The promising child had vanished, but the city had not yet burned. Menacing movements in increasing shadows fought for her attention. From high above the common grounds; from higher still than all its walls; from an ancient-sculpted balcony, the princess looked out over Hyrule and made plans under the milk-blue moon.

Zelda remembered what it was like to sit peaceful, enthusiastic, studying or reading or talking happily with friends. For the life of her, she couldn't access it now, any more than she could see the friends her adoptive captor had vanished. How many years can pass without access to that contented mode? Was this adulthood, come too soon from the sky, never to release its grip? Or was it simple imprisonment, with only a key required to sever the lock from his shoulders and set right the world?

Time enough had passed. The sword was gone, the temple emptied, the great tree sagged and silent. Nearly five years. The boy wasn't coming back, nor her father, nor any other promise-making man. There were no promises left in the world, nor hope, nor especially any remnant of romance. A tyrant sat on a reupholstered throne, broadcasting violent triangular waves until her citizens, her charges, saw through violent miscolored eyes and staggered through the streets haunting those who still held onto humanity. Time enough had passed.

So she'd found Impa's dead religion's ceremonial clothes and watchful blade. Snuck together a mismatch of knives and honed them throwable. Channeled secret shreds of hot magic into lynel-eye marbles. Gathered handfuls of combustible tree nuts during her daily walks. Extended the dance lessons of her distant childhood into acrobatic rituals of martial preparation.

Princess Zelda had no more options; she was a goldfish figurehead, kept on display but now largely ignored. If she was ever spotted outside her bowl, she was returned swiftly by beast-twisted hands. Zelda couldn't act, so she would have to be someone else. And she would have to break the hands of any beast or man who brought harm to her beloved people.

She pulled up her boots, cinched tight her wrist wraps and binder, and raised the mask over her mouth. If Zelda must wait hopelessly at home, then another name would do what she could not. The streets would know a new shadow. Old symbols would drive back new horrors. Hyrule was out of time, but Sheik was just getting started.

[It's extremely stupid that I write fanfiction in an overwrought voice. This was supposed to set the stage for a game about Zelda/Sheik in the years after young Link is frozen in time; playing on the Batman concept, Sheik would roam the streets of a vast Hyrule, saving people from Ganon's monsters, restoring hope and making room for life. There may or may not be portions where you play as Zelda during the day, gathering resources and holding quiet court beside the tyrant Ganon, listening in his plans and the pleas he ignores to plan her next missions. I would prefer it not conclude with Link's return; this is yet another branching timeline. I think she would ultimately venture out of the city, rescuing Ruto from under the ice and maybe meeting other characters from Ocarina, and then she'd defeat Ganon. When Link emerges from the Temple of Time, he finds Zelda on the throne. Maybe she tenderly apologizes for the loss of his youth, but then she definitely breaks the Master Sword and Ocarina so that there's no chance of time travel being used to undo her work or restore Ganon to power.

Also in my dream game, Hyrule would be warped by Ganon's misuse of the Triforce of Power into a vertically-stretched, Bloodbornesque city of varyingly-mutated Hylians. His power is turning normal people into monsters, including the city itself.

Anyway! An Arkham City-style game with Sheik as Batman would rule! I should probably just write more plainly about these things.]