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Among the Ashes
Chapter 17
Part 2

Through the darkness of the forest Marth could see Zelda, huddled under her cloak with rain pouring down over her. He hesitated only a moment before he sighed, then set off in her direction.

Marth’s slogging footsteps resounded loudly even through the rain, but Zelda did not move as he drew near. She didn’t even appear to be breathing. Under the pale light her skin appeared as white and cold as marble. With her head bowed as though in supplication, she sat; a broken, crumbling statue of grace. Even the silent tears flowing from her blank eyes looked like nothing more than raindrops running down a lifeless face of stone.

Marth stopped, just close enough to be sure she could hear, and then spoke in a calm, emotionless voice. “The shelter is up.”

The stone princess gave no indication she had heard, but for the slight tightening of her clawed grip on her cloak.

“Elice is inside. I’m going to get firewood.”

No sooner had the words left his mouth than he started away from her.

Only Zelda’s eyes gave any indication of life. She blinked, and glanced fleetingly as he disappeared into the darkness. Only once she had made certain he was gone did Zelda get to her feet.

She made her way to the edge of the shelter like a beggar searching for refuge. Timidly, she raised the flap of the tarp and peered inside, scanning for him. A slight sigh of relief flowed out of her lips, and she stole under the cover of the rocky overhang. Her eyes stayed fixed on Elice, though she made no sign that she noticed Zelda’s presence.

Without a word Zelda took her place in the furthest corner of the shelter and she sat, drawn up, trying to calm her own shivering.

The wind rattled through the small gap between the tarp and the rock wall, making the canvas dance and sway. Each time it retreated from the wall she would hold her breath, waiting for Marth’s shadow to reappear. She waited… and waited, growing more agitated by the second.

The thoughts she had long kept at bay began creeping back into her mind. Like a binding cord, Marth’s words wound their way around her conscious, holding her hostage. She could not escape them any more than she could escape the cold air that bit at her skin and burned in her lungs with every breath she took.

She knew far too much now to go back, and yet she knew nothing. The shame she felt, the anguish, the soul-exposing reality of his words could not compare with her burning desire to learn the truth. Despite what it may do to her, what unforeseen pain it might cause, she had to know.

“Elice,” Zelda’s voice squeaked out in little more than a croaky whisper. Elice did not move. “Elice… please,” Zelda went on. “Tell me.”

“Tell you?” Elice spoke with her head still buried in her arms. She raised her head slowly, and the cold, ruthless accusation in her eyes turned Zelda’s veins to ice. “Tell you?”  she growled from the pit of her throat.

Zelda recoiled slightly, immediately rethinking her request.

“I’ll tell you.” The corners of Elice’s eyes twitched.

“When I found him under that pile of rubble… I could barely tell what I was looking at. With his head smashed in, his arm nearly ripped off, bits of his flesh torn away - bleeding from nearly every inch of his body. I’ve never see so much blood.”

Elice paused and Zelda felt her own blood run cold.

“I can only imagine what he went through… what Ganon must have done to him - crushed him under a mountain of rock. I didn’t see it, but I always knew he did it for you.”

Zelda could hear the accusation in Elice’s voice, the hint of resentment she had never before encountered from her friend.

“He stood between you and that monster. He saved your life. He died trying to protect you, to undo his mistakes – ”

A fresh ripple of guilt washed over Zelda.

“But he,” Zelda broke in, unaware until now that her tears had returned with renewed fury.

I know what he did! ”  Elice screamed madly. Her voice reverberated off the rock wall, and once it faded left them in such silence they could nearly hear each other’s heart beats.

“Don’t you think I know?” her voice lowered to an intense whisper. “I was there, Zelda, through everything – through much more than you! You weren’t there when I found his body. You weren’t there when I sat, covered in my brother’s blood, knowing he had died for you.”

The harsh truth sent a chill up Zelda’s spine, and she waiting, knowing that Elice had not finished yet.

“You weren’t there when I brought him back to life,” Elice whispered, suddenly overcome with emotions. “It almost killed me, Zelda.”

Elice began to cry again, and Zelda wished she would go back to shouting. Anything would be better than witnessing Elice lose control once more. Zelda’s mind circled, looking for an out, for some way to explain it away but she knew she could not. Link, Marth, Elice… who else could she hurt? How many people had to pay for her mistakes with their blood?


Shame beyond tears crept over Zelda. She sat in silence wishing she could cease to exist.

“I almost died trying to bring him back,” Elice went on, “to give him another chance, and all you’ve done since you returned is try to undermine him, what he’s done and what I tried to do.”

“I - ” Zelda stuttered. Her voice cracked and she took a sharp, shallow breath. “I didn’t know…” she whispered tearfully. “How could I have known?”

“You don’t know a lot of things!” Elice shouted.

Zelda could not escape the condemnation of Elice’s narrowed, blue eyes.

“You said you know who he is – that is who he is. That’s the brother I know. The Marth you know, the person he was when he was with you, the one you haven’t seen for six years, that’s not my brother. His love for you – what it did to him, it’s not your fault, Zelda, I know that,” Elice interrupted her own words as Zelda dropped her jaw once more to speak. “But what it did to him… it changed him into a man I don’t know. But that man died the day you left Aritia, and he has spent every moment of his life since then trying to fix it.

“But you won’t let him.”

Zelda lowered her eyes to the floor in an attempt to escape the truth, but it rang clearly in her ears.

“Marth’s been willing to face his mistakes,” Elice charged forward, “but you won’t. You’d rather pretend and lie to yourself and let him take all the blame.

“And he does! He’s blamed himself for everything, and you let him take the fall. You’ve never admitted your hand in this. You never had to,” she added cuttingly. “Link showed up to save you and you’ve hidden behind him ever since, refusing to see the truth. Thanks to Link you haven’t had to deal with anything!”

A painful lump burned Zelda’s throat. She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing could come out. What could she possibly say?

“But what about Marth? He had no one to lean on, no one to take his guilt away. Who could he hide behind? No one! He’s done it all on his own, taking responsibility for everything. And what have you done? Blamed him – blamed him for everything! As though he had bewitched you – like he forced you! But, we both know that isn’t true.”

Zelda’s head snapped up and she watched Elice closely with wide, terrified eyes.

“Did my brother force you go come to Aritia?”

Zelda wet her dry lips and managed to whisper, “No.”

“Did he force you to stay?” Elice demanded more loudly.

“No!” Zelda replied. Heat rose to her cheeks and every inch of her body shivered uncontrollably.

Elice lowered her head, showing no hesitation.

“Did you love my brother?”

Zelda clenched her jaw and tightened her fists, breathing much faster than normal.

“I saw it, Zelda,” Elice accused, her voice steadily rising.

Zelda swallowed with difficulty, feeling her heart racing painfully in her chest.

“Stop lying!” Elice thundered. “Stop lying to me, to him, to yourself - just tell me the truth! Did you love Marth or not?!”

“Yes!” Zelda exploded. “I did! I did love him! I loved him!

Before the words left her mouth Zelda was sobbing uninhibitedly, but the cry lodged violently in her throat and for a moment she thought her heart had burst.

There Marth stood, froze in place with the tarp half pulled back, and clutched in the white knuckles of his fist. The firewood he had collected lay scattered in the mud at his feet, completely forgotten. He stood, still half-exposed to the rain, with his eyes fixed on Zelda in shock.

Zelda looked away, and stared pointedly at the ground. The color continued to rise in her cheeks, burning her skin as another body-quaking sob ran through her.

“Look at you two,” Elice seethed, glancing from Marth to Zelda. “Look at what you’ve done to each other – you’ve twisted each other up in knots so badly you can’t get free. You can’t even recognize yourselves anymore! You’re both wrapped up in lies and pain and hate – just look at what you’re doing to yourselves!

“I’m tired of being in the middle of this.” Elice jumped to her feet. “You two have got to stop it! I’m done with both of you! You have to deal with this – right now!”

Elice stormed past her brother, threw back the tarp and stomped out into the rain. A gush of cold air shot through the shelter before the canvas settled back into place, leaving Zelda and Marth alone in the darkness.

Excruciating silence hovered between them. Neither moved a muscle. Neither spoke a word. Zelda could feel his eyes on her. When she glanced up fleetingly to confirm that suspicion, her stomach flipped uncomfortably.

It had been years since they had been alone together, but she could still remember every detail. She knew it, had memorized it, the last day they had spent together: the morning before the War that had changed the course of her life. Every detail still clung desperately to her mind. Each word he had whispered in her ear as he ran his fingers through her hair, the promises he had made of their life together, his assurances that he would not let any harm come to her, that he would protect her, that he loved her. That he would die for her.

He had kept that promise….

Zelda shut her eyes and let herself cry, not caring that he still stood there, watching her. Convulsive cries of painful shame rushed through her, and she had no desire to hide them from him.

He stared in silence while she wept. His eyes never left her, though the pure sense of shock on his face slowly melted away. Now, he looked down in her uncomfortably, helpless in the face of her sudden remorse. Still, he refused to say anything. He had nothing to say.

When at last Zelda raised her head she didn’t bother to wipe away her tears.

“Why?” she whispered. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

Marth sighed.

“What good would it have done?” he asked with a futile shake of his head. “What would it have changed?”

“I would have known the truth…” she replied, looking up at him. “I would have known what you did…”

“Why do you care?” he asked in disgust. “What could it possibly matter to you?”

“Because I do care!” Zelda got to her feet. “I did…”

“So you admit it now, after all these years?” the irritation in Marth’s tone rose to a new height. “How many times did I tell you I loved you and you said nothing in return? And now you decide to say it? What am I supposed to do with that?” he threw his hands up. “What can I do? Nothing! It’s meaningless. I don’t care anymore! I do – not – love you.” He punched every word with pounding emphasis.

“You can’t...” she begged through her tears and took a quivering breath. “You can’t say that!”

“It’s the truth!” he replied loudly, then his voice fell. “And I’ve finally accepted it. I’m tired of wasting my life. It’s pointless to love a woman who belongs to someone else, a woman who hates you – ”

“I don’t hate you!” She shook her head frantically.

“What do you call it then, Zelda, when you don’t even give a - ” he swore in exasperation, “ – whether I live or die!”

“That’s not true!” she denied fervently with tears spilling over her eyes.

The night grew quiet once more but for the wind and the rain whipping at the tarp, and the sound of Zelda’s crying.

“Stop it,” he ordered firmly, with obvious aggravation. “Just stop. Why are you doing this to me?” he asked in a low voice. “I’ve let go. It’s over. I don’t need to hold onto this anymore.”

“I do!” Zelda exclaimed. “I have to hold on…” she trailed off, drowning once more in her tears.

Before she had time to look up he had closed the distance between them. His hands gripped her forearms tightly, locking her in place. He took hold of her with such force her body went limp in his arms and her head rolled back helplessly. She stared up at him with fresh tears welling in her tormented eyes. The pain he found in their depths only made him angrier, only kindled the overwhelming frustration in his body to an entirely new level of intensity.

“What do you want from me?” he half-growled in the back of his throat. He didn’t want to see pain there. Weakness, hurt, longing… it had to be his imagination, and he hated himself for it. His grip on her arms tightened and he could no longer control himself. He held onto her and he shook her in a desperate attempt to cease her crying, to wake himself from this nightmare.

“Why are you doing this?” He could barely keep his voice from quaking as he shouted in her face, “What do you care!?

“I care because I loved you,” she screamed right back. “I still love you!”

The stone walls seemed to shrink all around them as they froze. His hands still clasped her arms. She still hung limply under his power. Darkness closed in, wrapping them up in a thick shroud, blocking out everything but each other.

Zelda couldn’t feel the cold any longer, only the warmth of his hands on her skin. The pounding of the rain had been replaced by the beating of her heart, and his… so close. Close enough to see every drop of water shimmering on his face, and dripping from his hair, down his skin to his body. His wet tunic clung to his chest, outlining the curves of his muscles… close enough to touch.

He blinked his eyes, and she caught a hint of light reflecting in their dark, piercing depths, the first thing she had ever noticed about him. Eyes that had drawn her in almost instantly. Her gaze slid down his face, falling on his lips. Her heart went mad.

Memories flooded her mind, washing over her, sweeping her helplessly away in the current. She could still remember how he tasted, the sensation of his mouth on hers, their lips moving together. His hands holding her close. Firm. Confident. Still holding her, even now.

His fingers clenched tighter. Touching her….

Zelda shut her eyes, with her head tipped back.

Marth’s grip loosened. He flexed his fingers then clenched his fists. One boot left the ground, stepped back, and fell. Another step. Her warmth slipped from his grasp, and he turned away. He shut his eyes and fled out into the rain.

Zelda blinked once, opened her eyes, and found herself alone. All breath escaped her as blood pounded through her body. She couldn’t think, couldn’t stop the spinning in her mind.

She took a step back, shaking her head with wide, terrified eyes. Once more she backed up in frantic retreat until she slammed against the rock wall, trapped in the darkness with herself. And him.

He wouldn’t leave. Nothing she did could expel him from her mind. She could still see it; images of herself wrapped in his arms, touching him, kissing him, holding him. Lips moved, hands caressed, entwined in such a blur she could not distinguish one from the other.

No longer memories from the past. She had never, ever kissed him like that, but now she couldn’t help but imagine….

Surely she wouldn’t have. Surely she would have stopped him! She didn’t want this – didn’t want him.

She shut her eyes, but she couldn’t escape him. Couldn’t escape the desire, the knowledge of what she had wanted to happen. What he hadn’t let happen.

But she knew. She knew if he had kissed her, if he had given in…

He was kissing her, again and again. He wouldn’t stop and she didn’t stop him.

She would have let him.

She had wanted him to.

And part of her still wished he had.

A strangled gasp of anguish caught in her chest, but no sound came out. Zelda cringed against the stone and tried to sink into its depths. Emptiness – cold, consuming, damning – sank into the deepest recesses of her soul and she felt suddenly sick. Filth rose up from the ground and blanketed her, seeped into her skin.

More than anything she longed to disappear, to cease to exist, but she could not get away from herself. And still, she was kissing him.


Marth ran out into the rain, and he did not stop. With no concept of a destination he simply kept his legs moving, his only desire to get as far away from dark, suffocating cave as possible. Rain blurred his vision, but he couldn’t concentrate on his surroundings anyway. He just had to move, had to keep his head from spinning.

He ran until his legs gave out and his breath became so short that he couldn’t go on. With his hands on his knees he bent over to steady himself and catch his breath. The rain pounded down on the back of his neck, stirring his thoughts and awakening his mind. But no matter how long he stood, trying to come to grips with the situation it didn’t seem real. It couldn’t be real.


The soft, high voice that sounded behind him sent a jolt up his spine like a lightning. The electricity carried to his feet and he jerked around on the spot and took a few frantic steps backward before he realized who had spoken.

“Elice,” he breathed a sigh of relief and waited for his heart to stop hammering again.

“Marth what’s wrong?” Elice took a step closer, but Marth still backed away. With his eyes wide and his face pale he looked more frightened than she’d ever seen him before.

“What happened?” Elice asked again in growing panic.

Marth opened his mouth but it simply hung there like dead weight. Instead he slowly shook his head.

“What is going on?” Elice pressed. She still stood, hugging herself as though trying to hold herself together. “Why are you running off like this?”

“She can’t be left alone,” he said, half to himself. He blinked and seemed to shake himself back into coherence. “You can’t leave her,” he said to his sister.

“I didn’t leave her,” Elice replied. “You did.”

“Just go back to her, now,” Marth ordered.

“All right,” Elice agreed. “Let’s go back.”

Elice turned to leave, but Marth did not move.

“Marth, come on,” she beckoned.

“No,” he shook his head. “No. You go back.”

“Marth – ”

“Go back. Now.”

The change in his tone brought the tears resting precariously just beneath the surface back to her eyes.

“She needs you,” Marth said quietly. “Just go stay with her.”

Elice nodded silently, hugged her cloak tighter around her arms and set off back towards the cliff side.

Marth watched the dejected little figure vanish in the trees, and he couldn’t help but feel a rush of sorrow. He turned and paced through the trees.

He could still see Zelda, in her fear, her emotions hanging by a thread. And he had left her. He didn’t regret it, he knew he had done the right thing –  but he knew her. He knew how that abandonment would hurt her.

It still seemed impossible, but he had seen it in her eyes – how desperately she had been clinging to – what? The past? Him?

He still couldn’t believe it. How could she have come to this point?

Zelda had surrendered herself to destruction that she would now have to face. How much pain had she just unleashed on herself? And now she was alone, again.

Just like him.


The deafening roar of the rapids filled Manasa’s ears, but nothing could drown out her own horrific thoughts. She crawled to the edge of the river and dipped her shaking hands into the current. The cold liquid prickled against her skin, but she barely noticed. She cupped her hands splashed a handful of water up onto her arms and scrubbed her skin furiously.

She could still feel his mouth choking off her breath, his hands touching her and his tongue running against her skin. It made her physically ill. A gag caught in her throat.

Quaking, shivering, blinded by pain, Manasa waded out into the shallows until the water ran up to her waist. The current pounded against her skin, washing blood away from the stinging cuts and scrapes. But the longer she washed the dirtier she felt.

She dipped her head under the surface, trying to clean her face and wash his scent from her hair. Her bruises throbbed beneath the pressure of the water and her own scrubbing hands, but she didn’t care. The cold rush of the river numbed the pain that pulsated over her body, but nothing could reach the source.

Nothing would cleanse her from within. Nothing could wash away the filth that contaminated her soul.

Manasa jumped, thinking she heard something near the shore. Her heart leapt painfully. Navarre!  She didn’t even take the time to look before she vanished from the water.

Her feet hit solid ground and she tried to run, but her knees buckled. Another stinging jolt of pain shot through her when she fell.

Manasa vanished and felt the instant, fleeting release of weightless, non-existence that would leave her utterly exposed to his eyes. Each time she hit solid ground her heart would stop, when she faced the fear that he would already be there, waiting for her.

The soft sand disappeared from beneath her and she rematerialized on the end of the cliff high above. She caught a fleeting glance of the sharp drop dangerously close to her feet, and she took off again.

Throw him off the trail. Just keep going. Get away, before he wakes up. Before he can see.

Her body took solid form and her boots touched down on soft, leaf-covered soil beneath a thick canopy of leaves. And the pain returned.

Manasa staggered forward, but it hurt too much to go on. She tried to catch her breath and still her shaking body, but the moment her eyes opened the shadows of the trees fell over her and panic pierced her heart once more. He could be anywhere, lurking in the darkness. Still watching.

She had to get farther away. As far away as possible. She took off again, teleporting in rapid succession. Each landing rattled through her body with increasing agony until it reduced her to landing on her knees.

Unable to go any further, she leaned against the trunk of a tree for strength and bowed her head against her arm.

Maybe it killed him.

I hope it did…

No, no.

I hit him right in the neck. Three of them. That has to be enough. Even he can’t survive that? Can he?

Of course he can. Nothing can stop him.

And now he’s mad. More than ever. I’ve never… I hit him. I tried to kill him. He knows. He knows everything. He’ll never let it go now.

I ruined it. I ruined it all!

If they don’t kill me now he will.

No, he won’t kill me.

He’ll – he’ll…

I can’t do this again. Please, not again. I can’t.

I can’t!

I’d rather die.

Then she heard it. The unmistakable sound of bootfalls, drawing nearer. She froze.

He was there. So close now that she couldn’t possibly get away. If she teleported he would sense it instantly, and before she even materialized he would have her once more. The blood drained from her face and she slid to the ground. She drew her coal black cloak around her and curled up so tightly that she nearly vanished from sight. The footsteps drew closer and closer, but she couldn’t run anymore.

A heavy footfall on the other side of the tree sent a tremor through the ground and up her already quivering body. Her heart stopped beating, though blood pulsed in her temples with enough force to burst her head open. She didn’t dare breathe as she waited for the shadow of death to fall on her once more. End it all, this time. But the footsteps moved on, walked right past her, and kept on going.

Manasa’s heartbeat gradually fell back down into her chest, but she still could not breathe. She waited a moment, just to be sure, as the now-faint sound of footsteps faded away. Slowly, she turned her neck, twisted her shoulders and peered around the massive trunk.

A flash of blue retreating into the darkness sent her heart back into her throat. She could recognize him from here, a ghost returned to flesh before her eyes, but she couldn’t believe he was real.

Her hands gripped the bark of the tree in an attempt to restrain herself from reaching out to touch him – just to make sure.

But the footsteps were drawing nearer again.

She lurched back behind the tree, keeping herself hidden.

I can’t let him see me like this.

Manasa didn’t even breathe as Marth circled around and paced past the tree again.

He can’t know.

I can’t let him see me.




Marth circled by once more. Even in his obvious turmoil, his composure held steady.




Manasa ran her nails up and down her arm, as though trying to scratch off an invisible scab.

What he did… but it’s my fault anyway.

It was just stupid, stupid to think I could get away. Like he would just disappear and leave me alone.

I thought I could make it go away.


What does it matter, anyway? It’s too late.

Nothing’s going to change.

But I don’t want to do this again.

I can’t.

Please, not again….

He walked right by, following his beaten path through the trees. His thoughts circled in his head just as he wound his way through the trees, always ending up in the same spot.

But you are alone! You’ll always be alone. You’re going to die alone and miserable because you don’t care, you can’t care about anyone or anything but yourself!

The patter of the rain on the earth around him faded as the wind carried the memory of Zelda’s voice to his ears.

He couldn’t help but wonder if this was it.

Maybe she was right. He had never really loved anyone other than her, but his love for her had died. Letting that go left a hole inside of him that he didn’t know how to fix.

Maybe nothing would ever fill it.

Maybe he would never be whole again.

You gave it up, and you can’t get it back. You don’t deserve it.

And he never would.

It bothers you that I’ve moved on and you can’t.

A burst of shock ran through Marth’s body as he realized the truth that turned the world upside down. He had let go, and that terrified her. But for years she had clung to the idea that he would always be there, no matter what she did.

A lie.

She hadn’t moved on. She had never let go.

I have to hold on…

He could still hear the distress behind that admission, as though she had never even realized it herself.

She had fooled herself. She had fooled them all.

His own cutting words resounded in his memory.

I know what you are, Zelda. You’re a small, selfish, manipulative woman who’ll do anything to stop anyone from seeing the truth. You hide it well. I’ll bet Link doesn’t even know.

Those words, the accusation that had made her lose control. He could see her pain, as though he physically struck her, could almost hear her tears on the wind.

How? How had it come to this?

Marth slowed to a stop as his thoughts swirled into a raging storm.

How had he come to find himself standing in the rain, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night?

Zelda couldn’t be left alone, neither could Elice. He thought of his sister, of her heartbroken state. He could do nothing to ease her pain.


Marth’s heart clenched, and he started pacing again. Manasa’s beat in time.

I left him in the cave. All alone... what if he stops breathing again?

Marth shook his head. He couldn’t have survived that. I saw him…. How could he?

My best friend…

I can’t handle that now. Not now. Not ever.

Marth shut his eyes and ran his hand back through his hair in agitation, trying to push the thoughts back but they rolled forward in spite of him.


What will she do?

I sent her away.


He stopped mid-step and changed direction, but his thoughts followed him.

How can I help her through this? It’ll kill her.

Not again. She can’t lose someone again. Please…

What if she needs me? I can’t help her now. I can’t go to her.

I can’t go back, I know that much.

Manasa bowed her head and pressed her fingers to her temples.

I can’t go back now. I can’t go out there alone again… he’ll find me. He’ll see me.

Marth sighed.

I can’t face Zelda again.

His heart started to race out of control.

What if… What if Link didn’t survive?

What if he did?

Manasa’s eyes flew open in horror.

But Link told me to stay there. He told me to take care of him!

I didn’t listen.

He’s going to be mad.

I left. I left… and I can’t go back.

What will he do?

She drew her knees up closer and shivered.

What will he do to me when he finds out….

Marth’s pacing reached a new level of frenzy.

If she tells him…

I can’t do this again! I can’t!

What am I supposed to do?

I can’t go back now… I don’t know what to do.

He put his hand to his forehead again, nearly yanking the hair out by the roots.

I’m supposed to be in charge. I’m supposed to know what I’m doing… but I don’t.

I can’t help them. I can’t help anyone.

I can’t even help myself.

The rhythmic plodding of his footsteps fell silent and Manasa held her breath. The trunk behind her shook as Marth leaned heavily against it. His cloak scratched against the bark as he slid to the ground.

No wonder. I’m not Link, after all.…

A wry smile crossed his lips, mocking his own pain. But the smile wavered, then cracked. Then the tears started to fall.

His gently shaking shoulders sent a shiver through the tree trunk, right through Manasa’s body. Over the wind she could hear his ragged breathing, and every so often a quiet gasp. The lump in her throat swelled and throbbed until she could hold it no more. She felt herself crumble beneath the rain like sand washed away in a storm.

Even as the rains above faded into a gentle trickle, her tears would not stop. The winds carried the storm from overhead, and the air went still and quiet. The last raindrops pattered to the ground, then stopped.

I’ll never be free.

Among the Ashes Chapter 17 Part 2
Hi guys! Wondering what on earth chapter 17 of AtA is doing popping up with a part two in your inbox at this point!? Well, when DA updates things sometimes it screws with the ability to view older postings, which apparently has been happening with chapter 17. Sorry for everyone who commented about it over the last... really long while :( I figured out the issue, it was too long so I had to split the post into 2 parts. So, here is part 2! Hope everyone working their way through AtA can see it now :) Thanks guys!
Among the Ashes

Should I let you fall?
Lose it all?
So maybe you can remember yourself
Can't keep believing,
We're only deceiving ourselves
And I'm sick of the lie,
And you're too late

Couldn't take the blame
Sick with shame
Must be exhausting to lose your own game
Selfishly hated,
No wonder you're jaded
You can't play the victim this time,
And you're too late

You never call me when you're sober
You only want it cause it's over,
It's over

How could I have burned paradise?
How could I - you were never mine

So don't cry to me
If you loved me,
You would be here with me
Don't lie to me,
Just get your things
I've made up your mind
~Evanescence “Call me When You’re Sober”

Chapter 17



Raindrops fell, one by one. Beating the rhythm on against Marth’s skin. Steady. Ceaseless. Maddening.



You are alone.


You’ll always be alone.

And you’re going to die, miserable.

And alone.


All alone.


Marth grasped the end of the rope in his hand tighter, looped it once and pulled it taut.

This is your punishment. Your personal Hell on earth. What you deserve.

This is what you did to yourself.

Another loop. Tighten it. Tie a knot.

What did you expect? Forgiveness? Redemption?

That you could change?

I can.




A liar.

A thief.

Not anymore.

You’re still the same.

I can change.

They won’t let you. She won’t let you.

I have changed!

What good is it, if no one cares?

I care.

You don’t care about anything. You aren’t capable of caring.

I care!

Marth wrenched the rope so violently it burned the skin from the palms of his hand.

Only for yourself.

That’s not true.

No one else.

I know that’s not true.

Zelda knows it’s true.

Malon knows.

Malon knew.

She knew you never really loved her.

I did.

Not the way she loved you.

Marth’s heart clenched with guilt.

You can’t care.

Can’t love.

Shut up.

You are alone.

I don’t have to be.

And miserable.


You’ll always be alone.


And you’re going to die.






“What!?” Marth shouted and whirled on the spot.

The pounding thoughts in his head sunk quietly into the back of his mind, fading into the rain.

Elice stood, red-eyed and shivering at the entrance of the makeshift shelter along the ledge of the cliff. The canvas tarp swayed in the breeze, and a few drops of icy water ran down his hot, sweaty face. He took a deep breath, and closed his eyes.

“What?” he strained calm his voice, but the tension still seeped through.

“She shouldn’t have said that,” Elice said hoarsely.

Marth turned away from her and went back to securing the tarp.

“She was wrong.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell her?”

“When would I have ever had the chance?” His voice rose slightly in temper and he jerked on the rope in his hands with unnecessary force.

“You should have told her years ago.”

“What good would it have done?” He turned so sharply that his long, dripping hair whipped across his forehead, then lay plastered against his skin. “I’m not telling her because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change anything! It doesn’t matter!”

“It matters to me,” she whispered through her tears.

Marth’s eyes softened as his little sister hugged herself tighter.

“Come here.” Marth drew Elice under the cover of the ledge and put his arms around her.

“I’m so scared,” she wept onto his shoulder. “I want him back… I just want him back.”

“We’ll find him,” he assured her, fighting to keep his own voice steady. “We won’t give up.”

Marth held his sister while she cried, though her trembling only worsened.

“You’re going to freeze,” he said worriedly, putting his hands on her shoulders. “You stay here and warm up. I’ll try to start a fire, all right?”

Marth turned back to the fluttering flap of the shelter, pulled it back and stepped back out into the downpour. Once again the rain kept time, beating down on his head. Each steady pulse drew back the thoughts he had fought to push back.




A drop of water slid down the tip of a stalactite hanging from the ceiling of the cave, clung to the rock momentarily, then lost its hold. It splashed onto the back of Ciara’s neck, making her shiver. She curled her legs up closer to her body and leaned towards to the warmth of the fire for comfort. The rain and wind continued to rage outside the cave with no sign of respite.

Ciara tried to sleep, but despite the exhausting events of the day her body would not shut down. She had been sitting awake and alone, in silence for hours. With nothing but the crackling of the fire to keep her company, she couldn’t keep her mind from wandering amidst the many terrors that crouched in the shadows around her. Darkness lingered near the opening of the cave like a fog, waiting for a chance to creep in and snuff out the light, her only source of protection.

While part of her wished Link hadn’t left her all alone, she couldn’t help but feel slightly relieved. The unpredictable monster who had unleashed itself before her eyes seemed to have vanished. But she knew it couldn’t be lurking too far below the surface.

The flames burst in a sudden uproar, sending up a fountain of sparks into the air. The brittle wood fractured under the intense heat, snapping down the middle.

Crack. Like a bone. Shattered. Broken.

The sound shot through Ciara and her heart lodged in her throat. She jumped back, and stayed pressed against the wall, waiting for her heart to stop hammering.

The wood settled and the flames returned to dancing on the walls, like the memories flickering in her mind. Bones smashed with deafening crunches.

She could still hear it.

She could still see it.

She could still feel it.

The darkness pressed against the cave.

Ciara bowed her head and shut her eyes, but the darkness followed. The face still loomed there, watching her. Waiting. He had seen her. He knew. His eyes fixed on her, watching through the flames.

Even the darkness could not hide her. Nothing could silence the sound of fists beating against flesh. Nothing would stop him. Nothing could satiate his hunger. Not even the sounds of her screams could reach him in his madness, in his thirst for blood.

A low whimper of anguish rose through the shadows. Ciara cringed away from it, but it would not stop. She blinked against the firelight, but the pitiable cry continued. She raised her head slowly to see Roy, in semiconscious agony, laying at her feet. He moaned again – the broken sound of a pain she knew all too well.

Ciara withdrew from the wall and nervously lifted Roy’s head to her knees. She brought the water to his lips and let it run down into his mouth. This time she could see his throat working, gulping down the water under his own power until the very last drop. Still, his lips sought for moisture.

Ciara placed the pouch on the ground and slipped her hands under his neck to remove him from her lap. The scorching heat of his skin seemed to be fading slowly away, but it was no less disconcerting. Her hands cupped his head, but as she slid him away from her he groaned once more, almost inaudibly.

His lips quivered and she heard him whisper something, and she leaned in closer in an attempt to understand.

“Elice,” the word barely slipped from his mouth before he gave shuddering cough, then gasped painfully for breath.

Ciara stared down at him for a moment before she slid out from under his neck and returned him to the floor. The jostling movement agitated him once more, and he knitted his eyebrows in pain.

Reluctantly, she picked up the empty water pouch and peered out into the darkness. As much as she hated being alone, trapped inside the damp confines of the cave, the thought of being alone and exposed in the wide open spaces of the beach made her quiver.

“Elice,” he pleaded again.

Ciara shut her eyes and sighed, knowing she could not escape the night. With trembling fingers she raised her hood over her head and took a step towards the opening of the cave. The wind rushed past and a few icy drops of rain snuck in to chill her skin. Though she continued to quake inside, she resigned herself to the inevitability of her fear.

Sparing Roy one final glance, Ciara plunged forward, surrendering herself to the darkness.

She moved across the pebbled beach as fast as the rugged terrain would allow. Here and there she had to slow down to pick her way through the jagged boulders that lay strewn between the cliff side and the rushing river.

Every few steps she would throw a fearful glance over her shoulder. Her ears strained to hear even the slightest hint of sound, though the crashing of the rapids made it nearly impossible. The thick curtain of rain and the moonless night were both a protection and a threat. She could see nothing, and she knew she would be nearly invisible as well. But nearly might not be enough.

Her eyes continued to search for any signs of life as she struggled over the rocks. She hopped up onto a flat faced boulder, hoping for a better vantage point, but hit a wet, slimy patch. Instantly her feet went out from under her and she threw her arms out to catch herself. Her knees hit first, then her hands. The sharp-toothed rocks sank into her skin and she stifled a cry of pain.

Instantly she jerked her head up and twisted her neck in every direction, cursing herself for not controlling her voice. A gust of wind turned the rain sideways, pelting her in the face. Squinting against the stinging droplets, she bowed her head and plunged forward towards the water’s edge.

She dipped the pouch into the flowing waters and waited with bated breath for it to fill. With fingers half-numb from the cold, she fumbled to plug up the bottle and shot to her feet.

A cold, hard prick landed against the soft flesh of her neck. She tried to scream but something clenched around her stomach with such force that it knocked the air from her lungs.

“What is a little snake like you doing out all alone on a night like this?”

His voice, more chilling than the wind, more piercing than the knife at her throat, crawled into her ear and left her frozen in terror. No sound could escape her lips. Her throat tightened and her heart leapt so violently that she jumped along with it. The water pouch slipped from her fingers and bounced onto the ground, spewing its contents out over her feet.

“You thought you could get away?” Navarre brushed the knife up and down against her skin.

“Let me go,” Ciara demanded, unable to mask the fright in her small, quivering voice.

Navarre leaned in closer, until his face lay pressed against her temple. The rough stubble on his chin scratched her cheek, and his hot breath burned against her icy skin.

“Change back,” he ordered.

“I – I don’t – ” she stuttered.

“I know it’s you.” The knife stopped, and he pressed the tip firmly against her skin.

A horrified whimper squeaked in her throat as her body went rigid as stone.

“Change back.” The threat in his voice carried over to the blade in his hand. He pressed harder, penetrating the skin. A drop of crimson appeared, blemishing her alabaster neck. She choked back another scream, slammed her eyes shut. Ciara held her breath in her lungs. And the façade slipped away.

Pale white skin darkened into a creamy brown. The Etrurian Temple Priestess’s flowing tunic melded into the dark, coarse attire of a Sentei. Her curls straightened and fell flat, framing her face. A deep brown, nearly black color emerged from the roots of her hair and spilled down to the ends, like running water. Navarre’s hand followed the flow of change as he ran his fingers from root to tip.

“Now, Manasa,” Navarre purred, “that’s more like it.”

The knife left her throat and clattered to the ground, freeing his hands. They slithered down her shrinking body and finally tightened around her stomach.

“I do like this body so much more.” He pressed himself to the new curves, reveling in the change.

“Stop,” Manasa whispered breathlessly. Her hands constricted at her sides. Nothing to hold on to.

“Mmm.” Navarre reached down to stroke her head lifted a lock of the dark, silken hair. He lifted it to his face and ran it beneath his nostrils, inhaling her scent with a heavy sigh. His fingers loosened and he let the hair tumble back to her head. He reached back down, taking pleasure in the way she shrunk away each time he gathered a fistful and slowly let it loose.

“I should have known you would’ve survived.” He nearly chuckled as he let all but a single strand of hair fall loose. With a sharp jerk he plucked it out by the roots. Manasa’s hand shot up with a twitch of pain, but he caught her wrist and held it still.

He strained closer and lowered his mouth the considerable distance to her shoulder, like a monster crouching to devour its prey. His hand snaked under her tunic and clutched the bare skin of her stomach to pull her around. His lips followed all the way, making their way hungrily to the base of her throat. She closed her eyes again, screaming inside, screaming at him to stop, to let her go, to set her free, but aloud she could barely make a sound. Her throbbing heart pounded against her chest, and his mouth lingered there, just to feel her fear.

“Please,” she begged, loathing the weakness in her voice, a voice she barely recognized. “Not again….”

At her plea his movements intensified. He kissed her neck and pulled her painfully close. His lips bit at her, all the way up her throat to the point of her jaw. He forced her chin up, exposing the bare flesh of her neck as he kissed her relentlessly. Rain poured down on her face as she strained her chin away from him, but there was no escape. He seemed to consume every inch of her, pressed so tightly against her throat she could no longer breathe. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t flee, couldn’t escape his suffocating embrace.

With her face turned to the sky, her eyelids squeezed shut over her burning eyes. A single tear welled in each eye and spilled over. Her throat seemed to swell beneath his touch, closing off under his choking grasp.

Just when she felt she could handle no more, that she would black out from the terror consuming her, he sighed, then straightened. She leaned back in exhaustion, catching her breath, but he took hold again and pressed her face into his chest.

“Not fighting tonight?” He kept hold of her with one arm and returned to petting her head. “You could at least make this interesting for me.”

His hand moved to brush her hair away, exposing her small, half missing ear. “Then again,” he rumbled lowly, leaning in against her again. “We both know what happened the last time you tried to resist me.”

A muscle-clenching sense of revulsion coursed through Manasa’s body as she felt his lips close around her ear. His sharp teeth nibbled the flesh just enough to make her wince. The wetness of his tongue ran along the scarred edges of the skin, from the lobe back to her temple. He stopped, his tongue exploring the empty space where her missing ear should have been. His teeth clenched over the hole, biting down on nothing. The snap of his teeth shivered through every bone in her body.

“Navarre, please,” she panted in fright. “I don’t want any trouble.”

He laughed mirthlessly. “Trouble?” he said as he held her out at arms length to look at her clearly for the first time.

The long, gentle lines of Ciara’s face had melted away, replaced by Manasa’s shorter, more defined features. She now bore high cheekbones, a gently concave nose and a small, pointed chin. Navarre looked down on her. Now, more than ever, she looked like a forlorn child awaiting punishment for some shameful misdeed.

“Trouble is all you want. What do you think you were asking for when you decided to try for a little poetic justice?” He shook his mane of hair and indicated the long, curved, still-healing scar that ran from across his forehead and down over his cheek across his left eye. “I call that asking for trouble, you little b– ” he thrust her away, and she stumbled then fell to the ground, slamming her head against the rock.

Even through the physical pain of her now throbbing skull, the word he used sent a wave of disgrace through Manasa. She struggled to rise from her back, propping herself up on her elbows. He towered over her, lying at his feet, and she narrowed her tear filled eyes and glared up into his face with as much hatred and malice as she could muster.

Navarre glowered down at her. His gleaming red eyes seemed to see past everything, right to the heart of her fear. Baring his unnaturally pointed teeth, he growled in the back of his throat. The carnal gleam in his eyes only increased his resemblance to a wolf in human form that had not quite completed the transformation.

“Where are they?” he asked, cold and menacing.

“I’m alone,” she managed to reply through her furious, terrified shaking.

Now we’re going to play games?” He took a step forward, glaring down at her. “The Hylian and the little human lout, they fell too – where are they?

“Dead,” she replied shortly. She crawled backwards slowly on her elbows, retreating as Navarre advanced. “They – ”

Manasa cut off, suddenly unable to breathe. The wind shifted Navarre’s cloak to expose the ornate hilt of a sword hanging from his belt.

Marth’s sword.

Another trophy…

“They – ” she stuttered in absolute panic. Her eyes darted from Navarre’s wicked face to the stolen sword at his side, but she refused to accept what it could mean. “They didn’t make it out of the river.”

“What a shame,” Navarre furrowed his brow with false pity. He paused, then crouched down beside her.

“You know what my only regret is?” He leaned in closer. She recoiled instinctively.

“That I didn’t get to see the little one sizzle.” He bared his teeth in a sadistic grin. “His blue-haired beauty is going to be so upset. I’ll have to pay her a visit. Offer her some comfort.”

“You – you can’t.” Manasa’s trembling hands clenched into tight fists in the sand. “She’s a – ”

“A virgin?” Navarre offered as he crouched down beside her. Manasa tried to withdraw but he grabbed her wrist and jerked her closer.

“Untouched,” he added, savoring the word. He drew her hand to his mouth and licked the skin from her wrist to her palm. He smiled vindictively as she shivered, and he ran his tongue across his lips. “I know. I can tell. I can always tell.”

“Don’t.” Manasa shook her head. Though her eyebrows were lowered into a threatening scowl her eyes showed her fright. “You can’t take that from her!”

“Who’s going to stop me?” He wrenched her closer still, breathing into her face like a foul wind. “No one stopped me taking it from you.”

Manasa lowered her head to escape his eyes.

“Oh, Nassa… you couldn’t think you were the only one.” A low laugh rumbled in his throat. “Not even the first…”

He took hold of her hair once more, fingering it possessively. He let it fall back down over her shoulders, but not before picking another strand from her head like a weed. “And you won’t be the last.”

“You’re disgusting!” Manasa spat before she could stop herself. She caught her breath, but too late. She tensed, awaiting the blow.

He struck her across the face so brutally the world went black, and she knew nothing but her own scream ringing in her ears. Her head smashed against the ground once more and she lay in a dazed stupor. She tried to push herself up with her arms, but he pinned her down.

“You know what is disgusting?” He breathed over her face, reawakening nightmares from the deepest depths of her soul. “You, walking around in that body, with a pack of filthy humans and a couple of Hylian dogs in tow. I can’t help but wonder what you’re up to.”

“Kau sent me,” she gasped, shrinking away from him.

You?” he laughed derisively. “They must be getting desperate. But, I guess without your brother around to bail you out your name was bound to come up sooner or later. Banan always did want to keep you from having any fun.”

He fell against her, burying his face in her neck. She screamed until his mouth covered hers, forcing her into silence. Her hands pressed against his chest, trying to push him off, but he slapped them away.

Manasa moved in more slowly this time, and though it repulsed her to the point of sickness, she placed her hands on him again. Pretending to embrace him, she tremblingly ran her fingers along his muscles. He responded instantly to her touch, and she fought the urge to scream once more. It felt all too familiar, to caress him with fear.

Instead she turned her attention to her goal, and slipped her hand deftly into his cloak. She searched frantically, but carefully, not wanting him to discover her true motive.

Her heart leapt as her fingers found what they wanted – a side pocket near his breast containing his stash of poisoned darts. As quickly and undetectably as possible, she closed her fingers around them and withdrew her hand. He didn’t notice it slip furtively into her own cloak. By the time his lips released hers she had deposited her newly acquired arsenal safely within the folds.

He returned to running his hands over her body with satisfaction. She squirmed in his arms as his fingers crept up her shirt and ran over her stomach.

“Stop it.” She cringed and tried to push his hands away, but that only seemed to make it worse. “Please…”

“Oo, I do love it when you beg.” Navarre laughed against her skin. His hands slid out of her shirt, but she continued to struggle.

“First things first.” He grasped her chin to hold her still. “Tell me what you’re up to, Manasa. What does the Black Fang want with them?”

“That’s not your concern anymore,” she replied in sudden fury through clenched teeth. “You left… you left me….” Her anger faded and fresh tears sprung to her eyes.

“How could you,” she whispered desperately. “How could you do that to me?”

“The way I left you, I didn’t think you’d be of much use to me anymore,” he explained coolly.

“You left me to die!” she exploded. Tears fell tremulously from her eyes as she beat on his chest and fought to free herself from his grasp. “Bleeding on the ground after you – you – ” she choked on her own fury and couldn’t bring herself to drudge up any more memories.

Navarre smiled down at her with sadistic gratification as she writhed and fought against him in complete futility. She struck blindly, and landed a slap across his cheek. Stunned only for a moment, he seized hold of her violently and growled in her face. Manasa screamed as he pulled her forcibly to her feet.

“Apparently I was wrong. You still have some life in you.” He stroked his fingers up and down her face while she glared up at him with hate-filled eyes. “So, tell me quickly, then we can get this over with. Where are you taking them?”

“Go to h– ” she spat, then caught her breath. Silence rang in the air between them. Her own foolish audacity gave her both a thrill of confidence and a shudder of dread. She ducked out of his arms and took a step back, already cringing in anticipation.

But Navarre just stepped closer and stared at her with narrowed, searching eyes. “What does Kau want with them?”

A painful flash shot through Manasa’s mind, making her wince and flinch away from him. Knowing she had only one chance, she made a furious effort to shut her mind off, to revert it to a haze of darkness, an indiscernible hiss, nothing more. She couldn’t let him see. There were too many secrets, too many lies.

“Stay out of there,” Manasa warned, almost convincingly.

Navarre grunted in frustration and tried again to break through the barrier. His failure showed clearly in the rage twisting his face.

“Have it your way,” he conceded, and took another barreling step towards her.

“I – I – ” she struggled to keep her strength, to stand strong, but she knew it wouldn’t last. If he touched her, she didn’t know if she could keep him out. Her thoughts had betrayed her before, though never with anything this important on the line.

Unwilling to forfeit her mind, she continued her slow, backwards retreat. He leered down at her like a ravenous beast waiting awaiting its kill. “Navarre, please… you can’t do this to me,” she cried, hysteria taking her. “He wants them alive. If you mess this up, they’ll kill me! You know they will!”

“And I won’t?” he asked with a raise of his eyebrows. He extended his arms and pushed her back. A few stumbling steps and she crashed into the wall of the cliff-side. The sharp rock pierced her flesh, cutting a deep, jagged hole in her arm. Tears burned in her eyes and she bit back a scream. Even as she cradled the wound tenderly she could feel something warm trickling down her arm and through her clothing.

“Who are you more afraid of?” The fire in his eyes no longer enticed. Instead, they burned with the flames of bloodlust.

Manasa blinked her eyes away from his paralyzing stare. Her face turned slightly away from his and her shoulders drew up protectively against the rock as though trying to shrink out of his vision, trying to disappear.

“You’re in way over your head, Nassa.” He lowered his face her ear, extending the ssss in her name with a hiss. “Just tell me what I want to know, and we can both be happy. Make me force it out of you…” Navarre slipped his massive hand around her neck and squeezed until her whimpering faded into desperate wheezing. “And I might not be as gentle as I was last time.”

His free hand drew his knife and brushed it against her right ear. “Do you want a matching set?”

“Bern,” she croaked, trashing about helplessly for air. “I’m supposed to take them to Bern.”

“Why?” he rumbled.

“Something to do with the Emblems again.” Her voice came out in little more than a whisper.

“But why does he need them?

“I don’t know. You know they don’t tell me anything…” Manasa shut her eyes and trailed off hopelessly until she felt another prick. “I don’t know!” she cried more frantically. “I don’t know!”

“Well, I’m disappointed,” Navarre sneered, pulling the knife away. “No wonder they keep you in the dark. You’re way too easy to break.”

Manasa caught her breath as he released her neck, but immediately tensed once more. His hand moved down the center of throat, making her squirm in disgust and shame.

“Go ahead,” he dared her. His hand forced its way beneath the fabric of her shirt, and kept moving down. His dirt encrusted fingers moved against her skin like worms. “Fight me, my little nessir. Show me your fangs.”

Manasa waited for him to move. She could see it in his eyes, knew what was coming, and she waited. His tongue flicked between his lips and she shut her eyes. The second she felt him lean in, she took a breath, and vanished on the spot.

Even before she landed she could feel him following behind. She only let her toes come down, fleetingly, on the ground before she teleported again. It had to be fast, so fast that he couldn’t catch his bearing, ensuring that he wouldn’t remember where they had been.

Keep his head spinning, keep him guessing.

Trees, brush and rocks whizzed past her eyes in nothing more than a blur. The rush of the river vanished in the roar of the wind past her ears. Each jump occurred in such rapid succession she could barely see her destination. She only knew she had to get as far away as possible from the cave where Roy lay, helpless and broken. She had to jump as many times as possible before he caught up, before he caught her.

Keep your mind blank. Don’t let him see. Don’t let him know!

Manasa crossed the river once, heading upstream. She landed for less than an instant, but before she left the ground she heard him hit the dirt behind her, gaining on her with every jump.

Double back. Up the cliff-side, back downstream. Further, further away.

She touched down on a patch of grass under heavy tree coverage, deep within the bowels of the forest on the opposite side of the cliff from the cave where Roy lay. A gust of air brushed past her as he swung his arm out to take hold. With her heart thundering to the point of madness, she jumped again – but too late.

Mid-jump, she felt his hand tighten around her arm, squeezing, wrenching her out of the air. She didn’t even feel her feet hit the ground. Blinding, dizzying pain crashed over her like a wave against the shore.

Navarre held tight to her arm, keeping her on her feet. He struck her again and again until her screams turned to defeated sobs. He released her and she crumpled to the ground. With her head still reeling with pain she crawled forward, knowing it would be in vain.

Her tormentor fell on top of her and pushed her down once more. Desperation took hold and she lost all conscious thought. Though she struggled and clawed and fought he held her down with ease. His hands manacled her wrists and pinned them to the ground on either side of her head.

“Now let’s get one thing clear.” Navarre hovered over her like a dark shadow, spelling her destruction. Rain dripped from his hair, down onto her face, drowning her, blinding her. He lowered his face to hers and hissed in her ear. “I don’t care what’s happened or how long I’ve been gone. You are still mine.”

The nightmare that had started eight years ago came crashing down around her once more, all too real. She had spent the last four years pretending that she was safe, that this would never happen again. But it had been nothing more than a lie. In an instant she had traveled back in time, as though he had never gone. She had never been free.

He bore down on her and she knew she would never be free. Her body went limp and she accepted her defeat. His hands left her arms and he clutched her to him, and she could feel nothing but fear, surrounding her and chaining her in bondage. Nothing could be more terrible than this suffering.

Death itself could not be worse than this…

With frantic fingers, she reached blindly into the pocket of her cloak. Seized with pain, she kept her focus. Her hands clutched the darts, holding on to them for her very life. Her ears fell deaf to her own cries. She couldn’t think anymore, about anything. Horror surrounded her on every side, and so she concentrated on her own trembling hands.

Only three. So few…. But it wouldn’t take many, not with a precise hit. And she knew where. She could do it.

Her arm crawled up over his shoulder, and he responded in kind. Thinking she had finally given in, as she always did, his hands moved to her belt. Warding off the nausea in the pit of her stomach, she raised her hand as he fumbled with the latch.

Manasa’s heart clenched, and she plunged the darts into his flesh. The three needle-sharp heads entered his neck and sunk into the base of his spine.

Navarre howled like a wounded dog and arched his back in agony. His spine stiffened and he lurched back, clawing at the three little heads sticking out of his neck.

The second his weight lifted from her she scrambled like a frightened mouse, half crawling, half stumbling, out of his reach. For a second she thought she had done it, that she had gotten away – and then he caught hold of her ankle.

Manasa screamed as he reeled her in. She kicked and thrashed, but Navarre kept hold of her, roaring with murderous rage in his red eyes. As he pulled her in she lunged at him, swinging madly, but he caught her arms and pinned her down once more. A bestial snarl sounded in her face and she cringed away from him, feeling her heart would simply explode from terror.

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she shut her eyes and waited for the end to come.

Instead, silence, but for her own gasping breath.

Navarre went still, though his hands dug into her skin more intensely. Manasa opened her eyes to see him, still hovering over her, gasping for breath. His eyes bulged from their sockets and sweat poured down his face as he looked down at her in utter shock.

“You - ” he gasped, shaking so badly now it sent a tremor through Manasa’s body.

Time stood still as she waited. His lips parted again then his body swayed and convulsed. Dark eyebrows narrowed over his cold eyes and a strained but satisfied smile slid over his face.

“That’s my little nessir.”

Manasa’s heart went still, and Navarre collapsed. His dead weight slammed down on her, knocking the air from her lungs. He lay like a corpse, crushing her into the ground.

Unable to move, unable to breathe, unable to even think, she lay beneath him and waited for death to claim her. Instead, she felt only pain. No release, no escape. And with every second that went by her suffering grew only worse.

His suffocating weight pressed down her and sickness flared in the pit of her stomach. Snakes seemed to slither over every inch of her body, entangling her and holding her against the ground. She could never be rid of him.

In mad desperation she shoved his massive form off of her, and struggled to pull herself out from under him. She tried to stagger to her feet but a fresh jolt of blinding pain shot through her body. A cry squeaked out of her throat and she collapsed helplessly to the ground. She managed to drag herself a few feet before complete horror took over.

Manasa could still feel him against her, touching her, contaminating her. An irrepressible urge to retch pulsed through her body. The feeling of her own polluted skin repulsed her and she longed to leave it all behind.

A fresh cry rose up in her throat and she couldn’t bite it back. Her scream echoed through the trees so loudly it made her heart jump. She shot a fearful look at Navarre’s lifeless body, half expecting him to rise up at any moment and finish what he had started.

His eyes followed her, even now, through the darkness - always watching.

Manasa shut her eyes and vanished into the night air.

To be continued...
Among the Ashes Chapter 17
Hi guys! Wondering what on earth chapter 17 of AtA is doing popping up with a part 2 following it in your inbox at this point!? Well, when DA updates things sometimes it screws with the ability to view older postings, which apparently has been happening with chapter 17. Sorry for everyone who commented about it over the last... really long while :( I figured out the issue, it was too long so I had to split the post into 2 parts. So, here is part 1 and a link to part 2! ~~> Among the Ashes Chapter 17 Part 2
Among the Ashes
Chapter 17
Part 2
Through the darkness of the forest Marth could see Zelda, huddled under her cloak with rain pouring down over her. He hesitated only a moment before he sighed, then set off in her direction.
Marth’s slogging footsteps resounded loudly even through the rain, but Zelda did not move as he drew near. She didn’t even appear to be breathing. Under the pale light her skin appeared as white and cold as marble. With her head bowed as though in supplication, she sat; a broken, crumbling statue of grace. Even the silent tears flowing from her blank eyes looked like nothing more than raindrops running down a lifeless face of stone.
Marth stopped, just close enough to be sure she could hear, and then spoke in a calm, emotionless voice. “The shelter is up.”
The stone princess gave no indication she had heard, but for the slight tightening of her clawed grip on her cloak.
“Elice is inside. I’m going to get firewood.”
No soone

Hope everyone working their way through AtA can see it now :) Thanks guys!
Dragon Knights Awakening Cover Art by CallistoHime
Dragon Knights Awakening Cover Art
This is a commissioned work done for the cover of a book that will be published soon! I believe it will be an online publication, and I will give out the information on that as soon as I have it, but I've been asked to do the covers for the whole series which is really exciting!!! This is the first time I've done a Dragon (like, other than simple sketches lol) and fire, so it was a growing experience but I feel like I learned a lot from it! I feel like, legit now, getting paid to do art! W00t W00t!
Marth Portrait by CallistoHime
Marth Portrait

This labor of love took me WAY too long! Mostly because of the massive breaks I've had to take in between actually being able to work on it :/ But I'm so proud of the outcome and he really LOOKS like the Marth in my head so it just makes me so happy :love: I used a bunch of references, mostly of Ben Barnes :heart: but I gave him a nose job (compliments of Zac Effron's schnoz LOL). He just needed that little extra beautiful touch - he IS Marth after all ;D

If you didn't see my speedpaint on how I did his skin, here's the link ~~> :iconlinkzeldaplz:
 HAHA just kidding ;D ~~>>>>…

And GUYS I just realized that this May is the TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY of TCE first being published online! WHAT!?!?! That's weird and great and horrifying LOL But, something special needs to be done! And will .... stay tuned :meow:



Artist | Hobbyist | Digital Art
United States
Hey guys! I'm on youtube!!! I only have one video so far, and it's nothing too fancy, but it's a start! I did a hair tutorial/timelapse using the nearly complete Elice portrait. If you like and subscribe to me, I will love you forever. Oh, wait, I already do! ;D But if you comment you can have a say in what portrait I do next! So come over and check it out!!!


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LordLink19 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2015  Student General Artist
I decided to show you this, this is a Zelink drawing of Zelda and I kissing…
LordLink19 Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2014  Student General Artist
Yo I got something you should know, it's just that, since Ocarina of Time Zelda is a Sage and the Hero of Twilight left Ordon Village, and Hyrule, the Hero of Time, and the Hero of Twilight, never married those 2 Zeldas, but as for the Hero chosen by the Goddesses, he did marry Zelda because they known each other since they were kids, and they're now married, but it was far after the end of Skyward Sword.
powerkidzforever Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2014
Happy birthday
lovecharmmaster Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2014
Happy Birthday!!!!!
:tighthug: :party: :party: :cake: :party: :party: :tighthug:
Anaryo Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2014
Happy Birthday!!! XD
BarbraJellybean Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2014
Heeeeey you! Yeah you!
Happy birthday. :cake: Hope it's a good one! Have lots of fun and eat lots of cake!
LeafiaDream Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Happy birthday!!
Hope your day is fabulous~ :iconshinyheartplz:
Rose74 Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2014  Student Writer
Just wanted to wish you a happy birthday. :huggle: :iconcakeplz: :party: :airborne:
Linkdezelda Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2014  Student General Artist
Happy birthday *^*

LonewolfD Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2014
Happy Birthday to you.
Sit down, pour yourself a cup of your favorite drink, a slice of your favorite cake and have fun with what ever your plans of the day are
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