Within the Temple of Time
"Link? How...are you still alive?"
"You thought an expedition to my old enemy's stomping ground would end me? Then you're more than a fool than I thought."
"Heh. Me, a fool? I was successful in my plot. You were alive all this time, yet now you show, too late once again." Vaati held up his hand, showing the pair of crests in his possession. "Courage and Power are with me."
Shade scoffed. "Just because they're with you doesn't mean you represent their values the best. They didn't choose you but were forced upon you. That can speak for many things regarding you."
Vaati raised his chin. "Why are you here, old friend?"
"To ease my last regret."
"Oh, so you want to be reunited with your Zelda?" Vaati raised his hand, charging his power. "I'll grant you that wish." Vaati fired a beam from his hand, which the elder hero blocked with his shield. He held his ground, putting all he had into blocking the beam and keeping Vaati occupied until Impa did her part.
And if death was going to welcome him, he would gladly accept.
Outside Rauru Town
As soon as the group rematerialized, Impa began to issue orders. "Everyone on their horses now!" The teenagers didn't question Impa's hurried tone, following her instructions with haste. Hilda joined Ravio on his horse to give hers to Midna, Oren and Ralph called for their airborne rides, and Zelda and Riju struggled to get on theirs, having to seat another person who couldn't do it themselves. For Riju, Ganondorf was easy; death made him more rigid. Link, still alive, would flop around until Zelda used magic to keep his body still.
Taking a gaze to the city, in more ruin than it previously was, Zelda questioned her caretaker. "Impa… I saw my father in the temple. Is he...going to fight Vaati?"
Impa didn't have the heart to tell Zelda that she was right, that her father was about to make the ultimate sacrifice. Instead, she telepathically connected herself to said person. "Link, we're leaving."
"Where will you go?"
"Darunia. I can't take the boy too far in his condition. Once he is settled for travel...there's a place back home where we can help him."
"Vaati will come for her."
Impa turned to Zelda, looking at the dimly lit right hand. "There is no place safe for her. As long as we have Wisdom, Vaati will raze Hyrule, the world if he needs too just for it. But you know I will protect her with my life. I promised Her Majesty that, and I will make it to you."
"...Thank you, Impa. You have been there since the beginning with me. I could not have a more valued friend."
Despite her struggle, a single tear fell from Impa's left eye, running down the painted marking that is below the organ. "You… This is...not goodbye."
"You're right. This isn't goodbye… I'll see you later, Impa of the Sheikah."
"...Te visurum, Hero of Hyrule." Impa turned to the kids, all ready to leave the town. However, their attention was turned to the town under a red light, the source being the landed weapon of the Imperials.
Once more, Zelda turned to Impa, tears now running rampant down her face. "Is my father there?" Once more, Impa looked away, focusing on the city. That pissed Zelda off. "Answer me!"
"You know the answer. I won't state the obvious." That statement had the opposite effect Impa would have preferred. Jumping off Epona, the Princess of Hyrule began to run towards the city. Her friends called for her, nearly beginning to chase her but Impa stopped them. Looking to her adopted daughter, Impa steeled herself as she spoke. "Let her go… She won't make it."
Veran was very proud of today's efforts. Onox had fallen, sure, but in her mind, he wouldn't be missed in the first place. What matter was the Triforce, and that Vaati had claimed two-thirds of it. What mattered was the destruction of the Resistance, the majority retreated from the city but still in indirect range of Vah Medoh's power. She just needed to give the beast a target.
"Vah Medoh, the time has come. Target the ruins of Rauru." Vah Medoh responded, firing a red beam from its head to the city. Smiling, the Queen of the Imperials gazed down upon the highlighted ruins. There was only one matter of business to attend to. "Vaati."
"Veran. You may fire when ready."
Veran grinned even more. "Gladly."
Temple of Time
"AHHH!" Shade continued to hold against the beam, making short but sure progress in closing the distance between him and Vaati. The closer he got to his enemy, the stronger the beam seemed to get. But he wasn't trying to win anyway. That was another Hero's destiny. His was to make sure that kid could get away. That his own kid could get away.
In time, Zelda would forgive him for his sacrifice. He didn't expect her to understand. He didn't expect her to care too much anyway. They had only known each other a month, not years, not a lifetime. But one day, she will forgive him.
Shade nearly faltered, hearing his daughter's voice telepathically. "Zelda?"
"You got to leave! The machine is has targeted the city!"
Just like it did Calatia. Determined, Shade charged forward. It was against his daughter's wishes still being spoken in his head, against common sense, against better judgement, the Hero of Hyrule kept going. The fact he got so close to Vaati in such short time shocked the attacker.
"How are you doing this?"
"I am doing it for them! For Zelda, the both of them! For Link! For the world I failed to protect!"
"You cannot protect them any longer. I will find her. I will take Wisdom from her. I will kill her!" Vaati increased his output, pushing Shade back a few feet. However, the warrior found his footing and began to retrace his steps.
Vaati smirked as he pressured Shade, then spoke. "It is over Link. Today, you have failed for the last time. Veran. You may fire when ready."
Hearing that, Shade knew his time was up, but there was an opportunity. If the beast was indeed about to fire, it'll vaporize everything...and that including his incoming daughter. He reached out with his hand, hoping that, if some type of bond was formed, she would feel it. He felt his hand on her shoulder, and she must have too as she stopped moving. He gasped, surprised to find himself wrong. They had formed a bond...and it was about to break for the rest of time. "Zelda, my dear daughter."
"I am sorry. All this, this was all my doing. I was a failure as a hero to this country, a failure as a love to your mother, a failure as a friend to Impa, Rusl, Spryte, and the generals. But I have failed you more than anyone as a father."
"You haven't...wait. Spryte?"
"When you get a chance, tell her this phrase. Memento temporis. You got that?"
"Good. And Zelda, never forget that I will always love you." Shade pushed his arm, telekinetically pushing Zelda then swinging his shield to reflect the beam. Shade still had one trick up his sleeve. He threw out his right hand in the same motion, send a thin yellow beam through Vaati. The Wind Mage felt his body trapped, looking in his immediate surroundings as he found himself within the center of the Triforce.
The sky illuminated bright blue, the ground shook, and Shade welcomed his incoming doom. He could no longer hear his daughter's voice, only the thundering approach of destruction. Leaping towards Vaati, he unleashed a flurry of strikes, screaming so loud he bet the golden three could hear him.
He was coming their way anyway, to be with his Zelda once again.
Midna watched with tearful eyes as the bird machine unleashed its power on Rauru Town, slowly engulfing the ruined city. The last memories of her childhood, the last knowledge of her mother, and the only knowledge of her true home destroyed in a heartbeat. The Temple of Time, the one structure that withstood the bloody history of Hyrule, had stood its last. The ancient city of Rauru, once the capital of a rising kingdom of Hyrule many millennia ago, had finally fallen to the enemy.
Through her own personal sorrow, Midna was the only one willing enough to get off her horse and walk to Zelda. By the time the beam had fired on the city, the Princesses of Light and Twilight were kneeling side by side, one kneeling on her knees, crying her eyes out as she called for her father, the other standing and watching her hometown become dust and ash.
"Father…" Zelda sniffed as she raised her hands to wipe her eyes. Midna knelt down and placed a hand on Zelda's shoulder, attempting to comfort the blonde.
"I…" Zelda dropped her hands, gazing towards the destruction of Rauru, clutching her fists. Anger swelled up in her, displacing her sorrows as she looked above the skyline, spotting the mechanical beast hovering above the land. She felt something within her snap just by looking at the machine, like a lock unlocked to a forbidden door. She felt something within her change, as if something within her soul had broken free from its prison. It wasn't a total unfamiliar feeling either; it felt like she did in Clock Town.
From Midna's point of view, Zelda was standing up and glowing brightly against the darkening sky. It reminded her of Clock Town as well, but this...it was more intense. She could feel the power bursting from within. It was like Ganondorf and Vaati's, but this was not dark and evil. It was light and pure. Midna had a feeling she knew what exactly this power was. It was not the Triforce of Wisdom or the power provided by being Hylia's descendant. It was the true power of the Princess Zeldas of Hyrule, the one Vaati himself feared and desired.
"Vaati… You have taken everything from me. My mother. My father. My friends. My home. My country. But from you, I will take away your life. I swear on their graves that you will fall by my hand."
The one that, despite the fall of Ganondorf and Link, Hyrule could place its hope upon.
Aboard Vah Medoh
Vaati had just returned to Medoh when Veran called him over. Stepping with haste, he joined his queen, direction him far south of the vaporizing city. His pale face nearly drained of whatever color it had left.
In the southern field, a small but visible yellow light could be seen in the darkness of evening. It wasn't just any light, but it radiated with so much power it dwarfed Ganondorf's earlier. This was it, the one thing that got away from him last time he dealt with a Zelda. It had finally shown itself, through the anger of the young rebel royal.
"Vaati." The princess' voice interrupted his thoughts. How was she communicating with him? Was it the power she was exhibiting? "You have taken everything from me. My mother. My father. My friends. My home. My country. But from you, I will take away your life. I swear on their graves that you will fall by my hand."
So she says. Vaati smiled as the light died out, vanishing from his sight. Beside him, Veran folded her arms, sighing. "Is that it?"
"Yes. That is the Light Force. The Golden Power of the Princesses."
Days later, east of Saria Town
"What will we do now, Bagu?"
Bagu watched over the forest by Saria, standing as still and quiet as a statue. Once upon a time, he used to run Saria Town, and it was he who would give permission to travelers to take their chances on Death Mountain. Now, 5 years after he left that job, he had finally returned home to hide.
Hide wasn't the best word. Ignored is the better term. The Resistance and the foreign forces that followed were out in the open, but Bagu had little faith in the Imperial King coming here. With two Triforces with him, he'll be after Zelda in a game of cat and mouse. Link is comatose, Ganondorf is dead, and Zelda...poor girl, her heart must be heavy. Her army was scattered, if they weren't killed trying to fight or escape Rauru. Her two best fighters were out of commision. The hope that rested on her was flickering out.
Bagu had seen a Hero come and go and always believed that it was he who was the hope of the world. He was never so wrong. The Zelda from before, when Ganon took over and imprisoned her, she was the final hope of Hyrule. As long as she was alive, Hyrule as still alive. 30 years later, her daughter was faced with the same dilemma. Evil is winning, the country imprisoned, and now Hyrule's Hero is more or less dead. The last light in the world depended on a heartbroken woman...and Bagu believed in her.
"Admiral, we wait. We wait on Error and Auru to make landfall. We wait on Impa to give us a progress report. But most of all, we wait on Zelda. She is, at this moment, our last hope."
Linebeck sighed. "I don't like this, Bagu. We're at the disadvantage."
"No. We have one advantage. He will have to come for her. The fight for the Triforce will be on Zelda's terms, and if what Impa says is true, Zelda has unlocked her hidden potential. It will be hers to win. I will place my hope on that."
Riju had only been to one funeral as large as this one, and it was only for her mother. She didn't expect the Sage Gerudo to even attend. But numbering the lineup from the city's gate to the riverbank were her people, with the remaining Daemon Gerudo either carried the casket or stood at the riverbank. The Bulblins had followed Riju back to the city, and formed most of the crowd at the river. The Gerudo Chief walked behind the casket, trying her best to hold her tears while Buliara walked beside her, followed by the Bulblin King and other important people of her town.
Telma led the entire processional between the two rows of Gerudo and Bulblins , and as the casket passed, Riju was appalled to see her people bow in reverence, not to her their Chief, but to the prince, no, the king of the other Gerudo sect. He was a nobody to them...no, in many ways, he was just as much a leader to them as she was. He was the son of Nabooru, Sage of Spirit and sister to Chief Urbosa, aunt to Chief Riju. He was the son of King Malladus, who had his rule been completed, would have truly united both Sage and Daemon once again. It was Ganondorf who bravely (as she would tell the town a few minutes earlier) took back the Desert Colossus. It was he who joined the Resistance, to fight back for what was taken. It was he who gave his life to defend Princess Zelda and the Triforce from Vaati (which was mostly, if not totally true to some extent), and he was a martyr to the Gerudo, a reminder that they were warrior people, and that they are the one group the Imperials fear. Riju took a glance to the south, where the massive camel could barely be made out. She knew that the town wasn't in range but the danger was ever present.
Had she been a stupid leader, Riju would attack the Imperials now. But the Imperials would now shift focus to Zelda and her friends, and though Riju wanted to assist them, her people took priority. That means if using the Princess as bait would rid them of their problem, Riju will allow it.
As they came to the riverbanks, the casket was lowered and placed at the edge of the bank. Riju could now see Ganondorf's black-clothed body, ordained with bits of armor at the torso and limbs. But what made him spectacular was the ruby encrusted on his forehead. Like her own emerald one, it represented that they were leaders of their communities, but he had never gotten his since he was a still a prince when Nabooru was sacked. In his hands was a blade found in his possession, and while Riju didn't recognize it, the decorative weapon must had some significance to him, so she had his body sent with it. But he will meet the Sand Goddess as a king, and with all its merits.
On her nod, the casket was pushed out to the water, beginning to head downstream as the current took hold of it. Once it was far enough, Riju nodded again, signaling a Bulblin archer to fire an arrow at the casket. It hit its target, igniting the wooden box. Finally, after holding it so long, Riju let her tears fall. Her Ganondorf was gone, this time for good.
Back above the gates of the city, a young Twili woman watched, silently swearing vengeance for the love she lost.
Vaati happily walked down the throne room to join his queen at the seat of his power. He boldly walked up the small steps, then turned to face the space below him. Looking to his right hand, flashing dimly with the Triforce of Power and Courage, the king made a silent vow to catch Princess Zelda and take her precious Wisdom. Unlike Ganon, he will have the third, even if the girl broke it into eight pieces once more. As Vaati took his seat, he turned to his Queen Veran, smiling with wicked approval, while two younger girls, one with fiery red hair, the other with icy blue, stood by her side, their arms folded as they looked to the king. She knew, just as much as he did, that the petty rebellion was all but through, but in time, they will be dust in the wind.
Once Vaati was comfortably seated, he moved his red eyes to the level below him. There Ghirahim stood at the center, eager to serve his master ever more. To his left stood the Imperial Champion, the revived Horsehead, clapping his mace with his free hand. To his left, a pale man in a red robe crackled his hands with electricity. To Ghirahim's right, the familiar presence of Zant stood, his arms crossed patiently. Next to him, a male with red braids, with too much makeup on his face, wearing dark robes and a long purple cape held a gold scepter holding a small, colorful flame at its top.
The Yiga's project had worked well. The small chamber built by the Sheikah to keep the dying from passing on had been reworked with magic to bring the dead back. Horsehead, Agahnim, and Zant were the test, but elsewhere in Hyrule Castle, with a fourth test currently being done. If that is successful, Vaati will be another step closer to achieving another goal: Humiliation.
Agahnim. Horsehead. Ghirahim. Zant. Yuga. Kotake. koume. Veran. Vaati. The king couldn't help but smile. His victory was nearly at hand. So as he reached his left hand to the stone statue of a woman kneeling before him, he touched the small crown that topped her head. Soon, she will weep on the fall of Hyrule, and this time, Vaati will extinguish the life he graciously preserved 18 years ago.
Darunia Town, East Hyrule
With a final, silent nod, Princesses Oren and Hilda departed from their male counterparts, heading back into the building that Impa decided to have the group stay in until Link was in a more fit condition for the travel to New Kasuto. As the girls left them, the boys turned to the city and the land that surrounded it, on the lookout for Vaati's forces and for the reinforcements that General Auru will provide once the rest of the water-bound rebels finally land. They hoped the latter made it first.
Inside the Sheikah house, Impa walked to an open doorway, leaning against the frame. Moments later, a pair of footsteps and a hand on her shoulder alerted her to Sheik's presence. Husband and wife shared a glance before they turned to the interior of the room they were near. Once upon a time, they watched as a Hero sat beside a cursed, sleeping Princess, determined to wake her up. That journey would take him across North and East Hyrule, searching for the fragments of the Triforce of Courage, and with the true Triforce completed, the Hero broke the curse of his former foe and woken his Princess.
Now, 24 years later after the adventure of Link, the roles are reversed. The Hero sleeps without end, the Princess watches without tire, a fairy floats between them, none of her magic working on the boy, and the world begs for saving. Evil is winning. It will come for what it seeks. There will nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, nowhere safe until the Triforce is whole once more, the power of the Princesses, this Light Force, was extinguished and the Resistance was crushed As far as the world was concerned, evil had won.
But hope wasn't lost. It sits in this very room, watching over her best friend. Her unbreakable spirit will keep her praying to the goddesses that he will wake. Her undying hatred of the Imperials will fuel her anger.
But it is what's within her that is the final barrier between darkness and light... the hope of blood.
The tale continues in Youths Chosen By The Goddesses: Hope of Blood.