It was Link’s father who first told him of the act: falling on his sword. It was after he pulled the Master Sword, after he was named Champion . His father told him during one of the few times they were together, one of the few times he looked at Link and called him son instead of Knight .
Together, they sat on the walls of Hyrule Castle, overlooking the town. Link’s new Champion tunic felt odd on him, which didn’t make much sense: it fit perfectly. Perhaps it was too clean. The thought was quiet, distant, tangled with an almost dreamy guilt. It smelled nice, too nice. It felt too soft. Too unsullied for him.
Beside him, his father was silent, a shadow in the setting sun. That, at least, wasn’t unusual. His father had been a mere shadow since his mother’s death by the Yiga when Link was a child.
Duty , he told Link, standing over the newly dug grave. Honor. Nothing is more important.
There, as the sun set over Hyrule, turning Link’s Champion tunic black, his father told Link what to do if Link lost his honor, tarnished their ancient family name. He spoke in monotone and never looked at Link. Below them, Hylians scurried in the firelight of Castletown, trying to finish their tasks before night fell.
His father told him how to do it, adding a single caveat: Don’t use the Sword which seals the Darkness. Do not sully the Sword.
It was the last time Link saw his father alive.
Don’t use the Sword , his father insisted, and Link stood before the Great Deku Tree and the Master Sword’s pedestal and studied the ancient sword in his hands. The Great Deku Tree’s words washed over him, proud and praising, and each one was like a dagger in Link’s heart.
“The Calamity has been defeated. Praise to thee, Hero!”
His father was dead. There was no body left to bury. His king was dead. Not even ashes remained of his corpse. The Calamity’s rage and cunning had been brutal, slaughtering hundreds before Link even knew the Calamity had escaped.
The Great Deku Tree went on, speaking of Link’s courage, and Link wanted to protest: there had been no bravery. He had been terrified , with Princess Zelda’s power not yet awakened and not knowing what was happening with the other Champions. He had been weak, selfish, and if it had not been for Princess Zelda’s power awakening, he would have failed.
Even now he was weak. His words, meant to give credit where credit was due, shriveled in his mouth.
“Do not speak,” his father advised. “Know your place. Even with the Sword Which Seals the Darkness, you are but a Knight.”
But a Knight. Link clutched the Sword until his hands cramped. Hadn’t Princess Zelda made that clear, over and over again? Hadn’t Revali?
He had hoped that… perhaps… after the Calamity was defeated…
Link bowed his head. Perhaps this was why all of the old stories said nothing about the Heroes of old beyond their journey. It made sense. Perhaps his father had looked at his quiet son, who preferred cooking to his Knight duties, and had known . Preferred riding Epona through the fields than fighting the Lynels in the mountains.
His eyes burned. Perhaps the other Champions recognized that about him, too.
“Link? My son, what is the matter?”
Archery… he did like archery. Some of his happiest memories were in the Hebra Mountains, with Revali teaching him, and wouldn’t Revali laugh if he knew?
Link performed his duty. The Calamity was defeated. The King was dead, but Princess Zelda was alive and well and soon to be crowned Queen. Princess Zelda, who with a smile bid Link to return the Master Sword to its place in the forest.
“Link? Are you well?”
His hands hurt, but he couldn’t bring himself to move. Revali taught Link archery but refused any sword lessons, scorning the ancient blade. Instead, Link made him dinner and dessert, just the two of them by the fire while the winds roared outside. Revali complimented his cooking. Revali . The first person to ever compliment his food. Princess Zelda just laughed and called him a glutton. It had been a nice laugh and yet...
Revali, who didn’t even look at him after the battle, incensed that he could barely take part. In the end, it had been Princess Zelda and Link alone, the Champions and the Divine Beasts able to assist only at a distance.
Something wet plopped on the bare blade. Link blinked, only then aware of the tears clinging to his eyelashes.
He was so tired…
“My son, your journey has been long and made you weary. Return the Master Sword to its pedestal and rest. The Korok have a place for you.”
How many others had they made a place for? Twice so far, only seen in glimpses, he saw a pale boy with golden hair running through the forest. Both times, the boy met his eyes and looked confused before vanishing into the dark, there and gone as if he had never existed. A ghost with his eyes.
“Do not sully the Sword.”
Link swallowed and couldn’t shake the memory of Revali’s disgust, of Princess Zelda’s smile as she dismissed him. Mipha frowned at him, her worry so strong it all but glowed in her eyes, and on her cheek was a new white scar in the shape of a fallen star. The only person who had adamantly stood by him through it all, and Link’s failure was clear on her face.
She was the only one who tried to speak with Link before he left.
Mipha, I’m sorry. Yet if anyone understands duty…
His family had been Knights for centuries, perhaps longer. His mother had been a Knight and had been buried with honors. His father died, encased in armor and honor.
Was this the only way he could have his honor?
Exhaling softly, Link raised the Master Sword. She shone in the sunlight, a faint glimmer of holy blue light radiating from her. Sometimes, he heard her whispering to him, and he hoped she understood this last favor he asked of her.
His father wouldn’t have understood, but his father hadn’t been the one chosen to wield the sword. He had never felt the weight of her in his hands, felt her power, heard her speak.
The Master Sword couldn’t be sullied, but perhaps she could cleanse him and set him free.
“I’m sorry,” Link said.
The wolf appeared soon after Link left, and Princess Zelda refused to let Revali shoot it.
Easy for her to say. The wolf wasn’t biting her tail feathers!
Their small, motley crew gathered in the field, filthy and bruised, and Revali thought that perhaps later they could feel triumphant when the shadow of the ruined castle didn’t hover over them.
Later, later , they would hold real celebrations. Right now, word was just reaching the different settlements throughout Hyrule. He had no doubt that some didn’t even know that the Calamity had freed itself, nonetheless been defeated.
How long had it been? Less than two days? Three at most.
Revali wondered when the feeling of victory would kick in.
Right now he was tired and in pain and so angry that even Daruk noticed, distracting him from his whimpering terror of the wolf. Mipha, looking exhausted and nearly ill with worry, didn’t look up from where she was examining Urbosa’s knee. Why Urbosa insisted on fighting in heels, Revali had no clue. Above them, casting great shadows over their pitiful party, their Beasts hovered. Even the sight of Vah Medoh’s protective beauty couldn’t soothe Revali, no more than Vah Rudania’s might could soothe Daruk.
Even his feathers ached, and this wolf wasn’t helping .
Princess Zelda, her white gown stained and torn, still seemed to shimmer with otherworldly light as she knelt beside the wolf. That didn’t help Revali’s mood at all, scraping against his raw nerves. Not as annoying as the thrice-damned wolf who was still tugging at his tailfeathers, but still strange and disturbing. Cursing, Revali kicked at the wolf, but it simply dodged and then went back to biting Revali.
For some reason, the wolf’s eerie blue eyes reminded Revali of Link. The first thing he planned on doing when he returned to his village was hiding at his private shooting range and drinking his wildberry wine. What the Elder didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.
“Lady Urbosa, please stop moving --”
“Perhaps, Princess Mipha, you should tend to your cheek --”
“That is a very large dog --”
“It’s a wolf!” Revali snapped, kicking at the wolf again. “ Not a dog.”
Daruk’s whimpers increased.
“This is no ordinary wolf,” Princess Zelda murmured, never looking away from the strange beast. “Look at its marks! And…” She took a deep breath, awe lighting up her dirty face. She was the only one of their group without a bruise or scratch. Revali tried to ignore it, but it was disconcerting. “Its fur… Its eyes … But truly, look at the mark on its head? I’ve never seen anything like that on a wild animal!”
At last, the wolf stopped biting at Revali and huffed. When it sat down -- remarkably primly, in Revali’s opinion -- Revali saw its paws for the first time. “Maybe someone’s escaped pet?” he suggested, nodding at the wolf’s leg and the chain and metal cuff still attached. The scarring under the cuff looked ancient.
He swore the wolf rolled its eyes at him. Revali narrowed his eyes at the beast.
The beast narrowed its eyes back.
Revali flexed his wings. He had a bad feeling about this.
Still sitting with that odd delicacy, the wolf raised its raise and began to howl. A sweet noise, considering it was coming from an oversized mutt, and with a strange rhythm like a melody. Princess Zelda paused in her attempts to study the mark on its forehead and sat back on her heels, frowning. The other Champions stopped what they were doing and watched. Daruk even stopped whimpering.
Then it happened.
Always attuned to Vah Medoh, Revali noticed the second Medoh perked up. He looked at his Beast in time to see Medoh raise her head in eerie shadow of the wolf…
And began to wail along.
One by one, the Divine Beasts joined, all of them doing their own version of singing , keeping in time with the wolf’s song. Revali shuddered, feeling the song rumble through him. His nerves came alive with it, Medoh’s song crackling in his mind. Even his feathers flared, no matter how hard he tried to to control them.
As suddenly as it began, the wolf quieted. In response, the Beasts quieted. Revali shuddered. There was none of the sense of Malice which haunted Vah Medoh, no strange chill. Instead, there was a warmth which reminded Revali of…
Feathers bristling, Revali glared at the wolf and at Princess Zelda still kneeling beside it. No! They were done with this nonsense! The Calamity was defeated! There was no more Malice or ancient powers. Revali snarled and the wolf looked annoyingly unimpressed.
Her eyes fixed on the wolf, Princess Zelda said quietly, “Revali, you’re the fastest out of all of us. I need you to fly to the forest and retrieve Link before he returns the sword.”
Revali really hated that wolf.
Before Link pulled the Master Sword from its pedestal the first time, he heard her voice. He had problems making out her words. She sounded tired, sleepy, the strange clip of her words soft. Still, she had been soothing, somehow familiar, and Link followed her voice through the haunting fog and into the bright light of Kokiri Forest.
Since then, even if she never sounded quite awake, even if Link couldn’t understand most of her words, she was always there. When Link picked her up, he lost everything else. There was no room for anything else when one wielded the Master Sword. Yet he always had her and Epona, and Link told himself repeatedly that was enough.
Now Epona wandered free beyond the boundaries of this forest, saddle left at the entrance, and it was just Link and her . The Great Deku Tree spoke, but it was only her voice which mattered now.
And she sounded afraid.
I’m sorry , Link thought, holding her up high, bracing them both above her pedestal. Please, understand.
He had to do this right. For both their sakes.
Link sighed. Around him, the forest seemed silent. Empty.
At last, he was about to be free.
Link shoved the sword down and pain flared hot and brilliant in his gut. Blood splashed on the pedestal. The Great Deku Tree shouted his name.
The Master Sword screamed .
There was movement around him, voices raised, a flurry of color and the sharp electricity of terror biting the air, but it was nothing but a dizzying blur around Link. He couldn’t focus on any of it. Not do that and finish his final task.
Shaking, panting, Link pulled out the Master Sword again. Missed his spine: allowing for movement but still fatal without treatment. Hands trembling, Link pulled the sword free, his blood painting the metal, red droplets splashing on the pedestal.
“I’m sorry,” he rasped, gently returning her home.
When he first pulled her from the pedestal, Link felt this same pain, this same draining weakness. Except then he was putting on a collar. Now he was taking it off.
She returned home with a clink and then Link crumpled to the ground.
No wolf should have been able to keep up with Revali, yet this beast did.
More than keep up: Revali was the one chasing it.
There was no denying it: the wolf teleported. Revali saw it. The beast sprinted under him, slowly losing ground as Revali darted effortlessly through the sky, and then it vanished , appearing before him again, its howl tearing through the air.
The chilled air cut through every leftover burn on Revali’s body that Mipha had been unable to heal, every spot where healing flesh replaced feathers, yet it was nothing compared to the ice flooding his veins.
This was supposed to his moment of triumph , yet here he was, flying after a mangy beast. He didn’t feel victorious: Revali felt terrified , and he hated everyone for it. He hated Link for it.
He should have been the hero, yet Link, all because of that damned sword, was the one who fought the Calamity. Where was Revali? Trapped battling Windblight, his own element repeatedly used against him, and then only able to fight the Calamity from a distance.
If only he could just hate that little shit, but then he thought about Link away from the princess, away from his duty, just the two of them with archery and fresh food and a warm fire, and when he urged Vah Medoh onward to the castle, it hadn’t been thoughts of fighting Calamity fueling him: it had been Link .
Link, who was alive but hadn’t looked it, shocked instead of triumphant, his blue eyes wide and strangely pleading as Princess Zelda laughed and told him they were free, they were done, and Link could return the sword now.
Revali shrieked and the wolf howled, teleporting again, leading Revali on.
Why did Hylians always have to make things so complicated ?
They were approaching the woods now. Revali dipped down, seething to himself. When he reached the forest, he would need to walk, amidst the trees and creepy laughter, and wasn’t that just insult to injury?
He was supposed to go home and finally claim the title Master . As for Link… What were his plans? Be a merry little Knight for the rest of his life? Join Mipha in Zora’s Domain as a… as a… Whatever his title would be as Mipha’s husband. Everyone would have their happy ending.
When the wolf settled at the entrance of the forest, tail wagging, Revali wasn’t surprised. What surprised him was the saddle beside him.
The ice in Revali’s veins rose, overflowing, choking him.
“What is going on?” he whispered, nervously fluffing his feathers.
He wanted to pull out his bow, but no archery skills would help here. No bomb arrow or trick shot. There was only Revali, his courage, and this damned wolf.
“Lead on, you mangy mutt,” Revali said grimly.
Maybe he didn’t have a fancy sword, but Revali had never needed one. When the wolf woofed at him and trotted into the shadows, Revali was on his tail for a change.
When the wolf perked up, whined, and broke into a run, Revali was right there, through the grey and fog and terrifying voices, and then again into the light.
Screaming greeted him. High pitched, frightened wails and a deep boom of a voice calling Link’s name. The wolf howled and darted forward and Revali ran as fast as he could through the too bright greenery, his talons sinking into grass and mud. After the cold fog, this forest seemed unnaturally bright and those damned voices followed him.
When he reached the wolf, it whined and was lying beside Link’s trembling body. Revali’s heart clutched painfully in his chest. Stuck in the pedestal, the sword shone with Link’s blood.
“You idiot,” he breathed, running forward. “You plucking idiot! ”
Wings shaking, Revali fell to his knees beside Link and looked him over. Link did this to himself, he realized dimly, even as he automatically checked Link over. A single wound to his stomach, smooth and clean. The idiot stabbed himself with his own sword.
He knew what Link did. He saw the evidence for it. Link’s blood stained his feathers, Link’s sword. He saw all of it as he scrambled for his potions, unused only due to lack of time in his battle and then Mipha’s healing afterwards. He poured the potion on Link’s wound and in Link’s mouth and heard Link’s soft moans and still couldn’t believe .
Of everything Revali expected, he never expected this. Why would Link do this? It made no sense . It didn’t match the stoic warrior shadowing Princess Zelda’s steps or the quietly smiling warrior in Revali’s refuge.
A gloved hand settled on Revali’s wing. Dazed, Revali looked up from Link’s bloody torso to meet a pair of blue eyes. The wolf was gone, replaced by a warrior in green. Revali blinked, mind still spinning.
“Take him home,” the warrior said. There were laugh lines around his flattened mouth. Even through the glove, his hand was ice-cold. “Do not return to Hyrule Field. Do not obey the summons of the Royal Family. Go home, Master Revali, and your Divine Beast will join you.”
It felt like he drew his bow and lined up his shot, only to be struck by a sudden stormy wind. Revali was off balance and overwhelmed, but he still needed to make his shot.
The voices had gone silent around them. It was only Revali, Link, and this strange wolf-person who looked terrifyingly similar to the man bleeding in Revali’s wings.
“Right,” Revali said, and he pretended his voice didn’t tremble. There was no need for that. He had everything under control. Everything . He turned back to Link and found himself trapped by the dark stain on Link’s Champion’s tunic, by the slowly but visibly healing sword wound in Link’s gut. He had to shake himself to be able to look at the man again. “And who the plucking hell are you?”
The stranger smiled. His teeth looked disturbingly sharp.
“Someone taking care of his family,” the man said simply.
It probably shouldn’t have surprised Revali when the stranger faded into nothing, but it did, and that pissed him off. Stupid Hylian nonsense…
Yet, as Link relaxed against him, pale face growing slack and peaceful, something in Revali’s chest relaxed, too. Exhaling, Revali poured a little more potion on the wound. Just in case.
He had no idea what by Hylia prompted Link to take such insane actions, but there was something… nice … in the concept of Revali saving the legendary Hero, of Link looking away from Princess Zelda and smiling at him , knowing Revali was the one who had saved him from his own foolishness.
When Link wasn’t stupidly bleeding all over both of them, Revali would confront him about what prompted him to do this. For now, Revali would save him and be the hero. He would take Link to his home and -
Well. They would figure that out later.
“I always knew you were a mess,” Revali confided, wiping some of the blood from Link’s stomach. A little more and then they could travel, this time without Link’s damned sword haunting them.
And with Revali as the hero.
It was almost enough to wash the horror from his mouth. Almost.
“I wish you hadn’t let your horse go, you idiot.”
Revali had been gone for an hour, and Zelda couldn’t shake the feeling that something was desperately wrong. Perhaps it was from her newly awakened powers or simply her imagination, fueled by the strange wolf and Link’s blood still staining her dress. She found herself picking at it as she stared in the direction of the forest.
The Goddess power hadn’t quite faded. It thrummed inside her, like a plucked string. She didn’t understand it. She knew how to use it, had wielded it as a weapon against the Calamity, but surely there had to be more to it than that. Surely Hylia’s blood had to have more use than being a sword.
Hadn’t she felt something unusual about that wolf? Her power recognizing the power within the creature?
Yet her power couldn’t even help the grass and blood stains on her dress. Link’s blood dried beneath her nails.
If she looked up, she would see the remains of her home, and no godly power helped with that. It didn’t help with bringing back the dead or the pain when she tried to figure out how many died before her power awakened.
It didn't help the awful feeling of relief .
Zelda shoved that aside. Her powers had awakened, the Calamity had been defeated, and as awful as everything was, they now needed to focus on beginning anew.
“My princess, we need to leave here.” Urbosa limped toward her, and the sight was somehow more disconcerting than the remains of the castle. Zelda had never so much had seen her with her lipstick smudged before. “We can use the Divine Beasts to travel to safety.”
Zelda rubbed two of her fingers together. Dry red flakes fell to the burnt grass. “No. We need to wait here. Revali will return with Link, and the Sheikah are on their way.”
Another source of frustration. She knew the Sheikah were coming but couldn’t control what she knew and what she didn’t. It was like if she could concentrate, she could see Hyrule itself.
Lady Impa could help her figure all this out. Then they could march forward together, to a greater and brighter Hyrule.
We are free, Link.
“Will the wolf come back, too?” Daruk asked shakily.
Zelda finally looked away from that dark brown blood to smile at Daruk. Like Urbosa, there was something soothing about him, even as he warily looked around them. He looked a heartbeat away from summoning his shield again.
With a soft huff, Urbosa settled her hand on her hip and frowned. Bright blue lipstick and drying blood were smeared on her cheek. “I don’t know, but I don’t like it. Was that wolf left over from the Calamity’s Malice?”
Like the Blights?
Zelda clenched her fists and refused to think about them. How close everything came to complete ruin. They won . The Calamity was defeated. Her powers were awake. She wasn’t a failure. She fought alongside Link and they won .
There was no more Malice, no more Blight, no more accusing eyes --
“I don’t --” she began.
“Something is happening,” Mipha interrupted.
The fact that it was Mipha who interrupted as much as her tight voice silenced everyone. Zelda looked up to see Vah Medoh raised its wings and shriek. Even as Zelda flinched back, Vah Medoh pushed itself off and took to the skies. It circled above them once, crying out again, and then flew westward.
Perhaps because its mission is complete , Zelda thought, mind immediately flicking to what little she knew of the Beasts. Could they sense the Calamity’s defeat? Would they hide themselves again, waiting for a new evil to arise?
Mipha clutched her trident with one hand, the other pressed against her chest. Her mouth was hard like Zelda rarely saw it. She didn’t look away from Vah Ruta.
Zelda started when she saw Vah Ruta looking back. In that moment, it didn’t look like a machine, no matter how advanced the technology. It looked like something alive .
“Ruta?” Mipha murmured.
“The battle is over, Princess Zelda, not the war. The Cycle of Hatred continues.”
Zelda spun, hand clenched over her suddenly pounding heart. All of the Champions pointed their weapons at the newcomer, but he didn’t look impressed. That wasn’t the distracting thing. Neither was the man’s presence.
Looking at the stranger, clad in the green of Zelda’s books, Zelda knew she was looking at the wolf.
“Who are you?” Urbosa demanded. She stepped forward to place herself between Zelda and the stranger. The stranger didn’t seem to notice. “Declare yourself!”
“For thousands of years,” the stranger continued, not looking at Urbosa, “my bloodline has protected yours and your kingdom, wielding the Master Sword.” The stranger cocked his head, and even his ear flick reminded Zelda of a dog. “Only once did we fail, and the Goddesses flooded this world. The Hero didn’t arise, and the Goddesses took matters into Their own hands.”
The Champions all spoke up but Zelda couldn’t hear them. She could only hear the roaring in her ears.
It was the strangest feeling. It was more than recognizing the clothes. The power inside her seemed to recognize the stranger, reaching out for him.
“My family’s blood has soaked the Master Sword for thousands of years, Princess Zelda,” the man continued. Zelda swore she saw a flash of fang. “This is the first time it’s been literal. Learn from the past, your highness, or your bloodline will watch this world flood again.”
With a green flash, wolf replaced man. It smiled a fang-filled smile at Zelda and then darted around the small group to sprint northwood. Toward the forest.
Oh, Link, what have you done?
But just like Zelda knew how to use her power, like how she knew the Sheikah were coming, Zelda knew now.
She sank to her knees and didn’t even notice Mipha running toward Vah Ruta.
It took more effort than Revali would have liked, but he dragged himself and Link to Rito Village. To his home.
To Link’s new home, if he understood the man/wolf/thing correctly.
His return was greeted with a mess of awe and horror, yet Revali couldn’t help but preen when he was congratulated for not only saving Hyrule but for saving Link. He didn’t bother informing them about the truth of Link’s injury. There was no need for that and, well, he didn’t recognize the truth of it himself. Rito didn’t do things like that. The closest they came to self-injury was overworking themselves.
While Link rested and healed, the Rito provided Revali with a new hammock for Link and a new title: Master . When Link finally awoke, Revali’s first words to him was to tell Link that he needed to call him Master Revali now.
Link only looked at him in bewilderment before falling back asleep. Ungrateful bastard.
Revali said nothing to Link in those moments he awoke, dazed and healing from wounds Revali couldn’t see. He said nothing to the other Rito when they referenced their surprise at the lack of visits from Princess Zelda and the other Champions.
He knew there wouldn’t be any visits. If Medoh, lurking above with her power shining brightly, didn’t deter visits, the two ghostly wolves prowling the canyons to the east and south of Rito Village did.
“Revali?” Link murmured, eyes open and clearer than they had been in days.
Revali grunted and didn’t look at where his wing wrapped around Link’s hand. “You would be lost without me, you idiot.”
When Link smiled at him, Revali swore he felt the campfire’s heat, tasted the fresh salmon meuniere.