Fandom: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

    Link Dungeon Crawling Time Loop Temporary Character Death

Length: 867 words, Oneshot

Date Posted: 2021-04-03

« Previous WorkPart 2 of to the past

can't go over it, can't go under it


Link finds himself standing in the entrance to the Dark Palace, again. He doesn't need to rest. He stays, anyway.


I'm bad at videogames so this is like 50% me projecting my frustration with the latest dungeon into a fic, but also I just really like the idea of Link experiencing all his deaths and do-overs as a timeloop sort of thing, because it's fun and full of angst. Poor guy's very squishy and has too many enemies for his age, and I don't think my playstyle is helping.

It's become a steady routine, since death number five. Come to his senses in a corridor, or a doorway, or a foyer -- wherever the world has decided he last belonged. Ache and shift and shiver, shaking out the pins-and-needles feeling of death that creeps through his limbs, from his heart to the tips of his fingers and toes. Work away the dull throbbing through the newest of his too-quickly growing collection of invisible scars, drag himself together, maybe punch a wall or gripe to nobody for a minute or two until he's ready for another go.

It's better than the routine from before death number five. Less hyperventilating, less of the gaunt and pale horror that made Zelda stare curiously at him and ask if her hero was afraid after all, because he could still feel the rats scrabbling over his body amid the moat sewage, or the royal guardsman's spear sliding blood-slick out through the front of his jerkin while she screamed for him.

Instead, he plops down on the ground at the entrance to the Dark Palace, his back to the cold stonework wall, and complains to the ceiling of an empty antechamber, as if maybe the goddesses can be bothered into dealing with this nonsense personally, instead of sending some retired knight's nephew to do it for them.

Fucking turtles.

Link doesn't know what these monsters are called, because nobody tells him these things, and it's not like there's anyone in the Dark World he can ask, but these ones look like turtles and he's sticking with it. Their inconsiderately round shells deflect even the sacred sword's blade like solid iron, his new hammer only flips them on their backs for a moment, and the latest room he's reached has far too many of the damn things crawling around to be reasonable. And, insult to injury, it's pitch dark and he can't see half of them unless he wastes his time and magic on lighting torches, which rather distracts from trying not to die.

He turns to stare idly at the exit, considering it. He really shouldn't. The last three palaces, he's gotten by with only a dozen deaths apiece, most of them either struggling past the beasts guarding the pendants, or getting lost and exhausted until there's nothing he can do to keep the creatures of the ruin from devouring him. (He decides he's going to stop thinking about that last part.)

The deaths serve a purpose, he's learned. Every time, he reaches a little closer to his goal (except for the times when he doesn't, and wakes up with the taste of failure in his mouth and tears to swallow), and he finds something he can keep in mind for the next. He learns, improves, gets cleverer and wilier. It's just unlucky for him that the rest of the world does, too.

If Link manages to coax another fairy or two into following him from that hidden spring, maybe he'll last long enough this time to reach the beast of the lair. The floorplan he found in the bottom of a chest hasn't steered him wrong yet, and there's only one room left he hasn't seen.

He stands, facing the open doorway, a dark little mouth awaiting him past the threshold of the palace's teeth. His muscles protest a bit, but he's upright, and nothing's bleeding. He even has a half-bottle of that healing potion left from the witch's shop -- he must have forgotten to use it, in all the panic, fumbling with the hammer and the lantern and his sturdy shield that didn't stop the sharp snap of jaws around his ankle, breaking skin and bone and--

Link stomps on the hidden switch in the tiles just to hear it click, so he can pretend he's accomplishing something. The door slides open. The sound of the helmet-headed little bastard in the next room echoes faintly as it scurries about, aimless, like it's forgotten already that he's here. He stomps the switch again, and the door shuts. Open, shut, open, shut, a few more times until he's not thinking about much of anything. When the creature squeaks louder than before, and the shuffling draws inquisitively near, he decides to leave it shut, and sets to inspecting his lantern instead for a minute.

The lantern shows no cracks, and no damage, even after trying to bludgeon a turtle with it. It's in need of a polish, but that was true well before he left home, anyway. A little pulse of magic encourages the candle-flame back to life, reliable as ever. He puts it out quickly, before it uses up anything more.

There's not really anything left to do, or any other paths to explore. Left fork, portal, hurry before the flying things catch him, around the corner, over the stupid whack-a-mole fence after a detour for a fairy who blessedly hasn't seen enough of his deaths to lose hope or patience, and so on and on until the turtle room, again.

He pulls in a deep, disgruntled breath, glares one last time at the leering pair of statues by the middle entrance, and marches on. The only way forward, after all, is through.

« Previous WorkPart 2 of to the past