A/N: I KNOW I KNOW I have (an)other stor(y/ies) I'm supposed to be working on right now but I couldn't help myself, ok? I woke up with this idea this morning and I've already churned out 3,000 words. Please don't kill me. I'm beyond excited—clearly, or I would have the good sense to wait before I post this. Anyway, I hope this in some small way makes up for the fact that I'm overdue with the other project. Let me know what you think!


Unholy light was pouring out of the fissure in the field in garnet hues, wafting upwards in gnarled tendrils like the hungry arms of a beast. The fissure hadn't stopped growing since those first, seismic tremors ripped the ground apart and sent cracks snaking out of the heart of Hyrule. It was swallowing more of her by the day, and sprawling deeper, deeper into the earth as the source beneath began to stir: an open scar, hedged by veins and leaking blood.

We knew the foul, evil signs it had begun to spew could only precede one thing. But my Champions and I were ready. Years of training and prayers had awakened the goddess within me, and they had all been chosen for their prowess in battle and their valor.

Still, my heart hammered against my ribs as the light began to coalesce.

Smoke mingled with the bloodlight, blending and taking shape. Becoming something else. Heralding a beginning, or perhaps an end. I called upon the goddess within, breathing deep as she stirred awake, as the sacred power that was my birthright filled me with a glow that cascaded off my body through my eyes and my skin. Father said he had never seen anything like it: that it was of unequaled brightness and purity, an antidote, forged by the gods to snuff out evil. To smother the incarnation of malice and hate that was forming out of the fissure before our very eyes.

I had never been brave enough to look.

The form took shape, and a cold wind snapped across our battlefield, clearing away the billows of smoke and shafts of bloodlight. What it left behind was not like the hideous form spoken of in legends, the beast I was expecting; from the distance, it looked nearly like a man, hunched under the burden of his own birth and clothed in shadow. But my Champions didn't hesitate, riding out to meet it with the fury of the four Great Races.

Daruk barreled forward, unstoppable as a mountain, swinging his famed Boulder Breaker in great circles over his head as though it weighed next to nothing. Revali soared skyward, wings cutting through sunlight and a cornflower sky, nocking his arrows and taking deadly aim. Urbosa moved so surely with her weapons it was more like a dance, closing in on her enemy so quickly she seemed a vision of lightning strikes and sunbeams. Mipha was small, and quiet, hardly making a sound as she tucked her fins and flowed over the hillside like a stream of water; but the spear she brandished glimmered with deadly knots of light the color of water, skipping off her silver headdress and crimson scales, and ringed in so much glare she was a fearsome thing to behold.

I breathed and let them go.

The figure had gotten to his feet. He let them come without moving to counter. And I breathed. Because his eyes were on me.

He raised his arm to block Daruk's blow, and the Boulder Breaker splintered on it, the impact shaking the Goron so hard he recoiled. His fingers jerked apart, summoning some unseen force, and Daruk was sent flying, plowing across the grass and dirt away from the fight. Revali loosed his arrows, but the Calamity made them fall of the sky with a glance. He breathed, and a squall tore across the sky so hard that Revali was ripped out of it. Urbosa was already conjuring a bolt of lightning, sparking on her fingertips as she snapped them together, but the Calamity redirected the current before it landed in a mirror gesture, sending it into her. Mipha nimbly leapt upwards as Urbosa collapsed, hurling her trident with lethal precision. But the Calamity bent back, just a hairsbreadth out of the way, and the spear stuck harmlessly into the dirt. He waved his arm, and she lost consciousness before she hit the ground.

I thrust my hand towards him, pulsing with furious light as he made to move forward. The Champion's attacks had been easily deflected, but the distraction was enough. The sealing power was answering, rushing to the surface, ready to engulf the battlefield. Ready to engulf the Scourge of Hyrule. It felt like fury and fire. It felt ready to engulf me.

But in the next instant he was there, so close that I could see his eyes, brilliant and blue, and the threads of orange light warring for dominance inside them, and his hand was biting into my wrist so hard the light flickered.

"Stop," he ordered, his voice startlingly human. It was jarring. It was almost more terrifying this way: a quiet, desperate growl, instead of the monstrous thunder I had been taught to expect my entire life. Did he know? Was he seeing through me, looking for weakness, for fear? I pressed harder, letting the light have more of me. Letting it devour me as it expressed the goddess's wrath. But it wasn't working. He ordered again, more urgently, "Stop!"

My heart felt near to bursting from exertion, and I felt the fear I had sworn I banished coil in my throat. He was resisting me, pushing back, like a soldier pitching himself forward into the wind, and the amber threads in his eyes glowed with newfound rage.

This wasn't supposed to happen. Legend promised us that this couldn't happen. The light of the gods was the ultimate weapon, irresistible, preserved through generations to serve no other purpose than to drive him back. His muted snarl grew more feral, his fingers biting more painfully into my wrist, as he planted his feet in the storm. As he slowly gained the upper hand.

"How?" I whispered, voice trembling, praying aloud to a goddess who wouldn't hear, because she was me. I pushed harder. He pushed back, and a cry left my throat as the force of it dropped on me like a weight. "What do I do? Hylia, what do I do?!"

He closed his eyes and took a deep, long breath through his nostrils, raising his left hand, balled into a fist, to show me the triangles burning through the back of his gauntlet. They were identical to the light shining on my own hand: the power of the gods, only there were two brilliant shapes lit on his body instead of one.

Hot tears, visceral, born of both awe and terror, spilled down my cheeks. It was the most wicked, beautiful nightmare. The gods who protected Hyrule also vied to destroy it. And there was nothing I could do to stop them.

I threw all my strength into one final, desperate attempt to cast him back; light ebbed off of us as he summoned the strength to answer. We were a pair of burnished embers, glowing brighter than the sun. And then he pushed back, and my light collapsed.

I gasped as my power was stamped down by his own, as my mortal form gave out and the goddess within fell back into her slumber. I closed my eyes as my legs gave out, awaiting the frigid, unwelcoming hands of death, picturing his eyes, a tangle of ice and fire, where they were burned in my mind. Would he kill me bodily, hungry for blood, snapping the bones of my neck or impaling me with some dark weapon? Or would he crush my spirit, casting my mind into an abyss to await eternity, as I had meant to do to him? But instead he stepped forward, catching me before I could fall, slipping one hand around my waist and cradling the back of my neck with the other. His hot breath fell on my ear and I shivered, his touch both warm and cold on my skin at once.

"Come along, Princess," his low, worn voice breathed as I was swept up in darkness, as I fell into a void so deep it took my breath away. "We have a long road ahead of us."