

 

Zelda was silent as Impa continued speaking.

 

“The only reason I never wanted to tell you was because I didn't know how you would handle it. I feared that it might bear a huge weight upon you as you grew up.”

 

“I don't understand. What are you talking about? Why would knowing about my parents bear some kind of weight upon me? What kind of weight?”

 

“The weight of responsibility. You are the rightful heir to the throne of Hyrule.”

 

Zelda leaned back in her chair and sighed heavily. She could not believe the absurdity of what she just heard.

 

“What the hell did you just say to me? Do you mean to tell me that my father is the king of Hyrule?”

 

Impa nodded.

 

“And that I'm-”

 

“New Hyrule's princess, yes. Well, not formally, but because you carry the king's bloodline, you would have eventually been named princess and subsequently queen once your father leaves the throne, most likely upon his death.”

 

Zelda was silent again. None of this made any sense to her.

 

“But my mother can't be the queen. You told me that she died nearly a year before I was born.”

 

“That is the truth” Impa said. “The queen has been dead a long time now. But your father Daphnes visited this town the year you were born. He had fallen in love with a local bard, a beautiful young woman who played the harp.”

 

“Is that why you gave me a harp for my eighth birthday?” Zelda asked.

 

“I had hoped to pass something of your parents on to you” Impa replied.

 

“What happened to her? What was her name?”

 

“Her name was Saria. She died whilst giving birth to you.”

 

Zelda's heart sank. She had some hope that she might have a chance to meet her mother if she was still alive.

 

“Why did my father leave me here?” Zelda asked.

 

“Your father was in a terrible state when he left here. He was heartbroken by the woman's death and then felt an added shame and guilt that he had been unfaithful to the dead queen. He believed that in his horrid state of mind, he would not have been a suitable father to you and so he left you here in my care.”

 

“Didn't he care about me?”

 

“He did, dear. I'm sure he still does. At the time, though, he felt it would be wrong to raise a child with what he called 'a miserable and sullen father.' He felt that you deserved better and that is why he left you here. It truly pained him to do so, I could tell.”

 

Zelda stood up and shook her head.

 

“I'd like to believe that” she said quietly.

 

Zelda stood there in silence awhile before turning back to Impa again.

 

“I'm going to see him. Whenever there's time, I will see him. I want him to explain himself.”

 

“I don't know how you're going to get into Hyrule Castle but I won't stop you. I'd hoped you'd get to meet him someday.”

 

The two were silent and Zelda moved to leave the room when Impa stopped her.

 

“I'm sorry for not telling you. It was wrong of me. Tell Link that I thank him for helping me understand how wrong I was.”

 

“I'm sure he knows you appreciate it” Zelda said quietly.

 

She turned to face Impa once more.

 

“I'm going with him now. We've got a lot of important work to do. I don't know when I'll be back, but I will see you later.”

 

“I look forward to it, my dear. Good luck.”

 

Zelda walked out of the office and stepped outside of the orphanage. Zelda closed the front door and turned to see Link and Linebeck staring at her.

 

“If we can find the time, I want to try and see the king” Zelda said.

 

“I knew you'd say that. Once this is all settled, I will do everything I can as a Marshal of Castle Town to ensure that you gain an audience with King Daphnes.”

 

“How do you intend to do that?” Linebeck asked.

 

“Sir Russell, the Faron Ranger, is a bit of a friend of mine. You should know, Linebeck. You've met him. I'm certain I could get him to pull some strings to allow Zelda to see the king.”

 

“Why is she seeing the king, anyway?”

 

“I'll explain that later. For now, let's get moving.”

 

The three of them walked to the stable to get their horses. Zelda had to buy one from the stable's owner.

 

She hadn't had a horse for years, not since she was a girl.

 

They all rode out together and boarded a ferry. The boat took them across a small inlet of the Great Sea and stopped just south of the Tower of Spirit. They rode along the Spirit tracks and followed them to the inside of the base of the tower.

 

 

 

 

            The three of them climbed the spiral stairs, passing several prayer chambers along the way. They did not stop climbing until they reached the top floor. They walked down a long hallway. There were alcoves every few meters, each manned by an empty suit of armour, each holding a sword.

 

Linebeck leaned closer to Link and whispered to him.

 

“This place seems like it would be pretty heavily guarded. How did Ganon get in here?”

 

“I'm sure he found a way” Link replied quietly.

 

“Are you sure they'll let us in?” Zelda asked.

 

“I'm sure if I use Sir Russell's name they'll step aside. He did tell me that I could count on his help” Link said.

 

'You've met the Faron Ranger?” Zelda asked.

 

“How do you think I became a Marshal? Of course I've met him.”

 

They approached two tall doors, each with a decorative carving shaped like a sword. The doors were flanked by a man and a woman, each dressed similarly to Sir Russell, each armed with a sword and pistol. They stepped in front of the three of them.

 

The woman spoke first.

 

“No entry into the Sword Chamber. Turn back and exit the tower, please” she said.

 

“Ma'am, I'm a Castle Town Marshal” Link said, flashing his badge. “I'm here with permission granted to me by Sir Russell, a Knight of Hyrule and the Faron Ranger. My friends and I seek to pray by the legendary sword for our upcoming expedition. That is all we need.”

 

The man and the woman looked at each other. The man spoke this time.

 

“Did you say you were a Marshal?” he asked.

 

“I did indeed. So, if you don't mind, we'd like to gain entry to the sword chamber.”

 

The man looked at the woman beside him before suddenly drawing his sword.

 

“This must be the one, Veran” he said. “I think we ought to do Ganon the favour.”

 

The woman drew her sword as well.

 

“I agree, Onox. We really should.”

 

Link, Linebeck, and Zelda were still a few feet away from them and Link knew they would try and advance. He steadied a hand over his left holster.

 

“I wouldn't do that. Either of you takes a step and you'll be in the ground faster than you can blink.”

 

The two people in front of them were unflinching.

 

Linebeck and Zelda backed up and quickly turned around once they heard noise behind them. At least five men, all of them Bulblins, had snuck up behind them. They had been hiding behind various suits of armour. Each had a pistol drawn.

 

“Link, we've got more trouble behind us” Zelda said.

 

“I know” Link replied.

 

Linebeck watched the five men warily. He didn't stand a chance if he tried to draw his pistol.

 

“Tell you what, Marshal” Veran said. “I feel generous. If you and your friends give us your weapons now, and then turn around and leave, you can all live. How does that sound?”

 

Link took a quick glance behind him. Both Linebeck and Zelda still had their weapons holstered. He knew Linebeck would be finished if he tried anything but he was sure Zelda was capable with her pistol.

 

Zelda turned and glanced at Link and each gave a quick nod. Link turned back to Veran and Onox. His left arm tensed as he subtly moved his right hand over his other holster.

 

“Don't do it Marshal” Onox warned. “You and your friends will be pumped full of lead if you do.”

 

Link finally made his move as he rushed Veran and Onox. He shoved Onox into Veran, knocking them both to the ground.

 

“Zelda, move!” he shouted.

 

He drew both pistols at his sides as Zelda swiftly rushed at Linebeck, pulling him into a nearby alcove, temporarily out of the line of fire.

 

The five Bulblins were momentarily stunned by the sudden change in the situation. It cost three of them their lives as Link fired three rapid shots, hitting one in the head and two in the chest.

 

The other two went to fire at Link when Zelda leapt out of the alcove, pistol drawn, firing four quick shots. She hit each man once; one in the right shoulder, the other in the left leg. They both fell to the floor, dropping their guns.

 

Link and Zelda turned their attention to Veran and Onox, who had just stood back up. They looked up and were suddenly staring down the barrels of Link's and Zelda's guns.

 

“I'd say it's about time to let us through” Link said.

 

Onox eyed the both of them carefully. Link read his eyes.

 

“Don't be stupid” he said.

 

Onox ignored him and tried to reach for his gun and replicate Link's success against him and his kind.

 

Onox did not manage to turn the tables like Link and Zelda had and paid the price with his life. Link fired before Onox could even touch his gun and he hit the floor of the hall hard.

 

Veran spoke soon after her friend fell.

 

“I'll drop my weapons. I'm not as stupid as he was” she said.

 

“That would be wise” Link said.

 

Veran pulled her gun and sword from her holster and dropped them to the floor.

 

“What are we going to do with her and those two on the floor?” Linebeck asked.

 

He had stepped out from behind the alcove.

 

“You two will take them back to Castle Town. I've got to get that sword.”

 

“What if there are more of them in there?” Zelda asked.

 

She suddenly turned to Veran and placed the barrel of her gun on her forehead.

 

“Tell me if there are any more of you in there” she demanded.

 

Veran was calm in her reply.

 

“I promise there are no more of us. Ganon forbade anyone, including us, from entering the Sword Chamber.”

 

“If you're lying, so help me-”

 

“I'm not. The Marshal will not be attacked by anyone because there is no one left. You already killed most of us that Ganon stationed here. The only ones left alive are me and the two wounded on the floor over there.”

 

Zelda lowered her gun and holstered it. She grabbed onto Veran's arm.

 

“Linebeck” she said “Tie her up. I'll start getting the other two out of here.”

 

“Fine, fine. As long as you do most of the heavy lifting.”

 

Zelda and Linebeck set to work as Link turned to the two large doors. He moved to open them when he heard Zelda call his name.

 

“Good luck, Link. We'll see you in Castle Town.”

 

“Make sure you wait for me there” Link said.

 

“We will. Now go.”

 

Link walked toward the two large doors and pushed them open. It took some effort to get the large, heavy doors open but he did it nonetheless.

 

He stepped inside and saw a large pedestal in the centre of the room.

 

The room was surrounded by seven stained glass windows that depicted various deeds of the Hero of Spirit. They each bathed light onto the centre of the pedestal, where the legendary Spirit Sword stood upright.

 

He walked up to the sword and stared at it awhile, studying it.

 

It's handle and hilt were a burnt orange colour. The hilt was shaped a bit like the outstretched wings of a bird. In the centre of the hilt was a small jewel, though it seemed to Link that the jewel ought to have some colour. It was dull and gray and pallid, as though the life were sucked from it.

 

The blade was magnificent. It was bright silver in colour. About a third of the way down the blade was a single, golden triangle.

 

Link reached out and touched the handle. As soon as he did he could hear a voice speaking to him.

 

“I have been waiting a long time for you, Master. However, I did predict your coming with 95% accuracy” said a monotone, female voice.

 

Link stepped back from the sword and looked around him.

 

“Who's there?”

 

Link watched as something seemed to spring to life from the Sword itself. The shape of a young woman appeared before him, floating in the air. She was exactly the same colours as the sword.

 

“What are you?” Link asked.

 

“I am the spirit of the sword, Master.”

 

“Why do you call me Master?”

 

“That is who you are. You were destined to carry the Spirit Sword. I am the sword's spirit and, therefore, I can confirm with 90% accuracy that you are my Master.”

 

“Only 90%? Does that mean there is a chance that I'm not who you say I am?”

 

“I always calculate a margin of error. I know you to be my Master. All that is left for you to do is remove the sword from the pedestal.”

 

“What is your name, spirit?” Link asked.

 

“I was given the name Anja by the Goddess Hylia, Her Grace, in the time of the Hero of Spirit. I sense that you have questions. I calculate that I will be able to give you answers with 85% accuracy.”

“How long have you been in here?” Link asked.

 

“Many centuries. I do not have the capacity to calculate exactly how long it has been” Anja said.

 

“All right. What happened here?”

 

“A man with great anger in his heart came to this place. He murdered the sage guarding me and the sword and, through means I could not identify, drained the sword of its power. He entered the Sacred Realm and touched the Triforce. His heart was not balanced, so it was split apart and he was given the piece that aligned with his beliefs the strongest, the Triforce of Power.”

 

“So if the sword is powerless, what does that mean?”

 

“It means that the man of great anger cannot be defeated unless the power of the sword is restored” Anja said.

 

“How could he have drained the sword's power?”

 

“The prayers of two sages gave it the power that sealed off the Sacred Realm from evil. If their prayers were to stop, then the sword's power would cease to exist.”

 

“So we need the sages to start praying again” Link said.

 

“Correct, Master. I would suggest heading to the Stone and Fire Towers to find out what has happened.”

 

“Yes. I've been told as much before.”

 

“You will need two orbs in order to make the towers appear, Master. One is the Ruby Orb, guarded by the Gorons of the Eldin Province. The other is the Jade Orb of the Desert. It's location is presently unknown to me.”

 

“Did the man of anger manage to obtain these orbs?”

 

“I cannot tell, Master. It is, however, 95% likely that he did. I suggest finding these orbs, Master” Anja said.

 

“Thanks for the suggestion, Anja” Link said, sarcastically.

 

“Remove the sword from it's pedestal so that we may be off, Master.”

 

The spirit disappeared and Link drew the sword from its pedestal. He looked to his belt, wondering where he would store it, and a sheath appeared on his left hip, behind his gun holster.

 

Link slid the sword into the sheath and stepped back out of the Sword Chamber.

 

“I think it's time I called in a favour” he said quietly, to himself, dreading the words as he said them.

 

 

 

 

 

            Inside his Desert Fortress, Ganon sat at a table next to a second story window. Vaati, his only loyal right hand man remaining, sat across from him.

 

Ganon stared out the window, brooding. He had always carried a great deal of anger with him and Vaati always wondered why. He knew he'd be taking a risk, but he decided to confront Ganon on this.

 

“Why do you always sit and brood like that, boss?” he asked quietly.

 

Ganon simply sighed. He didn't seem angry by Vaati's question. He seemed rather saddened and troubled by some past memory.

 

“I have my reasons, Vaati” Ganon replied.

 

Vaati decided that his risk had paid off so he pried a little further.

 

“What sort of reasons?” he asked.

 

Ganon, who was leaning back in his chair, turned away from the window and leaned forward, letting the chair's two front legs touch the ground again.

 

“Reasons that fill me with such rage that I lose focus of what's important” Ganon said.

 

“I see” Vaati said. “Still, I'd wager it's a heavy burden you're carrying. I may be no shrink, but as far as I'm concerned, getting these things off your mind would help an awful lot.”

 

Ganon was silent. Vaati continued.

 

“Not only that, but I am the only loyal friend you've got left, what with Bellum dead and Malladus turning on you. I've been riding with you a long time, Ganon. I'm a friend who wants to help you.”

 

Ganon sighed again. He stared out the window once again. He was silent for a long time. Vaati stared at him, waiting for him to begin speaking. They were silent for so long that Vaati moved to stand up and leave.

 

“It all started back in a time I barely remember and a name that I forget. Long before I took my name as Ganon. Long before the Bulblins.”

 

Vaati looked at Ganon and did not speak. He listened attentively.

 

“I grew up in a small town, I don't remember where. It might have been in Eldin, or maybe here in the desert. At any rate, I was just a boy. I had loving parents. My father was a miner. He worked hard, put a roof over heads, food on the table, the usual story.”

 

Ganon breathed deep as he remembered these deeply buried memories.

 

“He loved my mother and he loved me, I knew that. He was a man I idolized. There came a day that he was laid off from work. We were poor and starving in no time. My father got desperate and robbed a general store. He stole so my mother and I could eat.”

 

Vaati did not dare to make a sound. He was glad that he had managed to coax Ganon into opening up. Ganon continued.

 

“The local Sheriff, a cowardly, bastard of a man, hunted my father down with the intent of seeing him hang. He came to our little house and wanted to drag my father away. My mother deeply loved my father and begged and pleaded with the Sheriff not to take him away. He refused. My mother, always a fighter, launched herself at the Sheriff in an attempt to fight him off. Do you know what happened next?”

 

Vaati was silent, expecting Ganon to answer his own question.

 

“Well, Vaati? Can you guess?”

 

“I don't know, Ganon” Vaati said. “Did that Sheriff-”

 

“Shoot her down in front of my very eyes? Yes” Ganon finished.

 

Vaati was silent again as he waited for Ganon to go on.

 

“My mother died on our front porch and the Sheriff dragged my father away. They hung him from a tree the next day.”

 

Ganon breathed deep again. His rage threatened to overcome him.

 

“I lived in an orphanage for a few years before running away from home. I swore to myself that I'd abolish the cowardly men who hold themselves above others by hiding behind a badge” he said.

 

“These supposed better men that make the law. What gives them the right? I saw a man kill an innocent, unarmed woman and a desperate, starving man, just because he could. That's how the Bulblins came to be” Ganon finished.

 

Vaati paused before speaking again.

 

“Is that all? I get the sense that you haven't told me everything” he said

 

“No. For a good five years, just before I touched the Triforce, I was seeing a woman in Castle Town. She found out that I was an outlaw. As a law abiding woman, I figured she'd want to leave me but she didn't. She tried to convince me to give up my ways and I almost did.”

 

“Why?” Vaati asked.

 

“It would have been for her. She said that she'd stay with me as long as it took. I had to break her heart, as well as my own. I told her that I'd made an important promise and I couldn't break it. I had to leave her. I would have just ended up hurting her if I'd stayed with her and continued living this life. So I left her.”

 

“How did you hide it from us so well? I never knew you were seeing a woman then.”

 

“There was no need. I needed all of you focussed. When I was with you boys I needed to be focussed too. Something else you don't know is that I cried every night for a week after that. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do.”

 

Vaati was stunned. He had never known this side of Ganon before. The cold, calculated, intelligent, killer he knew was nothing like what he was being told right now.

 

“So there, Vaati. Those are my reasons. Satisfied?”

 

The two were silent again for a long while before Vaati spoke again.

 

“Did you ever get that Sheriff back?”

 

Ganon, not looking away from the window, answered Vaati.

 

“Do you remember that Marshal and Historian who were travelling with the Desert Ranger?”

 

“I do, Ganon”

 

“Did you ever wonder why we were after them in the first place? That Marshal used to be a Sheriff in the town I grew up in. He's the very same man who slaughtered my parents. The fact that they were travelling with that Historian was just a bonus.”

 

“I never knew that. I thought we were just killing law dogs. Are you saying we happened upon an Historian who led us to the Triforce by chance?”

 

“It was my destiny, Vaati. As soon as I heard the old tales, I knew Ganon was the name I should take and I knew I'd have the Triforce, just as he did. I'd been following the old tales for years. I knew what those men were up to. The Desert Ranger and that Marshal aimed to take the Triforce for themselves. Unfortunately, their pursuit got them both killed, as well as the death of that innocent Historian.”

 

“Wait, if he was innocent, why'd you kill him?” Vaati asked.

 

“I wouldn't have a coward like him with us longer than was necessary. Don't you remember how he begged for his life and said he'd lead us to the Triforce if we spared him and killed his friends? That man was yellow to his core.”

 

“You can say that again” Vaati said.

 

Meanwhile, at the front gate to the fortress, the Helmaroc King and another Bulblin kept watch. They spotted someone just out front of the fortress.

 

The Helmaroc King didn't recognize him, but he did see the badge the man was wearing. He reached for the gun on his hip when the other Bulblin stopped him.

 

“Hold your horses, you big, dumb, idiot. That's the one Ganon told us about. We're not to kill him yet.”

 

The Helmaroc King shot him a sharp glance.

 

“Don't give me that look. Trust me, it's him.”

 

The man approached the gate and the two Bulblins walked out to meet him.

 

“I'm here to see Ganon” he said. “He owes me a favour.”

 

“Yeah, I've heard. I'll lead you to him. Don't know what he's thinking, though.”

 

The Bulblin lead the Marshal inside the fortress and up a flight of stairs. He opened a door to their left and walked inside. Ganon and Vaati sat across from each other and looked up when the two entered the room.

 

The Bulblin quickly turned and left, closing the door behind him. Vaati reached for his gun.

 

“Don't be stupid, Vaati. This one will put you in the ground before you can blink.”

 

“Ganon, he's a law dog! Why'd you let him in here?”

 

“This is the one I told you about. He's the one that took care of Malladus for us. Well, he'll say he didn't do it for us but, here he is, calling in the favour.”

 

“I don't trust him, boss. I ought put a bullet in him.”

 

“Vaati, I'd ask you to leave us” Ganon said.

 

'With him? Alone? No way.”

 

“Vaati, this one's not stupid. He won't try anything, I promise you. Don't make me tell you again, boy.”

 

Vaati grumbled as he stood up and left the room, slamming the door behind him. Link and Ganon were alone together in the room.

 

“Do you want to sit down or are you the type that prefers to stand?”

 

“Let's just cut to the chase” Link said, impatiently.

 

“All right. I guess you wouldn't have come all this way for a friendly chat.”

 

Ganon stood up and walked over to Link, who still stood by the door.

 

“I heard about how you took down Malladus. You defied the odds there, my friend. Where's your little buddy they said was with you?”

 

“I told him to wait in Castle Town. I didn't want him to be in any danger coming here.”

 

“Danger? What gives you that impression?”

 

“You'll forgive me if I say that I find it hard to trust murdering, thieving, bastards with other people's welfare” Link said.

 

Ganon chuckled.

 

“That's fair enough, I suppose. So, come on. Tell me why you've dragged yourself all the way out here” he said.

 

Link sighed before he spoke.

 

“There's two parts to this” Link said.

 

“If that's what you want. I'm not sure I like the sound of it, though.”

 

“The first thing is easy” Link replied. “I want to see my sister. She's still here, yes?”

 

“Alive and well cared for” Ganon said with a smile.

 

“Nobody's touched her? Because I swear by Din that I'll-”

 

“Calm yourself, Marshal. I run a tight ship around here. My boys do some things you'd call bad but that is something I will not tolerate. I'd have killed anybody who tried before you even got the chance to. I'm not after that. She's only here for business purposes. I haven't figured out if she's the bearer of the Triforce of Wisdom yet” Ganon said.

 

Ganon suddenly noticed something in Link's look and was immediately suspicious.

 

“Why do I get the sense there's something you're not telling me?” he asked.

 

Link was silent. He simply stared at Ganon.

 

“There is something you're not telling me. I can feel it, almost as strong as I can feel your Triforce of Courage. But, I also get the sense that, whatever it is, I'd never get it out of you no matter what I tried.”

 

Link was silent still. He had a feeling Ganon had figured out that he'd found Zelda, but he would never let on that he had.

 

“We'll have to pick that up another time. Come with me. I'll show you to your sister's room.”

 

“Room? You actually give them rooms?”

 

“With comfortable beds and everything. I'm insulted, Marshal. We're not barbarians” Ganon said.

 

“Well, I guess I just didn't expect you murdering, thieving bastards to be so civilized” Link replied.

 

“All you law dogs think alike” Ganon said.

 

No more words were spoken until the two of them reached Aryll's room.

 

“I'll give you five minutes. That should be enough time. I'm sure I don't have to tell you not to try anything?”

 

“I'm not an idiot, Ganon” Link said.

 

“Could have fooled me” Ganon replied.

 

Ganon opened the door. Link stepped inside and Ganon closed and locked it behind him.

 

He looked to a chair and table in the corner of the room. Aryll sat there, writing something on a piece of paper.

 

“Well?” Aryll said. “Are you going to just stand there like an idiot or are you going to say something?”

 

“Aryll... I... by the Gods, Aryll. I've missed you so much” Link said.

 

“Don't worry, big brother. I missed you too.”

 

Aryll stood up and walked over to Link. They held each other in a long hug before Aryll finally let go. She stood back and looked up at him.

 

“Ganon told me he'd talked to you. He said you'd be here to call in a favour. What is that all about?”

 

“It's a long story and Ganon only gave me five minutes. I really just wanted to see how you were doing.”

 

Aryll shrugged.

 

“For being imprisoned in a room all the time, it's not so bad. He let me keep a journal and he's been cordial enough with me, for an outlaw.”

 

“Ganon you mean?”

 

“No, I mean Chancellor Oshus. Of course I mean Ganon” Aryll responded sarcastically.

 

Link chuckled.

 

“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, Aryll” Link said.

 

“Say people who are too dumb to understand it” Aryll replied.

 

There was a pause before Aryll spoke again.

 

“You didn't come all this way just to banter back and forth with me, did you?”

 

Link's expression turned very serious for a moment.

 

“I came here to make a promise to you. The next time you see me, you'll be free from here. I will see to it.”

 

“In case you haven't noticed, Link, there's about fifty Bulblins in this place. You'll need an army if you're planning on mounting some sort of insane rescue.”

 

Link stepped forward and removed his hat. He looked into his sister's eyes.

 

“These bastards have taken so much from us. I won't let them take you, too. I have help, but I won't need an army. No Bulblin, in a group or otherwise, has stopped me yet. I won't rest until every one of them lies dead or in prison and until you are safe back home. I promise you that.”

 

Aryll sighed. Her brother's stubbornness frustrated her to no end. She decided to humour him, though, at the very least.

 

“All right, fine. I'll take you at your word. Just don't do anything stupid. And don't go dying on me.”

 

“Don't worry, I won't.”

 

“You won't what? Do anything stupid or go and die on me?”

 

Link walked over to the door and knocked on it, letting Ganon know that he was finished.

 

“You know what I mean” Link said.

 

The door opened and Link stepped outside into the hall once more. Ganon closed the door and locked it again.

 

“You know, it just occurred to me that if I'd kept you in there, I wouldn't have to worry about you killing so many of my boys” Ganon said.

 

“Why'd you open the door then?”

 

“You might not believe this, but I am a man of honour. I promised you that I'd do you a favour, should you come calling, and I aim to keep that promise. Besides, I know you're still tempted by my offer of amnesty and peace.”

 

Link did not respond to this but, the truth was, Ganon was right. Link still considered Ganon's offer seriously. It shamed him greatly to feel tempted by the offer of an outlaw, a thief, and a murderer.

 

Ganon and Link stared at each other for a moment. Ganon seemed to be expecting something.

 

“You want to hear the second part of my favour” Link said.

 

“If you wouldn't mind” Ganon replied.

 

“Do you know where the Stone Tower is?” Link asked.

 

Ganon nodded his head and chuckled slightly.

 

“What exactly are you planning, Marshal? I can see that little sword you've got there from the Tower of Spirit. Did Onox and Veran give you a warm reception?”

 

“Not especially” Link answered.

 

“That's a shame. I assume they're both dead now?”

 

“Veran is in Castle Town, getting ready to serve her time. She was a little smarter than Onox. I had to put him down.”

 

Ganon shook his head.

 

“Yeah, that sounds like them. Do you think Veran will hang?”

 

“That's doubtful. I've been studying your gang and its members for awhile, you see. Veran wasn't especially violent and seemed a lot more merciful than the rest of you. She'll serve some hard time, but I don't think they'll put her to death.”

 

Ganon seemed relieved.

 

“That's good to hear, at least. I was always fond of her. Anyway, let's get back to the business at hand. Care to tell me what you need to get to the Stone Tower for?”

 

“What would it matter to you?”

 

Ganon chuckled, a little less friendliness in his voice.

 

“It matters because I know the legends and I know what that sword is.”

 

The two stood in silence for awhile. Link was trying to come up with what to say while Ganon was weighing his options. Suddenly, Ganon stopped thinking and started speaking.

 

“You know what? On second thought, it doesn't really matter what you want with the Stone Tower. I'll tell you how to get there and I'll give you the Jade Orb. Follow me.”

 

Link followed Ganon, suspicious of his sudden confidence and willingness to help.

 

They entered the very back room of the fortress. The room was mostly empty except for a sandstone pedestal at the back. The Jade Orb was hovering above it, surrounded by some strange purple energy.

 

Ganon and Link walked over to the orb. Ganon waved his right hand and, with the top of the Triforce mark on his hand glowing brightly, the energy began to dissipate. The orb floated directly into Ganon's hand and he offered it to Link.

 

“Why are you so willing to help, all of a sudden?”

 

“This will be a learning experience for you, the Stone Tower. You'll find out what you need to find out and then you'll understand. Take it.”

 

Link grabbed the orb and placed it in the pouch on his back.

 

“The tower's location is just east of here. You'll come to a circle of standing sandstones. There will be a place in the middle for the orb. The tower should appear then” Ganon explained.

 

“I guess we're even now” Link said.

 

“Looks like it, Marshal. Take care of yourself now” Ganon said, tipping his hat.

 

Link tipped his hat back to Ganon and left the room. Within minutes, Link was back outside of the fortress. Ganon watched him leave, smiling all the while. Vaati walked up behind him.

 

“What did you talk to him about?” he asked.

 

“Vaati, Marshal Link is soon to make a discovery inside that Stone Tower. He'll find out that he's got no choice but to accept my offer to him then, just you watch. Then maybe we'll stop losing so many of our number” Ganon said.

 

“I should have plugged him as soon as I saw him” Vaati said.

 

“If you'd have tried, you'd be dead right now. And I wouldn't have done anything about it. If you're stupid enough to take him on, one on one, then you deserve to die.”

 

Vaati changed the subject.

 

“What do you think he'll do once he finds out about the sage?”

 

“It'll take him awhile but, eventually, he'll be back, ready to accept my offer. Plus, he'll deliver the bearer to us.”

 

Vaati was taken aback by this.

 

“What? How does he know who the bearer is? And how you do you know that he knows?”

 

“I saw it in his eyes, Vaati. She's probably travelling with him. I won't be sending anyone after him because I believe he will deliver both pieces of the Triforce to me when he finds out about the sage of the Stone Tower.”

 

“What about his sister? If she's not the bearer, do we let her go?”

 

“Not yet. We still need an ace in the hole, so to speak. She'll serve as some sort of insurance to make sure I get what I want.”

 

Vaati chuckled.

 

“You are good, Ganon. I always knew you were.”

 

Ganon did not reply. He simply watched Link get further and further away into the distance. He truly felt that his ultimate triumph was soon to be at hand.

 

 

 

 

 

            Link walked through the hot, dry desert, lamenting the fact that he did not have a horse with him.

 

He had caught the train and taken the Spirit Tracks to just before the ferry stop near the ocean. When he'd first gotten off the train, he walked toward the desert but made camp a few hundred metres from the Great Sea's shore. He had slept the night before travelling on foot most of that day to the Bulblin's desert fortress.

 

The heat and the dryness were getting to him and he sorely missed his horse.

 

As he walked, Link had the sudden feeling that he was being watched. He tried to shake it but he was certain that a pair of eyes were looking at him. He stopped and listened. He heard a light shuffling in the sand behind him and he whirled around.

 

A wild horse stood there behind him. It was a beautiful brown female with a white mane. Link thought he might be hallucinating. He took a quick look around and watched and listened carefully. He could see nothing but sand and hear nothing but the horse's heavy breaths.

 

Link decided to turn around and keep walking. As soon as he started again, he heard the horse behind him move again. He carried on for a few steps and then quickly turned around again. The horse stopped moving and stared at him.

 

Link turned and walked for another few minutes before turning around again. The horse was there, closer this time. He was certain of it. This wild horse was following him. Link removed his hat and wiped the sweat from his brow before putting the hat back on.

 

“Listen here” he said, to the horse. He felt a little odd, but he talked to his own horse so it quickly started feeling natural again.

 

“I know you've been following me” he said. “I know it's odd, me talking to a wild horse, but you've got to know that you've got all this space open to you” Link said, gesturing with his arms to the open desert around him.

 

“Go on now. Run wild and free before some human comes out here to tame you. Following me will only spoil your freedom for you.”

 

The horse simply stood there and stared at him, pawing at the sand beneath its hooves.

 

Link turned around to walk again. He walked on for another couple of minutes before he felt the horse nudge his shoulder. He turned around and watched as the horse knelt down in the sand, just in front of Link.

 

“Are you serious?” Link asked.

 

The horse did not move. It seemed to be waiting for Link.

 

“I can't believe this” Link said.

 

He decided that if this horse wanted him to ride her, then he may as well. It would get him back to camp faster if he did.

 

Link cautiously approached the horse. He placed a hand on her back and the horse did not stir. Link climbed onto the horse's back slowly. He finally sat on its back, grabbing hold of the loose hair of its mane.

 

“It's been awhile since I rode bareback. Well, go on then.”

 

The horse stood up effortlessly and started out at an easy trot, gradually breaking into a full gallop.

 

Link steered her toward his camp and reached it well before sunset. He climbed down off of the horse's back and turned to face it. He studied it and a name for her popped into his mind. It was  a name he felt he knew from long centuries past.

 

He did not speak the name, however, because this was a wild horse. She did not need a name from one of the creatures who tamed them and removed them from their free lives. Not yet, anyway. He nodded to the horse in respect.

 

The horse stepped forward and rubbed her snout gently on Link's right shoulder. He reached up and stroked her great head softly. The horse stepped back and the two stared at each other a long time before the horse finally turned and galloped away along the water's edge.

 

Link watched the remarkable horse run away. When she was finally out of sight, Link turned back to his camp and set to making himself a meal before going to sleep. In the morning, he'd be headed back to Castle Town to meet with Linebeck and Zelda.

 

 

 

 

 

            After a good night's rest, Link set off toward the ferry train station and rode his way back to Castle Town.

 

Linebeck and Zelda stayed at an Inn when it was clear that Link wasn't coming back yet that first day. They were awaiting him anxiously . Zelda worried after him and it took everything in Linebeck to talk her out of going after him.

 

“Three days he's been gone. How long can it take for him to get a sword?” Zelda asked.

 

“Obviously there's more to it than that. But all I know is he asked us to wait for him here. Trust me, he'll get here and then we can be on our way” Linebeck said.

 

“He never told us to wait for him for three days. What could he be doing?”

 

“He's obviously doing something important. Listen, he might be crazy, but in the short time I've known him,  he's been a guy that knows what he's doing. I owe him my life a few times over after all we've been through. The least we can do is have some patience.”

 

“Is that what you really think of me, Linebeck?” asked a voice from the doorway to their room.

 

The voice startled both of them and they turned to the door. Link was leaning in the doorway, the door sitting wide open. They hadn't even heard him open it.

 

“How long have you been standing there?” Linebeck asked.

 

“Long enough to hear you start getting all sentimental, my friend” Link said.

 

Linebeck lowered his gaze and rubbed the back of his neck.

 

“Well it's. you know, true” he muttered. “I did call you crazy, though.”

 

“Please. You've said that a thousand times by now” Link replied.

 

“I'm glad you're finally back” Zelda said. “I was getting worried.”

 

“I figured you might be. Sorry for not telling you just how long I'd be but after I got the sword, I needed to do something on my own first.”

 

“What would that something be?” Linebeck asked.

 

Link reached into his pack and pulled out the Jade Orb.

 

“What is that thing?” Linebeck asked. “It looks like it'd be worth a fortune.”

 

“It's an orb, Linebeck” Zelda said. “That's all I know. But I suspect Link will tell us what it's for.”

 

“Your suspicions are correct, Zelda” Link replied. “This is what we need to reveal the Stone Tower.”

 

“And you know this how?” Linebeck asked.

 

“Anja, would you come out and explain something to my friends?” Link asked, turning to his sword.

 

“Oh boy. You've gotten crazier” Linebeck said.

 

A shape suddenly dashed out from the sword and a spectral woman appeared in front of them, floating.

 

“Master? What do you need explained?”

 

“Not me, Anja. My friends. They wanted to know how I came to know about the Jade Orb.”

 

The spectral woman turned to Linebeck and Zelda.

 

“I told my Master what he needed to find the two towers. One of them was this Jade Orb. It's location was unknown to me but my Master managed to find it.”

 

“Thank you, Anja” Link said. “That is all I needed.”

 

“Call me again if you have need, Master” Anja said, before disappearing into the sword once again.

 

“What the hell was that?” Linebeck asked.

 

“That was the Spirit of the sword, Linebeck.”

 

“And she lives inside that sword you got?”

 

“In a manner of speaking, yes” Link answered.

 

Zelda was still confused about something.

 

“If the spirit didn't know about the orb's location, how did you find it?” she asked.

 

“I searched the desert. I knew where to look” Link replied.

 

Zelda didn't buy his response.

 

“Where exactly did you look and why didn't you take us with you?”

 

Link looked Zelda in the eye. He sighed as he remembered their discussions in Papuchia about trust. Still, he didn't know if he could tell Zelda.

 

“It was too dangerous. I would have put both of you at risk” Link said.

 

“And going by yourself made that all safer somehow?” Zelda replied.

 

Link breathed deep. She deserves to know the truth he thought.

 

“Link, is there something you're not telling us?” Zelda asked.

 

Silence pervaded the room as the three of them stood there. Link closed the door and pointed to two chairs in the corner of the room.

 

“You'll want to sit for this” he said.

 

Zelda and Linebeck complied as Link paced back and forth for a few moments. He stopped and breathed deep again.

 

“This is going to take some explaining. After I tell you, you'll understand why I didn't want to say anything and why I didn't take you with me” he said.

 

“Linebeck, just before I met you, I ran into Ganon.”

 

Linebeck jumped up out of his chair.

 

“What!? And you didn't kill him?” Linebeck shouted.

 

“It's not that simple, Linebeck” Link shouted back. “He can't be killed by conventional means. Why do you think I have this sword? Why do you think we need to find out why it has no power?”

 

Linebeck sat back down, still fuming.

 

“Now, I ran into him and he asked me to do him a favour.”

 

Linebeck stood up again and Link drew the pistol on his left hip.

 

“Sit down and listen, Linebeck, or you'll find a bullet in your leg. Is that clear?” Link said, firmly.

 

Link holstered his pistol as Linebeck sat down again.

 

“Now, as I was saying, Ganon asked me for a favour. He told me about Malladus and asked me to hunt him down for him. I told him I wasn't going to do it for him but I had no choice. I had to hunt down Malladus or else hundreds of innocent people could have died.”

 

“Don't worry, Link. I understand why you did it. I'm guessing he considered this a favour to him anyway?” Zelda asked.

 

Link nodded.

 

“Yes. He told me before we parted ways that he owed me a favour. Thanks to clues from Sahasrahla and Anja I knew I'd have to collect that favour so I did. That is how I got the Jade Orb. He had it and gave it to me and told me how to find the Stone Tower.”

 

Link paused, waiting for a response from either of his companions. Zelda nodded slightly.

 

“Is that all?” she asked.

 

“No” Link said. “He wouldn't have given me that orb if he didn't expect me to take his offer.”

 

“What offer?” Linebeck said. “I seriously hope you're not tempted by it.”

 

“He offered my sister and I amnesty, once he takes control of the country, if I handed over my piece of the Triforce willingly. He also assured me that he would grant us peace if I stayed out of his way.”

 

There was silence once more. Zelda stood up and walked across the room, looking Link in the eye.

 

“So, what would that mean for me? We both know he's looking for me, too. If he knows you're travelling with me, and I think he does, would his little offer require handing me over to him?”

 

“I assume it would” Link replied.

 

“I can tell that you're tempted by this offer, Link.”

 

“Was, Zelda. I was tempted by this offer. Not anymore.”

 

“What changed your mind?”

 

“You” Link said. “You've come to matter a great deal to me, Zelda. I consider you a great friend and I don't abandon friends. No matter what, when the time comes, I will fight. I won't give in. I will save my sister and I will kill Ganon.”

 

“You were just pointing a gun at me” Linebeck said. “So you don't consider me a friend?”

 

Link looked at Linebeck over Zelda's shoulder.

 

“I wasn't going to shoot you, Linebeck. I knew that just the threat of it would get you to sit and listen. I'd never shoot you because I do consider you a friend.”

 

Link looked back at Zelda.

 

“I'm sorry I never told you, both of you, about this. I'm terribly ashamed of myself for even giving Ganon's offer a second thought. Because of this, I'm turning in my Marshal's badge. A lawman should never make deals with an outlaw.”

 

“Link, I knew you'd never sell me out to Ganon” Zelda said. “If I've learned anything about you it's that you always do the right thing. Just promise me one thing.”

 

“What's that?” Link said.

 

“Don't turn in your badge. New Hyrule would be lost without a lawman like you around. You're the best one I've ever seen.”

 

“Fine. For having faith in me, I promise you that I won't turn in my badge. Now, it's late. I've travelled all day. I'd like some rest before we head out to the Stone Tower.”

 

“Of course. It only makes sense” Zelda said.

 

“Rest sounds good, boss” Linebeck said.

 

“I'm your boss now, Linebeck?” Link said.

 

“You're the only one with a badge.” 

 

There was a brief pause before Linebeck spoke again.

 

“With all these promises getting thrown around, I want you to make me one.”

 

“All right, Linebeck. What do you want?”

 

“Promise me that the next time you see Ganon, it won't be just another friendly chat. I don't want to hear any more about you not killing him.”

 

Link chuckled slightly.

 

“Sure, Linebeck. Better yet, why don't I kill him in your name?”

 

“Whatever makes you happy, fearless leader” Linebeck replied.

 

“Fearless now? I guess you've got all sorts of names for me now.”

 

“Well, there are few choice ones I'd rather not speak aloud” Linebeck said.

 

They spoke no more after that, quickly falling asleep. Link slept deeply and started to dream.

 

 

 

 

 

            When Link awoke, he was not in their room in Castle Town. He sat up and realized that he was sitting on a very large cloud. A faded, crumbling, castle stood in front of him, poking through the cloud.

 

“I must be dreaming” Link said quietly to himself.

 

“You are indeed but that does not make this place any less real” said a voice.

 

Link stood up quickly and looked around.

 

“Who said that? I can't see you” Link replied.

 

When he stopped looking around he looked down and noticed a golden, glowing wolf sitting in front of him.

 

“Are you the wolf?” Link asked.

 

The wolf responded by looking to the sky and howling. Link was suddenly blinded by a white light but in a flash he could see again. The wolf was gone and standing in its place was a specter.

 

He stood equally as tall as Link. He wore ancient-looking, golden plate armour. The ragged remains of a faded tunic was draped over his shoulders. He carried a large sword and a shield. The shield was covered in ivy. He wore a helmet with three horns, one on each side and a third on top. Each was broken off at their end. The helmet rested on top of a ghastly, skeletal face with glowing red eyes.

 

Link drew the revolver on his left side and fired two shots at the specter. He disappeared and the two bullets hit nothing. He heard a voice behind him.

 

“There is no honour or courage in that weapon. You would never best me. Besides, I am not here for a fight.”

 

Link turned around and the specter was standing there, his red eyes boring into him.

 

“What are you here for, then? What am I here for?”

 

“Before I answer you I have a question for you first. Can you figure out who I am?”

 

“You're some kind of spirit, I'd suspect.”

 

“Good. What else can you discern? Think about what you have learned thus far.”

 

Link stared at the specter, concentrating. He took note of every detail he could. The tattered tunic. The shape of his sword. The odd mix of green and gold in his armour and his tunic.

 

“You're the spirit of someone important from the past. The past of New Hyrule.”

 

“Not New Hyrule, Link. Old Hyrule. The kingdom that lies buried beneath the Great Sea is where I used to call home. Though, where I come from, Old Hyrule still exists.”

 

This only served to confuse Link.

 

“Where exactly do you come from?”

 

“Patience. Concentrate, now. Who am I?”

 

Link thought for a moment but nothing would come to him.

 

“I can't come up with anything.”

 

“It seems the Gods were right to bring me here, out of my own stream of time. You lack true wisdom, courage, and power. They may have given you the Triforce of Courage, but you still lack True Courage. That is why I am here. I am here to aid you and give the gift of True Courage.”

 

“Who are you exactly?” Link asked.

 

“I wouldn't expect many people to know my name, given what I know about the history of your land. I am the Hero of Time.”

 

Link did not believe him. He remembered what Impa had told him of the history of New Hyrule and the Great Sea.

 

“If you're the Hero of Time, why did you not return to Hyrule to save it from Ganon a second time? Did you abandon your kingdom?”

 

The specter stepped forward and knocked Link to the ground with his shield.

 

“I never abandoned my kingdom! Do not take me for a coward! I would never have done that.”

 

The specter dropped his shield and reached down to help Link up. Link accepted his hand and stood up in front of the specter again.

 

“I suppose I should not lash out at you. You couldn't have known what truly happened to me. I apologize.”

 

“Then what exactly happened to you?”

 

“The princess, Zelda, she sent me back in time to when I was a child. She wanted to return my childhood to me and save Hyrule before the disaster that befell us could ever take place. She accomplished her goal but by sending me back, she created a second Hyrule. She created a Hyrule with no Hero. This Hyrule was left in the hands of fate and thus, it led to the creation of this New Hyrule. But the Old Hyrule still exists in another stream of time.”

 

“I grew up and lived my life. My life was far from peaceful but I did manage to save my Hyrule. I even ruled it for a brief period. After some tragic events, I was forced to abdicate and my best friend ascended the throne.”

 

Link listened to the specter's story. He was still wary, but started to believe him. The specter continued.

 

“I lived my life having never passed on my knowledge to anyone, not even my own son. I died with those regrets, but there came a day that my great-grandson was to become the Hero. I sought him out from the spirit world and taught him what I knew. He succeeded and I eased my regrets so I thought my task in the world of the living was complete. However, the gods came calling and sent me here. They sent me to you.”

 

When he finished, Link stood in silence. It was a lot for him to take in.

 

“So, you are the Hero of Time” Link said, finally. “You said you're here to aid me? How do you plan on doing that?”

 

“That weapon you are so proficient in lacks honour and courage. I cannot believe that this land of yours has abandoned the way of the sword.”

 

“Swords are ancient history. I don't disagree that there is no honour in what we do but it's the way of the land. I have to be fast and accurate. Swords have no use anymore. A sword won't stop a bullet” Link said.

 

“Nevertheless, I am going to teach you how to use the sword you now possess.”

 

Link unsheathed the sword and looked at it carefully.

 

“What is there to teach? It's just a big knife. You just stick the other guy with the pointy end, right?”

 

The Hero of Time stepped forward and swung his sword, knocking it from Link's grasp.

 

“Do not disrespect and dishonour the weapon like that. It is not that simple. A sword wields no strength unless the hand that holds it has courage. Only then will you become the Hero for which this world despairs.”

 

Link picked up his sword again and faced the Hero of Time.

 

“I have said these words before, to my great-grandson so long ago. I watched him grow into a hero. I will watch you do the same. Now, come at me.”

 

Link did as he was instructed and felt overwhelmed in an instant. They sparred back and forth, with the Hero of Time easily besting him every time. Whenever Link would get frustrated, the Hero of Time would calm him and give him direction.

 

It took what felt like days to Link but he was finally starting to get better. He began to feel confident that he could fight properly with a sword. When after another long while, he was able to wrench the sword from the Hero of Time's grasp, he felt like he was finished.

 

“Do not think this is last time that you will do this, Link. Remember well what you have learned here. When you awaken, this knowledge will still be with you. Trust me when I say you will need it.”

 

Link sheathed his sword again.

 

“Thank you” he said. “Is this the last I can expect to see of you?”

 

“Of me, yes. However, you are still not ready to touch the Triforce. Your heart must be in balance. You have courage, but you still lack much In wisdom and power. Two more spirits will visit while you sleep. Not tonight, but you can expect it soon. Go now. Save this land of yours. I have nothing left to offer you” the Hero of Time said.

 

“Thank you again” Link said.

 

“A sword wields no power unless the hand that holds it has courage. Remember these words.”

 

With these words echoing in Link's mind, he awoke.

 

 

 

 

 

            They travelled quickly, riding into the desert. Link led them toward the standing stones Ganon mentioned. His search didn't take very long as the standing stones were easily spotted in the distance.

 

Link stepped into the center and found a small, stone circle with a spherical indent in its center.

 

“That must be where the orb goes” Linebeck said.

 

“I gathered that, Linebeck, though I thank you for your insight” Link said.

 

“Nobody likes a smart-ass, Link” Linebeck replied.

 

Link knelt down and placed the orb in the circle and it began glowing. Within seconds, a tall, gray tower faded into existence about 30 feet in front of them. He stood up and stared at the tower for a moment before making his way toward it.

 

“Guess we should follow him” Zelda said, as she walked past Linebeck.

 

Linebeck followed behind Zelda and walked toward the Stone Tower.

 

They climbed a spiral staircase that wound its way up the inside of the tower. There were no other rooms aside from the prayer chamber at the top that housed the sage.

 

They were soon at the top, stopping at two large, stone doors. Link and Zelda each pushed one of the doors open.

 

They entered a mostly empty, circular room. A circular beam of sunlight shone down in the centre, shining through a clear window in the ceiling. The beam of light shone down upon a wooden altar where the sage should have been praying.

 

At the back of the room stood two bookshelves lined with dusty old tomes that had been undisturbed for quite some time.  A chair and a desk coated with dust sat in front of the shelves.

 

Link approached the altar and noticed a very new envelope sitting on top of it.

 

“I'd wager that hasn't been here long” Zelda said, noticing the envelope as well.

 

“Someone's been here recently, but it wasn't for very long. It looks like they left this here for one reason or another. But it wasn't the sage. He or she hasn't been here for a very long time” Link said.

 

“I could gather that much. Who do you think the envelope is for?” Linebeck asked.

 

Link picked it up. There was a word written in ancient Hylian on the front of it. He never knew how to read it so he had no way of knowing who the envelope was for.

 

“Zelda, can you read Hylian?” he asked.

 

Zelda walked over to Link and took the envelope from him.

 

“I learned a little from Impa. I would assume that this was for the sage and that this is their name” she said.

 

She read the word and handed it back to Link.

 

“Open it” she said, quietly.

 

“Why? Doesn't it belong to the sage?” Link asked.

 

“No, Link. That says 'Marshal' in ancient Hylian. It's for you.”

 

Link sighed.

 

“Ganon” he said.

 

Link opened the envelope and unfolded the paper inside. It was, indeed, a letter from Ganon.

 

Marshal,

 

            I'd be willing to bet you didn't see this coming. I knew you'd come looking for the orb after you got your sword. I wrote this ahead of time and came back here a second time to leave this here for you.

 

Anyway, have you given my offer any further consideration? All you want is peace, right? Remember, I can provide that for you if you simply hand over that Triforce of Courage you've got when the time comes and then stay out of my way.

 

I guess I shouldn't tread over the same old ground and just get to the point.

 

I knew you'd come here to find out why that Spirit Sword hasn't got the power to kill me anymore. Have you figured out why yet? Do you see the sage anywhere in this room? Why is that, I wonder?

 

See, the sage and his lineage were told, by Royal Order no less, to always remain here in the chamber at the top of the tower and pray every day. So no sage in their right mind would just up and walk away, would they? Of course not. The only thing that would explain their disappearance is an untimely death.

 

I didn't let him suffer, poor old Mido. I just came in, shot him, dragged him out of here and buried him, quick and simple. He's been dead for about twenty years now.

 

“But Ganon” I hear you say “doesn't this sage have any children or heirs of any kind? Doesn't his lineage still live on? Can't I just find that person and bring them here to pray some of the power back into my sword?”

 

I'm glad you asked. I checked around and it turns out that Mido hadn't gotten around to doing that yet. He was the last of his bloodline and has no living relatives. It was just a simple lack of foresight on his part.

 

I hope you understand what this all means. That little idea you've got in your head about killing me is impossible now. This little adventure of yours is over. So now I hope you see that the only choices you have are to take my offer or a swift death.

 

Just think about it. I know you'll make the right choice.

 

Ganon

 

When he finished reading, he crumpled the paper up in his hand and threw it to the floor.

 

“What is it, Link? What did it say?” Zelda asked.

 

There was a long silence before Link answered.

 

“He knew I was coming” Link said. “He killed the sage twenty years ago. He says there is no living successor and that restoring power to the sword is impossible. I want to think he's lying but he wouldn't have given me the orb if he believed there was a chance I could succeed.”

 

He suddenly heard a voice from the altar speak to him.

 

“Most of what he says is true” said the voice.

 

Link looked up and saw the spirit of Mido, the sage of the Stone Tower, floating above the altar.

 

“Ganon did indeed kill me and I have no living heir or relative. But hope is not lost, friend.” Mido said.

 

“What hope is there? I fail to see any” Link said.

 

“Do not despair. Do you see the instrument that I hold?”

 

Link looked at the ghostly mandolin that Mido held in his hands.

 

“I do. What of it?”

 

“I can tell you that someone exists who owns this very mandolin. He is not of my bloodline but he does hold the blood of a sage from ancient times. He is from the bloodline of the ancient sage Rauru.”

 

“How does that help us?” Link asked.

 

“The one who holds the mandolin has the blood of a sage. If this person plays the ancient melody of the Royal Family at this altar, the Gods will recognize them as the sage of the Stone Tower.”

 

“Who is this person, then?” Link asked.

 

“I do not know that but I am certain you will find them. Good luck.”

 

Mido disappeared once again into the ether. Link turned and faced Zelda who was still standing next to him.

 

“Do you have any ideas on who this person could be, Zelda?” he asked.

 

Zelda smiled.

 

“What? What is it?”

 

“Don't you remember? When I took you to meet Sahasrahla, you saw all those instruments he had, right? He was probably a collector or something at one time” Zelda said.

 

“I do remember that, yes. Do you think he's got the mandolin?” Link said.

 

“He must. Also, why do you think he's hiding from Ganon? Why would Ganon be looking for him?”

 

“Of course!” Link said. “Ganon must know about the mandolin. Sahasrahla must have it if Ganon is looking for him. Ganon knows that whoever holds the mandolin is a threat to him and his plan.”

 

“I guess we're going to see that crazy old man again, right?” Linebeck asked.

 

“Indeed we are, Linebeck. Let's go, quickly. Ganon may have figured out what we're doing. He's been good at anticipating what we're doing so we have to move quickly.”

 

Link led the three of them back down the stairs and out of the tower. He quickly scooped up the Jade Orb and placed it in his pack once again. They then climbed on their horses and rode back toward Kasuto.

 

Back in the Bulblin fortress, Ganon and Vaati were sitting together. They were silent before Ganon spoke.

 

“I just thought of something, Vaati” Ganon said. “I think, maybe, if the Marshal is as smart as I think he is, he'll be headed after Sahasrahla about now” he said.

 

“You're right. We should stop him. I'll head to Kasuto.”

 

“No, Vaati. Not you. I need you here for now. Send Agahnim and maybe six other guys with him to Kasuto. He'll get the job done.”

 

“I can get the job done too, Ganon. Maybe even better than Agahnim” Vaati said.

 

“That may be true but I've got another job for you if this one goes south. If I were to lose you this quickly, my right hand would be gone. I can't afford that right now.”

 

Vaati finally relented.

 

“All right. Agahnim is a good man, after all. He can get it done.”

 

“My thoughts exactly, Vaati. Now go. Tell them to get to Kasuto immediately. Tell them to hide and wait for the Marshal to get there. As soon as he does, tell them to follow him. He'll lead them right to Sahasrahla.”

 

“Good plan, Ganon.” Vaati said, before hurrying off to find Agahnim.

 

Ganon sighed when Vaati left.

 

“I certainly hope so” Ganon said to himself.

 

 

 

 

 

            The three of them reached Kasuto just before nightfall. Zelda led them back to Sahasrahla's hideout in the cave.

 

Link noticed the Bulblins following them and saw Agahnim leading them. Agahnim knew that the element of surprise would be gone now. He also knew that Link wouldn't let the Bulblins know that he had seen them following and would subsequently set a trap.

 

Agahnim himself would set up a counter to this trap. But, even then, he still underestimated Link.

 

They reached Sahasrahla's hideout and he let them in. He was glad to see the Spirit Sword on Link's hip.

 

“I am pleased that you have found the sword, hero. But I am puzzled as to why you are here.”

 

Link cast a quick glance around the room before resting his eyes on a mandolin behind Sahasrahla.

 

“Where did you get that mandolin?” Link asked.

 

Sahasrahla turned around and picked it up.

 

“This? I found this out in the desert about ten years ago. I am a collector, you see, and this instrument was in fair condition, for being out in the desert. I brought it back here and fixed it up, good as new. Why?”

 

“The sage in the Stone Tower is dead and no living descendant exists” Link said plainly.

 

“Oh dear. That is grave news indeed. But what does it have to do with the mandolin?”

 

Link did not answer the question, he simply asked another one.

 

“Did you know that you are descended from an ancient sage called Rauru?”

 

Sahasrahla was growing confused.

 

“I am familiar with my family history, but I don't see how-”

 

“You can become the new sage of the Stone Tower” Link interrupted. “You hold Mido's mandolin and you have the blood of a sage. Mido says that you can become the new sage as long as you play the melody of the Royal Family at the altar of the Stone Tower.”

 

Sahasrahla was silent for a short while before finally speaking.

 

“Of course. You obtained the Jade Orb and Mido's spirit must have given you all of this information. I understand now. We must leave for the Stone Tower at once.”

 

Link stopped Sahasrahla before he could go anywhere.

 

“We can't yet. Seven Bulblins followed us here, including Agahnim” Link said.

 

“Agahnim?” Zelda said. “He's bad news, Link. He's not just your run-of-the-mill Bulblin. He's smart. Very smart.”

 

“I know” Link replied. “That's why we're going to lay a trap for him. Linebeck, take your rifle and climb up as high as you can on the cliffs above the cave and hide yourself as best you can. Start shooting as soon as I give the signal.”

 

Linebeck did as Link said and left the cave and began his slow climb.

 

“They'll find him, Link. I told you Agahnim was smart” Zelda said.

 

“I know. I also know they won't kill Linebeck. That's why he'll make a perfect distraction.”

 

Zelda was a little appalled by Link's callousness.

 

“How could you do that to him?”

 

“He wouldn't have gone if I told him he'd be bait. I'll apologize after all this is over.”

 

“Well? What are you distracting him from?” Zelda asked.

 

“You” Link replied. “You know how to stay hidden so the Bulblins won't see you. Your old hideout isn't too far from here. Go there and when I give the signal, I want you start firing.”

 

“What's the signal?”

 

“Agahnim will start talking. As soon as you hear me say the phrase 'dead eye', that’ll be your signal.”

 

“Hero, before we do all of this, I have something for you” Sahasrahla said.

 

Sahasrahla pulled the old gun out of his holster that Link had noticed when they'd first met. The gun was old and weathered. It's dry, oak wood handle had a triangular symbol burned into it.

 

“I'm fine, thanks” Link said when Sahasrahla offered him the gun.

 

“You don't understand, hero. This gun was forged ages ago when firearms first started being produced in New Hyrule. A legendary blacksmith found some steel left over from when the Spirit Sword was created. He only had enough to create the gun and seven bullets of pure steel. This gun can kill anything evil but they must be hit in the heart. The only things it can't kill are bearers of the Triforce. The smith didn't have the power that the Hero of Spirit did and thus couldn't create an ultimate weapon. Still, it may come in handy for you.”

 

Link accepted the gun, taking the one out of his right holster. He handed it to Sahasrahla.

 

“Can you shoot?” Link asked.

 

“I've learned a bit of it in my days hiding out here. Practicing my draw is one thing I worked on in particular” Sahasrahla said.

 

Sahasrahla accepted Link's other gun. He handed Link a single steel bullet for the legendary gun.

 

“The other six are in the chamber” he said to Link.

 

Link put the bullet onto his ammo belt and holstered the gun in his right holster.

 

“Zelda, I have something for you too.”

 

Sahasrahla produced an old but sturdy bow to Zelda and twenty silver-tipped arrows in a leather quiver.

 

“This bow was made from a fallen branch of the Great Deku tree centuries ago. It is infused with powerful magic of the forest. Combined with the silver arrows, it has the power to kill anything of evil power. It, too, must pierce the heart to kill its powerful target. The only one it cannot kill is-”

 

“A holder of the Triforce? I think I could have guessed that” Zelda said, drawing back the bow's string, practicing her aim.

 

“Where did you get these things, anyway?” Link asked.

 

“I told you I was a collector. Did you think I only collected instruments?”

 

Link shrugged and turned to Zelda.

 

“I'd suggest using that bow. They won't hear it coming and they won't know where you're shooting from.”

 

“I was planning on it. I'm heading out now. I'll see you after all this is done.”

 

Zelda left the cave silently and crept away, well out of sight of Agahnim and the Bulblins.

 

Link and Sahasrahla were alone in the cave. Link breathed deep as they stood by the door.

 

“Linebeck and Zelda must be in position. Are you ready for this?” Link said.

 

Sahasrahla stood behind Link.

 

“No, Hero. But death does not wait for you to be ready. Let's do this.”

 

Link opened the door and led Sahasrahla out of the cave. Agahnim and four Bulblins stood outside waiting for them.

 

“Howdy there, Marshal” Agahnim said when they emerged. “It's an honour to finally meet you.”

 

“Likewise” Link replied.

 

“So I guess you know why I'm here. I need to take that old man back with me to Ganon.”

 

“I figured that much” Link said.

 

Agahnim smiled.

 

“I know you're no fool, Marshal. You caught wind of us as soon as we started following. I'm guessing you must have laid a trap.”

 

“Why would I do a thing like that?”

 

“Because you aren't stupid is why. But I've got a surprise for you.”

 

Agahnim looked behind them toward the cliff face. Two Bulblins led Linebeck out in front of Link.

 

“I'm guessing this is your trap?” Agahnim asked.

 

“Looks like you got me” Link said. “I heard you were good.”

 

“You heard right, Marshal. Now, if you don't mind, you could just hand over the old man and nobody has to die. I've been told to do my best not to kill anyone but I do have permission to do it if I have to” Agahnim said.

 

“I think I just might have to shoot you all down” Link said.

 

“Doing that would only get you and your friends killed. Speaking of which, I was told that I might find a woman travelling with you. Where might she be?”

 

Link spread his arms wide and looked around their immediate area.

 

“I don't see any women around here, do you? You already found my trap. That's all we've got.”

 

Agahnim nodded contentedly.

 

“I guess that means you'll be handing over the old man now” he said.

 

“I've only got one more thing to say to you” Link replied. “You'd better be a dead eye with that pistol of yours.”

 

As soon as Link finished speaking, the man to Linebeck's right had a silver arrow fly into his throat. The man to his left dropped seconds later from a similar shot.

 

The rest of the Bulblins were frantic as they looked around for the hidden shooter.

 

Link quickly drew his left pistol and fired two shots to Agahnim's right, felling two more men with shots to the head. Sahasrahla drew his pistol and Linebeck picked up one of the fallen Bulblin's guns, turning it on the remaining outlaws. The other three Bulblins didn't even have the chance to draw their own weapons.

 

Zelda emerged moments later, pointing her drawn bow and a silver arrow at the other Bulblins.

 

“I had a feeling you were lying but it wasn't any of my business. I guess I made a mistake. I heard you were good too, Marshal” Agahnim said.

 

“Nobody else has to die, Agahnim, as long as you deliver a message to Ganon.”

 

“I'd watch what you say. You wouldn't want anything to happen to your little sister, would you?”

 

“He won't kill her, Agahnim. Not as long as our deal is still on the table” Link replied.

 

“You seem pretty sure about that” Agahnim said.

 

“I know he won't. He knows not to provoke me. He knows what I'll do to your entire gang if anything does happen to her. He doesn't want that much blood on his hands.”

 

“I guess you're right. But you're wrong if you think I'm leaving here without doing my job. I'll take the old man by force. I'll die if I have to. My men are with me”

 

“Don't be stupid. I told you, no one else has to die.”

 

Agahnim did not respond. They stood in silence for a moment. Link suddenly turned his gun on one of the men to Agahnim's left. He fired a shot and put a bullet into the outlaw's head. He then pointed his gun at the other man.

 

“Are you with him now? You looking to die too?”

 

The outlaw shook his head frantically and pulled the gun out of his holster, throwing it toward Link.

 

“That was cold-blooded, Link” Agahnim said.

 

“I warned you. You chose to be stupid. Hand over your gun and deliver my message to Ganon.”

 

After a long hesitation, Agahnim finally pulled his gun out and tossed it toward Link.

 

“What do you want to say?” Agahnim asked, quietly.

 

“Tell him that you are the last Bulblins I'm sending back to him alive. Tell him that I'm coming back to the fortress to get my sister and that there will be blood if he puts anyone in my way. You got that?”

 

“Yeah, sure. Just don't blame me if anything happens to your sister after I tell him.”

 

“Don't worry, I know who to hold responsible if it comes to that. Plus, if anything does happen to her, you're going to die along with the rest of your scumbag gang anyway.”

 

Agahnim was silent as he led his last remaining Bulblin back toward the fortress.

 

When they were gone, Zelda approached Link.

 

“What was that about the deal? You told us you weren't considering it anymore.”

 

“I'm not. I lied to him. As long as Ganon thinks he's in my head, I've got the advantage and he won't hurt Aryll. Come on, we need to get back to the tower.”

 

Link then led the other three back toward the Stone Tower.

 

 

 

 

 

            Ganon and Vaati sat together once again, watching the front gate of the fortress from a second floor window. They were silent as they awaited Agahnim's return.

 

Ganon stirred and sat forward in his chair as he saw two men entering the front gate.

 

“That doesn't look good, does it?” Vaati said.

 

Ganon was silent for a long while. He suddenly turned to Vaati.

 

“You would do anything for me, right?” he asked.

 

“Of course I would. What kind of question is that?”

 

“And you've been chomping at the bit to do something, isn't that right?”

 

“You know I have, Ganon.”

 

“Vaati, I need you to get to the Fire Tower. Stay there and wait for the Marshal to show up. Get the ruby back from Darmani any way you can.”

 

“What? Alone?”

 

“Yes, but you'll have this with you.”

 

Ganon handed Vaati a small glass orb. The inside of it was filled with a sort of red mist.

 

“Is this-”

 

“It's very powerful magic, Vaati. As soon as you know the Marshal is coming, use it on yourself.”

 

“How?”

 

“Throw it on the ground in front of you. The mist will surround you and you'll absorb all of its power. At that point you'll be unstoppable. That sword of his won't be fully powered up and it'll be useless. No gun can kill you either.”

 

“So then what? You want me to kill them?”

 

Ganon sighed.

 

“Kill them if you have to. But try to keep them alive. Just weaken them a bit so I can take their Triforce pieces.”

 

“Why not just kill them right away?” Vaati asked.

 

“The pieces will disappear from their bodies if they die and we'll have to start searching all over again. Still, if it comes down to it, kill them. If they have to die, we'll find those pieces again and no one will be in our way.”

 

Vaati nodded. He was thrilled to finally get a chance to take some action. He'd wanted a shot at Link from the first time he'd seen him.

 

“I'll head out now. Take care of yourself, Ganon.”

 

“You too, Vaati.”

 

Vaati quickly left the room and left Ganon alone in the room with his thoughts.

 

Only a few minutes after Vaati left, Ganon heard a knock on the door.

 

“Come in and explain yourself, Agahnim” Ganon said.

 

The door opened and Agahnim stepped inside.

 

“Hey there, boss. I'm guessing you're not all that happy to see me” Agahnim said.

 

“Just tell me what he told you. He wouldn't have left you alive unless he wanted to tell me something.”

 

Agahnim sighed as he began.

 

“He says me and the guy I came back with are the last of us he's sending back alive” he said, pausing.

 

“That can't be all he said. Is he coming here?”

 

Agahnim nodded.

 

“He says he's coming here to take his sister back and that there will be blood if you put anyone in his way.”

 

Ganon chuckled slightly.

 

“That's bold talk. Anything else?”

 

“He seems to think you won't kill his sister.”

 

“He's right. Killing his sister would just be asking for trouble. It'd be like pointing a loaded gun at my own head and everyone I know. If his sister dies, then this land will flow with rivers of blood.  He won't stop until we're all dead. And you know what? With that kind of rage, the kind like I've got, and a piece of the Triforce to boot, he could do it.”

 

“I guess you and him have got a lot in common” Agahnim said.

 

“It would seem that way. We just wound up on opposite sides is all.”

 

He walked over to Agahnim and placed a hand on his shoulder.

 

“I want you posted at the front gate when he gets here, understand?”

 

Agahnim sighed. He knew that Ganon was effectively signing his death warrant but he nodded anyway. He felt it was better to go out fighting than just be shot to pieces by his boss. He knew he'd be punished for failing his job.

 

Ganon patted him on the shoulder, roughly.

 

“If it's a fight he wants then he'll get one. Won't he?”

 

Agahnim didn't answer him. He simply left the room quietly.

 

 

 

 

 

            “I still can't believe you used me as bait” Linebeck said to Link as they climbed the stairs of the Stone Tower.

 

“Are you still going on about that? I told you I was sorry. It worked and you're still alive so what's all the complaining about?” Link asked.

 

“I don't know, I guess maybe I had the impression that you thought better of me” Linebeck answered

 

“Linebeck, I already told you, it's not that I don't think you're capable. I know you are. The only way to beat Agahnim was to outsmart him. And, like I said, would you have honestly volunteered for the role of bait?”

 

“Well, maybe...”

 

“No, Linebeck. I know you well enough by now that I would have had an argument on my hands, much like we're having now. We didn't have time for that so I lied to you. I'm sorry for that and I'm sorry if you felt used, all right? Let that be the end of it.”

 

Linebeck finally relented and gave up the argument as they reached the top of the stairs.

 

Link and Zelda opened the doors once again and led Sahasrahla inside. Sahasrahla stepped up to the altar and looked up at the window in the ceiling. It was night now so no beam of sunlight was shining through.

 

“Mido, if you are here, I am ready. I will become the Desert Sage and restore some of the Spirit Sword's lost power.”

 

Sahasrahla pulled the mandolin from his back and set a book down on the altar. He read the notes of the ancient melody of the Royal Family and played them as best he could.

 

The spirit of Mido appeared and began to play with him.

 

As they were doing so, Link stepped forward and unsheathed the Spirit Sword, placing it on the altar.

 

He watched as the jewel in the centre of the hilt began sparking to life. It's dull, pallid gray was changing into a vibrant, luminous blue.

 

When Sahasrahla and Mido finished, Mido's spirit disappeared. Link picked up the sword again and looked at the glowing jewel.

 

“Some of the power has bee restored, Link” Sahasrahla said. “You may go now, though I suggest getting some rest before charging into Ganon's fortress. And get some more help before you do.”

 

Link sheathed the sword.

 

“There's no time for that. Thank you for all you've done, Sahasrahla. You stay here and keep praying. Zelda, you stay here as well. I won't risk Ganon having your piece of the Triforce.”

 

“I'll be fine, Link. Besides, Sahasrahla's right. You need to rest; you look exhausted. There must be someone else you can call on for help, too.”

 

Link would not listen.

 

“Fine. If you won't stay here, Linebeck, make sure Zelda doesn't leave this tower until I return. I'll go after Ganon on my own.”

 

“Link, that's suicide!” Linebeck said.

 

“Even if it is, as long as I save my sister, I don't care the price I pay.”

 

Link left and shut the large doors to the prayer chamber behind him. As he walked down the stairs, he was suddenly confronted by the specter of a young boy, who looked to Link to be about fourteen.

 

“Stop what you are doing. It is foolish.”

 

“I don't have time for any spirits. Get out of my way.”

 

“I will not. You will listen to what I have to say.”

 

Link didn't want to stop but he looked more closely at the boy and something jogged his memory.

 

“I thought you spirits were only supposed to visit my dreams.”

 

“We are. But you were acting stupidly enough that I had to cross over to the corporeal world to stop you. I trust by the look in your eye that you know who I am?”

 

“I saw you in Impa's book. You founded this kingdom. You're the Hero of Winds.”

 

“I'm glad that name has stuck. The King of Red Lions deserves that much. But you are correct. That is who I am.”

 

“So, what exactly are you here for?”

 

“I am here to grant you true wisdom. Your heart is still not in balance enough for you to place your hand upon the Triforce. And, with what you're about to do, it is obvious that you need my wisdom.”

 

“What exactly are you going to teach me?”

 

The Hero of Winds sighed deeply.

 

“I was like you at a point in my life. By now you know that my sister was kidnapped, too. She was taken from our home island by a gigantic bird creature. I immediately went after her, on my own. I was nearly killed by that bird the first time I went in there.”

 

“The second time I went in, I would have been killed and my sister would not have been saved had I not had friends to draw the creature off for me. I didn't wait for them to show up so I didn't even plan it. My rescue attempts were stupid and foolhardy. Only years later, while travelling with these very same friends, did I realize that.”

 

Link knew where this conversation was headed.

 

“It was during another journey that I was finally willing to accept and ask for help. The woman I came to love, just a girl then, brought me back from the brink of madness. I had been broken by a horrible revelation concerning my grandfather. I accepted her help, she brought me back, and I was able to finish what I had started. It was then that we were able to finally continue and ultimately complete our search for a new land, the land you call home today.”

 

The Hero of Winds paused as he let his words sink in for Link.

 

“Do you know what the moral of this story is, Link?”

 

“I get the gist of it, yeah. Are you saying I won't save my sister and just die as a result?”

 

“It's much worse than that, Link. You will fail, Ganon will take your Triforce before killing you and, not only that, but you know your friends up there would never abandon you. Linebeck will die, Zelda will die and Ganon will have her Triforce as well. The world will become a nest of chaos and darkness. You will ruin this land that Tetra and I worked so hard to nurture and care for. Is that what you want?”

 

Link was silent. He didn't want to just sit and wait but he knew that what the Hero of Winds was saying was true.

 

“So, Link. The decision is yours. What will you do? Has my wisdom reached you?”

 

Link was still silent as he thought about his decision.

 

“Fine. If what you say is true then I have no choice in the matter. I still can't just sit around, though. I'm first going to head to Castle Town and ask both Marshal LaFaron and Sir Russell for their help. Then I'll rest up and head for the Fortress tomorrow.”

 

The Hero of Winds smiled.

 

“That is the wise decision, hero. Expect one more of us in your dreams tonight. Your journey is nearing its end.”

 

“Thank you” Link said, just before the Hero of Winds disappeared once more.

 

He turned around and walked back up the stairs. He opened one of the doors of the prayer chamber and walked in.

 

Zelda, Linebeck, and Sahasrahla all turned to look at him.

 

“Did you forget something? Your brain maybe?” Linebeck asked.

 

“I came back to get you. Both of you. We're headed for Castle Town. I'm going to see about getting us some help and then we'll rest up before heading to the fortress tomorrow.”

 

The other three looked relieved.

 

“Thank the Gods you've come to your senses” Zelda said. “What made you change your mind?”

 

“Let's just say I had a very wise revelation.”

 

Link then led Zelda and Linebeck back out of the tower, leaving Sahasrahla to pray. Link removed the orb and the tower disappeared once again. The three of them rode quickly for Castle Town.

 

When they got there, Link spoke to both the Marshal and the Faron Ranger. Sir Russell said that the Eldin Ranger, Sir Valoo, was in town and would be willing to help. Russell spoke to Sir Valoo and the Eldin Ranger was very enthusiastic about going after Ganon.

 

“I'll bring my best men and my cannon” Valoo said.

 

Marshal LaFaron said he would do his best to recruit some help from within the Marshals but he wasn't optimistic that anyone would join him.

 

“But you will have me, Link. I did promise you that. I will be there” the Marshal said.

 

After all of that was taken care of,  Link, Zelda, and Linebeck all checked into the inn and fell asleep within minutes. That was when Link began another dream.

 

 

 

 

 

            He awoke on a moving train, sitting in a wooden chair next to the engine's boiler. He looked to his left and saw a young man shoveling coal into the boiler, dressed like an engineer. He stuck his shovel into a nearby pile of coal and turned to face Link.

 

“I've been told to speak to you. I see you're carrying my sword” the young man said.

 

Link stood up when the young man spoke. He knew this was his dream, and he knew who this young man was.

 

“You're the Hero of Spirit?” Link asked.

 

“In the flesh. Well, not really. I'm long dead and long since become part of the ethereal world, but, whatever, semantics.”

 

Link waited for him to continue.

 

“Well? Don't you want to know why you're here?”

 

“I already know why I'm here. I've been shown Courage and Wisdom and now I presume you're going to show me Power. I guess my heart needs to be in balance when I touch the Triforce.”

 

“Right you are, good sir. Luckily, when we dragged it up from the ocean's depths, my heart was already in balance. I didn't know I possessed the right amount of power but I apparently did.”

 

“Well? What exactly are you going to show me?”

 

The Hero of Spirit snapped his fingers and the chair behind Link suddenly collapsed into a pile of dust.

 

“That's a little something I picked up from the Goddess Hylia. Apparently by completing my trials and forging that sword you've got there, I earned the right to this power. It's only strengthened now that I'm a spirit myself. I'm almost powerful enough to resurrect myself. Almost.”

 

“Is that what you're going to teach me? Some magic tricks?”

 

The Hero of Spirit scoffed.

 

“These aren't just tricks, boy. But no, that's not what I'm here to teach you.”

 

Link was confused.

 

“Then what am I here for?”

 

“Don't you know that they say that knowledge is the true power?”

 

“Knowledge? So, what, you're going to give me some school lessons?”

 

“Don't be an idiot. Using my power, I am going to touch your forehead, and you are going to know the experiences of each hero you've encountered. You'll know the evils we've slain. You'll understand how we completed our various journeys. You'll comprehend the fears and sorrows each of us battled with. And, finally, you'll know how to save this world.”

 

“I already know how to do that. I restore the power of this sword and kill Ganon. What else is there to know?”

 

The Hero of Spirit shook his head.

 

“That's it, then? Just kill him? Have you any idea how powerful he is? I'll tell you, if he's even half as powerful as the demon Malladus, then killing him is not nearly as easy as you say. Take the power of this knowledge and use it in your fight. Then, and only then, will you be able to slay the evil and touch the Triforce to restore balance to the world.”

 

Link sighed.

 

“Fine. For all the good it will do, I will accept this knowledge.”

 

“As you wish” the Hero of Spirit said.

 

He reached forward and touched Link's forehead. Link was suddenly struck with thousands and thousands of memories of the collective minds of the Heroes of Time, Winds, and Spirit. It took what felt like ages and with each passing second of these flooding memories, he felt he could take no more.

 

Finally, after what seemed to be days, the memories stopped flashing in his mind and Link could think clearly once again. He stood up straight and noticed he was still on the train with the Hero of Spirit.

 

“What can you tell me?”

 

Link shook his head. He couldn't speak. The Hero of Spirit stepped forward and shook Link.

 

“Come back to me, boy. What can you tell me?”

 

Link shook his head again.

 

“I... I can tell you a lot. Ask me something.”

 

“All right. What was my engineering instructor's name?”

 

“Alfonzo. Wait, how do I know that?”

 

“What did Malladus use against me when I finally put the Tower of Spirit back together?”

 

“He used a Demon Train to combat your Spirit Train.”

 

“Finally, what's my favourite colour?”

 

Link blinked a few times.

 

“Red? Really?”

 

“What? I never chose green. None of us ever really does, except for you, apparently.”

 

Link looked at his duster and then his hat.

 

“I've always liked green. I thought you would have too. All the images I've seen of you have you in green, with green backgrounds and everything.”

 

The Hero of Spirit sighed.

 

“I hate green, Link. Always have. But, anyway, I guess I worked my magic and you know a lot of things now.”

 

“Yeah. There's a lot of dark stuff that's happened to you guys. I guess we Links have an attraction to darkness.”

 

“More like the other way around” the Hero of Spirit said.

 

“Yeah, you're right” Link replied.

 

“Anyway, I guess we'd better go our separate ways. You've got a world to save and I've got ethereal, spirit stuff to do. See you on the other side.”

 

“Other side of what?”

 

The Hero of Spirit sighed.

 

“I didn't want to say it but what I mean is I'll see you when you die.”

 

“Oh. I guess maybe you will” Link said.

 

The Hero of Spirit turned away from Link and started shoveling coal again. The train faded away into darkness and then Link awoke.

 

 

 

 

 

            They had arrived in the desert by late morning. Marshal LaFaron had not managed to recruit anyone to help him and so showed up alone. Sir Russell arrived with Sir Valoo and a contingent of Gorons from Eldin. They rode in on a large cart pulled by four horses.

 

Link approached Valoo and shook his hand.

 

“Thank you for offering up your help” Link said.

 

“Believe me, it's nothing. I've been itching to plug some Bulblins with Din's Fire.”

 

“Do you mean the cannon?” Link asked.

 

Valoo walked over to the cart and pulled a large canvas off of it. This revealed a glistening cannon. It was perched atop two large, iron wheels but the barrel is what made this cannon special. It was made of some kind of vibrant, red metal.

 

“She sure is a beauty. Her barrel Is pure crimsonine. The mountains are loaded with that stuff and the Gorons are some of the best smiths going so they helped me build this beauty a few years back.”

 

Link nodded. He was impressed with the cannon and was happy to have it on his side.

 

Marshal LaFaron approached Link.

 

“Where are your friends?”

 

“I told them to wait behind. I didn't want to risk them in this. It's a bit of a delicate operation and them getting hurt is something I don't want.”

 

“Do you really think they'll stay put?”

 

Link sighed.

 

“If I know Zelda by now, no. But I'm counting on Linebeck to talk her out of it. Let me know if you see either of them, all right?”

 

The Marshal nodded. Link was then approached by Sir Russell.

 

“So what's the plan?”

 

“I want you to stick with Valoo and his cannon. Fire off a shot with the cannon, load it back up and move in closer. Keep doing this until its safe for you to enter the front gate. Valoo and his cannon are to split off and line up a shot at Ganon's room. Marshal LaFaron will already be there at the front gate so meet up with him and head inside. Mop up any Bulblins you come across.”

 

“Wait a minute, where does that leave you?”

 

“I'm going in first. I'll take out the sentries at the gate and move forward from there. I'm going straight for Ganon. While I do that, it should buy you guys enough time to clean up the resistance and move into position. You and the Marshal need to head in and find me. I'll hold off Ganon until you get there. Send the Marshal in after me. You look for my sister. She should be on the second  highest floor, down the hall, fifth door on the left. Bust that door down and get her out. The Marshal will get me out of Ganon's room. That's when we give Valoo the signal to fire. Anything else?”

 

“Aside from you committing suicide? I guess not.”

 

“I'll be fine, Russell. Let's just get this done.”

 

“No time like the present, I guess” Russell said.

 

They turned to face the fortress. Link walked slowly toward the front gate.

 

He was being watched from afar by a young woman with a spyglass, standing at the top of an old watchtower.

 

“Do you see him?” asked a man at her side.

 

“He's walking toward the front gate now. Have you got your rifle scope, Linebeck?”

 

“It's ready, Zelda. Just point me in the right direction.”

 

“All right. Link's going in there on his own. Shoot anyone he doesn't get or can't see. I'll be around the side. I'll rappel up into that window there” Zelda said, pointing.

 

Linebeck raised his rifle and peered through the scope.

 

“That window on the west side, near the top?”

 

“The second one in. Do you see it?”

 

Linebeck watched the window Zelda had described.

 

“The one just below that torn banner?”

 

“That's the one” Zelda said, putting the spyglass back up to her eye.

 

“Link's headed up there. I'm going to climb in there and help make sure he doesn't get himself killed. If you see any Bulblins on me or him and we don't see them, even if you think for a second that we don't see them, take the shot. Don't be afraid to pull that trigger.”

 

Linebeck lowered the rifle again.

 

“Be careful in there, Zelda.”

 

Zelda lowered the spyglass and collapsed it, attaching it to her belt.

 

“Don't worry. Just focus your mind and make every shot count.”

 

Zelda quickly left Linebeck alone and he raised his rifle again, watching the front gate. Link had stopped in front of the gate and was steadying his hand over his left holster.

 

“Looks like its party time” Linebeck said to himself.

 

Link watched as Agahnim strode out in front of him.

 

“It's good to see you again Marshal” he said.

 

“I'm guessing Ganon wasn't pleased with you if he sent you out here.”

 

Agahnim shook his head.

 

“He really wasn't. You must know what happens now right, Marshal?”

 

“I do, Agahnim. The question is, are you ready for it?”

 

“Today is a good day to die, Marshal” Agahnim replied.

 

No more words were spoken. Link watched as two more Bulblins stepped up beside Agahnim. He watched them all and waited.

 

The man to Agahnim's left flinched and moved for his gun. Link drew and fired three quick shots and each man fell to the ground, dead. Link started moving forward when he heard a furious bellow. A huge man was suddenly rushing toward him. He held a massive woodcutter's ax and threw it at Link.

 

Link was forced to jump aside and this gave the man time to close the gap so Link wouldn't have time to fire his weapon. Link recognized him as Helmaroc King. He prepared to defend himself when he heard a booming rifle shot from somewhere off in the distance.

 

He turned around quickly to see where the shot had come from and turned back to see the Helmaroc King lying dead on the ground.

 

Link turned around again.

 

“Damn it, Linebeck” he said, quietly.

 

Out in the desert, Linebeck watched Link and grinned to himself.

 

“Sorry, boss. I had to” he said.

 

Link forgot about Linebeck for the moment and holstered his pistol. He pulled a pump-action shotgun from his back and ran into the fortress.

 

“Move in, now!” Sir Valoo shouted to the waiting Gorons and Sir Russell.

 

The Gorons pushed the cannon forward. After about ten feet, they stopped. Several Bulblins had reached the front gate and stopped when they saw the cannon.

 

“Fire!' Valoo shouted.

 

One of the Gorons pulled a cord and the cannon thundered a shot at the gate. The cannon ball hit the ground and sand exploded into the air, along with the Bulblins at the front gate.

 

“Reload, quickly!” Valoo said.

 

The Gorons worked like a well-oiled machine and within seconds the cannon was reloaded.

 

“Move in, closer now!”

 

Link, meanwhile, had rushed past several of the Bulblins. He shot a few who tried to stop him and heard several more rifle shots from somewhere in the distance. Linebeck was dropping Bulblins that Link couldn't get to and kept him alive on more than one occasion.

 

Link rushed up the stairs and was soon on the top floor. He kicked the door in to the only room up there and raised his shotgun.

 

“I assume you know what I'm here for” Link said.

 

He watched as Ganon, who had his back to the door, turned around and faced him.

 

“I've got an idea” Ganon said.

 

Link approached him slowly, still pointing the shotgun at Ganon.

 

“Put that thing down. You might hurt someone. Of course, that won't be me.”

 

Link did as Ganon said. He instead drew the Spirit Sword from its sheath.

 

Ganon laughed.

 

“What's this? Fancy yourself a swordsman of old now? Besides that, there's not enough power in it to kill me.”

 

“There's some power. I bet it'll hurt like a bitch when it cuts into you” Link said.

 

“Care to test that theory? See if you can actually hit me with it.”

 

Link rushed him and swung the sword at Ganon's throat. Ganon deftly stepped aside and stepped forward grabbing Link's right hand. He knocked the sword from Link's grasp, sending it flying across the room. It clattered on the floor and stopped just below the window.

 

Ganon then threw Link to the opposite side of the room. Link hit the ground hard and landed in a heap.

 

“I don't want to kill you, Link. I really don't. We can work this out peacefully. What about our deal?” Ganon asked as he walked toward Link.

 

Ganon stopped next to Link and loomed above him. Link spat in Ganon's face.

 

“Take your deal and shove it up your ass!' Link spat.

 

Ganon wiped his face.

 

“That's a shame. I guess all you lawmen are alike. I can always take it from you the hard way.”

 

He bent down to pick Link up off the floor when he felt something stick into his back. It burned slightly but it didn't do much to harm him.

 

He turned around and saw a young woman standing in front of the window.

 

“Look at that, Link. Sheik's come to save you. But your name's not Sheik, is it?”

 

Ganon rushed her and grabbed her by the throat. He felt his right hand pulsate with power.

 

“Ah, so you are Zelda? Glad to know I was right. I've been looking for you for a long time. Do you have any idea the trouble you've caused me?”

 

While Ganon held onto Zelda, Link had gotten up and walked across the room to pick up the Spirit Sword.

 

“Let her go. This is between you and me.”

 

“You're right, Link” Ganon said, turning to Link.

 

“But now it's between you, me, and her.”

 

Link suddenly saw a flash of movement from the doorway. Marshal LaFaron was there.

 

“Get Zelda, Colin! Quickly!”

 

The Marshal hadn't expected more than just Link and Ganon in this room so he was surprised at the scene. He thought about running for Link but he knew Link would never forgive him if he didn't go for Zelda and get her out of there.

 

The Marshal rushed Ganon and knocked him to the ground, forcing him to loosen his grip on Zelda. He picked her up and dove out the window. They had set up a large cart full of hay outside to break their fall and Marshal LaFaron and Zelda landed safely.

 

Ganon got up and turned to Link.

 

“It's just you and me again, I guess. I'll just go for her later.”

 

Link suddenly pulled a lighter out of his pouch. He lit it and used it to light the torch outside the window. This was Valoo's signal to fire.

 

“When someone else kills you, and they will, we'll meet again in hell.”

 

Ganon narrowed his eyes and heard someone call his name from outside, down below. He walked over to the other window, facing the gate and saw Valoo and his Gorons there.

 

“Here comes the hellfire, you son of a bitch!” Valoo shouted.

 

He grabbed the cord himself and pulled it. The cannon's thunderous shot erupted once more. The cannon ball screamed toward the top of the fortress, toward Ganon and Link.

 

Suddenly, Link felt himself being pulled out the window, into the cart of hay below.

 

The cannon ball collided with the top of the tower and it exploded into shards of rock and wood and smoke. The impact destroyed the top of the fortress and with that last, thunderous cannon shot, the Bulblins stronghold fell.

 

The few that were left alive surrendered and awaited transport to the Castle Town prison. When the smoke cleared, Ganon was nowhere to be seen.

 

Link climbed out of the cart of hay and saw Marshal LaFaron and Zelda standing together.

 

“How'd you get back up there so fast?” Link asked.

 

The Marshal was shocked to see Link alive. He hadn't pulled Link out of Ganon's room.

 

“That wasn't me, Link. I don't know how you made it out of there.”

 

“Someone pulled me out of the window. Sir Russell, maybe?”

 

“Not even close. It was me” said a voice from behind them.

 

Link turned around and saw a purple-clad figure climb out of the hay cart. He wore a hood that concealed his face. The hood was shaped like a rabbit.

 

“Thanks, I guess. Who are you? Why did you save me?” Link asked.

 

“It would take too long to explain everything to you. I am called Ravio.”

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“We will meet again. I have a vested interest in your success and the survival of New Hyrule. That is all I can say. I must leave you now.”

 

With a puff of smoke, Ravio disappeared again, as quickly as he had appeared.

 

“What was that all about?” Zelda asked.

 

“I wish I knew” Link said.

 

He was suddenly furious.

 

“I told you and Linebeck to stay behind and wait” Link said, angrily. “You could have been killed.”

 

“So, what? You want me to just sit around and wait for you to do everything? What happened to needing my help? And you know what? I'm tired of you being so damn ready to sacrifice yourself. It's you who almost got yourself killed. Where would we be if you had, Link? There are people who care about you, damn it! So stop trying to get yourself killed and think about the people who care about you for once in your gods damned life!”

 

Link did not reply to this. He simply turned and started walking back toward the gate. Zelda and Marshal LaFaron followed him.

 

They met up with the Rangers and Gorons at the front gate. Linebeck was there with his rifle slung over his shoulder. He saw Link and walked toward him.

 

“We thought you could use some help” Linebeck said.

 

“Now's not the time, Linebeck. Where's my sister?”

 

“She's over there with the Rangers.”

 

Link brushed past Linebeck and moved quickly toward the Rangers. He saw his sister in amongst them.

 

Linebeck didn't turn around to follow him.

 

“You're welcome” he muttered.

 

Link rushed toward his sister, calling her name. They met and embraced in a long hug.

 

“It's good to see you again, Aryll. It's all over for you now” Link said, tears in his eyes.

 

Aryll, fighting back tears, responded to him.

 

“I told you not to do anything stupid” she said, softly.

 

“I got help. It wasn't that stupid” Link said, finally letting her go and stepping back.

 

He wiped his eyes. Aryll reached up and wiped his face.

 

“I haven't seen you cry since Grandma died” she said, tears finally forming in her eyes.

 

“Haven't had any reason to, I guess” Link said.

 

“You didn't even cry over Cal” Aryll said.

 

Link sighed.

 

“Listen” he said. “I need you to go with the Rangers back to Castle Town. Sir Russell and Colin will look after you there. Once this is all over, we'll have to talk. There are a few things you need to know.”

 

“Why can't we just talk now?”

 

“There's no time. Later, I promise.”

 

“You need to promise me more than that. Promise me you'll come back alive.”

 

Link paused. He didn't know for sure if he would come back alive. He knew full well that he simply couldn't make the promise because he stood a likely chance of dying. But, he decided that he would promise anyway.

 

“I promise” Link said.

 

Link and Aryll hugged again and then parted. Link shook hands with the Rangers and Marshal LaFaron and then walked back over to Linebeck and Zelda. He watched as they headed back toward Castle Town.

 

Link turned to face Zelda and Linebeck.

 

“You both know where we're going next. Grab your horses and follow me to Goron Town. We're finding the Fire Tower right now. Let's go.”

 

Link walked back toward his horse and walked back with Zelda and Linebeck to theirs. They rode  out for Eldin.

 

 

 

 

 

            Link stopped them just outside of Goron Town. They had crossed into Eldin and reached their destination soon after nightfall.

 

Link climbed down from his horse.

 

“We need to go the rest of the way on foot. Our approach needs to be quiet.”

 

“Why?” asked Linebeck. “We cut the heart out of the Bulblins. There shouldn't be any left. What are you so worried about?”

 

“Think back to the fortress, Linebeck. Who was missing? Someone important and dangerous was not there.”

 

Linebeck thought about it. He remembered the last of Ganon's best, Vaati.

 

“Who, Vaati? He probably turned tail and ran.”

 

Link shook his head.

 

“No, Linebeck.” he said. “Vaati is too loyal to Ganon to run now. Now, think harder. Where do you think Ganon would send Vaati if he was smart, which he is?”

 

Linebeck scoffed.

 

“Come on, Link. Even if he sent Vaati here, what difference does it make? There's three of us and one of him.”

 

“Ganon holds the Triforce of Power, Linebeck” Zelda said suddenly.

 

She had been silent the entire trip to Eldin until now.

 

“What would that indicate?” she asked.

 

“So, what, you think he gave Vaati some of this power?”

 

“I do, Linebeck” Link said. “That's where this gun of Sahasrahla's comes in. I've only got seven bullets, remember. I don't plan on missing and I doubt Vaati will give me a clear shot at his heart.”

 

“I think I see your point” Linebeck said. “Do we have any thing else that might help?”

 

“Zelda's bow. Maybe we can get her a good shot at his heart.”

 

Link started walking toward Goron Town. Zelda and Linebeck began following.

 

“Sure, now you want my help” Zelda said when they started walking.

 

Link stopped and turned around.

 

“All right, fine. We need to address this. You're still sore at me, right?” Link asked.

 

“What do you think?” Zelda said. “You did to me what everyone in my life has always done to me. I thought you trusted me to be someone you could count on. But it turns out you just think I'm weak and useless.”

 

Link sighed.

 

“Zelda, you don't understand. I trust you to do anything. You're the strongest person I've ever known. You're sure as hell the strongest among us three. I needed the pair of you to stay behind, though. I couldn't risk having either of you die. I went straight to Ganon to hold him off. We would never have taken the fortress if I didn't keep him distracted.”

 

“You were right, Zelda. If something happened to me, it wouldn't be good. Ganon would have my Triforce but here's why I told you to wait: he wouldn't have had yours. You would have taken the Spirit Sword and restored its power. You would have been the one to kill Ganon and take up my mantle. I trust that you would have finished the job and saved this land. Because you showed up, though, it almost put the whole Triforce in Ganon's hands. If we had both died, there would be nothing stopping Ganon from taking New Hyrule as his own. That's why I told you to stay behind. If I died, you'd become the Hero. I was justified in what I did.”

 

Zelda was silent. Link used the opportunity to reach into the pocket of his duster and pull out a letter.

 

“I wrote this just in case” he said. “You or someone would have found this. This was for you if I died. It says everything I just told you.”

 

He handed it to Zelda. He then turned to Linebeck.

 

“I wrote one for you, too.”

 

He pulled another letter from his pocket and handed it to Linebeck.

 

“It was my wish for you to stay with Zelda and help her finish the job. You've been crucial to us for so long that even with me gone, she'd still need your help, and you'd need hers. We've become a team, after all.”

 

Neither Zelda nor Linebeck spoke for the longest time. Zelda put the letter in her pocket and responded to Link.

 

“All right. I'm sorry for doubting your faith in me. But now it's your turn to listen. We needed to be there to help you. If we're a team, like you said, then we need to work as one. It is our job to keep you alive. You're the Hero, the bearer of the Triforce of Courage. Whether you like it or not, without you, this world would be lost.”

 

“Besides, there's an even bigger picture” Zelda continued. “I talked about the people who care about you. What do you think your death would do to your friends? Like Marshal LaFaron? Or the Rangers? They went out of their way to help you, you know. The Rangers don't do that often. This is what makes you important.”

 

“Think about what your death would do to me or Linebeck. We're all friends here, good ones. We'd be missing a piece of ourselves without you. Finally, think about your sister.”

 

Link's heart dropped at the mention of Aryll. Zelda continued.

 

“Think about Aryll for a second, Link. If you died, what would happen to her? Everyone she's ever loved has gone and died on her. You are all she has left. Even if you were to succeed and die in the process, the world would be safe, but what of Aryll? Do you think she'd be happy? All I know is it'd do terrible, irreparable damage to her. She'd never be truly happy. All I ask is that you stop being so ready to sacrifice yourself for the supposed 'greater good'. Even if you don't want to do it for us, at least keep yourself alive for the sake of your sister.”

 

Zelda paused briefly before speaking again.

 

“And that's why we were justified in what we did.”

 

Link had no words to reply to this. Zelda was right and he knew it. He finally spoke.

 

“We should keep moving” he said quietly.

 

They approached the town carefully. The silence about the place was unnatural. Link feared the worst and hoped desperately that Vaati had not wiped out the entire town.

 

They walked to the back of the town and the largest of the stone houses, the house of Darmani, the Goron Elder.

 

The door to the house was broken open and the three of them entered cautiously. There was debris scattered across the floor. A fight had clearly taken place here. Link could hear faint breathing from underneath a fallen statue.

 

He rushed over to it and moved it off of the top of the pile and found the Goron Elder barely alive.

 

“Darmani,” Link said. “Darmani, can you hear me?”

 

The Goron Elder rolled onto his side and looked up at Link.

 

“Who are you?” he asked faintly. “Where is that Bulblin?”

 

“I was hoping you could tell me” Link said. “I am a Castle Town Marshal. I was told you were the keeper of a ruby orb. Where is it?”

 

Darmani coughed.

 

“What do you think the Bulblin was here for? Those bastards broke our deal” Darmani said, weakly.

 

“What deal?” Zelda asked.

 

Darmani looked in her direction.

 

“The last time they came here, Ganon threatened to kill the entire town. He said he would leave and they'd never bother us again if I let him borrow the orb and get to the Fire Tower.”

 

“Darmani, did Vaati hurt anyone else in town?” Link asked.

 

Darmani shook his head.

 

“He shook people up with some kind of witchcraft so they all hid from him. He came after me and I tried to fight him off. He broke our deal.”

 

“Where is the Fire Tower, Darmani?” Link asked.

 

“At the base of the tallest mountain there are seven standing stones. The ruby goes in the middle. You'll have to get it from the Bulblin, though.”

 

Darmani coughed again from the effort of speaking.

 

“You need to go. Kill that damn Bulblin. Send him to hell for me.”

 

“We will, Darmani. We need to get you to a doctor first” Link said.

 

“Forget it. I'll die before you get me there. Don't waste the time. Just go.”

 

Darmani laid his head back and his breathing grew fainter still.

 

Link tried to pick up the big Goron but as soon as he knelt down, Darmani stopped breathing. Link checked his pulse.

 

He stood up and shook his head to Linebeck and Zelda.

 

“You heard him. Let's go” Link said quietly.

 

They left Darmani's house and walked around to the back of it, toward the mountain range. Link picked out the tallest one and headed straight for its base.

 

They approached the standing stones and stopped about 40 feet away. Vaati stood there, facing the three of them.

 

As Link was approaching, he had already pulled Sahasrahla's gun out of his right holster. He drew the hammer back and held it at his side.

 

“You really think some pea shooter is going to stop me now, Marshal?” Vaati said.

 

“No more talking, Vaati” Link said.

 

Zelda had readied an arrow on her bow. Linebeck just stood back and watched. Vaati turned to look at Linebeck.

 

“You ever been struck by lightning?” he asked.

 

“I said no talking, Vaati” Link said.

 

Vaati pulled out his gun and looked down at it. It suddenly started sparking with electrical energy.

 

“You want to know what it feels like?” Vaati said.

 

He raised his gun at Linebeck and just before he could fire, Zelda shouldered Linebeck aside and fired an arrow at Vaati, all in one swift motion.

 

The arrow struck Vaati's arm and caused him to veer off target and fire his bullet harmlessly behind Zelda. He clutched at the arrow in his arm in pain. He pulled it out, but it burned his hand as he did.

 

“That's some bow you've got there. You'd best be careful. There's a storm coming.”

 

Vaati raised his gun into the air and fired. Massive dark clouds suddenly swarmed the skies and a sheet of rain began pouring down. Lightning struck all around them, in a perfect circle. He had blocked them in.

 

Link raised his gun and fired, aiming at Vaati's chest. The bullet hit him, but Vaati moved quickly enough that it missed his heart and went straight through the same shoulder Zelda had hit.

 

The bullet obviously hurt him, but not enough.

 

“It's getting windy, lawman.”

 

Vaati fired at Link and the bullet turned into a massive gust of wind. This blew Link back ten feet. He hit the ground but quickly managed to roll and get back up.

 

Zelda fired another arrow, aiming for Vaati's heart. The pouring rain obscured her vision as raindrops poured down onto her face from the brim of her hat.

 

Vaati moved aside quicker than she'd ever seen any human move. The arrow stuck into the ground uselessly.

 

“Keep trying, girl” Vaati said.

 

Link pointed his gun at Vaati again but before he could fire, Vaati had moved aside again, breaking Link's aim.

 

Zelda, however, had anticipated this and which direction Vaati would move. She fired another arrow at him as soon as Vaati had finished moving. She hit him in the stomach this time.

 

Vaati grunted in pain and pulled this arrow out as well, burning his hand again.

 

“No more fooling around. You get the first taste” Vaati said.

 

He raised his gun, taking his eyes off Link for a split second. This gave him time to line up his shot. Just as Vaati started pulling the trigger on his gun, he saw the flash of Link's gun.

 

He had no time to move away this time. Zelda's arrows and Link's first bullet had weakened him.

 

Sahasrahla's gun fired off a deep, thunderous shot. The steel bullet screamed through the air and stayed true to its target.

 

The bullet pierced Vaati's heart and passed straight through him. A bright, red light flickered inside of Vaati when the bullet hit him. It went out quickly and Vaati fell backward onto the ground.

 

The storm Vaati summoned dissipated quickly and Link holstered the gun, shaking his head.

 

“I wasted a bullet” he said.

 

“Are you really worried about one little bullet, Link?” Linebeck asked.

 

Link didn't answer. He walked over to where Vaati had fallen and knelt down next to him. He checked his pulse and felt nothing. He looked to the left of Vaati's head and noticed a ruby orb sitting there.

 

Link picked up the orb and walked to the center of the standing stones. He placed the orb in its place and watched the mountain in front of him disappear and reveal a red stone tower.

 

“Here's hoping he's the last of our problems” Link said, walking toward the tower.

 

The three of them climbed the tower and reached the top. They found a similar scene in the prayer chamber. The spirit of the dead sage, Naomi, told them of the existence of someone from her bloodline. She carried a harp in her hands.  The harp was a basic 'U' shape and the ends were shaped almost like two birds.

 

“Link, do you remember that girl, Marin, in Papuchia?” Zelda asked. “She had that harp.”

 

Link nodded.

 

“Indeed she did. Guess where we're headed next?”

 

“If she holds the harp, then she is my descendant. Go and find her. Bring her here. As soon as she plays the ancient Ballad of the Windfish, she will be recognized as the Sage of Fire. Then your sword will return to its former glory.”

 

The spirit disappeared and the three of them quickly left the tower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            It took them two days to return to Papuchia. They found Marin in the tower again, playing for its patrons.

 

They waited for her to finish before approaching her. Link sat at the bar and watched her and listened to the music.

 

He watched a group of men sit down at a table near her. There were five of them and two wore green bandanas. There were still remnants of the gang roaming around, Link knew that, but it immediately put him on his guard.

 

He exchanged looks with Zelda and stood up from his stool. He eyed the men carefully. They started whistling at Marin and calling to her, demanding her affection. Marin was clearly uncomfortable and distressed by the situation.

 

“Get up, Linebeck. We're going over there.”

 

Linebeck didn't have time to object as Link walked toward the table before Linebeck could argue.

 

He stopped about five feet from the table and pulled his left gun out its holster. He raised it in the air and fired a bullet into the ceiling.

 

“You all can either walk out of this tavern or leave it in a pine box. That's up to you.”

 

The three men who weren't Bulblins immediately left, tripping over each other and knocking over a few tables and chairs. The two Bulblins merely stood up and stared at Link.

 

Zelda and Linebeck stepped up next to him.

“We were just having fun, law dogs. No cause for trouble” said one of them.

 

“Harassing a girl who's trying to entertain folks doesn't sound like fun to me. I don't care for your definition of fun, boy” Link replied.

 

“You gonna back up that threat of yours or are you just going to stand there?” the second Bulblin said.

 

Link didn't answer him. He simply grabbed him and threw him on top of an empty table. The table broke into pieces and the outlaw hit the ground hard.

 

The second tried to attack Link from behind but Zelda stepped in front of him and punched him in the face.

 

The Bulblin fell to the ground, unconscious from the blow.

 

Link holstered his gun.

 

“Do I have to tell you again?” Link said.

 

The Bulblin groaned in response.

 

Link turned around to face the bartender.

 

“Call the Sheriff. Tell him he's got two outlaws to put in the stocks tonight.”

 

The bartender did as he was told and picked up the receiver of a telephone behind the bar.

 

Link walked over to one of the chairs in front of Marin and sat down. He removed his hat and set it on the table.

 

“You didn't have to do that on my account, sir” Marin said.

 

“Trust me, you're more important than you know” Link said.

 

“What do you mean by that?”

 

“Let's just cut to the chase here” Link said. “You are a descendant of the Sage of Fire. That there harp proves it.”

 

“But that's not-”

 

“Does the name Naomi ring a bell?” Zelda asked.

 

“How do you know her? She was my great aunt” Marin said.

 

“Like I said, you are a descendant of hers. She was the sage of Fire. You need to take on her role.”

 

“I'm not sure if I'm ready” Marin said.

 

“You need to be” Linebeck said suddenly.

 

Link and Zelda looked at him. Linebeck had never jumped into one of these conversations before.

 

“I know it's hard, but the fate of the world is at stake here. You need to come with us. You are a sage and we need you. The whole world needs you.”

 

“Why?”

 

Link unsheathed the Spirit Sword and showed it to Marin.

 

“This is why. We need all of the power restored to it. Without it, we won't be able to beat Ganon.”

 

“You mean the head Bulblin? Is he really that powerful?”

 

“And then some. I'm sorry to have to take you away from this good life you've got here, but this is very important. Please just come with us” Link said.

 

“Where exactly would I be going?”

 

“To the Fire Tower. It is hidden in the mountains of Eldin.”

 

Marin sighed. This all seemed too much. But she remembered Link and Zelda and she knew the first time they'd met that she could trust them. She was still reluctant, but she agreed to do it.

 

“All right. If it's really that important.”

 

The four of them left together for Eldin.

 

It took them another two days to get there. They reached the Fire Tower again, unopposed this time, and climbed to the top once again.

 

Marin played the Ballad of the Windfish in the prayer chamber and Link placed the sword on the altar. The blade began glowing with a holy light and when Marin finished playing, the sword was illuminating the room. Link stared at it in awe.

 

“It's beautiful” Marin said. “I can't believe my prayers can create something so wonderful.”

 

Link sheathed the sword again.

 

“Thank you, Marin. You'll be safe here. We've got some business to take care of.”

 

Link, Linebeck, and Zelda climbed back down the tower and Link picked up the ruby orb.

 

“Master” said a voice suddenly.

 

Anja had appeared again.

 

“My power has been fully restored. The time has come for you to fulfill your destiny.”

 

Anja disappeared into the sword for one final time.

 

“Where are we headed now?” Linebeck asked.

 

“Well, he hasn't resurfaced since Valoo fire-balled him so Ganon must still be at the ruined fortress somewhere. We should head back there.”

 

“And you want us with you?” Zelda asked.

 

“Of course I do. We're in this together. Let's go send Ganon back to hell.”

 

 

 

 

 

             The wind came up and a cloud of sand and debris moved across the vacant fortress. It was midday and Link, Zelda, and Linebeck searched all around.

 

Link had said that Ganon was still there, but they found no trace of a single, living soul amongst the abandoned fortress. It took everything in them not to give up and try to come up with a new plan.

 

Just when the thought crossed Link's mind, he heard Linebeck call out. Link followed the sound of Linebeck's voice and found him standing at the top of a staircase.

 

“This looks awful old, doesn't it?” Linebeck said.

 

“It does. It looks like the fortress was built on top of it” Link said.

 

He ran his hand along the wall and noticed faded, ancient writing all along it.

 

“A tomb, maybe?” Zelda proposed.

 

“More than likely” Link replied.

 

He looked down the stairs at the looming darkness. At the bottom, he noticed a faint flickering.

 

“Someone's lit a torch down there” Link said. “Someone is definitely here.”

 

Link waved a hand to the other two as he began descending the stairs. Linebeck and Zelda followed.

 

They came to an open doorway with a lit torch on either side of it. They entered and saw a large man standing there, facing the door. It was Ganon.

 

Ganon did not look the same, however. He wore the same black duster and hat that he had always worn, but everything else was different.

 

He looked as though he was shrouded in shadow. His face had darkened and his eyes glowed red. His bottom jaw protruded out more and two sharp teeth jutted out of his mouth like the tusks of a boar. He held a large trident in his right hand, standing it up on its end.

 

“I sure am a pretty picture, ain't I?” Ganon said.

 

“That all came from your Triforce, no doubt” Link said.

 

“That'd be correct, Link. I'm glad you came. I expected you to come and, like always, you didn't disappoint me.”

 

“You know this is the end of the line” Link said.

 

“I had hoped it wouldn't come to this, Link. We can still settle this differently. You're here, the girl is here. Just give me the Triforce pieces and you can be on your merry way. I'll keep my promise, I swear, and I'll leave you and your sister alone.”

 

Link shook his head.

 

“You know that isn't going to happen” he said.

 

“Why? It's what you want, isn't it?” Ganon asked.

 

“The way I see it, if I refuse, I get peace for my sister anyway, and a clear conscience. I won't let New Hyrule fall to you when I can do something about it and I get to kill you. Doesn't that sound like a better deal to you?”

 

Ganon sighed.

 

“I suppose it does. Still, I can tell you've had enough killing. You don't need to have my blood on your hands too” he said.

 

“I'm afraid I do. After you, I'm done. No more people will die by my hand.”

 

“Are you sure you can do that?” Ganon asked. “I know the rage that still boils inside you. Just like it does within me. Do you really think you can let all that go?”

 

“Once we're finished here, that'll be a start.”

 

Ganon smiled.

 

“You did know that your brother was one of us, right?”

 

Link nodded.

 

“i found that out in Papuchia.”

 

“Did you ever know why?” Ganon asked.

 

“I never really thought about it. Maybe he just got stupid with age?” Link said.

 

“He joined us because I didn't give him a choice. I knew who he was. It's funny, when I think of how this all started. Your daddy standing up to us like he did. I had to command respect through fear. So that's why I had to have the whole lot of you killed.”

 

“I couldn't be satisfied because this was a job unfinished and I never leave things unfinished. King Bulbo told me about you and your brother so I knew who he was. I'd heard you were making a name for yourself in Faron as a gunfighter. I found your brother stepping off a ship at the Papuchia docks. He'd taken a liking to sailing and fishing.”

 

“I gave him two options: join my gang or I head back to Faron and waste his entire family. As an added bonus, if he joined up, I'd leave his family alone. You knew him well, right? Which choice do you think he made?”

 

Link was silent. He glared at Ganon.

 

“You owe him your life. Your sister's life too. Anyway, about a year after he joined up, I decided to finally have you killed. He stepped up and volunteered.”

 

“Why would he volunteer to kill me?” Link asked.

 

“I think it's because he had every intention of entering a gunfight against you. He spat in my face before he left and do you know what he told me? He said 'you'll get yours, you son of a bitch.' I think he knew that everything would lead back to me. He knew you were faster than him and that you'd kill him in that gunfight. I guess he wanted to die with honour.”

 

Link was confused.

 

“Why are you telling me all this?”

 

Ganon sighed.

 

“You and I both know that one of us is going to die here. As far as I'm concerned, a man shouldn't die with any unresolved grudges. I've let all mine go. You should know the truth and let yours go, too.”

 

“You know, under different circumstances, you would have made a great man, Ganon. It's too bad about whatever happened to you to cause all this” Link said.

 

“I suppose, if things had turned out differently, we could have been friends. But the fact is, we're not.”

 

Link shook his head.

 

“No, we're not. We're on opposite sides of the fence and this can never end unless one of us dies. This world can't rest while both of us live” he said.

 

Ganon sighed once again.

 

Link unsheathed the Spirit Sword at his side.

 

Zelda readied her bow and Linebeck drew his pistol.

 

Ganon raised his trident and held it in both hands, holding it out in front of him.

 

“Just one more thing. Goodbye, Link” Ganon said.

 

“Goodbye, Ganon.”

 

Link charged toward Ganon and swung his sword at Ganon's head. Ganon ducked and the sword missed him.

 

At the same time, Zelda unleashed an arrow from her bow.

 

While ducking out of the way of Link's sword, Ganon spun his trident in his left hand and deflected the arrow out of mid-air. It ricocheted off the ceiling and fell uselessly to the floor.

 

He grabbed Link and threw him to the back wall of the tomb. Link remained standing and sheathed the sword, pulling out Sahasrahla's gun and firing a shot at Ganon's chest.

 

The bullet hit him and appeared to hurt him, but did nothing to stop Ganon from charging back at Link.

 

Linebeck watched all of this unfold, unsure of how to help. He had no magic weapons and knew that nothing he had would do much of anything.

 

He had drawn his pistol and thought about firing at Ganon but decided against it. He knew it would do nothing to him and if he missed, he might hit Link or Zelda and that would just make the situation worse.

 

Link stepped aside as Ganon reached him. Ganon's fist, intended for Link's head, instead hit the wall, cracking it from the impact.

 

Zelda moved behind Ganon and fired another arrow. This one hit him in the shoulder but he ignored it.

 

Ganon instead grabbed Link again and threw him into the middle of the room. Link was knocked off his feet this time and hit the ground laying on his back.

 

With lightning quick reflexes, Ganon moved across the room and knocked Zelda aside with his trident, sending her crashing into a wall. He did the same to Linebeck before he even saw it coming.

 

With the two of them on the outside of the room, he moved quickly back to center of it and a glowing, yellow barrier appeared around him and Link.

 

Zelda got up quickly and saw the barrier. She fired an arrow at it to test it and it simply bounced off and hit the ground beside her. She and Linebeck were powerless to help Link now.

 

Link got up slowly and noticed the barrier around him and Ganon. He holstered the old pistol and drew the Spirit Sword yet again.

 

The two of them circled each other for a while, attempting to find some sort of opening. Both men were trying to out-wait the other.

 

Link's instincts from his gunfighting days kicked in. He knew making the first move would be a mistake but Ganon knew that as well.

 

Every so often Ganon would swipe at Link with his trident. Link would deflect these strikes with his sword.

 

The two continued slowly circling each other, however, eyes locked on one another. Eventually, one of them would have to give in and try to go on the offensive.

 

Link wasn't very confident in his skill with a sword at first, in spite of what the Hero of Time had taught him in his first dream. After deflecting every swipe of Ganon's, however, his confidence grew. After what felt like days, he finally decided to be the one to take a chance and go on the offensive.

 

He waited until Ganon took another swipe at him but instead of deflecting it this time, he ducked underneath it and rolled forward, thrusting his sword at Ganon's stomach.

 

Ganon was able to react, but not quite quickly enough. The sword grazed his left hip and cut him.

 

He reached down and grabbed his hip, grunting in pain. He looked down at his hand and noticed that his blood had turned white and now glowed with a strange light.

 

Link leapt up and took another chance, swinging again at Ganon's head.

 

Ganon saw this one coming and quickly blocked this strike with his trident. He pushed back against Link with as much strength as he could muster.

 

Link was knocked backward into the barrier but he was quick to react.

 

After hitting the barrier, Link immediately rolled forward and jumped up to face Ganon again.

 

The two then began circling each other again. The wound Link inflicted was clearly affecting Ganon as every few steps, he was wincing in pain.

 

This time when circling each other, Link and Ganon would exchange blows, taking swipes at each other and blocking them every time.

 

Link decided to go on the offensive again. This time, he swiped at Ganon with his sword on Ganon's left, causing Ganon to react but his sword did not make contact with Ganon's trident.

 

Link stopped his strike short at the last second as Ganon attempted to block it. He very quickly swung from the other side, this time slicing into Ganon's left arm.

 

The wound was deep and glowing, white blood seeped out of it immediately. Ganon stumbled backward and the barrier around them suddenly dissipated.

 

In desperation, Ganon lashed out at Link with his trident. The Spirit Sword was knocked from Link's grasp and he was sent flying back into the wall again, crashing into it hard.

 

The collision knocked the wind out of him. Link was lying on the floor, gasping for breath.

 

Linebeck noticed that the Spirit Sword was within his reach. He picked it up and held it out in front of him, facing Ganon.

 

When Ganon regained his composure, he turned to look at Linebeck.

 

Zelda, meanwhile, had tried firing another arrow at Ganon. It hit him in his left shoulder but he again didn't seem to feel it. Zelda decided that her bow was useless against Ganon as it was.

 

Linebeck's hands shook as he gripped the Spirit Sword in both of them. He obviously didn't know how to use it but he knew it was the only thing that could hurt Ganon and Link was temporarily out of action.

 

Ganon simply walked forward and flicked the sword from Linebeck's grasp with his trident. He pointed the pronged end forward and moved to impale Linebeck when something purple obscured his vision for a moment.

 

Ganon was distracted and looked around for the source of the disturbance. Suddenly, a purple clad figure appeared before him, Spirit Sword in hand. He thrust it into Ganon's left shoulder.

 

Ganon cried out in pain as the sword went in. The figure withdrew the sword and quickly disappeared again. He reappeared beside Zelda.

 

“Wait, it's you” Zelda said.

 

The purple clad figure was indeed the same rabbit-hooded man they had encountered earlier, Ravio.

 

Ravio held out his right hand. A glowing, golden orb floated just above it.

 

“Give me your hands” he said.

 

Zelda was about to question why but she decided there was no time and did as Ravio asked. He was helping them, after all, and she felt like there was no other choice.

 

Zelda held onto Ravio's hand with both of her own. She felt a slight heat for a moment before it dissipated.

 

“You now have the power to bathe the silver arrows you carry in a holy light. This will stun the evil one and give the Hero his chance to strike him down. Of course, hitting him is the tricky part. I leave that up to you.”

He quickly disappeared again before reappearing beside Link, dropping the Spirit Sword beside him.

 

“Who are you?” Zelda asked.

 

With Link still on the floor, gasping for breath, he did not see what transpired next.

 

Ravio turned to face Zelda and removed his hood. Zelda was stunned to see Link's face staring back at her. His hair was black and his eyes were brown, however.

 

“I was sent here from my world to ensure the survival of yours. If yours falls into chaos, so does ours. I was sent to prevent that from happening. My task is complete. I leave the rest up to you.”

 

Just as suddenly as he appeared, Ravio disappeared once more.

 

Link stood up again, catching his breath. He faced Ganon, who had recovered his strength as well.

 

Link was bruised and shaken and Ganon was badly wounded. The two needed to finish this fight.

 

Zelda looked at Link and got his attention, pointing to her bow. Link had heard her exchange with Ravio and nodded.

 

Link walked back toward the door and did his best to get Ganon's attention away from Zelda.

 

The two exchanged a few blows before Zelda managed to get a clear shot.

 

She grabbed one of her arrows and it glowed brilliantly as soon as her hand touched it. She took aim at Ganon's chest.

 

She loosed an arrow and it flew quickly toward its target.

 

Ganon was still very powerful and sensed the imminent danger, managing to jump aside and avoid the arrow's deadly path.

 

Link tried distracting him again but the same result occurred.

 

This time, however, Zelda fired her shot too close to Link and it collided with the Spirit Sword. They both saw it ricochet away from him in the opposite direction of the blade's flat side.

 

Link looked to Zelda and pointed at his sword, meaning she should now aim for it.

 

Ganon had caught on, of course, but Link started attacking him aggressively. He had no time to reach Zelda.

 

The two were locked in fierce combat as Zelda pulled another arrow from her quiver. She knocked the glowing arrow to the string and drew it back, taking aim at Link this time.

 

Link watched carefully as he waited for Zelda to take the shot. As soon as she felt he was in a good position, she called out to him.

 

“Link, now!”

 

Link quickly jumped back and turned the flat side of his sword toward Zelda. She let the arrow fly and it struck true on the side of Link's blade.

 

The arrow bounced off the sword and hit Ganon in the middle of his chest. Yellow, electrical energy radiated from him and he was frozen in the middle of an attack.

 

Link took his opportunity and leapt at Ganon. He thrust the sword into Ganon's chest, piercing his heart.

 

Ganon grunted in pain as Link let go of the sword and stepped back. Ganon did not fall, he simply stood there. His breathing was shallow and pained and it was clear he would not survive.

 

Link walked to Ganon and grabbed his right hand. A spinning, golden triangle floated out from Ganon's hand and hovered in the air behind Link.

 

Zelda walked over to him and held her left hand in the air. Another spinning, golden triangle floated out from Zelda's hand and joined the other one, moving to its bottom left.

 

Finally, Link raised his left hand into the air and the last spinning, golden triangle left his hand and joined the other two, taking its place in the bottom right.

 

The three triangles fused together and finally stopped spinning. The Triforce was complete.

 

Link walked over to it and placed his left hand upon it. He turned to face Ganon.

 

“Gods of Hyrule, hear that which I desire” Link shouted to the heavens.

 

“I wish for peace across the land of New Hyrule. I wish for Ganon's reign of outlaw terror to come to an end. I wish for the law of New Hyrule to track down the remaining Bulblins and put an end to their madness. Finally, I wish for Ganon to be buried here in the desert he once called home. I wish for him to be buried beneath these cursed sands, where his soul will rest for all eternity.”

 

The Triforce glowed brilliantly, letting out its golden light. The light illuminated the entire room, nearly blinding them all.

 

After a while, the light dissipated and the Triforce was gone. Link looked down at his left hand and noticed the mark there had returned. This time, however, the entire Triforce rested there, glowing once before fading again.

 

Sand from the desert suddenly began pouring into the room, filling it up quickly. Link pulled the Spirit Sword from Ganon's chest and called out to his friends.

 

“We need to get out of here, now!”

 

Linebeck and Zelda followed him out of the tomb and back up into the daylight above. The room filled with sand and soon the three of them could no longer see down the stairs as it was filled to the brim with the sands of the desert.

 

The three of them looked at each other. Each held a thousand yard stare, having just completed their most harrowing fight to date.

 

There was disbelief among their looks as well as none of them could believe that their ordeal was finally over.

 

 

 

 

 

            As promised, Link brought Zelda to Castle Town, attempting to set up a meeting with the King.

 

He met with Sir Russell in the Marshal's office.

 

“So, I'm guessing that if you're here, it's done then?” he asked.

 

Link produced Ganon's black hat with the red badge pinned to it. Sir Russell took it and examined it.

 

“Unbelievable. You really did it” Russell said.

 

“I have a favour to ask you” Link said. “One last one, if you could.”

 

“For cutting the head off of the Bulblins, I'd do you a thousand favours. What do you need?”

 

“My friend here, Zelda, wants to meet with the King. I need to arrange that for her. Is there any way you could somehow get that done?”

 

“All I need to do is run it by Chancellor Oshus. He's agreeable enough so I doubt there will be any trouble getting this done” Sir Russell said.

 

The Faron Ranger quickly left the office and headed for the castle to speak with the chancellor. The three of them waited in the office with Marshal LaFaron.

 

“What are you going to do now?” the Marshal asked Link, while they waited.

 

“I think I'm just about done with this lawman business. I left a good man in charge of Aboda and now that my sister is safe, there's no need for me anymore.”

 

“Link, you are the best lawman I've ever seen. There are still remnants of the Bulblins out there and no one is better at tracking them than you are” the Marshal said.

 

Link simply stepped up to Colin, removing the badge from his green duster. He handed it to Marshal LaFaron.

 

“Those days are behind me now. I'm finished. I think I'll open a store. When I was a kid, I always hoped I get to inherit my dad's store. I think I'll open it again back in Aboda.”

 

Marshal LaFaron decided not to object further. Link had finally made his peace and there was no sense in trying to take that away from him. Link continued speaking.

 

“Aryll can run it with me. We can give our dad the legacy he deserves.”

 

“That's a fine plan, Link” Zelda said. “You've done enough for New Hyrule. I think you deserve the chance to live a normal life.”

 

They were silent again until Sir Russell returned with news.

 

“Chancellor Oshus was quick to allow it” Russell said upon re-entering the office.

 

“He asked about her name again and granted the request immediately. I am to take you, both of you, to the king at once.”

 

“That's good Zelda needs this. Let's go. You'll be all right here, Linebeck?” Link asked, turning to Linebeck.

 

“Colin and I can catch up while you're gone. I haven't spoken to him in ages.”

 

Link nodded and walked beside Russell and Zelda toward New Hyrule Castle.

 

It didn't take them long to reach the throne room. Before entering, a man in a dark blue suit approached them, carrying a cane.

 

Sir Russell stood at attention and saluted.

 

“Chancellor Oshus” he said.

 

“At ease, Sir Russell. These are the two people you mentioned?” Oshus asked.

 

Sir Russell relaxed.

 

“They are indeed, Chancellor.”

 

“i wanted the chance to meet them before they saw the King. You must be the famous Marshal” Oshus said, turning to Link.

 

“Ex-Marshal, actually” Link said. “I have resigned my position as of today.”

 

“That is a shame. I've heard of the great deeds you have done. I also see that you still carry the legendary Spirit Sword.”

 

Link looked down at the blade and then back up at the Chancellor.

 

“I will return it to the Tower of Spirits before I return home to Aboda. I must seal the Triforce back in the Sacred Realm yet again.”

 

“New Hyrule thanks you for your tremendous actions. I'm certain the king will want to reward you for what you've done.”

 

The Chancellor then turned to Zelda.

 

“By the Spirits of Good, it is you” he said.

 

“So you know?” Zelda asked.

 

“Indeed I do. You have your father's angry blue eyes and his glowing blond hair. I can see him in your jawline and in your posture. You are, without question, his daughter.”

 

“So I've heard” Zelda said coldly.

 

“I'm sure you've come for answers. Well, King Daphnes will provide them, I'm certain.”

 

Oshus turned to Sir Russell.

 

“You may return to your duties, Sir Russell. I will escort these two into the throne room. Thank you.”

 

“Pleasure to serve you, Chancellor” Russell said before leaving them alone.

 

Oshus opened the throne room doors and led Link and Zelda inside. They approached the throne and Oshus spoke.

 

“King Daphnes, you have visitors.”

 

The King did not seem interested.

 

“I'm not seeing any visitors today, Oshus. Send them away. They can come back tomorrow.”

 

“I'm afraid this is important, sire. These two people are of great significance and you must-”

 

“There is nothing that I must do, Oshus. Remove them from my presence.”

 

Link felt himself getting angry. Zelda was disappointed but hardly surprised. She had expected the man who abandoned her to act this way.

 

Link couldn't hold back.

 

“Typical deadbeat. Is this how you'd treat your daughter, you piece of shit?”

“You don't get to speak to me like that, boy” King Daphnes said. “If you do again, I'll have the...”

 

He suddenly stopped speaking. Something Link had said struck him.

 

“What did you say about my daughter?”

 

“What does it matter to you?” Link said. “You couldn't give a shit less about your family. Zelda is right to resent you.”

 

“Zelda?” Daphnes said.

 

He stood from his throne and approached the two of them. He looked into Zelda's eyes the entire time. His eyes lit up when he stopped in front of her.

 

“Zelda, are you really.... by the gods, you're beautiful. Just like your mother.”

 

“Yeah, I'm sure you felt the same way back when you abandoned me” Zelda said.

 

“Oh, Zelda, I can't believe you found your way here. I... I'm sorry.”

 

Zelda scoffed.

 

“I'm sure you are” she said.

 

“Zelda, you must allow me to explain.”

 

Zelda sighed.

 

“That's what I came here for. You know, I never imagined myself as much of a princess. I never expected you, the King of New Hyrule, to be my father. I want to know why you didn't want me, why you never bothered to visit me, or why you were kept a secret from me for so many years.”

 

“Zelda, you have to understand. By leaving you with Impa, I was giving you your best chance. I was so horribly depressed at the time. As as a father, I would have been a poor excuse.”

 

“When your mother died, it nearly killed me. I felt guilty at having given myself to another woman after my late wife died. Of course, I shouldn't have. But that guilt is nothing compared to the guilt I felt after I'd finally finished grieving for your mother. I knew you'd grow up without your real family and it tore into me.”

 

“I couldn't bring myself to see you because I felt that you'd resent me and that my guilt would only grow. As for the secrecy, I wanted you to carry hope in your heart that maybe your parents were better people than I am. The type of people you would aspire to be like. I didn't want you to know that your father was a miserable, old, deadbeat of a king.”

 

Zelda could still feel her anger and resentment toward him.

 

“I would have given anything just to know you. It didn't matter if you were a god or a dirt farmer, you were my father. Staying away from me only made me resent you more once I found out who you are” Zelda said.

 

“I am sorry, Zelda.”

 

There was an awkward silence before Chancellor Oshus spoke up.

 

“Your highness, I promised the young man with Zelda that you might reward him. He was the Marshal hunting all of those Bulblins.”

 

King Daphnes did not look away from his daughter.

 

With sadness in his eyes, he turned to Link.

 

“Yes, I am sorry” he said.

 

The King managed to compose himself.

 

“You are just as bold as I've heard. No one has ever spoken to me like that before.”

 

“Well, when people rub me the wrong way, I've got to tell them. Especially considering the fact