Beyond Grey
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"Beyond Grey" part 1

Legal Disclaimer: Since all the fanfics that I've read have all started out by saying that Link, Zelda, Gannondorf, Hyrule, and anything that Nintendo has created, are all Nintendo's sole property, I guess I'd better do that as well.  I don't know about legalities or copyright infringement or any of that technical stuff.  With all that cleared up, I thank you and hope you enjoy the story.

Beyond Grey

By: Jacen Shaw

Link was awakened by the sounds of screaming cries of battle, cries of terror...cries of agony. He quickly woke his wife, Zelda, and proceeded to grab his sword and shield before making his way to the window. The scene was horrific. The bodies of the dead and wounded lay scattered about the castle courtyard. Armored soldiers, some still grasping their swords and moaning, others lying still, were thrown about like rag dolls; their once shinning armor now blackened from energy burns. Small fires filled the area, choking the courtyard with billowing black smoke. Link rushed down the stairs and through a door in the hall outside.

The sky was dark black and filled with clouds, not the kind seen before an impending storm, but an overcast of evil; an atmosphere of turbulent, agitated motion. Jagged bolts of lightning carved out the stratosphere, illuminating the dark outlines of clouds for instants at a time. Never had Link seen such a display of power, not by Gannondorf1, not by anyone. No, this was something different, something dark, black.

A particularly deafening stroke of thunder shook the ground, this time accompanied by a fierce wind that began churning through the courtyard, making the smoke dance and twirl as if it were a living entity. The whirling smoke clouded Link's already limited line of vision.

The blow came from behind, silently and without any warning. Link was thrown across the courtyard to the opposite wall. Bones snapped as he impacted with crushing force and fell to the ground. Breathing was agony. Still, Link gathered enough strength to turn himself to look up at the unseen attacker. The being walked from the shadows and approached him. Link squinted through his pain but the attacker's face was shrouded in darkness.

"Who are you?" Link gasped, choking over the words through the smoke. I have to stall, he thought. Zelda will be here soon with the Triforce2 -the completed and whole Triforce. The man just laughed.

"Zelda should be here soon," the dark man announced, "with your precious Triforce no less." It was a statement. The man knew. No matter, thought Link. No one can withstand the wrath of the Triforce when its power is brought to bear. Knowledge of what will soon happen will not save you from your fate. At that moment, Zelda opened fire with the Triforce's immense power, discharging salvos of pure energy from the sacred relic across the courtyard into the man.

Though in great pain, Link still had the strength to smile at the man's demise. Soon the energy blasts ceased. Link turned his head and looked see the dark man still standing, somehow having withstood the Triforce's attack. With a gesture of his hand, the Triforce exploded. The dark man ripped the remaining Triforce pieces from Zelda's grasp, simultaneously sending a counterattack energy bolt at her. The bolt tore through her defenses and tossed her to the other side of the courtyard. That can't be, Link thought. It was impossible. Nothing could survive a direct attack by the Triforce.

"Your efforts are useless," the man said and with that, he disappeared in a vortex of swirling black light. The last thing Link was aware of, as he drifted from consciousness, was the sound of maniacal laughter echoing through the courtyard.

Link awoke with a start, cold sweat clinging to his body, heart pounding. Quickly, he looked out the window. The moon was a waning crescent floating in a sea of stars. Sounds of the night sung a soothing, hypnotic rhythm. The sky was crystal clear and a cool breeze caressed trees outside the window, making them sway gently.

Link exhaled his breath in a huge whoosh. The dream was coming more frequently and more vividly each time. Maybe it was trying to tell him something. A prophecy of what was soon to come perhaps; a vision of the future. Link couldn't tell what it was trying to say but he did know that acquiring the full Triforce was beyond their capabilities at the moment. He thought of asking Zelda, but quickly dismissed the idea. He looked over at her, her pale skin illuminated in the moonlight, giving her a heavenly look. No, he thought, I don't want to worry her anymore than necessary. And with that, he rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.

Hyrule Castle Dining Area

The warm morning sunlight brightly lit Link and Zelda's private dining chamber. Like all the rooms and halls in the castle, the chamber was lit by an ingenious system of windows and mirrors. The system, devised by the castle architects, filled the rooms and halls with light by reflecting the sun's rays. At night, a single candle lit by a set of mirrors could fool people into thinking it was mid-afternoon.

Just lower than the windows, delicate handmade tapestries hung from the protective stone walls. Each one personally crafted by Zelda, they were rich in color and vibrant in design, conveying a feeling of peace and contentment. Yet, not the happiness of the tapestries, neither the aroma of the freshly cut flowers on the table, nor the sound of birds through the window could lift the mood that permeated the room. It was left to Link to take the initiative to cheer the tainted atmosphere, something he doubted he could do.

"Come on Zelda," Link pressed. "Gannondorf is not going to attack for a while. After our raid at his headquarters, he'll be spending his time recovering and recouping his losses. You know as well as I that it takes a tremendous amount of effort to recover after an attack, even with the Triforce of power."

"I know, but he's getting stronger. He had a lot better defensive system than I thought," came her answer, quiet and depressed, as it had been of late.

"Hey, Zelda, it was better than any of us thought." Then he added, "It's not your fault that Sean died there."

"Technically, it is," she said, poking her fried morrak around on her plate with her fork. Link noticed that she had hardly eaten anything. "I ordered the attack based on my judgment. That makes it my fault." She looked up from her food and gazed at him. "I felt so confident that we would win, like something was telling me that we would." She sighed and looked back down at her food. "My instincts failed me. I guess I didn't leave room in my mind that it was possible that we could fail.would fail." She lifted her head back to Link. "How am I going to run a whole nation someday if I can't even trust my own judgment?"

"Come on Zelda." Link said, attempting to comfort her, "This isn't the only time Gannondorf has lead us into a trap, you know that."

"But I knew we would succeed," she contested. "It was like the gods were whispering to me." She sank back into her chair again. "They were wrong.I was wrong. Deathly wrong." Link sensed what she was getting at.

"Zelda, Sean's not your fault. When you go into battle, you can't pick who will die and who won't. It's all chance. War isn't like that. If it was..."

"But I don't want to chance things anymore!" Zelda interrupted him. "When is it going to end? Is it ever? You know, it seems like." She didn't finish the thought. Link was about to say something when she started again. "For all we know our children might have to defend Hyrule from Gannondorf or who knows what!" Zelda continued, "On how many occasions have we thought that we've defeated Gannondorf for good? He might as well be an invincible god he's escaped death so many least, death that is true."

"Well...," Link started.

"It's been too long since Hyrule has experienced true peace," she interrupted, once again not allowing him to speak. "I've heard rumors that the citizens of Hyrule are beginning to doubt us. Frankly, I think I'm starting to believe they're right. Our failure to get rid of Gannondorf is only justifying their argument."

"Now Zelda, don't talk like that." Link said, putting down his fork. "I promise that I will make this place safe when we have a child."

"What do you mean by safe?" Zelda asked. "What will we do, lock her up in a magically protected tower with a ring of guards around her at all times?"

"Whoa, Zelda! Back up! Are you suggesting that I would let any harm to come to my own son?" Link asked in a mock hurt voice trying to lighten the mood. Zelda looked down and smiled.

"You mean daughter," she corrected, deadpan. Link smiled back at her, but on the inside, sighed. Lately, Zelda was acting more and more depressed. He first dismissed it as being mood swings but it droned on and on. This was one of the few topics that still brought a smile to Zelda's face.

Link and Zelda had just opened the discussion about starting a family of their own. Since the beginning, Zelda had planned on having a baby girl.

"But how am I going to teach a girl to fight and use a sword?" Link complained. Suddenly, Zelda perked up.

"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked.

"Ah, nothing," Link meekly answered, looking back to his food. Long ago, Link had learned that women could be just as competent in a battle as men could. Living with Zelda had proved that. This was ground that would best have been avoided.

"No, I want an answer," said Zelda, her voice taking on a challenging tone. "Are you saying that women are useless when danger strikes? That we're all helpless maidens who need to be saved all the time? Is that what you were implying? Huh? Is it?"

Before Link could speak in his defense, a brilliant flash of light ripped through the room. Link instinctively threw himself across the table toward Zelda and landed on the ground, tipping the table's long wooden frame as he went to use it as a shield. Glasses and forks and china crashed to the ground. Ignoring the broken glass all over the floor, Link peeked over the sideways table in fascination as he saw the silhouettes of two figures battling in a vortex of light.

The vortex acted like a window, a window to another location that they could look into. Link wondered if the two figures could also see Zelda and him. Squinting, Link tried to make out who they were, but the glare from a bright light behind them only allowed him to see their outlines.

The combatants were definitely talented though. Link watched and studied their movements, cringing when one of them made a critical error. With a skillful backpedal parry combination, the first figure gained an advantage. Using it, the figure quickly sidestepped an overextended attack by the second figure, simultaneously pivoting bringing its left foot to bear. The second figure attempted to box step out of range but it was too late. The first figure's foot caught the second under the chin, lifting the flailing silhouette to the air. Link realized what was going to happen a split second after Zelda. Both of them jumped from their place behind the table and dove out of the way. The second figure flew through the portal and landed back first onto the table, reducing it to splinters. Link recognized the bloodied face instantly. It was Gannondorf.

Gannondorf heaved himself from the floor with what looked like enormous effort. Gasping for breath, he dragged a blue portal disc3 from his cloak. Link knew what Gannondorf was attempting to do. If he could close the portal, it would interrupt the other being's approach. The fringes of the vortex began to break down, the edges collapsing and dissipating. The still unknown figure, realizing that any effort to reach the opening before it closed would be futile, yelled, "You will die, Gannondorf! Your efforts are useless! You may have escaped me, but now your enemies surround you! Your fate is sealed!" With that, he disappeared as the vortex of swirling light collapsed and dissipated.

Link and Zelda starred in horror and wonder as Gannondorf, the most powerful dark sorcerer in the all of Hyrule, the world, toppled and fell to floor.

Hyrule Castle Medical Wing

After about an hour of aimless wandering about the castle, Link found himself to be standing outside the door to Gannondorf's medical room. It had been three days since Gannondorf's battle. Three days since the mysterious figure had appeared along with Gannondorf in the vortex of light. Link picked up the medical chart that hung on the door. After a minute of studying it, he sighed and set it back, realizing that he didn't understand a word of it. Stupid charts, he mumbled in his mind. How do they expect you to read that? The doctors had said that his status was gradually improving. If Link had had his own way, Gannondorf would be dead. Actually, if the whole kingdom had its way, Gannondorf would be dead several times over. The only thing that kept the King from sentencing Gannondorf to death was Zelda. Link remembered the conversation.

Zelda had stood by Gannondorf's side since he had gone into his coma, arguing that they couldn't execute him since he hadn't yet had a trial. The debate had been hot and furious and had spanned well over three hours. The King had correctly stated that any trial would inevitably spell certain death for Gannondorf's crimes. It had only ended when Link finally intervened and supported Zelda's cause.

Zelda had a point when she had stated that only Gannondorf knew who the mysterious figure was. Anyone foolish enough to challenge Gannondorf would either have to be extremely powerful or extremely insane. On the same track, anyone with the ability to actually defeat Gannondorf was a force to be reckoned with, and Link wanted to know who it was. With that settled, the only thing that was left to do was wait.

Several days back, the fringe scouts had reported that Gannondorf's base was deserted. All signs of his ever being there had vanished. The magic devices and spell scrolls, all gone. Even the reddish wooden shelves that they had once rested on had mysteriously disappeared. It was all too weird. Link was not convinced that the whole thing wasn't a sham to get into the castle. Moving his belongings and then acting the whole battle scene could be an effective way to penetrate the castle's defenses, or, at the present, was. Link knew that Gannondorf was a master of facades but the medical reports had revealed that the injuries on Gannondorf's body were genuine.

Then, there was the chance that once Gannondorf had collapsed on the floor of the dinning room, he immediately transferred himself into a healing trance, only to revive himself from his coma and attack when they were most vulnerable. Link had used healing trances several times before, but they weren't always effective for him because he wasn't especially adept in magic. Zelda was working on helping him become more skilled at using the magic powers given to him by the Triforce of courage. Their first lesson; energy blasts.

Link had always talented enough at channeling Triforce energy through his sword, but he always had a much harder time projecting them directly from his hands. The only time he could seem to do it right was when Zelda was with him coaching.

Though Link knew his own magical limitations, with a man like was impossible to say. Everything that Link could think of had something that could overrule it. At the moment, he could only speculate and wait for Gannondorf to heal.

Link still wondered why he had come to Zelda's, and Gannondorf's, defense. He had hoped that in doing so, Zelda would have told him why she was so desperate to keep Gannondorf in one piece, but no. She spent all her available time at Gannondorf's side, using magic to help accelerate the healing process, only migrating to the kitchen once in a while for a quick snack.

To make matters even more stressful, Link's dream was recurring every night, each time becoming even more vivid. Link, now more than ever, wanted to alert Zelda of his troubles but now, with the whole Gannondorf issue, had even more reason to hold back from doing so. Zelda didn't need any more pressure on her. It seemed the whole kingdom was breathing down her neck. I'll wait till later, when this whole thing blows over, Link silently reasoned to himself as he walked from the medical wing. If only he knew that later would be too late.

Main Meeting Hall, The Next Morning

Such rooms were the visuals of the wealth of a prosperous nation. The tall ceiling of the celebration hall was constructed of red sagatious oak. A long table made of the same type rested opposite the ceiling, its polished surface reflecting the room in all its grandeur. The table could easily seat over one hundred people and the hall itself could comfortably accommodate more than five hundred but, at the moment, only two inhabitants resided in the superfluously massive room; Link and King Harkinian. Windows high up on the sturdy walls allowed the morning sunlight to radiate into the room and warm Link's skin from his place at the head of the table.

Hyrule Tribune 23:55:0294

Is the King Still Fit to Lead our Country?

"This is preposterous!" exclaimed Harkinian. Link could barely make out what the headline on the newspaper read with the king shaking it about in his fist as he paced back and forth. "To even suggest that my leadership would be questioned is unthinkable!" Furious, the king threw the paper across the meeting hall.

In all his time at the castle, Link had never seen the king so angry. It wasn't like him to act so crudely. "Sir," Link said, in all calmness, "the people would never lose faith in you. This whole thing will cool off soon."

"Yes, I know, but the front page?" The king stopped his pacing and turned to face Link. "There must be some serious doubt in this kingdom to have something like this to be printed." He began his pacing once again. "What have I done to deserve this?" he asked, looking up as if the gods were going to give him an answer.

"Well," Link suggested, "after you announced that Gannondorf would live."

Harkinian stopped dead in his tracks and whipped about, pointing at Link. "I didn't agree with that and I still don't!"

".and," Link continued, "after that last battle at Gannondorf's HQ, people are thirsty for blood.Gannondorf's. And now that they have his neck within their grasp.well, you know how the people hate him." Link sat back in his chair.

"Yes, I do know how much they hate him. I share their hate. But, it was just a battle. Alone this could not spur such a strong response."

Link took on a serious tone, trying not to sound scolding. "I know you went over those reports. You know how many loyal soldiers were killed. You know how many families were affected. I need not remind you that this was one of the worst battles we've ever had. If you blame the people, then."

"I know, I know," the king interrupted. "The statistics are brutal. Damn! I knew I should have listened to my war advisors to not allow Zelda to conduct the battle."

"What!" Link exclaimed, almost jumping from his seat, "You mean you had doubts about Zelda's ability to lead the army?" The king thought a moment.

"No," he finally answered. "Not so much as in her ability to lead, but in her judgment. All my advisors kept telling me that Gannondorf's defenses were too strong to attack but Zelda seemed dead-set on getting rid of him for good. I don't know why." Link swallowed hard. Had his talking with Zelda about having a family contributed to her wanting to get Gannondorf out of the picture so quickly? The king continued. "It was like she was blind to the truth. I just don't know. I thought it could have been just another god sent insight from the Triforce of Wisdom." The King sighed. "And now she's supporting Gannondorf's side. I can't believe she's actually defending that killer, especially after what he did."

"Hey, now wait a minute," Link interjected, "you know as well as I that Gannondorf had purposely planted information that would make him appear vulnerable. That was his plan. You can't blame it all on Zelda. And another thing, I'm also backing Gannondorf's side."

"Ha!" the king scoffed. "You're just supporting Zelda! I know you -- you would never do anything that would aid Gannondorf." Link opened his mouth to deny but quickly shut it. Of course the king was right. Even though Link had vowed to vanquish the threat of Gannondorf, he felt an even stronger sort of obligation to stand by his wife's side. Yet it had been almost a week and no matter how much he coaxed, Zelda would not tell him anything. Suddenly, a flash of anger ran through Link's body as he looked back. He was the only thing standing in the way of the Gannondorf's death, a death that he agreed with, and he didn't even know why he was doing it.

The king's voice interrupted his thoughts. "I really must have a discussion with Zelda about her judgment."

Oh, no! Link thought. Zelda's judgment? A wave of dread washed over Link's body. Zelda was on the verge of snapping from the pressure. Link knew that. If her father suddenly approached her wanting to talk about a subject that she already had severe doubts about, it could crush her. The king was already making his way to the door.

"Wait!" Link shouted, jumping from his chair, "How about I go and talk to Zelda first? I could give it to her gently."

"Good idea," the king agreed, turning around. "I still need to speak to her though. Come and get me when you think it's a good time."

"Of course I will," Link said in total relief as the king walked from the hall. Then, quietly to himself, he added. "But, how am I going to do this?"

The question echoed throughout the empty room. Link waited, as if he expected some sort of answer from the gods to come. None came.

Medical Wing

Link made his way to Gannondorf's medical room. Three guarded doors and five magical barriers later, he slowly pushed open the door that housed Gannondorf's almost dead body. "Zelda?" he whispered quietly. "Zelda?" Link looked around.

The room was standard medical quarters for patients recovering from severe wounds or sickness. Like all rooms of its type, it was entirely white and sparsely furnished. A medical bed, a small table, and two chairs were all that were kept in the room, giving it a cold, inhospitable aurora; a feeling not totally unlike the relationship Link shared with Gannondorf.

Link remembered the last time he had been in a room like this. It was in a room like this where Sean had died. Link could still recall everything that had happened that night. The medical staff had tried everything it could. Even Zelda's healing spells seemed to have no effect on reversing the damage that the battle wounds had inflicted. Link remembered Sean's last words he ever spoke. "I want you to kill Gannondorf, Link. Make the world safe for my children.and yours." And that was all. The friend Link had had for almost all of his time at the castle then passed away. Link knew that he would fulfill his friend's wishes no matter what. But still, he needed Gannondorf alive, just for a while longer so he could find out who the person on the other side of the portal was.

"Zelda?" Link once again called, a little worried. "Zelda, where are you?" Alarm washed over Link. Where was she? She was supposed to be here! Link raced around the medical table to find Zelda lying on the floor, breathing heavily, her eyes open. "Zelda! Are you okay?" Link asked. Nodding, Zelda slowly pushed herself to a sitting position. "What happened?" Link asked. "What did Gannondorf do?" Link began to draw his sword. Zelda held up her hand and shook her head, as if to say "no." Link stopped, and then slowly re-sheathed the weapon into its scabbard on his back, though his hand remained fixed to the hilt. Smiling mysteriously, Zelda removed a somewhat large, shiny, triangular object from her robe. It glinted with a magical light. The Triforce of power. "But how?" Link inquired, dropping his hand. "You extracted it from his body?" Zelda nodded again with what looked like extreme effort. "Let's get you to the room," Link said. With that, Link picked her up in a giant swoop of his arms and carried her up to their quarters. The whole way, Zelda cradled the Triforce of power gently in her hands.

The realization hit Link when he was halfway to their room. They now had the power to bring a golden age of peace and prosperity to Hyrule and all the other nations of the world. Maybe Zelda wouldn't have to worry about Gannondorf hunting their children after all. Maybe, just maybe, the killing and the battles and the atrocities would finally stop. The thoughts lightened Link's step as he tucked an already sleeping Zelda into bed.

Hyrule Castle War Room

Based in the center of the castle, the war room sported a simple solitary round table of malagate carntwood. Having meter thick stone walls and a giant metal door, no natural light penetrated the isolated room. Since it was lit completely by candles, the slightest breath or movement made the room appear to waver and dance. If sound waves could have affected the flames, they would have probably flickered out a while ago due to the hurricane of shouted arguing.

"We should destroy Gannondorf and his minions now, before they catch wind of the fact that we have acquired the complete Triforce!" argued Lazerath, the general of the Hylian army. "Destroy them all while we have the chance!"

"I agree," said Magnus, the head of the Hylian Special Forces. "You never know what Gannondorf has up his sleeve. Best we destroy the rest of his army before they find out we have the full Triforce and try something or hide. Personally, I don't want to get the job of ferreting them all out."

"Then it is agreed that we should exploit the Triforce's power as soon as possible," stated Lazerath, not even waiting for the king to voice his opinion.

"Wait just one moment," Link cut in. "Remember, this is the Triforce you're talking about. Never have we had such power to use as we wanted. You don't know what will happen once we go to use it. And on that subject, Zelda is the only one who is going to use it, much less touch it. You'll have to clear everything with her before you can do anything."

"To hell with what you say we can and can't do!" Lazerath hollered, with very little respect. "It is in the best interest of Hyrule that we use the Triforce as quickly as possible. Haven't you seen what Gannondorf's army has done? Hyrule is crippled!"

"Now wait a minute," the senator from Newsbrook piped in, "I don't believe that 'crippled' is the correct term.." Lazerath whipped around to face the opinionated senator, pointing at him with a glare. Link thought he saw Lazerath's eyes almost glow red with fire. Being the military general and chief administrator of Hyrule's army, Link decided that his overzealous argument and disrespect was acceptable under the light that he had lost so many men. He had the job that, without a doubt, everyone in the room was glad not to have.

"Let me remind you that the public is not aware of how badly our army was hurt in that last offensive since your ignorance indicates to me that you are just as equally uninformed. Are you not aware of the severity of the punishment we took?" Lazerath turned and faced the other members at the table. "I say we use the Triforce it and we use it now!"

"That's enough!" Harkinian shouted. "Link is right. No one but Zelda is going to touch the Triforce. We still need to take time to study it and determine what we can do."

"With all do respect, your majesty," Lazerath angrily said, barely keeping his tone neutral, "I strongly urge you to reconsider. Hesitation now can cost us dearly later."

"No," came the Harkinian's instant reply. "I will not allow some careless mistake to destroy all that we have worked to achieve. We will take no immediate action at the moment. All resources will be directed at determining what we can safely do with the Triforce. That is final. Are there any questions?" Only shaking heads replied. "Okay, good. As you all know gentlemen, what you have just heard is confidential and is on a need to know basis. If there is nothing else, you are all dismissed." Everyone stood up, shuffling papers and sorting files preparing to leave. Suddenly, the door of the war room slammed open. Standing there was a young soldier in full Hylian armor with terror burned on his face.

"What is the meaning of this!" Harkinian demanded.

The knight stammered, "Gannondorf's army is attacking. They have stormed the palace gates and are making their way here."

A huge, booming voice echoed through the castle. "We have come for our leader, the almighty Gannondorf!"

Link, not waiting for orders, rushed past the guard and down the hall, towards the noise of battle. After rounding a corner, he found a source of great commotion.

Hylian soldiers all down the hall were crouched in defensive positions, behind tables, chairs, anything that could provide cover from the assault of arrows that were zipping down the hall. Link quickly dove and rolled behind an antique chest of drawers just narrowly dodging a moblin arrow. He cringed at the sound of multiple impacts striking the wooden sides of Zelda's favorite bureau. Peeking around the corner, Link found an opening in the mobile's arrow screen and raced toward an overturned table halfway down the hall. Behind it were three soldiers and one of the castle servants.

"Sir!" exclaimed one of the soldiers. "I'm Lieutenant Shaw." A young man, the officer showed no signs of fear in his voice or movements. He wore full formal military blue attire with the rank insignia of a junior lieutenant pinned on the left breast pocket. Intelligent green eyes offset his sandy blond hair, which, at the moment, was wet with perspiration.

"Thank you, lieutenant," Link said. "How many are we facing?"

"I'm not sure, sir," Shaw answered. "At least six moblins and maybe a couple of stalfos." Link swung out from the cover of the table, scanned the rest of the hall, and swung back just in time to hear the sound of speeding arrows zoom by the place where he had just vacated. Link could feel the arrows strike the table, turning it into an oversized pincushion.

"There are eight moblin archers and two stalfos providing cover for them; six on the right, four on the left."

"What can we do?" asked Shaw. "We have no chance of retreating and no backup. Does anyone have any suggestions?" Before anyone had time to talk, a huge explosion ripped through the hall. When the smoke and dust cleared, the left wall of the hall had a gaping hole in it.

"There's our escape, lieutenant," Link said. "If we can push this table forward, we can escape though that hole while keeping in cover."

"Good idea," one of the soldiers spoke.

"Okay then," said Link. "On three we push the table. One.two."

Before he could get to three, a stalfos leapt over their makeshift barricade and attacked with lightning speed. Link rolled out of the way and jumped backwards just in time to avoid a deadly laceration. A second stalfos charged into the table with its shield. The battering ram attack broke the barrier and killed their cover. "Run!" Link yelled. Two of the soldiers and the servant broke and ran.

Shaw had drawn his sword and was in combat with the first stalfos. Furiously, Shaw drove the stalfos back, keeping it on the defense. The stalfos blocked a high downward slash with its shield, leaving itself open for attack. With a swift kick that took the stalfos' feet out and a downward thrust of his sword, it was over. That left only the stalfos that was attacking Link.

Dodging like mad, both the stalfos' attacks and the relentless onslaught of arrows, Link found himself to be boxed in; wall on two sides and the stalfos on one. Quickly, he ducked another close slash and attempted to roll out of range. The stalfos' sword cut that option short. The powerful stroke, again barely missing Link, instead struck the floor, sending sparks and chips of stone flying through the air. Link pedaled back and faded left, jumping over the stalfos' rebound attack. After each swing, the deadly metal came closer to its mark, as Link's sliced tunic readily displayed. Fortunately, Link was not without help. Apparently Shaw had been watching, because a round shield flew through the air and struck the stalfos squarely on the back of the head, dropping it before it could make another attack.

"Thanks," Link breathlessly panted.

"He didn't need it anymore," Shaw commented, gesturing to the fallen stalfos that he had taken the shield from. "Now let's get outta here!" Link and Shaw sprinted to the hole.

Left, right, left, right, Link dodged. Twice Link felt arrows tear through his clothing.

Left, right, left, right, roll, right, dive, duck. They were coming too fast. An arrow dug itself deep into Link's right shoulder, spinning him about and dropping him to the ground.

"Nooooooo!" he heard someone scream. Link recognized the tiny voice instantly. Sprite ! Sprite, flying down the hall at top speed, zoomed to Link's side, having no apparent trouble avoiding the arrows whatsoever. "Come on!" she shouted. Sprite flew in front of Link and started zapping the incoming arrows to dust. "Hurry! I can't hold them off forever!" Gritting his teeth, Link grabbed the arrow in his shoulder and broke off the shaft with a grunt.

"Let's get going!" Sprite4 urged, already making her way to the hole in the wall. Link hurried as best he could to keep up.

"You really owe me now!" she managed to say as she flew, zapping three more arrows on the way. Link smiled. Only Sprite would take the opportunity to point out the fact that she had saved his life while she was saving it. Link dove headfirst through the hole into.the armory! What luck! Lunging toward the first sword and shield he saw, Link scooped them up and headed toward the door.

Shaw was in a corner, tending to one of the soldiers who had been hit by an arrow in the hallway. The other soldier stood by the hole in the wall, back pressed to the weakened stone, a sword drawn, ready to get the drop on anything that tried to follow through the cavity. "Where are you going?!" came Shaw's voice.

"To Gannondorf!" Link yelled over his shoulder. Throwing open the door and taking a sharp left, Link ran towards the medical wing. They want Gannondorf? he thought. Then they'll have to get through me first! Rounding another corner, Link threw himself down the first flight of stairs to the right. Almost there, he thought.

"Wait!" yelled Sprite.

No time, Link thought. I can't let them get to Gannondorf. Link slid around the last corner to the medical wing.right into an ambush! Immediately, thirty menacing stalfos eyes were trained on him.along with the fifteen deadly swords.

"You and your friends will die."

"What?" came Zelda's voice, tiny and confused.

"You and your friends will die."

"What? Who is this?" she asked. Zelda looked around. Am I dreaming? she thought. All around her was gray. Endless and infinite, stretching out in a perfect geometric plane to the end of time. The voice came again, closer.

"You and your friends will die."

"Who are you!" Zelda demanded. "Show yourself!" Zelda waited. No answer. A breeze began to blow through the once stagnant air. Zelda's long blond hair waved and flitted in its wake. The breeze picked up into a wind, the wind into a furious storm. Zelda turned around to face the gale. From one side of the endless plane to the other, a dark storm brewed; a sandstorm of pure blackness. The wind, amazingly, grew even stronger. Zelda's robe flapped in the storm, whipping around her body as if it was trying to pull her away from the evil that was advancing.

"You and your friends will die." Suddenly, Zelda became very frightened. An evil of epic proportions was emanating from the storm. An evil of so much power, Zelda found herself to be frozen in place. Get away! Zelda yelled to herself. Don't just stand here and wait for it to get you! However, whatever she thought, she couldn't find the will to move.

"Run!" a voice shouted to her with piercing clarity. Not the same voice that was tormenting her with the same murderous phrase, but something else, something she felt she could trust. Suddenly, she could move. Whipping about, Zelda ran with all her might away from the dark clouds, away from that other voice.

"Ha, ha, ha, ha," the voice from the cloud laughed. "You cannot escape." Zelda ran even harder. The wind grew as the storm plowed onward. Zelda turned to look behind her as she ran. The blackness was gaining. Maniacal laughter surrounded her, louder than ever. Still, she kept running. Running further and further into the boundless gray. There was no life on the endless plane, no distinguishing feature in the perfect gray. Nothing that she could run to in hopes of hiding or escaping the mist of death that pursued her. Then it happened. Tripping over the long robe she wore, Zelda fell hard to the polished gray floor. The dark cloud surrounded and choked her. It clouded her eyes and burned her skin with a dark energy. The laughter was all around.

"You and your friends will die."

"Nooooooo!!!" Zelda screamed. With her dying sight, Zelda saw a flash of light, emanating from the opposite horizon and racing to her with lighting speed. The wave of white met the cloud of black and, in an eruption of light and sound, dispersed the cloud, forcing it back to the realm of infinity to the other side of the endless plane in an explosion of raw power. "Thank you," Zelda whispered to the light. The floor was now a luminescent white, the air warm and comforting; like a blanket of good intentions. Zelda began to relax. The storm was gone. Her eyes began to close. Before she could return to the state of unconsciousness that is brought on by sleep, the words cut through the air like a piercing flare. "Wake up!"

Right away, Link knew that he didn't have a chance against so many foes in such a confined space.

The first of the stalfos leapt at him. Link instinctively blocked his downward slash with his shield, gasping as the shock was absorbed through his arm and channeled into his injured shoulder. With the skeletal warrior's sword held at bay by his shield, Link thrust his sword deep into the stalfos' spine. Two more stalfos drove toward him from different angles and attacked before their comrade even hit the floor. Link blocked the attack from the right with his shield and parried the other attack from the left with his sword. Again, waves of pain shot up his shoulder. With a quick spin kick, he dropped the second stalfos to the ground. Already, a forth attacker had emerged in its place, determined to succeed were its fellow warrior had failed.

Swords clashed with fiery rage. The third stalfos' fierce blows kept Link on the defense. With a massive two-handed sword slash, the stalfos swung wide to Link's right. With the blow blocked by his shield, Link's pain level spiked to a new level. Overwhelmed and knowing he couldn't take much more, Link called upon a spell of defense. After chanting a few words, his shield began to shimmer with the glow of blue light. Undaunted, the fourth stalfos slammed his sword full force into Link's guarding block. The sword dealt a great blow to the shield and there was a flare of blue light. Upon impact, the stalfos' weapon shattered to a million tiny glinting fragments. Only the grip and the hand guard remained in the stalfos' grasp.

Link's magic reserves, now down to nil after using such a powerful spell, sapped him of his strength. Before he could react, a fifth stalfos came from the rear slamming full speed into Link's back with his shield. Link flew through the air onto the floor, losing his grip on his newly acquired sword and shield. Landing on his right shoulder and rolling to a halt, the remaining stalfos surrounded him. In a manner that was totally synchronized, they all attacked.

"Triforce, destroy the evil creatures within this castle!" Zelda's voice resonated throughout the all the palace. Out of nowhere, black vortexes appeared all around the stalfos. A fierce wind churned through the hall, pulling the stalfos into the portals.

Link, already on the ground, flattened himself on the floor, clawing his fingers into the cracks between the tiles, hanging on to avoid being sucked into the vortexes along with the stalfos. Link lifted his head. There were black vortexes all over the hall. They looked like they were three-dimensional portals from the front, but when he looked at one from the side, it showed that it was as flat as a sheet of paper.

Screaming, the stalfos were sucked into the dark portals and disappeared without a trace as they sealed, each with a brilliant flash of black light. Not wasting any time, Link climbed to his feet. He sprinted toward Gannondorf's room but stopped short. The final magical barrier was still intact. Quickly he dispelled it and threw open the door. There, on the medical bed he still rested. Link breathed a sigh of relief. Gannondorf's minions had not been able to rescue him.

Wait a moment, Link thought. Zelda had told the Triforce to destroy all the evil creatures in the castle yet Gannondorf remained. Why? As far as Link was concerned, Gannondorf was the most evil thing in the world. The why hadn't he been sucked into the portals of darkness like his army? Something was definitely wrong.

"Link! Link! Where are you?"

"Over here, Zelda," Link called back, "I'm in Gannondorf's room." Zelda rushed into the doorway.

"Are you hurt? Are you okay?" she asked, running to his side.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I was just checking on Gannondorf to make sure."

"Look at your shoulder!" she cut him off. Link turned his head.

"Oh, that? It's just a little scratch."

"A little scratch? Link!" Zelda turned and yelled down the hall. "Medic! Medic! We need a medic over here."

"Coming!" a voice hollered back.

"It's okay, Zelda. There are others that need attention right now. I'll be okay for the moment." Sprite whizzed into the room.

"There you are, Link! Why didn't you listen to me and not wait up! You could have been killed!"

"See, Zelda," Link said, paying no attention to Sprite's fretting. "Sprite can heal it for me. What are you doing up anyway? You should be in bed." After Zelda had extracted the Triforce of power from Gannondorf, she had hardly had the strength to leave the room.

"Oh, you think that I would have stayed in bed while a war's happening right under my nose? Just to let you know, if I hadn't used the Triforce, Gannondorf would probably been rescued."

And I would probably be dead, Link thought silently to himself. A medic jogged up to Link and Zelda.

"What do you need?" he asked. "Oh! Your majesty!" he exclaimed after realizing who had called him. "How can I serve you?"

"Never mind," Zelda said, glaring at Link. "It seems that we have the situation under control." She threw Link an icy look and turned and left.

"What did I do?" Link asked the medic. The medic just shook his head.

"I still can't figure them out, sir." And with that, he jogged down the hall to check on the other wounded who were beginning to flood the medical wing.

"Come on Sprite. I have a feeling that we are going to have another emergency meeting in the war room."

War Room

"You see! If we would have used the Triforce earlier, none of this would have happened!" Lazerath was really laying it on thick. "This whole catastrophe could have been avoided if we had taken action sooner!" he spoke, emphasizing each word by slamming his fist on the conference table.

Link had been sitting on the hard wooden chair for several hours reviewing all the reports and listening to everybody yell at everybody else saying what should have been done. Lazerath had done most of the speaking throughout the meeting but in all terms, he had actually done the least. Lieutenant Jacen Shaw turned to Link. "Is it always like this Link?" After Link had left the medical wing, he had little to do during the hours of chaos that followed the battle so he went to seek out Junior Lieutenant Shaw. He later invited him to accompany him to the meeting.

"I'm afraid, as of late, yes, lieutenant," came Link's hushed answer.

"I told you to call me Jacen."

"Um, yes, ah, right, Jacen." The war room doors opened and an officer walked in.

"Final report's in," he stated handing a folder to Lazerath. "I'm afraid it's not very good." He turned to leave.

"Wait, soldier," said Harkinian. "Just dictate the report. I think we've all had enough of deciphering figures on papers" The soldier turned.

"Yes, sir," he said. Lazerath handed the folder back to him and he opened it up. "For you who don't know me, I am Commander Chalerton. I'm sure foremost in all your minds is how many casualties we took. Standard patrols were caught off guard. That's why we didn't see them coming." He hesitated then began again, "We took about 70% casualties." Chalerton looked at the king. Harkinian solemnly nodded. The officer continued. "About 500 are wounded or missing and over 300 are dead." Link turned in time to see Shaw's face go white.

Of course! Link thought to himself. Jacen didn't know how badly the offensive at Gannondorf's had gone.

Jacen turned to Link. "Eight hundred is 70%!?" he asked. Link just nodded. "Only 1100 men were here at the battle!? Where was the rest of the army?"

"That was the rest of the army," Link whispered back. Disbelief crept over Jacen's face. He sank back into his chair and shut his mouth. Link could imagine how Jacen was feeling. Before the battle at Gannondorf's HQ, the total men in all the regiments in the Hylian army massed well over 4000 men. After the battle, all the soldiers were sent home with a neglected debriefing. Only high-ranking officers had been allowed to review the battle data. It was a sure thing that all the other soldiers discussed the battle with each other and had all made rough estimates on how they did. The number lost must have been way over the amount that Jacen had previously thought. Nearly 75% in losses in a single battle was not something to be proudly advertised. That, compounded by the fact that the ratio of damage sustained to damage inflicted to Gannondorf's forces was along the lines of seven to one.Link didn't even want to think about it.

Chalerton droned on. "The castle itself took some minor damage. Quadrants three and four took some structural hits and the armory's south wall was blown out. Defensive garrisons in sectors 12, 13, and 16 were completely destroyed. That is where Gannondorf's army entered. As for specific causalities, standard patrols were all but wiped out. Infantry divisions had a little more warning, but not much. They took 50% casualties. Archer divisions weren't hit as badly, only 20% losses. All other divisions got pounded, taking either 80% to 90% damages. That doesn't leave us much to work with."

"We don't need anymore to work with because Gannondorf's army was destroyed," Lazerath pointed out, "But then, if we had used the Triforce before, we would have taken no loses because there wouldn't have been this battle to begin with!"

"That is enough!" Shaw yelled, jumping up from his slumped position and surprising everyone. "Good soldiers were lost today! Friends! And all you people do is sit around yelling about what should have been done when there is plenty that needs to be done right now! You are accomplishing nothing through all the yelling and talk. I, as a loyal officer in the Hylian army, expect much more than all this squabbling and pointing of fingers from the most powerful men in the most powerful nation in the world!" Jacen reflected on what he just said and added, "Well, formerly the most powerful."

"Leave Lieutenant!" Lazerath commanded, also standing. "Now!"

"With pleasure!" Jacen whipped an about face and threw open the inner war room doors, slamming them against the walls. Link looked around the table.

"If I may," Link said, standing and following Jacen's lead, "I must get going." There was no discussion as Link left the war room and shut the doors. Link looked at the guard who was on sentry duty outside the war room. He just pointed down the hall. Link nodded to him and took off on a brisk jog to catch up. Only after rounding two corners did Link find Jacen, sitting on a chair in the hall, his face in his hands. Link stopped and stood next to him.

"I'm sorry!" Jacen sobbed. "I.I."

"It's okay, Jacen," Link soothed. "I feel your loss."

"They were all friends. Not just now but in all the other battles. Myron, Calvin, Tierce, Sean, Kerter."

"Wait," Link interrupted. "Sean? Commander Sean Patrick Dreydock?"

"Yeah, he was killed in the battle at Gannondorf's." Jacen's voice was starting to calm though he choked over the words. "He was my commanding officer. He.he was leading us into Gannondorf's audience hall when.when the sorcerers opened fire. He didn't have a chance. The whole unit got pounded. We called for back up one could make it. I don't know how we got back, but by the time we got out of the fortress, the whole army was in complete retreat." Jacen broke down again, sobbing. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he cried, his whole body trembling. Link patted him on the shoulder, trying to comfort.

"I know, Jacen. I know."

Triforce Chambers, North Tower of Hyrule Castle

The Triforce hung in mid air, gently rotating in a mystical aurora of light. As it spun, it threw off golden reflections of light onto the walls of the chamber. Link looked deeply into the golden triangles, mesmerized by their beauty and sheer simplicity. How can such power be contained in such small, insignificant objects? Link thought. It was a rare occasion indeed when Link had the time to just sit and do nothing. Now, he found, he had too much time to use as he pleased.

After Jacen had left, Link had spent his time working on a defensive system to guard the Triforce. With Gannondorf so close, he didn't want to take the chance of anyone laying hands on it. Even he dared not touch the sacred relic. It wasn't fear that kept him from doing so. Being the holder of the Triforce of courage smashed that option to pieces. It was more of a feeling of caution. The Triforce of wisdom checked the corruptive tendencies of the Triforce of power, and the Triforce of wisdom was Zelda's area of expertise. Link sighed. At least the ATPS was working. Link had just finished the ATPS (Automated Triforce Protection System).

Powered by twin magic secants and four dundfire magic enhancing gems, the ATPS created an impenetrable force field around the Triforce when it detected an unauthorized person trying to use it. Still, all the hours of working on it barely kept Link's mind off the misery that encompassed the kingdom.

With Gannondorf lying in his coma and his army gone and it was finally peaceful. There was no need for a hero to save Hyrule. Hyrule was finally at rest, but no one was happy.

The kingdom was distraught when the final battle results had been released to the public. There had been no merry celebrating as Link and Zelda often imagined there would be when Gannondorf was finally defeated. No celebrating in the streets, no joyous laughter or parades -- nothing. Days dragged on that seemed like months as the whole kingdom mourned the death of their loved ones.

Link hadn't seen or heard from Jacen since he had departed the castle the night of the meeting. Link had left the castle several times to track him down but always stopped short. He wanted to know more about Sean, but couldn't bring himself to confront Jacen while he was so upset.

Link stood up to leave the chambers. He couldn't think here. He needed to go somewhere peaceful. As he turned to leave the room, a silver glint caught his eye. Link quickly snapped around. There was no one else in the room.

Link once again looked at the Triforce. There was something odd about it. Link concentrated on the Triforce of power. It seemed to have a tint of silver in its radiance. The Triforce was, in fact, even throwing silver reflections across the room. Weird, he thought. He stood to ponder the bizarre triangle but again stopped short. He couldn't think here. His mind became clouded, preventing him from even attempting to wonder why the Triforce of power was acting in such a strange way. He needed to get out of the castle. Away from the mourning and misery. Somewhere quiet and calm to think. Link turned and left the room, his mind flooding with thoughts other than the abnormality of the Triforce of power. As he left the room, the whole incident left his mind.

The dark warrior grunted a note of relief as Link left the Triforce chambers. Influencing the mind of the Holder of the Triforce of Courage was proving to be more challenging than was previously expected. His thoughts were far more focused than the Holders of the Triforce of Power or Wisdom had been. Soon it would not matter though. Now that Courage and Wisdom believed they had the whole Triforce, there was no doubt that they would eliminate the Holder of Power, Gannondorf. I guess I'd better break the news to his troops, he thought. Now they will obey me if only because they have no other to take orders from! The mysterious figure laughed to himself as he began the review of the plans for the final siege.

Hyrule Forest

The wind blew through Jacen's hair as he rested high up in a tall sagatious oak. Whenever the world seemed like it was falling apart, he came to this tree. When he was just a little boy, his father would take him to the tree and tell him stories of days gone by. Now he was the only one who came here. Jacen's father was long dead, killed in the line of duty.

The Shaw family had been a long line of fine warriors. It was in their blood. Every generation had in some way served in the military. Jacen's father had been a major in the army, his granddad, a captain in the Hylian Special Forces, and his father before that had been a full commander. And what had he accomplished? A lowly ranking of Lieutenant.and a Junior Lieutenant at that. A cry from a white winged nighthawk interrupted his line of thought.

Jacen looked to the horizon, through a gap in the stirring green leaves. The sun, surprisingly to him, had long since set. The final traces of light turquoise fell from the skyline, fading toward dark blue, and finally into the blackness of the outer heavens. Staring out into the endless space, Jacen sighed. His wife would always ask where he had been for the last hours, whenever he left to think. He would just simply reply, "To the thinking tree," and that was what it would be left at. Even his wife would never fully understand the meaning of the tree though she often claimed she did. It was all in empathy Jacen knew. It really didn't matter though. It was his thinking tree. Here, it was peaceful and quiet and he could contemplate his life, the world.anything. This day, he had been pondering what his service in the Hylian army really meant - in the grand scheme of things. All his successes and failures. For all the years, he thought what he had been doing had been honorable and just. Now it wasn't as clear. After seeing the fools who he had thought to be so venerable, he finally knew what had to be done. Upon his departure from the castle, Jacen had stated his resignation from the Hylian army.

Several of his friends had already withdrawn their statements of duty. Even more had flowed to the resignation offices after the battle reports had been released. Now that the fiery threat from Gannondorf's minions had finally been extinguished, there was little reason on stay in the force.

Jacen had thought long and hard for hours about his morals and what he stood for. Now he was having second thoughts. Had his emotions at the meeting blinded him into doing something that he would regret, quite possibly for the rest of his life? His family's and father's beliefs had always been in serving the country, making it safer for the next Shaw generation. Was he abandoning the Shaw heritage? The cheerful singing of birds had long faded into the sounds of night. Jacen thought about staying where he was and spend the night in his tree. He had done so many times before but his wife tended to discourage him from doing so.

No, he thought. I'd better get home. It was a good three and a half or more hours to get back and it was already past midnight. He remembered when his dad would take him to the tree. They would race to see who would get to the tree the fastest. They had once made it in two hours and sixteen minutes. Nostalgia hung heavy in the air as Jacen moved to begin the long decent from the tree.

A good two hundred feet up, the tree was the tallest in the forest, it's top surpassing the other trees by far. Jacen climbed, swung, and slid down the tree. He knew every branch, every foothold, and every knot in the old tree.

Halfway down, Jacen began a tricky maneuver that his dad had taught him when he was a young boy. Going into a series of swinging and jumping movements, he descended forty feet in about three seconds. He was almost done with the maneuver when it happened. In a tremendous flash of light accompanied by a terrific boom, twin vortexes of swirling black light appeared in the small clearing immediately under the tree, sending Jacen off balance falling a good twenty feet to land on his stomach with a grunt on a branch about thirty feet from the ground. Jacen watched in fascination as a figure emerged from each of the two vortexes. Jacen squinted through the suspended foliage to make out who the figures were. One was undoubtedly a moblin. The other was.

.Sean!!?? Jacen gasped as Sean walked to meet the moblin. Something was different about him though, Jacen noticed. Sean's hair was jet black, totally changed from the light brown it usually was. Also, his eyes were glowing a luminescent red. Something was definitely wrong. Straining, he could just make out the dialogue they were exchanging.

"The army is ready for the attack, Your Magnificence," the moblin said.

"Well done," came Sean's reply. "Gannondorf would be proud of your efforts."

"Thank you your magnificence," said the moblin, "I want to avenge the death of our leader, the almighty Gannondorf."

Gannondorf!? thought Jacen. But he's at the castle - alive. Jacen listened on.

"You will soon have that chance," Sean coolly said. "I will rendezvous with the rest of the army in precisely two hours to initiate the attack."

"Why so long?" the moblin asked earnestly. "Why can't we attack now? The army is ready. We will crush the slayers of the almighty Gannondorf now that they are weak!" The moblin thrust a triumphant fist into the air. "Thanks to you, that is."

"Patience, patience, my friend," soothed Sean. "You will have all the chance to take revenge once I have completed my mission."

"What is your mission, if I may ask, Your Magnificence?"

"What I am going to do will guarantee our success. That is all you need to know. You are dismissed." With a crisp salute and snap about face, the moblin turned and disappeared into the vortex of dark light from which he had first emerged. Sean waited until he was gone to scoff at the moblin's stupidity. "Soon I will rule the dimensions. That fool of a moblin actually believed me! Soon he and all of Gannondorf's followers will be dead and the universe will soon tremble in my grasp." He laughed to himself as he entered the vortex of light.

Jacen let out his breath in one tremendous whoosh. He hadn't realized he'd been holding it. Swinging down twenty more feet and dropping the rest, Jacen broke into a dead sprint. Time to set a new record, he silently told himself as he ran into the dark night.

Hyrule Castle

Link was awakened by the sounds of screaming-cries of battle, cries of terror...cries of agony. He quickly woke his wife, Zelda, and proceeded to grab his sword and shield before making his way to the window. The scene was horrific. The bodies of the dead and wounded lay scattered about the castle courtyard. Armored soldiers, some still grasping their swords and moaning, others lying still, were thrown about like rag dolls; their once shinning armor now blackened from energy burns. Small fires filled the area, choking the courtyard with billowing black smoke. Link rushed down the stairs and through a door in the hall outside.

The sky was dark black and filled with clouds, not the kind seen before an impending storm, but an overcast of evil; an atmosphere of turbulent, agitated motion. Jagged bolts of lightning carved out the stratosphere, illuminating the dark outlines of clouds for instants at a time. Never had Link seen such a display of power, not by Gannondorf , not by anyone. No, this was something different, something dark, black.

A particularly deafening stroke of thunder shook the ground, this time accompanied by a fierce wind that began churning through the courtyard, making the smoke dance and twirl as if it were a living entity. The whirling smoke clouded Link's already limited line of vision.

The blow came from behind, silently and without any warning. Link was thrown across the courtyard to the opposite wall. Bones snapped as he impacted with crushing force and fell to the ground. Breathing was agony. Still, Link gathered enough strength to turn himself to look up at the unseen attacker. The being walked from the shadows and approached him.

"Sean?" Link asked, astounded. The realization struck Link like a slap in the face. This isn't a dream! "Sean, what are you doing?" Link managed to ask. An extreme feeling of dread and betrayal surged through Link's body. But Sean was different than Link had ever seen him. His hair was black and his eyes glowed red. Sean just laughed at the question.

"Zelda should be here soon," he announced, "with your precious Triforce no less." At that moment, Zelda rushed into the courtyard.

"Zelda!" Link tried to scream, "It's a trap!" Ignoring him, Zelda opened up fire with the Triforce's immense power, sending salvos of energy from the sacred relic across the courtyard into the man, only, Link knew, the power wasn't pure. After a few seconds, Zelda ceased her firing. "Sean?" she asked. "Is that you?" Sean didn't say anything. With a gesture of his hand, the Triforce of power exploded.

"Noooooo," Link groaned. It was happening all over again, but this time it was all real. A glowing ball of green light zoomed toward Link. Oh no, Link thought, this is it. Link closed his eyes.

"Hey!" yelled Sprite. "This is no time to take a nap!" Link's eyes snapped open.

"Sprite!" he exclaimed, never so glad to see her, "you're not supposed to be here!"

"Hey!" came her annoyed voice, "What kind of way is that to greet the person who is saving your life!?" At that time, Sean had just finished sending a counterattack energy bolt at Zelda. It caught her in her midsection throwing her across to the far wall. Link watched in horror as the Triforce of courage and the Triforce of wisdom floated across the courtyard into Sean's grasp. Sprite's healing spell wasn't working fast enough to enable Link to get up and try to fight but it gave him enough strength to turn on his side and face Sean. "Why?" Link asked.

"Your efforts are useless," he said, as if he didn't even hear the question. Then he added, with an evil grin, "And I'll be back for the Triforce of Power." He turned and walked away, opening a black hole portal with a small black marble. This time Link got a good look at the vortex. It appeared to be some sort of rip in dimensions. It looked just like the ones that had sucked Gannondorf's army in. Identical in fact.

"Wait!" Link moaned, "what are.."

A massive explosion ripped through the courtyard. Link was lifted to the air and thrown back to the ground as the entire east wall behind him blew away. Gannondorf emerged from the smoking crater, looking tired and weary. Sean turned around just in time to see the fiery ball of energy race toward him from Gannondorf's hands. There was no avoiding the blow. The blast shook the ground as it impacted with shattering force into Sean's body. The concussion threw Sean backward into the black portal he had just erected. At the same time, he lost his grasp on the Triforce of courage and the Triforce of wisdom. Also, the small black marble fell from his hands and rolled to Gannondorf's feet. A look of amazement crossed Sean's face.

"Still alive are you?" he questioned, looking at Gannondorf. "I never would have thought." The two Triforces clattered to the ground as the dark vortex sealed itself.

Right when the Triforces hit the ground, the ATPS decided to kick in. White spherical force fields surrounded the two remaining pieces, engulfing them in protective, impenetrable shells. Gannondorf hungrily looked at them. Link could see what he was thinking. Almost fully healed, he scrambled to his feet.

"Go help Zelda," he shouted to Sprite. Sprite zoomed off to fulfill Link's order. Taking up a defensive position behind his shield, Link picked up his sword. "Not even you can get the Triforces now," he said, pointing his sword at Gannondorf's throat, circling to a flanking position on the right.

Gannondorf just shook his head, not even paying attention to Link's movements. "Not this time, little man," he said, holding the black marble between his thumb and index finger, studying it. "No.this time we talk."

War Room

There was a haze of hatred that permeated the war room. Uneasy glances were cast at Link and Zelda across the table, as if to question their sanity. Link wasn't totally sure what he was doing himself. Had he knowingly and willingly invited the lion into his own home? Was Gannondorf up to something? Link looked to his right.

Gannondorf sat at one "end" and the councilors and advisors and generals sat at the other, even though the table was round. No one wanted to be near Gannondorf and he seemed to prefer it that way. The people closest to the Gerudo king were Harkinian on the right and Link and Zelda on the left. It would have been somewhat a humorous scene if the circumstances hadn't been what they were. All the members of the Hylian High council huddled up uncomfortably next to each other, jamming into one spot opposite Gannondorf.

Link could sense the fear that radiated from the table. The stuffed shirt bureaucrats and the advisors were terrified. Of course that was a given. Being stuck behind a desk all day tended to shield them from the outside world. What surprised Link was that the generals also seemed frightened. Of course, when you added the fact that Gannondorf could take their lives with the mere flick of his wrist, Link supposed it justified their skittish behavior. However, there was one exception, as there always is. Vigorously discussing something with his advisors, and every once in a while throwing looks of extreme hatred to Gannondorf, was Lazerath. Once the councilors had settled down, Link stood and spoke.

"I'm not going to tell you more than once that I will not tolerate any outbursts of any kind," Link formally stated. "We all know that tensions aren't going to go away just for the sake of this meeting, but you're going to control yourselves or leave. Is that clear?" A wave of nodding heads answered Link's question. Only Lazerath didn't acknowledge Link's order. Smugly he sat back in his chair with his arms crossed, his eyes never leaving Gannondorf. "I'll begin by saying that the horrors that we just witnessed, they're just the tip of the iceberg. I'm going to call Gannondorf to stand and fill you in on the details. I'm not asking you to believe him but I am asking you to take into consideration what he is going to say." As Gannondorf stood to speak, commotion sounded from outside the doors of the war room.

"The High Council is in session, civilian," Link could hear the guard outside the war room say. Already, with the military resignations still coming in, dissention between the former and current soldiers of the army was becoming evident. The bite in the word civilian echoed in Link's ears.

"But, it's an emergency! He's going to attack! Let me in!" a voice shouted. "You don't understand!" A loud scuffle could be heard and soon after a large thud, the doors of the war room slammed open. Jacen, his face red and sweaty, rushed to Link. "Link! He's going to attack! You must get ready!"

"Jacen, it's okay!" Link said.

"No! You don't understand!" Jacen insisted. "Sean's alive and." Link looked down and coughed, pointing at Gannondorf. Jacen turned his head to look. "WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING HERE?!!"

"Have you been through the courtyard yet, Jacen?" Link inquired.

"Have I what!?! A war is going erupt, the king of darkness is sitting in this room and you're asking me if I've been through the courtyard!?!" Link just nodded his head.

Frustrated, Jacen gave in. "Well no! I went through the side hall. What does that have to do with anything!"

"Sit down," Link instructed. "You're too late. The battle is over. I'll fill you in later."

"But you don't understand! What time is it?"

"It's two in the morning," Answered Harkinian, his voice sounding annoyed and restless.

"No, exactly what time is it?" shouted Jacen.


"You have about five minutes to prepare for an attack!"

"I told you already!" Link stood, his tone sounding angry, tired, and commanding all at the same time. "Sean already attacked. We beat him. End of story."

"It doesn't matter. Gannondorf's army survives. Sean ordered for an attack in two hours. That was 115 minutes ago."

By the time the members in the war room reached the castle gates, the flames had just begun to lick high into the dark black sky. Much of the town was ablaze in a flaming inferno. The sound of crackling fire was all that could be heard. This is it. Link thought with complete despair. What can we do?

"Take defensive positions there, there, and there, behind that second boulder." Link could hear Commander Chalerton order. The remaining troops scattered behind trees and boulders and sat ready to strike. The most abundant soldiers were the red clad archers. They stood, their bows drawn and ready, nervously keeping watch over the hill where they awaited the oncoming army. Far less were the foot soldiers and the ironclad knights. The chain mail armor reflected the red flames that danced from afar. Clustered close around Link, Zelda, and the councilmen were about 20 soldiers dressed in bright Hylian Royal Blue; across the back of their uniform, the Hylian royal crest. The Hylian Royal Guard; the finest soldiers in the land. Jacen Shaw, the only one who was in civilian clothing, ran in front with the foot soldiers. Link knew also that somewhere amidst the dark foliage of the forest were Magnus' special commandos. They were masters in combat, espionage, and in disappearing without a trace, but even while surrounded by the finest Hyrule had to offer, Link knew that they didn't have a chance. Perimeter scouts began pouring into the area.

"Gannondorf's army is advancing from the south and the east!" they yelled.

"Men, ready yourselves!" Chalerton hollered.

There was nothing at first. Then a thunderous sound drew near. Flames from torches climbed over the hill's peak. The fists that grasped them also appeared. The troops seemed to grow out of the top of the hill as they marched over its crest. They all paused at its top, starring down on the helpless congregation of the rest resistance Hyrule had to offer. The lead moblin stepped forward and announced their intentions.

"For the murder of the Gerudo King Gannondorf and all attempts, successful or otherwise, to hinder or destroy his goals, I sentence you and all your followers to death!" The ground shook as the massive army charged toward the castle gates.

"Halt!" a commanding voice dictated. The stampeding army didn't even acknowledge Gannondorf's order, probably because they didn't even see their "late" commander at the bottom of the hill. Undaunted, Gannondorf drew a red staff from his robes. Link recognized it from the battle he saw in the dining room. Once Gannondorf had collapsed, soldiers had burst into the room demanding to know what was going on. They had later removed all the items that they found Gannondorf to be carrying and locked them away. Every single one of them could have been used as a weapon. Link didn't know how Gannondorf had recovered the staff but didn't doubt that the rest of the weapons and magical devices would be discovered to be missing also.

Link laughed to himself, even in light of the impeding doom that raced down the hill. Gannondorf's abrupt appearance had ended his and Zelda's discussion on the competence of women.

Gannondorf cast Link a quizzical look, then refocused his attention back to the charging forces. He spun his staff, snapped it around in a counterclockwise motion and thrust it deep into the ground. It sunk deeply into the soil and sent a burst of energy thorough the earth toward the rapidly oncoming forces. Shock waves emitted from the tip of the staff rumbled through the ground at lightning speed. The waves of energy tore through the ranks sending them toppling to the ground once they found that the earth beneath their feet was no longer "stable." Every single member in the massive stampede toppled and fell to the still shaking ground. A very unlucky moblin, who had been charging with all his speed, had tripped over a root at the same time Gannondorf used his earthquake spell. He tumbled to land about a meter from Gannondorf's feet. Dizzily, he picked himself up. A stroke of confusion flitted across his face as he looked up at Gannondorf.

"'re Gannondorf! But Keritan said." The moblin didn't have the chance to finish the sentence. A previously unnoticed black marble worn on a silver chain around the moblin's neck suddenly sprang to life as if it had been remotely activated. Link noticed that every single other warrior in the colossal army was also wearing a black marble, each one glowing with a dark light. Black swirling vortexes abruptly appeared. Hundreds of them. The realization hit Link with the brunt of a stalfos spear. The black marbles, the one just like Sean had dropped, were magical devices that were somehow able to create vortexes that could move whoever had them, just like a portal disc. A wind began to blast through the whole forest.

Struggling, the moblin was trying to resist the pull of the vortex. Its properties resembled those of a scaled down black hole. Battling the winds, the moblin managed to rip the marble from its chain around his neck. He let it fly into the portal which, once it had entered, abruptly vanished, as if satisfied that it had gotten the marble. Five seconds later, the whole army had disappeared. The moblin, on his knees and breathing heavily, managed to choke over the words.

"I am sorry, My Lord," he said earnestly. "That liar Keritan told me *Pant*, he told all of us, that you had been killed. If we had known *Pant* you were still alive, we would never have moved against you. Please forgive us."

"You are forgiven. You have been a loyal warrior. These deeds will be wiped away under one condition. You must tell me all of Keritan that you know."

"Yes! Yes master! Gladly!" the moblin exclaimed. "Anything! I know much of his plans!"

Five black vortexes appeared at those words. From each appeared a figure in black.

"Where is the marble!" the first of the mysterious newcomers demanded. "There is a disturbance in the x-plane. It originates here." Each of the figures was dressed in a black cloak with a hood that hung well over their eyes. Given this fact, they seemed to have no trouble seeing. One of the other figures pointed at Gannondorf. "He has one." The leader, Link assumed, turned to Gannondorf.

"Give it to me."

"What if I don't?" came Gannondorf's answer, not arrogant, not snide, simply questioning as if he were truly interested. He fingered the black marble he got from Sean in his left hand.

"Then you will die!" The leader grabbed a black marble from his cloak and whipped it at Gannondorf. Gannondorf dove out of the way just as the marble impacted the ground where he had once been standing. The spot was instantly engulfed in an inferno of black flames. Link could feel the dark energy radiate from ten meters clear. These were not foes to be taken lightly. Link crouched to make his move but someone acted quicker.

"You will not attack my lord!" yelled the moblin. With lightning swiftness, Gannondorf's minion drew a knife from his boot. Throwing it with deadly accuracy, it flew toward the face of the leader. With a small gesture, the leader opened a black portal that intercepted the flying dagger's flight path. The dagger flew into the black hole and disappeared. Another vortex appeared directly behind the moblin. Out of it flew the blade, still traveling at a deadly velocity. The machete that was meant to kill the black intruder instead dug itself deep into the moblin's back. The moblin fell helplessly to his knees.

"For that," spoke Gannondorf, "you will die!" Gannondorf projected a blood red, Triforce powered, energy discharge of intense magic from his hands. The leader once again erected a black vortex but this time, what happened was different. Instead of absorbing the energy and channeling it somewhere else, the bolt tore through the portal and shattered it to pieces as if it had turned into an eddy of black glass. The leader could not avoid the blow. It struck him in the upper chest throwing him back a good fifty feet. The four other intruders stared in amazement.

"He must be the holder of the Triforce of Power!" one said.

"That's impossible!" another claimed. "He's supposed to be dead!" By this time, Link and Zelda had caught on. Drawing upon their Triforce powers, they attacked the remaining intruders. Since Zelda was with him, Link didn't need to use his sword. However, this time, he felt his blasts were stronger. It was a good thing too.

One of the cloaked warriors tried to use the black portal technique but also failed. He was thrown backwards into the woods until a rather large boulder interrupted his uncanny flight. The leader, once again on his feet, yelled to his troops. "This is not a battle we can win! All three Triforce holders right here." The leader looked at Link. Link could imagine the glare that probably existed under the heavy hood. "This is not the end," he spoke. "This is only the beginning." Five black gateways opened and the five black clad warriors stepped back into their "door in dimensions" and disappeared.

"I think our situation has drastically changed for the worse," Gannondorf coldly commented.

War Room.Again

"We need information right now. Who these black sorcerers are, what they want, and how to get rid of them," Link said.

"What we need is a 10,000 man army," Lazerath muttered.

"I don't think that any number of men would stand against those beings," Gannondorf spoke. "I do, however, have information."

"Would you care to share?" asked Harkinian. Link detected no hate in the king's voice. The tone wasn't even tainted with a hint of rudeness. The king meant business. Link hoped that the members of the council would also cooperate.

The senators and councilors were now evenly seated around the table. Link and Harkinian were still the ones nearest to Gannondorf, but it was progress nonetheless.

"This is what I know. Keritan came to me about seven months ago. He offered his knowledge of you, your forces and some new magical devices of origin I have never seen. You've seen an example, those black magical marbles. I was naturally suspicious but he established his sincerity when he led your army into the ambush the month before last. After that, I knew that he wasn't a spy on your side. I never thought he was an "independent" though. A miscalculation on my part that almost cost me my life."

"That's great that you almost got yourself killed and all, but what I want to know is this: how much do you know about him and this link between him and Commander Dreydock," Lazerath spoke with a pointed tongue.

"Commander Dreydock is dead," Jacen quietly stated in a drawnback manner. "I saw it with my own eyes."

"Yes, but I also saw with my eyes Commander Dreydock very alive and well and powerful." Lazerath contested. "He seems to be doing fairly well for himself given he's dead man! He destroyed half the castle!.well, Gannondorf helped with the east courtyard wall, but you're saying that it isn't possible that he survived."

"Yes." Jacen simply answered.

"Then can you explain his reappearance?" Lazerath asked.

"Yes, I believe I can. Sean was definitely killed, I saw it with my own eyes, but he has somehow been brought back to life. It's obviously a decoy tactic that Keritan, or whatever, is employing in an attempt to confuse and possibly divide us. Brilliant in theory but with one flaw, you." Jacen pointed to Gannondorf. "You survived. Keritan was going to kill you. When you escaped to us, he probably assumed that we would finish the job and execute you. We didn't. Now, somehow, he gained control of your army. Since he thought you were dead, he concluded that he could attack with the army without fear of interference - when the moblin met Sean in the woods, he said he wanted to avenge your death. Now Sean, he."

"Sean is dead," Link interrupted. "Whatever Keritan did to him, he's no longer the Sean I knew." Obviously distraught, Link sank into his chair, deep in thought.

"Well, anyway, now that Keritan knows that your alive," Jacen continued pointing at Gannondorf, "were back on even ground."

"Thank you," Lazerath said in a dark manner. "That is all I wanted to know."

Gannondorf started again. "I know how powerful Keritan is. When he betrayed me, he said he had a challenge that he wanted to see if I could pass. If I could defeat him, he would leave, if he defeated me, he would recover the Triforce of Power from my body. I told him that I would not tolerate subordination. He just kept talking. If I was worthy, I could defeat him in unarmed combat. Suddenly, he drew a black marble and cast it at me. It was unavoidable. It impacted the floor and surrounded me in black flames. When the flames died, I found that I couldn't use any of my magic. The marble seemed to screen or dampen my powers. Anyway, he attacked and I could only defend myself. During the battle, I managed to recover a portal disc from my robe and in a desperate attempt, used it. Since he didn't give me a chance to program the destination, it, by chance, opened a portal to your dining chambers. The last thing I remember is being kicked through the portal and seeing you two," he pointed to Link and Zelda.

"We must be dealing with someone of great strength if he has the ability to strip you of your powers," Zelda said. "The question is now, how can we destroy him?"

"That's just what I wanted to hear," a voice said. Senators and councilors jumped in their seats. Link and Jacen sprung from their chairs, swords drawn. Even Gannondorf had been caught off guard, given the fact that he had jumped from his seat and was scanning the room. In the corner away from the door, a form shimmered into view, as if someone who was once invisible, had decided to become visible again.

"Man!" the councilor from internal affairs shouted out loud, "Your castle security sucks! I've been here for three meetings and we're either being attacked or invaded and now weird people are just appearing."

"Who are you?" Link asked, ignoring the outburst.

"I am a friend, assured," the stranger spoke.

"How did you get in here?" Harkinian demanded.

"That is unimportant. All that matters is that you want to destroy Keritan. You may be of use to us." Two other beings "uncloaked" into view. The councilor from internal affairs threw his hands up in disgust.

"Who are you?" Link said again. "What do you want?"

"Your help in destroying Keritan."

"Why should we help you? Trust you?" Jacen demanded, his sword still pointing at the being that appeared first. The figure, like the other two, wore all white. A white robe with a white sash tied around the waist. They, like the black cloaked beings, also had a hood, but, unlike their darker "counterparts," they wore theirs down. All three of them had pure white hair, worn at a medium length, and piercingly blue eyes.

"So, what do you "whities" have against the "blackies" besides the apparent disagreement in wardrobes," Link coldly asked.

"You joke now, mortal, but the severity of this intrusion of the dark knights is beyond your comprehension."

"Try me," Link said.

"Very well, but you won't like what we have to say." The man was right; Link didn't like what he told.

"I am Norriok, and these are my companions, Karolo and Michilo," Norriok gestured to his right and left, "For eternity, we of the white crest brotherhood have battled those of the dark knights for supremacy of the realms."
"I guess that explains your choice of clothing," Link commented, clearly not impressed.
Norriok continued. "We reside in the pure realm and they occupy the dark underworld."
"Then why don't you go back where you came from and take them with you," a senator interjected, again cutting off Norriok.
"If only it were that easy." Norriok began. "To tell you how we all co-exist would be too complicated. I will instead describe it in simpler terms, an analogy if you wish. Given a child. A child knows what is good and what is evil. They live with a distinguished sense of what is right and what is wrong. However, when they grow up and become adults, the line between right and wrong widens and blurs and becomes grey. My people and I are like the good side and the dark knights are, obviously, the evil. Though we exist in different realms, it is possible to travel between them. They gained the ability to travel first, through what we call the x-plane, that is. Their initial attack was devastating. Though we are as equally powerful as they are, we were caught off guard. Ever since then, our two worlds have been at war, always plotting and planning on how to destroy the other. However, very recently, we discovered your realm. Like the grey part, your realm is a place where both good and evil coexist."
"So what you're saying is that we've been infiltrated by the masters of darkness and you're here to kick them out?" Jacen asked hopefully.
"I wish we had the power to do that but we don't. No one purely good can destroy anyone purely evil and no one purely evil can destroy anyone purely good."
"I see now," Link said. "You want our help in getting rid of them. No deal."
"You don't understand your importance in the grand scheme of things." Norriok said. "In ancient scriptures, it is said that there is one way to destroy either good or evil. It is quoted as this:

"Three different realms and three triangles at each gate. These three triangles decide the fate. Good or evil prevails in domination, with the three triangles provide annihilation.

"Until we discovered your realm, we never understood what the scripture meant. After in-depth studying, we have concluded that the object that you call the "Triforce" is the key to defeating either good or evil. We will acquire it with or without your assistance but it would be in your best interests to cooperate with us."
"You can't though," Zelda said.
"What does that mean?" Norriok questioned, his voice maintaining a steady volume. "You will not help us?"
"No, I mean it's not that simple. We are the Triforce." Zelda pointed to Link and Gannondorf and then motioned to herself. "I mean, we hold the powers of the Triforce. It is in us, part of our very essence."
"Then you will help us," Norriok stated, almost an order.
"Just a minute now," Magnus said. "Again, why should we help you."
"You don't have a choice in that matter. You will cooperate with us or we will make you cooperate with us. Do not underestimate our powers."

"Oh, yeah?" Gannondorf said, "Our Triforce powers tore through your black buddies pretty well. If you're saying that we will cooperate against our will, then I think it's time that we show you just how extreme the power of the Triforce is."

"You may want to re-think that before you do anything rash." Norriok said, holding up his hands. "We have powers that reach to the ends of space and time and it would be in your best interests to keep your distance. At this very moment, the dark knights' influence stretches to this very room. They are able to kill and destroy with a mere thought but can also give life. They can fend off even the clutches of death. They can influence the minds of leaders and followers alike. Fortunately, so can we. I will demonstrate. A person in this room is dead."

"What?" came the confused voices of the many senators and councilors along with Zelda's and Gannondorf's.

"Oh yeah!" Link sarcastically exclaimed. "We're making sense now!"

"What do you mean, dead?" asked Jacen, serious.

"You of all should know, Jacen. You were there when he died. Let me lift the mind block that the dark knights erected in your memory." Norriok waved his hand and chanted a choice phrase. Jacen cocked his head to the left, staring in to space as if he was deep in thought. Seconds later, he fell to the floor, screaming with his hands grasping at his head. His body shook with pain as he rolled on the floor.

"What have you done to him!?" Link demanded, closing in on Norriok with his sword.

"He is simply remembering. Nothing more. Just wait and observe." Link halted his advance and looked. Jacen's spasms began to decrease, and then stopped totally. Sweating and on his back, Jacen pointed at Lazerath. "You, you're dead. I saw it. When we were retreating, you fell to a stalfos sword. I remember." A dark smile crept across Lazerath's face. His eyes glowed red and his hair began to turn black, the color change beginning at the roots and growing out to end at the tips.

"Yes, you're right," Lazerath said, his voice sounding weird and distorted. "I thought you would figure it out without their help," he remarked as he looked at Norriok. "I guess I overestimated you."

"Keritan!" Norriok exclaimed.

"Yes," he replied to Norriok. "I'm sorry that I must confer with you through this mortal. I very much wished to meet you in person, Prince Norriok. I must admit though, I found it quite entertaining toying with this mortal scum. You know, disrupting plans, being privy to all sorts of classified information and documents. Well, it seems that I've been discovered and playtime is over. I'm sorry I must chat and run, Norriok, but I'm a busy man with many pressing demands. You and you guardian crests lose this one." With that, Lazerath screamed and collapsed to the ground. Zelda rushed to his side, immediately using her healing powers on him. After a few seconds, she reported.

"Strange, it seems that he is dead but I still sense life. Like he's in some sort of coma."

"What was that about!?" Link demanded, still somewhat in shock."

"That was merely a glimpse at their power," Norriok answered. "It's called body revival. As I said before, we have the power to take and give life."

"I think I get it now," Jacen said. "When somebody dies, you can revive them. That's what they did to Sean and Lazerath."

"You are right in a way." Norriok agreed." Once the individual is brought back to life, the person who revived them can choose either to control them or leave them to their free will. However, if the reviver chooses to control the individual, the original mind still resides in the body, idle and unable to control what he or she does.

"So, Lazerath was killed and then was brought back to life but under the control of Keritan. He's been spying on us the whole time," Harkinian resolved.

"Correct. When Jacen "remembered" that Lazerath had died, Keritan decided to show himself and talked to us through him because he knew he was caught. Lazerath's hair and eyes changing is the physical sign that a dark knight was taking total control and was directly interfaced with his body."

"Well that explains why Lazerath was pushing us to use the Triforce right away. Keritan was using him. He was setting the trap." Link figured. "But if he was alive, why does he seem dead?"

"With Keritan abandoning him, there was nothing left to sustain his life force." Norriok explained. "But that does not matter."

"What?" Zelda asked.

"Yes," now Harkinian started to become angry. "My chief military advisor has just been uncovered to be a spy, has been murdered and it doesn't matter? Now just why the hell is that!?!"

"Because," Norriok answered as Lazerath rolled over and groaned. "I took the liberty of restoring his life."

"Awww, do I have a headache!" Lazerath complained as he sat up on the floor, rubbing his head. He opened his eyes and jumped. "Woah! How did I get here? Last thing I remember is the battle and I got."Lazerath's face turned white. "I.I died."

"It's ok, Lazerath," Link said, "We'll explain later. Glad to have you back!" Link looked back at Norriok. "If these "dark knights" can take control of anyone they kill, then how can we be sure that there aren't more people under their control, here in the castle, or the army, or in general, Hyrule?"

"My companions and I have dealt with those people quietly and discreetly." Link nodded as Norriok continued. "However, Lazerath was too close to people in power to take care of without revealing ourselves. As you can guess, keeping a minimal profile was top priority."

"When you say "taken care of," what exactly do you mean?" Harkinian asked.

"I think that can go without explaining." Harkinian just nodded. Norriok began again. "Anyway, Keritan has been trying to get the Triforce from you. He probably has been using suggestive telepathy to affect your thinking."

"Hold it, did I miss something here?" Lazerath asked. "Who are these guys in the white?"

"We'll explain later, Lazerath," Link said. "Go on."

"Yes, anyway," Norriok proceeded, "you may have had thoughts that you would not normally have so he could use you to his advantage." It was Zelda's turn to turn white.

"The battle!" she exclaimed. "I planned it and I knew that we would win. He.he."

"Yes, he probably used his mind influencing techniques to get you to think what he wanted you to think," Norriok informed.

"I thought the gods were telling me what to do, or the Triforce of Wisdom." Zelda looked down at the table. "It was just Keritan the whole time?"

"Yes," Norriok confirmed, "Keritan is the most skilled in mind control that we know of."

"And Sean, I remember when he died; I was there," Link said.

"Again, he probably implanted false thoughts or memories into your mind, using Sean to disrupt you emotionally."

"But it was so real.and wait!" Link shut his eyes, thinking with all his power. "The Triforce of Power! Zelda extracted it from Gannondorf's body! When he was in his coma! Then it blew up when Sean appeared."

"Don't talk like I'm not here," said Gannondorf.

"Sorry," Link apologized. "Anyway, it seems that you," Link gestured to Gannondorf, "still have the Triforce of power. How did we get a fake one?"

"Keritan is extremely powerful. He probably just fabricated a lookalike so he could get close to the real Triforces, a booby trap. You see, he still needs Gannondorf's body to get the Triforce of power."

"Hey, what did I say about talking like I'm not here?"


"Anyway, let me see if I've got this straight." Gannondorf said, "This guy Keritan can tell our heads the things that happened, didn't, and things that didn't happen, did?" He paused. "If you are, then you're saying that we can't even trust our own memories."

"Yes, but that's irrelevant now." Norriok said, taking a serious tone. "Now that you know he exists, I doubt he'll still attempt to deceive you. He'll go totally offensive. We must get prepared for a great battle. I must warn you though, since you two seem to have had a slight skirmish last month, don't be surprised if you find that you're fighting some of your own troops that were killed there. Who ever they were, they are now just pawns in a war. He will use them to his liking. Link, even I can sense that Sean was a very close friend. If it comes to it, could you kill him?"

Zelda asked a question before Link could answer, "It doesn't matter though, you can just revive him, right?"

"From what we gather, there are five other dark knights besides Keritan here. I doubt that my fellow crests or myself will be able to spare any power in the battle."

"But I thought that you said that you can't die," Link said.

Norriok turned to Link, looking him dead in the eyes. "Though we can't be killed by anyone purely evil, we can be hurt badly, very badly."

"What I want to know is why you've just now come to us for help," Harkinian inquired. "It seems you have a good general knowledge about us."

"We had to be absolutely sure what side you were on," Norriok answered.

<Prince Norriok,> Karolo interrupted speaking through a private telepathic link, <General Jinsuk reports that the dark knights have pushed us back seven more sectors into our own territory. He requests that we return and assist them.>

<Tell him we are unable to aid them. If Keritan possesses the Triforce, none of what happens will matter.>

"Oh," came Link's reply, completely oblivious to Norriok's private chat with Karolo. "And I take it that there's no chance of you getting any reinforcements?"

"No," Norriok answered, slightly smiling, "but you might find that we still have a couple tricks up our sleeves."