• Published 31st Jul 2012
  • 15,364 Views, 623 Comments

A Link to Equestria - Wandering Quill



The Hero of Time's arrival to Equestria bears more consequence than anyone expected: the discovery of a common History... and of common enemies.

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Exodus

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For a fleeting moment, Link imagined that he was back in Hyrule. He was sitting on Epona's saddle, and was heading to Hyrule Castle. A sealed letter was sticking out of his belt, holding inside a request from Princess Zelda to meet her as soon as possible. Hair windswept and eyes set on the approaching castle town, Link had the singular worry of not getting there fast enough. Without a madman to threaten Hyrule or monsters roaming the verdant fields of the kingdom, the never-ending scoldings the princess gave about tardiness were his only enemy.

A cry from below fished him back to reality. He didn't like this reality. He wasn't riding Epona, nor was he in Hyrule. His steed was a heavily armored stallion, a captain of the guard, no less, and the walls that surrounded him weren't Hyrule Castle's. He was riding at a princess's request, to be sure - just not the princess he would have preferred. The feeling wasn't the same, no matter how much danger he was in.

"Get your head in the game, boy!" the stallion was shouting. "You're lucky Miss Sparkle has that much confidence in you!"

“Sir!” the voice of another soldier called from a perpendicular corridor. Link's steed firmly dug his hooves into the ground to stop, an action that was almost abrupt enough to whisk the boy out of his seat. Right on cue, another tremor shook the hallway, and though the ponies stood firm, the soldier could barely be heard over the rumbling. “The remaining Elements of Harmony are on their way to Canterlot!”

“NO!” Twilight’s sudden burst startled ponies and human alike momentarily. The mare mouthed a sheepish apology, which didn't save her from receiving a stern glare from the captain. “I mean, huh, send them back! That’s exactly what that thing in there wants!”

The captain ruminated on the proposal for a brief moment. “How close are they?”

“T-Minus fifteen minutes, sir.”

The stallion harrumphed. “Point of no return then. There’s no station between there and Canterlot for them to turn around.”

“Stop the train then! Call a chariot down and take them back to Ponyville!”

“Miss, one does not simply stop a train that is following a schedule,” the captain stated matter-of-factly. “My best guess is that they’re about to enter the Canterlot mountain tunnels. Just getting a message in there would take enough time for them to cross the mountain and arrive in Canterlot.”

“But-”

“My decision is final! My highest priority right now is to get you out of the castle. Order the immediate evacuation of all guards! And for Celestia’s sake, make sure somepony, anypony, finds the night shift squad and tells me why they aren’t here yet!” Responding with a salute, the guard ran off. “This is very strange. The Night Guards are never late for their duty. Princess Luna so demands.”

“But she’s not here either, right?” Twilight asked. The captain shook his head, confirming what the mare already knew. Looking up at the ‘Hylian’, she was reminded of the task at hoof: escape. “We need to go. There’s something I still need to do.”

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"The Canterlot Archives?" the captain barked as soon as Twilight skid to a stop. "Miss Sparkle, I seriously doubt this is the appropriate time for reading!”

With the loudest groan either warrior had ever heard, the purple unicorn lit her horn up and magically pried the repository's heavy door open. A nauseous scent of dust slipped out of the room, as if nobody had opened that door for at least a thousand years. Link and the captain had been frozen in place, but the mare paid it no mind at all.

“The book I need is what led me to him in the first place,” she spoke rather nonchalantly, trotting in. Link and his steed shared a confused look before following her inside.

If a mere whiff of the breeze outside had been enough to cause nausea, then the asphyxiating odor that populated the archives’ atmosphere was certainly intense enough to rouse the dead from their eternal slumber.

Despite the less-than-agreeable atmosphere, the captain looked around in awe, contemplating on whether the higher ranking guards were able to see places like this on their shifts. He had always been placed in front of doors or just assigned to rounds on the courtyard - the life of the lowly guard he had been better part of his career in a nutshell. Never had he been assigned to a place in the castle halls proper, and much less on the mythical Canterlot archives so few had access to (or so the rumor went).

It was, therefore, with great astonishment that he found that particular section of the castle to be everything he expected. It was a place of immeasurable length with just as uncountable a number of shelves, upon which were carefully lined books of all sizes, colors, and even state of conservation.

Several wooden tables, where towering piles of books rested, were randomly strewn amidst this maze of wood, stone and knowledge. If they were able to see anything, it was thanks to the natural light provided by the moon. The ceiling was an enormous glass dome, allowing the light from above to bathe the wing. The resulting baby blue tone granted the whole place a much more mystical ambiance.

Immense though the place may have appeared, Twilight had traversed it with relative ease, maybe even with a hint of thrill, disappearing behind columns of bookshelves soon after.

“Okay, hop off. You’re getting too heavy,” the captain grunted with a shake of its flank, motioning Link to climb down. The boy complied, and a long sigh of sincere relief escaped the guard. “So… you know how to use a sword?”

Casting a quick glance at the sword on his scabbard, Link nodded back, eliciting a gentle chuckle from the equine. The latter’s lance levitated from the hold on his side before falling next to him, where it was kept standing by a hoof.

“So you really can understand me. Heh. Now there’s something I’d like to see… you look pretty young to, you know… wield a sword? Hey, no need to get angry," he quickly mended as the swordsman’s expression contorted into a frown. “We just… don’t get many like you around here. Usually, all the colts just want to join stuff like ‘The Wonderbolts’ or run around and start some business. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with that. But… the Royal Guard doesn’t get much attention anymore.”

The stallion quieted, his gaze apparently fixated on the moon above. Now with a place to sit down, the boy just watched, listening to the murmur of Twilight’s hooves in the back of the archives as she moved around. He felt Olivia’s wings nudge his hair inside the hat, the familiar sensation of a fairy spirit’s natural warmth all but unwelcome to him.

I almost bet she doesn’t mind it either.

His gaze finally settled on the spear to admire the detailed work on its azure handle and polished tip of gold, sharper than the best of arrows. Designs of a couple of winged equines spiraled up the handle, with depictions of the moon and the sun decorating the remaining space. It awakened within him a certain curiosity, the will to know more.

Granted, he wanted to ask things – questions regarding his location, regarding the ponies he was now ‘forced’ to follow and cooperate with, about the land and its sovereigns. Doubts that he didn’t think would torment him now begged to be solved, right there and then, in the few moments of simultaneous peace and company he’d had since his arrival to this realm.

And yet, he couldn’t speak their language.

“Name’s Shiro, by the way,” as if reading his mind, the captain’s voice broke the silence. Link’s head rose, finding that the pony’s were still set on the celestial body in the skies. “That’s the nickname the rest of the guards give me, anyway. They say it has the same meaning and that it’s shorter. Heh. What language was it now? Canternese?”

“Captain White Castle!” Twilight’s voice echoed across the archives. “Would you mind bringing the Hylian here?”

“That’s our cue. Come on. We can ‘talk’ later,” Shiro added with a wink, walking past the boy while the lance returned to its rightful position.

Wish they could know my name. ‘The Hylian’ doesn’t sound nice.

The pair found the unicorn in the center of an authentic fortress of books. Surrounded by stacks of tomes, she was fervently skimming over entire volumes while one in particular floated by her side, always open in the same page. On either side of the hall were shelves, these devoid of any content. A golden label at the highest shelf read ‘Mythology of Equestria’.

“M-Miss Sparkle, did you really…”

“Read all these? No. Well, not now. I have copies of several back in Ponyville, so I skipped some.” But the captain continued to look flabbergasted.

The literal walls of text heightened at a fast pace. One last manuscript flew to the top of the heap before she took notice of the swordsman, beaconing towards the center of the ‘fort’ with a free hoof.

No words were exchanged for several seconds – an eternity for both males. Twilight continuously looked to and from the pages of the book, the gap her mouth created growing with every couple of gazes.

“There… there are no doubts left…” the mare muttered, raising her head for what they hoped was the last time. Not even looking at it, the book flew towards Shiro. With the book safely embraced by his magic, Twilight stepped forward, a leg shakily approaching Link's left hand. “You’re the one of whom the legends of your world speak. But... we've never met any of your kind..."

“Hush,” Shiro suddenly commanded, much to their surprise. The book had been slammed close, floating back to Twilight’s side. He surveyed the area, raising the lance. There was an unnerving stillness as they tried to follow his gaze, which somehow always ended up directed straight up.

Crack.

At the dome.

Crack.

INCOMING!!” No sooner did the momentous holler reach their ears than the ceiling shattered into millions of glass shards that rained down upon them. The frigid gale that cradled them swept away the tomes on the ground and shoved the gargantuan bookshelves in all sorts of directions.

While Twilight had taken cover on the ground by covering her head with her forelegs, Link had jumped to her side and hoisted his shield above their heads. The piece of armor successfully guarded both from the downpour, a feat that genuinely impressed the stallion. He couldn't admire the boy's skills for long, as avoiding injuries in the labyrinth of collapsing walls kept him busy.

A thick haze descended upon them, and one by one, the fine stained glass portraits on the walls all around burst into fragments, further supplying the already dim library with another layer of smoke. Encased in mist, the three occupants of the library moved together. They couldn't see anything past an arm's length.

“Miss Sparkle! Hylian!” Shiro’s voice continuously cried out as the archives fell apart like a row of dominoes triggered by the wind. Link did respond with shouts of his own, but all seemed to fall on deaf ears as the calls did not stop.

And then that sound. A sound he thought he would never have to hear again after facing the living horror that was the cursed Shadow Temple of Hyrule. The hum of the wind whistling through the very cracks of this monster's claws as it descended upon its victims.

The swift motion of drawing the blade of the Kokiri and thrusting at the creature above had been enough to save both their lives. There was a disgusting sound of steel piercing flesh, and a gigantic, dismembered hand fell out of the shadows. It clenched its fingers and exploded in a cloud of darkness before even hitting the ground.

“W-What… what was that?!” the pony quickly asked, barely having had time to see what the fiend had been.

Wallmasters, the boy remarked in his thoughts. The excruciating howl of yet another monster resonated across the wing, tangled with the grunts of a struggling stallion, himself engaged in a battle somewhere in the haze. He couldn’t bear to imagine what something like Ganon’s army would do to a place such as this after witnessing the disasters in Hyrule.

“Hylian!” Twilight’s cry hauled him back to reality, confronting him with the sight of a mare who anxiously overturned piles of books. “The book! I can’t find it! It was here just now a-and now it’s gone!”

Forget the book! We need to go! he hoped to say as he grabbed one of her forelegs and pulled. She offered a surprising amount of resistance.

“No! We need it!” she insisted, eventually exerting enough strength to force the boy’s hand loose. She dove back into the mound, just in time for Link to dodge a stray book that zoomed out of the mist and right past his head. A second one collided against his shield, and a spectral figure lounged at him soon after.

Despite its ghostly appearance, the weapons it used to attack were very solid. Strikes landed uninterruptedly on Link's shield with the precision of a trained combatant. The boy waited for the rhythmical assault to lose its tempo before pushing its foe back and plunging his sword forward. He just caught a glimpse of the plated ghost when its spirit emptied the metallic shell.

It was a pony that carried a lantern.

A pony… Poe?

They were regular fiends in his nemesis’s army. Poes were ghostlike beings, for sure, but roughly resembled the owners of the souls that had been heavily corrupted by evil. He had fought a great number of these in his treks through a Hyrulean graveyard, and all of them had resembled humans.

This fiend had been a pony.

But Ganondorf was never here…

“I found it! I found it! I found it!” Twilight cried in joy, merrily hopping out of the mountain of tomes. A hardcover book levitated by her side, wrapped in a translucent lavender casing.

“HYLIAAAaaan!” The shrill noise that caught their attention was followed by a sickening crunch, and something slumped to the floor.

“Captain!” Twilight’s called as they ventured into the fog.

The magnitude of the disaster only now struck them. Whatever the archives were prior to the attack, they were not now. Wherever shadows did not roam, ruined books lay open and honorable statues rested in humiliating shams of their former state. Everywhere, loose pages fluttered in a windy cradle, sharp splinters of wood mingled with jagged glass shards across the floor, and chaos reigned beyond what they could see of the fog. The constant suffering of the relics was like a nightmare for the librarian pony.

Something rolled to their feet. Both of them looked away instantly, in the event that it was what they feared.

The inevitability of the situation ended up conquering their disgust. There was no bleeding limb at their feet, much to their relief. Instead, it was the decapitated head of an ancient investigator’s sculpture. They could see the statue it belonged to up ahead. One of its sides bore scorch marks, while a crack dug through its underside and surfaced on its back.

The unending grumbles of a warrior ahead gave them a new direction to follow. Just ahead, they were met with the shadows of an army that rained upon a spear-wielding pony, each of their strikes foiled by a secure flail of the weapon.

“White Castle!”

“Stay back!” he bellowed instantly, the moment of distraction costing him the ambush of an enemy.

Twilight flinched, uncertainty and panic taking over her mind. They saw only shadows, cast by the moonlight that shone in from a close-by window. She was sure that the guard was not unharmed, and just imagining a pony so roughed up and heavily bruised and yet under the constant assault of the monsters brought tears to her tired eyes.

“You’re close to the door! I’ll hold them back, but you two need to get out of here NOW!!”

“But-”

“No more objections, Miss Sparkle! We should never have come here in the first place!” The resonant crunch and the scream of agony were felt as though it was their own. “G-GO!”

The tug on her mane indicated that the Hylian was leaving towards what he believed was the right direction, but her legs refused to move.

“W-We can’t leave him here! H-He’ll…”

“HYLIAN!” the words of the pony palpably reflected his exhaustion, the voice but an echo as boy and unicorn ran away. “PROTECT… HER!”

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The mere sight of the castle halls was heart-wrenching for the young mare and the boy that rode on her back, sturdily grasping her mane as they galloped across ruined passageways, the colorful fragments of the stained window portraits high above shattering beneath her hooves at every step. Now and then, a tremor would nearly shake the twosome’s balance, but they would struggle forth while the night grew darker and darker, the flames of the torches that decorated the walls appearing to be the dimmest lights in the world before such dense gloominess. A pleading scream would occasionally haunt their journey, but even when faced with that dreadful spectacle, the Hylian’s expression remained impassive.

Not far ahead, the cracked pavement ended abruptly, proximity revealing that a set of stairs was beyond it, a course made hazardous by the plentiful rubble that fell from above; Twilight recognized the wreckage as the remains of the magnificent stair rails as the ones placed directly at the entrance to the Canterlot Castle, the only thing between freedom and them being the entrance plaza in front of the immense castle doors.

“I can see the exit!” she called out to the boy, who had bent his head towards her neck by instinct; she, too, mimicked his gesture, clearing the staircase in the blink of an eye. She could feel the exhilaration of victory; she could almost taste the freedom that waited beyond those nearly closed doors…

…closing doors?

The unexpectedness of her shrieking halt almost brought Link tumbling to the ground; the doors had closed before them. Her eyes shifted from one side to the other; she knew the castle like the underside of her hoof. Their only opportunity had been exhausted.

“Going so soon?”

That voice… you can feel the evil that it irradiates those who listen with…

Though she didn’t want to, she knew she had to turn around and face the towering cloaked figure that stood at the end of the steps, the same indigo aura she so feared exuding from the bleakness of its entire body and nearly cloaking the two lofty stained glass windows her sovereigns were so proud of for bearing their image.

“I-I’m not afraid of you this time!” Celestia knows I’m wrong…

It seemed to stiffen a laugh as it walked forward.

“And why would you not fear me, little pony?”

“B-Because…” she gulped. “I have the hero with me!”

The wheels in the creature’s brain began to turn at that moment. The most unfitting expression fell upon his features - curiosity – when it tilted its head slightly to the side and his eyes widened in complete disbelief.

“Y-You?”

“It’s your chance now, Hylian!” the unicorn said, but the boy numbly climbed off her back, the violent shivering of his body beginning to infect her. “H-Hylian?”

“T-The child!”

“Destroy it! Destroy the unicorn!” Ganondorf suddenly blurted out. The change in tone was so drastic it startled Twilight and Link. “It is but a foal! It cannot hurt you!”

“But he bears the Triforce! The Master Sword!”

The furious tone returned. “It carries no weapon that may harm you, Ganondorf! Slay the creature!”

The shock in Twilight’s face could only be compared to that of the demon as realization struck them both. The pair of gazes fell onto the boy’s back, and onto the simple, handmade scabbard that he carried.

Two swords were unsheathed.

“H-Hylian?” the mare stuttered, watching the armed boy approach its rival.

“She speaks the truth then,” the bigger creature bellowed. “You are but a child, Hero of Time.”

“I've faced you once already,” the young swordsman serenely replied. “Age doesn’t define a hero.”

Ganondorf’s head raised slightly in contemplation.

“No… it does not.” No further words were uttered as the thief leaped forth and deftly swung his weapon. It ricocheted back as it impacted Link's shield. Taking the brief moment of weakness for his advantage, the Kokiri Sword sliced through the air…

…and did not even scratch the demon’s hide.

“It appears, however, that the blade you wield does.”

It was not a weapon that struck the boy, but a powerful kick of the man’s monstrous legs aimed at his chest. The excruciating blow threw Link across the lobby, robbing a gasp from Twilight as he fell at her hooves. The Kokiri Sword had flown out of his hands to parts unknown.

That was the least of their problems. Their real threat approached in slow and short steps, baring its sword at them.

“And now, Hero of Time… you meet your demise.”

Sparing no time, Ganondorf soared across the air towards the boy’s lying body. In that short instant of flight, the derelict lobby was filled with the scent of brimstone. An obfuscating explosion of light ensued before his sword met not any part of the heroic boy’s corpse, but the dusty velvet carpet beneath his feet.

“She is not a foal, Ganondorf…” the booming voice erupted from the man’s throat. "She is well capable of escaping."

“Do not fret,” he said, drawing his sword from the ground. “It is the way you spoke. Without the blade of evil’s bane… the Hero of Time is a farce. A hurdle we shall cross… together.”

With the satisfactory sound of the sword slipping back to the comfort of its scabbard, the man turned, cape fluttering at the wind’s mercy. There was much to do.

"You may do what you will with the unicorn," he spoke, flashing a toothy grin. "But getting the boy… Link… is a pleasure I will reserve for myself…"