How long had it been since he had seen light at all? Had the blade finally shattered? Was he finally free?
No, something wasn’t quite right about this light. As his eyes adjusted, he noticed nothing but a churning mist—mist that blurred scenery both familiar and foreign to him. After taking a moment to process what he was seeing, he finally noticed that in the middle of it all stood a silhouette obscured by the swirling white. His brow furrowed as he attempted to scrutinize the figure.
His dark eyes widened; he would recognize that stature anywhere.
Blinking away tears, he reached out for the shadowy figure. He opened his mouth to call his name, but no sound escaped him. His brow furrowed further, perplexed. He attempted once more to call out that cherished name, but he remained mute. He grew more frustrated and attempted to instead march forward, but his feet remained firmly in place.
Frustration gave way to rage at whatever was preventing him from moving. A silent scream tore through him, desperately wanting to reach the silhouette in the mist. Just when all seemed lost, he was surprised to see the figure shift to turn and face him. He grinned, feeling triumphant that he had been noticed after all. Just as he was about to behold the face of the one he yearned to see, he was suddenly swallowed up by darkness once again. He thrashed against it and frantically tried to free himself, but to no avail. His eyelids grew heavy with sleep once more, and he was thrust back into the clutches of eternal solitude.
Link watched silently as the golden wolf transformed into the spectre he was now accustomed to seeing. The towering skeletal figure gripped his sword and nodded to him—a nod that Link returned. Now that he knew the restless spirit meant no harm, he held no qualms seeking him out and learning his secret techniques. In a way, he felt comforted in the presence of the dead man; he carried himself with poise, and his voice—not too deep, nor too youthful—reminded Link of the sweet tolling of temple bells. The apparition was full of ancient wisdom and great mysteries, and his swordsmanship was the best Link had ever seen. He himself had learned many skills from Rusl, but even the great swordsman of Ordon Village paled in comparison to this warrior of a bygone age. Better yet, just like Link, the enigmatic swordsman was left-handed and appeared to be familiar with the burden currently weighing on the young Ordonian. In a way, the ghost was almost familiar.
“Thine eyes burneth with rage unbridled,” the Hero’s Shade observed, his antique Hylian vernacular now more familiar to Link. “Hast thou news?”
The young swordsman exhaled and tightened his grip around the hilt of his blade.
“I…almost lost someone precious to me,” he admitted, the pain still fresh. “She’s alright now, as am I. Thanks to the grace of Princess Zelda, we can continue on our quest. Turns out we need to find the pieces of the Mirror of Twilight.”
The apparition sighed. If he had a face, Link figured he would look wistful.
“Keepeth her safe, your friend. Companionship beith precious indeed, and one so pure beith most difficult to find. Thou hast cometh across a friendship most special, methinks. Pray, do not squander it. Cherish her, dear lad, lest thou wind up with a heart as wretched as mine own.”
The slain warrior brought a ghostly hand to his chest, right where his heart would have been. Link frowned and mimicked the gesture.
“Have you lost someone precious to you?” he asked. “Is that why you’re stuck here?”
To his surprise, the Hero’s Shade laughed. It was a sweet sound, reminiscent of wind chimes or songbirds. Link found it to be soothing, if not slightly mischievous.
“Mercy, one but of many!” the spirit exclaimed. “Verily, that beith a primary reason for this misfortune, though I did not lose him, per se. Nay, ‘twas mine own foolishness at fault for our separation. …Not a day has passed where I do not think of him…”
Link closed his eyes and exhaled deeply.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said, unsure of what else he could say.
The spectre shook his head.
“Such saccharine drivel beith of no use here. Come! Let us commence. I shall teach thee the Helm Splitter. Receive it now!”
With a nod, Link listened as the Hero’s Shade explained his new “special skill.” The Ordonian repeated the steps perfectly and brought the Shade to his knees. The dead man chuckled approvingly.
“Excellent, lad. Though I beith not surprised. Combat floweth through our bloodline as steadily as the Zora River floweth throughout Hyrule. As such, ‘tis no wonder that thou art competent in thy swordcraft.”
Link blinked at the words “our bloodline.” That could only mean one thing.
“Wait, our bloodline?” he inquired. “Are you…implying that we’re—”
The Shade held up a hand, causing the rest of Link’s question to die in his throat.
“Another time, lad. Time slipeth from our grasp, and I cannot maintain this connection for much longer. Pray, with haste, where wouldst thy journey taketh thee?”
“Er…somewhere in the forest,” the young swordsman answered. “To find the blade of evil’s bane.”
“Thou seeketh the Master Sword,” the Shade mused. “The sword slumbers within a sacred grove. Though I’ve no doubt thou wouldst overcome the trials that await thee, I recommend thou seeketh a…‘proof of friendship’ to appease the guardian of that place. ‘Twould serve to ease thy quest there.”
Link raised an eyebrow.
“Proof of friendship? With all due respect, what exactly would that do? More importantly, what is this ‘proof’ and where would I find it?”
“‘Tis a sword. A…special sword…” The apparition once again placed a hand over where his heart would have been. “‘Twas mine own, and it brought me the greatest joy. …Nay, not the sword itself, but rather what rests within.”
“What rests within?” the Ordonian repeated. “What does that mean?”
The Hero’s Shade chuckled. Link could have sworn he saw the briefest flash of fondness in the dead man’s eye sockets.
“The sword containeth my dearest friend,” the Shade said, a smile in his voice. “He hath protected mine resting place for centuries, but alas… I cannot bear to see him in the ground any longer. Please, dear lad…find the sword and returneth him from centuries of lonely slumber. Keepeth him safe, and inform him that I…”
The spectre trailed off and glanced away. Link knew that if he had a face, the man would look pained. The Shade sighed before looking back at the youth.
“Inform him that I beith well, despite this wretched lingering,” he continued. “And that I thinketh of him often, and that I… …I miss him…”
Link felt a twinge of pain in his own heart. A warm determination filled his gut, and he narrowed his eyes.
With a nod, he replied, “I will. Where can I find this sword of yours?”
“Remember these words and thou shalt find him: ‘The cursed swordsman sleepeth beneath the sacred tree.’ ‘Tis a tree I expect thou art familiar with.”
The young swordsman frowned, his mind drawing a blank, but he didn’t dare argue for the sake of time.
“Alright,” he said. “I’ll search around.”
The Hero’s Shade nodded appreciatively.
“Doest thou recall the first song I taught thee?”
“Yes, vividly. I could hardly forget such a soothing melody. It put me at ease when I was frightened of my wolf form…”
The dead man nodded.
“‘Twas why I sangeth it to thee. The Song of Healing beith its name, and ‘tis a most precious melody. Singeth it to the sword, and he shalt recognize thee as a friend.”
“Well, uh…singing is out of the question, I’m afraid,” he muttered, glancing away from the ancient warrior.
The apparition stared at the young swordsman. Although his skeletal face could not express anything, Link could feel the confusion coming from the dead man’s blood-red eye.
“It’s because I’m not good at it. At all,” the Ordonian clarified. “I’m. Not musically savvy. I can howl as a wolf, sure, or whistle little tunes using plants to call animals to me, but otherwise…I can’t sing. I can’t play instruments, either. I’ve tried, but I’m incapable.”
A beat of silence passed between them before the apparition chuckled.
“Yea, perhaps it shalt not matter. I simply request that thou seeketh him regardless.”
Link nodded, looking back to the ghost with determined eyes.
“Understood. I’ll find him for you.”
“Many thanks to thee, lad,” the Shade murmured, a soft smile in his tone. “Oh, and one more thing. He can be…insufferable from time to time, so take heed and steele thyself.”
“Ah…” Link chuckled and nodded. “I understand. I’m confident I can handle it.”
“Good lad. Now, go forth! Continue thine quest, and I shalt see thee again!”
With a flash of light, Link found himself back in the realm of the living. He shifted from his place on the ground and sat up. Midna arose from the shadows and studied him.
“This one took longer than usual,” she commented. “What, were you having a party with that dead guy and forget to invite me? Color me insulted.”
The swordsman chuckled and stood up to brush himself off.
“I would never,” he said with a warm smile. “I don’t think there’s any party that would be a lick of fun without you, Midna.”
The imp sputtered before composing herself and rolling her eyes.
With a mischievous grin, she flicked Link’s nose and replied, “Smooth. Real smooth. I suppose I’ll forgive you for boring me to tears for so long. What kept you, anyway?”
Link sighed and shook his head.
“A lot of information piled on me at once. And a request.”
“Mm, what else is new? People info-dump on you all the time. But a dead man’s request? Are you going to fulfill it?”
“Yeah, especially if it’ll help us find the Master Sword and a Mirror piece. It’s a bit out of our way, but it seems to be worth it.”
“‘A bit out of our way?’ Link, we don’t have time to go ‘out of our way.’ Zant’s on the loose—you saw what he did to Hyrule Castle! You heard what Zelda said! Saw what she did!”
She paused to look at her hands, a pained expression crossing her features as she remembered the princess’s sacrifice for her…
Link knew how deeply his companion cared for Princess Zelda and how urgently she wanted—no, needed—to save her. He owed the princess a great deal himself for breaking Zant’s curse, so he understood Midna’s plight.
“I know, I know,” he said, not unsympathetically. “But…mm, maybe it’s not as ‘out of our way’ as I’m making it sound.”
Midna looked at him skeptically.
“What do you mean?”
The Ordonian gave his friend a reassuring smile.
“We just have to find a sword buried under some sacred tree,” he stated. “Which means it’s somewhere in the forest. The Shade said it was his, and some friend of his is inside it. He said it would serve as some sort of ‘proof of friendship’ to some guardian protecting the Master Sword.”
The denizen of Twilight snorted.
“So we have to find this sword just to find another sword. Yeah, uh-huh, sounds good. Totally not a waste of time.”
“He didn’t show it, but I could tell the Shade was desperate for me to find his sword,” Link said, narrowing his eyes. “It’s the least I can do to repay him for his help. And if it’ll help him rest in peace so he can finally cross over into the Afterlife, then we’re doing it.”
Midna sighed and shrugged.
“Alright, alright. We’ll find this guy’s sword. You said it’s buried under some ‘sacred tree,’ yeah? Any ideas where to start?”
Link placed a hand on his hip and pondered her question. It was a good question, and no, he didn’t have any idea where to start. Still, he needed to come up with something so they could at least get moving. He first thought of the enormous tree stump at the Great Bridge of Hylia, but that didn’t seem right—it wasn’t anywhere near the forest, and it seemed unlikely that the Hero’s Shade’s body would be buried at Lake Hylia, given his ghostly form was covered in ivy growth. He thought of every tree he ever noticed in his own explorations of Faron Woods and beyond, but none of them ever seemed special enough to be considered sacred.
Suddenly, it clicked.
“The Forest Temple,” he breathed, looking at Midna. “The entrance is a gigantic tree stump. It’s a temple, and that’s sacred ground right there. I think that’s as good a place to start as any.”
Midna smirked and lightly punched the swordsman’s shoulder.
“That’s using your brain~” she praised. “Nice thinking. Let’s check it out.”
Link nodded, and together they set off for the forest.
The trees of Faron Woods could grow to awe-inspiring heights, especially the deeper one went into the forest. The biggest one of all—at least to Link’s knowledge—was the tree that housed the Forest Temple. According to old Ordonian folklore, the old Forest Temple was once located in an abandoned fortress hidden in a sacred meadow that was protected by the gods’ magic. Because no one was ever able to find it, the Hylians who came to make the forest home took it upon themselves to build a new temple to honor the woods and their spirits. The folktales Link grew up with said that the great Orlon—the founder of Ordon Village and Link’s ancestor—stumbled across a gargantuan tree stump deep within the woods. The Symbol of the Forest was neatly—carefully—carved into the base, indicating that the tree was sacred. Thus, Orlon decreed that the natural colossus would be the foundation of a new temple. Apparently Ordon’s founder was continuously drawn to the tree, like something was hidden there, meant for him and him alone.
He never found it, and neither had any of his descendants.
Link could admit that he too felt a special connection to the Forest Temple tree, but he often pushed those feelings away. After all, his mother’s own fascination with the tree and his father’s overzealous eagerness to find whatever his wife thought called to her was the cause of their untimely demise. Talo would probably have met his own at the temple entrance had Link not chased after him only days before. Hence, the young swordsman stood by what he always thought since the death of his parents: the tree was cursed.
Which made it the perfect spot to find the sword of a cursed, dead warrior.
“Looks like we’re breaking some tiles,” Midna stated, staring at the intricate stonework. “Hopefully we won’t have to face the wrath of the gods or whatever. You know, for desecrating a temple and all that fun stuff.”
Link couldn’t help but chuckle.
“If we do, at least we’ll be in it together,” he said, smiling fondly at the imp.
Midna glanced at him, then rolled her eyes before forming a giant fist with her hair and pulverizing the tiles. Link stared at the newly exposed earth and exhaled. He didn’t have to say anything; Midna knew exactly what he was thinking as she transformed him into a wolf. Link wasted no time sniffing around the area. The dirt reeked of ancient secrets.
He began to dig.
He knew he had to be careful; centuries of weathering had loosened the earth and created a massive chasm. If he dug too deep, he would surely plummet straight through the ground and into the sprawling abyss below. His nose twitched from a new scent: the stench of arcane darkness. Something was definitely down there, and he was close. He slowed down and proceeded with caution until his nose bumped into something cold and metallic. He jolted slightly in surprise before becoming overwhelmed by the smell. Growling to himself, Link gripped the object in his teeth and turned back the way he came.
‘This has to be it,’ he thought, heart pounding obnoxiously in his ears. ‘What else could it be?’
As soon as he reemerged from the hole, he spat out whatever he carried and shook the dirt from his fur. Midna whooped before letting out an impressed whistle. Link turned to look at the excavated object right as he regained human form.
“That’s one hell of a sword, if I do say so myself,” the denizen of Twilight commented. “Looks like it hasn’t dulled at all, either. It’s razor-sharp after being buried for who-knows-how-long.”
Indeed, it was impressive. Link had never seen anything like it. Despite its obvious age, it maintained a seemingly supernatural luster. The golden diamonds glittered in the sunlight, and the jewel at the base of the hilt shined spectacularly. The sword wasn’t just impressive—it was beautiful.
“This has to be the sword he asked me to find,” he stated, picking it up. He startled ever so slightly, feeling the sword pulse once in his hand.
Midna raised an eyebrow at him.
“That’s all you have to say? Really?”
The Ordonian frowned.
“Yes. That’s all I have to say. That, and I could smell an unnatural darkness on it. I have no doubt this is the Shade’s blade.”
“Nayru, you are so dry. How can you be so serious all the time? Seriously.”
“Serious times call for a serious state of mind.”
Yes, but all work and no play makes the Hylian a dull boy.
Link jolted and swiveled around. Not seeing anyone, he began to frantically scan the area for the source of the unexpected voice. Midna began to look around with him, although she appeared confused.
“What’s got you so spooked?” she asked. “What are we looking for?”
“You mean you didn’t hear that?” the Ordonian replied, gawking at his partner. “That voice?”
“Uh…no? Are you okay, Link?”
Ah, so you can hear me. Fascinating. Now, care to tell me who has disturbed my resting place and wrenched me away from the only hand allowed to wield me? Also, how much time has passed? Your language sits strangely upon mine tongue—my tongue. Ugh.
“You look pale as death! Here, hurry up and sit down before you keel over.”
“Midna, I think the sword is talking to me. Inside my head.”
Midna stared at her partner incredulously. Had Link not been starting at her like he had seen…something scary (he had already seen a ghost, so that was off the list), she wouldn’t have believed him.
“This sword…is talking to you.”
The swordsman nodded again. Midna sighed.
“Well, what’s it saying?”
I’m saying, you wretched boy, that you have done me a great disservice that shall not go unpunished! Now, again, who are you and how did you find me?!
“It’s asking who I am,” Link answered Midna. Then, trying to respond to the mysterious voice, “My name is—”
“Oh, don’t tell me you have to answer it out loud,” Midna groaned. “Can’t you respond to it in your head?”
The Ordonian shot his friend a look before trying again, mentally.
‘My name is Link. Are you the Shade’s…friend?’
An uncomfortable silence answered him. After what felt like hours, he finally got a response.
Link? No, how absurd. That’s impossible. You are not Link. Unless…you are the new Link. I suppose that would make sense. And what do you mean “the Shade?” You speak nonsense, child.
He spoke nonsense? Link scoffed. If anything, the sword was the one speaking nonsense.
‘That is my name, and I was tasked with finding this sword by the Hero’s Shade. He’s a restless ghost full of regrets and hasn’t been able to cross over for centuries—I think. His dialect is almost ancient, like something you read in manuscripts from about five hundred years ago. He practically begged me to find you. He said you could help me on my quest.’
Another long, awkward silence fell between him and the sword.
Tell me, Link. Has this…“Shade”…told you his name?
‘No, he hasn’t. Though…he did seem to imply that…we’re of the same bloodline.’
The voice sounded shocked, offended, and confused all at once. Link had to hold back a snort.
“What’s with that look?” Midna inquired. “I take it you’re now having some kind of deep, intense discussion?”
Link smiled at her.
“Something like that. Hang on, I better take some time to get everything sorted.”
Midna examined her claws and shrugged.
“Oh, sure, sure, take all the time you need. Not like we’re in a hurry or anything.”
“It’ll only take a few minutes, Midna.”
“I’ll give you five.”
“Well, that’s more generous than I expected.”
The swordsman chuckled before resuming his conversation with…whatever the sword was.
‘Yeah. I think the Hero’s Shade is some long-lost ancestor of mine. It makes sense, considering he knows so much about me. He’s kind of dismal, but I think I would be, too, if I was in his position.’
Not you. Him. This “Shade” you speak of. His name is Link. If what you speak is true, then it appears you have inherited his namesake.
Link furrowed his eyebrows. He could trace his family tree back centuries to the era of the Great Civil War. He was the son of Marin, who was a descendant of Orlon. Orlon was the son of a rancher named Tarin, who inherited his ranch from his mother, Malon. There was no one else named “Link” in his family tree—at least that he knew of. According to his family records, Tarin never knew his father.
Farore have mercy, Link, what have you done?
The voice startled the Ordonian from his thoughts.
‘What are you talking about? Wait, you can read my thoughts?’
Only when I reside within the sword, so yes. Alas, I fear I am too fatigued and weakened from centuries of slumber to manifest properly. Now I see why you are able to hear me when only my Link would have been able to. Yes, I feel it. His precious blood courses within you, proud and true. The damned fool.
‘What…do you mean?’
I knew Malon. I knew of her feelings. Unfortunately, Link could not return her affections. It is worse than I feared. As it stands, it looks to me that a drunken evening gone awry had more consequences than either of us could have anticipated.
Link felt himself becoming frustrated. He had a feeling he understood what the ancient sword was telling him, but he wanted to hear it directly.
‘Spit it out already! If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s beating around the bush!’
My, such a temper. Very well. Your ancestor—this Tarin—was the product of a drunken one-night-stand between Malon and Link. Link was killed before he had the opportunity to resolve his guilt and apologize, as Malon’s love was one-sided. He never had the opportunity to learn of Malon’s…situation…because he was cut down the very next day.
Although the words were biting, Link could hear the anguish behind them; not because of Malon’s unexpected pregnancy, but because the other Link—his Link—was killed and left to wander the earth full of remorse. It was clear that this spirit-or-whatever only cared about one thing: the Shade—Link.
‘You…really care for the Shade—Link—huh?’
He is the only thing that matters to me, yes. Hearing you tell me my worst fears so casually disgusts me. Knowing that he has lingered on here—alone—for so long, and I’ve been asleep just—!!
The abrupt silence was deafening. Link stood there awkwardly for a tense moment.
“Everything alright?” Midna asked. “It’s been five minutes already, but the look on your face tells me that things are getting intense. What’s happening?”
“I’ll fill you in later,” the swordsman said, looking at his companion. “It’s a lot.”
“He’s gone quiet. It’s a bit unnerving.”
“Well in that case, let’s get a move on! We can’t stand here all day and wait for some disembodied voice to keep talking to you.”
Link nodded and turned to walk. He agreed with Midna; they had already lost valuable time retrieving the sword and couldn’t afford to lose more. Whatever the sword had to say, he’d have to say it while they were on the move. As they walked, the Ordonian couldn’t get what the sword told him off his mind, and he wasn’t sure how to feel about it all.
He was pleased to know that his assessment of the sword—both in location and ownership—had been correct. He was surprised that the spirit within could (and bothered to) speak with him. Yet he wasn’t sure what he thought of the Shade’s—Link’s—past and his own origins. On the one hand, everything made sense. On the other hand, it was…uncomfortable to think about. What had caused the other Link to throw caution to the wind like that? Clearly it was such a grievous offense—whether to Malon or Tarin he couldn’t even begin to be sure—that someone excluded his name from the family records. Yet clearly the other Link wasn’t a bad person; the fact that he still roamed Hyrule with regrets and treated the Ordonian like a son evidenced as much. Link was sure that if the Shade had survived long enough to learn of his child, he would have done his best to do the right thing for everyone involved.
He would have. His heart was always pure.
Link flinched slightly at the sudden reappearance of his new companion, but he did not falter in his steps.
‘You…really love the Shade—Link, I mean.’
More than you could ever possibly hope to comprehend, boy. Far, far more. You’ve no inkling of how torn apart I am upon hearing that such an egregious fate befell my most cherished friend. Had I the strength to properly manifest, I would search every corner of this land until I found a way to see him and ease his suffering.
The spirit didn’t have to say it for Link to know he absolutely would. That much was made obvious from the start.
‘He no doubt has been wanting to do the same. If he could. He’s clearly thought about you often, and that’s an understatement.’
What…has he said?
‘Well…he told me to tell you that he’s alright and not to worry.’
The spirit scoffed.
‘And he said that he misses you.’
‘Yeah. He’s clearly had you on his mind for a long, long time.’
The voice of the sword chuckled.
Link wasn’t sure what more he could say.
‘Ah, but I suppose I should ask your name. You already know mine.’
Ghirahim is my name. …Just Ghirahim.
Ghirahim. An involuntary shudder shot through Link’s spine. The name oozed darkness and released an uneasiness upon him that he couldn’t explain. Still, this was his predecessor’s beloved friend, so he couldn’t possibly be that bad. It was strange having a disembodied voice speaking to him in his head, but then again everything about his journey was strange. For now, he’d simply do what he had been from the start: just accept the weirdness of it all and roll with it. At this point, he didn’t have time to seek out answers to every question he had (not to mention he’d get nothing accomplished).
‘Well, Ghirahim, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Please lend me your wisdom on this journey.’
Hmph, I suppose I’ll allow it since your manners are up to standard. Very well. What, pray tell, is “this journey?”
Link told him. He told him all about Midna, Zant, the previous quest for the Fused Shadows and the current one for the broken Mirror of Twilight. He explained Hyrule’s plight and Zelda’s sacrifice. His heart grew heavy as he spoke of his personal mission to return the children of Ordon to their village, as well as his chance meeting with the Hero’s Shade. He explained everything to the spirit. To his surprise, said spirit knew about many of the things he mentioned—at least when it came to the Twilight Realm and its relics.
You’d be surprised what you can find in the Royal Archives, kept hidden from public knowledge. Fortunately I’m a professional snoop and have the ability to come and go as I please, with none the wiser that I was even there~
‘Fortunate, indeed,’ Link agreed. ‘Your knowledge of all this may prove to be invaluable.’
Yes, quite. It will be. You should be grateful. Not just to me, but to your ancestor. Without Link’s wisdom and guidance, your journey would be more difficult than you’d like. Treasure his words, because his advice is truly invaluable.
The Ordonian had a feeling that the sword spirit wouldn’t be giving such praise had he never met the former Link. He wasn’t sure why; he could just feel it.
‘…Anyway. Your Link said that you would be a great asset in the next part of this quest. Do you know what to do? If we’re looking for the Legendary Blade, what must I do?’
Why, go to the Temple of Time, of course. The sword is there in its pedestal. No use spelunking around here in the woods. Best you make haste to Castle Town.
Link furrowed his eyebrows.
‘Castle Town? There’s no such temple in Castle Town.’
A moment of silence passed between them. Link was about to ask Midna for confirmation to his statement, but Ghirahim spoke once more.
What in blazes did that accursed royal brat do now?! Surely she couldn’t have moved a temple! There’s no way she would have had it destroyed. Hylia would have smote her where she stood. This is outrageous! If not in Castle Town, where else would it be?
The young swordsman looked to Midna.
“Our next destination is somewhere here in the forest, right?”
Midna shrugged and answered, “That’s what I gathered.”
“Thought so. Maybe Rusl will know something.”
“Wouldn’t hurt to ask. If you need something, I’ll be here.”
With that, the imp disappeared into the darkness of Link’s shadow. Link smiled and kept walking. He had a feeling Rusl would be nearby, and considering he was part of the Resistance, he was bound to know something.
‘I don’t know what to tell you,’ he thought to Ghirahim. ‘The Master Sword and Mirror piece are definitely here in the forest. The Shade confirmed that much to me and said having you along would serve as some sort of “proof of friendship” or something. That’s why I found you. If you’re an important element of passage, then I need your help.’
I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about. Clearly Link knows something that I am not privy to. As loath as I am to admit it, I’m a bit confounded by this turn of events. Ah, but it matters not. If aiding you will put his spirit to rest, then I gladly do so. We shall see what happens when we cross that bridge.
The Ordonian nodded.
‘Right. Let’s see where this road takes us.’
The road was apparently chalk full of surprises.
In all his years, Link had never heard about a sacred grove hidden deep within Faron Woods. He had heard of a sacred meadow lost to legend, but never…this. Whatever this was. If someone had told him a week ago that he’d be using a golden cuckoo to traverse unreachable areas of the forest, he’d have laughed. Possibly guffawed. Yet here he was, on Rusl’s insistence, doing just that.
“This is ridiculous,” he grumbled under his breath, staring at the wide gaps in the earth he needed to overcome in order to reach the grove’s entrance.
Your outfit is ridiculous.
The Ordonian scoffed and waited to time his next jump perfectly, lest he be knocked into the abyss below.
‘Is it not your beloved Link’s tunic? I was told by the Light Spirit who granted it to me that it belonged to the Hero of Legend.’
The only thing legend has given my beloved Link is the insult of being branded as cursed. The tunic you wear belongs not to the Hero of Time, but to his predecessor: the Hero of the Sky.
Link leaped, letting Rusl’s golden cuckoo carry him to the ledge of a small cliff. Midna cackled at him all the while.
‘Hero of the Sky? That sounds…vaguely familiar, but I’m not accustomed with the story.’
Then I’ll give you the abridged version: he was the first Hero chosen by the Goddess Hylia to unite the land and sky, since they were separated to protect the Triforce from the Demon King Demise. My Link was his reincarnation. I was the Hero of the Sky’s enemy and cursed him in my final moments. That’s how I met my dear friend centuries later.
The young swordsman raised an eyebrow.
‘Now I have more questions.’
I’ll answer them later. Right now, don’t you have a quest to focus on?
Link sighed and stared at the dark entryway before him. He moved to stride through, but a familiar whistling caught his attention. Glancing around, he laid eyes upon a Howling Stone and approached it. Midna made herself manifest and looked at him.
“Change you into a wolf, then?” she asked.
Link nodded. Once he took beast form, he listened closely to the whistling wind and howled the tune. As anticipated, his solo quickly turned into a duet with the Golden Wolf. The usual “take sword in hand and find me” message was skipped this time.
Instead, the Golden Wolf told him, “Thine questions shalt I answer when next we meet. Until then, heed Ghirahim’s wisdom and keepeth him close. Speaketh his name or brandish his blade to the spirit of this place, and he shalt showeth thee passage.”
Link was thrust back to reality and resumed human form. A split second of uncertainty crossed his mind before he gripped Ghirahim’s sword and entered the Sacred Grove. The magic of the place shot through him, causing him to shiver. The presence of several supernatural forces was overwhelming, but he held firm. Beside him, Midna stared at a dead end.
“Great,” she growled. “Just how are we supposed to get through this?”
The Ordonian opened his mouth to respond, but a child’s giggle cut through the silence and rendered him speechless.
“You can’t!” teased the disembodied voice. “I won’t let you~”
Both Link and Midna startled as a small figure—a boy with a ghastly face, who appeared to be made of wood—suddenly burst into view. In his hand he held a lantern that glowed an ethereal blue. Link knew that it was no flame the lantern contained.
“I come bearing proof of friendship,” he declared, holding the Gilded Sword aloft. “With me I have—”
“Mister Ghirahim!” the child exclaimed, jumping in place. “How wonderful! See, Mister Ghirahim? See how he dances in his joy?”
He held up his lantern. The blue light appeared to glow brighter and move gracefully within.
“Do you hear him sing his heart song? Can you hear his happiness? Can you, Ghirahim? Can you return it? Can you? He would love to hear you sing with him! Can you dance? He would love to dance with you, too!”
Link’s eyes widened as small black and white diamonds emitted from the sword before disappearing again. The diamonds kept blinking into existence, only to keep fading away. This process went on for a long, agonizing moment before it stopped altogether.
Link winced as Ghirahim shrieked in his mind.
Damn this wretched weak form!! I must get out—I must!!
The Ordonian looked back at the child spirit, who bounced in place. Beside him, Midna frowned.
“Hey, kid!” she shouted. “Are you gonna guide us through here or what?”
The spirit turned its attention to her.
“Hmmm… I don’t think Ghirahim would like it if I made it that easy for you. And I think my friend would like to know more about you. …I know! We’ll play a game!”
“A game?” Midna growled, her teeth bared dangerously. “We don’t have time to play a stupid game! We have your friend, so hurry up and let us pass!!”
The child giggled in response and retrieved a horn from his back. Taking a deep breath, he blew a loud, uncomfortable note before vanishing. Link and Midna watched as the dead end opened up, but could barely move a step before they were surrounded. Grotesque wooden puppets lunged for them, causing Link to stumble before striking with Ghirahim’s gilded blade. The blade sliced through the puppets like a hot knife through butter; Link had never experienced anything like it.
Skull Child!! Ugh, boy! Quick! After him!
The swordsman didn’t appreciate the sword spirit’s tone, but he was in no position to argue. Instead, he charged forward after the strange child. The grove was a maze—albeit a lovely one—in which he found himself running in circles. With a growl, he came to a halt and closed his eyes to listen to his surroundings. His efforts were rewarded; the faint sound of the spirit’s horn being played guided him in the right direction.
They chased the sound of music around the grove only to be attacked by more puppets. When they finally found the spirit, Link crept over and stuck. The child giggled and blew his born before running away. This process repeated itself—find the “Skull Child” and land a sneak attack, fight more puppets, resume the search, fight more puppets, repeat—until the trio stumbled through the ruins of an ancient temple and found the strange child dancing upon a rock in the center of a circular room. Link narrowed his eyes and drew his bow. Aiming true, he released the arrow and hit his target.
This time the “Skull Child” grew angry. He stomped his feet and trembled as he growled. Instead of running away, however, the child teleported himself to another rock and blew his horn. The dissonance of harsher notes rattled Link’s teeth, but he leapt from his platform to confront the next batch of puppets regardless.
“Let’s take care of this brat once and for all!” Midna snapped.
The Ordonian grunted his agreement and charged. The child spirit didn’t make it easy for them; he teleported this way and that, blowing his horn in their faces and summoning more puppets immediately after they defeated batch after batch. The swordsman was so distracted with dodging puppets that he nearly missed his chance to properly strike.
To the left! Now’s your chance!
Link’s body acted automatically as he rolled to the left and exploited the opening left by the “Skull Child.” The young spirit let out a startled yelp before teleporting out of the Ordonian’s reach. Instead of summoning more puppets, however, the spirit giggled. With a wave of his lantern, a new path opened in the ruins and the child disappeared.
Link grimaced at Ghirahim’s distress. He was about to respond, but the child spirit’s disembodied voice echoed through the ruins before he could.
“Heehee~ He’s appeased! He’s found you worthy of the next trial, so don’t disappoint him~”
Midna scoffed and crossed her arms.
“The next trial?” she grumbled. “There’s more of this nonsense?”
Link felt the corner of his mouth twitch in amusement.
“I mean, we are on a quest for a sacred—no, the sacred—sword.”
Midna flicked his forehead, causing him to chuckle.
“Yeah, yeah, wise guy. Keep running your mouth and watch what happens.”
What, will she kiss you? Revolting.
Although he tried to fight it, the Ordonian couldn’t prevent his face from turning as red as a healing potion. Midna, of course, noticed.
“You just started blushing out of nowhere.”
“Did not, it’s just…warm.”
My, your heart is just palpitating. It appears my suspicions about you are correct.
‘Shut up…! You don’t know anything about me.’
I don’t have to. You’re not as discreet as you like to think you are, boy. You get that from your predecessor, to be sure.
Link scoffed and cleared his throat.
“Alright,” he said. “Let’s go. The sooner we get the Master Sword, the sooner we find the Mirror piece.”
His Twili companion stared at him for a moment before rolling her eyes with an impish grin. Together they walked through the opening into what appeared to be the nave of an ancient temple. To their right was a destroyed set of stairs, a surprisingly in-tact door defiantly standing alone against the ruin of time atop them. To their left stood two identical statues which appeared to be guarding another sealed door leading to—Link assumed—the apse containing the legendary blade. He could only hope, anyway.
This is certainly new. The Temple of Time has clearly gone through some changes. Ironic how it has ended up back in the depths of the forest from whence it first came. How it ended up this close to Link’s resting place will forever confound me.
‘I’m not going to bother asking what you mean. Instead, what do I need to do to open that door?’
Fantastic question. Beats me. Back in the old days, one needed to collect three Spiritual Stones, place them upon the altar, then play a sacred song using the Ocarina of Time. From what I can see, the altar has been replaced by those statues, and the Ocarina of Time was buried with Link centuries ago. It’s long gone.
“Well, that’s disheartening,” Link growled, scanning the area for some sort of clue.
“What is?” Midna asked, looking around as well.
“Ghirahim just informed me that the way to get through that door is no longer viable. Apparently this temple has gone through some drastic changes before it fell to ruin. I don’t suppose you have any idea, do you?”
The imp placed her hands on her hips and glanced around once more.
“Well, there is an emblem on the ground that isn’t covered by foliage. It’s right there between the statues and it’s shaped like the Triforce, so…there’s your sign, maybe?”
The Ordonian noticed the emblem and nodded.
“Worth a shot,” he agreed.
With great determination, the swordsman strode over to the emblem and stood upon it expectantly.
“Oh, c’mon!” Midna groaned. “What more do you want from us?!”
Link sighed and nodded along with his friend’s frustration.
Try singing. Like—
‘I don’t sing,’ Link thought.
Do you whistle, then, you impudent brat? Or are you only capable of howling like a dog?
Link’s eyes narrowed.
‘I can whistle.’
Good. Then listen carefully and repeat this melody.
The sword spirit proceeded to sing with the most enchanting voice Link had ever heard. The tune he sang resonated within the Ordonian’s core, leaving him mystified at the power within those ancient notes. The mysteries of time seemed to unravel before him with every chant; in enveloped him, and he felt as if he could let the coursing of time sweep him away at will so long as he could listen to such an ethereal song.
When Ghirahim concluded, Link stood there in dazed silence for a brief moment before taking a deep breath and whistling the melody exactly as he had heard it. He didn’t expect anything to happen once he concluded, but to his surprise the strange markings on the statues began to glow.
“Whoa!” Midna exclaimed. “What was that?!”
“A song that Ghirahim told me to repeat,” the swordsman answered, staring at the statues. “I don’t know what it is, but it’s clearly working.”
That was the Song of Time. Cherish that melody, for it is the song that began your predecessor’s journey as the Hero of Time. Or, rather, the Hero of Answered Prayers.
Ah, I’ve said too much. Forget it, it’s a long story. Just know that the song I taught you is the chant that was once sung religiously within these ancient walls. At the time, playing it on the sacred Ocarina of Time was the only way to open the Door of Time. It seems that so much time has passed in the renovation of this place that the instrument was no longer necessary. Yet I can all but guess that the song itself was lost to the flow of time, thus none were able to open the door and the temple was abandoned. But this can be explained later. For now, focus on the task at hand. The guardians speak.
“O Youth who asserts the Ancient Melody, accept this challenge and guide us. Only then will the Door to the Sacred Grove open.”
“What’s happening?!” Midna shouted, looking around as the ground shifted into some sort of puzzle.
The guardians suddenly leapt onto floating blocks away from their original posts.
“No…idea…!” Link replied, equally perplexed. “I guess we’re guiding them? Back to their places, I presume. Alright… Let’s do this.”
It was a strange and dangerous puzzle to solve (he almost missed a jump and plummeted into the void below, and he was almost squashed by one of the leaping statues at some point), but with Midna and Ghirahim’s advice, the swordsman was able to properly guide the guardians back to their positions. Once they returned to their posts, everything returned to normal. Link sighed in relief and shook his head, thankful that the task was now complete so he could continue on.
“O Youth, go now to the sacred place. We yield passage to the Sacred Grove…”
With that, the statues went still and the door to the temple’s apse opened. Midna let out a triumphant hoot and Link couldn’t help but grin. With a satisfied nod, the Ordonian made his way through the door. There, in the center of the apse, stood the Legendary Blade in its pedestal—pristine, prominent, powerful.
Ugh, here we go.
…And the mood was ruined.
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
Nothing, nothing. Don’t mind me. Just pull the sword from its pedestal and get it over with already so we can get a move on.
The swordsman scoffed and shook his head. Both Ghirahim and Midna were starting to get on his nerves with their constant rushing. Time was of the essence, of course, but having to deal with two pushy companions was more than he signed up for. Refraining from grumbling under his breath, Link kept a straight face as he approached the pedestal. Gripping the hilt of the Master Sword, he pulled. The blade gave way easily, and he held it aloft. The power that surged through him left his nerves feeling tingly even after the initial wave had passed; he had never experienced anything like it. In his hand he held the most powerful weapon of them all, and only he had been chosen to wield it. Whereas anyone else may have had an ego boost by this, the Ordonian was humbled.
“There,” he murmured to himself. “Now we can continue on.”
“Seriously?” Mida gawked. “You just pulled the Master Sword from its pedestal like it was nothing and that’s all you have to say?”
Link looked at her.
“Well, we knew I’d be able to. The princess said as much. I had to pull it, otherwise we wouldn’t stand a chance. We’re dealing with something beyond the magic of your people. So—”
The imp rolled her eyes and placed a finger on the swordsman’s lips.
“Ugh, shut up, you’re so dull!” she grumbled, exaggerating a yawn. “Seriously, you could show a little excitement or something, yeesh.”
Link raised an eyebrow and chuckled. When Midna removed her finger, he gave her a smile.
“Well,” he said. “I’ve got you doing that for me, don’t I? I’m a little overburdened with responsibility at the moment, so I’m not exactly in a place to react to things that way.”
Midna rolled her eyes and shook her head.
“Yeah, yeah, your excuse, blah blah. Let’s go, then. We’ve got Mirror pieces to find.”
The Ordonian turned to take his leave. Ghirahim remained silent all the while. Link felt slightly disconcerted, but he pushed on. He chalked it up to the sword spirit being put through such an emotional journey after just waking up after centuries of slumber. Judging from the “Skill Child’s” earlier comments to Ghirahim, Link suspected the child’s lantern contained something incredibly precious to the sword spirit. Plus this area was significant to Ghirahim; he clearly never anticipated leaving his resting place, yet it was happening. Link supposed he’d be silent in his pain as well if the situation was reversed.
He glanced around to really take in the ruins. They were spectacular. Even in their decay, it was almost as if the faintest echoes of prayers sung still resonated in this forgotten holy place. The crumbling walls seemed as if they contained many undiscovered secrets within, even in such disrepair.
Link had a sneaking suspicion that this would not be their only excursion to the Temple of Time.