Chapter 1: Loss
I scream, tears streaming down my face as I push my arm out further to meet his. He's falling into this giant abyss of pure whiteness, deep into the abyss of nothingness. I could allow this to happen, but something is telling me that darkness is waiting in disguise, and I can't let that happen whatsoever. As I continue on my flying pursuit, our hands grow only millimetres apart from each other, yet he keeps getting dragged down further and further. I force my body into a position so that I can fall faster, and it greatly aid me in my fight.
As time literally slows down, I find myself releasing a form of battle cry as I grab onto his pale hand, closing my fingers in around his. I draw his body towards mine, drinking in his delicious scent as I snuggle closely into his shoulder. I flinch when we suddenly halt in what I could call mid-air, even if there is so much whiteness here that it would almost seem like an obscure comment. Nonetheless, I take solace in knowing that I finally have him back.
He finally opens his eyes, my heart-beat halts as his sky blue eyes lock onto mine. They blur with confusion, and I cannot help but notice a string of gold stitch in and out of his pupils, distorting the boy that I know and love. "Zelda?" He whispers, using his free hand to caress my face ever so slightly in recognition. If I could slump against his body in relief, then I would.
I lose all sense of time and reality as we embrace each other, my tears returning with full force (not that they had ever stopped, I suppose) as I cling so tightly to his body that I could merge my body with his. He drags his hand across my hair, fingers becoming entangled with my blonde strands as I find myself visibly relaxing after such a battle. "Don't ever leave me again, Link." I whisper deep into his shoulder, sobbing loudly, holding each other like we always do.
"Oh, Your Grace, but he must." A voice suddenly enters this strange realm, chanting out for the one that I had barely managed to save from the doom that was looming above him. The voice that calls out, however, seems almost familiar to me. Something deep within my spirit recognises the person's voice and Soul, yet I can't put my finger on it. I also realise how they speak in the ancient language of the Surface, something that I have struggled to master over time.
I cuddle closer to Link. "W-Who are you?" I ask, even if it more to myself than to the actual voice.
The presence that I cannot see, although, replies in a cryptic manner; one that I feel suits their aura near perfectly. "He bears something we need. And we must obtain it..." I am suddenly lifted into the air by some sort of force, almost like thick threads or vines have wrapped around my body. Whatever holds me leaves me suspended in the air, leaving Link free to be pulled back by shadows. "Say good-bye to him, Your Majesty, because you will never see him again."
My heart hammers against my chest as I struggle, crying out with all of my might as the shadows once in disguise start to consume him. Whatever holds me continues its hot persistence, though, and I can tell that they are not giving up on me any time soon. They continue to wind around my feeble body, tightening the more that I struggle. But I will not cease. I am so much stronger than that.
Our hands meet one last time before we are eternally separated, both his screams and mine deafening me completely as I am lost in the torrent of my own mind...
"Zelda, snap out of it!" My eyes fly open, causing me to stagger backwards; a solid material behind me thankfully catching me before I topple over. I blink rapidly, unaware of the world around me as I attempt to decipher what in the name of the Goddess I was just shown and why. I grasp onto whatever is holding me tighter than I had done in that strange, fragmented dream, my knuckles going white with the grip I have on it. My eyes search around my environment, and reality soon begins to return to my senses.
The voice that snapped me back into the realm of the living speaks again, and I snap my head up with a disorientated: "Huh?"
As I cast my eyes up to the shadow standing above me, the gorgeous sunlight blinds my vision until I can fully adjust to the sudden intensity of light that penetrates my vision; even after falling through that abyss of whiteness. I lean heavily against the edge of the Statue of the Goddess, my mind lost and confused as the shadow extends a hand, politely helping me back onto my feet until I finally realise who this figure is. Link wraps his strong arms around me, and I relax almost as much as I had done in my dream.
And look what that got him.
As we embrace, I make sure that I am fully back in this world as I look upon Skyloft from my vantage point. I am Zelda Nohansen Harkinan. I live in Skyloft that is suspended above the cloud barrier that the Goddess formed between the Sky Realm and the Surface during the Great War. I am the Goddess... I shake my head, my free hand running across my clothes. No, I am acting as the Goddess in her stead. Link, who did not just become consumed by shadows, won the Wing Ceremony; and probably thinks that I am mentally deranged. Mother died and Father is alive, and his entire family died when he was young...
I pull away at the sudden thought, unable to mask this as I catch his eyes. He brushes some hair from my face. "What happened?" He asks quietly, concern laced into his tone. I shrug, not wanting to talk about how I managed to receive something like this in the middle of the day. "Hey," He takes my arm. "I'm always going to listen. You've been worrying me ever since you took up this role. Don't shut me out." He tucks his finger under my chin and forces me to look up at him.
I squirm out of his grasp and turn to the light blue, almost green, Bird Statuette that he carved for the Ceremony's Ritual sitting inside of the Statue of the Goddess as an offering. "I don't know." I answer truthfully. "I... I saw something when I put the Statuette into its place." I can feel his aura behind me desperately begging for me to explain in much more detail as I look out on the bright blue skies closing in around me. "You were falling, but I... I couldn't catch you in time."
And, as usual, he can see right through me. He takes my hand from behind me. "But this isn't the first time, is it?"
I shake my head, and that's all that he needs.
It has been four months of mental pain leading up to the day of the Wing Ceremony. Ever since I promised Father, the Headmaster of the Knight Academy, that I would follow in the role of the Goddess in today's Ceremony, my mind has become a cloudy fog of thoughts and nightmares that I have never experienced; each worse than the last. Most of them centre around Link's safety, which has not worried me since he is such a skilled flyer, although I am seriously doubting this now.
I refuse to look at him, visibly flinching when he begins to rub circles into my back, folding his arms around my waist to rest his chin on my shoulder. "You aren't going to lose me." He murmurs, though I don't feel very assured by his words from how real these dreams are seeming to me. As all of the times where I have lain in bed at night, shaking uncontrollably from what I have witnessed, flood back to me, I barely hear his words until I fully listen in. "Let's complete the Ritual and find you somewhere to rest. I think everyone has been putting to much pressure on you..."
As much as I would love to disagree right now, I feel that his slightly comforting words could be considered as a good course of action. If he stays with me until I fall asleep, which will not take long now that I have lost so much sleep, then maybe my terrors will not haunt me. He pulls away, kneeling down to grasp something that I cannot see from the corner of my eye. When I finally muster the strength to pivot around, I watch as Link places my Harp into my hands.
I let my fingers travel across the golden surface of the instrument. The carvings of wings and birds are not my own, and even Father does not know of their origin. I let my hands brush against the strings, my body swaying ever so slightly from the melodic sounds that it produces; something that concerns Link until I make myself stop. Father had kept this safe for many years, wishing that I would take up this opportunity when it arose.
Link stays stationary as I turn my attention back to the face of the great Statue, the iconic monument of the Sky Realm that has been here for thousands of years. No one knows of the Statue's origin either, even if many have speculated, only the fact that it is what we perceive the Goddess to have looked like when she made her appearance before the Great War. I glance at the Bird Statuette, thankfully not being dragged into another dream sequence before I finally look down at the Harp in my hands.
I cradle the instrument in my arms, shifting my weight across my boots as I easily recall the Ceremonial Song to mind and ready my fingers. I drift off into a subconscious state as I begin to pluck the notes of the melody, barely hearing my voice echo out across the sky island as I play. "Oh youth, guided by the Servant of the Goddess: unite Earth and Sky, bring light to the land..." The words start to roll off of my tongue like a river, one that I can't stop. "Oh youth, show the two whirling sails the way to the Light Tower, and before you a path shall open; and a heavenly Song you shall hear..."
The last few notes ring out for several seconds, and I don't dare to move until the wind whisks the Song away like a mother with their child. Ever so slowly, I cautiously turn around to see Link's face; one that watches me with some worry, even if that has mostly been washed by the awe that he suddenly feels. "Your voice really is beautiful, Zelda." He says in quiet admiration. He usually comments on how he hears me singing, even if I keep batting them away like they do not matter; which they don't.
I let out a small smile, the gesture warming my heart as I pull myself away from my thoughts before I lose my mirthful thoughts "Shut up, you." I discipline with a roll of my eyes. "It's not like my singing compares to yours." His grin drops almost instantly, and a pang of pain courses through my entire body. He always used to sing as a child, but it was almost like he became mute when it came to singing after he lost his family. I miss his voice, only because it reminds me of happier times; not ones filled with depression.
With hesitation, I hold out my hand to him. Anyone who took part in the Ceremony must know what occurs in the Ritual after in case they win. Of course that meant that I had to be close to Groose, but I banish the sicking thoughts before it can turn my stomach too much. He silently takes my hand delicately, kneeling before me in a submissive pose. "In honour of Her Grace." Link says off by heart, probably saying them in his sleep. "I bow before you. My victory is yours to take."
I take a deep breath, letting my eyes slip shut for a moment before I draw myself to my full height. I take in my stature for all that it is as I recite the words that I also must have been saying in my sleep when I am warding nightmares away from my mind. Obviously these attempts have been futile, yet I have tried nonetheless. "Great Goddess, with your guiding light as protector of our people, please grant us your blessing and mercy as I act in your stead during this Ceremony."
Link is the next to speak, unmoving from his position of prayer. "We pray for another year of prosperity in the lives of those who you have blessed." He prays. "We honour you in everything that we do, and ask that you will continue to guide us through the clouded pathway of life smothered with the thorns of our past. You graced us with your presence during the Great War to aid us, and we shall never dishonour you by blackening your name and refusing to shower you in our trust and praise."
I pause before speaking again, tightening my grasp on Link's hand. "Valiant youth, you who grasped victory at the celebration of the Bird Folk, in accordance with the old ways of our people, I will now bestow the blessings of the Goddess upon you." Allowing myself to take solace in knowing that this day is coming closer and closer to the end, I take my hand away from his to untie the knot of the material my back after placing my Harp onto the Statue's hands, releasing the pure white "Sailcloth" from my body.
Once you take on the role of the Goddess for the Wing Ceremony's Ritual, you must create a prize for the year's champion. When I had scoured Father's Office for ideas, I had come across the idea of a piece of material used by "the Goddess's Chosen One" in the Great War to help them land from high places. It was beautifully crafted, even if Father's tomes did not discuss this idea any more than that, and I felt like it was fate that I had found this spark of inspiration. I smile I fold it into a neat square, the sunlight casting its beautiful light upon the lilac Skyloftian Crest stitched into it.
I smile sweetly when Link finally looks up, knowing the Ritual off by heart. However, no one is supposed to know what the "Goddess" created for her champion to symbolise that she is above all, even if I am but a mere mortal in her eyes. He studies the Sailcloth as I pass it down to him, still staying in a knelt position as he takes it into his hands. "The blessings of the Goddess drift down from the Golden Heavens aloft a Sail, which I now pass on to you."
He smiles back slightly, only to then remember that he has one final passage to say before the Ritual is complete. "And, as the one chosen to follow in the footsteps of the Goddess's Chosen One for this Ceremony, I accept Her Grace's blessing and will continue on in life anew." The last part that we cannot change is him tying whatever blessing from the Goddess to his clothes, which Link ties the Sailcloth to his belt without a second of doubt or thought.
We both sigh deeply in relief when we realise that we conducted the Ritual right, even if no one is beneath us in the Courtyard to object to this.
When he rises to his feet, his embraces me again tightly. If I wasn't so consumed within my own stress, I would have realised just how nervous he was to take part in the Wing Ceremony and potentially conduct the Ceremony with me after. It was either him, Groose, Cawlin, or Stritch, and I wouldn't have been as happy as I am now if any of the others were before me at this moment. I pushed Link a lot to train hard for the Ceremony, even if I shouldn't have put him under so much pressure, but it has all paid off; and we can be solely grateful for that.
As we break apart, he strokes the material of the Sailcloth lightly, catching my gaze as I watch him do so. "How long did it take you to make this?"
I shrug ever so slightly, my hands running over my deep pink dress trimmed with gold, my thumb caressing the sapphire pendant that Mother gave to me a few years before her passing. "Just over a month, I suppose." I reply softly, smiling a little more when I note the startled look on his face. "That was only because I wanted it to be perfect for this year's champion." His face heats up as I tuck my arms behind my back, feeling the Blessed Butterflies blossoming within my stomach myself as I add: "You'll take care of it, won't you?"
He laughs, although he doesn't respond. Usually, I would expect some sort of sarcastic remark off of him. However, I can see this time that he has being genuine as our eyes meet fully for the first time today, his eyes shining as he says: "I promise. It won't leave my sight." For a moment, the warm summer breeze whistling through my Ceremonial Garb that I also created relaxes me. I discover myself hesitating when he takes my hand. "I'll protect it with my life."
I can feel my ears, not my face, glowing pink with heat. He chuckles at his, releasing my hands before the rest of my body can tingle with warmth. "S-So the Ritual is complete." I stammer, biting my lip as I tenderly avoid his gaze now and again. Although when I try to keep my mouth shut, my body seems to react in the opposite way and I blurt out: "But there's something that I want to do first..." He raises a brow at me as I force myself to step closer, the tension rising.
It wasn't just the Sailcloth that I saw in one of Father's tomes.
"In any form of ritual placed after the time of the Great War and the rise of the Island in the Sky, the Bird Folk are known for honouring both the Goddess and her Chosen One. If any male and female were conducting a ritual together in honour of these two and the sacrifices they permitted during the time of need, they were to share a form or merging, whether this be from a form of gesture, embrace, or kiss. This was to praise the power of them combining during the War, and to thank them for what they had done to allow the Bird Folk to survive..."
Link and I have been close, although Karane's constant nagging has allowed my closeness to transform over the years. While I do not know if this is the same with him, I could finally see whether it has been the same or now. If he rejects me, then I will understand, and my world would be filled with joy if he accept me for what we both will feel. I haven't been able to build up the courage for this, though my hesitation has always been the main factor to hold me back.
"Zelda..." He starts softly. "I wanted to ask you something first."
I shake my head. "No, this can't wait." I respond, pushing my foot down on this moment. My heart hammers against my chest. No, it has been ever since I saw his grasp the Bird Statuette in the Wing Ceremony so long ago; even if it wasn't all that long. "Something has happened, and I think this is the best time to speak up. I wanted to..." There it is: the hesitation. Its phantom pain floods into my system like an uncontrollable flow of water. And, like I always so, I blurt out: "I want to try out that Sailcloth of yours."
He becomes even perplexed at this, pulling the Sailcloth away from his belt. "What do you—?" He cries out when I grab him by the shoulders. I stare at his face for a long time, by stomach cramping up as I determine what to do. My mind becomes so foggy and confused that I don't realise just exactly what I am doing before I spin him around and shove him off of the Statue. He topples off of the hands of the Statue, causing me to scream in fright.
Without letting another second pass, I leap off myself and whistle out sharply for my Loftwing, large birds that are bestowed upon us as mounts by the Goddess when she deems us ready to sprout or "wings" and fly out of the nest of Skyloft. Destiny, my lavender coloured Loftwing, appears within moments and I collide harshly against her, grabbing her reigns and guiding her down towards the Courtyard that Link falls down towards. I call out to him as he falls, yet he ignores me as I reach out to him; my dream sequence coming true right before my very eyes.
That is until he raises the Sailcloth above him with precision speed, especially for a person who hasn't used such a thing before, and staggers away from the circular design in the central part of the Courtyard when he lands. "Link!" I exclaim as I help him back onto his feet, the Sailcloth lying forgotten on the floor. "Don't leave me again, Link." My eyes widen, knowing that I have said that twice today in the same sort of context, holding him close to me as his breath is ragged. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean that at all."
My stomach drops when he chuckles.
"You always have been extraordinary, haven't you, Zelda?" I snap my head up to meet his gaze, his eyes twinkling in the afternoon sunshine. "Whatever you wanted to say made you panic, which you tend to do, but it wasn't your fault." He tilts his head skywards. "It just seems that you have a hobby for pushing me off of things, huh?" I bite my lip in embarrassment, only because I know that it is true. Only this morning did I push him off of the diving platform here to call for his Loftwing and train for the Ceremony.
That didn't go as I had planned.
I push some hair behind my ear. "Heh, that was an accident. It's not like I knew that Crimson wasn't going to be there..." He smiles warmly at me, the sunlight smothering his features so much that he literally shines. "Ahem..." I mutter. "I should, um... I should really be returning the Harp back to Father." I curse at my cowardice when I realise that I have left the Harp on the hands of the Statue and when I try to fly back up there, Link grabs my hand, spinning me around before I can flee.
"Zelda, hold up." I try to tug myself away from him, not wanting to stay near him after the amount of grief that I have caused him. However, his grip is unusually tight on me, and I know that he isn't giving up on me any time soon. "Zelda... I never said what I wanted to just." He shakes his head, not believing something that he is thinking. He releases me. "Look, I just wanted to ask you if you wanted to—"
"Link, I need to go." I step in, automatically feeling sorry for him once I see the look crossing his face. "I need to—"
Now he cuts in before I can go off on a ramble. "I wanted you to come flying with me." I, taken back by this, am left speechless at the sudden raise of his voice. It wasn't risen in an angry manner, though, but more like a desperate act. He lowers his tone. "I just thought since it was such a special day, and it's the last day of summer, why don't we spend it together?" He gulps, holding his hands out. "O-Only if you want to, that is. I know you wanted to go to the Lumpy Pumpkin with Karane, but I..."
His face pales slightly when I laugh, taking his hand into mine. "I'd love that."
He smiles, stepping away when I release his hand from around mine. He slowly calls out for Crimson, his rare Loftwing that most thought had been lost from the line of Loftwings. When Crimson arrives, I always notice how Link's Loftwing always has an old look in his eyes, especially with his scar above his right eye. Wherever it came from, it makes him look amazing. I mount Destiny, her and Crimson nuzzling each other's beaks before beating their wings; flying us up into the skies above.
While my stomach may be doing back-flips inside of me, a strange sense of calmness comes over me as I drag my fingers across Destiny's feathers. As Skyloft grows smaller and smaller beneath us, Link and I allow our Guardian Birds to fly wherever we want; a deep silence cutting through the tension that is rising. On the way, I pluck my Harp from the hands of the Statue, knowing that leaving it alone would be bad considering its value. I fumble with my hands, constantly shifting my weight.
No other day has been so special...
My eyes watch the fluffy white clouds around me excitedly, my Ceremonial Dress flapping around my legs in the strong wind as my bright hair trails behind me elegantly. Link always tells me that my hair looks like gold, and I blush every time at it. Nobody, other than Groose, says stuff like that to me; but I prefer it when Link says it. He says it not because he wants my attention, but because he actually knows that it's true and can't go a while without boosting my confidence.
I glance over at him for a moment, noticing how features are bathed in the glory light of the sun, and I find my eyes locked in place as I cast my gaze to him. It is almost like there is a golden light outlining his body, even if that is not possible, almost like his Soul is soaring with him and singing with mirth too. I don't expect him to suddenly look over at me too, making me look away when our eyes meet. I should feel courageous, although this moment could end one of two ways – and even that worries me.
When he calls over to me, though, I have to look over at him. "Thank-you for coming out today." He says with a warm smile. "I don't think this day could have gone any better if you weren't here celebrating with me." He seems to lose focus, something he tends to do while flying; yet I do manage to hear him add in a quieter voice: "I'll always remember this..." My lips curve upwards into a smile at this, and I resist the urge to guide Destiny closer to him.
The short conversation that we had goes quiet after that, allowing the both of us to fall into much deeper thoughts that we do not dare to express. I sigh, letting my eyes flutter shut to embrace the sun in its full glory. My mind becomes a land of close-ended thoughts that I cannot even muster the energy to complete before they drift out of my grasp. I care none for this, though, as all I care about is the wind blowing against my skin and the moment that I am in.
I notice the clouds being outlined with grey, like the Goddess is shading the clouds over. I look around, noticing how the sun is still shining, not being covered over by any of the clouds. Shrugging to myself, I ignore this thought and continue to revel in this moment that I have. When this moment has passed, I open my eyes to find Link watching me. He avoids my eyes with much more precision that I have, maybe because he does it a lot more than me, but I try to make him feel better when I speak up. "Today really was wonderful, Link."
Our eyes meet, making us both smile simultaneously. Blessed Butterflies fill my stomach again, or multiply. Either way, they blossom from my stomach and rise up to my heart. I hold it gingerly, only snapped back into reality when Link speaks up again.
"You know, Zelda..." He trails off into thought again, much like he had done in the Courtyard before. As much as I adore these little things, its does annoy me slightly when I want him to speak and he just doesn't. I clear my throat loudly, thankfully drawing him back into reality. "Sorry." He pauses again, messing with his fingers as he gathers his thoughts. "Um, Zelda..." He begins. "I-I really want to talk to you about something that's been on my mind for a while now." He breaths out a laugh. "I'm just not sure how to say it."
"It's all right." I call back. "Whatever it is, I'll be listening."
He runs his fingers through his hair, and I barely hear him say: "That's the problem: you'll be listening..." Unable to fight my urge any longer, I guide Destiny towards Crimson, noting again how the skies have grown darker over the time since I last checked – ignoring it like I had done before. His eyes travel across the cloud barrier beneath us, forcing himself to build up the courage in order to meet my eyes fully. "Zelda, I—"
I shouldn't have ignored the clouds darkening.
I hear a sound in the distance, one that I don't recognise and don't listen to properly because I am too busy listening to Link's words. When he is cut off, time slows down for me as a sudden gust of wind slaps us both harshly in the face. Somehow, the wind gives off such a strange aura that sends shivers across the surface of my skin. As I recover, I hear Link asking me whether I am all right, but my voice dies straight in my throat when I see what the source of the wind actually was.
A Black Tornado.
Father told me about these. I remember there being stories and myths being told about these all throughout my life. But that's all that they were: stories, maybe even the tales from old wives that have strange morals to them. Storms in the Sky Realm are a grey colour, but this mix of brown an jet black has never been seen before. I pinch myself a few times, yet the image doesn't fade once penetrating my vision. It is actually real, but that isn't possible!
"Zelda!" My gaze flies over to Link, my stomach dropping as he glides to me and leans dangerously over Crimson; his Loftwing barely staying calm. He extends a hand to me, my face draining of all colour as I stare at him. "Climb on!" I shake my head, shuffling away from him. I'm too caught up in the idea of a Black Tornado existing for him to start panicking himself. "Zelda, I can't move any closer, take my hand now!"
It's not an option. It's an order, a command, one that I must take immediately.
That is until I rise to take his extended hand and Destiny rears up, throwing me from my seat and into the abyss below me. I am about to scream, though something suddenly grabs a hold of me and keeps me suspended in the air. My heart leaps to my throat as this mysterious force hoists me up and into someone's quaking arms. I hold onto the figure tightly, recognising their scent even when they are shaking without any form of control. My throat burns as I gulp, wrapping my arms around him so strongly that I could become one with him again.
My Harp falls from my hands before I can realise, and it shines once before disappearing into the sea of clouds below.
The circulation in my body decreases as he presses me closely to his body, snaking his arms around me so that he can manoeuvre himself, making sure that his body protects mine as he holds the reigns of Crimson in a white-knuckled grip. "I've got you." He reassures me, knowing that I am shaking as much as he is. "I'm getting us home." Another burst of wind smashes against us, Destiny flying away without a care for me; though I don't blame her whatsoever when I am in such safe hands.
Although it is when Link attempts to fly away from the storm that things change for the worse.
I feel that shiver run atop my skin again, and I swear that I see a tendril of blackness vines its way towards us. No matter what it is, something spooks Crimson like it had done with Destiny, and I would have been thrown from him if it wasn't for Link's iron grip around me. He tries to control his Loftwing as much as possible, though even Link's touch isn't reassuring like it usually is. Nothing helps his Crimson Loftwing, and he continues to panic until one of us is thrown; that one person being his master.
Link tumbles from his seat atop Crimson, and I burst into action. Like he had done with me, I lean life-threateningly over the petrified Loftwing and reach out for Link before he can fall too far away from me. My hand catches his wrist, jerking us both as I reinforce my grip around Crimson's reigns. As we both hang like this, I can feel my grip failing quickly before me. Over the swirling wind speeds, I cry with glassy eyes: "Don't let go!" His eyes flicker up to mine, feeling his own wrist slipping.
I sense that shiver again, and that same tendril of darkness that I thought was a delusion vines up our linked arms. I am not the only one who sees it, because Link studies it as well. I am waiting for the moment that I awake from another one of those dream sequences, finding that I hit my head at some point and none of this ever happened at all. The wisp of inky shadows twirls mainly around our locked hands,and I realise just exactly what is happening when I feel a stab of heat and pain rush through my hand.
Out of reflex, I gasp and release my hands from his wrist, which is my fatal mistake.
Our eyes lock one last time as our grasp finally fails, the tendril gone instantly. I scream as he begins to fall, extending my hand as far as it will go, tears running down my face as he falls just out of my grip. His eyes flutter shut as the Tornado beginning to submerge him within the eye of the storm in seconds, my world collapsing around me. My scream continues on until my voice literally dies, my gaze never leaving his body as it grows smaller and smaller as each moment passes.
My strips of ribbon from my hair untangle themselves fly around in my face at the impact of the harsh Tornado winds, so I end up tugging them all out in one pull and allowing them to fly away. They hold too many happy memories, and this one cannot compare to any other moment in my life, even on par with Mother's passing. Tears sting harshly at my eyes as the events that have unfolded without any warning whatsoever, knowing that it was all of my fault; completely and utterly.
I don't even think about my next action.
I steeply dive Crimson towards the tornado in hopes of finding and saving Link before he hits the dreaded cloud barrier. I can barely see his body in the masses, and I know that I must aid him before I lose him forever. However, something fortifies around the Tornado that I do not see until it is far too late. Crimson is thrown backwards, forcing myself out of my seat and separating me from the Crimson Loftwing. I see the last remnants of Link's body before he is consumed and my vision goes spotty.
I fall through the air at the speed of sound, unaware of everything as I start to lose my grasp on consciousness. My world begins to darken, my sights on Crimson gone completely as my mind only thinks about the boy who I have just killed, the moments before the Black Tornado attacking but an illusion to protect me. Deep inside of me, I know that the Tornado was real, even if it means that I really am crazy. I reach out one last time for Link, but I see nothing but clear blue skies as if nothing had happened.
That, and the same chilling voice from my dream earlier.
"Prepare the Ritual." They say. "Once we retrieve the boy's memories, His Majesty will feast on his Soul tonight!"
"Zelda...?" My eyes slowly open at the spiritual-sounding voice calling out to me. I fall through darkness at such a fast pace that I don't feel like I am going to survive it, the only light being permitted to radiate through the shadows coming from a flying spirit dressed in purple and blue. I cannot tell what is real and what is not any longer, only who has been pulled away from me like my heart-wrenching dreams have been showing me.
I open my dry feeling mouth, croaking out: "W-Who... are you?"
"Zelda, I am waiting for you." The spirit replies, ignoring my completely; like she has been programmed to say these words and these words only. She draws closer to me, most of her body, one that merely resembles a human, blurred out. "You shall play a large role in the destiny of the land that you call the Surface. The time has come for you to awaken your age-old self and act in this mission of great importance. You may not understand, my dear, but all shall be explained when the Goddess chooses for you to."
I part my lips to query as much as my parched mouth allows me to when the entire void around me turns entirely white, the spirit dissolving into the abyss. Link appears before my eyes without warning, my heart clenching as I see the same frightened look in his eyes that I witnessed before I let go of him. At first, I am still the person who if falling, however destiny turns the tables until he is the one who is falling.
I reach out for him, screaming out his name as I am overwhelmed by the sudden change of events. He can only do the same back to me, our fingers brushing against each other like they had done before. I feel his warmth one last time before his body become alight with golden flames that buries itself inside of his body before being wrenched out again without any warning or remorse. He lets out a scream as an ominous shadow appears through the cloudy whiteness and absorbs that light, Link's pale form descends into the shadow along with it.
My hope dies with him.
I bolt upright so suddenly that I don't fully realise that it has happened until several moments after. My breath is drawn out in ragged gasps as a wave of nausea slams into me hard, forcing me to fall back onto whatever I was lying on before I swam back into consciousness. My eyes shut completely when I collide with what I was lying on, and it takes most of my strength to reopen them once more. What I find, however, is something that completely surprises me.
I am not falling through an abyss, or through the Sky Realm itself, but I am back home in Skyloft.
I cover my eyes with my hands, unable to understand what is going on. All I remember is the vague dream before I arose again, and flying with Link. On top of that, I remember something about a storm, but my mind seems to be distorting the memory so much that I don't believe it. As I pull my hands away, I stare up at my bedroom ceiling, realising that Link must have bought me back home when I fell asleep. I have done that sometimes when I am out flying, and this is the most likely outcome.
But when I hear a deep sigh of apparent relief off to my left, I gasp before I can stop myself and snap my head over to the source of the voice. Father stands there in place of Link, who I thought it was going to be, still wearing his deep sunset coloured robes that have been passed down through our family for the past few generations. His eyebrows are knotted together from stress, most likely caused by work, as he moves towards me; sitting on my bed and clasping my hand in a strong grip.
"My dear, you're awake!" He breathes, almost close to tears. "What happened to you? When Crimson bought you back with a weak pulse, I've never been so petrified." He draws my perplexed form close to his, and I notice just exactly how much he is quaking. "I thought you were about to join your Mother, Zelda. What happened to cause us both so much pain?" By the time that he releases me, I stare into his eyes with more confusion that he has.
Then I realise something.
"W-Wait..." I say quietly, unsure of my hypothesis being true. "Crimson bought me back?" Father, almost confused over my question, nods as if I should have known this. "Where's Link?"
His eyes glint with a mix of emotions that I can't decipher each of them individually. "We do not know." He answers truthfully. "But there is no cause for concern, as we have not been able to search the Sky Realm yet for his whereabouts. Night has fallen, my dear, so we cannot face the dangers of this world until the sun rises again." Any hope that I once felt dies still-born in my chest. I want him to walk in now with his usual grin that always brightens my day, though I can tell that it's not possible.
"He's not here?" I ask, my tone almost child-like.
Father shakes his head lightly. "He did not return with you, nor did your own Loftwing." He places both of his hands atop my shoulders, squeezing them slightly. "What happened out there, Zelda? The both of you are both capable enough of soaring the skies by yourselves, so what made this time so different?" I take a long time to gather my thoughts, attempting to reply numerous times without any form of avail. My thoughts, clouded and scatters, seem to all lead to one thing in particular.
"Prepare the Ritual. Once we retrieve the boy's memories, His Majesty will feast on his Soul tonight!"
The memories hit me so hard that I can barely breathe when I remember. "The Black Tornado..." I whisper, more to myself than anyone else. "I let him go. I let him fall..." My eyes blur with tears, and I can't take it any longer. Pushing myself upright, I force myself unsteadily onto my feet and rush towards my door. I don't make it very far, since my body is too weak from the attack that I fall to the ground. Father is there instantly, panicking like mad as he helps me back onto my bed with a soothing tone.
"Black Tornadoes do not exist, my dear." He rubs circles into my back. "You must still be in shock from the storm that you were caught up in. Instructor Owlan was going to call off the Ceremony from the threat of storms later on in the day, especially since Crimson's kidnapping prolonged the wait until the race..." He hugs me tightly, pushing me down softly onto the bed and pulling the bed sheets over my shaking body. He caresses my cheek. "Rest, Zelda. You'll wake up and find him home, I promise..."
My eyes begin to flicker shut as his footsteps grow further and further away from me. He blows out the candle on my desk, causing the lurking shadows to become far more alert than before and start creeping around my prone body. As the door clicks shut, the memories flash behind my closed eyelids so harshly that I blink them back open rapidly, scanning my dark room without hesitation.
I silently cry for a long time after Father has left me alone here, staring intently at the bird carving of Destiny that he made for my sixteenth birthday as the embers of the candle slowly die out. I remember his grip on my hand during the Tornado attack made me feel so secure, but now he's gone. I recall his voice, and how is constantly stayed strong no matter how much fear was laced into it, and now I'll never hear it again. If I hadn't have let go when my hand burned. If I had just held on for that tiny fragment longer...
"Dominae." A calming voice reflects around my head and the room, chanting out to me to me in that single word. The voice sounds like the one from my dream just, calling out to me like my time has come; my test has arrived. My dark, yet honest, thoughts quell as I shift my vision up to the door to where the source of the voice came from. "Dominae, your time has come..." She, I think, repeats. I slowly rise from the bed, feeling drawn to her voice in a trance.
Something stitched into her tone forces me into action, an action that I know will change the course of this day. While I cannot change time, I can't lose hope. On the edges of my consciousness, I can still feel Link. It may be weak, and it may be a sense of false hope, but I latch onto it without hesitation. As I banish the light-headedness from my brain and push onward, I lose myself in that one sensation coursing through my veins. If that sensation is true, then I will pursue it until the very end.
Hope knows no fear. Hope dares to blossom, even inside of the abysmal abyss. Hope secretly feeds and strengths promise. And, for that, I shall never lose it.