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The Ghosts That We Knew

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To say that Link was surprised when Midna revealed that she was, in fact, the true ruler of Twilight wasn’t entirely accurate. He was startled, to be sure, but given his companion’s extensive knowledge on the relics of the Twilight Realm (as well as Zant’s animosity toward her), he figured she was someone important. Regardless, he appreciated that she was finally able to confide in him with this information. He wasn’t upset at all that she had kept her origins from him; he was simply honored that he earned her trust. The shame on the Twilight Princess’s face when she admitted how she came to such a lowly state was obvious, but he didn’t mind. Princess or no, Link’s affections toward Midna would not change.

Yet he was no fool. With this new knowledge in mind, the Ordonian understood that the stakes were now much higher in this battle of light and dark; the fate of not only his realm, but also the realm his companion was sworn to protect hung in the balance. This revelation was made all the more clear upon seeing Midna despairingly cry out at the state of her people upon crossing into Twilight.

Twisted forms dotted the dark landscape, half humanoid and half Twilight Beast. Their howls of pain echoed mournfully on the air. Link’s first thought was to draw his sword, but the look on his friend’s face stopped him.

“Don’t!!” Midna cried, placing her hand over his own. Her expression twisted into one of fury. “How could Zant do such a horrible thing—to our own people! We need to help them.”

The young swordsman sheathed his blade.

“How?” he asked.

“There’s a legend here about a sword—the Master Sword, now that I think about it. There’s a way to imbue it with light in this realm. A purifying light. I believe once we power up your sword, we can destroy Zant’s magic and move forward. Look, the coward’s barring the way to the throne room.”

Link followed her gaze and noticed a cascading flow of dark magic blocking the entrance to the central tower.

“If you try to cross it, you’ll be transformed back into a wolf. And in the midst of Zant’s magic, I can’t change you back. So we need light to keep it at bay. In the towers to the left and right of us are Light Orbs. If we bring them out here and place them in those slots, we should be able to clear a path and heal my people.”

“No time to lose, then. Let’s go.”

Perhaps I can be of assistance.

Link startled slightly at Ghirahim’s sudden vocalization. For the most part, the sword spirit had remained silent after the Hero’s Shade was finally put to rest. Something sounded…different about him now.

The Ordonian raised an eyebrow.

‘What have you in mind?’

Watch.

Familiar black and white diamonds flashed in Link’s peripheral. He quickly unsheathed the Gilded Sword and started at it. A faint red glow had enveloped the blade, and the diamonds began to flash more frequently. A loud snapping noise caught him off guard, and before him stood a man. Both Link and Midna jumped at the sight of him.

The man—no, the demon—smiled, his charcoal eyes ablaze despite the look of exhaustion about him.

Finally,” he groaned, running a hand through his white locks. He turned his attention to the swordsman and princess, then bowed. “Well met, companions. I am Ghirahim, trusted confidante to the Hero of Time, in the flesh.”

Midna gawked.

You’re who Link’s been talking to in his head all this time?” she spluttered, eying his pale form with a mixture of bewilderment and awe. “A demon?”

“The very same,” Ghirahim replied, stretching his arms. “I must thank you, Twilight Princess. Bringing me into your realm has revived me. I can feel my strength returning with haste. I feel a sort of kinship between you and I.”

The Twili imp balked.

Kinship? I share no kinship with demons. We Twili may be a people of darkness, but we have nothing to do with whatever created the likes of you.”

The sword spirit’s brow raised, a wicked smirk playing upon his painted lips.

“Be that as it may, you—like myself—are a creature of darkness. Quite frankly, you are in no position to give me such a rude reception, as you yourself are no better off than I. Here I am, offering my services in good faith, and I am rebutted thus. A shame, for my power can help you accomplish your task in less than half the time it would normally.” He dramatically shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. “I was under the assumption you wanted to save your precious people as quickly as possible, but alas, I see I am mistaken. Very well.”

The uncannily tall spirit raised a hand, prepared to snap himself away. Link opened his mouth to respond, but Midna beat him to it.

“Wait.”

The demon turned his amused gaze to her. He smiled, willing her to continue. Midna sighed and placed her hands on her hips.

“What exactly can you do?” she inquired, not at all thrilled. “You seem to be touting some serious haughtiness for someone who couldn’t even manifest in the realm of Light. What makes you think I’ll grovel at your feet when you’ve done nothing to prove you’re not all talk?”

Ghirahim scoffed and flipped his hair.

“A demonstration of power, is it? So be it. Try to keep your jaw in place, hm?”

Midna rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. The sword spirit only smirked in response.

He closed the distance between his two companions and made them join hands. Placing a hand on Link’s shoulder, Ghirahim snapped his fingers and transported them away. After Link and Midna took a moment to reorient themselves, the Twilight Princess gasped. The Ordonian noticed a large statue of a hand holding a glowing orb at the other end of the chamber they found themselves in; Midna hurried over to it.

“Hurry, Link!” she called. “Strike it with your sword and grab the orb! Then prepare to run!”

What?” the swordsman asked, his friend’s ominous statement not sitting right with him. “What do you mean ‘prepare to run?’”

“Security measures,” the Twili denizen simply stated.

“No need,” Ghirahim reassured them. “I got you in here, and I can get you out just as easily. I can’t touch that obnoxious relic, but I can touch Link. In doing so, we’ll go right back to where we were prior.”

“That’s convenient,” Link stated. “This would have come in handy earlier.”

Earlier I couldn’t even manifest, you insufferable brat,” the sword spirit snapped. “Be grateful I’m able to help you now. Or perhaps I should just let your flounder your way around in the dark like the bumbling fool you are!”

“Hey!” Midna interjected, baring her teeth. “Link’s the one who found you and put your precious dead friend to rest! Show some respect!”

Ghirahim growled.

Likewise. If you recall, I saved his life on several occasions and now I’m helping you overcome these current obstacles with time to spare! If both of you want to be ungrateful, that’s fine by me, but don’t expect my help going forward.”

Enough,” Link barked, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Both of you. Let’s just get this dealt with so we can move on. We’re running out of time.”

Midna opened her mouth to retort, but stopped herself.

Instead, she sighed and said, “Fine. Look, I’m sorry we got off on the wrong foot. You can’t blame me for being a little cautious, though. You’re a demon.”

Ghirahim waved a dismissive hand.

“Apology accepted, yet that’s always the excuse. I’ll allow bygones to be bygones as long as you remember that I’ve been helping you lot since the start of the Mirror piece chase.”

Midna sighed her acquiesce and waved a hand. Link shook his head and approached the statue holding the Light Orb. Master Sword in hand, he struck the statue, which immediately released the orb. Once his hands touched the relic, an alarm sounded and the statue rumbled to life.

“What the—”

“I told you!” Midna exclaimed, gesturing for the Ordonian to hurry. “Security measures! Get away from it!”

Not having to be told twice, Link ran with the orb back to Ghirahim’s side. Ghirahim nodded and placed a hand on his shoulder, then snapped his fingers. All three emerged in the square of the center island, right back to where they originally started.

“Well, that was a lot easier than I was expecting,” Midna admitted. “Time to spare, indeed.”

Ghirahim snorted and placed a hand on his hip.

“As I told you.”

“What next?” Link cut in, Light Orb still in hand. “What do I do with this?”

Midna gestured to one of two indentations in the stonework.

“Place it in one of those,” she instructed.

The swordsman nodded and complied. Once the orb was in position, a faint glow illuminated the intricate line work carved into the stone. Even better, the Twili in the near facility gasped as Zant’s curse was broken over them. Midna let out a breath of relief and nodded at her companions.

“One more to go, then we’ll be able to move forward and finish this.”

The two men nodded. Link looked at Ghirahim, who once again placed his hand on the Ordonian’s shoulder. Midna cracked a smile and placed her hand on the demon lord’s shoulder. Although momentarily startled by the gesture, Ghirahim looked at the Twilight Princess and nodded. With a snap of his fingers, they were in the other Light Orb chamber and repeated the same process as before.

As soon as Link placed the second orb into its hollow, Midna turned her attention to her people as they all returned to normal. Link, however, was fixated on the light that abruptly awakened in the Master Sword. Just as Midna mentioned, the Light Orbs had imbued the legendary blade with more power. Ghirahim scoffed at the spectacle, but for the sake of not wasting time kept his remarks to himself.

With the curse on the Twili lifted and the Master Sword attaining peak power, the trio made their way into the heart of the palace. With their combined abilities, Midna and Ghirahim assisted Link with clearing the path forward in record time. In a matter of mere minutes, the three entered the throne room to find Zant sitting upon the throne. Midna growled, her entire body trembling with abhorrence. Link narrowed his eyes and gripped the Master Sword tightly. Zant—blissfully undeterred—proceeded to monologue about his intentions and how he was granted power by his “god.” That was all Ghirahim needed in order to pounce.

“Ah, that explains it,” he sneered. “You’re only a charlatan, I see. You only succeeded in usurping this throne because of his power. Rest assured, you will be cast aside in due time.”

Midna covered her mouth and snorted into her hand. The Usurper King snarled.

“And who are you?” he demanded.

Ghirahim waved a dismissive hand and shook his head.

“That bit of information won’t do you any good in this situation. The only bit you need to know is that you’re in my way—”

Our way,” Link added, earning himself a pointed look from the demon lord (which he ignored).

“—and that the sooner you’re disposed of, the sooner I get my vengeance on your so-called ‘god,’” Ghirahim finished. “Now, will you shut up and meet us in combat? Or will you persist with your mindless babbling?”

Link struggled to contain his smirk; Midna laughed and clapped. Ghirahim merely raised his brow at the imposter king, poised and ready.

Zant screeched in outrage and drew his scimitars.

“You want combat?! I’ll give you combat!!”

In a flash, the traitorous Twili sprang to attack. Ghirahim moved to meet him, but Link beat him to the clash. The sword spirit scoffed before swallowing his pride and stepping back to let the Hero do his job. Instead, he focused on joining Midna in assisting. Zant wasn’t merely all talk when it came to combat, but his moves were chaotic and clumsy. Although he was unpredictable at first, Link realized that the Usurper King only knew a handful of moves—which he repeated in no particular order. Still, it was enough to pick up on a pattern to use against him. The Ordonian’s companions picked up on this as well, and they smirked at one another.

“If you trip him up, I’ll find a way to hold him down so Link can get in a final blow,” Midna whispered, patting Ghirahim on the shoulder.

“Simple enough,” the demon lord replied. “In this case, your will be done, Twilight Princess.”

With a snap of his fingers, Ghirahim sent a dagger hurtling toward Zant. The Twili squawked in surprise but was able to successfully parry. Link narrowed his eyes and charged to clash blades with him once again; it was exactly what Ghirahim needed. With a smirk, he snapped again and teleported behind the wild Twili and swiped a leg beneath him. Zant tumbled to the ground in the most undignified manner; Midna shot into action and used her hair to pin him down.

“Now, Link!” she exclaimed, jeering wickedly at her nemesis.

Zant flailed about, trying to wriggle free of the Twilight Princess’s grip, but to no avail. Struggle as he might, the Hero charged forth and delivered the final blow. The usurper howled in anguish, both from such a humiliating defeat and from the realization that his “god” refused to come to his aid. It was just as the demon said: he was cast aside. His eyes darted to Midna, who only glared down at him. If there was one thing he could take solace in before drawing his final breath, it was that the accursed woman was still trapped in the form of a wretched little imp. The high-and-mighty Twilight Princess was still reduced to a shameful lowly state, and he was content with that. He couldn’t muster the strength to laugh, however; his taunts remained in his throat as his pulse gradually slowed to a halt.

Midna harrumphed and released her hold on the traitor.

“Thank you, Link,” she said, reaching over to touch the swordsman’s cheek. She smiled slightly when he leaned into her palm. “He can’t hurt anybody anymore. And I suppose you deserve a little bit of thanks as well, demon man. Ghirahim.”

Ghirahim snorted and crossed his arms.

“I suppose you are welcome, Twilight Princess. However, this little spar was merely a means to an end. The real battle is ahead of us, and I must wrap my hands around the Evil King’s throat. Ganondorf is no god, although he thinks himself as such. Pathetic, really.”

“What even is your story? How do you know this?” the Twili inquired. “I need details.”

“Hmph, and details you shall receive on the road! Come, let us cease our dillydallying and make haste for Hyrule Castle.”

“Ah—yes!” Midna agreed, every ounce of purpose roiling within her. “Link, let’s go! We have to save Princess Zelda!”

Link nodded.

“Right. Let’s go.” He paused to smile at his companion. “With the Master Sword and your Fused Shadows, this Ganondorf fool doesn’t stand a chance.”

Midna grinned and nodded.

Exactly. And hopefully, now that we know Zant’s power came from Ganondorf, once we kick his ass I’ll be normal again.”

Ghirahim snorted and flipped his hair.

“How very touching, but must we keep standing here? Let’s go,” he grumbled, ready to grab the both of them and drag them off.

“We’re coming, we’re coming, don’t get your trousers in a twist,” Midna retorted, rolling her eyes. “Let’s go, Link.”

The Ordonian nodded, and together the group made their way to the Mirror of Twilight. The hour was nigh; it was time to rid Hyrule of the blight that brought so much misery and pain to the land. He wasn’t only fighting for the fate of his home and Midna’s, however; he was going to settle the score once and for all for the Hero of Answered Prayers.

~~~~~~~~~~

Aside from the monsters teeming outside, Hyrule Castle was uncannily quiet. Even after the commotion Midna had caused from destroying the barrier that previously surrounded the place, not a creature stirred within its walls. It was disconcerting that there was no guard in sight, but then again Link wasn’t surprised; if they didn’t flee like cowards, they were most likely killed by Zant’s Twilight Beasts or by Ganondorf himself. That, or they were imprisoned somewhere deep in the dungeons below.

Exercise caution, boy. I sense robust minions lurking further along.

‘Noted. Is there really no way for you to just…snap us up to wherever Ganondorf is?’

I could, but that will sap all of my strength. Remember, unlike the Twilight Realm, I must recover gradually in this one. Although I’m strong enough now to manifest, the full extent of my strength has not yet returned. I’m saving it for precisely the right moment.  

‘Alight. That’s fair.’

Midna looked at Link and asked, “I suppose he’s still recovering?”

“Yeah. He’s saving his strength for ‘the right moment,’ so looks like we’ll have to navigate the castle ourselves.”

“Eh, nothing we haven’t handled before.”

The Ordonian chuckled and nodded.

“Exactly. Oh, but he did say that he senses ‘robust minions’ ahead, so we better be cautious.”

“Pfft, ‘robust minions,’ please. Look how far we’ve come and all the minions we’ve defeated before. This’ll be a cakewalk.”

“Oh, definitely.”

The two shared a grin and nodded before Link hurried forward. With Ghirahim’s analytical prowess, they were able to navigate through traps and defensive puzzles with ease. Everything was going swimmingly, up until they found themselves searching for clues in the castle graveyard. They found themselves standing beneath a large tree, staring at a peculiar plaque with an inscription written in an older Hylian vernacular—the same that the Hero’s Shade spoke.

The accursed swordsman sleepeth beneath yon sacred tree.

A heavy silence fell over Link, which meant only one thing; he prepared himself for the storm.

That wretched, inconsiderate, spiteful little cur!! The absolute audacity, the complete blatant disregard of respect—how dare she?!

The Ordonian did his best to not wince, but failed.

‘Okay, I’m not going to tell you to calm down, but I would appreciate an explanation.’

An insult to the memory of your predecessor, that’s the explanation! That self-righteous royal twit couldn’t even be bothered to honor him as her supposed friend. Here, as a hint for some puzzle, are the last words I spoke to her regarding Link’s death—with added insult by calling him cursed! For as much as she loathed me and I her, I never would have anticipated that she would disrespect the previous Hero so. That wench. 

Link figured that by “her,” the demon meant the Princess Zelda from a bygone era. It was difficult for him to grasp exactly what the sword spirit was implying, especially considering that the Princess Zelda he knew was regal yet remarkably kind.

The Zelda I knew was kind in her own way—to her own people—but to Link and I? Not so much. After our gallivanting in Termina, the moment Link introduced me and explained that he no longer possessed the Triforce of Courage, things took a dismal turn from there. Let us say that tensions were tight and tempers flared often between us and her. I pray that your Zelda isn’t nearly as insufferable as her ancestor.  

‘I don’t think you have to worry about that, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. For now, what do you suppose this…disrespectful clue means?’

What do you think? Clearly you’re going to have to dig under this tree. Use your wolf senses or something.

The swordsman sighed and shook his head before turning to Midna.

“Ghirahim is enraged because apparently this inscription mocks my predecessor. I’ll explain later, but right now, I need to shift into a wolf, please.”

“Fair enough,” the Twilight Princess responded.

Once in wolf form, Link saw the ghosts of fallen soldiers pointing to a specific place on the ground. He dug deep, uncovered a switch, and unlocked the way forward. He was perturbed by the plaque and Ghirahim’s outburst; his predecessor did not deserve such disrespect. Did the prior Princess Zelda regret her decision to memorialize her former friend thus in the Afterlife? Or was she callous and stood by her decision even now? How would the Hero of Time react to such a thing; would he even care? Well, that hardly mattered anymore. Both of them were gone now, and there were more pressing issues at hand.

The Ordonian hurried along, climbing higher and higher through the castle. He was pleasantly surprised when the Rebellion members burst onto the scene and assisted him with clearing a path forward, so further in he went. The higher Link and his companions climbed, the more ancient and decrepit Hyrule Castle became. Whether it had been purposefully neglected or if it was a result of Ganondorf’s takeover, it wasn’t clear, but it made it ever more difficult to push on. Still, the trio prevailed (through clever maneuvering on Link’s part); soon they found themselves at the final door.

“This is it,” Midna commented, looking from the door to her companion. “Ready?”

Link nodded.

Let us finish this.  

Link opened the door and ascended the stairs leading to the throne room. Master Sword in hand, the Ordonian strode into the sanctuary with Midna at his side. Immediately they were oppressed by the worst sort of darkness; they felt his presence before they saw him. From the throne, a deep chortle reverberated.

“Welcome to my castle,” Ganondorf taunted, haughty smirk set upon his face. “You’ve done well to make it this far.”

Midna growled.

“You—” Before she could hiss another word, her eyes widened. “Princess!!”

Levitating unconscious above the throne was Zelda herself, hanging limp and lifeless as a puppet. Ganondorf’s eyebrows raised, and his smirk broadened. Link gripped the Master Sword tighter, ready to charge, but the Evil King disappeared into a cloud of jet-black particles.

“No!!” Midna screamed, watching in horror as the particles flew straight into the Princess of Hyrule.

Zelda’s unconscious form wriggled and jerked about as Ganondorf invaded her body, then went still. The Twilight Princess growled and rocketed up to the other royal, her claws raised to strike; looking at Zelda’s face, however, she couldn’t bring herself to do so. Instead, she gingerly placed her small hands upon Zelda’s cheeks and stroked them with her thumbs.

Get her away from there!!

“Midna—!!” Link shouted, although too late.

Before Midna could react, Zelda’s eyes shot open. A bright light illuminated the Hyrulean Princess, which sent the Twilight Princess barreling away and crashing to the ground right outside the threshold of the throne room. Link turned to run to her, but a barrier appeared out of nowhere and stopped him in his tracks. Growling, he whipped around to face his enemy. Princess Zelda hovered before him, a wicked smirk painted across her lovely lips. Her once regal blue eyes glowed a ghastly yellow, her porcelain skin tinted a sickish green and marred with jagged markings. She let out an uncannily masculine cackle and drew her own sword.

Link hesitated.

Do not falter, idiot boy!! You must fight!! Right now she is not your princess, she is a puppet. If you wish to save her, you must fight back and free her from the clutches of the Evil King!!

“Ah—”

As if on cue, the puppet Zelda swooped down and swiped her rapier at the Ordonian. Link parried, but the princess returned to the air. Lighting crackled along her blade before she sent a ball of light careening toward Link. Reflexes taking over, he batted the orb away with the Master Sword. To his surprise, it went hurtling back toward Zelda. She hit it back, and—like a game—the two swatted the orb back and forth until it finally crashed into the princess’s body. With a pained cry, she sank to the ground, unable to rise. Link took the opportunity to strike.

The odd game continued for a bit longer before Puppet Zelda let out a screech similar to a death knell. Link moved to strike one last time, but he was beaten to the punch as Midna crashed onto the scene using the power of the Fused Shadows. Puppet Zelda’s eyes widened in terror as the Twilight Princess’s gargantuan spider-like form snatched her up and squeezed. The particles of the Evil King burst forth from Zelda’s body, and naught remained but the pure form of the princess herself. Midna placed her gently onto her throne, and it looked as if she was merely sleeping.

Regaining her imp form, Midna floated over to Link and rested her elbows on his shoulder with a smirk. The Ordonian placed his hands over hers and returned the expression.

Do not think this is over yet, boy! Look before you!

The smirk from Link’s face dropped immediately as he focused on the sight of Ganondorf manifesting once again, but this time in the form of a large beast. Without having to say a word, Midna transformed Link into his wolf form and the two charged together to combat the Dark Beast. Between Link’s speed and Midna’s strength, the duo were able to outsmart the beast and wear him out. Ganon collapsed to the ground, and his body began to smolder.

Link and Midna watched silently. Then, Midna began to glow. Link’s eyes widened.

“Mid—”

“No, it’s alright...!” Midna laughed softly, particles of light leaving her body. “It’s just…”

The two followed the trail of light with their eyes until they landed on Princess Zelda, who now stood awake and aware. Midna’s expression softened.

“P…Princess… I… I…”

Zelda smiled, her eyes filled with warmth and fondness.

“Say nothing, Midna…” she said, regarding the Twilight Princess with tender esteem. “Your heart and mine were as one, however briefly… …Such suffering you have endured…”

The princess’s expression dropped, the smile gone from her lips. Midna closed her eyes and hung her head. Link watched on, wide-eyed, and opened his mouth to speak.

On your guard, Link!!

The moment Ghirahim spoke, a thunderous noise rippled through the throne room. Midna, Zelda, and Link spun around to the sound of Ganondorf laughing, his form nothing but a head made from dark energy. Link and Zelda took a couple steps backwards, unsure how to proceed as they gauged the situation. Midna, on the other hand, simply closed her eyes and summoned the Fused Shadows. Link looked at her.

“Midna—”

The Twilight Princess ignored him as she continued to gather strength.

“Midna, don’t!!” the Ordonian shouted, reaching out and moving to grab her. “Stop!!”

Before he could reach her, he and Zelda were sent away.

“No!!” Link cried, looking around frantically as he and his sovereign manifested in Hyrule Field. “Midna!! Ghirahim—Ghirahim, is she alright?! Do you know, is Midna unharmed?!”

Zelda furrowed her eyebrows, reaching out to place a concerned hand on the Hero’s shoulder.

“Who is—”

I don’t know, Link. The Twilight Princess is strong—very strong, indeed. Yet…I will not sugarcoat the truth. I do not think her power alone is enough to defeat Ganondorf.

Link gnashed his teeth, ready to run all the way back to the castle himself.

“Then we have to—”

A large explosion shook the castle, startling the two Hylians. Link’s stomach dropped when his eyes landed on a hill. There, atop his dark steed, sat Ganondorf. A malicious grin spread across his face as he raised aloft Midna’s helmet. Zelda gasped, her face contorted with several emotions at once. The Evil King laughed as his nemeses gawked. To add insult to injury, he crushed the helmet in his hand.

Link watched as the pieces of the helmet crumbled to the ground. Ganondorf raised his sword and charged forth on his horse. The Ordonian narrowed his eyes.

Link, wait. Don’t just—

Ignoring the sword spirit, Link let out a war cry and moved to charge. Zelda swiftly grabbed his arm. He turned to look at her, eyes blazing, but the princess’s calm resolve steadied his rage. Zelda closed her eyes and placed a hand over her heart as Ganondorf drew close, his sword raised to smite.

“Spirits of the light! Wielders of the great power that shines far and wide upon the lands of our world… In my hour of need, grant me the light to banish evil!”

Right as the Evil King sent his sword cleaving downward, the Hero and the princess vanished momentarily. When they reemerged, they both sat atop Epona, equipped with the Master Sword and arrows of Light.

“Link… Chosen Hero!” Zelda exclaimed, readying her bow. “Lend us your strength!”

“My strength, huh?” Link answered, brandishing the legendary blade. “I’ll do you one better and lend you my wrath.”

The princess studied him.

“I feel the same as you, Link. I dare not say more than you, but it is close. Yet understand this: you cannot let rage consume you in this hour. You must focus. This is not a simple battle than can be won by rage alone.”

She is right, child. This lesson…I have learnt the hard way. As you have seen, I am prone to outbursts of rage, but it solves nothing. I have lost everything over and over again by acting on my fury alone. It cost me dearly, and I do not wish for you to make the same mistakes as I. I will not fail your ancestor. I said I would help you, and now in this final hour, I shall protect you as I did him. Focus, and lead us to battle!

Calming himself, Link narrowed his eyes and nodded. He spurred his beloved steed forward, giving chase to Ganondorf. The Evil King did his best to knock the Ordonian from his horse, but to no avail; all he achieved was a pelting of Light Arrows from Zelda. Link and Ganondorf clashed swords several times before finally—after a remarkably aimed arrow from the princess—the Hero was able to send that wretched harbinger of darkness plummeting to the ground. Not wasting a precious second, Link jumped from Epona’s back and rushed to clash with Ganondorf once again.

The King of Evil staggered to his feet and cackled.

“An impressive-looking blade,” he taunted, looking at the Master Sword. “but nothing more.”

Link narrowed his eyes as his enemy drew his own pilfered blade.

“Would you hear my desire?” Ganondorf continued, summoning a barrier between them and Zelda. “To take this foul blade…and use it to blot out the light forever!”

“It’s not this blade you should be worried about,” Link retorted, shaking his head. “This one may be a necessary tool to seal you away for good, but it’s not the one thirsting for vengeance.”

Ganondorf scoffed.

“What nonsense are you speaking, boy?”

With his right hand, Link drew the Gilded Sword.

“With this blade, I will strike you down.”

The Evil King’s eyebrow twitched in interest.

“A powerful darkness emanates from that blade,” he mused. “A hero of the light has no business wielding a sword such as that.”

“My heart belongs to the twilight,” Link retorted. “It’s fitting, then, to wield a blade of darkness alongside a blade of light.”

Ganondorf laughed once again before narrowing his eyes.

“Enough idle prater!” he bellowed. “This ends now!!”

The King of Evil was no joke; he was powerful—more powerful than anything Link had ever faced. It was clear Ganondorf was an ancient evil who had centuries to harness his strength. It took every ounce of determination and grit Link possessed to get even a single hit in, even with two swords. He tried not to lose heart, but the odds were feeling ever more impossible.

“Remember…”

Link’s eyes widened slightly at the unexpected voice. Was it his imagination, or did the Hero’s Shade just…?

‘That’s it!’

Clarity came rushing back to him as he recalled his ancestor’s skills. Every move the Hero of Time taught him, he implemented flawlessly against his enemy. Ganondorf kept himself composed for the most part, but Link could see that he wasn’t entirely confident against the complex moves. Link was sure that Ganondorf was on the ropes and moved to strike a final blow—until the Evil King executed a perfectly timed counter that knocked the Master Sword from his hand and sent it flying clear across the enclosed space.

Link’s eyes swiftly darted to the sword before looking back just in time to block an incoming blow with the Gilded Sword. Ganondorf smirked as the Hero began to falter without the “Blade of Evil’s Bane;” how simple it would be to finish him off and resume his takeover of Hyrule. Link tried to focus on his enemy, but he needed to retrieve the Master Sword. Although the Gilded Sword was powerful, it wasn’t enough. If only he could just—

A loud snapping noise cut through the air as Ghirahim manifested between the two adversaries. Demon sword in hand, he took the burden of Ganondorf’s strength onto himself and held the block with one arm.

“Hurry!!” he snapped, not bothering to look back at his companion. “Pass me my blade!!”

Link didn’t have to be told twice as he quickly handed off the Gilded Sword to the demon lord before bolting to retrieve the Master Sword.

Dismissing his demon blade to instead wield the Gilded Sword, Ghirahim smirked at the King of Evil and gave him a mock bow. Ganondorf growled.

“What trickery is this?” he glowered, eyeing the spirit with disdain. “A demon? And you do not serve me? What sort of fiend are you?”

“Ah, are you permitting me to monologue, then? How very considerate,” Ghirahim sneered, continuing to keep the Evil King locked in their stalemate. “I am the catalyst that ignited your eternal struggle. I was there from the very beginning. I once served a power far superior to yours, as you are but a mere shell of that ancient evil. To make a long story short, I’ve had a change of heart, and now vengeance is mine.”

“What nonsense,” Ganondorf scoffed, pulling back from the demon. “If you will not serve the dark forces to which you belong, then I have no use for you. Be gone!”

“Bold words for one on the brink of death!!”

Ganondorf roared and charged the demon lord. Said demon lord nimbly dashed to meet him in a deadly dance of swords.

Across the way, Link hurried and snatched up the legendary blade. Turning around, he faltered at the sight before him: Ghirahim and Ganondorf were at odds, both equally matched powers clashing in a mesmerizingly chaotic vendetta. Ghirahim’s dexterity and strength were unparalleled to anything he had ever seen, yet Ganondorf was holding his own surprisingly well against the sword spirit. The Ordonian could barely keep up with them, causing him to hesitate even more; where and how was he supposed to jump back into the fray?

In a flash, Ghirahim was posed to deliver a fatal blow. Link watched in anticipation, ready to rush in once he was given an opening. Just as the demon lord moved to strike, the Hero’s eyes widened at what he saw. It was only a brief moment—a split second, a blink of an eye—but he knew he was not mistaken: there, standing tall beside Ghirahim, was the spirit of the Hero of Time. Together, shoulder to shoulder, they gripped the hilt of the Gilded Sword and delivered a devastating blow to the Evil King. Ganondorf roared in pain as the blade punctured his stomach. The Hero of Time—Ghirahim’s Link—grinned at the demon lord and squeezed his shoulder before turning to look at the Ordonian. His smile softening, the ancient hero nodded before fading away.

That was all Link needed to spring back into action.

Spurred on by the faces of everyone he loved—Ilia, Colin and the children, Rusl, the Shade, Midna—the Hero released a war cry and charged. Ghirahim snapped himself out of the way, just in time for Link to impale Ganondorf with the Master Sword. The King of Evil didn’t have any time to react; he could only sink to his knees. The barrier surrounding them disappeared, allowing Zelda to rush over to Link. She cast a curious glance at Ghirahim, but her attention was immediately diverted back to Ganondorf as he staggered to his feet despite the Master Sword imbedded in his stomach.

“Do not think it ends here…” he rasped, face contorted in rage. He paused to gather the rest of his strength before exclaiming, “The history of light and shadow will be written in blood!”

Ghirahim scoffed and prepared to step back in, but Ganondorf abruptly went still as the Triforce of Power faded from his hand. The ancient king closed his eyes and slumped, remaining on his feet. Link, Zelda, and Ghirahim stared at his lifeless body for a moment before exchanging glances with each other. Before anyone could speak, however, the Light Spirits manifested behind them and caught their attention. There, sitting upon the hill, was a form Link immediately recognized—a form that he held dearer than any other. The Light Spirits looked at him and faded away, leaving the Ordonian with nothing else to do but one thing only: run to her.

His feet staggered forward in disbelief for the first couple steps, but soon he was running full sprint up the hill. The brightest smile threatened to split his face in two while tears streamed down his cheeks. Faster and faster he pushed himself, all the way to the top. He stumbled to a halt, panting heavily, as he stared at her cloaked back. This wasn’t the imp he was familiar with anymore—no, he knew that whoever he was looking at now was Midna’s true form. He hesitated, unsure of what to say or if he should proceed any further. As he stood there ogling, Midna rose to her feet and turned to face him. Link’s eyes widened and his mouth fell slack.

Midna chuckled.

“What? Say something! Am I so beautiful that you’ve no words left?”

Link gaped for a moment longer before his broad smile returned to his face. He laughed and closed the distance between them, taking both of the Twilight Princess’s hands and squeezing them.

“You…” he started, his eyes wide and alight. “Yeah… Let’s go with that.”

Midna laughed and squeezed his hands back.

“You’re so small now,” she teased.

“You’re really tall now,” the Ordonian agreed, nodding.

Both heroes continued to laugh, not making a move to part any time soon.

“Midna,” Zelda breathed, her own radiant smile lighting up the already jovial mood. “I’m so glad you’re safe…”

The Twili looked to the Hyrulean Princess and smiled warmly. Pulling away from Link, she made her way over to the other princess and took her hands.

“I’m glad to see you safe, princess. I commend you for defeating Ganondorf.”

Zelda chuckled and affectionately squeezed Midna’s hands.

I did not defeat the Evil King. I merely assisted where I was needed.”

“Fine, fine~ I suppose we can all agree that this was a group effort.”

Link and Zelda chuckled and nodded.

“Speaking of…” Zelda said, turning her attention to Ghirahim.

Ghirahim steadily looked at her, then at Midna, and bowed.

“First, I applaud your exuberant triumph, Twilight Princess,” he stated, earning a small smile and a respectful nod from the Twili. “Second, to address the Princess of Hyrule, my name is Ghirahim.”

Hearing his name again, recognition flashed in Zelda’s eyes, but her demeanor was not one that Ghirahim was anticipating. A wistful look overcame her, and she nodded.

“I have heard your name before,” she said, approaching the demon lord. Ghirahim nearly flinched away, but stood still once the princess took his hands into hers. Looking into his face, she continued, “Yes, I have heard of you… I’ve read of a demon lord who sought to bring about the resurrection of an ancient evil once sealed by a goddess, and how he met his defeat by Hyrule’s first Hero.”

“You’ve read correctly, I will not lie. But there is more to my story than simply my origins.”

Zelda nodded.

“Yes, I’m aware. The legend surrounding my ancestor—Queen Zelda—states that she went mad because of the bond shared between a demon and that time’s Hero. I’ve spent hours in the library reading the fascinating records regarding this uncanny relationship, but of course they were biased because my predecessor and her court did not view it favorably.”

Ghirahim snorted.

That’s an understatement,” he grumbled.

Zelda smiled.

“Yes, I’m sure. Just as I’m sure the relationship between you and the former Hero was understated. Perhaps…should you find the time…you would enlighten me with the details of your friendship?”

Now that was unexpected.

“I…well, that’s…”

Link laughed.

“What, are you suddenly at a loss for words, Ghirahim? After everything you put me through?”

“Why you impudent—no! I am not at a ‘loss for words,’ I’m simply dumbfounded by your sovereign’s request! You’ve no room to make such taunts, given the state you were just in, boy.”

The Ordonion’s cheeks flushed and he cleared his throat.

“That’s…different.”

Midna snickered and rolled her eyes, patting Link on the back.

Anyway,” Ghirahim huffed, looking back to Zelda. “Your ancestor went mad, you say?”

Zelda nodded.

“According to legend—and evidenced by some documentation—she went mad with grief after she received word that the former Hero had fallen. She was reported to have gone out riding at all hours of the day in search of a ‘sacred tree,’ but she could never find it. Despite the strain on their relationship, she still loved the former Hero.”

“The Hero of Time,” Ghirahim corrected. “Link, the Hero of Time. Or as I call him, the Hero of Answered Prayers.”

“Hero of Answered Prayers… I like that,” the Hyrulean Princess mused, a smile tugging at her lips. “What a wonderful title you’ll explain later, I hope.”

The demon lord swallowed back the sudden lump in his throat.

“I—yes. On the condition that you keep and honor his memory. Oh, and get rid of that disgusting plaque in the castle graveyard. It’s an insult to his legacy to say the very least.”

“It shall be done,” the princess affirmed. “If this will put your mind at ease, however, as far as I’m aware, that plaque was not put in place by Queen Zelda. I’ll have to see if there is any evidence to support this claim, but I believe it was put there by a trusted advisor. But again, I can’t be completely certain of that.”

“Either way, it was disheartening to see. Link deserves more than that—so much more…”

Zelda’s smile softened as she squeezed the sword spirit’s hands.

“He does, and he shall receive it.”

“We owe the Hero of Answered Prayers a great deal, actually,” Link contributed. “Before I helped ease his regrets, his restless spirit trained me in skills that undoubtedly sealed our victory today. He also asked me to find Ghirahim’s sword to begin with. Without his help, I don’t think we would have prevailed. Also, Ghirahim, did you see him?”

The demon lord’s brow furrowed.

“What do you mean did I see him?”

“When you delivered the blow to Ganondorf, did you see him?”

Ghirahim’s shoulders slumped.

“I…did not… But I thought I heard him, though faintly. It was just a whisper on the wind, and I thought it was just my imagination, but you’re telling me he was there?”

Link smiled and nodded.

“Yes, he was there with you. His hand was on the Gilded Sword with yours to deliver the final blow. He stood shoulder-to-shoulder with you, and when you were finished he squeezed your shoulder. What did you hear?”

The sword spirit trembled slightly and exhaled deeply.

‘Always.’ That’s what I heard. I think there was more to it, but that was all I could hear.”

 “He was probably telling you that he’s with you, always,” Midna suggested. “Just because he’s not here anymore doesn’t mean he’s gone. Now that his spirit is free, perhaps he can keep tabs on you more easily. Just a thought.”

Ghirahim chuckled slightly and promptly wiped his eyes.

“Perhaps. But that’s enough of that. What do we do about that?” he asked, pointing to Ganondorf’s body. “And where do we go from here?”

“He will have a proper burial,” Zelda stated, placing a hand over her heart and hanging her head. “Although our enemy, we must never forget that all of us have the same capability to do evil as him. Just as we must not forget that even those born of evil have the capability to do good.”

Her eyes turned to Ghirahim, who merely scoffed and crossed his arms. Link and Midna shared a smug look.

“Ah, and then we should go to the Arbiter’s Grounds,” the Twilight Princess added. “It’s time I return home to my people.”

Zelda smiled at her and nodded.

“We’ll all go together,” she said. “Come, let us get started.”

Link and Midna nodded, and Ghirahim moved to wearily snap himself back into the Gilded Sword. Before he did so, in the corner of his eye he thought he glimpsed a familiar figure standing nearby. When he turned to properly look, there was nothing there. Nonetheless, he smiled.

“Thank you, old friend. Always.”

With that, he returned to the Gilded Sword.     

~~~~~~~~~~

It was fitting that they reached the Mirror Chamber by twilight. The setting sun cast a warm glow about the Arbiter’s Grounds; it was a sight to see, especially contrasted against the vibrant colors of the twilight sky above. Midna, Zelda, and Link all stood atop the platform by the Mirror of Twilight while Ghirahim continued to rest in the Gilded Sword.

“Well…I guess this is farewell, huh?” Midna asked, looking to each one of her companions. “Light and shadow can’t mix, as we all know. But… Never forget that there’s another world bound to this one.”

“Shadow and light are two sides of the same coin,” Zelda replied. “One cannot exist without the other. I know now the reason the Goddesses left the Mirror of Twilight in this world… They left it because it was their design that we should meet. Yes… That is what I believe.”

The Twilight Princess chuckled.

“Zelda… Your words are kind and your heart is true. If all in Hyrule are like you... Then maybe you’ll do alright.”

With slight hesitancy, she turned and approached the stairway to the portal. Link smiled as their gazes met. Midna smiled back.

“Thank you… Well, the princess spoke truly: as long as that mirror’s around, we could meet again…” She paused as a single tear escaped her eye. It shone with a dazzling light, and with her powers, Midna sent it floating forward. “…Link… I… See you later…”

The tear penetrated the glass of the Mirror of Twilight, and it began to crack. Link and Zelda turned to look at it in shock.

“Wait—no—no, Midna!!” Link cried out, turning back to face her. “Don’t—!!”

Midna hurried up the stairs and turned to look back at him, her smile still in place. She gazed at him warmly, her eyes never leaving him, as the Mirror activated and sent her home. Once she was gone, the relic shattered into dust. Link stood there agape for a moment before his legs gave way, and he sank to his knees.

No…” he rasped. “No!!”

He fell forward and pounded his fist into the stone. Zelda covered her mouth, her entire body trembling. Unsure of what to do, she moved to Link and placed a consoling hand on his back.

“She’s gone…” the Hero whispered, his tears splattering on the bricks beneath him. “She…why would she…?! After everything—!!”

A strangled sob escaped his throat as he pounded the ground once again. The familiar snapping noise rang out as Ghirahim manifested and knelt beside him.

“Stand,” he commanded, though not unkindly. “Stand, Link. Not all is lost.”

“Wh-what…are you talking about?” Link muttered, allowing the demon lord and the princess to pull him to his feet. “Look, nothing remains of the Mirror! Without it, there’s no way to even reach her! And yet you have the audacity to tell me that not all is lost?!”

Calm yourself,” Ghirahim growled. “With that attitude, all might as well be. Don’t ever fool yourself into thinking the Divine don’t leave loopholes in their designs. They insult the intelligence of humans by counting on the fact that most of the time, you think there is one way and one way only of doing things. The Twilight Princess isn’t dead, for Farore’s sake, so cease your blubbering and summon your resolve to find a way to meet her again.”

Zelda furrowed her eyebrows.

“Are you suggesting there’s another way into the Twilight Realm, then?” she inquired. “Or is there a way to fix the Mirror of Twilight?”

Ghirahim shrugged.

“That’s something we’ll just have to find out on our own, won’t we? It won’t be easy, to be sure, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

“Wait…can’t you just snap us back in?” Link asked, wiping his face.

The demon lord snorted and rolled his eyes.

“Don’t be daft. Even my power has limits. I can’t just snap in and out of different realms all willy-nilly.”

Zelda sighed.

“Well then, we’d best not waste time. We have much to do. Link, I know you want to start looking now, but you must first return the Master Sword to its pedestal. Then…it would probably be wise to at least to check in with your village. I’m sure they miss you terribly and are anticipating your return…”

“A-ah…? Right… Of course…” Link agreed.

“I think I’ve recuperated enough to be of some assistance,” Ghirahim added. “This won’t take long. Shall we reconvene?”

“Yes, at Hyrule Castle,” Zelda said with a smile. “In the library. While we’re searching for a way to contact the Twilight Realm, I think we should also combine our efforts to commemorate the Hero of Answered Prayers. I’m invested in his story, and I’d very much like to hear it.”

The Ordonian nodded.

“Right…yeah… I promised I’d write that book so his deeds can be spread far and wide. I think I should be able to multitask despite feeling like a hot load of goat manure.”

Ghirahim cackled while Zelda raised an eyebrow. Link just shook his head and shrugged.

“I mean, it’s true,” he asserted.

The princess chuckled and smiled.

“That’s the spirit,” she said. “Ah, but what are your plans once we find a way to the Twilight Realm, Link? Do you…plan to stay?”

The Hero felt his face burn hot as he averted his gaze and shuffled his feet.

“I mean, that’s a possibility,” he mumbled, the heat spreading to his ears and down his neck. “O-of course there are other things I need to worry about here, but I mean, I think Ordon Village will be fine without me after I say goodbye, and seeing that Ganondorf is dead, I’m going to assume it’s safe to say Hyrule is safe. But if I’m ever needed again, you could always reach me, right? Maybe? I—I don’t know, stop looking at me like that! Both of you!”

Zelda and Ghirahim exchanged a look.

“Oh, such a pesky emotion,” the demon lord said dismissively.

What emotion?!” Link exclaimed. “There is no emotion!”

Zelda averted her gaze and simply smirked to herself. Ghirahim rolled his eyes dramatically and threw up his hands. Link crossed his arms and shook his head firmly.

“Okay, enough,” the Hyrulean Princess chuckled. “The longer we stand here, the longer our search will take. Let us finish up what needs to be done, then meet in the castle library. I’ll be waiting.”

The demon and the Hero nodded before snapping into action.

In the weeks and months that followed, Ghirahim regaled his companions with tales of his adventures with the Hero of Time—from their meeting in Termina all the way until his Link’s death all those centuries ago. Zelda recorded the former Hero’s deeds with fervor while Link wrote down his own experiences with his predecessor alongside Ghirahim’s recounting. All the while, the trio searched for alternative ways to reach the Twilight Realm or how to restore the Mirror of Twilight. In due time, Link published the first copy of his book—The Lost Legacy of the Hero of Time and Answered Prayers—and presented it to Ghirahim. Reading through it, the demon lord was over the moon with euphoria and demanded that more copies be published as quickly as possible and spread throughout Hyrule. With Zelda’s help, the book was indeed spread far and wide, and soon all of Hyrule found itself mesmerized with true stories of a lost Hero whose deeds not only saved the kingdom itself, but also another world entirely.

That, as well as the unfathomable bond between the forgotten Hero and a demon-turned-companion.

With the book complete and the Hero of Time’s legacy bared forth for all to see, Link turned his attention solely to finding a way back to the Twilight Realm. As Ghirahim had said, it certainly wasn’t easy and took up much—most—of his time, but he remained steadfast in his quest. In due time—finally—his efforts paid off. He didn’t dawdle making preparations and saying his goodbyes; the Ordonian was beyond fervent to see Midna again.

Of course, he couldn’t just leave—not without fulfilling his final promise first.

“It’s time,” he stated, standing at the base of the Forest Temple alongside Ghirahim and Zelda. “This is where we say farewell.”

Ghirahim chuckled and crossed his arms.

“Indeed. I suppose I should very well say thank you, then. For everything you’ve done for Link and myself.”

The Hero of Twilight cracked a smile and nodded.

“It was my pleasure. He rests peacefully now, and I hope you will as well.”

Zelda observed them quietly, a small smile gracing her lips.

Seizing upon the silence that fell between the two men, she added, “This may be farewell in the physical, but we will always be connected. Fate has bound us together, and those threads are not easily frayed. We may not see each other again in person, but we will always be connected.”

Her steady gaze lingered on Link for a moment before her eyes turned to Ghirahim.

“I know you have been unwaveringly determined to return to your rest, Ghirahim. Though I have enjoyed your company, I do not wish to come between you and your promise to the Hero of Time. It is my sincerest hope that you will rest well, and that when you next awake, it will be in the Afterlife so you may be reunited with your dear friend.”

The demon lord stared at the princess, his words trapped in his throat.

Shaking his head as if to clear his thoughts, he replied, “Appreciated, Highness. You have my gratitude as well for your own part in spreading my Link’s legacy. Thank you for honoring him officially and for your dedication to help spread his story across the land. I’m certain he is expressing his own gratitude beyond the grave as we speak.”

Zelda smiled and nodded.

“May you two meet again soon. May we meet again as well.”

Unable to find a fitting response, Ghirahim simply bowed to her. Link raised an eyebrow at his companion’s sudden humility, but said nothing.

Instead, he turned his attention to the Princess of Hyrule and declared, “Hyrule is in your capable hands, Your Highness.”

Zelda looked back at him.

“I take it that nothing will convince you to return once you cross into the Realm of Twilight?”

The Hero smiled and shook his head.

“Ganondorf is dead. Hyrule is at peace, and the people trust you to lead and protect them from here. My job is done. There’s not much I can do now that someone else can’t. But that doesn’t mean we can’t keep in touch.”

“I suppose you’re right. Very well, then. Link, Hero of Twilight, may the gods carry you safely to your destination. May you find the joy and respite you deserve—that you and Midna both deserve.”

Ghirahim lifted his hand as if raising a glass.

“I’ll second that.”

Link smiled.

“May you both find the joy and respite you deserve,” he echoed. “Someday, when we meet again, maybe we can share our stories.”

 “I’d like that,” Zelda said, smiling fondly.

“Oh, I suppose I could spare spending some time with you lot should the occasion ever arise,” Ghirahim sighed, shrugging. “Don’t get the wrong impression, though—it’s not like I want to be around the two of you constantly. You’re only tolerable because you both have walked through darkness and learned a valuable lesson about it. That’s all.”

Link and Zelda exchanged a look before laughing. Ghirahim held a straight face for a moment before relenting and laughing along with them.

“Alright, enough dawdling,” the demon lord chuckled. “I would very much like to return to my slumber. Link, give the Twilight Princess my regards, if you would be so kind. Princess, I trust you to keep the legacies of this Hero and his predecessor alive.”

“I will,” both Hero and princess affirmed.

Ghirahim nodded and flipped his hair.

“Fabulous. Now, I’d best be off. For the love of Farore, see to it that no one disturbs my slumber again, won’t you? To the best of your ability, anyway.”

Link sighed and smiled.

“I gotta admit, I’m a little sad to see you go. Part of me wants to ask if you’d come with me instead, but I know you won’t. Take care of the Hero of Answered Prayers, will you?”

“Hmph! As if you even had to ask. Whatever, I’m going now. Farewell!”

The sword spirit waved his hand and moved to snap into the blade, but not before giving his companions a quick wink. Link and Zelda smiled at the sword and said their final goodbyes before they buried it deep. Once they were sure Ghirahim was properly reunited with the dust of his cherished friend, they looked at each other and exchanged their own goodbyes.

Zelda watched as Link rode away, admiring how stalwart he was in his quest to reunite with Midna; likewise, she respected Ghirahim’s devotion to the Hero of Time. Bonds such as those were not to be trifled with, neither by mortal beings nor the gods themselves.

Placing a hand over her heart, the princess closed her eyes and murmured, “Great Goddesses, hear my prayer… Please watch over Link. Deliver him safely to the Twilight Realm. Protect him and Midna, and bless their reunion. I beseech you, O Golden Ones, look kindly unto Ghirahim as well. Remember his deeds contributing to the defeat of the Evil King and his service to the Hero of Twilight. Recall his loyalty to the previous Hero and hasten his journey. I implore you, Divine Creators, have mercy on this demon’s soul and that of his cherished companion—Link, the Hero of Time. Reunite them soon, and let them finally be at peace. I evoke your sacred names—Din, Nayru, Farore. Blessed be.”

Opening her eyes, Zelda turned back to look at the spot where the Gilded Sword was buried. She smiled and nodded toward it.

“I’m sorry there’s not much more I can do, but…I will continue to pray for you and your Link. You have my word. Thank you for all that you’ve done for Hyrule, whether you wanted to or not. The fact that you were inclined to lend us your power at all leaves me indebted to you. Rest well, Ghirahim, and godspeed.”

The princess turned to her horse and climbed onto its saddle. With a gentle nudge, her steed began to trot away from the Forest Temple. As she rode, she could have sworn she heard faint notes from an ancient instrument—an ocarina, perhaps?—echoing on the wind. Involuntary tears welled in her eyes, but her heart felt light. Wiping them away with the back of her hand, she couldn’t contain the grin that spread to her face.

Optimistic for the future, she spurred her horse into a gallop and left the spirits of the forest to their own devices beneath the sacred tree.