It was another beautiful day in the world. The bright sunshine streaming down through the clouds and the light breeze blowing across the rolling green hills worked in perfect harmony with one another to keep the day pleasantly cool. It was a perfect day for working outside.
It was really lucky for Linkle, because even in these conditions she was working up a sweat.
She lugged a giant bag of bird feed over her shoulder, a thing nearly as big as she was, careful to shuffle her feet so she didn't step on any member of the boiling mass of white feathers happily cukooing around her legs and nipping at the cuffs of her overalls. A few of the more ingenious birds fluttered up from the multitude and took more commanding waiting spots on her arms, shoulders, head, or right up on top of the bag itself. The ones sitting on her shuffled, preened, and sometimes jockeyed for position with spirited challengers and whenever they moved their feathers ticked her arms and neck making it all the harder to haul the massive feed bag.
And yet, despite this whole thing resembling a sisyphean task from hell it was impossible to disregard the smile on the girls face. No matter how hard it was the work was satisfying, because she was doing it for those that clearly loved her.
She finally took her final shuffling step to the very center of the vast, fenced off paddock behind her house. "O-okay, you all have to move. Move. Move move movemovemovemove!"
They fluttered out from under the bag as Linkle bent her knees and laid the bag on the ground, wiping the sweat from her brow and feeling hundreds of little expectant eyes on her as she undid the rope around the top keeping the feed from spilling out. She smugly stared them down and slowly reached her hand into the bag just to see them all lean in as one. Then she took a handful and whipped a scattering of feed into the horde. They exploded into activity, bending down to greedily snap up any food that landed near them. The cucco's on the other side started cuccooing in protest and she threw the next handful to them.
"Liiiiiinkle!" Came a call from a warm, crinkly voice like the brittle skin of a freshly baked biscuit. "Linkle dear. Come and get lunch while it's hot."
Linkle looked up and across the enclosure, her eyes landing on a small, wizened figure standing beside the back door to their modest little house. It was an old woman, with deeply tanned skin and a face with more wrinkles than an old potatoe. Her hair was a dirty white, still holding onto the barest traces of the wheat blond coloring it used to have, and swept upward at the back so it sort of resembled a turnip. Her eyes were small, beady, and black just like a cucco's. She seemed to have shrunk with age, as Linkle remembered the woman towering over her when she was younger but she now barely came up to Linkle's waist. She held herself with the confidence and vigor of a woman forty years her younger, and there wasn't any doubt in Linkle's mind that if she could she would have gladly hauled that giant bag out here to do this work herself. That was the sort of woman Linkle's grandmother was.
She didn't know why, but seeing her caused something in Linkle to just freeze. It wasn't so much that she couldn't move. It was more like she was in the presence of some rare animal, watching it out of the corner of her eye, and she as terrified that any sort of movement on her part would cause the thing to take flight and disappear into the clouds never to be seen again.
Unfortunately, she'd been mid throw when this fear had gripped her, and an impatient cucco leaped up on her arm and started to try and pry her hand open to get at the food within. Linkle yelped, dropping the feed and the cuckoo with it, and looked down rubbing her hand. "Ralph, come on! Seriously?"
The cucco ignored her, pecking up the food she had dropped. Menacingly. The old woman started laughing. "What did I always tell you, dearie? They're more dangerous than any Wolfos if you're standing between them and a meal."
Linkle rubbed at the scratches on her hand. Whatever spell she'd been under had been broken, and everything was as it should be again. Besides, the old woman's good humor was infectious and she couldn't help be laugh along with her.
Grandma tilted her head to the door. "C'mon now. They'll make short work of that bag if you leave them to it."
"We'll have to get another bag." Linkle said, despite making her way toward that back door. The cucco's were already creeping up on it like it was a wounded animal.
"We can afford another bag, but it's not often we get mushrooms like this." Grandma called, turning to walk back inside. 'Treats like this are best enjoyed hot." As Linkle got closer she could start to smell it. That beetle loving merchant had come around this morning, selling these red capped mushrooms with white spots that didn't grow anywhere around here. The smell of those mushrooms where mixed with some kind of high quality beef. Grandma had made skewers. She felt the drool settling in her mouth as she picked up the pace.
The inside of their home was modest. Some would say small, but They preferred to think of it as cosy. Most of the money they got from selling eggs went right back into feeding the cucco's and themselves. About the only expensive things in the home where the pair of crossbows that leaned against the Grandma's bed, a pair of relics from her grandmothers old dungeon exploring days. The compass hanging around Linkle's neck was another prize dug up from inside a dungeon. The old woman had intended to pass it in to her son, but...well...he wasn't around anymore.
As Linkle and her grandmother ate the invigorating mushroom skewers the other occupant of the room picked away at her own food that had been set aside in a bowl by the table. Ol' Hylia, who was both a cucco and probably a form of blasphemy, got to eat in the house for two reason. The first was sentimental, she was the first cucco Grandma had bought when she started this farm and was the grandmother herself of a good number of the batch outside. The other was practical, because Ol' Hylia was made of solid gold
Hylia finished off her food just as Linkle devoured the last of the skewers, walking over and sitting contentedly next to her chair as Linkle leaned back and let out a loud sigh of satisfaction. It felt like forever since she'd had any of her grandmothers home cooking.
"Don't go looking so finished, Linkle." Her Grandmother said, slyly lifting a carton up from under the table. Linkle leaned forward, spotting on the side the distinctive cow logo of the Lon Lon Ranch on the side as Grandma opened it up. Inside was a plain white substance that gave off a chilly mist when exposed to the air.
"What is that?" She asked, reaching out to touch it with her finger.
Grandma pulled it back before she could, talking a spoon and scooping a little out. "Just a little something else I got from that Beedle boy." She turned the spoon around and handed it to her granddaughter. "Lon Lon Ranch started making it a little while ago, he said. One of the finer things to come about after The Worlds Became As One
Linkle took the spoon and curiously place the cold stuff in her mouth. The effect was instant and rapturous as the sweetness of the treat as it melted on her tongue nearly made her melt into her chair. It was just about...no, the greatest thing she had ever tasted even including when they went out to eat at Mina's. She flicked the spoon out of her mouth and reached reached out for another taste when a sudden light drew her attention. She looked down as the compass around her neck glowed and shuttered.
"Oh!" Linkle said, standing hastily pushing herself up from the table. She looked across the table at her Grandmother, her eyes flicking down to the treat the old woman was now helping herself to a bit of. "I've gotta-"
'I know, I know," her grandmother reassured. "You can't keep the princesses waiting. Go on."
Linkle nodded, backing up from the table and raising her left hand to her breast. A single triangle flared to life on the back of her hand, shining into clear golden focus even through her work glove. The glow of its divine light overtook the entire room, and when it dimmed Linkle's normal work clothes had been magically replaced with her heroic attire. She pulled up her green hood and grabbed the crossbows off the wall. At her feet Ol' Hylia kept pace with her as she slotted them into her boots and hoped up on the arm Linkle helpfully outstretched for her before heading to the door. "I'll be back soon." She said as she threw the door open.
She paused in the doorway, one foot into the street. Something held her there, compelling her to look back. Her Grandmother was just getting up, presumably to go and put up the treat so it didn't melt, but stopped when she felt Linkle's eyes on her. She must have seen something in her expression, because she set the carton on the table and approached. "Linkle. Is something wrong, dear?"
"I'm...not sure." She said. That feeling from before had come rushing back into the out of her stomach. It was as though if she left this cottage would blow away in the gentle breeze and she would never see it again. "Are you going to be okay while I'm gone?"
"Of course I am," said the old woman, shaking her head as though Linkle was being silly. She walked up and smiled warmly as she took the girls hand. "What's gotten into you, girl? It ain't like you to get cold feet."
This small contact was to much for Linkle. She leaned down, taking a knee to wrap the old woman in her arms and pull her close. There was an exhale of surprise form her, but she quickly returned the gesture. "I love you." Linkle said.
"I love you to." Her grandmother replied, letting Linkle have as much time as she needed before pulling away and looking her in the eye. "Now, to your duty little hero. And with a smile, huh? Nothing is more despairing than a heroes frown."
Linkle nodded, breaking out into a wide smile, before pulling herself back up. She turned around and, with one last look back, stepped out into the streets of Lumbridge.
The street was busy, people coming to and fro from the various shops that lined the quaint town lanes. She could hear the distinctive steps and clash of swords from the training yard, and as she looked over she could plainly see Gran and Euden precariously standing at the tops of high poles artfully parrying one another's strikes. Below them she knew the seasoned Geralt would be looking on to make sure their form was perfect. As she went she passed the Cadet hauling in a big pack of monster parts toward the local blacksmith, and once she was safely outside the gate she could spot Ryu on a distant hill sparring with grandmaster Donovan Lee. Gene the wanderer observed them, but he seemed much more interested in the blue haired haired girl that had also sat down to watch the masters go at it.
Lumbridge was somehow as cozy and familiar as a small town yet more exciting than any big city. She supposed that was to be expected, seeing as this was a land where some new monster to slay or temple to explore sprung up every night. Sometimes she missed Hyrule proper, but every now and then Hyrule would show up around here and her and Grandma would go out and picnic while soaking in the nostalgia of a time before The Worlds Became As One
This place was perfect for someone like her. She didn't know why she should even want to leave, if not to answer the call of the rulers of this new world.
Ol' Hylia had remained perched on her arm through all of this, but now that they were outside the city gates she felt the Triforce of Courage flare up again. She threw the old cucco into the air as light poured forth from it. It began to change shape, growing larger, elongating its neck and legs, its feathers becoming more radiant and fluffier. When she landed she was no longer some small gold cucco, but a magnificent golden Chochobo
Linkle took a running start, leaping upon Ol' Hylia's back. The chochobo reared up, let out a majestic "kweeee!" Then she leaned forward, spread out her wings, and broke into a lightning fast run down the road.
The greenery soon gave way to the dusty road on the way to Hammerhead. She waved at the owner as the garage rushed passed her and she headed out into the desert itself. She zoomed past a giant truck sitting on the side if the road surrounded by several smaller cars. The trucks grim owner stood beside Jak as they boggled how they were going to change a tire that gigantic while their marauder buddies played a spirited game of touch football. Jak's talkative pet sat to the side with Roadhog and his lanky friend, and as Linkle flew past she could just catch a snippet of him trying to convince them to place a bet on the winner.
She left the dusty road behind her as the world became green again, and she could catch the spires of the castle sitting at the center of the world poking out over the last hill before she crested it and the full glory of the castle came into view.
She headed down, passing by Junpei and Mina out for a relaxing stroll, her clinging to the chainmail arm of the smart blue uniform
that marked him as one of the castle guards. They waved as she past, though the wind nearly made the boy lose his hat.
Down along the dirt path she went until she came to a stop in front of the stairs. She rushed up them, taking them two at a time before throwing herself against the big wooden door. It creaked open as she pushed and she was greeted with the sight of the castle antechamber, a long red carpet leading deeper into the castle. This must have been a serious time, as the archway leading to the council meeting chamber was flanked by the two greatest members of the Royal Guard. One was a boy not much older than her, who tensed up before seeing who it was barging in
. He nodded silently at her, a look of relief on his face. The other, a older Sheikah woman, slowly opened up her eyes. Someone that didn't know her would think that Impa, personal bodyguard of Princess Zelda,
wasn't taking her duties seriously but Linkle knew the woman had probably known about her approach from the moment she stepped on the grounds. Nothing got past Impa. Besides, when you had a sword that big there wasn't much that you had to worry about.
With a stern tilt of the head Impa told her to move along. Linkle returned the boys nod and took off down the hallway. There would be time for pleasantries later. She was about to enter the presence of the greatest authority in this new world.
The room was circular, with multiple tiers going up along the white stone walls. Plush red carpet led up the tiers of steps, upon which sat countless magnificent thrones which gleamed in the sunlight that streamed down from the stained glass mural that made up the chambers ceiling. On it was depicted the entire new world, stuttered with stars depicting each of the Kingdoms those who assembled here hailed from.
What an assembly it was! As she entered Linkle could see faces she recognized, people she'd helped or rescued at one time or another in her long career as the greatest hero in the land. The princess of Alcamoth
, her face every mysterious behind her white mask
. Two entirely different and yet exactly the same Princess Farah's occupied opposite
ends of the room
, both focussing on the center and trying not to think about the paradox that sat across from her. Timelines fusing together was just another strange thing to be gotten used to ever since The Worlds Became As One
. There was Princess Gwealin,
who she vividly remembered rescuing from a mighty dragon. She sat uncomfortably beside the rowdy Tsarevna Alena
, who was even at this moment having a spirited punch up with her other neighbor, Sapphire Rhodonite
. Evidently neither one wanted to let up on their training, especially if there was some danger to be faced. A row above them, all in a line, were seated the princesses of Cornelia
, The Dwarves
. Near the bottom row, with a personal sweets laden table pulled up, the one that was only referred to (rather rudely, in Linkles personal opinion) as "Fat Princess"
happily went about stuffing herself, occasionally sharing her bounty with her neighbor, Princess What's-Her-Name of Insectia
. Above them sat the sickly and conniving Princess of the Red Rose, who had brought her entire gossip mongering royal court
seemingly only to whisper, snicker, and make jokes at the pairs expense. This sort of behavior even seemed to tick off the "Real Queen of Evil," Princess Devilotte de Death Satan IX
, who seemingly had to be talked down by her own loyal entourage from going over and beating up a bunch a children. Along the top row, by contrast, were only two figures. Across the entire row lounged the vast, bountiful form of the Princess of Sunlight
. In her shadow, barely seen and never heard, was Dark Sun Gwyndolin
whose legs of twisting serpents spilled over the ledge and onto Princess Elena
, who glady allowed the serpents to coil around her arms for warmth while Gwyndolin tried to ignore this and maintain quiet dignity.
There were others, many other, that Linkle did not know personally. After all, the world was full of heros. She couldn't save every princess on the Council of Princesses, the body that connected all the great kingdoms of this new land in a effort to maintain the peace and prosperity that had come about when The Worlds Became As One
. Still, she knew that each was, in her own way, a shining light meant to guide this world into a new tomorrow.
None embodied this idea more than the four that stood in the center of the room. Princess Peach, the grand mediator and hostess that the others orbited like the sun, was in hushed conversation with three others; The dark, statuesque Princess of Twilight
, The sleek and haughty Princess of the Zora
, and the wise and resplendent Princess Zelda
. Their conversation ended, however as Linkle stepped into the room. In fact, all conversation halted as she rushed up, dropped to one knee, and bowed her head to the four of them. "My apologies for being late, you Majesties." she said. "I had too..."
She trailed off. She couldn't very well say she had to finish eating, could she? They wouldn't take that as an excuse.
Well, maybe Fat Princess...
Ruto rolled her eyes while Midna stifled a chuckle, and Princess Zelda stepped forward. She placed her hands under Linkles chin and lifted her head. "Late?" she asked. "You are always too hard on yourself, dear Hero. Please, stand. I would say you are right on time."
"Obedient to a fault." Midna said, shaking her head with a smile as Linkle rose. "We'll be blunt; a great darkness is threatening to engulf this land."
"The great fairy that maintains the order of the world has been...devoured." Ruto continued contemptuously. "Eaten by some unknown monster.
"The situation being what it is, we three anticipated your arrival." Zelda finished. "And so we have used our powers to unseal that which will aide you in slaying this dark beast." From behind her back Zelda produced something wrapped in cloth and handing it to Linkle. "We knew you would rush off alone as soon as you heard, but it is dangerous. Please, take this."
Linkle gently unwrapped the cloth, her eyes squinting as light glinted off its contents. She was mesmerized by its beautiful craftsmanship for a few long moments then, feeling the pressure of the room on her, wrapped it again and stowed it on her back.
"Go now, Hero of Legend, and put an end to this monster threatening the stability of our world." Zelda said, bowing her head. "All of our hopes now rest on you and the weapon you carry."
Linkle looked up, and found herself caught in a circle of eyes filled with great expectation. Despite the seriousness of the situation she felt a smile spread across her face. She spun around, holding the cloth wrapped weapon high above her head. "It would be my honor! Now, excuse me princesses!" she said, quickly bowing in all directions before straightening up and confidently turing to stride out of the room. "I have a monster to slay!"
She enjoyed the resulting cheer. It was still audible even as she hopped on Hylia and road off to the south, where he compass pointed her next.
She sped off, past the rumbling racetrack where rabbids raced robots round the rosies. It looked like there were a new challenged today, as a Kid in a hat overtook the reigning champion Clank, turning and smuging at the little robot as she rolled over the finish line. The audience went wild, the rabbits all screaming at once while the robot section of the onlookers fired their guns into the air in protest.
The excitement of the crowd disappeared into the background as she continued down the road, past an obstacle course that Hylia cleared with ease. On the other side the terrain was mostly the same, with the exception of the sky. She knew she must be getting close to the beast, because the sky became unnaturally dark.
There! Off in the distance! It hovered there, above the cliff at the edge of the world! A sickly off-white ball hung in the air, shining with a parody of light as rainbow energy rippled across it like oil on the surface of water. It gave off a sense of pure wrongness, like a thing that absolutely did not belong in the world.
She hopped off Hylia's back, giving the trembling old bird a quick pat on the side. She wouldn't dare bring her grandma's favorite pet any closer than she has to to that thing.
She pulled out her bows and began to climb the hill leading to the edge of the cliff. As she did the thing seemed to notice her hostile intent. It rippled angrily, strange holes opening and circling its body before settling on the front of it and rezolving into what looked like a face
. It regarded her briefly, like a curious baby, then it smiled and the holes that made up its eyes expanded until they took up half its body. Out of them sprayed a multitude of shining projectiles in all directions. They lit up the darkness like fireworks, and Linkle had to weave in between while retuning fire of her own. A few of her bolts sank into the monsters oily hide, and seeming in
response the hole that had once been its eyes spit out a ring of shining balls. Linkle skidded to a stop as the balls let out a flash and shot toward her in streams of silver energy, the heat uncomfortable even as it passed her.
Clearly it was power that this greedy creature had stolen from the great fairy. After all, it was much to disgusting to use powers so grossly incandescent. Unperturbed she kept moving as the energy fizzled out. She only had one shot with the treasure the princesses had gifted her.
The monster, though, seemed to want to meet her too. It shot forward, forcing her to jump back as it slammed its mass into the ground where she had been. It seemed to have a little silent laugh as it started her down, then spikes erupted all over its body. These spikes shot out in all direction, boring into the landscape around them and barely leaving any space for Linkle to slip between them. She stepped on one, then another, using them as a staircase to boost herself upward into the air. One she was high enough she spun, her boot igniting as she delivered a flaming dive kick to the monsters face. The shock made it retract all its spikes, and it looked at her with slanted eyebrows of anger as she landed.
It shook itself, and from its mass emerged a clone of the monster. And another. And another. The four floated up above her.
"That's not fair! Cheater!" She shouted up at it as one of the four bounced off all the others to build up speed before shooting at her again. She dodge to the side, but as she did another one did the spike thing again and she had to twist in the air to avoid being impaled. She landed badly, rolling on her side, as another shot forward. The three holes of its face combined, opening up to reveal a maw of darkness with one solitary eye floating inside. The eye surged with energy, charging up for some kind of attack that she wouldn't have the chance to dodge as she scrambled to her feet.
It fired just as she got to her feet, a massive laser that took up her entire field of view. Just when it was about to overtake her, however, a small shadow suddenly swooped in front of her. It extended a single arm, the arm flipping over to reveal what looked like a hidden gun, and met the creatures blast with a blue beam of its own. The two beams collided, struggling against one another, before Linkle added her own hail of bolts to the contest. They sank like mud into the skin of the thing, and whether weakened or just distracted it was enough to give the short guy the advantage. He piled on the efforts, forcing the beam all the way back into the creature and leaving it dazed in the middle of a massive explosion.
She could see her savior clearly now, a wooden puppet whose blue cloak fluttered in the after shock. He turned to her, crossed his arms and nodded in her direction.
Just then a gaunt man with a skull like face flew over her head, brining two scythe down on the stunned creature. He hacked and slashed at its putrid flesh before com binding his weapons into one and throwing it like a buzzsaw into its face. The weapon cut deep as another hero stepped into the fray, a big eared cat creature, who slammed his wrench into the scyth along with the skull faced man. The combined force sent the monster flying back, colliding with one of its brethren and recombing.
Another was having its own hard time. It's face rotated into long oblong holes, spitting spinning pink blades of energy that bit into its opponent and cut bloody chunks from him. However the man in black did not let up in his attack in the slightest, raking his saw toothed cleaver across its body. Which each cut the mans own wounds closed, but he also could not kill the monster. They were at a frustrating stalemate.
At least until a cry of "Audaces fortuna iuvat!" Resounded across the hill and the armor clad centurion charged in and punched the monster in the face. It backed up as the two started wailing on it, opening up into that inky darkness again to fire off its laser. This time, however, the Courier was there to snipe its eye. The power discharged early, sending the ball dealing back until it bumped up against the massive spiked hulk of Bowser.
Linkle wondered how the tyrant lizard king had gotten behind the things without her seeing as he guffawed at the dazed monster and opened up his mouth let loose a stream of fire at its hide. As he did so, one of the other monsters did something strange. It distorted, then hacked up two miniature versions of itself. One of these tiny things zipped down to between Bowder and the monster he was assailing, opening its own mouth wide. Wider than any of them had before. It began to suck, absorbing Bowsers fire breath, and the suction only got stronger as it opened up wider. In a few seconds it seemed as though the thing had turned itself completely inside out, becoming as all consuming hole of darkness so powerful even Bowser was having trouble resisting it.
Linkle felt like she had to do something. She rushed forward, spraying bolts at the line that had spawned the black holes, but the other half hole floated in front of her volley and inverted itself to absorb the attack. As it did so the dazed one regained its composer and shot out its blades again, the spinning projectiles raking across the assembled heroes and cutting deep gashes across their bodies.
These gashes were healed in moments, however, as Blazermate came out of the woodwork and focused her miraculous healing beam on them. This seemed to anger the black hole spawner, whose black holes faded as it slammed its bulk down at the heal bot. However, it made one fatal miscalculation.
Where you had a cute robot, Tora could not be far behind.
The mighty heropon leaped out from behind Blazermate, tanking the full force of its attack on his shield. It was a perfect deflection, throwing the thing off balance and causing it to expose its eye. There was the crack of gunfire as something slammed the exposed eye at supersonic speed, sending the monster reeling. It collided with its partner, merging back together.
From the top of a nearby hill Michael smiled and reloaded his sniper rifle.
With only two left, both still dazed from having been recombined, everyone piled on to the closer of the two. There was a flurry of punches, slashes, kicks, and shot. Even Din, who had been silently supporting everyone with her mysterious energizing dance moved into range and got a hit it with her staff. Then, with one last mighty haymaker Bowser sent the monster flying at its only remaining brother. As he did a being flickered into sight above the other one, drawing its sword in one swift motion and slamming it downward. The blobs hit in the middle of the air, rejoined into a singular monster, and hung there as the ninja landed grace full on the ground.
They all looked up, catching their breaths and sharing a moment of satisfaction. Except Linkle, who gazed at the faces around her. Tora seemed to notice this. He gave the girl a grin. "Linky-Linky not have to run off and do everything herself, Meh."
She nodded. She supposed he was right. Back home one hero had to do everything. But here, in this world overflowing with them, she was just the first among many. She didn't have to run all over the battlefield residing people, cleaning up problems and handling every crisis all on her lonesome. Not anymore.
But there was something only she could do. She stepped forward, unwrapping the gift Princess Zelda had given her. It gleamed even in this dark place, an arrow of purest silver. An arrow from the oldest legends with the power to slay even the greatest evil. She slotted the arrow into her crossbow, took careful aim, and fired at the monster.
It struck true, piercing the creature and continuing on upward until it was just a sparkle in the sky. The monster twitched, rippled, its face cycling through a cycle of different expressions, pain, despair, fear, anger, as light began to well up within it. Finally, hauntingly, it seemed to settle on joy as it expanded then popped like a balloon.
What was left behind was light. A light that banished all the unnatural darkness infecting this land and bringing back its natural beauty, and inside that light a pure, radiant being that descended from on high.The Great Fairy of Light
. The one responsible for creating this beautiful new world, where peace reigned and adventure was around every corner. She alighted on the ground as in front of the heroes, beckoning them forward with a warm smile.
They obeyed. As one they stepped forward and basked in the divine light...