“Hurry, Sheik, hurry! Can’t you make this horse go any faster?”
As she screamed into Sheik’s ear while crouching on his shoulder, Navi ducked to avoid being struck by a low branch on a tree, another hurdle presented to them by the forest in which she and the Sheikah were traveling. Sheik, using most of his concentration to make sure his stallion Verci didn’t collide with one of the enormous tree trunks in their way, didn’t answer the fairy’s question immediately. His hesitation made Navi impatient.
“I can fly faster than this!” she snapped.
“I’m going as fast as I can safely go, Navi!” Sheik insisted. “If I go any faster, I could very well injure us with one wrong turn.”
Navi wasn’t satisfied by the answer, but instead of pressing the issue further she squealed, “How much longer to
? How much longer?” Lake Hylia
“Not very long…woah!” Sheik answered as he pulled the reins to prevent Verci from ramming into a great oak. “Only an hour or so left. Link should’ve arrived there long ago, so hopefully we’re not violating Ganondorf’s rules…”
“Do you think he’s all right?” Navi asked, suddenly looking a little worried. “I mean, if it really is a trap and all…”
“Link’s fine,” Sheik asserted, though he didn’t sound convinced himself. “In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s already rescued that poor girl by the time we get there.”
“If you really think that,” Navi uttered, “then why are your hands shaking?”
The Sheikah’s hands were indeed shaking, and it wasn’t because of the jerky movements of the horse…
If one were able to contain the raw energy of a lightning storm within a single point, it would be found where the swords of Link and Dark Link collided, the Master Sword’s blood-soaked metallic shell scraping against the gloomy rust of Dark Link’s blade. Both opponents had swung at the exact same time; both found each other’s weapon right in front of them.
flew where the blades met, and muscles swelled as each swords’ owner tried to overpower his respective adversary, the passion emanating from each fighter saturating the air. Sparks
However, nothing could compare to the pure intensity of the emotions locked within both Link and Dark Link’s eyes…
“Heh,” Dark Link spat with a smirk. “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for this moment.”
Still straining to keep Dark Link at bay, Link snarled in his opponent’s direction. “Like I give a flying flip, you wretch.”
Without giving Dark Link a chance to respond, Link twisted his hands around to swing Dark Link’s blade to the side, allowing him to maneuver his own sword more easily. The Master Sword skidded off the dark blade instantly, and Link used the momentum to bring his blade around into a powerful swing aimed at Dark Link’s face.
Dark Link was there to counter. He raised his shadow sword to divert Link’s attack – a loud clang echoed across the room as the Master Sword bounced off the sword and into a harmless direction. However, despite not injuring him, the Master Sword’s blow did force Dark Link to step backwards, allowing Link to attempt another strike…only to find Dark Link’s weapon to deflect the Master Sword once again.
For half a minute Link controlled the tempo of the fight: he viciously slashed at his foe from every direction as fast as he could, each attempt ending in a blow against Dark Link’s waiting and defending blade. Every swipe forced Dark Link to retreat a step, and each failed effort to cut down his adversary only made Link swinging grow more violent.
Then, on an incredibly wild and uneven slash, Link’s blade collided with Dark Link’s sword and was pushed back as Dark Link used the momentum to form a sort of spring with his weapon. As the Master Sword twisted harmlessly away, Dark Link let go of his sword’s hilt with one hand, curled that hand into a fist, and sent a punch flying towards Link’s face…
The unexpected blow struck Link’s left cheek and sent him reeling backwards, his rearward movements erratic despite not losing his balance. As he steadied himself, his free hand reflexively moved to touch the spot where he had been hit…but he stopped it, his building rage over being struck in such a manner numbing any pain he may have experienced. Growling as a release of his frustration, he redirected his attention to Dark Link…
Link reacted quickly enough to raise the Master Sword and redirect a sideways cut by Dark Link. The shadowy blade missed severing Link’s neck, but the power behind the blow did compel him to step back. Before he could steady himself, Link saw another incoming attack and was forced to move the Master Sword in order to deflect the next slash.
Dark Link managed to get make more attempted hits before Link realized what was going on.
“Trying to switch roles around? Like Hael you will!”
Not even waiting for Dark Link’s next blow, Link ducked and pushed himself forward, barely missing his foe’s next attack – a second too late and it would’ve been Dark Link’s sword rather than his wrist that would’ve collided with Link’s head. Unable to get a clear blow with his sword, Link instead used his free hand to pummel his opponent. This time, Link returned the favor by punching Dark Link in the stomach as hard as he could in such cramped quarters.
Dark Link, caught off guard by the attack, released a muffled groan as his body lifted into the air and crooked at the point of impact, like a bent twig that refused to snap. Taking advantage of the situation, Link stepped back and used the now ample space to raise the Master Sword above his head, ready to bring its edge down on his opponent.
As Link took a step forward, Dark Link’s back abruptly snapped backwards, his arms outstretched and hands open. As his palms landed on the ground, Dark Link continued carrying the momentum in his legs, sending them into a deadly kicking arc over his head. Link had little time to respond when one of Dark Link’s feet collided with his chin, sending Link into an unexpected flying retreat.
Link stumbled backwards for only a little bit, but the shockwave sent through his neck made sure he couldn’t lower his head for at least several agonizing seconds. Even when he could finally drop his head once more, colorful patterns of light flowers danced around in his vision for a few seconds more before he could finally see straight. It was then that he saw Dark Link again, standing a stone’s throw away, sword halfheartedly at the ready and eyes glaring sinisterly back at him.
“Heh,” Dark Link sneered, rubbing his gut in mock agony. “You’ve got more surprises than I thought.”
Stroking his chin, Link twisted his mouth to the side and spat some blood in his mouth incurred by Dark Link’s sharp kick. He then grasped the hilt of the Master Sword with both hands and pointed the tip towards his opponent at an angle. He had no witty response or threatening rejoinder to Dark Link’s comment, so he decided to let his actions do the talking for him.
Dark Link recognized Link’s body language and snickered. “If that’s the way you feel…”
Not bothering to finish his sentence, Dark Link twisted his blade behind his back, arm straight. He then bent his knees and pushed himself forward into a ferocious charge, his eyes locked on his waiting adversary. Link remained still as could be, gnashing his teeth behind his closed lips as he anticipated Dark Link’s next strike…
As Dark Link reached his foe, he swung his blade out horizontally, trying to shear off Link’s head with one clean cut. Link saw the attack coming and instantly ducked to avoid it, though he felt the serrated metal scrape past his cap. Trying to take advantage of the small window of opportunity, Link sprung upward and attempting to cut across Dark Link’s torso with the Master Sword, but Dark Link retreated by bending his back and taking a couple steps rearward.
Both Links then retreated a couple steps, but only to open the playing field. The adversaries then stormed towards each other again, swords ready. The scraping of metal lingered long after the blades clashed together during several more heated attacks, neither Link nor his shadow refusing to give his opponent an edge in the fight.
Finally, just as the two blades collided hard enough to send painful vibrations all the way to their hilts, Link tore through the sting felt in his hand to attempt a downward sideswipe across Dark Link’s chest. Dark Link saw the attack and again arched his back, allowing the blood-soaked sheen of the Master Sword to pass harmlessly above his contorted body – he also used this unexpected moment to craft an opportunity of his own.
Planting his hands firmly on the ground, Dark Link threw his right leg into a powerful sidelong kick, landing his boot squarely in Link’s hip. The blow sent Link reeling to the side and he landed on the ground with a soft thud. Blood from the wound in his mouth leaked onto the stone cobbles as he coughed violently from the attack. He didn’t even have time to clean up before he saw Dark Link heading towards him, sword in a recognizable position above his head.
At the last second Link rolled to his left, the sharp ring of Dark Link’s blade echoing very close to his ear as it landed a rather short distance from his face. But Link didn’t merely try to dodge Dark Link’s attack. Luckily his hand holding the Master Sword was directly beneath Dark Link’s blade when it crashed to the ground, so a fortunate consequence of the roll was the Master Sword heaving upward and colliding with Dark Link’s sword, knocking the weapon from Dark Link’s grasp.
The sword sailed clumsily across the room before landing a short distance away from the two Links. Dark Link, stunned by the unexpected maneuver, glared down at his opponent before rushing off to reclaim his weapon. Link, still on his back, realized he wouldn’t be able to get to Dark Link’s sword before his foe could…but that didn’t mean there was nothing he could do…
With lightning reflexes, Link withdrew the hookshot from his belt and aimed its ruby target at the dark sword. The recognizable bang was heard as the hookshot’s arrowhead was fired, dragging its heavy chain along with it. Dark Link didn’t seem to notice the sound as he dove forward, hand outstretched to retrieve his blade…
Before Dark Link could wrap his hand around his sword’s hilt, the hookshot’s arrowhead collided with the blade, sending its spinning across the floor and away from Dark Link’s grasp. Dark Link, unable to change his direction, helplessly tumbled into an awkward heap as he collided with the ground. He quickly tried untying himself and standing up in time, but he quickly discovered upon getting up that Link, who had returned the hookshot to his belt, was also back on his feet and readying the Master Sword for a rapid assault.
Dark Link didn’t say anything or move from where he stood; he simply glared quietly and spitefully at Link, his twitching fingers boasting he was ready for any attack Link might make, even without his shadowy blade. Deciding to test Dark Link’s challenge, Link dashed towards his opponent with a silent yet heated glower.
Upon reaching his rival, Link attempted a downward sideways slash. Dark Link nimbly tilted his torso to avoid the Master Sword’s edge. Another attempted hack – this time a horizontal slice – also failed as Dark Link ducked beneath the blade’s arc. Growing frustrated, Link made several more efforts to cut down his opponent from every direction possible, but Dark Link managed to evade every one; unburdened by the need to look for an opening to attack, Link’s shadowy counterpart only focused on dodging.
Then, through his growing aggravation, Link made a careless forward thrust aimed at Dark Link’s chest. Dark Link responded by nimbly sidestepping to the left, reaching out and grabbing Link’s sword at the hilt. Link was a little surprised, but he refused to let go of the Master Sword. However, Dark Link had other ideas – with a swift tug, he yanked Link behind him as hard as he could, causing Link to stumble and almost crash to the ground. By the time he managed to regain control of his balance, Link turned around to see Dark Link making a break for his weapon.
Link reached for his hookshot again, but before he could even touch it Dark Link bent down and scooped up his weapon. Link’s doppelganger then turned around and faced his opponent, armed once again. Angry at losing the opportunity given to him, Link roared deafeningly, blood collecting in his mouth spilling across his chin.
At first it seemed Dark Link would charge and resume the swordplay between the two fighters, but instead he lowered his sword as his baleful gaze was complimented by a sneering grin.
“You should see yourself,” he smirked. “That blood dripping from your mouth…the look in your eyes…you’re no better than a wild animal.”
Link’s only response was to growl before spitting some of the blood in his mouth to the floor.
“It’s pretty obvious you hate me,” Dark Link continued, “but why do you, I wonder? Is it because I tried to kill you…” Dark Link’s leer widened. “…or is it because you can’t stand the thought of something like me being conceived by your soul?”
The question caught Link off guard as he blinked in abrupt puzzlement.
“You call me an accident,” Dark Link snickered as he swung his shadowy blade around lazily, “but I existed long before that fairy’s magic connected me to your mind. Cooped up inside that wretched shell you call a body, buried deep within your soul…I’ve always been a part of you. It was only through convenient circumstances that I stand before you…a representation of who you really are.
“So how does it feel?” Dark Link laughed maniacally. “How does it feel to look yourself in the mirror and see something you despise, knowing it’s really you?”
Link hesitated for a moment…but only for a moment. Wiping some blood off his chin, he snarled before answering. “Feh. What is this, some kind of morality plea? A ploy to make me get on my knees and cry my eyes out over what I’ve become? Ha! Sorry, but I really don’t give a damn what you really are.”
Link’s lips curled into a spiteful grimace. “All I know is that I trusted you…I believed what you said after everyone had deceived me…but when you had the chance you tried to kill me. You betrayed me, you gods-damned bastard…and you will not get away with it.”
Dark Link’s smile morphed into a frown, as if Link didn’t get a joke of some kind. “Bah…you’re no fun.” He then raised his sword into a battle-ready stance…before lowering it once again. “In any case, I will admit that you’re more trouble than I expected you to be…more trouble than you’re worth, it seems. In fact, I’d say it’s time to put an end to this little skirmish of ours.”
A smile returned to Dark Link’s lips as he lifted his free hand to the height of his shoulder and squished his fingertips together, palm facing upward. “So tell me,” he uttered condescendingly, “if you’re not bothered by what I am, then are you at least surprised that I can do this?”
With that last word, Dark Link’s fingers swiftly sprang open…and a bright ball of light ignited in his palm. As Link watched in stunned shock, the ball of light instantly shifted into a ball of…fire! At first Link was unsure how his shadow counterpart was able to do that…but then his eyes lit up with realization.
“What in the name of all that is holy…you can use that?”
Dark Link appeared satisfied at Link’s disbelief. “Yes, I can use Din’s Fire. Are you surprised? That’s nice…but not good enough! I want you to be terrified! I want to see you beg for mercy! But since you won’t give me that satisfaction, you’ll just have to die, you little maggot!”
Without giving Link a chance to react, Dark Link lowered his arm and aimed the ball of fire in Link’s direction. Dark Link’s fingers then sprang open as the ball converted into a undulating tongue of flame with a deafening, fiery roar. Link nearly found himself freezing in horror, but he quickly snapped out of it and jumped to the side, barely missing the scorching stream of flames as it sailed past him. But Link didn’t just dodge – he summoned Farore’s Wind and started sprinting as fast as he could away from the vicious flaming attack.
Dark Link was not far behind, swinging his arm so that his fiery tongue could follow the retreating Link and start a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” bellowed savagely. “Burn! Burn! Burn! Burn! Burn! Burn, you son of a bitch, burn!”
With Farore’s Wind driving him, Link easily outran the relatively slow jet of fire trailing him, but the approaching wall of the chamber quickly reminded him he couldn’t outrun it forever. Link knew that a direct charge at Dark Link would burn him alive; he had to get closer before he could attempt something like that. But he first had to get around the trailing stream of Din’s Fire nipping at his heels…
As Dark Link continued to cackle while trying to incinerate the former Hero of Time, Link reached the wall of the chamber…and continued running straight up the wall! Borrowing his spontaneous act of desperation from the
, Link used his momentum to sprint up across the wall about halfway to the ceiling before he launched himself outward. Dark Link, noticing this attempt to escape the barrier of fire blocking the only escape route, tried to head Link off and block his path by raising the fire’s arch. Fire Temple
But Link sailed over the flaming attack with ease and landed on the ground on the other side of the inferno. By the time Dark Link changed the direction of his magical assault, Link was already heading straight for him, sword in one hand and his other hand’s fingers twitching for some reason.
“Why don’t you just die?” Dark Link ordered as he once again aimed the flames at Link, who was closing the gap between them at blistering speeds.
But Dark Link was too late. Just as he properly positioned his Din’s Fire attack towards his opponent, Link again used his momentum to his advantage. This time, instead of ducking to the side, he jumped. Even Dark Link was caught by surprise as he watched his foe leap into the air and sail over his head, safely away from the threatening flames. And Dark Link was still astonished when Link, while in the air, aimed his free hand down at his shadowy counterpart.
It didn’t take Dark Link much to figure out what Link was doing…
Seconds before a cascade of fire was released from Link’s own hand, Dark Link ceased his own production of Din’s Fire and speedily rolled out of the way, barely missing the unexpected counterattack. The bewilderment affected Dark Link’s ability to stand up, and by the time he was on his two feet again he turned around just in time to see Link land on his feet and waste no time in making a charge, Farore’s Wind still flowing through his body.
Irritated at Link’s defiance, Dark Link made a charge of his own, his dark sword raised to slice open his opponent’s innards. At the same time, Link readied the Master Sword for another strike, hoping to separate his adversary’s head from his body…
A hail of sparks and embers lit up the room as the two blades collided and locked together once again, each fighter struggling to overpower the other but unsuccessful in getting his foe to budge. Grunts of agony and relentlessness were heard from both warriors, and again the air became soaked with passionate ire.
“Heh…” Dark Link groaned as he stared into his rival’s eyes. “Back where we started, is it? This is becoming a nasty habit for you.”
Link didn’t say anything; his narrowing eyes and his gnashing teeth behind his closed lips were more than enough to speak for him.
“You think you can beat me, but you can’t…” Dark Link boasted, unsuccessfully trying to twist his sword to disrupt Link’s balance. “I can fight you like this forever…but you will wear out. So how does it feel to know that you will die, you filthy worm? How does it feel…?”
All of a sudden, Link spat at Dark Link’s face, and blood that had been collecting inside his mouth sputtered directly into the shadowy creature’s eyes. Dark Link shrieked as huge globules of blood blinded him, and he instinctively shifted his attention to getting the warm liquid out of his eyes.
That was all Link needed.
With his first war cry since the battle began, Link threw all of his weight against his opponent, throwing Dark Link askew as the shadowy doppelganger thrashed and tumbled backwards. Not wasting any time, Link rushed forward and planted a solid punch in Dark Link’s gut, this time aiming the punch downward to force his foe to the ground. Dark Link, unable to even see the attack coming, screeched madly as he crashed to the floor with a soft crack.
With Dark Link firmly planted on the ground, Link stood up and set his foot on Dark Link’s stomach, pinning his adversary tightly. Then, leaving no opportunity for any kind of escape, Link took the Master Sword in both hands with the sword pointing downward. Link raised the blade into the air like a dagger, his spiteful gaze staring down at his now helpless opponent.
All the air around him seemed to vibrate deafeningly as the Master Sword sank deep into Dark Link’s throat and struck the stony floor beneath it. Dark Link continued to scream for what seemed like an eternity…before he abruptly fell silent, his thrashing body growing still. The sinister look in his eyes seemed to fade away slowly and eerily, as if whatever spirit dwelling with him refused to accept this unexpected conclusion to the battle.
Dark Link…had been defeated.
Link didn’t smile, cry out in victory, or anything of that nature; instead he took the time to catch his breath, allowing the wound in his mouth some air in hopes of stopping the bleeding. Not once did his eyes leave the body of Dark Link beneath him, rather gazing over the caress of the dark side of his soul…
“You know what your nasty habit is?” Link snapped at the shadowy corpse in his mind. “You talk too much!”
As silence filled the chamber and Link’s breathing evened out, he studied his shadowy counterpart’s carcass slowly, his eyes tracing each murky appendage carefully. Even though he knew that Dark Link was a physical manifestation of essence stolen from Link’s body, Link was still mystified by this…this…creature. He had so many questions he wanted answered, but now he would never have that chance.
Dark Link had appeared so suddenly, and now he was gone just as quickly. He had desired to kill Link out of loathing, but he had been slain by the hand of the very person he wanted to kill.
If anything, it was rather anticlimactic…
Finally lowering his eyes away from Dark Link’s body, Link smiled weakly, releasing a long sigh of relief. Whatever this…thing was, it was no more. And unexpectedly, it had also helped him get Ganondorf off his back…
“Wait a minute…Ganondorf…Malon! I forgot about Malon!”
Link quickly glanced up and turned his head to face the end of the chamber. He half expected to see Malon affected in some way by the skirmish, but to his relief he saw the farm girl was unharmed. He relaxed even more when he noticed that Malon’s breathing was noticeable even from this distance – she still wasn’t yet awake, but her breathing was stabilizing. She was going to be all right.
“Malon!” he called out happily as he started to straighten his back. “I’m coming, Malon! Just hold o…!”
At first Link only felt something prod him, but it only took a moment for him to realize it was more than that. Pain soared up his torso like liquid fire, paralyzing his muscles and forcing his eyes and mouth wide open in excruciating shock. Time seemed to slow down as Link’s instincts took over and compelled his neck muscles to move. He turned his head slowly and deliberately, as if one wrong move would mean his demise, before he listlessly lowered his gaze.
The first thing he saw was his own face looking back up him, smiling wickedly with malevolence buried deep within his eyes. He then saw the Master Sword, still buried within the shadowy corpse’s neck…having absolutely no ill effect on the carcass! And he saw an arm, extending upward with something in its hand…it was a sword…a long, deadly, shadowy blade…and its tip was buried deep within Link’s stomach.
As he looked back up, he hear the familiar, mocking voice of Dark Link…
“You gullible little sod.”
With a widening smile, Dark Link used his arm to thrust the black blade deeper into Link’s stomach, sending a fresh wave of pain crawling up Link’s chest. Link coughed violently as every nerve in his body screamed, his voice unable to even cry out because of the overwhelming pain. In fact, it was a miracle that he was even able to hold onto the Master Sword, still lodged in Dark Link’s throat…
“You actually let down your guard…and for what? That wench chained to the wall over there? You’re more pathetic than I thought!”
With the frivolity of removing a speck of dirt, Dark Link used his free hand to casually brush aside Link’s foot planted in his chest. Then, still keeping his sword inserted in Link’s abdomen, Dark Link slowly and nonchalantly stood up…with the Master Sword still stuck in his throat! When Link’s shadowy counterpart was completely erect, he gazed scornfully at the former Hero of Time, whose green shirt was stained with blood oozing from the wound in his stomach. Link struggled to look up and face his foe, but most of his strength was being used to hold on to the Master Sword…
With a snickering smile, Dark Link raised his free hand and used his fingers to trace along the edge of the Master Sword. “You really are full of surprises. Blinding me with your blood like that…something I never expected even after living in that pitiable body of yours for as long as I have. I’ll admit it: I’d be dead right about now if it weren’t for one tiny detail…”
Dark Link’s voice seemed to grow more menacing as he revealed the answer to his own riddle: “I can’t die.”
Link didn’t even have the energy to display shock on his face upon hearing that.
“Did you really think you can just kill me as if I were an ordinary person? Sorry, but I don’t work like that. I’m the physical embodiment of the essence of your dark and twisted soul. In other words, I’m more spirit than flesh. I…don’t…bleed. So no matter how many times you cut me down with that little toy of yours…I will never die.”
It took a few moments for the revelation to sink into Link’s mind, and when it did his face vaguely betrayed his frustration at being duped. He tried to say something to the sneering Dark Link, but he couldn’t get anything out amidst several violent coughs.
Still, it didn’t take Dark Link much to recognize what Link wanted to ask. “You’re wondering why I made myself look vulnerable? I will confess I could’ve just walked up to you and run you through without a second thought…”
Dark Link’s wicked smile somehow widened even farther as he trailed off. He then grabbed the Master Sword and, with one abrupt tug, removed the blade from his neck with nary a scratch on him. The Master Sword swung like a lazy pendulum to the ground, making a dull clang upon striking the cobblestones. Dark Link then finished his sentence with superfluous ridicule.
“…but where’s the fun in that?”
When Link heard those words, he finally managed to properly express emotion on his face, this time displaying unabated anger. “Ack…you…gods-da…gods-damned…bas…ack…bastar…a-ach…tard…”
“Oh, did I touch a nerve?” Dark Link scoffed.
Getting sick of his counterpart taking pleasure in his helplessness, Link groaned as he summoned as many temple energies as he could. Some strength returned to his body, masking the pain emanating from his torso, and Link glared vindictively at Dark Link before he raised his hand towards his adversary’s face, palm open.
But Dark Link didn’t even flinch in surprise or terror. Instead he threw his head back and laughed as hard as he could. “Do my eyes deceive me? Are you really attempting to use Din’s Fire against me?”
Link didn’t know why Dark Link found it amusing, but he didn’t let up. “I’m…going to burn…you…ack…al…alive, you…bloody…”
“Oh, come now!” Dark Link interjected. “Like that’ll do anything against me! I fed off your energies even before they awakened within you! Do you really think I can be harmed by them?”
Link hesitated at those words. Was Dark Link telling the truth, or was it just a trick to throw him off…?
“You, on the other hand…”
Taking advantage of Link’s pause, Dark Link lifted his right hand and placed it directly in front of Link’s face. Before Link could even protest, Dark Link grabbed Link’s face between his fingers and squeezed as hard as he could, making sure Link couldn’t wrestle his face away. But Link didn’t even have time to react when a bright flash erupted in Dark Link’s hand, and a sudden burning sensation instantly seeped into Link’s skin wherever Dark Link’s hand touched his face.
But the worst part wasn’t the painful scorching, as Link made perfectly clear when he finally screamed:
“Aaaaaaaahhhhh….my eyes! My eyes! I can’t see!”
Dark Link sustained the bright light against Link’s face for a few moments longer before he finally removed his hand. Link, forgetting he still had a sword in his belly, let go of the Master Sword and raised both hands to his face in a futile effort to save his vision, all the while screaming at the top of his voice.
“My face! My face! I can’t see a thing! My eyes! My…eeeeaaaaaarrrrrghhh!”
Without warning, Dark Link grabbed his shadowy blade with both hands and yanked its tip from Link’s stomach with a brutal wrench. Then, not giving Link the chance to respond, Dark Link planted his foot against Link’s chest and shoved him to the floor with a powerful kick. Link landed on his back with a loud thud, but the pain from the impact was nothing compared to the pain clawing from his stomach and crawling across his face. He squirmed on the floor in agony, his hands covering his seared face as he struggled in vain to see again.
Then, amidst the cries of suffering and distress, Link heard someone clapping. Even though he could barely see anything, he didn’t have to guess to know who it was…
“Very, very good,” Dark Link’s voice derided as Link’s doppelganger walked around him at a slow and steady pace. “This is absolutely brilliant. The former Hero of Time rushes out to rescue his girl friend from certain death, and now he lies on the floor crying like a little baby, completely and utterly helpless.”
Dark Link then stopped clapping and his voice took on a more irritated and threatening tone. “I warned you, didn’t I? I warned you what would happen. I told you not to go on this foolish rescue, but did you listen to me? Did you listen at all to my advice? Did you?”
Without waiting for an answer, Dark Link swiftly kicked Link in the stomach, right where he had skewered Link’s belly. Link released a muffled cry of anguish as he rolled powerlessly across the floor, finally using one of his hands to grasp from where the pain in his stomach was stemming.
“Of course you didn’t!” Dark Link accused as he casually strolled up next to the vulnerable Link. “You had to actually come all the way down here to save her! And what happened because of it? Now you’re lying on the floor like the pathetic piece of filth you are!”
Dark Link then sent another powerful kick into Link’s stomach, sending the former Hero of Time reeling across the ground like a rag doll.
“And all of this could’ve been avoid if you had just listened to me!” Dark Link continued, his rage noticeably building with each sentence. “I told you never to go back to that wretched farm, to never see that little bitch ever again! If you had just listened to me, you would never be here! But what did you do? You had to go ahead and disregard my advice, you little shit!”
Another kick landed in Link’s stomach, this one more violent than the first two. Link had no idea how far he rolled across the floor this time, but when he stopped he felt pain in almost every fiber in his body. But he did notice his vision was returning…
“You truly are pathetic,” Dark Link spat as he again walked up to the ineffective Link. “With my help you could’ve been the most powerful being in this world. But you gave in to the whims of a girl, and look at you now. You’re worthless. Worthless.”
Link expected Dark Link to kick him in the stomach again, but this time his shadowy counterpart landed a blow directly in the back of Link’s head, knocking out Link’s returning vision for a few moments. However, after those few moments passed, Link could amazingly see properly again, no longer blinded by the bright light.
And the first thing he saw was the Master Sword, lying just out of arm’s reach from his head.
Link had no idea how or why Dark Link had kicked him all the way back in the direction of the Master Sword, but that didn’t matter. He needed that sword. Yes, Dark Link couldn’t be defeated by physical attacks, but maybe he was lying about the temple energies not affecting him. If he could get the Master Sword back, he just might be able to defeat his dark counterpart.
Without even thinking, Link reached out feebly with his right hand, hoping to grab the sword and somehow turn the tables against his opponent. He was so determined to retrieve the legendary blade he didn’t even notice how slow his hand was moving.
“Almost…almost…” he whispered hoarsely in his mind. “Nearly there…”
Despite being impaled through the stomach and kicked around and blinded, nothing compared to the pain he experienced as Dark Link’s blade flew out of nowhere and skewered the back of Link’s hand, tearing through flesh and bone and emerging effortlessly through the palm. The intensity of Link’s scream was only matched by the sadistic pitch of Dark Link’s laugh.
“What are you trying to do now?” Dark Link sneered. “Thinking you can get back into the fight by picking up your precious Master Sword? Did you not hear a single word I said? Maybe I wasn’t clear enough for you…”
Dark Link then firmly gripped the hilt of his sword…and twisted the blade around! Link’s agonizing scream continued as the bones and muscles in his hand were torn apart from the inside. Blood splattered everywhere as the wound was opened by the sword’s twisting, and the hand’s fingers quivered ferociously before finally growing limp, unable to move.
With a loud, sickening squelch, Dark Link withdrew his sword from Link’s hand, which was now a warped, bloody mess. Link, who didn’t have enough energy to scream anymore, gaped in disbelief as he saw what had happened to his hand. He tried moving it in the slim hope of it still being able to work, but the pain that shot up his arm at the attempt made it clear his hand had been permanently crippled.
“No…” Link whispered, unable to tear his eyes away from his disfigured appendage. “My hand…my hand…”
“As I said before,” Dark Link growled, as if disappointed with Link’s reaction. “You’re pathetic.” A loud clang was heard as Dark Link’s sword’s tip landed on the ground a mere few inches from Link’s face. “Why don’t we cut to the chase and finally end your miserable little existence. You…”
The soft, weak voice drifted towards the two Links’ ears from far across the room, and both turned their heads to see a familiar figure slowly drift out of unconsciousness. As if unaware she was chained to the wall, Malon looked around the room lazily and unhurriedly, as if she were still half-asleep.
“That girl…she’s awake,” Dark Link snarled.
“Malon…” Link murmured loudly.
“Link, I…” the farm girl weakly uttered as she continued to scan the room. “I can’t…see you. Everything…is so…so…hazy…Link, where are you? Where are you, Link…Link…”
Dark Link glanced back and forth between Link and Malon for a moment, noticing Malon’s dazedness and Link’s obvious concern for her…before smiling evilly. “Hmmm…maybe there’s more fun to be had, after all,” he grinned down at the helpless Link before walking off in Malon’s direction.
“Wait…what are you going to do?” Link whispered at the departing Dark Link. “Stop! Leave her alone! Don’t you dare go near her!”
But Dark Link didn’t pay attention. Instead he leisurely strolled his way across the chamber and towards the chained up Malon, who was still looking around in a sort of dazed stupor. Upon reaching her, Dark Link turned back to look at Link one more time, smiling sinisterly, knowing Link’s frail voice couldn’t reach Malon’s ears.
Dark Link then turned his attention to Malon and spoke in a soft, gentle tone. “Malon…Malon, I’m here.”
At the sound of what appeared to be Link’s voice, Malon’s head perked up. “Link…is that you?”
“Yes, it’s me, Malon,” Dark Link caringly replied. “Don’t worry, I’m here now. Everything is going to be all right.”
Upon hearing those words, Malon’s blank eyes started to fill with fragments of emerging tears. “Link…thank the Three Goddesses…I knew you would come for me. I never gave up hope. I knew you would rescue me. I knew…”
“Shhh-sh-sh-sh-sh-sh,” Dark Link whispered softly to Malon, placing a finger delicately on her lips. “It’s all right, Malon. You’re safe. I would never abandoned you. I would never abandon the girl I care most about in this world. Never.”
A noticeable flush emerged on Malon’s cheeks. “Link…I don’t…”
“You don’t have to say anything,” Dark Link whispered as he leaned in close to Malon’s face, blowing delicately on the farm girl’s lips. “I’m just glad to have you back, safe and sound, Malon…my dearest, precious Malon.”
Malon’s eyelids fluttered gently as her lips quivered. “Oh, Link…I…I…”
But Link’s croaky voice could barely even reach the poor farm girl as Dark Link abruptly took the back of his hand and slapped Malon as hard as he could across the face, almost sending Malon’s head crashing into the wall behind her. The farm girl, completely surprised at being struck by “Link”, looked up with her blank stare with a look of shock.
“Link…what are you…why are you…?”
“If only you knew, you little whore,” Dark Link scoffed in a deeper voice before using the same hand to slap Malon’s other cheek.
“Link…Link…” Malon uttered shakily before being interrupted by another slap across the face.
“Did you say something?” Dark Link roared. “Did I give you permission to speak, wench?” He then slapped her again. “I don’t think so. I don’t think so!” Several more slaps across the face followed, each one with enough force to knock Malon off her feet if she were actually standing.
Malon’s tears of joy quickly turned into tears of heartache. “Link…what are you doing…please…stop…”
“Shut up!” Link bellowed, silencing the farm girl with several more slaps. “I don’t want to hear your voice again, you little wench! The sound of your voice makes me want to retch!”
Dark Link then slapped Malon again, this time hard enough to send her head flying into the wall behind her. She released a painful gasp as her skull cracked against the stone, opening a wound just above her right eye. As her head sagged back in front, blood started to drip down her cheek and into her gaping mouth, ignoring the trail of tears trickling down her face.
“Link…how could you…how could…?”
“Don’t ask me such stupid questions!” Link snapped after adding several more slaps. “You make me sick! I don’t know why I came here, but it certainly wasn’t to save a wretched little girl like you!”
Dark Link then proceeded to smack Malon’s face repeatedly at a blistering pace, each slap seemingly harder than the one before it. Malon’s face soon became red all over, and the blood crawling down her cheek slid off her face in rapid succession. Dark Link then finished the barrage of blows by curling his hand up into a fist and landing a solid punch against her cheek, once again sending her face crashing into the wall. As Malon’s head hung limply from her head in front of her, the farm girl started to cry more openly, tears streaming down her face in torrents.
“Pah! You’re worthless,” Link barked at the bawling redhead. “You don’t deserve any sympathy, you pathetic little…”
The sudden cry behind him caused Dark Link to turn his head and look behind him. He wasn’t all that surprised to see Link crawling his way along the floor towards Malon, his good hand scratching against the ground and his crippled hand curled up against his bloody stomach. Burn marks were seared deep into Link’s face, but the look in his eyes was one of determination and resolve despite the evident pain racing through his body. The Master Sword, oddly enough, was in his left hand…
“L-Link…” Malon spluttered, looking around with her blind gaze again. “Link…?”
“Malon…I’m…I’m coming…” Link called out as loud as he could, struggling to suppress the pain caused by raising his voice. “Hang on…”
Malon’s eyes lit up with understanding, and she directed her gaze towards Dark Link. She still couldn’t see very well, but she could obviously make out shadows. “You…you’re not Link…you’re not…my Link…”
Dark Link paused for a moment…before erupting into a vigorous cackle. “Oh, isn’t this precious?” he howled before looking back at Link. “Here comes the great hero to save the damsel in distress from her tormentor. But what can he do when her tormentor is immortal? What, pray tell, can he possibly do to save her?”
Link’s eyes narrowed as he glowered angrily at his counterpart. “If you touch Malon again…I will rip your heart out!”
Another loud laugh was heard from Dark Link. “Oh, really? How wonderful…although I do wonder how you can accomplish such a task when I don’t even have a heart.”
As Dark Link spoke, Malon’s head gazed around the room frantically, trying to see any possible trace of the real Link. “Link…where are you…I can’t see you…where are you, Link? Link…”
Malon abruptly stopped speaking when she felt something sharp press against her throat. She couldn’t see what it was, but Link certainly could, and he stretched out his good hand in desperation as he watched Dark Link’s sword rest against Malon’s gullet.
“How about shutting that little trap of yours, girl?” Dark Link smirked.
“Get your filthy hands off Malon, you bastard!” Link demanded. “If you harm her, I will…!”
“Harm her? You mean like this?” Dark Link then jerked his blade across Malon’s neck brusquely, long enough to cause a small trickle of blood to dribble down her neck.
Link nearly lost it when he saw that. “How dare you! Let her go! Let her go now or I swear you will rue the day you ever crossed me!”
Dark Link tilted his head a little bit…before snorting loudly in laughter, obviously trying to hold back much of his mirth. “Oh, boy…this is better than I expected! Even your threats are as weak as you!”
Then, to Link’s surprise, Dark Link lowered his sword from Malon’s neck. “Still,” Link’s double continued, “I would certainly love to see if you can carry out your threat – it’ll certainly amuse me before I cut your head off. But what can I do to provoke you into doing that? I wonder…” Dark Link then glanced knowingly at Malon. “Oh…I know…!”
When he saw Dark Link raise his sword into the air, Link’s eyes widened in horror as he realized what his opponent was about to do. “No! Don’t! Stop! Leave her alone!”
A wicked smile emerged on Dark Link’s lips. “Too late! You came here because you wanted to save her, so now you must pay the price! Say goodbye to your little whore!”
As first Dark Link didn’t know what had happened. As soon as he had swung his sword to cut down the farm girl, the blade had…bounced away harmlessly, not getting anywhere near her. But it took him a second to discover the reason: surrounding Malon was a kind of pinkish barrier of light, wrapped around her like a protective ball. And he instantly knew where this barrier had come from…
Dark Link returned his attention to Link, who had dropped the Master Sword and was now aiming his good hand at Malon with his palm open. The former Hero of Time was calling forth another one of his spells, one that didn’t involve fire or speed…
“Heh!” Dark Link leered. “So you think you can protect you little girl friend by using Nayru’s Love, do you? What kind of idiot do you take me for?”
Link expected Dark Link to rush up to him and somehow get Link to remove the barrier…like maybe lopping off his hand this time. But instead Dark Link raised his free hand and placed it against the cherry-colored barricade.
“I was born from these exact same energies, so I’m not only immune to them…I can also negate them!”
Suddenly, the light barrier surrounding Malon exploded, shattering into a thousand tiny pieces that quickly dissolved into the air. Dark Link’s smile widened as he clenched the fist that had “negated” the protective shield, proving that his claim of being immune to Link’s magic was no idle boast. But only one thing was on Link’s mind, and that was the horrific fact that his defense for Malon had…had…failed!
“Okay, enough of this garbage,” Dark Link announced. “It’s time to end this.”
Instead of raising his sword again, Dark Link instead carefully positioned the tip of his sword against Malon’s left breast. He then gripped the hilt tightly with both hands and positioned himself directly in front of her…before turning back to look at Link one more time.
“Malon! No, Malon!” Link pleaded, struggling to scrape his way towards his friend as fast as he could despite the futility of doing so. “No! Please! No, please! Pleeeeeaaaaassssseee!”
“Link!” Malon called out, recognizing the urgency of the situation. “Link, help me, please! Link…Link…Liiiiiinnnnnnkkkk…!”
The sound of Dark Link’s sword entering Malon’s chest with a firm thrust was probably the most stomach-turning thing Link had ever heard. The sound of his foe’s gloomy blade ripping through her flesh, cracking her bones…possibly penetrating her heart…it was enough to make him vomit in revulsion. Time seemingly slowed down as Malon’s body jerked backwards in response to the sword piercing her chest, her eyes growing wide with fear and hopelessness, her mouth open with a voiceless scream. The final nail in the coffin came when the familiar sound of Dark Link’s sword hitting the stone wall behind her was heard, signifying the blade had gone all the way through her body.
As blood began to drain from the fresh wound, Malon’s body seemed to suspend itself in the air for a few brief seconds…before her lips mouthed off a single word:
With that single word, her head dropped down and her eyes closed. Not a single movement was seen from her afterwards.
Link’s face grew white as a sheet, his breathing rapidly deteriorating into stuttering gasps as he witnessed something he was unable to accept. He wanted to look away, try to tell himself that what he saw didn’t happen, but the image of Malon wilting like a plucked flower was now forever burned in his mind as a reminder of her death…and his failure to save her.
“Malon…no…” he mumbled, his throat choked with tears he refused to cry. “Malon…you can’t be dead…you can’t be…no…Malon…”
He didn’t know how he finally managed to look away, but even then he still couldn’t rid himself of the memory of Malon’s slaying. His raised hand slowly lowered itself to the floor, followed soon by his head. His strength began draining from his body, and pain from every single injury on his person took the opportunity to attack him from all fronts. But Link didn’t care about the physical pain.
It was the pain in his heart that tore him apart…
“It’s not true…it’s not true…it’s just not true…”
As he stared out into nothingness, images of Malon started flashing before his eyes. Memories of her during his days as a child…dreams of her during his recent stay at Lon Lon Ranch…every single recollection he could have of her seemed to enter his mind within a fraction of a second. He so desperately wanted to ignore them, but he forced himself to watch them, as if in penance for letting her die at the hands of Dark Link…
No…Dark Link didn’t kill her…
“I did it…I killed her…I killed her…”
It was true. Link was responsible for her death. Dark Link may have been the one who had slain her…but who had created Dark Link? Who had allowed that abomination to fester inside his mind for as long as he had? Who had ignored the warning signs…not to mention Sheik’s advice?
And for what? For independence? For his own selfishness? So he could say that he made a choice? He had forsaken that dreadful title as the Hero of Time and everyone who had betrayed him…at the cost of Malon’s life! He didn’t want to even think that such a hideous idea was even possible…but it was staring at him straight in the face, as undeniable as the magic that dwelled within his soul.
“It was me…it was me…it was me…”
The line rolled inside Link’s mind over and over as he forced himself to accept it. His egotism had led him to this point, and now he was paying for being so blind to the rest of the world him…just as Sheik, the one who had betrayed him, had just several days ago. And when Link first confronted Dark Link in this very chamber, he completely forgot about Malon, thinking only of killing the Voice who had turned against him. If he had thought of getting Malon to safety, she would still be…still be…be…
It was at that moment that Link’s warped mind focused on a single thought that played inside his head over and over despite how ludicrous it sounded:
“I…want to protect her! I want to protect her! She’s dead, but…I want to protect her…to protect Malon…I want to protect my friend! I want to…to protect my…my friend! To protect my friend! Even if I die…I want to protect my friend! Malon…even though you’re dead…I want to protect you…I want to protect you…I will protect you…I…will…protect…you…!”
Somewhere, deep inside Link’s heart, something began to stir…
“Ah, now that’s more like it!”
Dark Link’s smiled with satisfaction as he slowly withdrew his blade from Malon’s chest, marveling at his handiwork. The poor farm girl hung from her chains as if they were a crucifix, blood pouring from her wounds and covering her body all over. When his sword was completely extracted, Dark Link took one final look at the sagging farm girl.
“Such a stupid little girl,” he grinned inside his mind. “Her attachment to that weakling was nauseating. But at least she’s finally rotting like a good carcass should. Now to take care of…wait, what’s this?”
Noticing some movement, Dark Link leaned in closer to Malon’s blood-soaked mouth. To his astonishment, he heard the faint signs of breathing escaping her lips. The farm girl was still alive!
“What in the Hael…? She’s not dead? Damn it! I must’ve missed her heart! Still, that’s easy enough to rectify.”
Taking a step back, Dark Link raised his sword once again, this time to cut off the farm girl’s head with one clean stroke. “This time for sure…”
The passion heard in the cry was more than enough to get Dark Link to turn around…and for the second time in the same minute he was astonished by what he saw. Link, the boy who only minutes ago could barely crawl across the floor with a crippled hand, was standing up. Sure, he was barely standing up, obviously feeling the effects of the wounds in his stomach and his mangled hand…but the look in his eyes told Dark Link that Link didn’t care one bit about that…
“You’re going to pay, you bloody bastard!” Link hollered at the top of his lungs. “You will pay! I will not rest until you are dead for what you’ve done!”
At first Dark Link was speechless…but then his lips curled into a smile as he uttered, “Are you still around?”
Instead of answering Dark Link’s contemptuous question, Link raised his left hand…which held the Master Sword in its grasp. It was glaringly evident that Link had very little experience in fighting with his left hand, but the fervor in his eyes made it clear he would fight with no hands if need be.
Stifling a laugh, Dark Link shook his head. “Do you really wish to fight me in that condition?” He then twirled his dark sword around several times before nodding. “Very well…if it’ll finally get you to lay down and die.”
With a confident swagger, Dark Link began marching his way towards Link, his sword dangling casually by his side. Link, propped up only by his zealous resolve, started inching his way forward, unable to even take a step without igniting the pain inside his body. Both adversaries knew that this would be the final showdown between them.
Someone was going to die…
As he got closer and closer to his opponent, Dark Link noticed something interesting about the Master Sword: its blade was glowing white hot, indicating that Link was channeling the temple energies through his body, particularly the energies from the
. This only made him laugh even more. Temple of Light
“Think I’m going to fall to your sword like those pathetic Poe Sisters did?” he cackled. “Think I’ll burn upon touching whatever energy is channeling through your sword? Ha! If you won’t listen to reason, I guess I’ll just have to show you!”
Without waiting for a retort, Dark Link raised his sword into the air and charged, intending to bring it down on Link’s head and end this battle once and for all. Link, still quite weak, could only raise the Master Sword to block the attack. He couldn’t run, he couldn’t dodge, he couldn’t even fight…all he could do was hope he could block…and pray…
“This is the end!” Dark Link bellowed upon reaching his foe. “Now diiiiiiieeeeeeee!”
The first clang the Master Sword as it struck the floor. Dark Link’s sword had struck it with such frightening force that it knocked the Master Sword right out of Link’s hand. Link, who was too weak even to withstand such a strong blow against his hand, nearly dropped to his knees as he helpless watched his blade tumble out of his gasp.
The second clang came from Dark Link’s blade as it struck down the Master Sword…
…and snapped in two…
…and the broken tip rattled its way through the air before landing a long distance away, wedging itself between the cobblestones.
The deafening silence that followed lasted for what seemed like forever. Both Link and Dark Link were unable to move after what had just inexplicably occurred…but it was Dark Link who was frozen in pure shock. He gazed in bewilderment at his broken sword, forced to witness that somehow his blade had broken in two like a dried twig. It was the first time since being extracted from Link’s soul that Dark Link experienced true confusion…
“What…what is this?” Dark Link finally blurted out. “What’s going on here? What happened to my sword?” He looked down at Link, who was struggling to remain standing. “What did you do? Answer me, before I…”
Suddenly, with speed that neither fighter would’ve even thought possible in Link’s current condition, Link leapt forward and reached out with his left hand, grabbing Dark Link’s face and wrapping its fingers around his head…just as Dark Link had done earlier to Link. Almost instantly Dark Link felt something against his skin…something was causing his face to melt! A split moment later his skin started to smoke…
“Aahhhhhhh!” Dark Link screamed, quickly trying to tear his face away. Luckily for him, Link’s grip on Dark Link’s face wasn’t too strong, so Link’s counterpart managed to wrestle away from the former Hero of Time’s grasp rather easily. But even then smoke still drifted from his skin, and Dark Link dropped the remnants of his sword and covered his face with his hands to try and subdue whatever was razing him.
“It burns! It burns!” he wailed, throwing his head in every direction imaginable. “It buuuurrrrnnnns!”
Dark Link thrashed around so much that by the time he lowered his hands he left quite a distance between him and Link, who was watching him with a kind of perverse satisfaction. Unable to endure seeing his adversary enjoy this, Dark Link lowered his hands…and revealed his face, now charred beyond recognition, burn scars running down everywhere in horrendous disfigurations.
By chance, Dark Link managed to catch his reflection in one of the waterfalls on the side of the chamber…and grew livid beyond comprehension when he saw what had become of his face.
“What did you do you me, you wretched bastard?” Dark Link commanded. “How can you do this to me? Din’s Fire shouldn’t even be able to harm me! What’s going on? Answer me!”
Link didn’t immediately answer. Despite the satisfaction in watching his dark counterpart in agony, Link betrayed in his eyes his true desire: to kill the creature who had dared harm his friend. Remaining silent, he quietly bent down and picked up the Master Sword, and then stood up as tall as he could in his condition. With a look of tenacity in his face, Link raised his blade and pointed it directly at his opponent.
It was a direct challenge…no, a threat.
“I didn’t use Din’s Fire, you bastard.”
Dark Link snapped his head back in genuine surprise at Link’s revelation. “What?”
“You lied to me. You can be harmed by the energies that flow through me…because that’s all I’m using!” Link barked with a fierce tone. “Now all I have to do is touch you…and you will burn in the fires of Hael where you belong. I told you I will not rest until you are dead…and I am going to keep my word.”
Dark Link gazed blankly at the intimidating former Hero of Time…before he snarled viciously. “I don’t know what garbage you’re spouting…but you honestly think I’m going just going to lay down and die for you? You think I can’t beat you without my sword? You forget one thing…I can do things other than use a sword.”
Dark Link then raised both of his hands and aimed their open palms directly at Link. “You say I should burn in the fires of Hael? Why don’t you try it first?”
An instant later, two streams of fire burst forth from Dark Link’s hands, soaring straight for the seemingly disabled Link to burn him to a crisp. Dark Link’s look of anger turned one of glee as his logic told him that there was no way Link could escape this attack in his current state.
But Dark Link’s logic proved to be wrong. Moments before being swallowed by the tongues of flame, Link reached behind his back with his right hand…and his right arm reemerged with his shield. Link then raised his shield up against the fires and, amazingly, started running at mild speeds that suggested he had summoned Farore’s Wind to boost his flaccid swiftness.
Something was allowing Link to fight his crippling pain…something…
The flames collided with the shield with a loud sizzle, but Link managed to push against the flames with an unanticipated amount of force. Dark Link, shocked to see his foe wasn’t as helpless as he had anticipated, tried summoning more fire to strengthen his attack. But still Link pressed on, using his shield to keep the jets of flame at bay as he trudged towards his shadowy doppelganger. The smell of blistered skin emanating from Link’s arm indicated the shield was growing hot enough to burn his flesh, but he didn’t seem to be bothered by it in the least.
After all, it was nothing compared to the pain from his other wounds…not to mention the pain in his heart…
“Just a little closer…” Link whispered in his mind, inching his way towards his adversary. “Just a little closer and then I will kill this bas…”
Just then, the flames stopped.
Link quickly lowered his shield, but he was too late to react to the sight of Dark Link charging towards him, hands still outstretched. Link tried to get away by leaping to the side, but Dark Link was too quick for him. The shadowy double collided with Link with tremendous might, throwing Link off balance and causing him to fall onto his back with a loud crash. Link rolled several times along the ground before he managed to stop himself, but before he could get up he felt a bony knee dig into his chest, pinning him to the ground.
Link didn’t even have a chance to speak when he felt two cold, clammy hands wrap around his throat, their grip tightening around his windpipe. Looking up, Link saw his twin staring down at him with an uncontrollable rage in his eyes, his teeth gnashing ferociously as the burns on his face pulsed, as if trying to bleed blood that didn’t exist. Vapors already began to drift from where Dark Link’s hands touched Link’s skin, but Link’s counterpart didn’t seem to care.
“I’ll kill you!” Dark Link exclaimed as he squeezed as hard as he could, ignoring the burning sensation in his hands. “I’ll break your filthy little neck before you can burn my hands off! I’ll break your gods-damned neck!”
Link tried desperately to swing his sword at his foe…but to his horror he discovered he had dropped the Master Sword! He glanced to the left and saw the blade lying several feet away, just out of reach of his hand. Gritting his teeth in determination, Link tried stretching his arm to reach his weapon, but to no avail. As Link writhed in a vain attempt to get closer to his sword, Dark Link’s sadistic grin widened.
“Yes! Squirm!” he roared. “Squirm like the maggot you are! Squirm, damn you squirm!”
In an apparent attempt to hasten the breaking of Link’s neck, Dark Link shook Link’s collar, whipping Link’s head back and forth violently against the hard stone floor beneath him. Ordinarily such blows would’ve knocked Link unconscious, but all that resulted from these jolts were more wounds to add to his growing collection. Link refused to die like this…he would not give in to this…this…monster…
His instincts taking over, Link used the remainder of his dwindling strength to lift his hand - his mangled hand – towards Dark Link’s hands. As carefully as he could, Link wrapped his broken, limp fingers around Dark Link’s wrists. He didn’t need to grab them or anything like that; simply placing them in this position would be more than enough.
Already Link’s twisted hand was beginning to burn Dark Link’s wrists, but the dark counterpart refused to loosen his grip on Link’s gullet – if anything, he only tightened his stranglehold even further.
“Too late for last-minute heroics!” Dark Link sneered through his noticeable anguish. “Too late…!”
Suddenly, something started to glow on the back of Link’s crippled hand, catching Dark Link off guard. Because Link’s hand was at an angle, he couldn’t see the source of the radiance properly, but he was certain that it was forming some kind of pattern…
“What in all of Hael is that…?”
Before Dark Link could finish his sentence, Link’s palm erupted in a fiery ball as Din’s Fire engulfed his entire hand. While they didn’t harm Link’s hand in the least, the flames, possessed by whatever energy was fueling Link’s strength, lapped against Dark Link’s wrists greedily, swallowing up the doppelganger’s dark skin and shadowy clothes in their fiery cores.
Dark Link’s face tightened in alarm when he realized what Link was doing. “No! You can’t do this…!”
With a vile, curt snap, Dark Link’s wrists disintegrated, separating his arms from his hands still wrapped around Link’s neck. The hands themselves seemed to linger for a while around Link’s gullet…before they, too, began to fall apart, crumbling into faint traces of black vapor that dissolved into the air.
As for Dark Link himself…
“Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh! My hands! My hands! My haaaaannnnnnnds!”
Standing up and staggering backwards in shock, Dark Link stared in genuine disbelief at his now stubby arms, right where his hands used to be. His breathing grew rapid and unstable, and his eyes expanded to the size of his former palms. Countless emotions flooded his mind, trying to make sense of what happened, but the one sentiment that stood out was that of incensed bewilderment.
“My hands…”, he gasped, still unable to comprehend what was happening to him. “My hands…what happened to my hands…what happen…eeeaaarrrrrgghh!”
Dark Link’s wailing was interrupted by a sharp pain in his stomach. He glanced down to see that Link had taken the opportunity to drill the Master Sword deep inside his shady double’s chest. The blade was glowing a fierce white, filled with an unknown energy that somehow could burn the essence from which Dark Link was born. Already, right where the blade was inserted, cracks of light were beginning to spread all over his torso, dissolving the solid dark vapors that composed the physical form of the Voice.
Link, who was still lying on his back to allow his breathing time to stabilize, finally used his returning strength to stand up, his left hand firmly gripping the Master Sword’s hilt. As he leveled his gaze with the dumbfounded Dark Link, Link narrowed his eyes, the raging passion in his eyes unmistakable.
“This one’s for Malon, you son of a bitch,” Link snarled as he twisted the Master Sword around in Dark Link’s gut, spreading the cracks of light even further. “Now do us both a favor and die!”
Link then twisted the sword again, causing Dark Link to shudder uncontrollably in an attempt to hold himself together. As he struggled against the expanding light cracks, Dark Link’s eyes accidentally drifted downward…and saw something on the back of Link’s left hand. It was a noticeable light source – just like the first one he had noticed – and this time he could now make out the pattern…
“It…can’t be…” he muttered. “How is it…possible…?”
But Dark Link couldn’t finish his sentence. Without warning, Link pulled the Master Sword from Dark Link’s belly, tearing as much of the doppelganger’s “flesh” out as possible in the heave. Link then raised his weapon high into the air, maintaining the aggressive luminosity radiating from the blade. Unlike previous instances, where Link’s left hand wielded the legendary sword awkwardly, this time his left hand brandished the Master Sword with the skill of a veteran warrior.
Dark Link froze in unfamiliar panic. “No…!”
With seemingly every ounce of strength left in him, Link brought the Master Sword crashing down in a sideways slash, sinking the blade into the right shoulder of Dark Link and digging its way straight through his torso, leaving in its wake a gaping chasm of white light. The blade emerged just above Dark Link’s left hip, finishing its spectacular attack with a metallic cry of victory.
Dark Link didn’t scream at first – he was too stunned to even move. All he did was stand there, staring speechlessly at the gaping wound in his chest, which was pulsing like a swelling heartbeat. A saturated silence immediately followed, as both Link and his counterpart watched, seconds tickling by lethargically and agonizingly…
Then it happened. Cracks of light began to branch out from the enormous gash in Dark Link’s torso, consuming every piece of dark matter it touched. In a panic, Dark Link tried reaching down with his hands to “stop” the spread, but the stubs that now remained at the end of his arms could do nothing to slow them down. If anything, Dark Link’s frantic attempts only hastened the crack’s assault across his body.
Within a matter of seconds, a web of fractures had crawled all over Dark Link’s person: down his legs, around his waist, along his arms, up his neck, across his face. As the cracks multiplied they also widened, allowing more light to pour out and engulf the shadowy figure. Nothing Dark Link did seemed to dampen the scattering of the tiny rifts, and by the time they reached his face and clawed their way into his mouth and eye sockets he finally screamed.
“You can’t do this to me!” he protested at the top of his lungs! “This cannot be happening! Not to me! Not to me!” By chance, his wild gaze fell upon Link, who was watching the scene with morbid fascination. “You bastard! What are you doing to me? What are you doing to me? Stop this at once! Stop this at once…!”
Just then, a whooshing sound was heard emerging from deep within the cracks of light. At first it started softly, like the gentle breaking of waves on the edge of a pond, but it quickly grew in volume and intensity, eventually drowning out the silence in the chamber. And as the sound deepened, Dark Link’s body started to shudder vehemently, the vibrations eventually growing powerful enough to tear any normal person’s body apart.
Yet through it all, Dark Link still objected.
“This isn’t happening! I can’t die! I am the perfect being! I am a god! I am a…!”
Suddenly, a sharp white pulse of light discharged from the main fissure in Dark Link’s body, covering the shadowy double in a brilliant gleam as the hissing sound reached its highest tone. Right before Link’s eyes, his shadowy foe started to break apart…
Dark Link’s defiant scream echoed across the chamber just moments before he abruptly and silently imploded. Almost every thread of dark vapor that made up his twisted body broke apart and was swallowed by the intense white light – all bits of hazes that managed to escape drifted lazily in the air before dissolving with a soft hiss. Even Dark Link’s final scream’s reverberations seemed to be drawn in to the white light, as if removing all traces of the demented doppelganger. And if Link had bothered to look, he would’ve noticed the fragments of Dark Link’s sword also disintegrating into the air with a slight fizzle.
Then, almost as quickly as it had begun, the white light vanished with an immediate bang, collapsing in on itself and disappearing with only faint traces of colorless sparkle left in its wake. Soon, even those sparkles vanished, leaving an amazed and flabbergasted Link as the only witness to the incredible scene.
Initially Link didn’t want to believe it – after all, the first time proved to be a ploy to get him to drop his guard. But the longer the time ticked by, Link was forced to accept it as truth, only this time he was more than satisfied with the outcome.
Dark Link was dead.
This time, he truly was dead.
As relief flooded Link’s mind, his willpower ceased suppressing the pain coming from all corners of his body. All at once, Link felt anguish arise from the gaping wound in his stomach, the mangled remains of his hand, and the cracks in the back of his skill, as well as countless other smaller injuries. The rush of tenderness was so overpowering that Link’s legs grew rubbery, sending him toppling to the floor helplessly.
But he didn’t care about the pain. It was more than enough penance for what he had done…or rather, what he had failed to do.
Despite his desire not to shed any tears, he felt several trickle down his cheeks as the memories of what had happened earlier returned to him. He so badly wanted to deny those memories, but he knew he’d be lying to himself if he did. Now he had to live with that knowledge the rest of his life, and it would be burned into his heart every time he remembered it.
Even so, at least he did one more thing for her: he protected Malon’s body from being defiled by that despicable creature born from his own wretched soul.
And there was one more thing he could do for her…
As Link cut the remaining chain that anchored the farm girl to the wall, Malon’s flaccid body fell to the ground in a graceful plummet. With his remaining strength, Link held open his arms and caught the diving redhead, though her weight was enough to force Link to his knees. But he didn’t mind, now that he had freed her body from those vile shackles.
As he cradled Malon’s body in his arms, Link again struggled to suppress the tears in his eyes. Propping her head in his left hand, he carefully traced the fingers of his destroyed hand across her face. His fingertips ended up leaving faint, bloody trails across her skin, but they were nothing compared to the bruises on her cheeks sustained by Dark Link’s abusive slaps.
Link gazing regretfully at the farm girl’s quiet face for a few precious moments before he finally spoke. “Malon…I’m sorry…I’m sorry I let you down. I’m sorry I let you die…I let you…die…I…let you…die…”
Pulling her body close against his chest, burying her face in his left breast, Link closed his eyes as he placed his cheek against her fiery red hair. “This should never have happened to you…I should be the one who was killed by that…that…thing…if I could, I would take your place…oh, gods, what I wouldn’t give to take your place…”
He then loosened the embrace so he could look into her closed eyes again. “But at least…I protected you…one last time. At least…I saved your precious body from that monster…”
Link’s voice trailed off as his ears suddenly picked up an incredibly faint sound coming from the farm girl’s mouth. His heart leaping into his throat, Link gently lifted Malon’s head close to his ear – he stopped inhaling for several seconds when he recognized the sounds as shallow breathing, partially drowned out by blood seeping into her windpipe.
“She’s alive…” he whispered excitedly, almost dropping the poor girl’s wilting body in shock. “She’s alive…by the Three Goddesses, she’s alive…”
He looked again at Malon’s sleeping face…and for the first time saw tiny hints of color in her cheeks, buried under the redness caused by the Dark Link’s clouts. The farm girl really was alive…her body was torn and lacerated, but somehow she was holding on for her dear life. But she probably wouldn’t survive for much longer unless…
“I’ve got to get you out of here,” Link proclaimed as he positioned the girl in her lap to lift her up in his arms. “I’ve got to get you to a doctor. I…wait a minute…what’s that?”
Footsteps. They were footsteps, coming from the door all the way at the other end of the room. Someone was coming…
Link’s face tightened. “Damn it! Ganondorf must’ve sent more guards!” He looked down at the Master Sword before aggravatingly growling in his throat. “Great! Just great! How can I even fight in this condition? My fighting hand can’t even hold my bloody sword anymore! Curses! Damn it all to…”
During his little inner rant, Link glanced down and again saw the frail farm girl nestled in his arms. The sight of her beautiful, blood-stained face was enough to calm Link down, and as he relaxed he swore he could almost hear her voice whispering to him inside his head, “It’s all right…”
His eyes narrowed as he nodded to himself. “No…it doesn’t matter. I swore I would protect Malon...and that’s what I’ll do. I won’t lose her again…not as long as I’m still alive…”
Just then, a loud exclamation echoed across the chamber from the doorway. “Look! There they are!”
Quickly Link picked up the Master Sword in his left hand and pointed it at the now visible figure at the other end of the chamber. “Stay back!” he bellowed at the top of his voice. “Stay back! I’m warning you! You come near me and I’ll gut you! Stay away from here…!”
“Link! Link, it’s us!”
The familiar voice was enough to silence Link’s threats, and that was when he could clearly make out the figure, who was running straight towards him. What’s more, he noticed a familiar pink light hovering over the figure’s shoulder…
An unexpected smile trickled onto his face. “Sheik…Navi…it’s you…”
Suddenly, a pang of shock crept into his muscles – his sudden outburst had drained all the energy he needed just to remain awake. Link started to sway side to side gently as he began to feel rather lightheaded. Unable to remain awake any longer, he finally collapsed, drifting quietly out of consciousness with the severely injured farm girl still cradled in his lap…