Phantom Ganon should’ve done something in response to Link’s charge. He should’ve raised his staff in defense. He should’ve started moving his horse to dodge Link’s attack. He should’ve raised his weapon to make an attack on his own. He should’ve done something!
But no. Phantom Ganon remained perfectly immobile, his hollow yet sinister eyes watching the infuriated Hero of Time raise the Master Sword for a clean strike through the specter…
…until the very last moment.
“Hyaaaaaaaaaaaa…what in the name of the Three Goddesses…?”
Link’s swing was perfect: fast, silent, and deadly. It would’ve made a clean slash straight down Phantom Ganon’s body and put an end to him right there…if he had still be where Link had aimed, that is. Just before Link followed through on his attack, Phantom Ganon’s horse leaned back slightly before pushing itself forward with all its might and then…flew.
There was no way any horse, no matter how strong it was, could launch itself that high into the air. It flew, pure and simple.
Link quickly recovered from his attack and jerked around as fast as he could in order to behold Phantom Ganon’s horse’s spectacular trick. His eyes were partially blocked by his own sweat-coated hair, but he easily put it out of his mind as other, more important things flooded his thoughts.
“Curse it!” he cried in his mind. “That horse must be a ghost as well!”
But the horse and Phantom Ganon saved the best trick for last. As it sailed through the air like a bird without wings, Link realized it wasn’t turning or even slowing down; it was heading straight for the wall. In fact, it was heading straight for one of the mundane paintings Link had noticed earlier. Link’s immediate thoughts told him the horse and Phantom Ganon were going to go through the wall, but the spirits had other ideas.
Moments before striking the wall, there was a bright purple light that erupted suddenly from the painting, covering it completely. Phantom Ganon and his horse passed right through that “doorway” of light, disappearing within its violet radiance. Then, just as quickly as it had appeared, the light disappeared, and Link could not believe what he saw next.
Phantom Ganon and his horse were inside the painting! They were up the path that led to the bottom of the painting, heading straight to the castle in the distance! As impossible as it seemed, Link was forced to believe it as he watched the evil spirit and his horse rode into the horizon of the painting, eventually disappearing in the distance, the clapping of the phantom horse’s stride against the ground fading with every step.
Of course, Phantom Ganon wasn’t one who just simply disappeared like that; moments before he was out of sight, a soft yet familiar cackle echoed throughout the chamber.
Then silence. There was complete and absolute silence. Link, his grip tightening on his sword, shifted himself towards the center of the platform; it felt like the safest place to be. He looked around for any signs of the fake Ganondorf and his steed, but there was no trace of him to be found.
Could he have possibly…run away…?
“Come out and face me, you coward!” Link screamed at the top of his lungs.
Link’s voice rang throughout the chamber like a soul in search of peace. He wanted to kill Phantom Ganon where he stood; he deserved it after what he did to Saria. He so badly wanted to run to her now, to see if she was alright, to see if there was some hope she was still alive. But the barrier kept him separated from her; all he could do was look at her, and that was painful enough.
No, the only thing he could do right now – and probably the best thing – was kill the one who had…who had…oh, gods he desperately wanted to see if she was alive…
—Pray to your dead tree god, boy. You’re about to die—
It was Phantom Ganon’s voice. Where was it coming from? It sounded like it came from everywhere and nowhere at the same time…like that was at all useful. But the specter had made a crucial error: it had forfeited the element of surprise. Now Link knew it was coming; all he had to figure out was where…
“There! There he is!”
Link’s attention quickly turned to a painting other than the one the phantom had disappeared inside. It was small, but he was sure he could make out the…yes, he was right! There, coming down the path towards the bottom edge of the painting, was Phantom Ganon on his horse. He was getting larger and larger, his hideous face staring directly at Link with his hollow eyes. Link could hear the phantom horse’s feet stamp the ground in perfect yet haunting rhythm, like a heat beat foretelling an untimely death.
Whether or not the phantom realized Link knew where he was didn’t matter; Link already knew what he was going to do.
“This is it!” Link thought as he smiled wryly and readied his sword. “As soon as you leap out of that painting, I’m going to cut you in two! Prepare yourself, Phantom Ganon! You’re going to pay for what you did to Saria!”
He was closer and getting closer still. Link waited for the bright flash of purple light that signaled its exit from the painting. The moment he sees that light, he’ll…
Phantom Ganon was turning around! Just as the specter reached the bottom edge of the painting, the ghost horse abruptly stopped, turned around, and headed back into the painting!
“What’s he doing…?” Link started thinking when, without warning, the expected purple light flashed. “Behind me…?”
Link turned around just in time to witness…another Phantom Ganon leap out of one of the other paintings behind him. However, turning around was all that Link could do. Before he could do anything, the second Phantom Ganon raised the three-pronged end of his menacing pike into the air and then sent it flying towards the ground. A split second later, a bright fork of lightning sailed from the tips straight for Link.
The Hero of Time was struck directly in the chest; he didn’t even have time to cry out in anger or pain. All he did was grunt in surprise as the force of the strike sent him flying through the air. He landed with a thud against one of the poison-tipped pikes, thankfully missing the deadly point. Link then laid there, his face frozen in disbelief at what had just happened.
But not for long.
“How…dare you…” Link muttered angrily under his breath as he strained to move again. “How dare you…use such a cheap trick against me…”
Amazingly the Master Sword was still in his hands, so Link used the mighty weapon to prop himself as he struggled to his feet. As he did, he heard the nowhere-everywhere voice of Phantom Ganon once again.
—So you managed to survive my lightning attack. That blast was strong enough to stop a person’s heart…but then again, you’re not an ordinary person. No matter. Not even you can withstand my attacks for very long. As long as you can’t see me coming, you’re nothing but my little plaything—
Link didn’t respond immediately; instead he coughed…and tasted his own blood. All the beatings and thrashings were starting to wear him down physically…but he refused to let them wear him down mentally. He was going to use every last bit of strength he had to kill this thing, no matter what it did to him.
“Plaything, am I? Well, this plaything will slit your throat and cut your guts open if you think I’m going to let you underestimate me like that.”
Phantom Ganon was nowhere in sight; he had probably disappeared into another painting. Pushing himself with his rubbery legs, Link made his way back to the middle of the platform, since it gave him the best vantage point. Fire burned up his back as he forced himself to stand as tall as possible, and he could feel the blood drain from his hands, threatening to drop the Master Sword. But he maintained his grip on the weapon as he looked around the room to try and anticipate Phantom Ganon’s next attack.
“Where are you, you bastard?” he mumbled under his breath. “Where the heck are you…?”
Link quickly stopped mumbling when he saw him.
Phantom Ganon was doing it again: riding his horse down the path of one of the paintings. Link smirked. This time, he was…no, wait! What if…? Link took another look around the room at the other paintings. Sure enough, his hunch proved correct. There was more than one Phantom Ganon riding down the path of more than one painting.
“So this is your little trick in action, is it?” Link cursed. “The question is…which one is the real you?”
Link hastily counted the number of Phantom Ganons. There were three…no, four. All of them appeared to be running at the same pace towards the bottom edge of the painting, but Link already knew three of them will turn around while the fourth, the real Phantom Ganon, will leap out and attack. But how could he tell which one was the real one? They all looked exactly alike with no visible dissimilarities. Would he have to base his decision on chance?
Deciding to risk it, Link chose one of the paintings as the real Phantom Ganon and gave it his full attention. He could’ve split his concentration between all the paintings, but Phantom Ganon was too dangerous; another mistake like before could be costly. It had to be all or nothing.
“Of course, I prefer all…”
The lingering “clippity-clop” sound of Phantom Ganon’s horse was already growing louder and louder, and Link was sure he could hear the phantom’s breathe snickering menacingly. The painting he had decided to focus on seemed to completely suffocate his vision as the Phantom Ganon it contained grew closer and closer, the ghost’s disfigured face growing more and more visible.
Just a little closer, Link knew. Then the truth will be revealed. Was it the real thing or not…?
“Yes…yes…yes…no! Curse it!”
It wasn’t real. The ghost had turned around. One of the other three ghosts was the real Phantom Ganon. And Link had no time to turn around and figure out which one it was. So there was only one thing left to do.
Although his legs felt rubbery, he still managed to find enough strength to push himself to the side in the direction of a painting without a Phantom Ganon. The moment his feet left the ground was the same moment the already-recognizable purple flash burst from one of the other paintings. Link didn’t actually see Phantom Ganon leap from the painting, but he didn’t need to. An instant following the purple flash, there came a second flash of light, this one an intense white. The subsequent loud crack that echoed throughout the chamber needed no long explanation.
Ganondorf had fired his lightning again at the very spot from where Link had just leapt. Had Link not moved, he would’ve most certainly been hit and quite possibly killed.
But Link’s relief was once again replaced by determination the moment he landed and rolled once before standing up again. The pain in his legs and back flared up again, but he ignored it as he scanned the room for the elusive Phantom Ganon. Again he was nowhere in sight.
“By the Three Goddesses, he’s fast…” Link started thinking before he heard the specter’s voice bellow again.
—That was a beautiful evasive move, my friend. I guess you have more spunk in you than I initially thought. Still, you can’t avoid me forever—
Link had had enough. “Shut up, you bloody ghost! Quit hiding and fight me face to face, you coward! Are you so weak that you rely on childish tricks like this to defeat your opponents? At least the other monsters I’ve fought had the guts to fight me one on one!”
There was a slight pause when Link finished, but he thought he felt the mood around him go sour. Had he actually gotten to Phantom Ganon? When the ghost spoke again, Link knew he had.
—You…little brat. No one talks to me like that…—
“Then come and fight me face to face, you monster! I’m not in the mood for your games!”
Another silence followed, and when Phantom Ganon spoke again Link could tell the specter was really bitter now.
—A game…is this? Well, you little pipsqueak, I’ll show just how deadly this game really is. Watch this closely, because this will be the last time you will see me. Prepare yourself, Hero of Time; you’re about to join your tree god and your pathetic girl friend—
What was he talking about, Link wondered. Was he actually taking up Link’s offer? Or did he have something else in mind? Or…was he still going to play “guess-which-picture-I’m-hiding-in?”
Whatever. Link made his way to the center of the platform once again and proceeded in scanning the room yet again, the Master Sword shimmering in the torchlight.
“All right, Phantom Ganon…show yourself. Prove to me you’re not a coward. Show me you…”
But Link’s request was not to be. When Link looked at the painting directly in front of him, he realized Phantom Ganon was once again making his way down the path of the painting. Link snarled in anger and disappointment, but quickly decided it was best to figure out how many other paintings the phantom was using as fakes so he could do what he did before: choose one and pray.
“Let’s see…he’s using the one right next to it…and the next one…and the next one…and that one too…and…wait a bloody minute…don’t tell me!”
But no one needed to tell him anything. It didn’t take Link long to recognize that every single painting in the room had a Phantom Ganon trotting down its path. And that meant…Link’s chance of choosing the right phantom was next to nothing. And Link will have no place to jump to once the real Phantom Ganon leapt from his painting because he’ll be too absorbed in figuring out which direction to choose.
There was no way out. Link was trapped.
“Great! Just great! Now what am I going to do…?”
—Link! Link! Can you hear me?—
Link couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Just like when he was losing his fight with the Poe Sisters, he was hearing Saria’s voice in his head! That meant…she was…
“Saria! Thank the Three Goddesses you’re alive…”
—Link, we have no time for this! You only have a short amount of time before Phantom Ganon attacks—
Thankfully, Link’s shock in Saria being alive still left him capable of realizing she was right. Putting aside all thought of celebration, Link thought, “Yes, yes, of course. This guy is a pain, Saria. What am I going to do?”
—Link, Phantom Ganon, as powerful as he is, he’s still a spirit. Those paintings – I’m sure he put those up himself for this very kind of thing – those paintings simply allow him to bend dimensional space into doorways so he can enter those dimensions. The multiple Phantom Ganons you see are simply mirror images of his own image that he can manipulate any way he chooses…anyway, it’s too complicated to explain right now. The main this is that the real Phantom Ganon is different from the fakes in that his energy is far more powerful—
Energy more powerful than the fakes? That sounded reasonable, but still…
“That sounds good, Saria, but what can I do with that information? I can’t sense energy like that…”
—No, but a fairy can—
A fairy…of course! Fairies were sensitive to all kinds of energy, from emotional to life. That means…
“Navi! She can…”
—Yes, but there’s something else, Link. Phantom Ganon isn’t stupid; he strikes the very second he leaps out of whatever portrait he’s hiding in. That means you have to strike an instant before he does, or else he’ll kill you with his lightning blasts—
“An instant before he does. But how can I…?”
—Look in my direction, Link. What do you see?—
Snapping out of his thought conversation with Saria, Link hastily snapped his attention towards where Saria had supposedly been killed. He didn’t know if it was because he was in a hurry – Phantom Ganon was steadily approaching, after all – or some sixth sense showed him, but he quickly saw was Saria was talking about.
There, sitting between the arrow-tipped poles that separated him from Saria, was Saria’s bow. And wouldn’t you know it, an arrow was lying right next to it. Talk about convenience!
Or was it really that convenient…?
“You bow! But Saria, I’ve never fired a bow in my life! Can’t I use my hookshot…?”
—No! Your hookshot isn’t strong enough to kill. You have to use this bow and arrow. Trust me—
Link suddenly remembered something. “But Saria…don’t you remember? You tried killing him with an arrow before and it did nothing to him…”
—Not him, Link. His horse—
Link blinked. “His horse?”
—Phantom Ganon’s horse is the key that allows him to bend dimensional space. I’m sure of it. Get rid of his horse and you can fight him one on one, just as you wanted—
“But Saria…I still don’t know how to use a bow and…”
—This is no time for excuses, Link. You’re the Hero of Time. You can do anything you have to do. Besides, it’s not like you’ll be doing this alone. I’ll help you do it. Don’t worry—
As Saria finished her coaching speech, Link couldn’t help but ask a nagging question in his mind. “Saria…how do you know all of this…?”
—Link! Shut up and get going!—
That was all Link needed to get moving.
“Navi!” Link cried. “Are you still with me?”
“Y…y…yes, I’m here,” a feeble and somewhat scared voice uttered from under his hat.
“Good! I need you to do something for me. I want you to fly to the painting with the strongest surge of energy. You got that?”
“Wh…wh…what? Are you crazy? That’s where that crazy phantom is most likely to be…”
“I’m glad you understand why I’m sending you there!” Link snapped. “Now do it!”
“Now! Please, Navi, I don’t have a lot of time!”
“Well, since you asked so nicely…”
Without another word, the pink fairy zipped out of Link’s hat and fluttered away. Link nodded in satisfaction and then turned his attention back to the paintings…oh, gods! The Phantom Ganons were nearly at the edge of the paintings. It wouldn’t be long before all but one turned around…and the real Phantom Ganon flew out to give the final blow. Link didn’t have that much time…how long did his conversation with Saria take, anyway…?
No time, no time!
The bow and arrow poking between the pike barrier looked so far away, and yet Link knew he had to get to it before Phantom Ganon leapt out of the painting again…not to mention actually fire the bloody thing! He didn’t know if he really could do that, but he had no time to argue with himself. It was now or never.
Pushing himself to the limits of his strength, Link dropped the Master Sword – it landed on the ground with a gentle clang – and dashed over to where Saria’s bow and arrow were lying. He was amazed at how quickly he reached them – was he going to make it after all? – and without a second thought he grabbed the bow in his left hand and the arrow in his right.
Okay. Now what?
“How do I work this thing?” he thought frantically. “Saria, you said you’d help me! So help me! Please!”
Oh, gods. The Phantom Ganons had just about reached the edge of the painting. In another second, they were going to turn around…
—Link! Can you hear me?—
Link felt relief flow through his veins. “Loud and clear!”
—Good. Now try to relax, because this is going to feel strange—
This is going to feel strange? What exactly was “this?”
“Saria, what…?” he started thinking when suddenly he felt something.
The experience wasn’t new; several times he had felt “something” grow within him, so this time didn’t surprise him as much as before. Even so, he was still in the dark about what exactly it was. It reminded him somewhat of a cross between the first time he had used Din’s Fire and when he had called forth the power of the Medallion of Light. However, this one was different in that it didn’t affect his body.
It affected his mind.
Was Saria awakening a hidden power within his body?
He was about to call out to Saria again to ask what exactly was happening…when he stopped himself. He instantly realized what was going on. This “something”…Saria wasn’t awakening it; she was giving it to him. She was giving him…knowledge! He didn’t know how, but she was somehow transferring knowledge directly into his mind!
Did that mean…? Yes! She was “teaching” him how to use the bow and arrow! Already he could feel the grip of his hands on the bow and arrow grow more confident, more experienced. Already he could sense his mind calculating the proper way to aim the weapon. Already he could feel himself become…skilled.
How in the name of the Three Goddesses was Saria doing this?
“Saria…how…?” he started when, as quickly as it had begun, the “something” receded.
But its affects hadn’t. He could still feel everything Saria had “taught” him, everything stuck in his mind as if it had always been there. It was too extraordinary to believe…actually, no, it wasn’t. After all he had seen, this wasn’t too difficult to accept…
—Link! You can use the bow now, right?—
With confidence, Link thought loudly, “Yes…yes, I can!”
—Then quit bragging and bloody-well use it!—
Deciding not to argue, Link nodded. He then returned his concentration to the important matter at hand: Phantom Ganon and his army of clones. He quickly realized that the phantoms had reached the edge of the paintings and were now starting to turn around. If he didn’t act fast enough, the real Phantom Ganon was going to come out…stop it, Link! Concentrate! Concentrate!
With the hands of a veteran, Link placed the arrow against the bow, locked it against the bowstring, and pulled back.
“Now…where is he?”
With eyes as sharp as an owl’s, Link scanned the series of paintings around him, looking for the tell-tale sign that indicated where the real Phantom Ganon was. He had no idea his eyes could move around this quickly…no, don’t think about it. Just look! He looked at each painting individually, scanning it thoroughly before moving on to the next one. Each examination took less than an instant, and yet Link could remember every single one of them.
“Come on, where are you?” he thought frantically. “I need you! You’ve gotta be around here!”
The Phantom Ganons were nearly completely turned around…
“Please, I need you!”
“Navi! Get outta the way now!”
With a deafening whistle-like sound echoing in his ear immediately thereafter, Link aimed the arrow and released the bowstring. Like a bird sailing through the air for its prey, the deadly projectile sailed through the air towards the painting that the familiar pink fey had indicated as the one where the real Phantom Ganon was hiding. Navi had fluttered quickly out the way the moment Link had shouted…which was a good thing, since the target Link was aiming for had been directly behind her.
As he watched the arrow fly through the air, Time apparently slowing down so he could see its path, Link started to pray.
“Oh, please hit, please hit, please hit…”
The bright purple flash.
“Now die, you…”
The threatening words from the real Phantom Ganon were cut short when its ghostly horse suddenly “stumbled” in its flight path. As if affected by seizures, the dark horse started shaking violently in the air, shaking its rider quite aggressively.
“What…what’s going on here? What’s happening?” the specter screamed as its horse started to fall.
Link already knew the answer to that question. Lodged in the horse’s head, starting at its throat and going directly into its brain, was Link’s arrow. Link almost had trouble believing that he had actually shot that arrow, but his disbelief was easily overshadowed by the victory he had just obtained.
Without his horse, Phantom Ganon couldn’t “bend dimensional space” or whatever Saria had described. Now he was stuck with Link…where Link could kill him.
“Pull up! Pull up! Pull up, you stupid horse! I said pull up! Pull uuuuuuuuuup…!”
But Phantom Ganon’s pleas went unanswered. The horse was now writhing and screaming in pure agony as it tumbled down to the ground, carrying its screaming master with it. Since it now couldn’t reach another painting, the horse crashed into something else: the pike barrier surrounding the platform.
Link never knew until that moment ghosts could actually sound alive when they crashed.
With its back snapped upon impact and its head twisted in the opposite direction, the ghost horse twisted in pain as it lay there with its master, who was probably trying to tell himself that he had just crashed. Then, a couple of seconds after it had crash landed, the horse started to…vaporize. Right before Link’s eyes, the horse was evaporating into the air like steam.
Had Link killed…a ghost horse?
“Oh, stop it, this is no time for irony,” Link told himself. “You’ve got to get this guy before…”
Suddenly, Link felt the mood in the air change. He could feel an evil force start to surge within the air; it was so thick he could almost smell it…no, taste it. What was going on…?
With those words, Phantom Ganon stood up, using his enormous weapon to get to his feet, and turned to face the Hero of Time. Link nearly jumped in shock when he saw the specter’s eyes: they were shining so intensely and fervently that any thought of them being hollow was quickly erased from his mind. His grotesque face rippled sickeningly with rage and ire, and his arms shook violently, almost waving his deadly staff in circles. For some reason, he appeared taller than he had been upon his horse, although that was most likely because he appeared more intimidating than before.
Phantom Ganon was now furious, and he wanted to take out his fury on the boy who had taunted him.
“You…dared to kill my horse, you little brat,” the phantom bellowed, his unholy voice booming across the room. “You will pay…you will pay dearly for your insolence. I am the phantom of my great and all-powerful master. I am Phantom Ganon. You wanted a fight one on one? You got one!”
“Great…and me without my sword,” Link grumbled.
Phantom Ganon then lifted his staff and once again pointed the three-point end directly at the Hero of Time. Link thought the Phantom was about to fire one of his lightning blasts, but instead Ganon formed one of his energy spheres, like the one that had nearly killed Saria. Were they more deadly than his lightning attack…? They must be. Why else was he using them now, when he was completely ticked off?
Deciding not to wait a second longer, Link quickly jumped to the side. A second later, Phantom Ganon released the energy ball. It surged through the air like a giant insect, buzzing as it made an attempt to strike the Hero of Time. Luckily for Link, it missed completely and struck the metallic poles, disintegrating with a mild explosion and deafening hiss.
But this didn’t deter Phantom Ganon. He simply repositioned his staff and formed yet another ball before firing it again at the one who had slain his horse.
And so began a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. Without his sword, all Link could do was run. And every time he tried to get near the dropped Master Sword, Phantom Ganon would fire a blast directly at the mighty blade, forcing Link to retreat and let the deadly game begin again. The energy attacks didn’t appear to harm the sword in any way…which was more that Link could say should one of the attacks hit him. Once in a while, the ghost actually did manage to find its target perfectly; luckily, Link still had his shield, which managed to take the brunt of the force of the energy balls. Even so, every hit was enough to throw him off his balance, which would’ve made him a sitting duck, had not had the reflexes to dodge a subsequent attack by the irate phantom.
“Die, die, die, die, die!”
With each scream he released from the depths of his voice, Phantom Ganon fired a deadly shot at the Hero of Time. With each shot that didn’t kill Link, he grew more and more angry. Link could’ve sworn his energy balls were getting more and more powerful, but the only way to test that theory was to get hit by them, something he obviously wasn’t prepared to do.
“Curse it! Let me get my sword and you’ll wish you still had you horse!”
Of course, Link had no clue how he was going to get his sword back, and his attention was completely focused on dodging Phantom Ganon’s attacks for him to come up with a plan…
“Saria, I’m afraid I’m a little busy right now,” Link called out in his mind as he rolled to the right to dodge another attack. “Unless you have an idea for me to get my sword back, then…”
—Link, I do have a way—
Link’s eyes widened with hope.
“I’m listening…” Link leapt to the left to avoid another energy ball “…as well as I possibly can!”
—Link, don’t you remember your magic? Can’t you use your magic to attack or distract him long enough to get your sword back?—
“Magic?” Link repeated before he remembered his demonstration to Saria of Din’s Fire earlier when he killed those Wolfos. “Well, I’m not sure if I can. He might attack me while I try to use it against him. If only I were faster…wait a minute…faster? Of course! Saria, I have the answer! Thank you so much…!”
—Wait, Link, there’s one more thing I need to tell you…—
Saria was briefly interrupted as Link raised his shield to sideswipe another energy ball.; luckily the impact didn’t knock him off balance.
—Woah, close one—
“No need to tell me that. So what did you want to tell me?”
—Link, once you get your sword back, there’s one thing you need to do to defeat Phantom Ganon. Alone, your sword won’t hurt him. You need to call forth the energy of the Temple of Light—
“The energy from the Temple of Light? Why? Because it’ll make me stronger or something?”
—Something like that. Just remember the Poe Sisters—
“The Poe Sisters? What do they have to do…?”
Suddenly, Link realized what she was talking about. It had escaped him before, but now he understood. Now he knew what to do both ways.
“Gotcha. Thanks, Saria…”
“Yes, what is it?”
There was a slight pause, during which Phantom Ganon took another shot at Link. The shot missed, and the moment it disintegrated with its soft bang was the moment Saria spoke up again.
—Oh, it’s nothing. Nevermind. Good luck…Hero of Time—
It didn’t take Link a lot of thinking to realize what Saria was really trying to say, but he decided not to say anything about it. Now was not the best time to be discussing something like that. Maybe afterwards, when he had defeated this monster…
“Thanks, Saria. Now watch and be amazed…”
With that final thought, Link shifted his entire concentration to the battle once more, where everything seemed to happen in real time once again. Phantom Ganon, as angry as ever, still appeared to believe that the best way to kill the Hero of Time was using his energy balls; he was still firing them nonstop.
“This guy is incredibly mad or incredibly stupid,” Link uttered under his breath. “But we’ll soon see. Okay, Phantom Ganon, let’s see whether you can keep up with me when I go a little bit faster.”
Link then waited for Phantom Ganon to fire one more energy ball and dodged it by jumping to the left before he whispered loudly two words to himself. He then pushed himself forward, heading straight to where the Master Sword lay.
“Die!” Phantom Ganon for the hundredth time yelled as he fired a ball of energy at the Master Sword like he had done so many times before.
To the specter’s complete surprise, before the energy ball even reached the mighty blade halfway…it disappeared! Phantom Ganon blinked his hollow eyes several times to make sure he wasn’t hallucinating…and then he abruptly realized that the Hero of Time had also disappeared! Both he and the Master Sword were gone!
“What in the blazes…?” he bellowed but didn’t have the time to finish when he felt pain sear up his left arm.
Phantom Ganon roared in shock and fury and looked down at where he felt the stinging throb. There, running down his arm from his elbow to his wrist, was a deep gash. Since he was a phantom he had no blood to bleed, and yet the fact that he actually had the gash in the first place was mind-blowing.
But what both amazed and frightened him was that he was actually feeling…pain! He was a ghost! He shouldn’t feel pain! What was going on…?
“Hey! Looking for me?”
Phantom Ganon looked up from his arm to see the Hero of Time, standing in the middle of the room. The way he was standing suggested he was mocking Phantom Ganon in some way, and resting on his right shoulder and under his right hand was the Master Sword, which inexplicably seemed to glow brighter than it did before. He didn’t seem to feel any pain or uncertainty; in fact, he looked as calm as could be!
Link stared at the dumbfounded phantom for a moment before he threw his long green cap back with a flick of his neck and flashed a smile. “Does it hurt? I’m sure it does. It must be quite painful, especially for a ghost.” Link’s face then quickly turned serious. “And that’s only a small part of what you’re going to get for what you did to my friend. Prepare yourself, Phantom Ganon. You’re about to die.”
Phantom Ganon, who still couldn’t believe what he was seeing, tried to remain composed but found it increasingly difficult through his ire. “You…dare to threaten me? What do you take me for…you little brat? You’ll regret coming up against me! Take this…!”
The specter then raised his staff again to fire another energy ball, but Link moved first. He decided not to use Farore’s Wind again because it would deplete his energy too quickly; instead he simply launched himself forward and raised the Master Sword over his head, ready to strike the ghost down. Phantom Ganon, caught off guard by Link’s swiftness, only had time to call off his attack and raise his staff in defense.
Steel clashed with steel as the Master Sword shed sparks upon Phantom Ganon’s staff, missing the ghost’s head by mere inches. The initial attack was strong enough, but Link still had plenty more to share. Without stopping, he lifted his sword and started slashing away at the ghost as hard as he can; all Phantom Ganon could do was shift the weight and position of his staff to block the Hero of Time’s attacks.
But not for long.
The phantom may have been caught off guard at the start, but his rage refused to let him be defeated by a mere boy. As soon as he regained the fury he had during his energy ball attacks, he started moving on the offensive, countering Link’s sword slashes with some of his own moves. Link managed to gracefully counteract these attacks and then answer with his own, which were again defended and answered back.
And thus began what had to be the most intense melee battle Link had ever fought. Never had Link exchanged and countered so many blows with an opponent before. In every other fight before this, he could recall every jab, slice, dodge, and maneuver he had made against his enemy. But not with this battle. Now the only thing he could do was count how many times he attacked and defended as every assault and movement were quickly replaced by the next set of advances:
Link slashed to the right of his opponent, aiming for the neck.
Phantom Ganon parried with the upper end of his staff and used the lower end to conduct and upward slash.
Link dodged the slash and spun around, bringing his sword around with him in an attempt to cut the phantom in the lower torso.
Phantom Ganon used the closest end of his staff to push the blade downward. Once the blade was vertical he brought the blades of the upper end down to cut open Link’s head.
Link caught the attack from above by bringing his sword around and back. When the staff’s blades fell upon the Master Sword, Link pushed it back to try and throw Phantom Ganon off balance and strike his right arm.
Phantom Ganon managed to recover in time to parry the attempt on his arm.
The fight between Link and Phantom Ganon moved like this for the longest time. The two fighters circled the room in a deadly dance, knowing full well that the one who stumbled would be the one to fall. Their rhythm was the sound of their weapons colliding with each other, creating a haunting echo throughout the chamber with each beat. Each clash seemed to grow stronger and louder as the fight pressed on, but neither fighter was about to give way to his opponent.
Even so, Link was still human, after all, and humans grow tired. The energy from the Temple of Light was flowing through his body, giving him the necessary stamina to stand up to the phantom’s advances, but not even that could hold him forever. Soon enough, he started to feel his strength slowly fade away and his concentration waning.
“Curses! I can’t give out now! Not now, of all times!”
Link knew he had to do something to buy him some time, at least to let him rest, even if it were for a moment. But what could he do? Phantom Ganon was obviously bent on killing Link where he stood…
The Master Sword collided with Phantom Ganon’s staff once again in another attempt to slice through the ghost’s torso. It was at that moment that Link had an idea. Quick as a flash, he twisted his sword around and allowed it to use momentum to slide down the staff. Just as he had hoped, the blade found Phantom Ganon’s hand and proceeded to carve right through it.
Phantom Ganon, who had never known pain until this very day, stepped back and raised his cut hand in genuine agony. Link took the opportunity to take several steps away from the screaming ghost, allowing the Light Temple energy to stop flowing. He still held the Master Sword ready for attack, but his main priority was getting his strength back and figuring out a way to defeat this guy other than wasting his energy on simple hack-and-slash.
As he breathed slowly and heavily to regain his breath, Phantom Ganon raised his slashed hand to see what happened to it. The fingers were halfway cut and the palm had a huge gash running through it. The pain was comparable to the pain given to him by Link’s first attack, but this one somehow felt worse in that the boy had dared to injure him a second time…
“Boy…prepare to die!”
At first Link thought he was simply going to charge at him and thus resume their one on one duel, but the Hero of Time was in for a rude shock. The air around him suddenly grew thick with power, a tainted power. Never had Link felt the air in the chamber grow this powerful; it was so strong it very well could’ve knocked Link unconscious had he not had the willpower.
Link’s mind told him what was going on, and his eyes confirmed it when the ghost raised his weapon: Phantom Ganon was charging his staff for another energy ball attack. But this time his attack felt different; maybe that was because this one felt powerful enough to kill every living person within a mile radius!
As Phantom Ganon was about to deliver his devastating attack, Link quickly contemplated his options.
“Oh, gods…oh, gods…what’ll I do? What’ll I do? Call forth Farore’s Wind…? No, it’ll drain my energy too much and I’ll be too weak to fight him. Charge him now…? No, he’ll get that ball off before I ever reach him. Then what? What? What? This things is going to kill me if I don’t do something! It’s not like I can just…hey, wait a minute…maybe I can!”
Just like that, possibly the craziest idea Link had ever had formed in his mind. Normally it would seem insane, but somehow logic seemed to indicate otherwise. Of course this logic had been assembled on the spur of the moment, and there was a very good chance he was going to miss. But it was probably the best chance he had. If this didn’t work, he would be dodging deadly energy balls again and most likely dead anyway.
“Okay, you demon!” Link snarled as he tightened his grip on the Master Sword. “Give it to me! Show me what you got!”
As if answering Link’s question, Phantom Ganon fired his energy ball with a deafening roar.
Time seemed to slow down as Link watched the energy ball approach him. It was huge, almost the size of his entire upper body. It was also undoubtedly more powerful, humming with a deadly intensity that threatened everything that dared to touch it. Link could already tell that one wrong move and he would be dead either way. But there was no turning back now. It was now or never.
He waited for the ball to get closer, and when it was within arm’s reach, he acted. He again called forth the Light Temple energy again – it was a key ingredient to his insane logic in this plan – waited for the right moment, raised his sword high, and then brought it down with all his might.
The Master Sword, which seemed to glow with the passion of the sun, collided with the energy ball with a loud hissing sound. There was a bright flash, which caused Link to initially believe the ball had exploded. But when the flash subsided he realized that the ball had merely changed! Hard as it was to believe, the ball had changed its color. Before it had burned a fiery yellow, but now it radiated an intense white (with the same intense power, of course).
Had the Light Temple energy somehow merged with the energy ball’s?
Who cared? It wasn’t important.
But what Link noticed most about the ball, and was most amazed yet relieved about, was that it had changed direction! Instead of heading for him, it was heading straight back to its creator!
To Phantom Ganon!
It didn’t take the specter that long to realize that his lethal attack had somehow been deflected and was heading right for him. Unfortunately, for him, he had no time to dodge.
For a huge energy ball, it sure didn’t make that big of an explosion.
But that was beside the point. When the ball struck Phantom Ganon, enveloping him in pure energy, all the phantom could do was cry out in anguish and rear his head up to release the pain through his voice. The energy surged across his body for about a minute before it started being absorbed into the specter’s body, disappearing from view. When the last of the radiant light explosion subsided, Phantom Ganon, standing up and arms spread out in pain, fell to his knees with a thump.
He would’ve fallen on his face had he not used his staff to prop himself up.
Even so, the attack that had backfired (literally) on him had done its damage. Phantom Ganon was weak and powerless, unable to move from where he was kneeling.
This was exactly what Link needed.
Taking no time to hesitate, Link maintained the flow of Light Temple energy through him as he sprinted forward and raised the Master Sword one more time. This was one thing Link had absolute confidence in. This was one thing he was not going to miss. Not by a long shot.
Without a single word, witty line or departing remark, Link brought the Master Sword down on Phantom Ganon’s head.
The blade sliced through the ghost’s skull cleanly and effortlessly, making nary a sound. The sword did manage to reach as far as past the monster’s neck, but that didn’t matter; what mattered was that Link had got its head. All of a sudden, Phantom Ganon found the strength to move. He dropped his staff and grabbed his split head with both hands, somehow managing to scream even louder than before. He writhed in agony and pain, as if hoping it would save him, but his fate was already sealed.
He was already starting to disintegrate. Just like the Poe Sisters and his horse before him.
Link had won. He had destroyed Phantom Ganon.
“And good riddance.”
Already feeling tiredness creep into his muscles, Link sank to the ground in exhaustion. He fell to his knees and used the Master Sword to prop himself up, his breathing moving rapidly and heavily. But inside he could feel his heart leap with joy. He had done what he had set out to do… without turning into that bloodthirsty killer like before.
Even though he was tired, he forced his lips to curve into a smile.
“Saria…if you can hear me…I did it. I actually did it…”
“Good job, kid.”
“No! It can’t be…I just killed him!”
Link looked up, expecting to see Phantom Ganon standing over him without a single scratch on his ghostly body. But no. The phantom was still disintegrating; in fact, he looked even worse than before and completely incapable of speaking. Then why did Link just hear his voice…?
“To think…you actually destroyed my phantom. Your battle with him wasn’t too shabby, either.”
The voice was coming from the decomposing ghost, and yet…it didn’t sound like it was the ghost. Could it be…the voice of…?
“However, this phantom was, after all, just a phantom. The real me is, I can assure you, nothing like what you’ve just fought. This ghost is a shell compared to me.”
It was Ganondorf! The real Ganondorf. He was speaking through his phantom! But how…?
“Remember this, kid.” Ganondorf’s voice suddenly grew hostile. “You’ve been lucky so far, but you’ve hardly won anything. All you’ve done is awaken a weak Sage who pales in comparison to my great power. And I still control the other temples. Yes, boy, I control the other temples. If you wish to awaken the other Sages, then I dare you to come and die. Enjoy your victory, because it was your last You’ll die soon, anyway. No one who opposes me lives.
“Now…to attend to other matters…”
Then, without warning, the phantom started writhing and shaking violently, as if something were wringing his neck and waving him around in the air like a doll. He didn’t scream at all, but Link could tell he was in a lot of pain.
“Your defeat proves you’re nothing but a worthless creation not worthy of the magic used to give birth to you,” the ghost – actually the real Ganondorf – uttered through its tossing and turning. “As punishment for being beaten at the hands of this mere boy and using my godly image while doing so, I shall banish you to the gap between dimensions. Hael is far too good for the likes of you.”
The still dissolving Phantom Ganon looked shocked when he heard those words and seemed to try and plea with its voiceless voice, but it was already too late. Before he could anything else, a bright purple light suddenly enveloped his body, blinding Link’s eyesight for a moment. Link heard a sharp whine for a split second, and then the light abruptly disappeared. When Link could see again, he turned back to where the phantom had been.
He was gone. Phantom Ganon had disappeared.
“What just happened…?” Link started thinking before realizing it wasn’t worth thinking about. Whatever Ganondorf had done to his phantom was not Link’s concern. Right now he had another, more important concern.
And she was lying outside the barrier of poison-tipped pikes, waiting for him.
Link couldn’t believe that Saria had actually known how he had defeated the Poe Sisters, especially since he himself had only figured it out midway during his fight with Phantom Ganon; before he had just considered it a fluke. But who would’ve guessed that the energy of the Light Temple would actually not only flow through his body but also through the blade of the Master Sword?
It made sense when he thought about it. The Sages were the ones who had created the Master Sword as a key to the Sacred Realm, so of course the sword was sensitive to the power of Sages. He knew from the moment he had called it forth that the Light Temple’s energy was what had burned the Poe Sisters when they had tried to drain his energy; now he knew why the Master Sword had also managed to harm them when before it hadn’t.
And that’s why Saria knew only he could kill Phantom Ganon: the Light Temple’s energy was the only thing that could even hurt the specter.
Of course, there was still a question as to how Saria knew that kind of information. In fact, how did she know anything? Ever since she had been drained by the Poe Sisters, she had done things Link would’ve ordinarily found disturbing. What exactly was going on with her?
Maybe when he asked her, he…
“Link! Link, you were terrific!”
Link’s thoughts were interrupted by an over joyous Navi who fluttered in front of his face with her pink light flickering like crazy. Link couldn’t help but smile at her enthusiasm. “Well…thanks for the compliment, Navi…”
“But don’t you ever fire an arrow at me like that again! You hear me? I could’ve been skewered! Next time you want to use me for targeting practice, I think I’ll go ask you to shove those arrows where the sun doesn’t shine!”
Link snickered; Navi was still her old self, even in times like this, thank goodness. But what happened to that bow, anyway? Link couldn’t remember what he did with it after firing that arrow. He had probably dropped it somewhere…oh, well. It wasn’t that important.
“Come on, Navi,” Link said as he struggled to his feet, ignoring Navi’s snapping. When he made it to his feet, he sheathed the Master Sword and returned his shield to his back. “Let’s go see Saria. I’m sure she’s…”
Before Link could finish speaking, he was interrupted. By a glowing light. That completely surrounded him.
As if there hadn’t been enough bright lights already!
“Link, what’s going on?” cried Navi, who suddenly grew hysterical.
Link looked around for an answer, but couldn’t find any. “I…I don’t know, Navi. I…I just don’t know…”
The light seemed to be coming from everywhere at once; there was no single identifiable source. Was this one of Ganondorf’s tricks? Was the Gerudo king trying to finish him off right here and now? Link wish he had the answers, but right now all he could do was stand his ground and watch the room around him grow brighter and brighter with each passing moment. Not even the Master Sword could help him now.
Soon the entire room had been swallowed by the white light…and yet strangely Link could still see; he wasn’t blinded in the least by the brightness all around him. Only he and Navi were visible; everything else had vanished. And although he didn’t feel like he was falling, he couldn’t feel any ground underneath his feet, either.
The feeling was very uncomfortable, to say the least.
Then, just as quickly as it had arrived, the bright light started to disappear again, allowing the surroundings to return to Link’s vision. However, as the light grew dimmer and dimmer, it didn’t take him long to realize that he was no longer in the giant chamber underneath the Forest Temple. Even so, he still didn’t know where he was now, or how he had gotten there…
“Wait a minute…blue light…light waterfalls…different colored islands…hey, I know this place!”
With a start, Link realized he was in the Chamber of Sages!
Before he could contemplate the significance of what was going on, Navi started crying out again. “Link! Link, what’s going on? Where are we? What is this place? Why…?”
“Calm down, Navi, calm down,” Link cried back. “I know this place. We have nothing to worry about. It’s completely safe.”
“‘Safe,’ you say? If this place is safe, when why in the name of the Three Goddesses did we suddenly just ‘arrive’ here?”
“I…I don’t know the answer to that question, Navi, but I’m sure there’s a reason. Maybe Rauru brought us back here or something, but I wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t…”
“Thank you, Link, for awakening me.”
That voice…it sounded familiar, yet Link couldn’t put his finger on the owner at the moment…
“Link, look!” Navi abruptly shouted. “That green island! It’s glowing!”
Link turned his attention to what Navi was shouting about. Sure enough, the green island of the six different colored islands that surrounded the Triforce-shaped island he was standing at the moment on was glowing. With a green light, no less. The light wasn’t too bright; it was just vivid enough to show that it existed, projecting itself around the island in a circular pattern.
Was this why he had been brought to this place? Was something about to happen?
“Wait…could this be…? Is that who that voice belonged to…?”
Before he could continue with that train of thought, something started to happen with the light. It started to...bend…no, wait, it wasn’t bending, it was shaping itself into something. At first Link couldn’t tell what the light was trying to become, but soon he could make out distinct features that indicated the light was forming the shape of a person.
“A person…? I knew it! I knew it was that…”
Link thoughts were again cut off when he realized that the person the light was shaping looked familiar. Too familiar, in fact. The height was about half his own. The hair was formed in a very recognizable shape. The clothing wasn’t too difficult to identify. And the face…he knew that face anywhere!
As the light filled in the details of the figure it had created, Link felt his heart sink in shock. Was this really who he had thought it was? It couldn’t be! Could it…?
With a tiny burst of its own brilliance, the green light exploded brightly, hiding the figure from view and forcing Link to look away momentarily. When he looked again, his heart sank even further.
There, standing tall and proud, completely fleshed out by the sculpted light, was Saria.
The little Kokiri stared at the Hero of Time, who was gaping in astonishment and disbelief back at her, for about a minute in silence before she finally nodded her head once and uttered, “Thank you…Hero of Time.”
Somehow, Link managed to find the strength to speak. “Saria…what…what are you…how did you…why are you here…where did you come from…how…?”
“Link, Link, it’s all right. I’m pretty sure before I fully materialized that you already knew who I was.”
“And who would that be?” inquired Navi, who sounded just as surprised as Link looked.
Saria smiled weakly. “Why…the Sage of the Forest, of course.”