Here it is, the grand finale to Before the Wild (and yes, it is up for real this time). Gotta say, writing this for nine hours straight is tiring, but I wanted to get it done for you people.
A year ago, August 2017 to be exact, I didn't think this would be a successful idea. Everyone was writing Breath of the Wild fics, whether during or after the game, but to completely novelization the story beforehand? With just the bits and pieces from the memories? Haha, nice try.
Over a year later and 31 chapters later, here I am, with one of my favorite stories I have written. I am going to give my thanks in the next author's note, so enjoy this chapter!
Zelda, Fort Hateno 30 minutes later
The retreat had been called. Hylian soldiers were camped behind the fort walls, doing their best to defend it. On the battlements, spearmen and archers did their damndest to prevent the Stalkers from climbing the wall. Zelda was with them, using her magic to aid her allies. The Sheikah, magicians of their own, used their arts to slow the Guardians' advance as the infantry out in the field returned.
A laser blasted the left side of the fort walls, too low to take any soldiers but enough to cause a decrease in structural integrity. Zelda forced her head away from the impact, facing the Guardian responsible for it and snapping her fingers. Lightning from the heavens zapped the Stalker, overloading its circuits. The head exploded and the body fell to the ground, but Zelda could not rest easy. If she could summon a lightning storm, it could save them all, but with the soldiers wearing as much metal as the Guardians, she would risk everyone's life.
"Princess." Beside her stood Sheik, his scarf lowered from his face. She could see why Impa, though the woman would not admit it, was fond of the warrior; he was quite attractive for a battle-hardened man twice her age. She was reminded of Link, who Sheik resembled in personality; quiet, observant, dependable. In the many encounters Zelda had with the Sheikah, he's only spoken to her (outside of a respectful greeting) when the situation called for it, and Impa was not around. Such a moment was now. "I must ask you to fall back to Hateno. For the time being, you'll be safe there."
"Sheik," Zelda replied, icing the head of a Stalker while a soldier dove underneath to dismantle its core, "I won't fall back."
"Dying, for you, is not an option. If you fall, it is the end of everything. As long as you live, Hyrule has hope."
The first person to have an inkling of true, honest hope. Zelda, despite her words earlier to the entirety of Hyrule, didn't believe they stood a chance. "You really believe we can win? Ganon has taken the Divine Beasts and the Guardians."
"The calamities of Hyrule's past were not won with technology and Champions. We only need two people to save the world. You are one of them." Sheik's words weighed on Zelda's mind, but before she could speak again, a commotion at the foot of the wall caught her attention. Two soldiers were pointing to the battlefield in distress. Zelda turned to the approximate location, but with the rain and the constant distraction of the Guardians, it was hard to see just what had the soldiers worried. She looked back down again around the remaining infantry, gasping as she didn't see a blue shirt within the crowd.
"Princess Zelda! The Hero-he won't retreat!"
"What?" Zelda turned back to Link's location, where a Guardian's laser was reflected back at its eye. That area of the battlefield had the most fallen machines-either due to LInk's skills or Ganon's manipulation of wanting the Hero dead-but he was definitely in trouble. She had to bring him back! "Link."
"Retreat now. That's an order."
"If I retreat, the fort will be overrun."
"Link, you know that's not true. Ganon wants me and you dead because he knows how important we are. Those Guardians are targeting you for that reason."
"Then I have another reason to not retreat. If I come, they come."
Zelda's hands balled up. Why was he being so stubborn? Fine, two can play at that game. "Fine. If you are going to be out there, so am I."
"No, you are not!" Impa joined Zelda's side at the moment, staring sternly at the princess. "That I will not relent on."
Link, however, couldn't hear Impa. "You wouldn't dare. Impa wouldn't let you."
Zelda, however, didn't care for what Impa was saying. She watched as another Guardian Stalker walked over its fallen brethren to Link. "Return now, and we won't have to find out if I will come out there. Stop being the hero for once! Just fall back, Link… If you stay out there.."
"...One day, this battle will be a legend. How Hyrule made its final stand here." The Guardian fired, sending dirt and debris airborne. Link was still alive, as she could feel his presence. She could feel him tiring out, his adrenaline from battle nearly depleted. His health was heavily ignored, as scars and wounds that'll take months to heal naturally or hours magically were seeping blood. She could also sense his emotions, that he knew Zelda was right, but he had to stay. He fought the Guardians here because if they got past the fort they would continue to Hateno, where his mother, sister, brother, and friends lived in fear. He fought here not because his life was expendable, but so that no more lives would be considered expendable. But most of all, he fought because Zelda was here, and as long as she was alive in his heart, he could continue to fight on.
Something about that motivated Zelda, because the next thing she knew, Link was in front of her, slumped over...a broken Master Sword. The Guardian he was fighting was overloading with electricity, its lights fading as it fell to the ground. The Hero, heavily breathing, turned his head to Zelda with a mix of surprise and anger. "Why are you here?"
"Because you are wrong! You have to live! You...have to live, because I cannot let you die. You have to live to confront Ganon! You must live!"
"And...what about you?"
"It doesn't matter if I live. Hyrule needs its hero."
"But I need the princess!" Link coughed, bringing his unarmed hand to his chest. Zelda stepped up to Link, holding his shoulders. As she looked at him, she could hear him breathing irregularly, though it wasn't due to his injuries. No...was he...crying?
"I… I am scared, Zelda. For the first time ever since this began, I am scared that I am really going to die. I am scared that my family will die. But I am more scared that I'll live, they'll live, but you will die. That hurts me more than anything." Zelda began to cry as well. Never had she seen Link cry nor visibly be afraid. The young man who took on monsters on the mountain and saved her from dangerous assassins was not here today. That man was an immortal hero, the gods' chosen. This man was a mortal boy.
The sounds of metallic claws and the soft hum of artificial life aroused their attention. A Guardian had found them. Zelda looked back to Link, panicking. "Link, save yourself! Go!"
"I'll be fine! Don't worry about me! Run!"
"No!" Using all his strength, Link stood up, nearly losing his balance but managed to uphold it. However, he couldn't bring the scratched Blade of Evil's Bane upright. "No Zelda. You run." The Guardian sauntered over, standing on the pile of fallen Stalkers, raised itself upright over the two. It chose the weaker target. It chose Link. Link moved his eye to the girl behind him once more. "Run, Zelda, run!"
Something in her didn't allow her to move away from Link, but instead made her push him back. It made her step in front of Link, for some dumb reason. It made her say "No!" and raise her hand against the Guardian. It was like if something deep inside of her had taken control, but what happened? Why was she doing this? Sure, she wanted to protect Link, but why not use her magic from her former placement to distract the Guardian?
"If I may…I thought you… Well, I'm not sure how to put this into words… I'm actually quite embarrassed to say it. But I was thinking about what I do when I'm healing. You know, what usually goes through my mind… It helps when I think-when I think about-"
Love. That was always the key, wasn't it? But not just love for anyone. Zelda loved her father. She loved Impa, Purah, Robbie. She loved Urbosa, Daruk, Mipha, and even Revali. But what made Link so special?
"The calamities of Hyrule's past were not won with technology and Champions. We only need two people to save the world. You are one of them." He was the chosen swordsman, the only one who could wield the Master Sword, just as she was the only one to possess a sacred power.
Ganon had been pushed back multiple times in history by a boy wielding the Master Sword and a girl of untold magical powers. A boy with an unbreakable spirit and a girl of royal and divine blood. A boy bred with courage and a girl gifted with wisdom. Link, even in this critical moment, rose to the occasion with great courage. She rallied her troops and her country with immense wisdom.
"Whether skyward bound, adrift in time, or steeped in the glowing embers of twilight...over seas of time and distance…" Zelda had always felt she knew Link, even though she only met him twice in her life, once as a young kid and once as an adult before he was appointed to her. But something connected them, something ancient, as old as Hyrule itself.
"Again we pray, that the two of you will grow stronger...and be together as one." The answer was love, something neither had said to each other, but it was clear to them that they loved one another. Over the course of a year, they had grown stronger as individuals and as a team, almost as strong as the legendary pair talked about in the legends. No, not legends. Her history. His history. Their conjoined history protecting Hyrule and stopping Ganon. It was a love that sky, wind, time, twilight, darkness, and calamity could not break.
So as she raised her hand in front of the Guardian, she could feel the air around her still in reverence, time itself slow, the gods looking down from heaven and the dead looking up from their graves. She could feel Ganon look from his prison, Impa and Sheik from the fort, the Champions from their Divine Beasts, Hyrule from all over. In her eyes she could see seven other young princesses, sitting on golden thrones, watched with a smile on their faces as three golden triangles appeared on Zelda's right hand. Golden light surrounded her and erupted from the same raised palm. During the stalled time, two hands joined Zelda's. One, to the right, was her father's; to the left, her mother's.
The light burst all around Zelda, covering Blatchery Plains in a blinding glare of yellow and white. It vanished as quickly as it appeared, or to Zelda, the images vanished as time resumed. The Guardian, ready to fire on Link, dropped as purple smoke escaped it, and the exact same happened to the Stalkers across the field. Zelda, still in her previous position, stared at her hand as more rain fell upon it. She let it drop, confused as to what just happened. "Was… Was that… The power?"
In the distance, she could hear cheering from Fort Hateno, but that was not the sound she turned her head to a gasp and a thud on the group faced her to Link, the swordsman succumbing to his wounds. Zelda immediately forgot about the power she has accessed and began to fall for her greatest fear. "No no! Link, get up!" She knelt beside him, holding him in her arms as his head rested on her shoulder.
He coughed a bit, but as he looked to at the Guardian that almost killed him, he managed a chuckle. "You...you did it. That was it, wasn't it?"
Zelda nodded. "I...believe so."
"I saw it. The triangles on your hand. All this time...you had the Triforce...you chose a shitty time to use it."
"Shut up." Link coughed again, alarming Zelda. She could try to heal him, but after half an hour of using her talents, she was quite spent as well. "You're going to be just fine."
Link looked to Zelda, an angry glare on his face. "You must confront Ganon. The Guardians...if you can stop him, you can stop the Guardians. Go to Hyrule Castle, and take that bastard down."
Zelda sniffed. "You...you are coming with me. You got to fight him too."
"I think me and the big bad pig are going to have to tango another time. Ah…" Link softened his gaze, managing to bring a hand to Zelda's face. "Today, you will save Hyrule, not me. Tomorrow, they will tell our story. A century from now, when we're both long gone, they will write about us. In a thousand, our story will simply be a legend."
"And what will they call it?"
"The Legend...of Zelda."
Zelda smiled, but that smile dropped as Link shuddered in her arms. His eyes fell, his hand dropped from her cheek, and his body grew limp in her arms. "Link? Link!" No response came from him, and Zelda began to shake and cry in fear as she dropped her head on his chest, more so to weep than to listen for a heartbeat. Link had fallen...she was too late to save him. She never even...got the chance to tell...that she loved-
"Your Grace…" Zelda looked up, hearing a voice in her head and the damaged Master Sword glowing and making a noise. It did it a second time, with the voice saying "The Shrine of Resurrection...can bring my Master back...Take him there...and wait for his return."
"The sword…?" Zelda looked at both Link and the sword, processing what she just heard. "So he can...he can still be saved?"
"Princess!" The familiar voice of Impa rose Zelda's head as she and Sheik ran over to the princess. They skidded to a stop and knelt down in front of her almost flawlessly. "Princess! Are you all right?"
"Sheik...Take Link to the Shrine of Resurrection. If you don't get him there immediately, we are going to lose him forever! Is that clear?"
Sheik nodded. "Yes, ma'am."
"So make haste and go. His life is now in your hands." Sheik gathered the fallen hero and began to head back to the fort. Impa, however, stayed in place.
"You know the danger of the shrine. You put him there…"
"I know...that's where I'm counting on you to help him. Take his Champion's shirt, mend it, and he returns, give it to him when he's ready."
Impa nodded, but not without a question on her mind. "What about you?"
"I...must confront Ganon. I do not believe I will beat him entirely, but my power is a sealing power, right? That means...temporarily I can stop him, possibly seal him away. I don't know how long I can possibly hold him back, but it will have to be long enough for Link to recover. That means...I'll be with Ganon for some time." Zelda looked up to her longtime friend, her mentor, her second mother, managing to bring forth a somber smile. "We might not meet again."
"If the gods will it, we will. Believe that, my Zelda."
"Then...do as we spoke of today. Watch over Link's family. Protect them, okay?"
Impa formed a fist over her heart. "Yes, Your Highness… Should I tell Rusl of such events?"
Zelda rose to her feet. "It will do him better than lying to him." She bent down, taking the Master Sword in her hands. "Aid Sheik. Remember to be swift. We cannot lose him. As for me, before I confront Ganon, I will take the Master Sword home to await its master's return."
Impa nodded again. "Be swift as well, Your Highness. The quicker you get to Ganon, the quicker you save Hyrule."
"Your master will come for you. Until then, you shall rest safely here." Zelda knelt before the Master Sword, horizontally laying on its pedestal. She didn't know why she was speaking to the sword as a person, but after what transpired, she figured it wouldn't be too crazy if she did so. "Although the Slumber of Restoration will most certainly deprive him of his memories, please trust me when I say he will arrive before you yet again."
"If I may be so bold," the watching Great Deku Tree spoke, "what is it that you are planning to do next, Princess?"
Zelda stood, her eyes lowering from the revered tree spirit to the sword at her feet. "The Master Sword...I heard it speak to me It seems that my role is unfinished. There is still something I must do."
"I sense there is great strength in your dedication."
Zelda smiled, then a thought crossed his mind. When he returns, it will be a while before they even meet in person. Some things are helpful to jog the memory. Memorable places, certain names, certain words… "Great Deku Tree, I ask of you, when he returns, can you please relay this message? Tell him I-"
"Now, then… Words intended for him would sound much better in the tones of your voice, don't you think?"
Zelda blushed as she brought her hands to her, but a bright smile formed on her face as she looked to the Deku Tree. "Yes." Now looking down to the sword, she picked it up with the hilt facing upwards. She hovered it over the slit the blade was to enter. With a breath, she thought to herself, "Hurry Link. The sword awaits you." Slowly she lowered the Master Sword until a click and a glow from the blade assured it was secure in its place. Letting go of the blade, she glanced at it for a short while before bowing to the Great Deku and turning to the south.
She had one more thing to do.
In a few minutes, the sun would be rising over the eastern horizon. At the moment, every corner of Hyrule would be fighting the forces of Ganon. Some Guardians had resided in the still burning ruins of Castle Town, but they didn't take notice of the returned Princess standing at the gates of Hyrule Castle. She paid them no attention as well.
She simply stared at Hyrule Castle, waiting for her adversary to show himself.
Ah, there he was, slithering like a snake around the castle. She raised her hand up, the Triforce revealing itself for the second time. It glowed brilliant gold amidst the darkened sky of the capital, and Zelda hoped she gathered Ganon's attention. She was successful as the beast swirled around in her direction.
If her plan goes accordingly, it'll be some time before she sees Hyrule again. So, as a last wish, she wanted to see how Hyrule was faring before she locked herself away with Ganon. As Ganon engulfed her, the Triforce granted her wish.
In Hebra, the Guardians had destroyed a Hylian settlement, but the Ritos were nearly overrun before the machines shut down. In Eldin, the Gorons celebrated as a boulder crushed the advancing Stalkers while the Skywatchers collapsed like flies. In Akkala, the citadel was nearly lost, but to Zelda's comfort, Rusl Koroks, Ashei, and a few knights were still alive, saved in time. The Zora cheered their King Dorephan as he tossed aside a Guardian down a ravine, defeating it with brute strength. The Gerudo, using the height of the canyon to their advantage, got a bird's eye view of the powering down machines. The monsters across Hyrule depleted in numbers, though not totally.
At the Great Plateau, Zelda spotted Sheikah fighters holding ground at the Temple of Time. It was ruined, thanks to the Guardians, but their mission was not to protect the holy sanctuary, but to distract them from the cave meters away. Within, Impa folded the Champion's Shirt, Robbie placed the Sheikah Slate in a terminal, Purah and a few Sheikah carried treasure chests inside, and Sheik lowered the body of Link into the Shrine of Resurrection.
Her sight zoomed away from the Great Plateau, streaking across Hyrule Field. In the time between now and her return, Hyrule will become wild. Monsters will rule its body. Darkness will be in its eyes. Its ears will hear the cries of the unfortunate souls that come its way. But the breath of the wild will call for its princess and hero, wishing for them to return and restore Hyrule.
"Link," Zelda thought to herself as her vision grew hazy. "You are our final hope. The fate of Hyrule rests within."
Then all she knew was darkness.
100 years later, Link
The arrow hit its mark.
Ganon growled as Link landed on his feet, just as a ball of pure light escaped from the beast's third eye. A closer look from the warrior revealed a young woman in a praying stance, hovering at the same height, maybe even higher, that Link previously held to shoot Ganon's weak point. As she descended like a goddess to the ground, Ganon fell before her, Pink mist swept around her but Link could see she was unfazed. Instead, the glow around her grew and she just stared at Ganon, who stared back as if the two were in silent conversation. If they were, Ganon was not happy-he roared at the girl before the light around her became too bright to even look at.
Waves emanated from her, probably causing Ganon some form of pain based on his flinch and cry. His body began to disintegrate, reverting to the smoky beast Link had spent weeks seeing outside Hyrule Castle. As he ventured to the atmosphere, the beast's thundering voice echoed across the field. He dove down towards the girl, shouting at her before rising back up, but she was without fear. She broke her hands apart and silently raised her right hand to the sky.
Ganon came back down, hoping to defeat the girl, but she was quicker. A ball of light appeared before her, with the mark of three triangles visible in the light. The ball swallowed the presence, and with a final roar, the beast known as Calamity Ganon was gone. The ball shrunk to a small, holdable size before it vanished completely.
Link took a victorious, exhausted breath as the skies above him turned from foreboding purple to beautiful blue. The pillars that surrounded Hyrule Castle did just the same, proof that the Guardians that Link had not come across were freed of Ganon's corruption. Strapping the Bow of Light to his back, Link really wanted to fall back and take a nice long nap...or eat a hot meal...or both.
"I've been keeping watch over you all this time." Link turned to the girl speaking, her back to him, and began to approach. "I've witnessed your struggles to return to us as well as your trials in battle. I always thought-no, I always believed-that you would find a way to defeat Ganon." She turned around to face him, though she didn't look at him. "I never lost faith in you over these many years. Thank you, Link...the hero of Hyrule. May I ask...do you really remember me?"
Link stared at the girl, dumbfounded by her question, then shook his head. He could see the disappointment in her face as it dropped, her hope dashed away. However, whatever she was feeling, that didn't stop her from walking up to Link, putting her hands around him in a hug.
"Well, even though you don't remember me, I hope-" Before she realized it, she found her lips captured by Link, his hands holding her face for dear life. And before she could find a way to melt into the kiss, it was over, with Link smirking down at her. She was beyond confused. "What-"
"Now I remember. You're that crazy girl I met a hundred years back and fell in love with. I tell you, one hundred and seventeen looks mighty fine on you."
The girl stepped back, not knowing what was happening. "Do you...do you really remember me?"
Link nodded as he pointed to her upper torso. "You should...have a black box...in that area. You put it...there...when we were at Mount Lanayru, when you were changing into this dress, instead of putting it in your other pant's pocket. I don't know how you don't feel it."
She reached between her breasts, retrieving the box Link so amply described. "Oh. Oh!" Zelda jumped into Link's arms, knocking him over and landing on the ground. "You do remember!"
Link chuckled as he caressed her face. "Of course I do. How can I ever forget you, Princess Zelda?" He smiled as he gazed into her eyes. "I remember also saying that, once everything was over, I would tell you that I do indeed love you."
"And if I remember, I do love you too."
"Link and Zelda. They did it, they actually did it."
Rhoam, along with the spirits of the Champions, watched Link and Zelda as they stood in ruined Castle Town before the towering castle. They were proceeding to walk away and hadn't seen the spirits upon the tallest spire of the castle.
"You doubted them Revali?"
"Well, Daruk, it is Link after all. He spent a day in Hebra...shield-sledding."
"Pipe down, you two. We did our parts, the hero and the princess did theirs. All in all, I say we move on. What do you say, Lady Mipha?"
"I...agree. Our job is done, and Hyrule is safe."
"Allow me one more moment." The Champions vanished behind Rhoam, who continued to look on the departing Zelda and Link. A part of himself wanted to appear before Zelda, to say how proud he was of her, yet...maybe she already knew that. He smiled to himself. "Tetra, your daughter has done us proud, a better queen we can ever hope her to be. And Rusl, my dear friend who I departed too early from, if we don't meet again in the afterlife, I want to say how glad I am to know my daughter is well in the hands of your son. And to Link and Zelda, remember that this is no longer my Hyrule...it is yours."
Rhoam vanished, but as he faded away, he could see that Link and Zelda had turned their heads back.
Before I let you guys go and continue, I would like to thank everyone who people who favorited, most of you which also makes up the followers, and probably has contributed to the reviews. It has been a blast (probably gave you a scare about Link's memory, hehe). I have more Zelda stories in development and already completed on the site, so check them out. Thank you for reading Before the Wild.
Third Person, Sahasra Slope
"So, where do you want to go?"
Zelda analyzed the diagnostics on the Sheikah Slate as she and Link stood on a plain overlooking many landmarks of the country. She pressed a few commands before answering Link. "We'll make our way to Zora's Domain."
"Divine Beast Vah Ruta...looks like it stopped working. Let's investigate the situation." Zelda lowered the device, gazing out to the field somberly. "Mipha's father… I believe he would like to hear more about her. The least we can do is visit him and offer him some closure… Although Ganon is gone for now, there is still so much more for us to do. And so many painful memories we must bear. I believe in my heart, that if all of us work together, we can restore Hyrule to its former glory. Perhaps...even beyond, but it must all start with us." Zelda turned to Link, nodding to him. "Let's be off."
Link nodded but turned to face the scene once again. Zelda was right. Whatever the future held for Hyrule, it began with the people here today. He hopes that they were done with world-ending calamities.
Zelda stopped ahead of him. "I can no longer hear the voice inside the sword."
"You actually heard a voice? I never heard it. Maybe it was because you had just unlocked your power back then."
"I supposed it would make sense if my power had dwindled over the last 100 years." Zelda turned to Link, her hair turning with her, giving Link a glimpse of the Triforce-shaped earring that, 100 years ago, he bought her for her birthday. Her face paused in thought for a moment before smiling, placing her hands behind her back. "I'm surprised to admit it...but I can accept that." Zelda began to chuckle, and Link joined in as he jogged up to her.
"Well, it doesn't matter. I think we're done with saving the world."