The rain was pouring heavily as they ran through the forestry pathway, trying to escape the Guardians and monsters that searched for them. Link's grip on Zelda's hand wasn't lessening as he tried to keep her safe long enough for them to get to the Sheikahs, knowing they would know what to do in this time. If they could get to them then perhaps they still had a chance in succeeding in this war without the Champions and Divine Beasts.
But it was proving difficult to find a safe pathway to them.
Link felt his grip slipping and cursed the moment her hand fell from his. He instantly slid around to get back to her, uncaring what could happen as long as he was with the girl he loved most to get her to safety like their friends would have wanted— what King Rhoam would have wanted.
He couldn't fail to protect her now.
The moment the sobs escaped her throat was the moment his already broken heart broke even more as he realized what was going on— the reality was starting to sink in as he realized; their friends were dead along with everyone else who was at Hyrule Castle and the town.
They had no one left at this moment. It was just them as the sole survivors of Calamity Ganon's attack.
It broke his heart even more.
"Zelda…" he choked out, trying to hold back his own tears. "It… it'll be fine!"
"It won't!" she stressed back. "Everyone is dead! My father, our friends, your parents… we lost the Guardians and the Divine Beasts to that monster! How can you say it'll be fine?"
Link took a deep breath, ignoring the way the rain made him cold. "If… if we can get to Impa, Purah, and Robbie we can still win this fight… we can avenge everyone if we get to the Sheikah trio…"
No answer came from the princess and for a moment, Link was worried something inside had broken before even harsher sobs escaped her throat as she shook her head. She didn't believe him. There was no winning this fight despite their efforts.
Despite everything they had done in preparations to this fight.
They couldn't win.
"How… How did it come to this? The Divine Beasts… The Guardians… They've all turned against us…" Zelda choked out.
"It was… Calamity Ganon," Link answered. "It turned them against us."
Zelda sobbed even harder as tears rolled down her cheeks. "And everyone— Mipha, Urbosa, Revali and Daruk… They're all trapped inside those things… It's all my fault! Our only hope for defeating Ganon is lost all because I couldn't harness this cursed power!"
"None of this was your fault!" Link replied, gripping her shoulders tightly before pulling her into a tight embrace, allowing the tears to escape as he ran his fingers through her golden locks. "None of this was your fault…"
"Everything— everything I've done up until now… It was all for nothing… So I really am just a failure! All my friends… the entire kingdom… my father most of all… I tried, and I failed them all… I've left them…all to die," she sobbed, burying her head into Link's shoulder.
Link allowed his own sobs to come out as he thought back to his parents; they were lost too. He was finally experiencing what loss felt like— what Zelda had felt when she first lost her mother and he failed to help comfort her like he should've done. He should've stayed that day despite what she said and yet, he didn't. Maybe if he had, the power could've been awakened much more easily.
Maybe this was punishment for not staying that day.
Punishment for leaving her alone when she needed someone to tell her it would be okay and things would be better. He should've been her friend and despite what she said, despite how much it hurt— he should have stayed.
And yet… he didn't.
This was Hylia's way of punishing him for doing that. This was her way of saying treasure what you have until it's ripped away from you; they were both receiving the punishment when they shouldn't both be. It should just be him that got the short end while she was the one who had everything still because he didn't stay that day and yet she's suffering with him. It was unfair to her. She was breaking because of it.
But still, they should be making their way to the Sheikah Trio. Impa, Purah, and Robbie would know what to do— they readied themselves for this entire moment after all. The Sword would be there to guide them as well. If it worked for the other Heroes and managed to guide them to victory, it would do so for them as well— it had to do it for them too.
All of this was unfair. It didn't happen to the others. Why did it have to happen to them? Just because Ganon had finally given up on reincarnation? If so, then it was so stupid and petty of Hylia to allow the monster to have some victory while they lost everything in kind.
"Zelda…" Link choked, pulling away to meet her watery eyes. He kissed her forehead lovingly, resting his against hers. "We need to keep moving to the Sheikah Trio…"
"But everyone else…" Zelda tried saying but Link shook his head.
"We need to keep going… we can't… we can't… there isn't anything we can do for them now. They've all died at the hands of the Guardians or they're in hiding thanks to the Divine Beasts' roar before they were taken over…" he said, thinking back to each race.
How were they to explain the deaths of the Champions to their respective races?
His heart and mind pounded with pain as he thought too much into it, so he shook those thoughts away as he stood up, helping his love stand as the rain kept pouring down. Their clothes were muddy but they didn't care as they kept moving onward.
Just because they had lost the Champions, everyone, King Rhoam… that didn't mean they would lose each other. They could keep one another alive until they figured out what to do.
Because one way or another, they would be taking Calamity down.
All Link hoped was they could safely get out of this war with their lives, without any more deaths than there already had been, that they could save Hyrule from falling to Ganon's control. If they didn't manage to succeed, then they were horrible heroes, then who would take their place and do so themselves?
Would the Master Sword even allow someone else to take his place?
They would have to find out.
Link was exhausted. He had been fighting his way through a pack of pursuing Guardians, trying to keep Zelda safe as they made their way through the field, trying to get to the Sheikahs, but he was so tired and they had managed to wound him so much!
He had never felt so tired before in his life.
But he wouldn't be giving up. Not now. Not when he had to protect the girl he loved— not when he had just lost everything. No, he was going to save the only thing he had left in this world; Zelda. He was going to protect her with his life, like he had promised the Champions and King Rhoam. He was going to fulfill his destiny as the final Hero.
The Guardians kept closing in and his wounds were so fucking painful that he barely had enough time to keep his eyes opened before another tried to kill them, just how many were there in this moment and when would they finally give up and move on?
Zelda quickly placed her hand on his shoulder to keep him from falling over, seeing another Guardian making their way towards them. Her heart was racing from the frightening sight.
"Link, save yourself! Go!" she shouted, trying to push him away.
Link shook his head, coughing. "I… I can't. I promised I'd keep you safe."
"I'll be fine! Don't worry about me! Run!" Zelda tried again, urging him to run away from these things but he wouldn't listen. He was firm on keeping her safe from harm.
Firm on being like every other Hero because that's what he was told to be like in the very end; like every other Hero who lived and won against Ganon.
As the Guardian aimed its laser at them, Link stood tall, trying to keep himself from falling down as he heard the chiming of the finishing power-up, ready to take on another one before Zelda pushed him out of the way behind her, holding up her hand as she yelled out.
"No!" she yelled as a golden light shot out from her hand, the mark of the Triforce appearing as the golden wave of light surrounded them all as it blasted.
When the light vanished, she gasped as she saw the Guardians falling to the ground, broken. She had just taken out more than Link had done. But how could she have done that when she didn't even… wait.
The golden light…
Was that her power unlocked? Did she manage to unlock her power in the last second? Her heart pounded as she realized what she had managed to do in this very moment but failed in every other moment possible.
"Was… was that…? The power…" she mumbled, trailing off before she heard it happening.
A thump was heard behind her.
Shakily she turned around and her eyes widened as she saw Link on the ground, breathing heavily in pain. The fear returned as she rushed to her, cradling him close to her as she begged him to stay awake, how he would be fine when the Sheikahs got here.
She couldn't lose him too!
"No, no… Link! Get up! You're going to be just fine…" Zelda sobbed, rocking back and forth as she tried to keep him awake long enough for help to arrive, but Link could feel his tiredness taking over.
"It'll…" Link coughed. "It'll be fine… just… just get to the trio… I'll be there… soon… I promise…" Zelda could barely see him as tears clouded her vision, and she blinked to see better. Link gave a shaky smile. "I love you… you know that right…?"
"I love you too…"
Link nodded weakly and painfully. "Then… get to them…"
She cried even harsher when he closed his eyes, never leaving his side until she heard the faintest of noise and looked to see the ruined sword glowing ever so slightly in blue. Her eyes widened as she heard a voice calling out to her— slightly robotic, but it was full of wisdom, courage, and power.
Ever so familiar but unknown at the same time.
"The sword…?" she mumbled, closing her eyes to listen more closely.
There's still time… to save Master Link… Shrine of Resurrection… take him there… in the Great Plateau… there it lays… hurry… Goddess Hylia…
"So he can… he can still be saved?" Zelda gaped, eyes widened as she glanced down at him, tears had long since stopped.
But how would she get him there in time? She wasn't fast enough to head there while taking care of any monsters or Guardians running around. She wouldn't ever be able to save him in time.
"Princess!" Purah called out as she, Robbie and Impa landed in front of her, and Zelda's eyes went wide. "Princess, are you okay!?"
Zelda's grip on Link tightened as she looked firmly at them. "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?!"
Purah and Impa looked shocked but nodded.
"So make haste and go! His life is now in your hands!" Zelda snapped, watching as Robbie took Link into his arms, allowing the girls to go on ahead to clear the path as he followed.
Her eyes trailed downwards as she looked at the ruined blade. It never allowed anyone other than Link to hold it. She knew where to place it so it could await the return of its master, but would it allow her to hold onto it until they got to the Lost Woods? She would have to risk it as it couldn't be allowed into Ganon's grasp.
Slowly, but surely, Zelda held onto the sword's hilt. The sword didn't once shock her, accepting her grip on it. She breathed a sigh of relief as she took it into her hands, looking over at the damage and winced. It was entrusting itself to her until they made it back to the Lost Woods where its pedestal was laying.
Before she could move, it glowed once more and the voice came back.
Your role… it's unfinished… your power is awakened… you can hold back Ganon until he arrives… this world… is entrusted to you, Goddess Hylia... make us proud… make me proud as he did…
Zelda smiled softly as it vanished again, thinking over the words it had said before deciding it was right. Her duty was unfinished and with her power awakened, she could hold back Ganon until Link could seal him away after being restored to his life. He could release the Divine Beasts from Ganon's grasp and allow the Champions their rest.
They could take back Hyrule once he was ready to fight once again.
She turned on her heels, in the direction of the Lost Woods, and began to run towards them, hoping she would make it there without any interruptions. Link had cleared out the pathway before so she was sure she wouldn't be faced with anyone that could harm her.
If she was, she could always use the Master Sword to defeat them.
Either way, the Master Sword was going to get to the Lost Woods.
The morning sun felt nice on her shoulders as she stood in front of the pedestal. It took her all night, but she had managed to arrive in one piece with the sword in her hands. The Great Deku Tree was shocked but welcomed her warmly before insisting she tell him everything that had happened.
He agreed it would be best for the sword to stay here until Link's return.
"Your master will come for you. Until then, you shall rest safely here. Although the Slumber of Restoration will most certainly deprive him of his memories, please trust me when I say that I know he will arrive before you yet again," Zelda said as she placed the sword back into its resting place, stepping away afterwards.
The Great Deku Tree looked her over with a soft hum. "If I may be so bold…what is it that you are planning to do next, Princess?"
Zelda took a moment before replying, her voice firm and stern. "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," he chuckled.
For a moment, Zelda didn't reply. She didn't know how to ask. Would the Great Deku Tree even consider doing this favor for her? She hoped he would.
"Great Deku Tree, I ask of you, when he returns, can you please relay this message… Tell him I—" Zelda began but the wise old tree shook his head, cutting her off with a shake of his branches.
"Now then... Words intended for him would sound much better in the tones of your voice, don't you think?"
Zelda smiled softly. "Yes."
He nodded, grinning as he did so. He knew what she wanted him to hear. He could see it in her expression that she wanted him to know they would meet again and she wouldn't stop loving him even if he found someone else during his adventure to stop Ganon when he finally woke up. She wouldn't care as long as he was happy in the end.
But their fates, as he knew, were set in stone. Just like everyone else's fates were set in stone from the moment they were born.
"Now," he said, glancing behind her, "— off you go. Keep Hyrule safe until he returns, Princess. As I will keep the sword safe."
Zelda nodded, moving to head towards the castle before stopping, glancing over her shoulder to give him one final smile. "Thank you, Great Deku Tree."
"It's my pleasure. Now, hurry!"
As she took off, the Great Deku Tree sighed as his eyes fell upon the battered sword and shook his head. He would need to have his koroks clean that up for Link's return.
They would meet again one day and set things right, he was sure of it.
After all, their destinies and victory was set in stone.