"So this is...the history that results from the failure of the Hero of Time. Agahnim's?" Joshua crosses his arms in understanding, even if it is still confusing how they got here. "How sure are you about that?"
"Very sure," the seated Lana says, her eyes closed as a miniature Gate of Time spins in front of her body. "I know the complete history of our timeline up until our present, but as Guardian of Time, I am able to see alternate futures. Ever since the other timeline appeared, I have been researching that subject. The Era of Time has the most possible futures, including the one we know of; his victory and return to seven years prior, which resulted in two futures. His failure to beat Ganon, however, leads to the Princess and the Sages sealing Ganon and the Triforce in the Sacred Realm as an alternative. What we call "The Ocarina of Time," the legend is known as the Imprisoning War." Lana turns to the house, which belongs to the Hero of this era and currently rented by Ravio "If this is the Era of Two Worlds, then the events preceding this, the Era of Legend, must have occurred nearly six generations ago. Hyrule is slowly on the decline in power. Another golden era is on the horizon, but once Ganon returns, the country will fall once and for all. Not even Link and Zelda can't prevent that."
"Ganon, not Ganondorf?" Joshua nods while biting his lip. "He fully embraced the beast… So Aquamenta sent us here."
"Just the two of us, apparently. Link, Zelda, Impa, they're not here. Impa and Linkle are still in our true present. Link and Zelda are not. Hmm." The Guardian of Time sighs, stopping the spinning mechanism and faces Joshua. "But for now, we should focus on getting home. Din knows how much time has passed since the dragons won. It could be hours or days since."
"That's the optimistic hypothesis?"
Lana nods. "From what I saw… At worst, a month. But time should move normally now, so...the amount of time we spend here should match the other timeline. Then we travel back...so we're going to possibly lose two months. Three, at most, if we help Link and Zelda. That is with optimism."
Joshua sighs and stares towards the southwestern horizon. The wind, from that direction… A Gerudo knows the wind of the desert from anywhere. He wonders how his people are faring in this era, an era that apparently Ganon wins. In their timeline, Ganondorf lead the Gerudo to war with all of Hyrule, leading to the exile of the Gerudo and the failed execution of the Demon King. The Gerudo were allowed to return to Hyrule sometime between the death and later resurrection of Ganondorf. When Hyrule formally split into the five territories, the Gerudo gained their political independence from the Hyrulean throne, as did the Goron and Zoras, ending the legacy of Daphnes Hyrule that "started" the rise of Joshua's predecessor.
"The Gerudo are gone. From Hyrule… I don't know any further than that."
Joshua drops his head, somewhat expecting that fate of the desert dwellers. "Of course."
"Sorry," Lana says quickly.
"No, it's fine. I'm not mad or anything about it." Joshua turns his head to Lana, seeing how the sunset illuminates her features. He finds himself entranced by her like a teenage boy induced with his first dose of hormones, and he had that beaten out of him to the point it takes a certain kind of beauty to trigger such a reaction. More specifically, an exotic beauty, such as Lana.
Maybe it was Nabooru's fault for ruining the beauty of their people, exposing him to women at such a young age, but it did not do his people favors. Aveil, his best friend and his Second before the War Across the Ages began, was supposed to be his queen, he was going to choose her, but like a boy, he saw Lana and saw something he liked in Lana. Eight years, Aveil and Nabooru dead, and Lana back in the form of Lanacia, Joshua stares at her, wondering if he still had any feelings for her left. If so, do they belong to the prince of the past or the king of the present?
One thing he does know; just as Link still bears love for Zelda, Lana (the half of the women standing with him) still loves him. "Lana." She turns in his direction, raising her eyebrow at the abnormally nice call of her name. He sighs, then bears a smile. "Of the three I could be with now, at least it is you here. I do not think Link and I should ever be partners again. Two stupid men we are. And Zelda… You think Link is mad, I do have a greater-"
"Zelda has a son… Alduin is not the father." Joshua frowns, thinking about why Lana would interrupt to tell him this until he figures out who the father is. And based on what Lana is implying, the real father does not know, as of them leaving their Hyrule.
"Oh. Oh, that's fucked. Nevermind, he is going to be pissed."
She smiles. "Yes, she is."
"With that in mind… I am still angry, but I am not going to blame you for the faults of Lana and Cia. Yes, you are them, but in some ways, you are not. Cia was the mature, seductive woman; Lana was the energetic, happy-go-lucky teenager. I guess you are in the middle."
"Hmm. Well, if I had to be honest, I do not like this version of you." Lana turns back to the sunset, her hands interlocking at her chest. "Anger, it might run in your blood, but you are not suited for it. The Joshua I remember was funny and charismatic on and off the battlefield. You're not like that anymore...and that is my fault. You can blame Lana, but it all comes back to me. Had I not let my feelings grow for a man I would never meet, Cia would have never started the War Across the Ages. It might not have averted the current crisis, but there's a chance it could have. If anything, you would be happy right now with Aveil. I would not have ruined your life as I did."
"Or, if I wasn't stupid, maybe we both could be happy." Lana lowers her head, then arcs it to the man behind her. "If history is helpful, I pray my power is enough to get us home. With a Triforce, I should be able to manage it. But I have to find our Link and Zelda first."
Joshua, feeling the prior topic was dropped too suddenly, only nods along. Getting home is the priority after all. "Well, get started on it tomorrow. Ravio said the Hero left this world earlier today, it might be a while before he returns. At the same time, let's hope the limits of Aquamenta's powers is not to trouble us any more than he has. I hope he doesn't try to manipulate events in this time period like Cia did."
Lana shrugs. "We best be prepared for that…"
"Oh great you're here!" Marin steps aside as Link and Zelda enter her home. They are guided to the table in the middle of the room, where a rather large man with a balding head and a bushy brown mustache sits in glee. It takes all of Link's power to not call out "Malon" or "Talon" when seeing the two lookalikes. It takes even more power to immediately not scarf down the good looking food set in front of him.
"Thank you for welcoming us into your home," Zelda says as Marin takes her seat, "and for the dinner. It looks quite delicious."
"No thanks needed, Sheik. My father and I are always willing to welcome guests. But I guess I did coerce you into this in trade for stories."
"Stories?" Link says as he tries to eat with the small sense of decorum that a former commoner can learn reasonable. He faces Zelda, cautious as to what "stories" she can tell. From what she discovered, they're in an alternate time, one which the Hero of Time lost. Their presence on Koholint means that there's a point in which the Hero will show himself, with or without the Princess. Like during the Era of Sky, anything they do now could affect history and change the course of this alternate world. Even worse, none of their allies are here. If they're separated through time, in different parts of this timeline, if Link and Zelda are in their "past", they might create trouble for their friends in the future. Without Lana to give them the full scope of the situation, Link and Zelda have to play everything safe. They took different names, Sheik and Shade, they dressed in casual attires to hide their true identities. Link doesn't know how Zelda had a blue shirt just ready for him to wear in place of his green tunic.
"Yeah, stories about Hyrule and what happened three years ago."
Link doesn't know much about that, so as much as he hates it, he'll follow Zelda's lead. "Well, from what I remember, there's not much to the story since we only experienced half of it. There was a wizard named Agahnim who won the trust of King Hyrule with his magic, but one fateful night, the magician killed his liege, imprisoned his daughter and other maidens, and turned the soldiers to his will. The boy who was to be the hero rescued the princess after hearing her voice in his dreams, and together they escaped to the nearby chapel. The hero was told to travel the land and find three pendants in three dungeons. After doing so, he went into the ancient forest and took the Master Sword, a legendary blade that was crafted by the gods. He went to the castle to confront the wizard and save the princess. From my understanding, the wizard successfully sent the princess to another world, a dark and twisted version of the Sacred Realm, where the rest of the maidens were, and the hero followed, freeing each and every one until he confronted Agahnim and his dark master, Ganon. Defeating them both, he saved the Sacred Realm and Hyrule. His great reward was the love of the pri-people of Hyrule." Zelda clears her throat as she ceases the unknown tale, taking a bite of her food uncomfortably. Tarin and Marin, fascinated by the story, don't notice it; but Link watches as the Triforce of Wisdom dims and Zelda's cheeks glow red. He knows "his" reward, the love of the princess.
"Such detail, Sheik," Marin says excitedly.
"I guess I knew more than I thought."
"So what's the story with you two? A traveling couple?"
Zelda takes Link's hand. "Yes. Shade and I are married. Been so for the last...seven years?"
Link nods. While he expected the pair's relationship to come up, he did not expect Zelda to entertain marriage. Had he not mastered the art of hiding emotions from his face as a young kid, Link would be flabbergasted at the supposed history of him and "Sheik."
Marin sighs. "That's so sweet. You two look lovely together, like a perfect pairing. The goddesses have blessed you both. Any children?"
"One," Zelda says before Link can speak. Once again, his blank facade masks his confusion. Oh wait, this is a lie of course, just to add to their personas. There's no way he has a child with Zelda… Yet the discourse in Zelda's face, it seems so real. "His name is Arthur, named after his paternal grandfather. He's about three right now. Such a beautiful boy he is. He takes much after his adventurous father, although I soon hope he gains my love for knowledge soon." Zelda takes a breath, and like day and night, her sadness is replaced by her own stoicism. "Right now, he's staying with a friend of mine, but we hope to return to Hyrule soon once we're done exploring Koholint." Zelda stares at her food, her sadness returning bit by bit. Link doesn't see it, but their connection via the Triforce and their eternal souls feels it. "Hopefully, it's soon…"
Zelda opens her eyes, the fumes of smoke and ash irritating her nostrils. She rises up, seeing a fire rage around her in a town. People scream and run for their lives in the commotion. Getting up, Zelda looks for the one person she can call on. "Link? Link!"
"Zelda… Home..." Hearing her name again, Zelda faces the north, seeing a glow coming from the mountain. Music whispers in the air as the light from the mountain erupts, blinding the world around her. Zelda is then transported over a broken landscape, an ominous tower on a snowy mountain. As the snow turns red, it shines with a similar light. Finally, she's shown a more familiar land, a vast, barren valley underneath a large pyramid, with the peak glowing.
"Betrayed… Decieved… Dragons…" Six figures fly by Zelda, burning the world as a seventh sits on a throne. Zelda stares intently at the being on the throne before he unleashes a talon to strike her face.
"No!" Rising up, Zelda takes heavy breaths as the dream subsides. No, not a dream but a vision of what they have to do to escape...she thinks. Rubbing her face, Zelda spots Link looking at her with concern from his position standing by the open window. He isn't sleep, despite how late it is? That's unlike him to ignore that habit of his.
"What did you see?" he says, apparently unconcerned for her mental wellbeing. But with their Triforces flared up, it's no surprise he knew what she was going through.
"I think we need to go on the mountain. That...egg, it is our ticket home. I think I saw one for Lana too. A dark tower upon a snowy mountain. I also think...there's something at the Valley of Seers too."
"Hmm. I think we shall check out the mountain tomorrow then. In the meantime," Link walks over and places his left hand on Zelda's right. "Hopefully you can send a message to Lana and Impa."
Zelda nods and concentrates on the power of the gods. She's never had to expand her telepathy across time and space before, so the instant she feels a connection of sorts, she speaks. "Lana, go to a tower on a snowy mountain. Impa, Valley of Seers. Please hurry, Hyrule depends on it!" The connection weakens quickly. Opening her eyes, Link removes his hand and stands up.
"Best go back to sleep. It might be a easy journey, might be a hard one. Tarin did say the rest of the island is untamed."
Missing the warmth of his hand, Zelda watches as Link returns to the floor by the window, settling under the covers. It's unfair he has to experience discomfort by sleeping on the floor, but he is a nomad. He's slept wherever he could the last three years. However, she says nothing as he gets comfortable. Laying back down, she caresses the empty side of the bed, remembering the many nights in the past when he would stay with her until she slept. Not even the Hero dared to spend the night in the Queen's bedroom...or get caught if he did. She never truly found out, but some mornings, her bed was warmer than others. But since he left (and Alduin has his own separate chambers, per his request) it has been cold, except for the few times she finds young Arthur with her.
To protect the ones she loves, she had to separate them both, and just thinking that brings a tear to her eye. When they return home, when the war is won, the story she told Marin and Tarin shouldn't be a lie anymore.
Link… Please forgive me.