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Pyramid Prism Prison

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They don’t know what happened. One minute they were trudging through Wild’s Hyrule trying to make it to Zora’s Domain to follow up on some rumors about a black blooded lynel of all things: The next they were falling through another portal that scrambled their mind more than usual. They were so out of it they didn’t even realise that something else was different, at first, in their attempts to sort out themselves. Ourselves. Us. We

 

What the fuck kind of shit was that, the portals don't do that!

 

Ow… Blue please stop… Your yelling isn’t helping.

 

He’s right though, Red, they’re not supposed to do that. All of our trips through them have been voluntary after the first few that brought us together. Vio, what do you think?

 

...I think the shade is trying to lead us somewhere on purpose this time. Maybe he believes he has a plan that could take our chain down.

 

Did you just make a damn pun?!

 

No, you must have imagined it. Anyway, there was something else weird when we went through. It felt similar to the minish portals but… darker.

 

Dark doesn’t mean bad though remember?

 

Unfortunately with Dark Link being involved most of the time, recently it does. So what happened?

 

Where are we? What happened to the others? Who’s in charge?

 

Fucking hell its me. Hold on.

 

He slowly opens his eyes past the headache threatening to trap him back within unconsciousness once more. What he sees doesn't make any sense at first. He sees Legend and Sky and Wolfie, but none of the others. Just a bunch of animals. Also they look so big too, like they do when he’s shrunken. Legend looks pissed, he probably didn't appreciate being dropped through the portal and is griping about it, but Sky and Wolfie are looking panicked. Which they suppose is normal when they can’t find the others after a switch, but its not until he tries to get up that he realizes what's happened. His limbs feel wrong, his weight distributed differently, everything is loud and smells weird. It’s only when he looks at himself that he realizes he's not human anymore.

 

WHAT THE FUCK, WHAT ARE WE?!

 

I think we are a mouse, but I can’t quite confirm.

 

Mice are cute though!

 

We arent supposed to be a fucking mouse?! How did this happen?!

 

Maybe it was what felt weird with the portal?

 

Most likely, it’s also likely that the other animals are the missing members of our group, given that we are an animal and Twilight is now Wolfie.

 

Why the fuck are Legend and Sky alright then?!

 

Sky has the master sword!

 

That doesn't explain Legend!

 

It’s possible that this is part of his world and this has happened to him before so he has an item to prevent that. If this is true then he probably has an item that can help the rest of us.

 

He’s got a lot of explaining to do then, I’ll beat it out of him if I have to!

 

Blue No! That’s not right! You know we have our secrets too!

 

Bullshit, we were supposed to tell everyone the basics of our worlds, if this is his he should have mentioned it! Seems kind of important to know!

 

Blue has a point Red, what if we had been dropped into a group of enemies?

 

Oh…

 

What if he didn’t know?

 

Hah?! How could he not know!?

 

Well, If i remember a few of the stories Hyrule told us about him, he purified the Sacred Realm in his first adventure. In their time it had become the Dark World, right Vio.

 

Yes, exactly, Legend most likely didn’t even assume this place existed anymore. We’ve heard him talk of visiting Lorule, but not this place.

 

Well it fucking matters now doesn't it!?

 

Legends talking Blue! Pay attention until we settle again so we can hear!

 

Blue tunes into what he now can tell is Legend cussing up a storm as Sky tries to calm him down. Wolfie is going around nudging the various animals to make sure they’re awake and aware. There's a tiny fox with scarring like Wild’s, a seagull that is probably Wind, a one eyed owl that is clearly Time, a dog that has a blue scarf that marks him as Warriors, and the last one is a… fairy? What the hell? 

“Hyrule, get the hell over here, it's dangerous for fairies to be flying around free in the Dark World,” Legend grunts at the small panicked fluttery light that’s darting around checking on all the animals as well. He has to gently catch him in his hands to settle him down. It seems Legend has calmed down enough to be serious now.

“Fucking hell this is a mess. Okay headcount, so I’ve got Hyrule. Sky you’re fine. There’s the cook, the sailor, the old man, the captain, where’s the smithy?”

Wolfie barks at Legend and noses at the ground near where he, fuck, THEY are. He squeaks defiantly at him. Damnit, they!

 

You can't force a merge, Blue, you know that. We will settle when we settle but for now you’re in control so do what you can.

 

I know that, bastard, but it's hard to remember sometimes!

 

You’re overthinking it, just let it come naturally. We have to Flow, be in harmony, or Four won’t be able to function with all of us being so loud. It’s better for a single color to be in control than for Four to deal with us each being too distinct. We don't want to cause an overload like in the beginning. 

 

Oh, definitely. Having to come back together after that first split on their second adventure was awful but not as bad as the second time. The first time the sword did what it was supposed to, split them evenly, so while becoming one was disorienting they were able to meld back into a singular Link after a while. The second time something went wrong, and the sword split Link into pieces of his personality. It was probably because the sword wasn’t supposed to be pulled twice, or maybe it was corrupted by holding Vaati, but either way they were tricked. Blue doesn’t blame Shadow, not after seeing Vio’s memories, but the little shit caused so much chaos and the adventure lasted so long that they were not able to merge into Link again at the end. That’s how Link became Four. For good.

It's not all that bad honestly, he would do anything for his siblings. However the year of time right after they replaced the sword was terrifying, all of their thoughts and feelings tumbling and twisting together. They couldn't talk, they couldn't even walk because it was so bad. Focusing was an almost impossible task, let alone even understanding what was happening around them. Dot, Zelda, had them pull the sword again since the dark shade of Vaati was actually slain and they were granted a brief respite from the torment that was the whirlpool of thoughts as they split once more. They weren’t complete like that though, and being apart for so long was tearing them apart at the seams. So with Dot and Grandpa’s help they were able to readjust until they found their Flow and the rest was history.

But anyways, back to the dumb dog nosing at him. He squeaks angrily again and climbs up on his nose in retaliation. The cross eyed look he got for his trouble was hilarious and worth it, but the gut lurching feeling of being lifted up too quickly wasn't. He lets his displeasure be known in a myriad of curses that come out as disgruntled squeaks. The wolf lets out a huff of laughter before deciding to scare the hell out of him.

‘Wow, you’re sure riled up for once Four. We don't usually see you this animated, then again we don't usually see you as a mouse. I wouldnt think you would have a problem with it considering your ability.’

Blue nearly jumps out of his tiny skin, it sounds a lot different than when Four is a minish.

‘You can understand me like this?!’

‘I can talk to animals in this form, which can be helpful sometimes and annoying other times. Thankfully it's helpful this time but… Yeah my secret isn't about to be secret much longer.’

‘If it makes you feel any better, Pup, I think many of us are going to have our secrets exposed soon based on the veteran’s expression,’ Time hoot mournfully as he hops over. If ever an owl looked more disgruntled. Blue can feel the wolf shaking as he struggles to keep in his laughter. Apparently he doesn't do this well enough because Time flaps enough to get off the ground and settle on Twi’s back.

‘Hey!’

‘Deal with it, Pup, we don’t have enough time for me to learn to fly.’

‘Wind is doing just fine!’

‘Wind also has spent his life on islands watching seagulls fly so it wouldn't be too hard to apply what he’s seen, now stay still.’

Blue snickers and crawls up the wolf’s nose to settle on his head and turns to focus on Legend’s conversation with Sky. Seems like Sky is worrying about where Twilight is. Oh, this will be fun. Poor Sky, he hasn’t realized it yet. 

“But Legend! Where is Twilight!? Wolfies here but all the others are turned into animals so Twilight should be here as one too right?!”

Oh my goddess, this is so stupid. How hasn't he realized what he just said! Even Wind and Warriors seem to realize it, look at their dumb wide eyed stares! 

 

Not everyone is that observant Blue, you wouldn't have known if we hadn't found out as Four.

 

SHUT.

 

Damn know-it-all. He’s supposed to be quiet! 

 

When you make hypocritical statements I have to call you out on them.

 

YOU NEED TO STOP!

 

“Sky… Really? Damnit. Yo, you mangy mutt, can I tell him? It's not like we don't all know now.”

Twilight huffs but barks out an affirmative as he wanders over carefully to scruff Wild who's sticking his new nose into everything.

“Okay, so Sky.”

“...Yes?”

“You know how none of us have ever seen Twilight and Wolfie at the same time?”

“Yeah what does that ha….. No.”

“Yes.”

“No way.”

“Yep.”

“You mean?!”

“Uh Huh.”

“This entire time!?”

“Of course.”

“And you knew?!”

“A few of us did.”

“Who?!”

“Well you know how Time calls him pup?”

“Oh. Who else?”

“The cook and the smith.”

“Ah…”

Sky looks like the world has collapsed around him. Hyrule gently flutters over to him trying to give him comfort. Legend sighs heavily and then gets a serious face back on.

“Alright, so we’ve got a problem. We’re in my Dark World. Which is stupid because it’s not supposed to exist anymore. I’m pretty sure we are in the Haunted Grove so thankfully this area is safe. Unfortunately it's one of the only safe places in this world so until we get you all back to normal we aren't going anywhere soon.”

He sighs and sits down heavily on the ground looking visibly tired for once. He usually tries his best to hide anything that's going on with him so for it to be showing this heavily means he's really out of sorts.

“I guess I have to explain this place now…”

“You don’t have to explain more than the basics if you don’t want to Legend,” Sky says softly to him, ever the people pleaser.

“No, you need to know, this place is chaos and if the creatures here have been infected we are all going to have a rough time. I’m going to have to leave because I don’t have enough moon pearls to turn everyone back to normal.”

“What’s a moon pearl?”

Legend pulls a pendant out of his collar. It's a small blood red orb hanging from a black chord. The orb glows softly with hidden power.

 

Huh, that doesn't look anything like the moon pearls from our time.

 

Cut it out, peanut gallery, I get it.

 

“This is a moon pearl, during my journey the first time I fell into the Dark World I was transformed into an animal that reflected my nature. I was lucky enough to find a portal to get back, but in order to save Zelda and the other maidens I had to journey through the Dark World. Couldn't do that as an animal so I had to find one of these, it lets you keep your normal form in the Dark World.”

“After the end of my first adventure I got a hold of the triforce and wished for Ganon’s influence to be reversed. People who were hurt or killed because of him trying to get out of the Dark World were healed and returned. And the Dark world itself…. It returned to being the Sacred Realm.”

Times head snaps around at that, one good eye opened wide. Apparently he recognizes that name too. Blue remembers a little bit about the Sacred Realm from what Vio has said about it. It was created right before the founding of Hyrule to hide the sacred power of the goddesses. He also remembers a comment about Time opening it in his time. Of course Time’s time is really messed up because of the time travel he was forced to do. Whatever went wrong ended up splitting the timeline for a good while until it converged somewhere during Warriors time. They do know that the hero failed in one of them, is this what happened to the Sacred Realm in that timeline?

“Yeah, you heard me right. My Dark World was once the Sacred Realm. But it shouldn't exist anymore which is why i didn't say anything about it. However,” here he smirks smugly,” Even though I thought it didn't exist anymore I went out of my way to locate more moon pearls in case anything like it happened again. I’ve got 4 more on me, and I know where to go to find more for the rest of us.”

“Oh wow, so your hoarder tendencies came in handy for once?”

“EXCUSE YOU?! For ONCE!? I’ve saved our asses hundreds of times at this point! Wild has too!”

“Sorry!”

“Anyways! I need to go to a specific place to get more and I can’t lug you idiots along with me the entire way. We wouldn't all be able to make it. So, i’m going to give some of you the pearls and you are going to STAY HERE until I get back with the other pearls. Got it?”

Cue the various barks, hoots and squeaks of protest from the rest of the chain that drown out Sky’s own protests. Hyrule is vigorously fluttering around Legend’s head making his own displeasure known. Legend shoots everyone a very serious glare, “Shut up.”

“You can’t go alone Legend, what if something happens to you?” Sky wrings his hands a bit in worry.

Legend sighs, “If I take Twi, Wolfie, with me will that make you all feel better about it? Then only two of you would have to stay transformed here.”

All eyes go to Time who dips his head in approval. Twilight does not look pleased to have to be separated from his precious Cub, but we know he is worried about Legend too. Legend is an enigma to all of us, he’s got more experience than all of us barring Time who only has experience due to age and time shenanigans. Yet he sucks the most at taking care of himself, both emotionally and physically. He mentors the youngest of the group, then he turns around and does the exact things he says not to do right afterwards. It’s infuriating. However, they can tell that Legend is serious right now. He looks… scared. When Legend shows his fear you know things are bad. He seems to notice our looks and controls his expression once more, changing it back to his ever present frown.

His eyes rake over us slowly, “Now we just have to figure out who gets these pearls.”

“Well… Time and Warriors for sure. Without you or Twi around they’re the strongest fighters.”

“Yeah sure, as long as Wild and Wind get the other two. I don’t trust them to not wander off somewhere and get eaten.”

‘Hey! We aren't that bad!’ Wild yips at Legend in protest while the sailor dive bombs his head to make his opinion known.

“Hey! Cut that out you fucker! I’m not wrong! Without Wolfie around to reign you animals in you’d run off and get hurt. This entire fucking world is out to get us, this is literally one of the only safe havens nearby as I said before! The fairy fountains are too far away and I need to go to a tower on Death Mountain and I have to transfer to the Light World a few times to do so.”

“What about Hyrule and Four. I thought you said it wasn't safe for Hyrule to be a fairy in this world, and Four is so small he could get lost so easily. Is it really okay for them to stay this way?”

“They’ll be fine. And honestly I was considering bringing Hyrule along with me too, just so you all don't freak the fuck out over us potentially dying.” 

“Why not just bring them all with you so you can give them the pearls when you get them?”

“Then I’d have to lug their asses back across the entire fucking country, no way, it’s better to take just Wolfie with me. We could move faster and he won't be affected as much moving back and forth across the two worlds. Time and Sky can keep a hold of Rule and Four.”

‘Can we just get the pearls already, the longer we argue about this the longer we have to sit here,’ Warriors barks anxiously.

‘Try telling Legend that,’ Twilight snaps at him.

‘Boys, stop it. This is an unusual situation, we don't need any infighting,’ Time glares at Warriors and digs his talons in slightly to Twi’s shoulders. The two canines go quiet in admonishment.

“Alright,” Legend claps his hands to get everyone's attention, "Line up and I’ll give you the pearls. And no pushing, you damn animals.”

There’s a lot of grumbling and, yes, pushing before the members of the chain get into any form of a line. Thankfully once everyone settles down, the distribution of pearls is pretty quick and soon only Twilight, Hyrule and we are left transformed. Hyrule has taken to hovering around Wild’s shoulder with Time trying to coax him closer, and Sky has us nestled on his shoulder. Legend has a serious expression on his face as he stands by the entrance of the grove. Twilight stands by his side, his ears slightly down and back in his own distress. Time looks at them both seriously.

“Are you sure it has to be this way Legend? You remember what happened the last time we all split up on purpose…”

“How could I forget? If it wasn't for Hyrule’s healing, we’d have been fucked. Half of us were incapacitated and the other half were just plain lost. It was a miracle we all ended up being able to find each other again in time. This is different though, old man. It's only two groups and you seven are staying put right here the entire time. With any luck, If I hurry, we could be back by the end of the day.”

“You shouldn't push yourself like that Legend,” Sky interjects like the mother hen he is, “Death Mountain is dangerous is it not?”

“It is, but a lot of the enemies you can dodge and outrun… most of the time anyway. Regardless, I have to do it this way, then when I get back maybe we can figure out what we are doing in this place.”

“Is there anything we can do while we wait?!” Warriors is agitated, maybe because he was a dog, but he does have a good point. One of the traits that the chain all shares is the inability to sit still, Wild and Wind being the most affected of the lot. Leaving them with nothing to do is like asking for a disaster to happen.

“Maybe you could take up a worthwhile hobby other than hair and skincare,” Legend snarks at the captain.

“Why you!!!”

“Boys!” Time’s glare of disapproval pierces both of them. Fastest way to shut them up. Fastest way to shut anyone of them up honestly. 

“Whatever… Anyway, I’m sure you’ll all find something to do. Just stay here and keep your guard up. This grove is usually monster free but with the havoc Dark is causing I wouldn't put it past him to try an ambush or anything. I’m off, see you guys in a day max. C’mon Wolfie.”

They all watch as the two turn and exit the grove quietly, leaving a foreboding feeling in their wake.

“....20 rupees says they annoy each other to death before they get back.”

“Sky?!”

Chapter Text

Despite the joking around, once dusk had faded into the dark of night and the two heroes still hadn't returned to the grove, there was a rising tension within the group. They all sat around the flickering flames of the fire that Wild had set up, the orange light throwing their anxious expressions into sharp relief. Their food, amazing as always, tasted like ashes in their mouths due to their worry for their missing members.

Sky was melancholically carving a small wooden rabbit, while Four rested on his shoulder watching him. Time was staring daggers into the fire as if it could tell him the secrets of the universe. Hyrule was daintily perched upon Time’s old hat, though his light was dim and despondent. Wild, Warriors, and Wind were attempting to play a game of cards but they kept darting glances past the fire towards the entrance of the grove. There was a heavy feeling in the air, that foreboding feeling from the morning growing heavier as time continued to pass with no word or signs.

This wasn’t good, if this continued any longer one of the group might get wild ideas about trying to go out and find the two. In this world they have no clue what to expect, Legend never told any of us anything about this part of his world. His reason was fair, but their accursed luck made the impossible possible once more, and now they're here waiting and wary in a meager tiny clearing of safety.

Sky suddenly sighs loudly and lowers his carving, staring into the fire like the old man.

“... Do you think they’re alright?”

Time glances at the chosen hero and says carefully, “They’re both heroes, they can take care of themselves. Legend knows this land and he has a lot of experience. They’ll be fine.”

No one pipes in to point out that he didn't say that they're okay right now.

“This is all my fault,” Sky sighs once more. He looks so defeated.

“Not this again. Sky, we’ve been over this! None of this is your fault!” Warriors looks up from his cards to cast a stern look at the boy from the sky.

“If I had just been faster, if I didn't hesitate, none of you would have had to face this curse. We wouldn't be here now, waiting and worrying in a dangerous world that only exists because of the curse's effects!”

This isn't the first time this argument has suddenly appeared in a tense situation. Sky has a major guilt complex when it comes to the rest of them getting lost or injured. He always brings it up and starts apologizing over and over again even though every last one of the chain doesn't blame him. That demon set the curse, and Sky had no reason to believe it was real. Hylia was the one who set their souls into reincarnation, and that combined with the curse on her bloodline and the hero’s spirit led to the cycle of hatred.

They’ll never forget the look on his face when he confided his dark secret to the group, though  they wish they could. He was so devastated and the guilt looked like it was tearing him apart. It’s like he expected them all to want to get even with him. How far from the truth that was. No, his confession only led to further hatred of the goddess for some of them and now pure disdain for the demon god who started it all and who dragged their most precious cinnamon roll into an adventure filled with fear and doubt and pain. If Hylia had just been able to defeat the damn demon then none of them would have had to be dragged through hell and back.

Four understands though, as a goddess Hylia must have been held back by some weird divine rule about interference. By shedding her divinity, she gave her hero a chance to actually fight back. Yet, by doing so, she wasn't able to prevent the curse. Goddesses can make mistakes too, but when they do everyone suffers.

“Sky, it wasn’t your fault. You had no way to know what was going to happen,” Time sternly states to the distraught boy.

“I should have.”

“Bullshit!” Wind interjects.

“Language,” Warriors mutters reflexively at him.

“Hylian,” the young sailor snaps back before turning his focus back on the boy from the sky, “Listen, Sky, we were all basically just a bunch of kids when we went on our journeys and you are no exception!”

“Were? You still are,” the cook snickers. This gets him a side glare but the comment is mostly ignored in order to finish the point.

“Anyways, you just had your destiny thrown at ya from what you’ve shared. Not much was explained to you at all other than, ya know, defeat the demon god dude!”

“Did… did you just call Demise a dude?”

“Yes, I did. Now shush and listen fly boy! We’ve told you all before but apparently ya gotta hear it again. We don’t blame you! I mean if we are gonna go throwing blame around, I could be blaming Time for what happened to my Hyrule!”

Time grimaces at the reminder but Wind sends him a glare as well, “Which I don't! You didn’t know going back in time wouldn't erase that timeline. It may have delayed the Spirit of the Hero from reappearing, but it still ended up okay! Hyrule still lives, it may have moved but that’s okay.”

“The squirts right, we may have gone through a lot, some more than others, but we’ve still found happiness in our times,” Warriors says gently.

“Yeah, and none of us would have met each other if all that stuff didn't happen!” Wild waves his cards around erratically with a bright grin, “You guys are my brothers now, no take backs!”

“So I can't get a refund on you?” Warriors eyes the champion with mischievous eyes.

“Nope, you’re stuck with me.”

“I think I’ll leave you to the ranch hand, I’ve already got my hands full with the sailor.”

“And Legend’s got his hands full with Hyrule,” Time glances at the little fairy who makes a very disgruntled twinkling sound.

“You remember the first time these three hellions got to go off on their own?”

“You, Legend and the pup nearly had heart attacks.”

“We didn't even do anything that bad!”

“Wild, you guys came back dragging the traveler between you dripping blood!”

“It wasn’t all his blood, captain, and we took out that monster camp,” Wind huffs.

“You weren’t supposed to leave the camp!”

“We just wanted to explore! We didn't expect to walk right into the center of a monster camp!”

“Well, we didn’t really walk so much as slide,” Wild muses with a wicked grin.

“Goddess save us from idiots with no self preservation…” Warriors puts his head in his hands.

“I have plenty of self preservation. I just choose not to use it,” Wild points out.

“I wish you would, you keep giving the pup heart attacks. That first time you used that grace power he nearly went savage.”

Wild winces a little, “Okay, but I promised not to do that again didn't I?”

Time levels the dreaded glare upon the hopeful cook, who’s expression falls into guilt. Wind and Warriors snicker a little.

“Wild isn’t the only one giving out heart attacks. Sailor, you’ve done quite a few reckless moves too,” Warriors cuts off his snickering to point this out, much to the boy’s indignation. 

“I have not!”

“You stole my whip and managed to get yourself dangling upside down from a tree with it,” Sky glances at the petulant child.

“I just wanted to see if it was like my grappling hook!”

“And when you and Wild took one of Legend’s fire rods and set an entire forest on fire.”

“I had never used one and Wild was trying to teach me!”

“Then Hyrule got ahold of it and nearly torched us all instead,” Time sighs glancing down at the sheepish ball of light.

“The time you shield surfed so far you ended up surfing in the ocean and went so far you nearly drowned. The time you took Wild’s slate and proceeded to bomb every inch of a wall just to find twenty rupees”

“Stooooooop.”

“When you taught Hyrule and Wild to break pots and then they decided to run around the entire town breaking every single one they could find, including that stupidly expensive vase that cost an arm and a leg.” 

“A broken arm and leg when they tried to run from the soldiers,” Sky points out.

“Oh yeah?! Well you old farts aren’t so innocent of shenanigans either! Warriors got slapped by that one girl for touching her ass!”

Warriors splutters, “That was on accident! Legend pushed me!”

“A likely story you pervert! The old man I know was a hellion as a kid, but don't think I haven't seen the shit you’ve pulled. Those subtle pranks of yours aren’t so subtle! I know it was you who slipped that weird ass herb into Sky’s morning tea that made him freak the hell out and go all hyper!”

“That was you?! Time I trusted you!” Sky looks so distraught, like a kicked puppy.

“I don’t know what you're talking about kid, I’m the epitome of responsibility.”

“That’s not what Malon told me,” Wild points out, “I heard from her that you used to be quite the ladies man, chasing around all the skirts in town before she finally tamed you. Wars must have rubbed off on you.”

“Hey!”

“What about that time Sky tried to bring a Cucco with us?”

“She was lonely…”

“She nearly bit Legend’s ear off.” Wild waves his arms around dramatically.

“He insulted her, so he deserved it.”

“What is up with your obsession with birds,” Warriors groans.

“They're beautiful creatures! Anyway, remember when Four nearly had a mental breakdown trying to figure out why you keep breaking weapons,” Sky glares at Wild. Said mouse perks up a bit and joins the glare. Wild is a little unnerved by how intimidating the dual gaze is. The smith is a mouse, that shouldn't be intimidating!

“What was the final verdict on that?” 

“There wasn't one, Captain. Four said it was either a curse or incompetence.” 

“I am not incompetent!”

“Cub, you didn’t know how to sharpen or clean your blades until Four and Legend showed you.” Time deadpans.

“Then he still broke the sword Four made!” Wind guffaws at Wild’s pouting expression.

“I’m getting better! I promise!”

He actually was getting better. That was why Four and Legend were secretly making him a new sword. They had been slowly gathering the strongest materials from each of the eras they had journeyed to in order to make it, they were just waiting until they got close to either Four’s forge or one of Legend’s. Which is why they desperately needed Legend to come back safe, not only is he their brother in spirit, he is the only other one that Four trusts to help him forge. As long as he doesn't overdo it with the magic weapons again. Seriously how does someone who apprenticed with a blacksmith not know to not shoot the sword with ice?!

“We’ve all changed a lot since the beginning of this mess,” Time sighs staring into the fire once more.

“Some for the better, others for the worse…” Sky stares up at the dark sky devoid of stars. The mood of the group droops once again.

“...Legend got saltier somehow.” Wind points out trying to lift the mood again. 

“Probably from the amount of times we got dropped into your ocean!” Warriors guffaws, never one to miss an opportunity to have a go at the veteran.

“He’s probably even more salty about having to take the lead right now,” Sky sighs softly.

“He has more experience than most of us yet he never wants to lead, I don’t get it,” Warriors huffs.

“I can understand why he doesn't want to. He’s so used to having to take the lead and fix things that when it comes to being in a group of people he’s content to sit back and let someone else shoulder the burden of decision making. We only know some of the bare basics of his adventures from him and what little Hyrule can tell us from his legends. He’s had to make choices that affected more than just himself, choices that actually lasted.” Time glances up from the fire with a knowing look in his eye. 

“He’s more than earned his right to step back from the lead role. Between me, you and the pup there’s plenty to take the lead when it's needed.”

“Speaking of the pup, did you really know that Twilight was Wolfie?” Sky glances at Time curiously.

“Yes, he told me near the very beginning. My future self guided him in his journey, so he recognized me right away. I felt some sort of connection with him as well so I trusted his word.”

“As for me! He was my companion during my journey! I didn’t know that at first because he couldn't transform into a human the entire time, so he was just Wolfie to me. When we met again for this adventure I recognized the mark on his head.”

“Alright, how did Legend and Four find out then?” 

Time shrugs, “They never told me, and Twilight never told either. You would have to ask them.”

Eyes go to the small mouse curled up upon Sky’s shoulder. As Four is still a mouse, they cannot respond, but they have no doubt that eventually they will be attacked with questioning once they’ve returned to normal.

“We can question the hell out of them once Legend and Twi get back!” Wind shouts cheerily.

“I want to know how he transforms in the first place…” Warriors muses. Sky suddenly looks like he’s been struck by an epiphany, “Oh! OH! So that’s why!”

“What? What did you figure out?!” Wind crawls over erratically to Sky and peers up at him pleadingly.

“I shouldn’t say, It’s a little private.”

“Noooo, you've gotta tell us now!”

“It’s not my place to tell!”

“That’s just an excuse, come on we are all brothers here!”

“No!”

Wind tugs at Sky’s cape causing Four to let out a startled squeak as they’re dislodged and sent sliding down the cloth to the ground. The squeaking turns angry once they make it and Wind has the decency to look guilty as he gently picks up the small creature and apologizes. Warriors and Wild are laughing at his misery while Sky scolds the sailor, Time looks on fondly and Hyrule flutters around chiming in glee when the desperate cry of a wolf pierces the air. Everyone freezes and their gazes snap towards the entrance of the clearing.

“....Did Legend ever say anything about having Wolfos in his lands?” Wild asks quietly, voice laced with tension.

“Not that I’m aware of…” Time says equally as tense. Hyrule hovers beside his head fluttering worriedly and looking ready to dart into the dark. There’s another tense moment of silence before the howl comes again, closer than it was before, and the sound sends the group into a flurry of movement. Weapons and shields are grabbed, along with pouches. Wild is the first to dart into the night, Hyrule following close to his shoulder. Time calls for the two to come back, but he doesn't try to stop them, his own fear showing in the tightening of his expression and the clench of his jaw. It’s only when he hears the wolf yelp in pain that he decides to abandon the safety of the grove, the only Link staying behind being Wind who is cradling Four close to his chest and staring out into the darkness in worry and fear.

The light from their campfire doesn't pierce the dark past the entrance of the grove, and without any moon or stars to light the way visibility is at a low. Time can just barely make out the soft pink glow of Hyrule’s fairy form before Wild pulls out a Great Flameblade and drops it on the ground. The sudden light from the sword casts a faint glow upon the scene ahead. There's a hoard of what looks to be Moblins and Taros encircling a vicious growling wolf. Wolfie. Twilight. Wolfie doesn't attack them head on though, only when they come closer does he lunge. Never too far, like he's protecting something. Or someone.

Legend!

The group of frantic friends falls viciously upon the hoard who are startled by the sudden light. Even with the infection of the black blood boosting their strength, the hoard is no match for the vengeful power of the heroes desperate to protect their brethren. There is no mercy in their strikes as they slowly clear out each and every enemy with eyes full of rage and hearts full of worry. When the last monster is vanquished, they turn to address Wolfie. 

Wolfie is crouched over a shadowed form, his lips face set with a snarl, ears back and tail low. Defensive. Protective. Dangerous. It would be unwise to approach him in this state, for there is no telling if he can clearly tell friend or foe. All they know for sure is that Legend isn't moving, and that itself is more terrifying than anything.

Time kneels down slowly before him, “Twilight. Pup. You need to let us look at him.”

The snarling gets louder.

“Pup, please. Let us help him.”

Steely blue eyes lock with deep azure and Wolfie slowly lowers his hackles and moves back just enough to uncover the injured boy. Time slowly moves forward, not daring to rush and trigger instincts again, and looks him over. The most worrying visible injury is a gash above his left eye, the blood is dried on his face so it must have been there for a while. How far did Twilight have to carry him? How many more wounds are hidden by his clothing and the looming shadows? He doesn’t have time to check, they need to all return to the grove for safety. He gently gathers the boy in his arms, who makes no sound nor movement save for the faint grimace upon his face and the subtle rising and falling of his chest that proves he is alive. He looks so small curled up like this. He always seems larger than life with his loud mouth and his even louder personality. Seeing their veteran so still and quiet is always a shock to them all. Hyrule softly flutters over and alights upon his predecessor's chest. Time stands up slowly, holding his precious cargo close and secure. He looks upon the worried faces of the present members of the chain.

“Let’s go. We have a brother to heal.”

They all share determined glances and then turn back towards the grove, one by one filing back inside to the safety and warmth of the fire and their two youngest members.

“... 20 rupees says Hyrule yells at the Vet for being an idiot and getting himself so hurt.”

“That's a sucker’s bet, Cap, and you know it.”

Chapter Text

Legend was seriously hurt. The cut above his eye was superficial compared to the wounds that littered his arms, legs and torso. Bringing him into the light of the fire revealed his tunic soaked in blood. There were burns on his legs, gashes on his arms and claw marks along his back and sides. It was like he didn't even try to fight back, as if he was pushing himself through the pain to get back as fast as possible. There’s no telling how far he made it before Twilight had to start dragging him back. Twilight is of course pacing up a storm, thoroughly agitated by this progression of events. He obviously feels so guilty. If he had just been a little more vigilant, a little more vicious, maybe Legend wouldn’t have gotten so hurt. He was supposed to watch his back and he failed.

Time usually would be attempting to calm down his protegee, however he was busy digging through Legend’s pack to find the pearls. Hyrule could possibly heal the young man as a fairy but they don't want to take any chances that it would drain their healer. They don't know where to start with the wounds, so it’s better to have Hyrule back to normal so he could dictate to them exactly what they needed to do in order to make their grumpy hoarder feel better again. He finally digs three blood red pearls out of the depths and hurriedly distributes them to their recipients. Twilight doesn't really change his actions much, he simply returns to his pacing except now he is muttering instead of grunting and growling. Hyrule of course immediately makes his way to his predecessor's side and starts using his magic to heal the worst. Hopefully it will be enough to rouse the bastard so they can shove a few potions down his throat.

Four sits off to the side watching the group quietly. Their gray eyes reflect the flickering of the campfire as they ponder their current situation. None of them know why they’re here yet, and the only one of them who possibly has an idea is out of commission for now. Yet, Four can’t help feel like they’re missing something. They didn’t notice it at first under the thrall of the dark magic that changed them into a mouse, but now that they’re back to normal they can feel it pulling at them. It’s such an odd feeling, coming from the northeast, a whisper in the back of their mind trying to coax them into leaving the safety of the Haunted Grove. To find something that they’re missing, lost long ago, but they never realized wasn't fully gone. There’s a sudden aching in their soul, a hole they were sure wasn’t there before, and an agonizing longing to be whole again.

 

Finally…

 

Four’s head snaps up and around at the sound of the voice. That wasn’t one of the colors, but it sounded like…

No, no it couldn’t be. It was just their imagination. The dark magic must still be lingering around. They take a deep breath to settle themselves, that weird voice knocking their Flow a little out of sync. Easy enough to remedy.
After a long while a groan from their downed teammate draws the attention of the group. Legend is stirring, although it doesn't seem like he will be able to make it to full consciousness on his own. Hyrule lunges for his bag and pulls out his strongest potion, rushing to make sure his friend takes it all before he slips back into unconsciousness once more. He’s able to do so in time and the group watches as the various wounds slowly mend themselves. His breathing evens out finally and Hyrule’s shoulders drop in relief at the sight.

“Thank the goddesses. Okay, I’m pretty sure between my magic and that potion he should be almost fully healed. He’s still probably gonna be out for a while though. If we are lucky he will sleep through the rest of the night and be back to his grouchy self in the morning.”

“So we’re staying here tonight then?” Warriors questions with a disgruntled look.

“Yes, it’s likely best. Who wants the first watch?” Time asks glancing around the party.

“I’ll take it, I want to keep an eye on Legend just to make sure he’s really gonna be alright. Also so I can work on Twilight.”

“What? I’m fine!”

“Your arm is bleeding, come sit down so I can work on it. I know you probably aren't gonna sleep tonight so either you let me take care of you or I’ll shove a sleeping potion down your throat.” The healer’s glare is terrifying and the rancher has no choice but to obey, sitting down beside him and his current patient. Time chuckles, “I’ll be taking the second watch, anyone willing for third?”

Four raises their hand. They feel like they need to do something after being stuck as a simple mouse all that time. They also want to talk to Twilight and see what he thinks of this world, also to make sure the idiot isn’t gonna still be blaming himself. They have no doubts that Time is taking watch to talk with his descendant but they just want to make sure. There’s also the matter of Legend possibly waking up, and they’re worried about their salty friend. He was so scared before he left and then he came back as injured as he was, it makes Four wonder what Legend is hiding about this place. It obviously holds bad memories, but they can’t shake the feeling that there’s something big going on. Why else would Dark bring them to a place that is supposed to no longer exist?

“Alright. Hyrule, me and Four are taking watch, the rest of you need to get some sleep. If Legend is alright in the morning we will probably be moving out so we need to be as rested as possible.”

The Chain shuffles around, bedding down for the night. Wild shoves food at Twilight before he lays down, regardless of his mentor’s protests about not being hungry. Hyrule’s gaze upon him scares him into eating lest he anger the traveler again. After that it doesn’t take long for the majority of them to fall asleep now that they know they are all safe and together. Soon only Hyrule and Twilight are left awake.

Twilight avoids the young boy’s stare. He feels like he is being judged for his incompetence. Legend is really important to Hyrule, and he let them both down by not doing what he was supposed to do. He was supposed to protect Legend, and he failed. He doesn’t deserve to be fussed over for such meager wounds, not when the other was so seriously wounded. What good is his strength if he cannot protect the people he cares about?

“Twi. I don’t blame you.”

“...You should. If I had been just a little faster, a little stronger, we could have avoided all of this,” He gestures to the passed out veteran.

Hyrule shakes his head, “Twi you don't get it do you? It’s because of you that Legend made it back at all.”

“But…”

“How far did you carry him?”

“... Pretty far. We got ambushed at the base of the mountain on our way back right after we came back through a portal into the Dark World. Part of that was through the town though.”

“It doesn’t matter, you got him back to us in time and protected him as much as you could. Thank you.”

Twilight shrugs and winces a bit. Hyrule shoots him a look and makes him show off the second gash in his arm he was trying to hide. He should have known better. The rancher still feels guilty, but he stays quiet and lets the healer fuss over him for the rest of the first shift until he goes over to wake Time.

Staying quiet was a bad idea. It’s letting the guilt inside him fester. He’s thinking back to the ambush and trying to imagine how it could have gone differently. He hasn’t told any of them yet but it really was his fault that Legend got so hurt. Beyond the incidents with those stupid birds at the bottom and with a stray Lynel’s fireballs at the top, they hadn't run into many issues up and down the mountain beyond typical hazards. Not even in the Mountain Tower had they encountered much resistance. It wasn't until they got back down and back through the nearest portal that there were any problems. They were waiting for them. It was a small hoard of infected monsters, and they blindsided Legend the second he stepped through that damned portal. From there it was a blur of a battle, they were trying desperately to get past them and escape. The entrance to the woods was right there, they would have made it.

If he hadn’t fucked up that is.

There had been a space between two of the enemies, just big enough to dart through as a wolf. He took the chance, but that was a mistake. The monsters were faster than he thought, and they closed the gap before he reached it, resulting in him having to skid into a halt and being vulnerable to the club that loomed over his head. Legend had protected him, getting that nasty gash on his head from the force of the blow and knocking him out cold. Twilight is sad to say he panicked, his protective instincts flaring wildly. He’s not exactly sure what happened next, but when he regained a bit of sanity he had Legend on his back precariously and was leaving behind the slain bodies of the monsters from the ambush.

He ran.

Dodging the few monsters and agitated villagers, as fast as he could, he ran for the grove. He knew Legend needed healing quickly. He was seriously hurt, and Twilight didn't have hands or supplies to tend to him. Of course they ran into a mob of monsters right outside the entrance to the grove. They blindsided him, sending both him and his wounded companion flying. He scrambled to protect him, howling in an attempt to alert the nearby heroes. Thank the goddesses it worked.

“Pup.”

Twilight's head snaps up, breaking his self loathing train of thought to meet the gaze of his mentor. Time’s expression is unreadable, masked behind the calm of a full grown adult who has taken responsibility as a leader. There’s no judgement there, no disappointment. He does see a glint of worry in his eyes and that makes him drop his eyes down to the ground again. Time sits down beside him quietly. They watch the crackling fire together for a moment, Twilight growing more and more tense as the silence persists. Just when he believes he cannot take it anymore, Time speaks again.

“It’s not your fault, pup.”

“It was, Time.”

“Why do you think that?”

“If I hadn’t have made a stupid move…”

“What was stupid about it?”

“I was trying to dart through a gap between some infected enemies. There were too many to fight like I was… Legend has ways to fight groups of enemies, but I don’t anymore really. I thought if I got out of the way…”

“You saw a chance and took it.”

“Yeah…”

“There’s nothing wrong with that. Legend will tell you that himself when he wakes up.”

“He got knocked out trying to save me though!”

“How many times have the rest of us done the same for each other?”

“.....”

“We’re brothers here, pup. We fight for each other. We watch each other's backs. You were trying to help, and while it may not have worked out, you still made it out in the end. Legend may have protected you, but he is here because you protected him too. He’s going to be okay, don't beat yourself up over what could have been. You’ll drive yourself mad with thoughts like that.”

Twilight sighs softly and stares into the fire once again. He knows his mentor is correct, but he still just can't shake the feeling of guilt. His eyes drift slowly to the form of the veteran. He looks so small when he’s not snarking at everyone within hearing distance. They share the same pain, and being the older of the two the rancher feels responsible for him. That is what must be causing him to feel so much guilt and doubt. He also logically knows the vet wouldn't have let him go with him if he hadn’t trusted him to watch his back. He feels like he betrayed that trust. All these different factors have just coalesced into a dark shroud of self doubt.

“When he wakes up, I’m sure he will tell you in his own snarky way that you’re being an idiot for thinking it is your fault.”

Twilight glares slightly at the old man for that side comment only to receive a small smile in return.

“You should get some rest, pup. You need it after today.”

Twilight grimaces, “I can’t… I want to be there when he wakes up to…”

He cuts himself off and shyly peeks at Time who has an eyebrow raised at him.

“You were about to say ‘apologize’, weren't you?”

“I just…”

“Twilight. Go to sleep. If this place is as dangerous as Legend led us to believe then we need everyone at their best. That includes you.”

Twilight sighs and his shoulders slump. That’s Time’s no nonsense tone, the one he always gets when anyone is doing something stupid that could get them or any of the others hurt. Once again their de facto leader is right. He feels exhaustion and aching in every pore of his body, and only his anxiety over Legend is keeping him awake. It threatens to drag him down into the abyss of slumber but he just wanted to make absolutely sure the grumpy bunny was going to be alright. With Time and Hyrule reassuring him it is getting harder to resist the call to relax and let go. He feels like his inner wolf is snarling at him to protect and keep guard. Time is there though, and he reluctantly lets him guide him to his sleeping role beside Wild. It's not a seamless transition, and it takes until the end of Time’s watch for him to finally just give in to the pull of sleep. Time sighs softly to himself with a small smile.

“...Is he finally out?”

Time turns to face the bleary eyes of their smithy.

“I didn’t wake you for your shift, what are you doing up?”

“I was restless, I suppose. Worried about them. Is Twi asleep? And is Legend awake?”

“The pup just fell asleep, and I do not believe Legend has stirred yet. There hasn’t been anything else either.”

Four stretches and hops up from their spot.

“Alright, It’s my turn anyway. I was originally gonna talk to Twilight in case you didn’t work on him, but I guess I had no reason to worry.”

“Are you doubting me?” Time asks amused.

“No, I’m doubting the rancher. I’ve seen him panic over me, Wild, Wind and Hyrule. I figured Legend would be the next in line to experience his protective wolf tendencies, regardless of what you say to him. Even though he is asleep now, I bet you he is going to hover over Legend the entire day tomorrow.”

The old man nods to concede the point, Twilight does have a tendency to be over protective of the younger members of the group. Byproduct of being the eldest child in his village, and the older brother tendencies such an occurrence caused him to develop. He leaves the younger boy to his task, settling down with the faint crack of a few bones protesting the movement. Within a few minutes only the boy remains awake.

Four quietly tends to his sword, making sure it is adequately cared for. This precious weapon that is both the bane of his existence and yet the greatest boon he could have ever asked for. Their eyes drift towards their most wounded party member. They remember vaguely his suspicious looks towards this blade when they first all met up, how his eyes lit up briefly in recognition, and they are only now recalling the brief glance before he left with Twilight. They didn’t think about it in their confusion at the visceral fear the veteran was portraying, but now that it’s quiet and not as tense they can sit back and consider the facts. Does whatever is going on have something to do with the Four Sword? What exactly is Legend hiding from them all? Is Dark going to use it to harm the Chain? There are too many variables and they unfortunately do not have all of them. That requires Legend to be awake and answer their questions.

As if to answer his silent musings, near the end of their shift they see movement from Legend. They stay silent watching him struggle into awareness and only move when it's apparent that the older boy is panicking and confused. They kneel beside him and lay a gentle hand on his shoulder.

“Steady, Veteran. It’s alright. You and Twilight made it back safe to the camp. Hyrule has already tended to you both.”

Legend settles for a moment, his panic fading slightly, before he props himself up just enough to glance around the clearing as if making sure each and every one of them are accounted for. The utter relief on his face catches Four off guard and startles him into speaking again.

“I think you owe us some answers, Vet.”

Said boy tenses up and uncharacteristically avoids meeting their gaze. Four backs off for a moment, handing over a water flask and letting him steady himself on a few sips before trying again.

“You leave in a near panic and come back torn to shreds. Leaving us with only a vague understanding of this world. You’re the only one who knows this place and what we possibly could be doing here. What’s going on Legend?”

Four knows they are pressing and it is slightly unfair to ambush their injured friend like this, but the odd feeling from before has returned and they want answers. They watch as Legend slumps back to the ground with his eyes closed. He breathes out a deep sigh and then cracks open his eyes, glancing at the sword for a long moment before meeting Four’s gaze.

“I heard it from some of the denizens as we passed through the town. I could feel it as we skirted the canyon, and each time we jumped between the light and dark worlds. There’s only one place we could possibly be put here to go to. The ugly ass yellow monstrosity in the center of the damn map. It’s been pulsing with strange magic that is causing nearly all monsters to steer clear from it.”

His gaze falls away and turns to the direction that Four has been feeling the strange yearning pull from. Four feels as if someone has walked over their grave as Legend’s gaze focuses on something they cannot see, a memory nearly forgotten, dragged back into focus suddenly and dramatically. Legend takes a shaky breath.

“The place where I had my first final battle with Ganon. We’re going to the Pyramid of Power.”

Chapter Text

Morning brings with it the dulcet tones of Hyrule’s stern admonishment of Legend’s actions for the previous day. Rupees change hands as the traveler pointedly details how absolutely idiotic it was for Legend to push so hard in his efforts to get back as fast as possible leading to to a lowered guard between both him and Twilight and resulting in their injuries. Legend is very visibly biting his tongue against retaliating, his successor being one of the only ones he doesn't like snapping back against. Regardless, spirits around the camp are a great deal higher than they were the night before, Twilight is also in much better spirits after his talk with Time and Hyrule during the night as well as the stiff words of salt covered gratitude the veteran threw his way once he awoke to find him awake.

Most of the rest of the boys are ribbing each other about their transformations now that there’s time to breathe and actually consider the reasoning. There's already been some nitpicking at Warriors for being a loyal dog and Wild for being a mangy fox. They would have made fun of Four for being a mouse, but they had already given a look of danger towards Wind for even mentioning it so they all left it alone. There is curiosity towards what Sky’s possibly could have been, and what Legend’s was the first time he entered the Dark World. Sky and Twilight share a look at this comment from the captain and have to muffle their snickers under the piercing glare of their beloved salt mine as he continues to receive a tirade of sugar filled poison from their healer.

“Alright, enough banter, we need to plan out what our plan is for the day,” Time interjects. The boys settle down, starting to pack all their equipment away as they listen. Time turns to Legend who's currently letting Hyrule check him over to make sure he is well enough to travel.

“Well, Vet? I know you already told the smith, but you want to explain to the rest of us where exactly we are going and what dangers we would have to face?”

Legend takes a deep breath, “We need to go to the Pyramid of Power. It's the most centralized location of the Dark World, the same place as Hyrule Castle in the Light World actually. It’s where the Triforce was kept before the corruption. The few rumors we heard going through town speak of a strange magic seeping out of it, which is highly unusual, especially since it is keeping monsters away from it when there are usually at least a few Hinox in front of it.”

He shifts and frowns a bit, “It’s honestly not too terribly far away, just out of the woods down the road past the shop and up over the bridge to the rock field. Then over to the left from there. As long as no one does anything stupid like wander off,” a pointed look at Wild here, “Then we should get there in a few hours.”

“I am not that bad! I just like exploring! Hyrule does it too, why didn’t he get a look?!”

“Because unlike you, he doesn’t get himself in dangerous situations when he gets lost. Speaking of danger, don't talk to any of the trees. Some of them will spit bombs at you because they are assholes. Don't get in the water either. Don't touch the skull rocks.”

“The trees talk? I thought that was only something the Deku Tree could do,” Wind mutters.

“Yeah, well some of the trees here are actually people who wandered into this world and got transformed,” Legend deadpans, “Some of the actual monsters are too, but most people take on monstrous forms anyway. Honestly, I’m surprised you all turned into animals and not some other random creature or object. I met a guy who transformed into a ball for Farore’s sake. Count yourselves lucky that I had enough pearls, some people with pure hearts can’t last in this world long,” His gaze drifts to the weird tree figure that was sitting on the stump in the center of the clearing. They had been ignoring it because of other pressing matters, and by their veterans tone they know better to ask. He sighs and looks to the sky with a glare.

“I’m just glad that after I beat Ganon, all these poor lost souls got their lives back.”

“...Legend. How old were you?” Warriors asks quietly. Most of the rest of the Chain has already divulged their ages at the start of their adventures, Legend and Time were the only ones who were cagey about when they started.

“...Not the youngest. I turned eleven somewhere in the middle of the adventure I believe.”

There's a deep moment of sorrow that filters through them. They were almost all too young, some like Warriors, Wild, Sky and Twilight got lucky and their problems did not start until they were already in their late teens. The remaining five were very unlucky indeed. Four, Time, Hyrule, Legend and Wind were pulled into their first adventures at the respective ages of eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelve. Regardless of luck, or apparent age of majority, none of them were really adults when they had their lives torn apart by fate. What were the goddesses thinking…

Time gently claps the vet on the shoulder, “The important thing is you survived and succeeded in the end. It’s a shame you were also pulled into everything at a young age, but you’ve done very well for yourself. Now we should probably go ahead and get started.”

Legend nods and leads the way out of the grove warily. The rest of the group take the time to finally pay attention to their surroundings. The murky light from the sky gives the world around them a muted and unnerving illumination. The trees seem more like a fungus and the grass is a dead looking grayish brown. Legend was right, some of them actually seem to be looking at them as they pass by. Then there's the flowers, blooming vibrantly but with a sickly poisonous color, taunting them to take a closer look. Twilight has to drag Wild away from trying to pick any after a comment from Legend about their hallucinogenic effect.

Everything seems to be going well, which is exactly when they realized something was wrong.

“Uh guys? Where’s Hyrule?” Sky suddenly interjects into the quiet tension.

Everyone freezes, the tension skyrocketing as they frantically look around for their missing healer. He’s nowhere to be found. Legend sighs and he sounds so tired but his facial expression shows that he expected this.

“I swear… It’s like he’s cursed… Everyone stay here, don't move an inch!”

“Legend you should really take someone with you.”

“I can move faster alone, Time. I’m not in a rush this time either. There’s places he could have somehow gotten to that none of you would ever be able to reach. I just hope he didn’t somehow miraculously end up in the Swamp of Evil.”

“Do I even want to know what that is exactly?” Warriors groans.

Legend smirks a bit, “It's a swamp of course. Except that you can’t get in and you can’t get out.”

“If you can’t get in or out, how would Hyrule end up there?” Four muses in amusement.

“That’s why I said miraculously, but I fully believe he could. It would be just our luck. I’ll be back, keep an eye on this one,” he points at Wild, “So I don't have to go get his ass too.”

Wild glowers, “Is this pick on Wild day or something? I don’t do it all the time you know.”

“You make it easy, Cub.”

The group chuckles in collective amusement and Legend slips away to start his search, hoping the little sprite didn’t wander too far off. He has too much to worry about without also having to worry about losing his successor. He is afraid, absolutely terrified. He never thought he would see this world again, he had made sure of it. Yet, here they are, and he has a feeling he knows exactly why they are here. He doesn't know how the shadow found out about it, he never told anyone except Ravio and he knows that he wouldn't talk about it. It's his biggest regret next to Koholint, and it wasn't until he met the rest of the chain that he realized how big it truly was. Meeting Four had thrown his entire world off, learning he carried the Four Sword even more so.

He shakes off these memories, trying to focus more on his search for their missing member. He decides to search near the Swamp Palace first, as it is the closest place the boy may have wandered off too. It's also nearly swarming with enemies, which doesn't bode well for Hyrule if he walked into a horde. Oh, but what if he wandered even further towards the Ice Lake and fell into the water? The kid can’t swim! He should have known! Wait, no, he did know he just thought it would be okay since they weren't going too far. Damnit. When he finds him, he’s going to hold his hand like a mother leading her child. Maybe he should invest in a child leash or something. Hero or not, they all have too much of a tendency to wander into trouble to be disappearing on their own like this much longer. The stakes have been getting higher recently, creatures that had long since disappeared are reemerging, and places that should no longer exist are suddenly destinations.

They all still have their secrets too. Legend knows some of his are about to fall apart, Twilight’s already have and, by the end of this mess of a world, Four’s might as well. He is not afraid to call these men his brothers now, even if the fear of it being a dream still haunts him in his sleep. They would all die for each other at this point, secrets or not. He just hopes they can forgive him for his secrets.

He hops up on a rock and peers out across the Great Swamp, glaring idly at the few enemies nearby. There’s not nearly as many as he thought, which is a big red flag. He listens for any sounds of conflict, his ears may not be as sensitive as Wild’s, but it is good enough for the size of this place. He doesn't hear anything beyond the usual sounds of the swamp. He squares his shoulders and hops down, heading further into the swap in his search.

Back with the chain, the boys have finally decided to start questioning each other. Specifically Twilight about why he decided to hide the fact that he was Wolfie all this time. He shifts awkwardly and looks away with guilt.

“Well, it's dark magic for one. I know some of you have issues with that. People in my world always saw me as a monster too. I got so used to hiding it from everyone, it never crossed my mind that I could actually tell anyone until we had been together for a while, and by then I felt it was too late.”

“I didn’t have a problem with it, Twi, and Legend didn't either when he found out. At that point you already had half of us knowing. Why didn't you go ahead and tell the rest?” Four points out.

His shoulders hunch up. “I was just scared I guess, I wanted everyone to like me and I didn't want to give anyone a reason not to. I’m sorry.”

Time claps him on the shoulder, “It’s alright, Cub. None of us can fault you for keeping secrets when we’ve got a boatload of them between us all.”

“I just wanna know how the heck Four found out,” Wind grumbles.

Four smirks a little, “Wouldn't you like to know?”

“That’s what I just said!”

“Hmmm, I think I’ll pass on that knowledge for now.”

“Oh, come on! You can’t just leave us hanging like that smithy!” Warriors goads the small hero.

“I can and I will, I don’t need to expose my own secrets to satisfy your curiosity for how I discovered someone else's.”

“You could be vague about it? I mean, I’m honestly curious about how you found out, too.” Wild points out with an amused side glance at the other two who are practically begging with their looks at the blacksmith.

“I was vague about it,” Four says with a straight face. The three look at him blankly for a long moment and Twilight and Time have to hide their smiles at the utter confusion on their faces. Sky also looks somewhat confused, but is the first to catch on.

“Oh! So you two discovered each other's secrets at the same time!”

“Wait what!” Wind gasps.

Wild whirls on Twilight who just gives him a stern look, “No.”

“But Twi!”

“I’m not saying anything unless Four gives the word, he kept my secret so I will show the same courtesy.”

Wild whines while Wind and Warriors continue to poke and prod and Four’s defenses, much to their amusement.

“Enough,” Time calls out, drawing the complaining into silence, “It is not fair for you to be trying to siphon secrets from each other without offering your own in turn. Twilight had his secret revealed unwillingly, it does not entitle you to anyone else’s.”

“Sorry, Time.” The three wilt under his stern gaze, Four snickering in amusement.

 

You’ll have to tell them your secrets regardless, Rainbow.

 

Fours head snaps around again towards the direction of the Pyramid, face draining to white and frozen in shock. There is no way that they can deny what they heard this time. Their colors are clamoring, nearly falling into chaos and only the knowledge of the presence of the other heroes keeping them together. Their heart aches and longs to follow the voice to its source, heedless of the dangers around them.

“Four? What's wrong?” Sky asks gently in worry, hands out to steady the suddenly unsteady hero. His words draw the attention of the others, who also fall into worry at the expression on their smallest member's face.

"W- I th-thought I heard... something? B-But there's no… no way..."

“Smithy? Four? Hey, what did you think you heard?” Warriors lowers his head down to meet their gaze and does a violent double take, “Woah, what the fuck? Four your eyes!”

Their normally grey eyes are reflecting the inner chaos of the colors, flickering between red and blue and green and violet so fast that it’s dizzying to watch. Their body is so tense it's trembling. Sky wraps an arm around them to try and ground them, glaring at Wind and Wild when they try to crowd forward and see what Warriors is talking about. Time opens his mouth to try and calm everyone down and get to the core of the issue.

“Hey guys, we’re back. Found our missing wanderer about to fall into a lake and drown.”

“I wasn’t about to fall, Legend. I was just curious. You don’t have to be so upset.”

“I told you not to wander off and the first thing you do is wander off, I’m not upset I’m pissed! I vouched for you and you made me into a liar. Shame on you.”

“Sorry… Uh, guys? What’s wrong?”

The two stop, confused by the scene before them.

“Somethings wrong with Four!” Wind shouts gesturing towards the still trembling teen. Sky and Time speaking softly with them, trying to draw him back from wherever his mind has wandered in his shocked state. Hyrule hurries over to help, missing the pained look on Legends face as his eyes alight on Four. With a sudden intake of breath, Four’s eyes snap back to gray and meet Legends gaze. Something silent passes between them, an understanding of fragile secrets being kept.

“We should keep going,” Four finally says quietly after a moment.

“What? Four you just had a panic attack!” Sky says aghast. 

“I’m fine, we should just really get going.”

“Four…” Time starts.

“Just… please?” His gaze moves to Time’s pleadingly. Time searches his eyes for any traces of the strange colorful panic before slowly nodding.

“Alright, if you’re sure. Tell us if it happens again, though. Legend, lead the way.”

Legend nods and turns down the road, ignoring the protests of the others who are needling at Four to explain what just happened. The smithy moves up beside Legend to escape from them, the Veterans glare deterring any from trying to come closer. They turn to Time instead, pleading their case. Time doesn’t relent, simply urging them to keep up. They travel along the road, monsters nowhere in sight and an uneasy silence falling upon them. There’s a tension in the air, a hum of power that can just faintly be felt. By the time they pass by the shop, every last one of them are on guard. Once they cross the bridge a few even become twitchy, and there are a few accidents where they nearly draw their weapons on each other due to a breath being too loud or a scuff of a shoe. Legend continues to lead them onward, eyes fixed to the pyramid ahead of them. There are wordless exclamations of surprise at its size and the power radiating from it that they can now see and feel in full force once they cross onto the peninsula where it resides. 

“Legend? Is that… that feeling what you were talking about? That hum of power?”

“No. That's how it usually feels, it's what draws in the monsters. It's called the Pyramid of Power for a reason. The strange magic is up underneath it. Can you feel the discord? Listen, it’s calling for something.”

The heroes pause and listen for a moment. Sure enough, just barely noticeable under the hum of power from the pyramid there's a melodic pull that makes the hum just barely off putting. The two magics clash in disharmony.

“Where is that coming from?” Hyrule murmurs. Legend points to the right side of the pyramid, up on the second level. There's two statues there framing a jagged hole in the wall, the darkness within seeming to beckon them closer.

“That’s where it's coming from, and where we need to go. Come on.”

He leads them up the steps and over above the entrance and one by one the Links drop down onto the ledge below. He stands before it, his gaze a little distant and locked into a memory before it drifts sideways to the smallest hero standing beside him. He squares his shoulders and leads the way inside past the torches and pillars lining the entry room and into the next. None of them have any idea what to expect, but statues that look achingly similar to their smithy was not one of their ideas. None of them have any idea what to expect, but statues that look achingly similar to their smithy was not one of their ideas. Colors marking the floor in the same shades as the tunic he wears. The statues brandishing a sword, the same sword that lies upon Four’s back. A monstrous looking gatekeeper leaning upon the base of one of the many statues who looks up at their approach and grins wickedly.

“Ah! You’re back again, I see. Strange, you look much different that I remember. You’ve brought friends too! I don’t see why, there's nothing left here for them to do since you already completed the challenge. Well, I suppose you could have a look around if you’re curious.”

He stands up straight and leans forward a bit, eyes glinting with secrets. The horrified and confused eyes of the chain turn towards Legend and Four as the gatekeeper speaks.

“Welcome, friends, to the Palace of the Four Sword.”

Chapter Text

“Welcome, friends, to the Palace of the Four Sword.”

Four stares at the veteran, who’s normally scowling face is marred with terror and guilt. They didn’t hear that right, did they? Palace of the Four Sword? It cannot be true, how does this place even exist? Why does it exist? Their head spins with unanswered questions and festering doubt. Their eyes, swirling with colors of distress, are slowly met with the pleading ocean blue of the veteran. The one who knew this place existed. Who didn’t tell them.

“Four…” 

“What the hell!” Warriors bursts out before Legend can get a word in, “You’ve been here before?! I thought none of us had heard of the Four Sword before we met the smithy! He asked and we all said no! Why did you lie?!”

“I…”

“What challenge was he talking about!? Why is this in the Pyramid?! Is this place dangerous?!” 

“N...No It's….”

“This is the Dark World right?! Why the hell is something connected to Four in this corrupted sacred realm?! Let alone in the damn Pyramid where you said you confronted Ganon!”

“I don’t….”

The rest of the chain watches in tense silence as the captain continues to interrogate the increasingly agitated and twitchy veteran. Their eyes occasionally flicking towards the smith and the sword upon his back. Four has adopted a blank expression as they skim over the details of the entrance hall, searching for answers to unasked questions. Their Flow is shaky and threatening to split apart. They can still feel that pull , coming from deeper in the so-called Palace, a whisper growing louder in the back of their mind. This place is somehow familiar and foreign at the same time.

The architecture looks eerily similar to that of the Elemental Sanctuary. None of the statues are colored, but the carpets leading to the various doorways are. Clockwise around the rooms the colors of Green, Blue, Violet and Red line the way and add a brightness to the otherwise stone gray of the room. Gold edging borders the various colors, but the paths of the carpets merge seamlessly with one another. They look down at the one beneath their feet and suck in a sharp breath. Dead center, leading from the entrance up to the platform which holds the most elaborate doorway, is a carpet so dark it feels as if it's trying to drag them down into its depths. It's so dark they can't tell what color it is exactly, it's not quite black, but it's hard to tell what it could be. Regardless, the presence of five colors instead of simply four sends a thrill of hope through them.

 

Come on, Rainbow, it's just a little further. Get those idiots to fuck off and get moving!

 

It's been so long…

 

Their head snaps back up towards the doorway straight ahead before their eyes drift back to meet Legend’s once more. Eyes filled with despair and wariness. Filled with fear. Something bad happened here. They feel anxiety curl low in their stomach, icy cold fear starting to seep into their heart.

“Legend, what happened to you? What happened here?”

The questions come to a screeching halt as the rest of the chain seem to finally clue in to the blanket of dark emotions that drapes across their veterans shoulders and curtains his gaze. He swallows thickly and opens and closes his mouth a few times, glancing around the room and the statues around them.

“....It was near the end of my first adventure.”

His voice starts out in a whisper, for once not being the loudmouth that he is. It's quiet, tense, as he lays out how he was searching around for anything else that could help him in his final battle with Ganon. There were a few rumors about the Pyramid hiding secrets, and while he did find the fairy who strengthened his sword he also found this place as well. A small fee was all that it took to be allowed entrance, and he took his time exploring the strange place. The puzzles were short but infuriating, and even more so the fact that he had to face stronger versions of enemies he had already vanquished.

“I don't know what I was thinking when hearing the place being called the Palace of the Four Sword, but I really shouldn't have been so surprised to find that Green Sword at the end of the first challenge. I went on to face the other challenges and collect the Red, Blue and Violet ones in turn.”

He details how he was able to break the barrier that had been placed over the final doorway, and how he had crossed a chasm to enter the final room. Once he stepped foot inside, the four swords leapt from his bag to hover over their respective marks on the floor, then seemingly ascended to the heavens.

He chuckles darkly, “I foolishly thought that was it. That I was going to get some big reward for finally making it to the end of the accursed place… Of course that's exactly when a sword came plunging for my head from above. Thank Farore for my reflexes, or I would have lost before the fight even started. It took a moment to recover from my sloppy dodge but when I looked back up I saw… Me. Dressed in green but cloaked in shadows and those piercing glowing eyes like they were staring into my soul.”

“A Dark?” Warriors scowls, expressions slightly pained as he remembers his own fight with one.

“That's what I thought at first. He looked like me and moved like me and even had my voice when it shouted as it attacked. However, he only ever used the dash attack with the pegasus boots beyond the regular hacking and slashing, he didn't use anything else that I could do. He was very aggressive, didn't leave many openings, and could leap out of the way unrealistically far to dodge, but I managed to defeat him. He faded away and I thought, ‘Finally.’ Then another one dropped from the ceiling… Wearing red.”

Four’s eyes widen slightly as they realize what Legend was saying. The rest of the chain is still confused, but Four knows what Legend is thinking. He might not know for sure, but Four’s tunic doesn't leave a lot of other probabilities. It's not too hard to connect four colored Links to four swords to the Four Sword that they carry on their back and their multicolored tunic. Four had been passing it off as the sword being forged by four elements, the secret kept safe by the ignorance of the others who easily accepted the claim. There's a reason the Zelda’s are the ones with the triforce of Wisdom. They forget, though, that some of them have held the full triforce. Multiple times in Legend’s case. If anyone was to figure them out it would have been him, they had been expecting it actually. They just hadn't been expecting this.

“Now this one, this red fucker. He was exactly the same as the first except he could use the hurricane spin. Which was unfair as hell because I sure couldn’t do that. He didn’t seem to have a limit on his uses either which, again, so unfair. I got cut up badly during the fight, not quite able to dodge out of the way every time. It was exhausting, and when I finally defeated him... I wasn't able to dodge the blue one.”

Four is shaking, unraveling slowly on the inside the more they listen to his tale. Paling at the mention of injury and brief brushes with death. 

“Luckily I still had like two fairies and two full potions with me. One of the fairies saved me and I recovered in time to dodge the next attack. The blue one was an asshole. The green one was straightforward and the red one danced circles around me but this one kept using down thrust attacks and just wouldn't stop. He could dash and spin like the others but was bound and determined to crack my head open.”

 

I… I would never!

 

Fuck.

 

This can’t be true, please no, it's not us right? Legend said they looked like him!

 

Not now. Please. Hold it together.

 

“It felt like hours that I was running from him before I finally took him down. I tensed up, waiting for the last one. Because there had to be a last one, all the rest of the colors had attacked me. The longer I waited the more confused and… afraid.. I became.” The words are spilling out of him without pause now, eyes frantic and hands shaking as he silently pleads with the others to understand. After all he went through in that first adventure so young, was this what made him break? Most of them had only faced one dark version of themselves, barring Warriors but he had help against his. Legend faced four back to back. Alone.

He chuckles darkly, “So of course that's when I get stabbed in the back.”

Four’s entire body flinches.

 

… I… That's… No…

 

Vio…

 

“Turns out the purple one had a damn magic cape like mine. He went invisible the second he dropped… If I hadn't had that second fairy it would have been over right then and there. As it was, he was the hardest to fight. I had to go through the rest of my potions just to beat him with barely any health left. Dash attacks, hurricane spin, down thrusts, going intangible wherever I tried to hit him and even sword beams. I’m honestly surprised I landed that last hit…”

 

That does sound like you, Vio…

 

The statues are of us… There's no doubt about that… If we somehow got… corrupted or…

 

We wouldn't! We’ve made sure we couldn't!

 

Have we, though? We are still missing a part of ourselves.

 

“What really got to me though, and what I couldn’t understand at the time, is what he said to me as he faded away…”

He smiles bitterly and glances at Four, “He looked up at me and smiled, his form changing to someone else for a brief moment. He said, ‘Congratulations, Legend. Good luck, see you later,’ and then disappeared. I didn’t even have a moment to try and ponder over his words because suddenly the swords were drifting down from the ceiling. They converged into a beautiful sword with a golden hilt, an iridescent sheen to its blade, and a rainbow gemstone set into the pommel. It radiated power, but I had a weird feeling about it… like it didn't want to leave yet... so I didn't take it with me, but I never forgot about it. It wasn't until we ran into the smithy before I finally started to understand…”

Their hands twitch and ever so slowly creep across their body as if holding themselves together. Which, they were, their mind was in utter chaos. They barely even register a few of their brothers staring at them in horror and growing worry.

Legend takes a deep shuddering breath, “I should have said something a long time ago about this, but I didn’t know how to go about it. At first I was just suspicious, yet the longer we all spent together the more terrified I got. What on earth would have had to happen to turn our level headed smithy into…”

He doesn't finish the sentence. He doesn't have to. 

There's uneasy silence, broken only by the shuddering breaths of the veteran and smithy. The rest of the group is reeling at the mountain of information that was suddenly thrust upon them. That was more detailed than anything Legend had told them about his adventures before. He always keeps his cards close to his chest, but this time he just tossed them everywhere and is leaving it to the rest of them to pick them up one at a time.

“T-the blade… Where did you leave it?” Four suddenly speaks up, words slightly slurred as if speaking has become difficult. All four aspects of themselves are no longer in Flow, but they're not completely separate like after a jump either, leading to a weird overlap in control where Four still exists at the same time the colors are conscious of their individual selves.

“In the final room… there wasn't a pedestal or anything to put it in so I just wrapped it up carefully in a spare blanket and left it in the center.”

“Show us.”

“Four….”

“We need to see. To know for sure.”

Time lays a gentle, grounding hand on their shoulder and turns to the Veteran, “Lead the way, let's uncover the truth about this together. We can decide what to do once we confirm what exactly is going on.”

“Confirm what's going on?! Old man, it sounds like Four got corrupted!!!! How are you being so calm about it!?” Warriors blurts out without thinking.

“We don’t know that for sure, Wars,” Twilight growls at him, the tension in the group rising as the realizations sink in.

“How would it even happen? Would he get infected with black blood or malice? Is that even possible?” Wild muses, fiddling with his slate as if it would give him answers.

“Maybe he still has another adventure after this and something bad happens?” Hyrule adds hovering by Four’s elbow and peering into his swirling eyes worriedly.

“Hero’s don't have good endings a lot of the time,” Legend murmurs, looking more haunted than ever, “Sometimes they fall to the very darkness they tried to fight.”

“Four wouldn't do that! He’s one of the most stable of us all!” Wind argues.

“Guys, please calm down, you’re making it worse,” Sky frets hovering on Fours other side and watching as the small smithy clutches tighter at their body.

“Boys,” Time snaps gruffly, freezing everyone in place. Four is trembling so hard they’re shaking his entire arm that still rests its hand upon their shoulder. 

“...Right, it's this way,” Legend shakes off his memories and steels himself, turning for the centermost doorway and not looking back again as he marches forward. Time pushes Four forward past the rest of them, who slowly fall in line behind as they all enter a room that's pitch black save for the pillars of torches lining the right side of the empty space. Legend doesn't falter and easily steps off onto nothingness, seemingly walking on air. An invisible floor. Time doesn't falter either as he guides their smith across the chasm, but it takes a bit of prompting for a few of the others to step foot off the platform. As it is they all enter the room in time to see Four drop to his knees beside the wrapped bundle in the middle of the room, Time and Legend watching and tense in their waiting. Four hesitates and slowly unfolds the edges to reveal a gleaming, shimmering sword nearly identical to the one upon his back.

 

It is… It's the Four Sword… How?

 

It's not exactly the same though is it?

 

No, it's way more iridescent and look at the jewel in the pommel, ours doesn't look like that, it's black in its base state not a rainbow, and the ribbon on ours is just white not black and white.

 

Its fucking pulsating, what the hell?!

 

The sword is indeed pulsing visibly, and an aura of light reminiscent of an aurora ringing it and reaching out for them, begging for them to take it in hand. It feels exactly the same as the pull that's been haunting them since they arrived in this world. This close, they have no choice but to obey the call, they cannot resist. They grab the hilt before either Time or Legend can stop them and the sword seems to let out a sigh of relief.

 

Finally! You're here! It was a long wait, but now it's time to end this. Or start it, it honestly depends on how you look at it. Just don't get too mad, Rainbow.

 

That's all the warning they get before their body starts moving on its own. They try to fight against it causing their movement to be visibly erratic and choppy. The others stop dead in shock as they catch sight of Four’s eyes, no longer swirling with colors and instead pitch black. Like completely black, no iris or sclera, just a void that they cannot tell if it's focused on them or not. 

“Four!” Legend shouts and lunges to try and rip the blade from his grasp, but it is pulled out of the way at the last second leaving the veteran to stumble past into Time’s chest who reaches up to steady him as he eyes Four warily. Four’s face turns to meet his gaze for a moment before turning towards the doorway and starting forward.

“Stop him!” Legend calls.

“Uh, how exactly do we do that without hurting Four?!” Wind asks warily backing up into Warriors. 

“Knock the sword out of his hand or something!”

Four tilts his head and the sword in his hand chimes audibly in the air, reminiscent of crystal wind chimes that twinkle in the wind. Everyone startles a bit at that, and then startles twice as hard when the Master Sword chimes back. Sky stares back over his shoulder at the hilt of the blade in shock.

“Fi?”

A softer chime in answer before it chimes loudly back at the Four Sword. The Four Sword answers back, and there's a brief back and forth before the Master Sword falls silent and Four starts forward again.

“Sky, what the hell just happened?” Warriors asks hand on his sword in preparation to draw but hesitating because this is their comrade and he doesn't want to hurt him.

“Fi? Should we let him pass?”

A brief soft chime.

“Fi says to let him pass?”

“What?!? Has she gone senile?!” Legend storms forward.

Sky scowls at him, “No, she hasn't! Don't disrespect her decision that way!!”

“I mean, he’s not being hostile,” Twilight points out, eying the small teen and how he's stopped right before them patiently waiting.

“We could just follow him and see what's going on?” 

“And what, traveler, get led right into a trap?” 

“Captain, I don't think we will.”

“You and Hyrule have walked straight into enemy camps, Wild, I don't think you're the best judge of that.”

“You’re also not the best judge either, captain, you have a grudge against anyone who seems to be traitorous or involved with dark magic.”

“Time… come on you can’t be serious.”

“Let him pass, we will follow to make sure nothing happens to him.”

Slowly, and reluctantly in some cases, the boys move out of the way of the door. Only then does Four proceed back out of the room, but as he starts to cross the chasm he stops. A third of the way he turns directly to his right and starts walking forwards once more. Legend’s eyes widen in surprise as the smith walks straight between two of the pillars out across the dark pit.

“What the…. Was that always there?!”

“You didn't know about this?” Twilight hesitantly edges out behind Four, finding there is indeed a path leading to the side.

“No! There's nothing over there!”

“Apparently there is now.”

“I don't need your sarcasm, Wild.”

“Uh, guys, I think he's waiting for us.” 

They look over to see that Four has stopped on the other side of the pit and is looking back in their direction.

“So, I’m not the only one who finds this terrifyingly creepy, right?”

“No, sailor, you’re not.”

The group slowly inches towards Four, and barring a scary moment where Wild somehow found the edge of the path and nearly toppled off, they all make it over to him safely. The smith then starts leading them to the right again, back in the direction of the final room but on the other side. The Four Sword glows briefly and symbols appear on the wall and then fade away to reveal another doorway.

“A hidden room?” Legend murmurs.

Four glances back briefly before leading the way inside, and what they find is surprising. It looks almost like a sanctuary. There's four pedestals topped with stone carvings identical to the symbols tailored onto Four’s tunic. The back wall is decorated with those same symbols in the four corners, the center of the wall taken up by what looks to be a carved poem. The floor is carpeted with soft grass and dirt, the walls to either side flowing with water and flanked by braziers of bright fire that flicker with the soft wind that mysteriously blows through. Stepping stones line the way in geometric designs circling the pedestal at the center of the room. A pedestal with a place specifically to rest a sword.

“Is this…. The resting place of the Four Sword?” Sky breathes.

“It’s beautiful,” Hyrule gasps.

“Was the sword just waiting all this time to return to its proper resting place?” Wild frowns, “And if so why didn't it just get Legend to do it.”

“Maybe it wanted its true master, Fi does favor Sky after all,” Warrior huffs.

“Fi is a sword spirit and they are loyal to a fault, from that chiming earlier I think the Four Sword has a spirit too.”

“Four never mentioned one.”

“Maybe his doesn't have one yet?”

“How are they even created?”

“I don't know, Fi already existed when I got her, I just tempered her blade.”

As the group debates the origins of the sword and the possibility of a spirit, Four steps forward towards the pedestal. The sword is raised high and then plunged down into its proper resting place and all movement in the room stops. The water freezes, the wind dies, the fires fade, and the ground trembles in anticipation. Four gasps and stumbles back from the pedestal, freed from the momentary control, as an aurora appears above the blade and slowly darkens and condenses into a figure.

 

What the hell just happened!?

 

Were we possessed?

 

Uh, doesn't that silhouette look really similar to Vaati?

 

It can't be, we defeated him for good! Right?

 

The figure opens its eyes, eyes that are blank white slates. It's disconcerting to look at, the image not quite all there, the lack of color making it seem like a ghost or a shadow drifting in the air. They can make out a cloak and a cap, possibly a sleeve and maybe the edge of a tunic. One of its arms raises and the sudden exclamations of the others cause them to whirl around. There's a barrier of rainbow colored light separating Four from the rest of the group. Legend and Twilight are beating uselessly against it, the others calling out for him to watch out. 

They whirl back around as the figure lifts their other arm and the four pillars are engulfed in columns of shadow. From those columns, four separate shadowy beings appear. Ones that look exactly like Four, dressed in darker shades of the colors of his tunic.

 

Oh no.

 

It's us!!

 

Do we have to fight them?!

 

It might be the only way to get to the bottom of this, to figure out what happened and what's going on.

 

The figure shifts, “That's right, Rainbow, conquer yourself once more and you will find the answers you seek. Show your brothers who you truly are.”

 

It wants us to split.

 

We can't!

 

There’s no point in hiding anymore, Blue, and we can't fight four to one.

 

They’ll understand right?

 

I think they will, we can give them the full version of it later.

 

...Fucking fine.

 

Four reaches up slowly, grasping the hilt of the precious sword on their back. The one they poured their soul into forging. The blade that has both been a blessing and curse alike. The one that showed them unity in the different facets of themselves. 

As they raise the blade to the sky, a flash of light blinds the group behind them as it filters through the prism of the sword. One becomes four, and the silhouette smiles at the determined faces of the colors before it. As dark faces bright in preparation for battle, the figure whispers quietly to itself.

 

“Prove that it wasn’t a mistake. That we weren’t wrong.”

Chapter Text

The bad thing about fighting dark evil versions of yourself is that they know exactly where to hit you where it hurts. Which is why none of the colors are surprised when their opponents’ first order of business is to split them up and force them back into the corners for one on one fights. They had been working for years to perfect their teamwork and flow together in perfect harmony, and were used to watching each others’ backs when split, but now they were on their own and facing down themselves. Blades clash in a cacophony of sound, punctuated by Blue’s outraged curses and Vio’s sarcastic remarks.

Those trapped behind the veil of light watch in shock and awe. Twilight and Legend are still trying to find a way to break through the barrier, Legend beating on it hard enough to break skin, and prompting Hyrule to drag him back in an attempt to prevent him from causing himself more damage.

“Let me go, Rule!!”

“I didn’t heal you just so you could get yourself beat up by a magic wall!!”

“We have to help them! Four didn’t have any potions or fairies on him at all! We can’t let him… them… fight this alone!”

“They’re not alone,” Time says quietly and stern, “They have each other, and the benefit of knowing exactly what they’re fighting against. They’ll be fine.”

“Time…. Darks are tricky manipulative bastards. You can’t be condoning us just sitting to the side,” Warriors insists.

“They’re holding up pretty well, though. Now I see where Four’s fighting style comes from, it's a combination of the four… What are they exactly? Parts? Personalities? Personas?” Wild murmurs.

“Well it explains his name now, he’s literally four,” Wind grumbles, “I thought he just couldn't decide on a favorite color.”

They all tense up as cold laughter echoes in the room, the overlapping voices of the darks cackling in unison. The four colors shuffle back warily as their dark counterparts slow their relentless attacks to focus on each of them. It is the dark green one that speaks first.

 

“Aren't you tired?”

 

Green blinks in confusion as he blocks another attack, “What?”

 

“Aren't you tired? Always having to corral them, taking charge, being responsible. Don't you wish you could just give up?”

 

“What?! No!!”

 

Come now. Don’t you remember how it started? None of you were in sync at all. Always arguing and fighting with one another. Having to deal with Red’s emotions and Blue’s temper and Vio’s despair. It was all so exhausting. Still is.”

 

“W-what are you talking about? We’ve perfected our Flow. Sure it was rough at the start but we’re a part of each other, we worked through it and now we are closer than ever.”

 

“You don’t really believe that do you? There are still days where you all fall apart no matter what you try. When your motivation to keep them all together falters.”

 

Green falters for a second, his heart stuttering with doubt, and the dark takes the opportunity to push him back and upset his balance, knocking him to the ground and drawing the attention of another color. Blue’s eyes widen as he sees their leader hit the ground.

“Green! You Bastard!” He growls and turns to attempt to rescue his brethren but has to throw himself backwards to avoid getting his head cut off by his own opponent. Who snickers at the glare thrown his way and smirks in a taunting way.

 

“Why are you trying to save him? You shouldn't, you know. With him gone you can take your rightful place as the leader.”

 

“What the hell are you on about?”

 

“I mean that aren't you sick of always being bossed around and held back? Don’t you wanna finally let loose, take charge, and finally put those idiots down. No more of Green snapping at you for disobeying or Red complaining because you’re not being a team player or Vio taunting you into rage. You could finally tell them what to do, and would have the authority to enforce it.”

 

“The fuck! That's not how we do shit! They’re important to me, I would never do that!”

 

“Well you certainly don’t act like they’re important to you. Always screaming at them and putting them down and brushing them off. How many times has Red come to you for help only for you to tell him you're too busy. How many times has Vio asked for your opinion only for you to be a bitch about it and drive him off.”

 

Blue scowls and grips his sword tighter, trying to control his rage. How dare this bastard imply that he doesn't care. He does! It's just hard to show it sometimes! He ducks another swing and then curses as a second swipe leaves a cut on his cheek. Sloppy, he's being so sloppy!

“Blue!” Red calls desperately, not used to seeing his azure counterpart faltering in a fight.

 

“Eyes on me firebrand. I am your opponent. Why would you care about that asshole anyway? He’s mean and cruel. Always calling you a crybaby as if the emotions you feel are shameful. Even Green and Vio can’t handle you.”

 

“T-that’s not true! We all love each other!”

 

“You mean you love them. You tell them all the time. Yet, they’ve never told you the same have they? Always rolling their eyes at you, telling you that you’re overreacting and being childish. They only ever placate you or avoid you whenever you’re at your most emotional. You’re just a burden to them.”

 

“No! That’s not true!” 

Red’s eyes water and his guard drops allowing his dark reflection to get in close and disarm him. Red yelps in surprise, drawing the attention of the last color. Vio’s eyes flick across the space of the sanctuary. Taking in their brothers pressed up against the wall blocking them and calling out to them in worry, to Green struggling back to his feet with a look of determination and focus, to Blue attempting to channel his rage into a weapon he can use, to Red yanking out his fire rod with emotion burning in his eyes. His eyes last alight on his dark reflection, who is no longer even attempting to fight with him.

“Why aren't you trying to get into my head like the rest of them?” Vio asks warily. The dark violet shade smiles bitterly, stepping up close to whisper in his ear.

 

“Nothing I can say will ever be able to hurt you more than what you already think about yourself.” 

 

Vio grimaces in understanding. He’s been thinking self deprecating thoughts since the mirror shattered along with his heart. ‘Traitor. Heartless. Worthless. You don’t deserve them. You didn't deserve him .’ Running himself into the ground with research, plotting with Dot, slipping silently through the house at night when the demons in his head wouldn't let him rest yet again. He’s terrible at expressing himself so he’d been doing everything he could for his other parts that he could in secret. This adventure was actually a blessing for him, they had an excuse to be Four all the time instead of slitting every so often and leaving him to the pit of despair that was his own mind. He could lose himself in the Flow of the others. Even if there is an ever aching hole that he’s been desperate to fill.

 

“You worry that they don’t care about him as much as you do. That’s why you’ve hidden your search for so long. It's killing you slowly, and them by default. Why don’t you just end it? Or stop?” 

 

The shade isn't asking maliciously, it's genuinely curious. Vio looks down at his blade. They blade they forged when Four were One and One was Link. When good and evil was easily labeled as black and white and right and wrong. When a shadow was just that. 

“Regardless of what has happened to us, and everything we have been through. We are still here, together, alive. Even missing pieces we are still here and fighting. We are all a part of one another, yet fully separate at the same time. Losing one of us is like losing a limb, and we’ve already lost a piece of ourselves without realizing it at first. I can’t do that to them.”

He looks up with a steely look of determination in his eye as he sinks his blade into the stomach of his dark double. The double who doesn't even look surprised, just smiles at him as his form starts dissipating and a bright violet light shines from his chest.

“I can't stop, either. Not until we are whole once again. No matter what happens to us in the future, even if my search leads us to this corrupted version of ourselves. I know that they care and will support me the entire way, because they already have in their own little ways. After all, I’m not nearly as sneaky as I would like to think, am I?”

The shade laughs brightly as the colored ball of light bursts free and flies up above their heads. The sight of the light makes the remaining three shades falter and bolsters the other colors’ will to fight knowing that one of them has already won. Red is the next to strike back, and viciously. Relentlessly pouring out flames to scorch the taunting red shade.

“I am not a burden! Emotions are not shameful! Just because they don’t express their emotions and love the same way as me doesn't mean they don't have them! They each show it in their own special way, and I know them down to their cores! Blue may act mean, Vio may appear apathetic, and Green may seem placating, but they all care and we all love each other! I cry and laugh when they can’t bring themselves to! That's who I am!”

He punctuates this last statement with the brightest burst of flame yet, the shade giggling softly as it disintegrates into ash letting a red light burst forth to join its violet brethren in the air. Red drops to his knees panting with exertion. He looks up to find Vio hovering beside him, offering a hand to pull him to his feet. He accepts and they turn to bear witness to the remaining two fights. Blue has gotten fed up and abandoned his sword for his hammer and is knocking aside his shades sword with heavy blows of concentrated anger.

“Fuck you and your stupid idiotic statements! So what if I’m an asshole!? It's who I am, and I’m proud of it. I don’t need to be the leader, regardless of what I used to think. Vio and Green can do all the planning while I do what I do best! Kick ass and protect! I scream at them when they're being idiots, and yeah that may not be the best way to express myself, but they know me! They understand me no matter how much I try to hide my words behind my rage! We drive each other crazy sometimes, but at the end of the day we are still a team, not a damn dictatorship!”

His hammer cracks down on his shade’s head, causing his form to shatter with a curse and the blue light to streak up through the air. Blue turns to aid their leader but Vio holds out a hand to stop him, having made his way over with Red. Green is fighting like the wind, whirling and pushing back against his shade who is starting to struggle to keep his footing.

“I will admit. Some days it does get tiring dealing with them all. Regardless, I wouldn't change it for the world. We had a rough start, but we made our way through it. We struggled for so long trying to find some semblance of peace as Four, and when we finally did it was like bliss. Even so, we still fall apart on occasion because we may be pieces of one another, but we are our own people too. I lead, but I don’t carry the burden alone. We each play our parts, and we play them well, and there is no reason to change that. I wouldn't change them either. We all had our own paths to tread, and we’ve learned and grown so much. They all try their hardest every day, and I would never betray them by giving up!”

His sword slices through the final shade who lets out a sigh of relief as he dissipates into nothing. The final light joining its brethren swirling through the air. They whirl, faster and faster, twirling around the figure perched upon the hilt of the Four Sword who had borne silent witness to the colors’ struggles to conquer themselves.

 

“Well done. Then again, I already knew you would succeed… after all…”

 

The lights suddenly converge on the figure, creating a blinding flash of light, brighter than the light of the Four Sword when it split the smithy into four. When the light fades, the colors gape in shock at the figure that is revealed. They startle at the hands on their shoulder, and looking back they see that their brothers in arms have finally joined them. No longer held back by a wall of iridescent light, protectively forming a circle around their smallest allies, and staring up in awe. They all face forward again to take in the figure once more.

Ethereal. Colorful. Beautiful. Mesmerizing.

It is almost indescribable, incomprehensible. At first glance it truly does look like Vaati, if only in form, but a closer look and they see that cannot be so. The first thing that catches notice is the singular visible eye, accented by the dark ebony mark beneath. Green, Red, Blue and Violet sharing space equally with each other and blending at the lines where the colors meet, the pattern is repeated upon the jewel crowning the cap on their head and the clasp on their cape. The cape and cap themselves are a sight to behold as well. The cap and the inner fabric of the cape are pitch black voids lit with the light of a thousand stars that shimmer and shift with the gentle sway caused by the wind that had returned to the room. The outer part of the cape, in contrast, portrays a dazzling sunset shifting from a burnt orange color all the way to a yellow so bright it appears white. The long blonde hair gleams metallic gold in the flickering light of the reignited braziers, the skin a shimmering pearl. The tunic is what lends the full truth to them, quartered and colored nearly exactly like the one Four wears, the edges blending together in harmony. The long tunic is accented with a belt and boots of shifting, shadowy indigo.  

 

The figure smiles softly, “I am you.”

 

“Why do you look like Vaati!” Red blurts out prompting looks of disappointment from the other parts of themself.

“Really? That's the first question you ask? Not ‘How the hell are you us?’ or ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ or maybe even ‘Why the hell did we have to fight dark fucking versions of ourselves?’” Blue gripes. Green sighs and Vio just shakes his head in amusement, both somewhat mentally and emotionally exhausted .

“It's a legitimate question! If they are us, how come they look like Vaati?!”

 

“It's a long story but the short version is that there were remnants of Vaati that remained in the sword even after we defeated him for good. Once we became part of the sword, our form shifted to reflect that somewhat. Besides, he may have been a dramatic baby, but he did have some style.” 

 

“You’re a sword spirit?” Sky asks, delighted, and almost forgetting about the chaos of the last near half hour in light of this discovery.

 

“Yes. As a human my name was Link, you all knew me as Four, but in the future I became this. I am Prism, spirit of the Four Sword, blade of reflection’s aide.” 

 

“Reflection’s aide? What’s that mean? What about the four elements?” Vio questions.

 

“The elemental properties still remain, but more were added. Shadow, Light and Spirit now join the other four. We are in complete harmony within and without.”

 

“Hold up a moment, why are we just accepting this!? You heard what happened to Legend, and what we just saw go down. This is the Dark World right? Evil and all that? How can we trust what this thing is saying?! It summoned darks to attack Four, tormented him, and possessed him even!!” Warriors snarls.

 

“I'm not a thing, thank you very much, I am alive and sentient. The Palace of the Four Sword was built in the Sacred Realm. When it was turned into the Dark World, this palace became our prison. It was twisted from its original purpose… I am sorry for the trouble you went through, Legend, this trial was never meant to leave emotional scars…”

 

“So those four darks I fought?”

 

“They were supposed to be reflections of the parts of you that you needed to confront to be in harmony with yourself, like you saw the colors do here. They were instead turned into mindless clones single mindedly determined to cut you down.”

 

“I didn't kill you?” 

His voice cracks a little on the word ‘kill.’ The others stare at him in shock and the colors gape in horror. Has he thought that the entire time? It honestly should have been obvious, but they were all thinking about the repercussions of Four becoming corrupted somehow, not that Legend realized he had potentially murdered one of his newfound brothers. Prism slowly floats down onto level ground and reaches up to cup the Veterans face with a slightly pained look.

 

“No, you did not. So long as the Four Sword remains, and its purpose incomplete, so too will I. You did not kill us, brother. If anything, you freed us. Thank you.”

 

Legend falls to his knees and lets out a shuddering breath, his eyes watering as he desperately tries to reign in his relief. That’s all it takes for Red to launch at him and hug the veteran as tight as possible. Wind is quick to follow, as is Sky and Hyrule, and Legend clutches onto them all like a lifeline, his carefully crafted mask, cracked by recent events, finally falling apart. Prism watches on with a sad, knowing smile. Warriors is obviously still wary, but less tense now after the display of emotion. Time and Twilight are also still wary, but relieved to see their grouchy hoarder finding closure. Vio eyes the spiritual being for a moment.

 “Prism?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“What happened back there in the other room? How did you control our body?”

 

“It was much like a resonance I suppose you could say, I resonated with your soul and was able to influence it from there.”

 

Vio makes a face like he wants to elaborate more about that but decides it is not the best of times.

“Why didn’t you let Legend put you back here?”

 

“It had to be you. Me. The sword was already starting to become attuned to our soul at this point in time, it will obey those we deem worthy but its full loyalty will always remain with its original master and creator. Much like the Master Sword with Sky. In its split and corrupted state, Legend would not have been able to unlock its true purpose, and there's also the fact that I had already lived all of this before.”

 

“So you remember everything? You know how this all will end?” Warriors chimes in from behind, suddenly interested. Prism just gives him a disappointed look. 

 

“Yes, but I will not divulge more than I am able. Messing with time is dangerous, as you well know.”

 

Warriors scowls and Vio shifts nervously, stepping closer to the sword. The spirit looks to him expectantly. Vio has no doubt they already know what is about to be asked. There are so many more questions Vio wants to ask really. Like how they became part of the sword, and what it's like to be a spirit,  or what its true purpose is. How did they find the sacred realm to even build the palace there, did that mean they found the Master Sword eventually, and so many more. Yet, there’s only one more question he needs to have answered now, ever since they heard the voice call out to them in such a familiar way.

Some of the speech patterns, the phrasing and the nicknames. The talk about an element of shadow joining with the sword. Even the way the spirit floats around and watches them all, it's all so similar to him . Red had hoped along with him, while Blue and Green denied, but they can’t deny the possibility now with near visible proof in front of their eyes.

“You look like Vaati because of the remnants, and you look like us because you are us. Then tell me… why do you sound and act somewhat like… like Shadow?”

Green sucks in a breath and Blue scowls instantly. Red pokes a head out of the growing cuddle pile to listen as well. Vio may have been the closest to Shadow during their adventure, and they all have their individual feelings on the matter, but they do still care for the sake of their violet bookworm.

 

“We sound like Shadow, because we are Shadow.”

 

“I thought you said you were Four?” Wild asks, confused.

 

“We are Four, we are Shadow, we are one being. Together, flowing for eternity.”

 

“So we bring him back?!” Vio questions in growing excitement, “How? What do we have to do? Does it have to wait for us to return to our time? When?”

“Who’s Shadow?” Wind whispers to Red who bites their lip hard as Sky stares at Vio in realization. The desperation on the color’s face… so similar to his when his Sun had dropped below the clouds.

Prism simply smiles and floats back up into the air again before drifting back towards the wall emblazoned with the symbols and poem. They wave a hand and the four symbols begin glowing. There’s a rumbling noise as the wall splits apart, revealing a hidden object. Hanging from the back wall is an ornate black mirror in a frame of intricate gold. Twilight sucks in a sharp breath behind them, but Vio doesn't care because there's a silhouette just barely visible curled up within.

“SHADOW!” Vio darts around the pedestal up to the mirror, Green and Blue on his tail. Vio presses his hands up against the glass, eyes wild with emotions of joy, relief, and worry. He doesn’t think of any implications, doesn't wonder how this is possible, his mind and heart solely focused on the figure within the mirror.

“Shadow! Shadow can you hear me?! Wake up!! Please!! Look at me!! I’m here! We’re here!”

“Is that another fucking dark?! How many are there!!!” Warriors yells in the background starting an argument, but Vio only has eyes for the small form slowly shifting in the darkness of the mirror. Vio’s fingers are pressing so hard into the mirror they’re turning white and he trembles in anticipation. A dark head of hair lifts, and blood red eyes hazy with exhaustion and pain meet amethyst.

 

“......Vio?”

 

Vio chokes, his eyes watering, “Yes, yes it’s me, I’m here.”

Shadow struggles to sit up, and Vio can see the rips and tears in his clothing and the slices and cracks upon his skin. Remnants of the mirror shattering? Vio notices red on his hands and pulls them back to see his palms are cut up and bleeding slowly. He eyes the mirror again and sees the barely visible lines of the fractures where the mirror had to have been painstakingly pieced back together. He also notices that the cracks where his blood touches are glowing and healing.

“You idiot! Don’t go putting your hands on broken glass!” Blue hisses at him, grabbing at his wrists to pull his hands closer and inspect the damage. Green peers into the mirror with wide watery eyes. He can’t believe it.

“Let me go, Blue! It's healing the mirror!”

“Well you don't need to fuck up you hands completely for this shit! Calm down! Floaty bitch, do we really have to smear our fucking blood on this thing?!”

 

“As long as the mirror remains cracked, he cannot exit. It would tear him to shreds. Only the blood of someone who has walked with shadows can heal the scars.”

 

“Walked with shadows? What exactly does that mean?” Green asks warily.

 

“Anyone who has had contact with a dark realm effectively. So you four, Legend, and Twilight would count.”

 

Twilight startles, he and the few others not hugging the life out of Legend had followed the three colors’ mad dash towards the mirror. Once he got closer he had stared in shock, memories of a similar mirror cracked just like this flashing before his eyes. He glances down at Vio, the desperate look on his face, and makes up his mind. He steps up to the glass, pulling up his sleeve and wiping his arm across the upper part of the mirror where the pieces of their small friend cannot reach.

“Cub?!”

“It’s fine, Time.” He mutters as he watches the cracks there fade into seamless dark glass.

“You don’t have to help us, it must look pretty weird,” Green mutters, glancing at Warriors and his suspicious gaze.

“Well unless you’d rather be picked up to do it yourself, I kinda have to. And I want to. I know what it's like to be separated from the one you love in such a way…”

Green stares up at the rancher, but doesn’t say anything, simply glances at the dark shard around his neck and then pulls up his own sleeve to copy him lower down on the surface of the mirror. Blue scowls at them.

“That is so inefficient! You’d be better off dripping some blood on a cloth or something and wiping it across that way!”

“This is faster,” Vio murmurs, wiping his hands across the bottom of the glass again, his eyes never straying from the weak shade watching him through the barrier of glass. 

Blue throws his hands up in the air, giving up trying to be the sensible one for once. Red pops up beside him looking giddy with anticipation, the remaining chain trailing along behind curiously. After a bit, all the cracks are healed and Vio is pressed back up against the mirror. Shadow looks wary, like he’s afraid to try to leave, not knowing if he really can. He doesn't have much of a choice because Vio gets tired of waiting and his hands are suddenly cloaked in dark shadows, reaching into the mirror and yanking their missing piece through without fanfare. Ignoring the exclamations about dark magic, he finally pulls his love into his arms. Arms tight, face buried in against the column of his neck, trembling with so many emotions. Arms slowly reach up to reciprocate the embrace.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m sorry, it was all my fault. I should have listened better, I could have found another way. I was just scared and unsure and you paid the price and…”

“Vio… It’s alright…. I forgave you a long time ago….” His voice is raspy, unused to speaking, and tainted with exhaustion. Vio tightens his hold on him, scared to let go for even a moment. Shadow lifts his head and glances around at the strangers surrounding him, a little wary and confused, but his eyes alight on the remaining colors and he smirks slightly.

“Miss me?”

Red wails and nearly tackles the two to join the hug, dragging a spluttering Blue along with him. Green slowly kneels before the pile, meeting the red gaze with a soft smile.

“Welcome back, Shadow.”

He joins the pile as the shade ducks his head to hide his tears of relief. The suspicion of the surrounding men and boys, the strange floaty person, none of these mean anything to him right now. Just these four, and the fact that they missed him and want him here. It’s been like a nightmare to him for a long time, and he’s honestly not sure this is real. The chain stays quiet, even as they brim with questions, recognizing the tender moment and not wanting to interrupt.

Unfortunately for them, other people are not quite as considerate.

Dark chuckles suddenly echo through the room, causing all but Prism to tense up and look around warily. Swords half out of sheathes in preparation for a possible fight.

“What the hell was that, is this another stupid test,” Warriors snaps at the spirit floating above their heads. The spirit sighs and shakes their head.

 

“No, though I wish it simply was. I cannot interfere with this.”

 

“With what!?” 

The chuckles become cackles and a shadowy portal appears upon the floor, a dark form rising from it, dripping black, before coalescing into the shape of a man. Bright red eyes full of malice and disdain gaze upon the group. They can barely make out any detailed features, but there's enough to tell when the figure smiles at them wickedly and extends a hand towards them.

“Hello heroes.” He practically purrs the words, making them all feel instantly uncomfortable.

“Shit, it's Dink!” Wind yelps, completely unsheathing his sword to point it at the demon’s face. Said Dink scowls, dropping his hand in frustration, and growls, “Don’t call me that!!!”

“Well you’re Dark Link, what else are we supposed to call you?” Time raises a brow.

“Call me Dark, it doesn’t sound as stupid.”

“I don’t know, seems pretty fucking stupid to me. I mean, being named after a damn adjective is kind of lame,” Blue snarls as he gets to his feet.

“Says the neat freak named after a color!!”

“I picked our names… Are they that bad?” Red sniffles, Sky immediately goes to comfort him and tell him no their names are perfect and he did a good job. Dark growls and the shadows writhe around him.

“This is not what I came here for. I came to collect my brother.”

“Your what?!” Warriors yelps. 

“Since when does he have a brother, I thought he only had minions,” Hyrule murmurs worriedly.

It’s Vio who catches on first and lurches to his feet, glaring the taller shade down with bared teeth, “No! You can’t have him!”

“He doesn’t belong with you sickening light creatures. He belongs in the shadows after which he is named. With me.”

The rest slowly start to catch on and shoot the still injured Shadow looks of concern as he struggles to his feet. Vio rushes to support him, and even though he leans heavily on the purple nerd, he still manages to give Dark a poisonous glare.

“The hell are you talking about, you nasty ink blot?”

Dark’s eye seems to twitch but he gives a sickenly sweet smile and extends his hand once more, “Shadow Link, join me.”

“Uh, how about hell fucking no!? Why should I join you?”

“We are the same…”

“No, we aren’t. It's even in our names. You’re Dark, I’m Shadow, and shadows can’t exist without the light.”

Vio smirks at Dark’s pissed expression. Red seems to be over his momentary sadness and second away from tackling Shadow in another hug. Green is eying Shadow with approval and Blue is just smugly cackling off to the side.

“You heard him, you rotten potato!”

“Rotten potato? Blue, you need better insults,” Legend mutters amidst Wind and Wild’s snickering and Time’s quiet chuckles. 

Dark does not seem happy that he is not being taken seriously. He drops his hand beside him once more and cocks his head slightly, eyes narrowed in frustration. 

“Is that your final answer?” He asks, voice dripping with disgust and disappointment.

“Yes. I am not joining you. Already did the whole villain thing and it didn't turn out well. Turns out I was actually just kind of attention starved you know? That problem is fixed now, so I don’t really need to be as much of an asshole anymore.”

Dark sighs, “What a shame, guess we have to do this the hard way then.”

He lifts his arm once more and snaps his fingers. There's a yelp as suddenly Vio falls through a small portal that appeared beneath him, destabilizing Shadow who staggers around until Green supports him instead, and causing the others to panic at the sudden loss. They look around frantically until there’s a cry of pain as Vio lands at Dark’s feet. They whirl back to face the enemy as he reaches down and lifts the purple clad boy up by his neck. Vio grips onto the shadowy wrist in an attempt to lessen the pressure on his windpipe, his feet kicking desperately and uselessly in the air.

“Vio! You bastard, put him down!” Blue yells angrily starting to charge forward. His steps stutter to a halt when Dark tightens his grip slightly and draws a choked sound of pain from his captive. Twilight lays a steadying hand on the blue ball of anger, preventing him from trying again and risking Vio being hurt worse. They are all definitely taking him seriously now.

“That’s better. Now, you can join me, or your little boy toy here gets his windpipe crushed.”

“Let him go!” Shadow snarls lurching forward a step.

“I gave you my terms, choose!” The vile man hisses viciously at him.

Shadow watches desperately, his mind in turmoil. He just basically came back from the dead, can’t he catch a fucking break for once! He’s so confused, and doesn't know who the rest of these weirdos are who look really similar to his Link and are yelling at him, and each other, and at Dark. Then there's the weird floating guy who kinda looks like what  a combination of Link and Vaati would be like. Maybe, his memories of the mage in his humanoid form are kinda hazy since he wasn't really that sentient at that point yet. They’re actually really pretty, and getting closer.

 

“Do you want to save him?”

 

“What? Of course I do!”

 

“You have the power to save him.”

 

“Keep your mouth shut, toothpick, he’s a being of dark magic. He belongs on my side. The goddesses don’t care about us, they would sooner see us obliterated. We need to stick together. The incarnations of the hero are a blight that need to be eradicated; past, present and future. Come on kid, you can keep this one I promise, he has potential as a dark mage after all. Don’t you want to belong? To be accepted?”

 

“You've always been a part of them, and you always will be. You just have to accept it in your soul.”

 

“We are so similar, you and I. You think we aren’t but we were created in the same way. Now the one who brought us into being is gone, and we are free to take what we want when we want it. All you have to do is say yes.”

 

“You had a rough start, and that’s okay. You’ve grown from what you thought you were created as. You’ve been given a second chance. How will you use it?”

 

“If you stay with them you’ll only ever be in their shadow! Join me in the pure darkness!”

 

“You’ve always been more than just a shadow,” the spirit fingers their indigo belt, and with a strange sudden clarity he understands.

 

“Shadow!”

 

“Who are you?”

 

Shadow bows his head and pulls away from Green with a grunt, who looks devastated and mildly betrayed. He shuffles forwards painfully, inch by inch, and kneels down to pick up Vio’s blade that he had dropped in his mad dash towards the mirror. There’s a moment of silence where all the yelling dies down and Dark waits warily for a final answer before Shadow slowly lifts his head. His eyes are blazing and flickering, no longer the same blood red as Dark’s.

“I will not join you. I will never join you. I am not just a shadow. I am more. They’re all dumb nerds but I love them, and I am a part of them. I am a part of their rainbow. I am not just Shadow!”

He lifts the sword above his head and there's a sudden blazing light that flares from it. Dark screeches in pain and drops Vio to the ground to stagger back away from the burning light. Vio coughs and grips his throat, looking up slowly. What he sees brings tears to his eyes. When Shadow came out of the mirror, he looked the same as when they last saw him. Younger and with the hairstyle they used to have before they were Four. Now, though, he looks exactly like them once again, the only difference being his coloring. Though, while his hair is still a dark ebony, the usually black clothing has shifted shades. Vibrant indigo to match the new dazzling tanzanite of his eyes, which are narrowed in rage. 

He lifts the sword, the gem in the pommel reflecting his new color as well.  The sword is pointed at the struggling Dark across the room in challenge. Dark looks up and snarls in wordless fury, causing Shadow… Indigo… to smirk at him.

“I am not just Shadow," he repeats, "I am Indigo, and I will make you pay for hurting the one I love.”

Chapter Text

Dark never stood a chance.

 

The transformation seems to have invigorated the newly dubbed Indigo, and he is furious and unrelenting in his assault on the shade. There’s nowhere for him to hide, any shadows he attempts to escape through are ripped away from his control violently. Their blades clash with a screech of metal on metal, the smaller being somehow overpowering the taller, much to his horror. He’s toying with his enemy, trying to inflict the most pain on the one who dared to touch his precious Violet.

 

The heroes are mildly horrified at such a blatant act of cruelty, but the colors are not surprised at all. Even if Shadow became ‘good’, became Indigo, he's still the same dramatic ass sadistic bastard who taunts and torments his enemies. Changing sides doesn’t change that, it only changes who it’s directed towards, and unfortunately for Dark he has his sole attention.

 

Dark seems to decide that shapeshifting is his best defense, changing into various monsters in an attempt to overpower the small dark mage. It doesn't help, if anything it hinders him more and makes it that much easier for Indigo to dart in and slash across his chest. The shadowy being staggers back with a snarl painted across his face, terror written in his eyes. He never expected for this venture to backfire so harshly upon him and his miscalculations are slowly spelling his doom. Darks and Shadows do not have mercy, they don’t have restraint, and this fight can only end one way.

 

Prism watches on silently, expression blank and giving away nothing about what they know about the result of this. Their gaze wanders to the ones who share a part of their spirit. It is very clear which of them have had harsh dealing with Darks or Shadows. Warriors, Twilight and Time are all stony faced. Hyrule is bordering on a guilty sort of satisfaction. The colors are split in opinion and the remaining four have various expressions of confusion and wariness. 

 

They have no idea about the truth.

 

Indigo ends up backing Dark into a corner, bleeding black and red and hissing harshly and desperately. His eyes flick around wildly, searching for any way to escape, but Indigo isn’t letting him even have a moment to think. The smaller dark mage shouldn’t have this power, he was shredded from the mirror, how did this happen!? They are creatures of darkness, light should have charred him if not turned him to ash!!

 

He falls on his tail end, pressing into the wall as if the shadows will swallow him up and save him from his fate. Yet it isn’t to be, he is no longer in control here.

 

Indigo looks down in disgust and rage at his sorry excuse for kin. Deep down, though, he feels pity for him. Their kind lives a cursed existence, their purposes often warped by evil forces seeking to find any way to strike the heroes down. He presses the sword up against the defeated shades neck, smoky indigo eyes judging the pathetic enemy before him. Yet when the blood red eyes meet his, he falters for a moment.

 

He looks like a scared child.

 

Just for a second the face flickered. He would usually think it was a trick. Shadows typically have powers of shapeshifting after all, and they use them to manipulate and deceive. Yet, he also knows that anything but their base form is nearly impossible to maintain under extreme injury and duress. Which means that the momentary flicker was revealing his base form. 

 

“Sha...Indigo?” Green queries, noticing his pause.

 

“....Is this the form that he appears the most to you?”

 

“What does that have to do with anything?” Warriors narrows his eyes.

 

“Just answer the damn question.”

 

“No. He has only recently started appearing like this. Mostly it was various monsters,” Time inputs to cut off a fuming Warriors from snapping back, “He showed his true form after Wild caught him off guard once.”

 

Indigo sighs, “This isn’t his true form.”

 

“Really? He certainly looks like a typical Dark or Shadow,” Twilight says slowly.

 

“That’s because we cloak ourselves in your vices when we first appear, typically, our true forms are different. I had two because of the circumstances of my creation, but one was still more natural than the other and I would always revert back to it when seriously hurt, emotionally or physically. His form under the shadow cloak is flickering.”

 

“It is not. Shut up you traitor!!” Dark hisses up at Indigo looking more and more like a scared cat. In fact, Sky has the sudden impression of a Remlit. Most of the chain are starting to look at the cornered demon differently, as he is suddenly acting like a little brat. Time stares at him and starts to have a sinking feeling of realization. It is at this point that Prism finally makes their move, drifting down and over to the corner. Dark’s eyes alight on them warily.

 

“You poor soul. You have been infected and manipulated for far too long.”

 

“I am a Dark, I have no soul!!! No one is manipulating me!! I have taken it upon myself to purge all of time from the hero’s putrid light, and I will spread my infection as far as I can for that reason alone.”

 

Indigo startles and looks at him bewildered, “What do you mean you have no soul?”

 

“Have you forgotten your origins? We are nothing but shadows and darkness and hatred condensed and given consciousness. Remnants of the evil purged from the hero upon their acceptance of their idiodic duty. Reflections cursed to be erased. I shall not let that happen!!!!”

 

“Have you been thinking that this entire time?!” Indigo says confused “You never learned?”

 

“Learned what, traitor? How to hold hands and sing songs of friendship with your light who abandoned you and cast you aside?”

 

Indigo turns to Prism wide eyed and is given a knowing look.

 

“Do you understand now?”

 

“Yeah… Yeah, I do… Damnit….”

 

He slowly lowers his blade and backs up a step with a scowl. He really was pissed and wanted to remove the threat, but he can’t now that he understands.  Whatever happened to this Dark was similar to what happened to him. He has had a long, long time to reflect on his origins and purpose, and on what went wrong. Zelda planted the seed of doubt, and it only grew from there. He has always been a part of Link, not just a shadow or a reflection but a part of his soul that was severed away. It was all too easy for evil forces to dig their claws into him and warp him to their expectations, making him forget his true purpose. He was always meant to be Link’s foil, a test of skill and determination, not a true enemy seeking his doom. Instead he was brainwashed into believing that his light half all but abandoned him. If this Dark, if he is like how he was, then he still thinks that he is nothing but an unwanted shadow.

 

He was given a second chance, why not this one too?

 

“What are you doing!?” Blue snaps at him, “Why are you hesitating?!”

 

“He’s the enemy, he’s screwing up the timelines, take him out and we end the infection.” Legend points out but he’s slightly subdued, eyeing Prism for any reactions. Something is happening here beyond the chaos of what has already occured. Prism knows something, and Indigo just figured it out. It occurs to him that they don’t really know much about Darks and Shadows beyond fighting them. The few conversations that have brought them up always came with the consensus that the evil created them to oppose the hero.

 

“What are you doing?!? Get your hands off me!!!”

 

Eyes focus back onto the corner once more as Prism reaches out to Dark and sets a glowing hand on his chest. The shade screams in pain, the shadowy haze around him fading away and revealing a more solid human form that flickers and shatters to reveal a much smaller one. Time freezes, Warriors chokes, and the remaining chain gasp in shock.

 

There's a teeny tiny grumpy child dressed in black. He’s hissing and snarling but it’s like that of a kitten. His cheeks are chubby, skin pale, hair so blonde it's nearly white, and the red of his big round eyes are more like that of a shining ruby than the eerie glowing blood red of before. He’s even shorter than Four is.

 

“You bitch!” The tiny, suddenly adorable brat screeches, “What did you do?!”

 

“He stripped away your remaining cloak and revealed your true form. I didn’t expect you to be smaller than even my Link was when he started.”

 

“Fuck you!”

 

“You really haven’t aged at all? You’ve been separated from your light too long.”

 

“I don’t need him!! He left me behind!! Left me to HIM .”

 

“Him?” Time says quietly, eyes locked on the small shade. Those red gems meet his singular blue in a fierce glare dripping with disgust and age old pain.

 

“Yes, him! Ganondorf!” He hisses, eyes flashing and teeth snapping, posture and actions screaming defensive and fearful. This is the enemy that has been haunting their steps in this adventure through time? Causing them so much havoc and pain? This is the enemy that nearly took his life in the Water Temple?

 

“How could I have left you behind? I never met you until we faced each other in the Water Temple, and you never spoke a word to me.”

 

“YOU LEFT ME! Left us all! Left us to suffer for seven years while you stayed happy and safe in your little bubble of protection! Then when you turned back time you never came back for me! You kept looking for that fairy, when she was long gone BUT I WAS STILL THERE. AND YOU NEVER CAME! ” 

 

His voice is shrill and his eyes shine but the anger and betrayal burn bright within them. Indigo proceeds to argue with the shade, trying to clarify what he believed happened to him. Time is at a loss for once, he honestly does not understand. He never met his shadow until well after he pulled the Master Sword.

 

The sword of evil’s bane.

 

The sword that it is said the dark can never touch.

 

Because in Hylia’s eyes, as the Goddess of Light, anything dark is considered evil.

 

Even a shadow that is part of her hero’s soul.

 

“When I pulled the sword,” Time murmurs, causing the arguments that had manifested in his silence to die down as focus turned to him, “That’s when it must have happened. I felt pain when I pulled the sword, but it was very brief and I was put to sleep immediately afterwards.” 

 

He looks at the small child with open pity and the beginnings of guilt, “Taking the sword in hand must have split you from me, but at the exact same time I was sealed within the Temple of Light inside of the Sacred Realm. You would not have been able to follow, and since Ganandorf entered right behind me…”

 

“He would have gotten ahold of your shadow immediately after he was born,” Indigo says with grimace, “Able to twist him exactly to his will and taint his purpose. It’s what happened to me, and what I bet happened to a lot of our kind…”

 

“What do you mean you were still there? When my Zelda sent me back, she sent me back a while before I opened the door of time, before I even met her for the first time. You wouldn’t have existed.”

 

“I DID! OF COURSE I DID! YOU DIDN'T KILL ME YOU ONLY DEFEATED ME AND WHEN I REFORMED I WAS TRAPPED ONCE MORE IN THAT STUPID ROOM!”

 

“Time doesn’t affect us shadows the same way as it does you Hylians, we are linked to you regardless of the time or place. Can’t really die either, but we can be rendered dormant perpetually,” Indigo explains, “If you got sent back in time, he would have too, but in the exact same place he had been. So if you defeated him in that temple, and he didn’t reform until after you were sent back in time, he would have reformed there in the past.”

 

“And since I changed the future and prevented Ganondorf from rising to power, I would have never needed to go to the Water Temple, and so I would have never known he was there.”

 

“Liar!”

 

“He won’t believe you for quite some time. Unlike Shadow, he did not have much close contact with you, his light. Therefore, his growth and mental state are severely stunted, and he was never exposed to the idea that he would be accepted. Likely, the darkest emotions you had at the time of his birth is all he can truly feel.”

 

Indigo grimaces, “We effectively have to learn positive emotions, and he never got that chance. Damn, now we really can’t try to kill the brat.”

 

Protests burst out from Twilight and Warriors. The two of them are not totally sold, having had their own awful interactions with a Dark, and Twilight still partially haunted by the recent close call with him and Legend. Wild and Wind argue with them, having seen Dark’s reactions and realizing that he's the equivalent of an abused animal. Sky is on their side, having noticed the same, and Hyrule is hazardly in the middle, both worried about it being a lie and worried about the shade himself. Legend just stands quietly, looking from Dark to Prism to Time and back before chiming in with an important question.

 

“Even if he is the old man’s shadow or whatever, and even if how he is isn’t his fault, he's become a menace. So if we can’t kill him, what do we do with him?”

 

There's silence as all eyes fall upon the cowering shade, who snarls at them in response. Prism watches on quietly, not interfering and waiting patiently for the outcome he knows will unfold. It is of course Vio who responds with a solution.

 

“You said they had been separated from each other for too long, is there any way to attach them back together?”

 

“That's a horrible idea!? What if he hurts Time?!” Warriors explodes.

 

“Can they even be reattached? And what happens to the little guy if they do? Does he just disappear?” Wild muses.

 

“DON’T TOUCH ME!!!”

 

They turn to see Prism holding the thrashing shade up above the ground. They drift over to in front of Time and look him in the eye. It’s a silent question, a bid for consent. Time gazes down at the thrashing child and remembers himself at that age. Remembers Termina and Kafei and the horrible reality of being an adult trapped as a child. Remembers the dark thoughts that plagued him until Malon found a way to settle his restless soul. He takes the struggling form from the spirit, tightening his grip as the thrashing becomes panicked and desperate.

 

Prism drifts down to the floor and reaches down towards Time’s shadow. They pull a dark twisting strand from it and wrap it around the young shade’s ankle. A tether. The shade shrieks and claws desperately at Time’s arms in an effort to escape, but with a twist of magic and a sudden heaviness in the air, he is bound to his light once more. He suddenly slumps, nearly causing him to be dropped. He hangs there, quietly defeated and despondent. Prism drifts up and tilts his head up, gazing into the ruby eyes shining with tears.

 

“Be at peace, Eon, they will not do you any harm.”

 

The eyes widen in shock and confusion, “Eon?”

 

You can hardly continue to be called Dark or even worse, Dink. You are your own person, regardless of your origins, and so deserve a name of your own. Since your light has chosen Time as his nickname, I find Eon to be fitting as yours. What do you think?”

 

The shade blinks slowly before ducking his head back down to hide his expression. Time slowly adjusts the child in his arms, letting him hide his face away and pretending not to feel the wetness upon his neck and collar. He is still apprehensive, but the sight of a child in distress stirs his fatherly instincts. Prism gazes upon the sight fondly and drifts back over to their sword. They alight upon its hilt once more and faces the group, gazing first at the newly dubbed Eon and then at Indigo.

 

You have long since deserved to know love and affection and joy. The chance should have never been taken away from you… Isn’t that right, Your Grace?”

 

There is another sudden heaviness in the air, followed by a wave of power that makes nearly all of them stagger. Sky’s eyes widen with surprise, Wild’s head snaps around first to gaze upon the golden portal that suddenly appears. From it steps a woman that none of them ever expected to meet face to face. The power she radiates is unmistakable.

 

The White Goddess of Light. Hylia.

 

She stands before them radiating effortless perfection. Her eyes are the color of the clearest waters, her dress the whitest of whites and floating in the slight breeze of the room. Her pale golden hair shimmers in the light she exudes, Indigo and Eon flinching away from the harsh edge of it. She turns her eyes upon Prism.

 

“Your words cut deep, spirit of the Four Sword.”

 

“As they should. It is your fault that all of our shadows suffered.”

 

She dips her head slightly in acknowledgement, “You are wary of me, and angry. That is to be expected. I made a horrible mistake in the youth of my existence and the chaos of battle, one of many as I am slowly coming to realize.”

 

She turns her gaze upon the others, meeting the many gazes of hatred, disgust, awe and wariness in varying intensities. She folds her hands and bows her head.

 

“My heroes, I have wronged you time and time again. It has been long since time I explain myself, and the truth of this never ending cycle and this adventure you find yourself on. I beg you, listen to my tale, and then judge me as you see fit.”

 

As Hylia awaits their response, Wild leans over to Wind and whispers, very loudly to the horror of Twilight, “20 rupees says that either Legend or Time punches her in the face.”

 

“Wild!!!”

Chapter Text

Hylia’s eyes sparkle with amusement as she watches the Hero of Twilight berate the Hero of the Wild. No matter her faults or failures, she is utterly fond of her heroes, even those who are not fond of her or do not even know of her. She does not blame them for their ire, for it is her negligence that led to them being trapped in this accursed cycle along with the daughters of her blood. She was too young, too naive, too sure of herself and her plans. Her decisions doomed her original hero, her First, and all those of his spirit that followed after. Some doomed more than others, but all of them have lived lives of trauma and turmoil. Then there are their shadows, the pieces of their souls she had severed away. She was so blinded by her own light that she lost sight of the balance her mothers always preached to her.

 

“I suppose I shall start at the very beginning…. Some of this knowledge has been lost to many of you, but in the beginning there were three Golden Goddesses who created our reality. Din, the Goddess of Power, used her fire to shape the glowing red earth upon which you tread. Nayru, the Goddess of Wisdom, who spread law and order across the land. Finally Farore, the Goddess of Courage, who breathed life into the world and from whom all living things were born.”

 

She briefly pauses to gaze upon her audience, many of whom have settled themselves upon the ground to listen. She watches briefly as the Hero of Hyrule and the Shadow of the Hero of the Four Sword attempt to coax the Shadow of the Hero of Time into letting them tend to him. The small shade is being obstinate and refusing to cooperate, continuing to hide himself against the Hero of Time. Said hero keeps glancing her way and glaring, his arms forming a protective cage around his counterpart as if afraid she will rip him away again. She averts her gaze in guilt and continues.

 

“Here is where history tends to distort depending on the age and depiction. When the three had finished their tasks, they lingered upon the world for some time to observe the fruits of their efforts. They shaped and nurtured the land, knowledge and creatures until they were able to fend for themselves. In that time I was born from their light, and they guided me and taught me everything I would need to know to assume my role as a guardian goddess. A White Goddess, the Goddess of Light. When they departed for the heavens, their power coalesced at their point of departure, forming the Triforce which they entrusted upon to me. The place where they departed warped due to the overwhelming power, creating a separate dimension known as the Sacred Realm.”  

 

“The Triforce, as many of you know, is an artifact of ultimate power. It cannot be used by gods. It does not discriminate intentions, answering the wish of the one who lays hands on it, warping the Sacred Realm to reflect the heart of its wielder. The only stipulation is that whosoever lays hands upon it must have balance between power, wisdom and courage. If someone who is unbalanced touches it, the Triforce will split. The one piece that the person personifies most will remain with them, while the remaining pieces will depart to those who personify them as. Once separated, whosoever unites the pieces will be able to make a wish, even if they are not the one who originally laid hands upon it.”

 

She watches a few of her heroes nod at this, many of them had encountered this situation. Some multiple times, and for that she is sincerely sorry. The Hero of Legend did not deserve the constant trials that resulted from her failures with the Hero of Time.

 

“My mothers left the Triforce to be a source of hope for the people of the Surface, but they did not anticipate the malice that boiled underneath. Over time, the more malicious emotions of those who inhabited the Surface seeped into the earth, and they condensed until they formed an entity that personified them.”

 

The Hero of Sky scowls and murmurs “Demise…”

 

Hylia nods forlornly, “Yes. The Demon King Demise. From him, all demons and monsters were born. He sought that ultimate power. The Surface was peaceful save for the occasional discord between the people, but that peace was shattered when Demise tore open the earth and his hordes flooded the Surface.”

 

“Oh, so that's why that one place is called the Breach of Demise,” the Hero of the Wild mutters, peering at his slate. She nods in confirmation and continues her tale.

 

“No one was safe from their attack. The tribes of the Surface rose up in defiance of the demons, but they were no match for creatures of malice and magic. Yet, they did not back down. Unfortunately, the demons were cunning. They infected the minds of the more weak willed Hylians, and soon discord began to weave through the ranks of the defiant, turning them against one another. I knew I had to do something, or the people would tear themselves apart. I chose a hero, the First Hero.”

 

Here she pauses and looks down in clear guilt and various glares are sent her way. 

 

“...You tested him didn’t you,” the Hero of Legend hisses in disgust, “put him through some kind of trial of character or some shit.”

 

She nods and lifts her head, “I did. He was imprisoned for years after speaking out against a Duke who framed him. His will never broke, which was what I needed from him. When he was free, he took up command of the armies of the people and led them with skill and grace and, of course, courage. They fought valiantly, but it was still not enough. However it did buy me time to create a sacred weapon, and a plan. I approached him then, handing over the sacred blade.”

 

“The Goddess Blade!” The Hero of Sky gasps. 

 

“Yes, though at the time Fi was not yet strong enough to be awakened and sentient. No, the First Hero wielded her without guidance, holding back the hordes as I gathered the power needed to seal away Demise. Yet, he was far more cunning that I had given him credit for. He had created a blade to oppose mine, but had made sure it was strong enough to have its own will. While I faced Demise with help from the various spirits, he had sent his blade to lead an army to decimate the Hylians. My hero sacrificed himself, using the power of the Goddess Blade and the guidance of the Alpha Loftwing to break a piece of the earth and send it to the heavens with his people upon it.”

 

“But I thought it was you who sent us to the heavens, “ The Hero of Sky asks, confused.

 

 “No, I sent the Triforce to the heavens. The First Hero is the one who sent up that first piece of land, I simply expanded upon his plan… I knew that Demise would not remain sealed forever, and my hero had given his life to save his people. I intended to honor him by ensuring his spirit would never die, and began preparations for the far future. The Triforce was the only thing I could think of that could destroy him forever, so I set up trials and messages and whatever I could to make sure the hero in the future would be able to retrieve the Triforce whole. Then, I cast off my divinity to be reborn as a mortal so that I might fight at my hero’s side and impart my power to the mortals.” 

 

She sighs softly, “Things didn't go as planned… I had forgotten to account for the blade that Demise created. He still walked the earth, searching for ways to break the seal upon his master. When Demise’s seal started to break, the Hero of the Sky and my mortal incarnation Zelda were born. When the seal started to leak, my plans were set into motion, but the spirit of the Demon King’s sword interfered and stole Zelda away too early. Where originally she and the hero were supposed to travel together, it became a game of hide and seek almost, but thankfully the desired result was finally achieved… Until that spirit yet again defied my plans… which led to Demise’s revival before his final destruction, and allowed him to place his curse…”

 

She frowns slightly, “By placing his curse, he turned my blessing into a nightmare. Combined, the blessing and curse created a never ending cycle. My bloodline from my mortal incarnation became the royal family of Hyrule, and any time Hyrule seemed to begin to prosper, his incarnation of hatred would possess and corrupt a poor soul into plotting to strike against the royal family. In turn a daughter with full access to the powers afforded by her blood and a boy with the Hero’s Spirit would be born to one day oppose the incarnation…. This curse settled heavily on those present that day, and many that came into contact with them….”

 

The Hero of the Sky sucks in a sharp breath, eyes wide and horrified,  “Impa…. Groose ….”

 

Hylia nods solemnly, “Yes… Impa has reincarnated over the ages as well, tied as she was to my mortal incarnation… It is that poor soul of your friend who has fared the worst… At first the incarnation of hatred varied wildly in the individuals it would possess.”

 

“Vaati…” The Violet Form of the Hero of the Four Sword murmurs in understanding.

 

“However, it is around the Hero of Time’s age that it latched onto one particular soul… He did not bear the same name as his previous incarnation, but the red hair and golden eyes remain the same.”

 

“Ganondorf,” The Hero of Time mutters bitterly, the small shade in his arm whimpering softly. He tightens his hold and shushes the child. It only bolsters her decision for the future.

 

“Yes, another of my many failures… The individuals that revolve around the Hero’s Spirit have gotten drawn into the cycle, some twisted beyond recognition. My biggest mistake however, was refusing my heroes the darkness within their souls… As the Goddess of Light, I mistakenly believed that Darkness and Shadow was the same as Malice. When I saw it within my chosen heroes I was outraged, and I sought to expel it. The trials that the Hero of the Sky went through automatically severed his darker side away, but the rest I had to manipulate events into causing the separation.”

 

“Manipulate events? You mean more than you already manipulate us?!” The Hero of Legend snarls darkly at her, “How badly did you fuck us all over?!”

 

“Legend!” The Hero of the Sky hisses, trying in vain to calm his ire.

 

“Peace, Hero of the Sky, the Hero of Legend has all the right to be angry at me. My intervention has indeed caused your travels to be more perilous. Separating you from your Shadows left them open to being taken advantage of and warped into enemies. Some of you have faced off against them, others have never met them face to face for they were barred from meeting you one way or another.”

 

“So we all have one?” The Hero of Winds asks in curiosity. He is one of the ones who has never met his darker counterpart along with the Hero of the Sky and the Hero of the Wild.

 

“Yes, and they don't inherently exist to oppose you as I once believed. They have evolved greatly over time, changing form and purpose in the most fluid of states. Darks or Shadows, the name matters not. Those not under the thrall of the incarnation of hatred have seen to serve as tests of character, stopping some of you from falling prey to the call of power,” Her eyes stray to the Hero of Warriors and Hero of Twilight, both of them paling in realization,” Others serving as final tests to ensure the hero is ready to move on,” here her eyes stray to the Hero of Hyrule and Hero of Legend.

 

“Regardless, they live a tortured existence, never truly complete without their light half to guide their way. Never knowing love or warmth or positive emotions unless shown. Their light halves in turn are always struggling with their more negative emotions, falling prey to the deterioration of their souls.”

 

“Deterioration?!” The Hero of Hyrule gasps.

 

“A Shadow’s soul is a broken off piece of their light half, given time their soul could regenerate into its own being. However, they must remain with their light half for stability until that time. Likewise, for you heroes, your souls all have a missing piece to them. Over time, the negative emotions that plague you will erode away at your soul, some faster than others. Having your darker half nearby until the hole heals negates this issue.”

 

The heroes all cringe and clutch at their hearts in horror, save for the Colors of the Hero of the Four Sword and the Hero of Time. The Colors of the Hero of the Four Sword are at peace for they are now complete with their missing piece. The Hero of Time is feeling settled for the first time in years, his restless soul finally settling down at the presence of the piece he had no idea was missing.

 

“So we’re all going to fucking die in agony is what you’re saying,” The Hero of Legend snarls, “You were so high and mighty thinking you were right that you doomed us all to an agonizing existence due to the cycle, and now we are hearing that you’ve doomed us to agonizing deaths due to your stupidity?!”

 

Instead of smiting him like many of the heroes seem to believe, Hylia instead kneels gracefully beside the Hero of Legend. He tenses up but continues glaring at her in defiance, truly courageous and full of heart even after all he has been through. She gently takes his left hand, the mark there glowing softly at her touch.

 

“You will not die in agony. I will not allow it. That is why I have come today. To guide you in the right direction to end this cycle and regain your missing pieces.”  

 

“Can the cycle even be ended?” The Hero of Warriors asks warily, eyes watching her like a hawk, ever defensive of his comrades no matter their vices, “And what of the dark blood and the infection that is spreading through the timeline?”

 

“The infection is Malice, and it is poisoning the timeline from two points. The beginning of the cycle and the end of it. Your Shadows have nothing to do with it, though they are susceptible to it as you could see with the Shadow of the Hero of Time, and they are capable of becoming resistant.”

 

“How the hell is it attacking from the beginning and the end if its a fucking cycle,” the Blue Form of the Hero of the Four Sword asks grouchily.

 

“Where is the end anyways?” The Hero of the Wild asks with a look of trepidation.

 

“The end of the cycle lies with you, Hero of the Wild.”

 

The Hero of the Wild goes pale and the other heroes all sit up straight at attention.

 

“W-what? But we didn’t…”

 

“You haven’t,” she says somberly, "Yet.”

 

He pales even more, the Hero of Twilight drawing him into his side and glaring at her, a low growl deep in his throat. She understands his rage, the Hero of the Wild is yet another who was devastated the most by her failures. That he must risk his life yet again on another adventure is akin to a slap in the face.

 

“Why?” The Hero of the Wild chokes out after a few moments.

 

“You have not yet explored beneath the castle. You vanquished Calamity Ganon, but not its source. That source is what is still leaking Malice, why the monsters’ blood is tainted black, why the blood moons have not yet stopped. However, the end is not the most important thing at this time. The beginning is also not where you think it is.”

 

“It's not in Sky’s time?” The Red Form of the Hero of the Four Sword asks.

 

“No, for the curse was laid on the other side of the Gate of Time…. Where the soul of the First Hero still wanders.”

 

“Ah fuck, he was infected wasn't he? That's why you started cutting us away from your heroes, your First Hero got infected with Malice when he died, when he succumbed to despair,” the Shadow of the Hero of the Four Sword says.

 

She rises to her feet, eyes shimmering with sadness, “Yes… I was unaware at the time, and when I realized it was already too late. His soul, Shadow and all, still wanders the land back in that time period. Though he had brief moments of lucidity, I was eventually forced to seal him away,” her eyes stray to the Hero of Time’s pouch.

 

“The Fierce Deity,” the Hero of Time murmurs, “That’s why he’s so angry all the time.” 

 

“Yes, and I cannot open the way to that time period. Malice is leaking from the breach from whence Demise and his hordes invaded. My power is currently tied up in blocking the flow of Malice from flooding the timelines, such is the strength of it. My power is split fighting from two directions.”

 

“What are we supposed to do then!?” The Hero of Hyrule questions, “If the infection is spread across the timeline and the focal points at either end, how are we supposed to do anything if you can’t get us where we need to go? We’ve been sent through portals and timelines without rhyme or reason so far.”

 

“That is where your Shadows come in.”

 

The heroes turn to the Spirit of the Four Sword, who has been silent witness during her explanation. The Spirit gestures towards the Shadow of the Hero of Time.

 

“Eon was indeed one of the ones creating the portals, and he was responsible for each of your sudden shifts.”

 

“Of course, you said time and space don’t affect Shadows the same,” the Violet Form of the Hero of the Four Sword says.

 

“You said one of, so does that mean all the other Shadows have the ability to slip through time,” the Green Form of the Hero of the Four Sword queries.

 

“Eh, mine is more of a teleportation thing, I think. Though I haven’t really had a reason to try before,” the Shadow of the Hero of the Four Sword huffs.

 

“Some do better with one form or another, but they all have the capability to shift through time and space. Indigo and Eon have the ability to do both, though Indigo will always find space easier and Eon will excel with time.”

 

“That’s all well and good if the brat actually will help us,” the Hero of Warriors mutters, glancing at the Shadow of the Hero of Time.

 

“You have time to earn his trust, since he alone will not be enough to transport you to the beginning, especially not as he is now. He is still susceptible to Malice currently. No, you’ll need to find and reconcile with ALL the Shadows. Only together will they have the power to overcome the Malice corrupting the edges of the beginning.”

 

“So we have a new goal then,” the Hero of Time says, voice steely. 

 

“Yes. You must travel through time with the aid of the Shadow of the… with the Indigo Form of the Hero of the Four Sword,” she corrects herself to the surprise of said individual, “You must locate and reconcile with the remaining Shadows, while cleansing the timeline of as many infected monsters as possible. Then, when you are ready, you must travel to the beginning and quell the source of the Malice. Once that is done, the cycle will begin to unravel.”

 

The heroes stand one by one, faces wary and moderately angry but determined. 

 

“Where are we even supposed to start?” The Hero of Winds asks.

 

Hylia waves her hand and a portal of golden light appears, dimmer than the one she arrived in. 

 

“This portal will take you to the time period of the Shadow that should be the easiest to reconcile with. He will also be key to finding the remaining Shadows.” 

 

Her gaze flits from hero to hero, memorizing their faces and souls with an expression of sorrow.

 

“There are no excuses for the pain I have put you all through, and yet I must ask this of you still. Please. Help me end this cycle once and for all and quell the Malice.”

 

The Hero of Legend scoffs, “Help you fix your mistakes as usual. Sure, not like we can disagree. After all, you made sure that the instinct to help was a part of each and every one of us.”

 

Their expressions sour at his words. The Hero of Twilight gritting his teeth and eying her like prey. The Hero of Time looking at her with a painfully blank expression. The Hero of the Sky looking disappointed, and oh how much that one hurts.

 

“Once this crisis has settled… I will owe each of you a boon… whatever you wish, even be it a wish from the Triforce.”

 

A few of them look skeptical, which is to be expected.

 

“Many of you have used a wish from it selflessly, you deserve to be selfish for once, and as the guardian I can grant access in special circumstances.”

 

“I guess we will see,” the Hero of Time says coldly, a clear dismissal. 

 

That hurts worse than any or all of them yelling at her. She bows her head in understanding and with another wave of her hand one more golden portal appears through which she retreats. There's silence for a moment as the heroes ponder all the knowledge they've been given, their faces sharp with emotion in the glow of the golden portal set to take them onward to yet another adventure.

 

“I think it’s in our best interests to get out of here and set up camp for now. We have a lot to discuss with one another,” Time sighs heavily, “The time for secrets is over.”

 

Twilight grimaces, “So we’re gonna finally sit down and go through our adventures?”

 

Warriors shifts, “It would be best, seeing as we are going to be facing our pasts very soon. Though I will say I would really like an explanation for, well, all of this shit.”

 

“We’re sorry we kept it from you,” Red murmurs, scuffing the floor with his foot.

 

“It's just hard to explain, and rather personal at times,” Green says pointedly.

 

“There are so many questions I want to ask,” Sky sighs, glancing between the colors, Legend and Twilight. They had the biggest secret reveals this time around. Time is right, they’ve been secretive for too long. They need to be united for the future.

 

“They’ll be answered, at least those that we can divulge easily,” Vio murmurs with Indigo pressed against his side. The colors have all gravitated back towards one another again.

 

“Are we merging or staying split for now?” Blue grumbles.

 

“Split,” Red, Vio and Indigo chorus together.

 

“We can tell our story better like this, and we don't know what’ll happen to Indigo,” Green adds.

 

“He will join the merge as part of your shadow. He will eventually be able to Flow with you. It will just take time.”

 

“Great, one more idiot for the road,” Blue grumbles but he doesn't sound nearly as upset as his words portray. The other colors exchange amused looks.

 

“What are we waiting for? Let's go already, I wanna know how you guys do all this cool stuff,” Wind calls standing beside the golden portal. 

 

The other heroes start gravitating towards the portal as well. Legend pauses and turns back to look at the solitary spirit who’s watching them silently once more, a look of loneliness and sadness tinging their metallic features. The others are slipping through one by one, but the colors are lingering back with him to gaze upon their future self. How long have they waited for this day, only to watch them all walk away.

 

“You said you’re the blade of reflection’s aid right? Doesn't that mean that Indigo could pull you? He was just borrowing Vio’s sword,” Red asks hesitantly, glancing at where Indigo had returned the blade to Vio, the gem having reverted back to its original violet.

 

“It doesn't work like that. I am not a blade that can easily pass through time. The Shadows are not reflections of yourselves so much as they are pieces of you. My purpose is to help the hero reconcile the different parts of themselves that they struggle with, reflecting those pieces outwardly for confrontation. You have already accepted all your parts, you cannot pull me.”

 

“What about Legend?” Blue asks, unusually somber.

 

“He has a blade of his own, he has no need of me for now.”

 

“Does that mean we’ll come back to you with the Shadows?” Green asks.

 

The spirit shakes their head with a small sad smile, “You will not see me again until you become me. They do not truly need me to reconcile with their Shadows.”

 

“But if all the heroes reconcile with their Shadows, wouldn't that mean that you would have no purpose, since you’re supposed to help them do that? What would happen to you then,” Vio says quietly.

 

“....I don’t know. I suppose I shall just slowly fade away or cease to be.”

 

Legend scowls and snarls, “Well fuck that! Reconciled or not, I'm coming back for you when this is over! Even if I have to use a wish on the Triforce to do it!”

 

Prism stares at him with a widened eye before breaking into a hopeful smile.

 

“Then I will be waiting, brother.”

 

Legend nods sharply and then spins around, “Alright colorful midgets, into the portal! We have explaining to do!”

 

“We aren’t fucking midgets!” Blue snarls as he is herded through the portal. Red giggles as he’s pushed through along with him, Green following with an amused and exasperated look. Vio pauses and Indigo along with him out of curiosity. Vio glances sidelong at Legend.

 

“...You’d give up your chance to find the one you’ve been missing for us?”

 

Legend looks at him sharply then glances at Indigo for a moment before meeting the violet gaze. There’s an understanding there, the knowledge of being the cause of the loss of a loved one, however indirectly. 

 

“...It’s no good to chase a dream when you have everything you already need within reach. Someday my dream may come true, but it's no reason to ignore what's right in front of me,” he glances back to Prism.

 

Vio smiles a little and Indigo eyes the veteran with begrudging respect, tugging on his partners hand until they too disappear through the portal. Prism meets Legend’s eyes for a moment before fading away back into the sword with a soft chime of farewell. Legend glances around the room he won’t return to for a while before turning to follow his brothers through the golden portal. Time to move on. One day he will return for Prism and rescue him from this prison of a pyramid, but until then he will stand side by side with his brothers and fight on to end this accursed cycle.

 

The world is no longer black and white, they will be shading in their new views with vivid colors. Yet, he can’t help but feel they will be better than before. As he watches Wind bug Wild for the rupees from the lost bet. As he watches Warriors gape as Twilight tells him that the colors were not Four’s secret that he knew. As he watches Hyrule and Sky flit around the colors checking their yet unattended wounds. As he watches Time sit down quietly, talking to a skittish and wide eyed Eon. He thinks of an iridescent sword within which a gleaming sword spirit is waiting patiently, and smiles.