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Your Money or Your Heart


Sage of Tales
(Fan Fiction)

I am pre-flighting this before I send it to North Castle. I would like opinions on it, if any can be bothered to give them. I'm thankful to Juliet and Megan of the North Castle forums and to Axle the Beast of here (the shoutbox) for giving me the courage to go ahead with this idea.

Before anyone makes "Mature Disscussion" out of some of the content of this story, please pay close attention to my general notes. I will not stand for an MD style debate over something I used as artistic gimmick. Please be mature and stick to disscussing it as art.

Setting: Twilight Princess - many years post-game.

Rating: G.

Pairings: None, Gen-fic.

Characters: Link, Malo.

Genre: Spiritual/Philosophical

General Summary: The price of a soul should never be cheap. The parades and feasts had ended for Link long ago. He pays a visit to his old friend Malo, these days a successful merchant. They sit down together and talk about the things they've sold their souls to.


Disclaimer and Notes: The Legend of Zelda and related characters belong to Nintendo. No profit is being made or sought from this fan fiction.

As an artistic gimmick, this story contains verses from the Bible (New International Version translation). I wanted to play with a theme of “spirituality and money” and the Bible happens to be the spiritual heritage I am most familiar with. The story is built around select out-of-context verses as a theme, but in no way is a preaching or “conversion” type of fan fiction. (I personally find those obnoxious). The verses exist only as a motif, much in the way people use poetry or song lyrics separate from a plot to illustrate a theme. In other words, do not worry or get excited – I’m not trying to “Christianize” Hyrule. If you’re looking for that, there are fics of that stripe out there – this just isn’t one of them. Enjoy the theme if you can. If you cannot, hit the back button. What this author believes or doesn’t believe is also beside the point. It was an artistic decision – nothing more, nothing less.

The title is a reference to the original Legend of Zelda game. When you play that game, occasionally, you’ll come across old men who demand “Your money or your life!” and you’ll be given the choice to leave behind rupees or one of your heart containers.

A Twilight Princess Fan Fiction by Shadsie

Link walked through the streets of Castle Town in the gloaming of early evening. The streets were largely devoid of people. A few milled about listlessly. The rain had just stopped, leaving still puddles to reflect the clouds in bright colors. Pet dogs and stray cats took shelter under the awnings of closed outdoor shops. One old cat mewed at him and he smiled, even as he was on his way. He had business with an old shop on a particular street. He’d already seen some old friends and had a drink at Telma’s, but he wasn’t in town to stay and socialize.

The feasts and parades for him had stopped long ago. He’d heard that there was a statue of him in the royal garden, but he’d never seen it. Hyrule had been at peace for nearly twenty years now. Time and peace had a way of easing and erasing people’s memories. The only people who ever recognized him anymore when he’d come back to old haunts were dear old friends. Even in his ancestor’s clothes, most people who took notice of him mistook him for just another lost soul trying to impersonate the Hero. It was too much of a bother to try to correct them. After all, a land at peace had no need for a Hero.

Link found the shop he was looking for and the back entrance to it that he was likewise looking for. He sought out a particular person this day, the only one who could be of help to him. He knocked on the door.


Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him. __ Psalms 49: 16-17

“Coming! I’m coming already!” a voice on the other side of the door sounded. “If you’re here with supplies, give me a moment to find my pen to sign for them.”

After a few moments, the door opened with a creak. “You?” the owner of the voice asked. “I thought you were dead.”

Link laughed softly. “No, I’m afraid I’m not dead just yet. May I come inside? It’s awfully wet out here and I have a proposition for you.”

“Come in,” the young man said. “I thought you were one of my Goron tradesmen. My custom black powder supplier is late on his shipment; he’s been wanting double the rupees for his trouble suddenly when he’s been at the same rate for years. It’s highway robbery, I tell you! So, Link, it’s been a while. I last saw you… what? Four years ago? That’s new.”

The man pointed to Link’s face, specifically, to a prominent scar across his right cheek. Link was glad that he never expected politeness from Malo. He had certainly grown up from that strange little kid he’d once known. The events of twenty years ago had changed them both. Malo had not grown into a handsome person by any stretch of the imagination. He wasn’t particularly enormous, but he was rotund and with a fat face. He looked as though he were balding, though he was only in his twenties. His skin was the pale color of one who did not go outside much. What Malo was above all, however, rich – very rich. He was dressed very well today – in crimson robes and gold jewelry.

Link, by contrast, was thin, sinewy, tan and scarred. He wore his favorite set of clothes – his Hero’s tunic, which, after all these years, remained in good condition. He took great care of it. The color of its fabric, however, seemed drained in a mild sense, from what it once was. Link’s blue eyes were a little paler than they used to be and did not carry the fierceness they once had. Everything about him seemed to have a faded quality today and Malo noticed this.

Link’s expression brightened, however, when he looked around the room he was in. This was Malo’s back office. It was full of plush furniture and hanging upon the walls were many beautiful paintings and ornamental weaponry with shields. Link’s sensitive ears could pick up strains of the music that played in the main Malo Mart on the other side of the wall.

“Sit down,” Malo ordered, pointing to a chair beside a large desk, which he sat behind. “What brings you here, Link? I thought you were off fighting evil.”

“Well… yeah,” Link sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’ve just come in from a kingdom called Labrynna. Things have been slow in my life, so I thought I’d come home for a bit.”

“This is hardly home,” Malo commented. “For you, I mean. You don’t have a home anymore. Some of the folks in Ordon have been asking about you, though. Did you know that Mayor Ilia just had her third kid?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Maybe you should visit Ordon and let everyone know you’re still alive.”

“I’m not sure they’d want to see me like this, as I am. It was pretty rough on everybody the last time I visited. I make a better memory, don’t you think?”

Malo laughed. “So what does the faded Hero want? Perhaps you’re here to help me with my Goron problem. You can go be my muscle and flash your sword for me, get them to drop their supply prices so I can keep my prices low and purchases high. Lots of people come into my store just to buy that powder for construction projects and the like. I’d be willing to pay you a fair price.”

Link glared at the younger man. “Why don’t you just pay what the Gorons demand? I’m sure you could keep your business going. The luxury of this room tells me that you aren’t hurting for rupees. Rumor has it that you’re the richest person in Castle Town, save for the Queen, of course, and she doesn’t really count because the royal wealth is the public trust. Isn’t what you have enough?”


Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. __ Ecclesiastes 5:10

“I still have dreams,” Malo said. “I’d like to have more stores and to make a name upon Hyrule. A person like you may be forgotten easily, but the king of all merchants will not be. Anyway, why have you come? Is this a social call?”

“No,” Link said. He dipped a hand into a leather pouch on his belt and brought out of it a tiny object. He set it upon Malo’s desk and tapped it with his thumb. The object expanded in size and collapsed upon the desk. It was red and golden, but the gold looked as though it had lost its luster and was nothing more than tarnished brass.

“I haven’t seen that in years,” Malo stated. “I’ve never been able to find another set of magic armor like it.”

“Then, hopefully you’ll be willing to pay me a fair sum for it?” Link suggested. “I cannot afford to use it anymore.”

“I’ve noticed,” Malo said dourly. “It runs on rupees and transfers whatever funds you have on hand right into a special coffer that I keep. That coffer has long been empty. I just assumed that you’d gotten yourself killed somewhere out there when you weren’t wearing it and that’s why I wasn’t seeing any profit from you.”

“Will you buy it back from me? I’ve found my travel funds had run dry. I cannot hunt for my dinner all the time.”

“Are you really that bad off?” Malo asked. “So much for being a Hero. You save people’s lives and their freedom, and what has it gotten you? You have scars on you and no one even recognizes who you are anymore. If you were smart, you would have settled down and started a business of some kind. I remember when you used to be a rancher – you could have cornered the market on goat milk or something of that nature.”

“People needed me,” Link responded, “Needed my skills. I felt restless when I wasn’t using them. I guess I could just never go home again, not really.”

“You ought to look to yourself more, Link. You have to be greedy to survive in this world. A little greed has gotten me a comfortable life. What has your abundance of altruism gotten you?”


But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. __ Matthew 6:20-21

“I am still looking for something,” Link said softly. “Another world, I guess. I never felt that I could go home and back to a quiet life after the things I’ve been through. I always felt that I had to honor the skills that I have and they are skills that cannot be honored with a quiet life. When I break a curse or save someone from monsters, or just when I’m helping someone with a small problem… I feel like I’m right where I need to be. There are still evils in Hyrule… small evils, and there are other lands. I guess I just keep riding, hoping I’ll one day find a gateway to the world I’m looking for… or one day run into the person I’m looking for.”

“That sounds like a poor life,” Malo said flatly. “A thankless life with a lot of hunger and hardship, especially if you’re here to sell me back something that’s probably saved your life on multiple occasions. I’ve never been one for poverty. Give me nice lodgings, fine clothes and the glitter of rupees – that’s all I’ve ever wanted and what I want more of.”

Link smiled gently. “I once knew a man who sold his soul for riches. This was a long time ago.”

“My soul is in perfect shape!” Malo contended, “If I have one, if any of us even have one. To think about such things too much is impractical.”


People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. __ 1 Timothy 6:9

“Anyway,” Link continued, “I once knew a man who sold his soul to gain untold wealth. He was visited by Poes, sixty of them that did, indeed make him very rich. However, they quite literally stole his soul and shattered it into sixty parts which they kept for themselves. His soul made them quite strong while the poor man was made very weak. They’d turned him into a golden statue, glittering with many jewels. They even transformed his cat. The man’s name was Jovani.”

“That old drunk?” Malo exclaimed.

“The very same,” Link said sadly. “I cannot disclose the details of it, but I did manage to help him… those many years ago when the reign of darkness was going on. He got his soul back, but was never the same as he once was.”

“He gave away most of his money,” Malo said, “To the shelter for orphans, to Castle Town University… and most of it to Telma’s Bar. He bought quite a bit of fish from me the last time I did business with him. I’ve gotten a deal with some Zora fishermen lately – they bring me both kinds, colorful fish for pets and fish for food. I’m unhappy with their trade prices, as well. I saw Jovani last week feeding stray cats outside his place. The nerve! Reekfish is premium and he’s feeding it to worthless flea-bitten animals!”

“Why should it matter to you if that’s what makes him happy?” Link asked. “He paid for the fish, didn’t he? It is his to keep or give away as he pleases.”

“Yes,” Malo conceded, “but it seems a bit… odd. I’ve worked quite hard to have what I do and I like to enjoy it. It just seems a little too free.”

“I suppose it is why I live the way I do,” Link sighed. “We all sell our souls to something. Some sell them to work, or to status, or to money. Some of us sell them to other people. I’ve sold my soul to see people smile and to see the peace in their eyes when they feel they can be safe. It is my freedom, I guess.”

“And that’s why I’m happy to leave the hero-work to dreamers like you,” Malo replied. “Anyway, I will buy the armor back, unless you wish to do some work for me, instead.”


No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. __ Matthew 6:24

“What you mentioned before, right,” Link said.

“Be my muscle… my ‘negotiator,’ if you will, Link. The Gorons will listen to you. You’re their ‘sworn brother,’ so you can schmooze them. If they will not listen to that, you’re strong and skilled with the blade. I can use you with the Zoras, too.”

“You’re asking me to be a henchman!” Link growled. “Listen, Malo… I’m sure your suppliers set their prices according to their needs. I am not going to be your gangster. I will not lower my honor like that. I prefer to help people in need when the times call for it. I am not a hired sword.”

“Very well,” Malo replied. “We could have had a great partnership. I could have shared quite a bit of my wealth with you, but if you are content with your hunger and hardship, I’ll leave you to it. Just think upon how ‘well’ you are remembered and honored, Sir Hero. Just think about it for a while.”

“I will,” Link promised, taking the purse of three-hundred rupees from Malo’s hand. It was far less than what Link had originally paid for the armor, not to mention all of the money that he’d sunk into keeping it active in the occasional battles he’d used it in. It was used armor, after all, its powers of nigh-invulnerability aside, and he did not think he could get any more out of Malo without resorting to something beneath his honor. He would let it go. After all, Malo was an old friend.

As he turned to leave, he looked back at the portly younger man. “I don’t think I’ll change my mind, though,” he said, “After all, they say that one cannot serve Farore and Money.”




The Blue Bomber!
Sep 19, 2009
Ganon's Tower
Interesting, though this story makes Malo look evil! It also seems he wants Link to be his Gangsta? Good story. I say sir, you have what it takes to be a author. :D


Beautiful, I like how you use verses from the Torah without converting the characters' religions. Are you going to contine this here, as well as north castle? I'd love to read more.


Sage of Tales
This is a one-shot. I do want to submit it to NC's archive.

I realize I made Malo a bit of a jerk in this, but he's not intended to be "evil," per se, just a man who is showing himself to be ever-increasingly consumed by wealth. He does have a reason for being annoyed with his suppliers - he knows that if he keeps his prices at a discount, he'll move more product. He is concerned about his profits, but knows he'll be looked upon badly if he simply raises his prices by a large amount. He's not really evil, just a bit greedy.

I obviously want people to "side" with Link, but I also tried to bring up the question of whether or not his kind of life (one of altruism) is really worth it - as he is living a rather hard and lonely life.


Guy What's Angry Now
May 15, 2009
It's a secret to everybody.
This is really nice- I always imagined Malo becoming a skinflint like this. The verses are appropriate too, but the line at the end seems a little shoehorned. Malo also didn't really have much besides dialogue- Link never made him think, and if I didn't know it was Link and Malo, I'd think he was a background character. While obviously Link's thoughts are supposed to control the dialogue, I suggest you maybe rework it a bit to make Malo... well, react a bit. I see his "disinterested businessman" persona makes it logical that he wouldn't seriously be affected by this, but he should still have some kind of response to Link's thinking other than "Yes, well I don't think that way."

Also, perhaps swap the Farore line to "the goddesses" and don't capitalize money- it's not capitalized in most Bible translations, and although I see the way that anthropomorphizes money into a master, the way Malo tends not to react to much of what Link says makes it seem out of place. If you're going to go out of your way to portray money as a master, it should be explored further or dropped in favor of the generic form instead. I mean, I suppose you can do what you want here, but it seems more natural to just use normal language when dealing with these characters.

Otherwise, this is a great look into both the future of Hyrule (although OoX Link is just a kid, not a battle-scarred warrior like TP Link. Probably LttP/LA or LoZ/AoL, but whatever), and the themes of greed and slavery to money. This is great stuff- I'm sure North Castle will love it.


Sage of Tales
This *is* Twilight Princess Link. I mentioned Labrynna as a kingdom only. As in "There are kingdoms bordering Hyrule." I figure that other Links would visit them now and again, perhaps and, in his travels, TP Link would visit Hyrule's neighbors. OoX has nothing to do with this story other than the little "Easter Egg" mention of a kingdom from it. I thought that everyone picked up on this being TP Link and Labrynna just being an off-hand mentioned kingdom. I never thought I'd have to explain an Easter Egg. Don't worry - this *is* TP Link.

I used "Money" as a capital only because the translation of the Bible I was using did and I decided to be true to it. Now that you mention the idea of "Money" being more of a master - I don't want to change it. I actually *like* it that way, and that it conveys what I was trying to get across. I also chose Farore because she's the Goddess that I figure Link would be more of a devotee of, plus she kind of conveys this "courage" aspect - You have to be a bit brave to reach out and altruistic, at least I think so.

If I do revise this, however, I'll think about making Malo react more. I really wanted to get across his "deadpan" attitude. He's such a deadpan snarker in the game. I should probably describe him as yawning, or having inflection to his voice, or something. Again, will I become un-lazy enough to tweak this? Hmmm.

Thanks for reviewing.
Nov 26, 2008
Oooh, yay! I'm really glad you decided to write this! When you first told me about the concept, I was very interested, inexplicably more so than with other fics you've told me about. I'm glad to have the chance to read it! ^^

I have to say, I'm very impressed by this fanfiction and the way you wrote it. Technically, this is the first fic of yours I've read, so I have nothing to compare it to, really. Nonetheless, I really like it and it makes me want to read more of your stuff.

I thought Malo's behavior and the way he spoke was great. He acts a bit differently than he did in the game, but it's very similar, and it's appropriately different consider how much he's aged and how much he's risen in status and wealth. It did at a few times seem that he was creepy and possibly evil, but I felt it was fairly clear that he was primarily a little too obsessed with wealth, and perhaps that he didn't really know where his moral limits were. Your Bible quotes helped make things clearer, in my opinion.

Speaking of the quotes, I felt they worked very well. When you first told me about this fic, I thought they merely sounded interesting. But in truth they really enhanced the overall story, adding to everything.

I did feel it seemed a little sad in some ways, because while Link states that he likes what he does, it does seem like he's not that well off and that he's unhappy about it. But I suppose in that way you achieved a good balance between the two extremes of the lifestyles of both characters. So, while I'm generally a bit more of a happy ending guy, I can appreciate and actually liked how you wrote this aspect.

The only thing I felt was a bit off was Link saying Farore at the end. I agree that perhaps "The Goddesses" would have been better. I dunno, though. Farore is the one Link connects to most, and I would imagine that some would worship particular goddesses more than others, or appeal to one of them for a certain aspect of life, so... I dunno. Just seemed a little odd to me. Might be crazy.


Type to myself in silence
Nov 8, 2009
Washington, USA
I loved it. You made Link so wise and the bible sayings made some nice morals for the story. I thought that the magic armor was an even better idea to make him wealthier.


Sage of Tales
Has Editing been disabled? I don't see the Edit button at the moment. I just noticed, since this has a new reply and has been brought to the upper area of the page since the board-move, all the text is in white because I had to make it white to fit with the old board's black background... and now on the white background, it cannot be seen except by someone who selects it all.

Apologies for the inconvience.


Guy What's Angry Now
May 15, 2009
It's a secret to everybody.
Oh, that's one of ZD's annoying little pointless forum things- posts over around a month old are locked out of editing for, from what I can see, absolutely no good reason. It really bugs me that I have to use ZU just to update Destiny's Hand.


Sage of Tales
It was never a problem for anything that I just typed in - the text would go to board-default. It is a problem, however, with stuff I copy-pasted from another source (in the case of fanfiction, Word). I always had to select and change the text color because the board wouldn't default it. Now that the board background has changed, the text remained the color I had set it to.

I wonder if I should go to one of the mods to ask to be let back into some of my old fanfic threads to change out the text color, but I worry that it's too much of a bother and don't want to bother anyone about it.

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