A sword wielded no strength unless the hand that held it had courage.
Rauru’s words were muffled, drowned out by Zelda’s senses being overwhelmed by the magic that had brought her back in time. She had to focus, to maintain her composure. They had to prepare themselves.
“Why would you give them the sacred instrument?” Rauru demanded to know.
“You have forever doomed us all!” Abnar cried, nearly toppling over as he yanked his cane back upright.
“What other outcome did any of you expect?” Odan answered with a humorless laugh. “Ganondorf is gone, yet we are now left with the Sheikari, who need no assistance entering the Sacred Realm. Had Zelda not brought us here, they would have certainly killed us by now.”
“That’s enough, Odan!” Grig growled.
Zelda jumped as someone took her hands into their own, clasping them gently. She looked down at Mison, his bright blue eyes filled with sorrow and determination.
“I see something in you,” he squeezed her hands gingerly. “It was quite a journey, I suspect. Yes, a terrible fate indeed. Yet, you somehow found your way back.”
Zelda nodded, and Mison turned to rejoin the others. His words took a few seconds to seep into her as she recalled why they seemed so familiar.
“You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?”
“You would all do well to trust Her Highness,” Mison continued. “I believe she knows exactly what she must do now.”
Rauru blustered and started to say something, but Zelda held up a hand to silence him.
“You must allow me to explain,” she was surprised to hear her voice was clear, carrying the air of authority she believed seven hopeless years had worn down. “I have only managed to buy us a little time. As you all may know, once the Sheikari reach the Triforce, it will split into three separate triangles. They have forgotten this, but that will not stop them from trying to acquire the rest.”
Odan’s eyes grew wide. “Which means so long as we can protect those chosen by destiny…”
“We may be able to defeat them still.”
Rauru shook his head. “We stand no chance against their sorcery. You must know that more than anyone.”
Zelda stared at Rauru for a moment before she finally nodded. “I do. I have seen their magic firsthand, the Fused Shadow and…the cursed mask that continues to haunt all of you, even in your sleep.”
Almost in unison, the Sages winced and covered their eyes, as if trying to block out a painful memory.
“What’s done is done,” it was finally Grig who replied after a moment. “What do we do now?”
Zelda was about to speak when a figure burst into the room, his golden armor glistening in the torchlight. The Sages backed away, but Zelda held up one hand and shook her head.
“He is who I was buying time for,” she explained. “Ancient Sages…the Hero of Time.”
Link stopped in front of them, removing his helmet and bowing his head slightly. The Sages all looked to Zelda, who nodded in response.
“T…the Hero of Time…” Nove’s reedy voice trailed off into silence.
“He is here at last!” Mison exclaimed.
“Perhaps we misjudged you, princess,” Odan’s normally weary voice was now full of hope. “If the Hero of Time has come to our aid, then perhaps all is not lost.”
“Yet he is without the Master Sword…”
Everyone turned in unison to face Rauru, whose expression was one of grave concern. Link scratched the back of his head sheepishly, his eyes trailing to the floor.
“Yes, he is, Rauru,” Zelda removed her hood, the magic that gave her the appearance of a Sheikah male vanishing. Link’s eyes grew wide, but he quickly nodded in understanding. Zelda smiled in return; there was no point in disguises, physical or otherwise. “And now…the Sheikari will have reached the Temple of Light. I must transport all who are in this room away while my magic can still withstand the darkness.”
She raised her arms, calling out to Farore, and light began to encircle them. Soon they were falling through the darkness, plummeting towards an unknown fate.
When she landed, she had little time to orient herself as a raging sandstorm battered her from all sides, promising to soon rip her to shreds within a few seconds. She could see nothing in front of her, and the howling gales made it impossible to hear anything else. Yet, she remembered what the mask salesman had told her when she’d decided to follow him.
“It will stop soon. Now that I’ve brought you here.”
The strange chime sounded again as the sand storm dissipated, revealing the walls of the colosseum inside the Arbiter’s Grounds. The stone pillar and Mirror of Twilight sat undisturbed, streams of sand gently falling onto the ground below.
“The Arbiter’s Grounds,” Rauru whispered in awe, as he and the other Sages slowly climbed to their feet, brushing themselves off. Zelda found Link and quickly crossed the distance between them. She reached out her hand before quickly drawing it back, her cheeks flushing a light pink. Then, she took his hand in hers and squeezed gently.
“I had given up hope, venturing out and making a mess of things, but Ganondorf is now gone. All that is left is to deal with the shadows that haunt my kingdom’s past. Truly, this is not your fight, but I would ask for your aid just the same.”
Link squeezed her hand in return and nodded. Zelda’s vision became blurry, and she quickly wiped her eyes with her free hand. That was when she first heard it, the wailing, chanting, and screaming in the distance. They had already found them.
“They come here?” Abnar dropped his can and fell to his knees, his face ashen. “To this place?”
“We…we gave them the Ocarina of Time,” Nove whispered, his voice shaking. “Is vengeance upon us more important than finding the other golden triangles?”
Zelda clasped Link’s left hand once more, her expression determined.
“Link…you do not have the Master Sword,” she looked up at six tall pillars before them, certain only a few seconds remained. “You were gifted with a proper childhood, and so you never had the chance to pull it from its pedestal. However, you are more than any sword, more than any legend…”
Six figures now perched themselves on each of the giant pillars. Adelora hovered above the pillar of light, still taking on the form of Dark Link, a mockery of the man who stood beside her. He held up the Ocarina of Time for all to see before crushing it in his fist. The Ancient Sages saw this and crowded together, fear and dread evident in their expressions.
It was at this moment that the back of Link’s hand began to glow with a brilliant golden light. His eyes widened in surprise as the Triforce of Courage appeared, while Zelda smiled in understanding.
“And the goddesses have chosen you. They will always choose you. You will always be worthy.”