SoT AU: "Shadow of Courage" Ch. 16

SoT AU: "Shadow of Courage" Ch. 16

Sep 11, 2021

Almost done! Two chapters to go (I think)! :D

Like other fics, not looking forward to editing this later.




There were shadows and hands reaching for him and glowing, hungry eyes and then --

Then Link found himself staring at the familiar green and brown of Kokiri Forest. Confused, he sat up and looked around. A single lone tree stump, long green vines, music soft in the distance beyond the field.

The Forest Temple. Link was back.

No spirit, though. No creature staring at him with Saria’s face. Link pushed himself to his feet. Dizziness swept over him and he staggered over to the tree stump on shaky legs. He felt weak, bones like water, and he slumped onto the stump with a soft gasp. 

What had happened? How had he ended up back here? What happened to the shadows? What were they?

No strange spirit appeared to offer answers. Link scowled at the far end of the field, where normally the entrance to the Lost Woods stood. Now there was nothing but a strange, blank wall. The Forest Temple was beyond his reach without his longshot, if anything existed beyond its doors in this strange world.

For now, Link appeared trapped. As soon as he recovered strength in his legs, he would explore, look for an exit. Until then, Link fought to catch his breath. 

The field probably wasn’t real. Link knew that. It was an illusion or some strange spirit realm, like when he had gone to fight Majora in Termina. Yet as he looked at the familiar field, sat on Saria’s tree stump, Link’s chest ached. Some part of him waited for the sound of Saria’s ocarina, Saria’s laugh. Some part of him, even after all this time, wanted to walk through the forest and go home, to his treehouse. He wondered if anyone ever took care of his cow.

Yet Link had known, even when he left the forest the first time, the Great Deku Tree dead behind him, the real truth. He had known it when he ran away from Saria, heard her quietly weep behind him. She had known, too.

Kokiri Forest hadn’t been his true home: Saria had been. Kokiri Forest had been a safe location, a place to lay his head, but Saria had been his home.

Like Link had hoped Ganondorf could be. Ganondorf had promised the Fortress. He had promised a home.

Ganondorf was supposed to be his home, and as Link Link looked up at the sunlight streaming through the trees, chest tight and legs shaking, he wondered what Ganondorf was doing now. What decisions he was making while Link was trapped.

Around him, the field darkened, like a shadow had slid over the sun. Link looked up but saw nothing but shadows.

Link wanted to go home.


When Ganondorf left the strange room, he expected the halls to be quiet, the spirits which haunted this building to be silent, but instead they seemed louder than before, more fervent, their voices rising and falling and hissing in an odd, rhythmic beat. Ganondorf paused in the doorway and cocked his head, listening. He could feel the power flowing through him now, a volcano bubbling under his skin. He knew, without a doubt, that he now had the power to change the world. There was nothing he couldn't do now.

Yet when he strained his ears and listened, Ganondorf couldn’t make out a single word. Just long dead voices, speaking in lost tongues, feverish and fervent, rising and falling all around him.

It didn’t matter. Ganondorf strode forward. Beneath his feet, stone cracked. Fire licked at the walls. He breathed in deeply, tasting smoke and sulphur.

It was done. At last, the power was his. Now it was time to claim his prize.


Around Link, the darkness grew, shadows slinking forward. If he looked upward, strained to see through the trees, Link thought he could see a red light shining, replacing the fading sun’s rays with its crimson glow. The familiar song of the forest faded. There were only whispers now, hushed and furious and so very, very dead, as if the Shadow Temple stood above him instead of the Forest Temple.

Something stood behind him, its cool breath tickling his ear. Its voice was soft, mournful. Matter-of-fact. “You lost.”

Even after sitting, the shakiness in Link’s limbs refused to abate. It crept upward, shivering through his bones. Link bowed his head. 

He had gambled on Ganondorf and lost. There was no home for him here. The only peace he would find would be in death.

Link licked his lips. At least his journey was almost done. “The battle isn’t over yet,” he said quietly. 

Just because he had lost didn’t mean Hyrule had. He looked into his hands, unsurprised to see Zelda’s ocarina there. As terrible as it felt, he wished it was the ocarina the Gerudo had given him.

“I’m sorry, Ganondorf,” Link murmured, and then raised the ocarina to his lips.


The strange white shield was shivering, seeming to fall apart, but it was through no effort of Nabooru’s. As the others tested the shield around her with hand and weapon, Nabooru tried to reach the power from before, but it was quiet. She could feel it there, simmering like soup seconds from boil, but it refused to come when she called. 

The woman was gone, too. The sands looked empty behind the trembling white wall. 

Nabooru had a bad feeling about this.

“I don’t like this,” Kali breathed beside her, running her fingers over the shield. It flickered beneath her fingertips. Her sharp eyes flicked Nabooru’s way. “When this is over, we need to talk.”

That was possibly the most ominous thing to come out of this mess. Nabooru grimaced and nodded, reaching for the shield herself. There was --

Before her fingers reached the shield, it shuddered, flashing brilliant and blinding before her. Several shouts arose and she caught sight of one Gerudo slamming the shield with her blade. Then, with another bright flash, the shield solidified. 

Nabooru’s bad feeling worsened. 

“Get back!” she shouted, stepping backwards and raising her own blade. All but Kali followed. Her lover remained still, staring hard at the shield, like she could figure out its secrets with her gaze alone. Cursing, Nabooru reached forward but it seemed as if the shield refused to grant her any clemency. With one final shudder, the shield slid backwards over the sands, the white dome closing inward. It moved swiftly and silently, growing smaller and smaller, seeming to regain its strength in doing so as its white light burned brighter, more opaque. 

Nabooru had no time to figure out anything -- the Sage epiphany or the identity of the missing woman in white or what was happening with the shield -- before Kali charged forward after it. With a quiet curse, Nabooru raised her blade. “Forward!”


It was like Mikau all over again. Not even going back in time, not even fighting as hard as he could, ended up saving Mikau’s life.


No more footsteps hounding him. No howls of some twisted abomination. Just the whispers, rising and falling in waves around him, as Ganondorf strode through the dark hallways. He didn’t hear them anymore, no more than he saw the firelight flickering over stone. His gaze settled on something distant, on something far grander.

All of it was so easy to envision. Link, clad in Gerudo red, riding at his side. The damned sword in his hand, but that was of no concern. If anything, Link with his damned sword would provide proof of his mastery over the Goddesses, that their chosen warrior and their chosen weapon fought for Ganondorf, not them.

Kali and Nabooru would undoubtedly be awaiting his return. From there, Ganondorf would lead his people over the land of Hyrule, claiming the sweet breeze for his people once and for all. The weak Hylian king would fall at Ganondorf’s feet while Link stood at his side. The land of the Goddesses would be his.

He could feel it: not only his power but Link’s, the fiery fury of his pressing against the burning light of Link’s. It was clearer now than ever. He knew, when he first laid eyes on Link’s glowing hand, that Link possessed Power, but only now, with his eyes open, could Ganondorf truly feel it and understand it. He thought then that the Goddesses sent Link to him but now he knew better: it had been Destiny, his to claim if he was strong enough.

Ganondorf had hesitated. He had been weak. Now he understood that to claim Power, he needed to fight for it, slay his enemies. Had Link not shown him that? Had Link not charged forward, fearless, determined to claim his prize? No matter the enemy, had Link not always rose and fought?

Destiny had been there, all the time, promising Ganondorf victory. He had been blind. 

He was King of the Gerudo, and soon, he would be King of all of Hyrule.

The voices rose and fell, rose and fell, the heartbeat within the stones, and Ganondorf couldn’t hear them over his own frenetic thoughts. He barely noticed the blinding white light blazing outside his sanctuary, captured by the fire burning behind his eyes.

Destiny, Ganondorf thought, dispelling the small shield around Link’s area with a careless wave of his hand. His magic responded with a thrilling ease, surging through his blood. 

Destiny, he repeated to himself, pleased, and opened Link’s door.


Destiny, Link thought, dully, and white light burned away the forest, through the shadows, bright and pure and burning him, too. Zelda’s Lullaby rose, silencing the voices, drowning out the world, mocking in its sweetness, in its quiet power.

You’re dying, the spirit whispered, faceless and voiceless, and Link supposed that was his destiny, too.

He was on the floor again, but that didn’t matter. The shadows were gone. It felt like everything was gone except the glowing, pulsing sword on the floor with him, inches from his fingers. Numb, Link reached out and wrapped his fingers around its hilt.

It felt, terribly enough, like coming home.

Perhaps this had been it for him all along. At least he had saved Nabooru and the Deku Tree and all the others from falling before the King of Evil and his servants. That would have to be enough.

Link licked his lips, tasted blood. His body shook when he stood. The world swayed around him, white lights and black spots.

He was dying, but before he fell, he needed to make sure the King of Evil fell with him.

The Master Sword burned in his hand, and he swore he felt its sorrow.


When Ganondorf opened the door to Link’s rooms, smiling, Link stood before him, ghostly pale, the damned sword in his hands.

At last, the voices fell silent.

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