NOTES: As I mentioned last time folks, this chapter will mark the beginning of the end! So sit back, grab some popcorn and strap in. Shit's about to get real, son.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Super Smash Bros or the Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, Metroid, or any other franchise featured in this story. All are property of Nintendo, and SSB also belongs to HAL Laboratories and Mr. Sakurai. No profit is being made here, but if there was, for all the years I've been doing this, the amount of revenue I would have generated from shameless promotion would be enough to maybe buy a can of beans...or a cardboard box. Yeah, we fan fic writers are kind of poor.
Chapter 28: Ambush in Ikana Canyon, Part III
Zelda, Samus, and Marth finally found a safe trail for their horses to travel just as the moon gently rose over the horizon. Zelda rode Epona while Marth chose to guide both horses. Samus, still injured from her encounter with the Gibdos, sat atop Marth's steed. She was a bit irritated when she found out that Marth had simply forgotten about her in the heat of battle, but she forgave him. After all, he did show up in the end, and that was what mattered the most. But nonetheless, she made a mental note to get back at him one day.
The bounty hunter took out her canteen from the saddlebag to take a drink of water. Upon noticing the canteen, Marth realized he too was thirsty from all that pulling. He reached for his canteen, only to find out it was completely dry. "Hey Samus, can I have some when you're done?"
"Oh sure, hold on," she replied. Afterwards, she leaned her head back and downed the last of her water. Marth frowned while shooting an offensive glare at her. She scoffed. "Oh sorry, forgot about you in the heat of my thirst."
Before Marth could react, Samus tossed the empty canteen towards him before glancing at Zelda. "At least it isn't as hot out here now."
Marth looked over his shoulder with a cold glare. He decided to let it go. "I don't want to stay out here any longer than necessary. Link told me once that this land is stained with the blood of a fallen empire, and frankly, I don't want to find out what decided to linger."
The two smashers looked at Zelda, who seemed unusually calm. They knew she was listening, hoping for any sign that might lead them to her best friend.
"She hasn't looked back once," Samus muttered.
"She's trying to find him telepathically," Marth replied. "I don't understand it, but those two share a bond. I think it's a Hylian thing."
The first stars were peeking out from the blanket of nightfall when Zelda's body gave a sudden jolt. She snapped her head to the left, due east.
She willed Epona off in a mad dash while Marth leaped onto Zelda's horse and helped Samus guide his horse into a steady gallop.
A few more turns and small hills later, Marth and Samus finally caught up, though the sight wasn't the joyous reunion they were hoping for.
Epona nudged a figure that Zelda held in her arms. She was on her knees, muttering in Hylian, her eyes closed in concentration. Warm healing energy seeped from her fingertips and into the figure.
A sword was stuck to the ground, hilt-up, in the distance, and Samus almost stepped on a battered shield, the crest of the Triforce scratched and faded and the lower half of it missing.
As they stepped closer, Samus and Marth were disturbed at what they saw. An unconscious Link lay helplessly in the lap of a tear-stricken Zelda. He was completely battered and bathed in his own blood. Ignoring the red stains that covered her hands, Zelda continued to heal the Hero of Time.
Marth couldn't pull his eyes away. While he didn't understand it, he knew the image of Zelda desperately hovering over his friend would haunt his dreams for months to come.
Dark Link walked through the halls of Ganondorf's stronghold, a noticeable skip in his step despite his disheveled appearance. He felt the very embodiment of euphoria as he pushed open each new set of double doors on the way to his master.
It had been a glorious day for him. Yes, he did have a nasty gash in his stomach that was still bleeding with each step he took, but his brother had been defeated, even when he had pulled out his trump card. Sure, he wasn't exactly dead, but after the entertainment the last hour had provided him, Dark Link just couldn't find it within himself to finally kill his rival.
He was just too much fun.
Dark Link twisted his body in midair to avoid another buzzsaw-like energy disc. As soon as he landed he was again on the defensive as the white-haired demon met him with a flurry of blows. A huge swing caught him in the chest as he parried another blow.
One would think that the weight of such a weapon as that greatsword would slow a combatant down, especially with the armor. No, not this creature. Sure, it looked a bit like Link, but it moved differently, with such skill and grace for such a destructive force.
For a moment, Dark Link thought he actually might lose.
He ignored the stinging pain from his abs as he parried another strike, this time lashing out with a few of his own. He was Ganondorf's ultimate creation; he would not lose to some pathetic mockery of dark magic!
He continued to block and trade blows with the demonic force – that same disturbing smile on the entity's face as he used the greatsword to block every one of Dark Link's attacks.
A sweeping arc with the greatsword knocked Dark Link's shield aside.
Dark Link went skidding on his backside, leaving a trail of green blood and dirt in his wake. He urged his body to rise as the demon walked toward him, lifting the greatsword above him to bring everything down to a close with one final slice.
It was then when Dark Link remembered his rival placing the mask on his face in the first place.
'Wait...if it can be put on, then it can just as easily be taken off...'
It was mad, foolhardy of him even. It could have been the end of him completely if he failed. But he decided to do it anyway.
Using every ounce of energy he still possessed, he launched himself up to the Deity and grabbed onto both sides of its face, pulling as hard as he could. The being screamed as Dark Link pulled harder, watching in wonder as the same bright light that had revealed the entity leak out from the sides and eye sockets of its face.
With one final yank, Dark Link was blown back, the light blinding him temporarily.
He felt something wooden in his hand, something that felt like...yes, it was!
The Fierce Deity's Mask was finally his.
He had spared his brother. But that didn't mean he hadn't given his body a few good kicks and punches before leaving.
Payback, with a little interest for good measure...was that the expression humans used? He wasn't sure. Not that it mattered; humans were disgusting and weak.
He carelessly strode into the throne room, where Ganondorf sat watching his creation's approach with an unreadable expression.
"Here's what you wanted, Master," the shadow smirked as he held the Fierce Deity's Mask in front of the Gerudo like an offering.
Ganondorf didn't so much as shift in his chair. Dark Link was irritated.
"What? I went through all of that and not so much as a 'thank you!'"
The King of Evil still didn't move. Not even Majora's Mask stirred from its place on the mantle.
"Answer me, you old fool!"
Before he could utter another sound, he saw the golden tip of a blade protrude from his chest, right next to his heart.
He didn't know what had happened. The cold voice of his master hissed from behind his right ear.
"Oh you did well, my creation. However, since you've served your purpose, I've decided that your services are no longer needed."
Dark Link could only make a choking sound as the blade was retracted from his chest. The last thing he felt was the luxurious carpet when his body hit the floor.
'A useful tool, but a loose cannon like that has no place in my plans for the future.'
"Guards, dispose of this trash," the King of Evil ordered to the Iron Knuckles stationed at the door as he strode back to his throne, the Fierce Deity's Mask firmly in his grasp. Before he reached his throne, Ganondorf turned his head with a cruel smile.
"Oh, and by the way – thank you."
To be continued...
And that will finally mark the end of this story, folks! I know, I know; you're all confused, right? I mean, to leave you all on such a cliffhanger, and I dare to call the story complete? Well...it's because there will be a sequel!
It shall pick up shortly after this story and will encompass the rest of the chapters I had originally planned. Plus, turning all of that material into a sequel was the only way I could really think of where I could finally be free of this story while still being able to keep my promise to finish it. Because let's be honest, my updating habits aren't exactly the best, and at this rate I'll be 80 years old by the time I finally list this story as "completed." Not to mention, I've felt constrained every time I've gone to update. My writing style has evolved so much, and to be forced to keep going with what I started at 16 was starting to be a real burden. So, why not start a sequel and finish the tale that way?
Thanks again to all who have stuck with me this far, and especially those who reviewed, alerted, and favorited LAH over the years. It hasn't been easy, but you all have made writing this fic such a joy. I will never forget you all, even if you stopped reading due to my slow updating habits. It's a shame no one reviewed the last chapter at the time of this update, but again I'm not surprised considering I took so long.
Anyway, make sure to look for LAH: Endgame, the sequel to this fic, coming very soon after I take a break for a few weeks to work on other projects (and continue searching for a job). I also might take some time to rewrite and edit all of my previous work. Also, when Endgame is released, it will be listed under my new author name, which starting at midnight is...
"Way of the Sheikah"
...So make sure to search for me under this name in the future, or simply search for this story or any of my others and add me to your author alerts. Enjoy the rest of the summer everyone, and thanks again to The Stupendous Jimbo for being my beta and keeping me sane these past three years!
Signing off for the last time,