Jacqueline! Jacqueline! Wake up! Please, wake up!
You have to wake up...I'm not going to leave you here...
My eyelids were heavy and I fought to open them. I groaned and shifted in the tight, dark space. It was very warm and it was tempting for me to block out the voices and go back to sleep, however something told me I had to get out immediately. Something was causing my world to shiver; something was hitting from the front with a sharp amount of force. I began to open my eyes and saw blue shafts of light peeking at my eyelids. I raised my arm to shield my face and I heard a cracking noise and felt something give under my weight.
I heard something shatter and I tumbled heavily to the floor, surprised and alarmed at how weak I felt and how slow I had responded to the increase in gravity. My kneecaps spiked with sharp pain and I tumbled to the floor. A quick series of footsteps sounded outside of my vision, and I felt several hands pulling me up. "Easy," a soft voice urged, "she might still be weak and dazed from the sleep; it is not an easy feat to accomplish, and she could have suffered damage."
"I'm awake...your voices are so loud..." I growled and I heard Zelda sigh with relief. "At least she is conscious." I felt their arms begin to support me and hold me up to sit on my knees, which still stung a little from the impact to the floor. I kept my eyes shut, still groggy and unused to the sunlight that peeked through the roof. Zelda's voice came softly, "How are you feeling?"
My voice was thick and I cleared it, "Like shit, honestly; it's like someone volted me with a car battery and sucked me dry." Zelda chuckled, "I was a little tired when I came out, as well; Link woke us up." Link. I struggled to raise my head and open my eyes, refusing to keep them closed despite the pain of the light. Slowly and surely I forced them open, seeing colors that slowly defined into shapes. Next thing I knew, I was looking into two sets of blue eyes, each pair striking and powerful in their own way. I blinked slowly, "...Hey buddy, what's up?" The knight shook his head after a while of silence, and I nodded. My memories began to flow back to me, and I held onto them with precious care, "Yeah, I know you can't forgive me...that's never stopped me, though." Link looked up and managed a small smile. Zelda looked to me, "He was very scared--we all were. Even after you went to sleep, I wasn't sure you'd be able to hold Ghirahim at bay; I sensed a lot of turmoil coming from you, even while I was asleep. Are you hurt?" I turned my head to look at the shattered particles of the blue crystal I had been sleeping in and thought of Other Me. I sighed, "...Just some difficult things to deal with in there, but I promise I'm fine. Really." I looked at them sincerely and they both exchanged looks before nodding.
I looked past them. "What about the Imprisoned? What happened to Him?" Zelda smiled widely as Link looked at me, holding up his hand to show a golden triangle glowing on the back. "The Imprisoned is no more; the wish was made, and Darkness no longer plagues this land. He will not rise again." Warning bells went off in my head about the accuracy of his assurance and I looked to Zelda, "Are you sure He's gone for good?" Zelda looked at me empathically, "I can understand your alertness, Jacqueline; being held under His captivity must have caused horrors to your mind, however there is no need to worry now. He truly is dead, by the gods' hands." I narrowed my eyes, skeptical. Other Me told me that my final journey would be to help Link take care of the Imprisoned...so He can't be gone for good. They have a false sense of security... The two seemed certain they had defeated the Imprisoned, however that didn't dissuade the foreshadowing of a curve-ball in the making. Nothing was popping out, and time stretched further along with a peaceful silence. I didn't sense anything dark or foreboding. I looked down at my hands, "What happened? I don't remember a lot from before I went to sleep..."
Zelda looked to me, "The sacred power you once held is now with me; you're normal again." Normal. I wanted to taste that word on my tongue; it didn't feel accurate, but it seemed to be the only word that fit. Everything I'd adapted to felt normal--it was when I didn't have it did it become abnormal. "Guess I'm not a spirit maiden anymore?" Zelda shook her head, "No longer; you've paid the price it took to ensure the world's survival by locking yourself away in the past and awaiting the future to come. Much time has passed for the both of us, and true to his word, Link came back to awaken us." She rested a hand on Link's shoulder and I turned my gaze away. I looked at myself, seeing my clothes for the first time and blinking in surprise. How did...
Link smiled, "Blonde hair seems to suit you better, as well." My head snapped up, "BLONDE HAIR?!" My hands shot to my head as I grasped the strands and pulled a bang in front of my face to see out of the corner of my eye; true as day, golden strands twined between my fingers. I guess all the dye came out... Link looked at me, "Is this your real hair color?" I nodded and shrugged, "I wanted to do something different, back home; I liked having dark hair."
"The gold hair seems to suit you more; it is almost as if I can't tell you or Zelda apart." I smirked, "Oh, I'm sure you'll find some way," and he laughed, "I imagine I will!" He smiled at me, "I'm glad you are all right, Jacqueline; I'm thankful you're still alive and with us." I stood up, my weak knees regaining some of their strength, and smiled at him. "You can't get rid of me that easily; I've died at least twice now--well, technically once, but still." Zelda looked up and around the room, "It is probably best we depart from this sanctuary and return outside. Our business is concluded here." The three of us, including Fi, exited the inner sanctum, allowing the massive slabs of stone to ease shut and seal behind us, guarding the sanctity of the inner sanctum. Zelda walked strongly on my right while Link supported me on my left, both assisting me to keep me from falling as we descended the staircase. Groose was waving to us with Old Impa next to him, a wrinkled smile on her face.
"I knew you could do it," she rasped, and I smirked, "You certainly were one heck of a guide." She chuckled as Groose stepped in, rushing to Zelda and sobbing over her return, trying to hide his emotions in his arm and failing. I broke away from the two when I felt my strength return and stood on my own, looking to the old woman. With the others off to the side, I held council with her. "This is too easy--even if the problem in this time is fixed, what about the past? I may have rewrote it all, but a few things remain--Groose still recognizes me, and I can't forget about Ghirahim."
The old woman nodded, "Your concern is understandable, my child, however there is no need to look for danger; the threat has been destroyed. With rewriting the past and setting the present in stone, the future does not need to fret about the Imprisoned." As she spoke, I felt something cold stir within me; even if all darkness had been purged from me, a sixth-sense that had adapted to the magic still lived on, and perhaps it was this that alerted me to the attack that came seconds later, however I turned on a dime and began bolting for Link and Zelda, both whom were on their way to reunite with Groose. I moved to push Zelda out of the way, "LOOK OU--"
A sudden eruption of light spiked down between the two and they were blasted away from each other, both sustaining damage. I was thrown off my feet and hit my head hard on the ground, dazing me and causing my vision to blur. As I began to regain my bearings, I could see the familiar colors of one I had despised so much for so long. Ghirahim...! He sauntered from around one of the pillars and picked up Zelda easily using the magic that haunted my spirit. I could still feel the pull of darkness, even if it had no true grasp over me. I struggled to get up as he disregarded me entirely, and made his way to the Gate again. Not again..! He gloated and boasted before he passed through. "He's trying to revive Demise..!" I grunted and began to rise, struggling to get to my feet as Link got up and stared with pure hatred, staring at the back of the most despicable adversary. Ghirahim chuckled and turned around to face me and the Chosen, licking his lips. "Now, my dear...I'm not sure where you got that information, as I haven't said anything of my plan...and yet you know it. Strange..." He chuckled and waved farewell as he passed through the Gate of Time and Link pursued him without a moment's hesitation before Groose or Impa had the chance to stop him.
I looked at Old Impa as I climbed the steps. "He didn't recognize me.."
"It was a constant change in time, my dear," Impa said gently, "He does not recognize you now, just as I hadn't seen this attack coming until after he had changed history in the past by transporting the spirit maiden there with himself."
"What about Zelda's crystal? I saw all of that amber on the floor--doesn't that mean she's still inside, acting as a seal?"
"In theory, yes, my dear--two Zeldas are in existance in the past; the one that had traveled before the attack, as traveling back there will only continue interference the further the timeline goes and cannot be rewinded further back to change what the Goddess put into motion, is still maintaining a seal for the Imprisoned. However, should the second Zelda, our Zelda, perish in any way, both will evaporate from existence, as the future would have wiped out any means of life for her. The same goes for you as well, my dear; you are still within your own crystal, keeping Ghirahim from any true knowledge of you and what is to come. With that in mind, he will not have the foresight to rewind time again and start this journey from the beginning--essentially that would wipe all of our minds clean, and Darkness would surely win without a second chance."
"Well I guess there is such a thing as being in two places at once, I guess...wonder what I look like..."
"That is moot to ponder right now, my dear, as the time that we know it now will begin to crumble apart. You must make haste after the Chosen and aid him against the Darkness one final time and berid this world of the threat it is under. This timeline will not hold for long; you must go now."
"I understand." I nodded and gave her a quick hug and patted Groose on the back before I threw myself into the Gate.
~~~~~~~~~~The Distant Past~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I emerged from the Gate and found Impa lying down, and yet supporting herself. Her wounds didn't seem grevious, and she pointed at the front doors. "Quickly, Jacqueline! You must go after Link. He pursued Ghirahim through the doors of the Temple to the Sealed Grounds! You may catch up to him before it is too late! Hurry!" I nodded and shoved the temple doors open with effort and found myself staring at a darkened sky. Up ahead was Link, and he was staring down at the center of the pit. I ran to join him to see what was happening. Within the bowels of the pit stood Ghirahim, teleporting and dancing strangely around a figure that lay upon the ground with her hands folded. Zelda's body was levitated into the air, her form glowing with the familiar golden light that had once come from me. I had a terrible feeling with what was going to happen.
I watched on as Ghirahim began to perform the ritual and summoned monsters to stop Link in his tracks, however he merely drew his sword and charged down the ramps, knocking foes from his path. I did what I could to keep up, drawing my own sword and providing distractions to the monsters and keeping some of the smaller ones off his back in time for him to finish them off for me. The Master Sword, as it was called, was the only weapon that could truly purge them and keep their dark essence from feeding the ritual. We got to the bottom and found more monsters waiting for us. Link finished them off quickly and advanced on Ghirahim.
Ghirahim wasn't happy at all. He placed his hands to his head, clutching it in what seemed like ill-restrained anger. "Why can't you sit still and quiet like a good boy?! HMM? You all breed like rodents, a new pest popping up at the most inconvenient times! I am so mad I could just kill you now!!" He stopped and looked at us with a grin, "Which doesn't sound like such a bad idea now..." He stepped out from in front of Zelda and snapped his fingers; a platform suddenly formed underneath our feet and lifted all three of us into the air. "I'll tell you what," he said, "if you can defeat me in time, the ritual will stop. However, I doubt you'll be able to accomplish such a feat. Still, it'd be most amusing for me if you tried! Come, little warrior, face your obliteration at my hand!"
His attention went towards me, "And without any bystander distractions." He lifted his hand and threw a ball of energy at me, knocking me off the platform and falling to the ground below. As I fell, I caught a few seconds of Link looking over the edge, yelling my name loudly in despair. My vision went dark and I lost consciousness before I hit the ground.
I came to, miraculously, and found myself looking groggily at a floating, glowing figure. With a jolt in my heart I saw Zelda and my eyes immediately shot upward; Link and Ghirahim were still battling, however the platform was lower than it had been when I fell. I fought to get up and yelped in pain; one of my arms had broken in the fall, and I struggled to keep myself from screaming. Grunting, I held my arm protectively and moved to where Zelda was.
Placing a hand on her shoulder, I closed my eyes. Come on...I was a spirit maiden too, y'know...just give me some of your power...let me help... I felt a warmth flow into me, and I chanced a look to see the energy flowing into me. My pain was removed, and my arm was mended instantly. I took my hand away, feeling the sacred power flow into me, and looked up. That way neither Ghirahim or the Imprisoned get all of the power! The ritual won't be as effective! I grinned in triumph and moved up the ramp, finding a position higher the descending platform and waving to Link. "Link! It's okay, everything's going to be fine!"
"Jacqueline, you're alive--"
"BEHIND YOU!" Link blocked Ghirahim's attack just in time, both fighters seeming to tire. Once they had reached the ground, Link took the advantage and went on a more brutal offensive, cutting through Ghirahim's defenses and wounding him. The battle was won; Ghirahim couldn't fight any longer. He grimaced and backed away, however he had a triumphant look on his face. "While you were fighting, the ritual continued on; you were too late to stop it!" He turned and promptly kicked Zelda's form up into the air and prepared to summon the Imprisoned. I watched her form, so small and suspended above the pit. How the Hell am I going to get up there? I turned my attention back to the pit as Ghirahim broke the seal with the change in history and allowed the Imprisoned to break through. It opened Its massive jaws and began to suck in the golden glow of the body. I could hear her screams of pain as the golden power was ripped from her in a huge pulse and swallowed into the Imprisoned's form.
All except the fraction that I had taken; that had stayed with me. I hid as best I could away from the Imprisoned so that It would not notice the incomplete package, however that didn't stop It from changing its form, shrinking down and into the form of a huge man. Flames erupted from the head, and a scar glowed on his forehead. His eyes burned like the coals in a dying fire, ready to burst forth in an inferno of blazing hatred. He was clothed in shadows and a radiating darkness that could corrupt whatever it touched. The demon king was pure evil, however he was still incomplete. He looked to Ghirahim, whose form had changed and was praising his Master's return. The man raised his hand and destroyed Ghirahim, transforming the servant into a master blade for his craft. Link stood tall against Demise, and the demon king turned to him.
"...So the insects that once cowered underneath Hylia's heels stand to defy me...never did I think such an age could exist with this outcome...Amusing." He chuckled and raised his blade against Link, "So you are the knight chosen by the Goddess! What courage you must have facing me, boy..." He looked up at me, "And yet even more mortals seek to defy me, even in the final hour of your time..." He looked back to the Chosen, "You are becoming more intriguing by the minute, Destined Hero..." He looked up and scoffed at the sight of Zelda's body hanging in the air. "This bag of flesh the Goddess created pales in comparison to her previous form...a pitiful excuse of selflessness, to reduce her form to such a weakened state...it is a shame. She was truly radiant, the last we fought." He looked to Link, "I see that I intimidate you, boy, yet you do not flee; could it be you seek to challenge me?"
Link nodded, and Demise chuckled, "Very well; I will craft a battlefield that will be without distraction. Should you still holster courage within your heart, seek me there." He looked up and swept his blade through the air, causing a spiral of air to toss the body towards the earth. Link immediately turned and began to run with the bleak chance that he could catch her. I was too far away, even though I was rising to help. Suddenly, a voice yelled and a bulky figure was jetting down the ramp. "Don't worry, you guys!" he yelled, "Groose has got this!" He threw his body forwards as if trying to catch a baseball, and he heavily collided with the ground, causing clouds of dirt to blanket the ramp. When the dust settled, Zelda was in Groose's arms and safe and sound. I took off immediately and made it to him, huffing and puffing my lungs out. "I...I caught her, she's okay!"
"I can see that," I wheezed out, my hands on my knees. I looked over the girl; she looked as if she were merely asleep, however the tug I felt from where I had extracted some of the power felt far more sinister. I hid my hand in my coat and knelt closer to Zelda. She was breathing, but very faintly. Groose looked at me and blinked, as if he remembered something. He turned and yelled out to Link, "Hey! Link! Grannie told me something really important! She said that it'll take some time for that grease wad to absorb Zelda's soul completely! If you can beat him before her soul gets sucked up into that...thing, then we might have a chance..." He looked down at Zelda, worried. I took my turn to look out to Link, "I know you can do it, Link--you're the only one that can! You have to!" Link nodded and turned to face Demise with newfounded hope. The evil-incarnate smirked, "Very well. Follow if you dare." He aimed a vile stare up at me and I froze, afraid he had sensed I had stolen some of his energy. If he had, he chose not to voice it; instead he opened up the ground with a chilling spiral of darkness and faced Link. "If you fear for your life, do not follow me. You can spend what little time your world has left cowering and crying, as befits your kind.
"But if you truly desire to raise your blade against the world I would build," he continued, "come for me. I've waited eons to return. I can spare a few more moments to let you decide." He suddenly vanished and the hole in the ground yawned wider. I had a terrible feeling as I looked upon it and instead I averted my gaze down to the ground. I saw my hand was shaking and I took my hand out of my jacket. Looking at it, I saw flits and pieces of golden power flowing through it. I looked up at Groose, "I can buy her some time; he didn't get all of her spirit, just most of it. I can use the rest to keep her from fading away before Link has a chance to stop him." I looked down at Link, watching him move towards the portal without missing a beat. My heart jumped and I yelled out to him. He stopped and turned around to face me. "What is it, Jacqueline?"
I sighed, "Just be careful in there, okay? None of us can go with you. This is a battle you'll be fighting on your own!"
He smiled, "Relax; I've been accomplishing a lot of things without anyone's help. I'll do so again this time." Memories of our adventures together had already been erased, from what it appeared to be, and pain filtered in. I bowed my head and nodded, "Yeah...you'll be fine. We're here for you." He nodded and walked through the portal, disappearing to the other side. I looked to Groose, who looked at me without a clue. "What do we do now?"
"We wait, Groose," I said gently, "we wait."