*Note from the author. This story takes place about three weeks following the events in "Secrets." It is recommended that the reader read "Secrets" before reading this story.*
Everything was perfect. As the sun slowly sank below the distant horizon, the sky erupted in a gold color, humbling the wealthiest of kings' treasures. Swollen clouds, an immaculate white, lingered above, low enough that one might just imagine reaching up and pulling one down, wrapping it around a warm body like a blanket. The smooth sand of the beach was lapped gently by emerald waves, crowned in a bridal white.
He watched her dance carelessly on the line where the waves met the shore, her bare feet sinking deep into the murky sand, leaving a trail to be hidden by the rolling tide. Her frail arms swung carelessly, mimicking the frantic flight of her red hair. A flower, thrown sloppily over one ear dropped into the water. She watched as the playful waves carried her treasure of waxy orange petals from the land.
He smiled. This place was paradise. He listened to the musical tones of her playful laughter as she ran through the waves, her green skirt trailing in the water. She chased her flower, all the while her hair flying in all directions.
Her body seemed like art more than flesh and blood to him. The delicate curves of her figure, the straightness of her spine, the arch of her pointed ears seemed poetic. He felt, at times, as though he could lose himself in the cool depths of her blue eyes. Of all the treasures the island had offered him thus far, she was the greatest.
He walked along the length of the shore as she chased her flower, his heavy boots sinking into the moist sand, releasing a satisfying crack every time he took a step. A warm breeze caressed his face, blowing his blond locks away from his eyes. He turned to watch the breeze kiss the face of his treasure as she raced over a wave, her dress now thoroughly drenched in the sweet water.
Every day, he found it more and more difficult to remember any life he had known before this place, before her. True, he could still remember his friends and loved ones he'd left behind, in a place that seemed as distant as the horizon, but all the same, with her, he had all he desired.
But something troubled him. In the deepest recesses of his mind, he heard a call. Something nagged at his insides, bringing to the surface thoughts of places far away. He felt a deep growing guilt. Why should he be so happy in this place? He was still the stranger from a strange land. He didn't belong on the island, but at the same time, he felt more at home here than he had ever felt in his faraway home.
He shivered. His calling. As hard as he tried, he could not forget his calling. He was the Hero of Time, the chosen one, the bane of evil. He longed to be just a man, but he wasn't. Nor was she just a woman. Neither of them belonged, yet they longed to be no place other than together. He wondered if he loved her.
As she played tag with the gentle waves, he watched her, deep in thought. Love was something that had always eluded him. Did he love her? Suddenly, love seemed the most concrete idea imaginable. He understood what love was. It was a moment of Sphota, as they called it. Love was everything he felt for her. She was love.
A smile slowly curled his lips as he played with the idea in his mind. On this island, so far away from the life that they had once known, they could love one another with no one to say otherwise. On this island, she was just an ordinary girl, and he just an ordinary lad. This island was paradise.
There was a sudden explosion, as if Farore herself were cracking a whip. His glance shot up to the sky where he was surprised when his gaze was greeted by a storm front moving closer. An ugly black wall of clouds loomed ahead, the front churning like a violent wave on the sea. The brilliant gold of the sky slowly faded into a hideous lead color as yellow stripes of lightening danced within the storm.
The breeze picked up. Monstrous gusts of howling wind seared across his face, burning his eyes and ripping at his skin. He raised an arm, clothed in a gauntlet, but the stinging wind continued to scald his flesh.
The waves had grown more violent. The emerald water mingled with the mud and the sand, turning a dull earthy green. The creamy white crests crowning the waves took on a gray shade and they slapped the sand with a bitterness of ages past, creating a frightening din that shook the shores.
He saw his treasure lift her chin to the sky, her cheeks rosy where the wind struck her. Showing no fear of the coming Armageddon, she continued to chase her battered flower, farther and farther from the shore.
He longed to scream at her, to tell her to run back to the safety of the island, but he found his throat tightened and his lungs empty. His voice seemed to be lost somewhere within the depths of his body.
Leaves and twigs whipped past his face and he had to bat them away. He tried to run to the water's edge, but found that his boots had grown so heavy, and the sand so wet, that he was held fast in place. He turned his eyes to the sky and saw the moon, red as blood, glaring down at him.
She screamed. Fast as light, his eyes turned to see her in the water, leaning over her flower. Something else was there. From the depths of the water, an arm launched out, grasping her slender wrist.
It was of no being of light that he had ever known. The arm was a dull gray color, mangled from the scientific slices of a sword. The flesh was swollen and stiff from years of life underwater. Long yellow fingernails, talons really, dug into her soft skin, drawing five thin threads of crimson blood, which fell into the water.
Her face contorted in pain as salty tears dripped from the corners of her blue eyes. Her agony was eternal and he longed to rush to her side and severe the arm from whatever body it might belong to, but he found himself frozen where he was. She called out his name, but before she could finish her cry, the arm lurched backwards, dragging her under the water.
He found his voice again. He screamed her name, but all that replied was the sound of the deadly waves crashing against the sand. He shouted her name again and again, each time, more and more pain and defeat edging its way into his voice.
Gone. All gone. Nothing stirred from the other side of the waves. His ragged breathing was the only movement he saw. All gone. Gone. His treasure was taken away from him and he was alone again. Born to be alone, they told him, that's all he was. Gone. All gone.
Link woke up screaming. He struggled to steady his breath. His eyes adjusted to the dark and he realized that the only sound he heard was Tarin's snoring, not the roaring of waves. Ten feet away from where he was, his treasure slept peacefully, a billowing white blanket clutched in her firm grasp.
"Quiet!" Elinor bellowed.
Marnie threw her a murderous glare. "Shhh!" she hissed, pressing a finger to her lips for emphasis.
"Marnie, going 'shhh' is just as noisy as yelling 'quiet.'" Tracy said dryly.
"If you three clowns don't shut up you're going to scare them all away," Matilda murmured harshly. She crouched behind a shrub and grabbed Elinor's hand, pulling her to the ground. Tracy and Marnie quickly follow suit and the four women sat there silently.
"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" Elinor asked.
"Elinor, shut up before I feed poison ivy to your dog," Marnie growled.
"Knowing Bow Wow, he'd probably digest it without a problem," Tracy deadpanned.
"Can we please stop talking about Elinor's dog and poison ivy right now?" Matilda pleaded, "We're here for a reason."
"Sorry," Tracy muttered, pressing the palms of her hands on the moist forest ground.
Matilda pushed aside a few branches of the shrub and peered into the Mysterious Woods. Blue and green reflections of the canopy of trees fell upon the muddy forest floor like the stained glass of a temple. A thin white mist swept across the trees, whose leaves rustled and chattered in a light morning breeze.
"Do you see anything?" Marnie nagged, tugging on the green sleeve of Matilda's shirt.
Matilda swiped her arm away. "Not yet," she muttered testily. She carefully pushed aside another layer of leaves and ducked her head so that only her eyes could be seen through the bush.
Then she saw it. In the hazy fog that rolled lazily across the floor of the forest, a thin, weak light sprung up. It lingered at first, remaining in the exact place it had appeared from, but suddenly, it darted downwards, then curved back up. It quivered in place, vibrating with a nervous energy.
Matilda slowly withdrew from her bushes, attempting to close back the branches as quietly as possible. She motioned to Tracy, who wordlessly handed her a glass jar. Matilda fiddled with it for a moment, unable to remove the top. Tracy rolled her eyes and yanked the jar out of Matilda's hands. She opened it effortlessly and shoved it back at Matilda.
Flustered, Matilda began to crawl around the shrub, all the while hearing Marnie's stifled giggles. She glanced up and saw the fist-sized ball of light hovering up ahead. Slowly, without moving her legs, she pulled herself towards it. The entire forest seemed silent. The air hummed as Matilda, a huntress, stalked closer and closer to her prey.
As the fog consumed her, Matilda only saw the darting ball of light. She crept on quietly, determined not to scare it away. If only she hadn't brought those idiots Marnie and Elinor along with her! She just knew their babbling would scare it away.
Closer still, she could now look up to see the great beam of life. She slowly pulled herself up to her knees. Crouching, she watched hesitantly, almost afraid to engage the beautiful creature. The world faded away, leaving only a silent white backdrop and the hum of living energy.
Matilda lashed out her arm, the glass of the jar flashing with a dim reflection of the bright light. She brought her hands together, sealing the jar with the thick cork lid. Raising her hand to eye level, she was greeted by an incredible white light. From within the jar, a musical humming drifted up to Matilda's ears. She squinted, blocking out enough light to see the fairy, which rested on the bottom of the glass.
She was very tiny, but a thing of beauty nonetheless. Her skin was a pale blue, similar to the color of the nectar from blueberries. Protruding from her back were two delicate wings, paper thin, which sparkled and shimmered, casting an eerie glow from their twiggy white veins. Draped around her fragile body, a dress of red rose petals hung, meticulously sewn from the thread of a spider's web. Her hair color matched that of her dress and her eyes were only slightly more crimson.
She stood up in the jar and lifted a narrow arm towards the side of the jar. She rested the palm of her hand on the glass, a palm no larger than a pearl. She seemed to regard Matilda with an idle curiosity. She casually flipped her flowing hair back and folded her arms behind her back. Matilda had never noticed before that the fairies had pointed ears.
"Did you get it?" Elinor asked a bit too loudly. Matilda stood, transfixed by the sheer beauty of the creature before her. "Well?" Elinor persisted impatiently.
"Hello? Matilda? Is anybody home?" Marnie shouted.
Matilda shook her head viciously. "Yeah," she muttered, not bothering to glance back at her companions in the rough. She could hear them clambering over to her.
"It's a beautiful one," Tracy breathed, peering into the jar.
"I've never seen anything of the sort," Marnie pronounced, snatching the jar out of Matilda's hand.
"The woods are full of them," Tracy boasted, keeping her eyes on the lid of the jar.
"Do you see them often?" Elinor asked, jumping up and down to catch a glimpse at the fairy.
"All the time," Tracy said proudly.
"We should give it a name," Elinor cried excitedly.
"It's not an 'it' it's a 'her,'" Matilda said firmly.
"Well, we should give her a name then," Elinor corrected herself. "How about Living Dream?"
"Living Dream?" Tracy asked indignantly. "Living Dream is something you name a race horse, not a sentient being."
"How about Dawn? I've always liked the name Dawn," Marnie said eagerly.
"We already have a Dawn on the island," Matilda said humorlessly. "You have a daughter named Dawn? Remember?"
Marnie frowned. "Oh, I thought the name sounded familiar."
Tracy snatched the jar out of Marnie's hands and peered inside. "I say we call it…her…Peach."
"She's not a food!" Matilda sneered, pulling the jar out of Tracy's hands. "We'll call her Eve."
"Eve?" Marnie asked, wrinkling her nose.
"Yeah, Eve," Matilda said firmly.
"Eve," Tracy muttered, testing out the name on her tongue.
Matilda peered into the jar. "Don't worry Eve, we're not going to hurt you or anything," she said quietly, "we're just giving you to Molly."
"She doesn't know who Molly is," Tracy muttered.
Matilda sighed impatiently. "Molly is the witch who lives in the woods," she said, looking carefully at Eve. "She's really nice and we want to give you to her for her birthday. She's over two hundred years old."
"What does she want with a fairy anyway?" Elinor asked, brushing some dog hair off of her dress. Elinor was always covered in dog hair and no matter how hard she tried, she could never completely get rid of it.
"Molly wants a fairy. We give her a fairy. It's really a simple equation," Tracy said evenly.
"Why doesn't she just go out and catch one for herself?" Elinor persisted.
"She's over two hundred years old," Marnie snapped. "Go see how willing you are to crawl through these woods when you're two hundred years old.
"When I'm two hundred years old, I'll want a large chocolate cake with pink frosting on it," Elinor said stupidly.
"She doesn't look like the other fairies," Matilda said quietly, still staring at Eve.
"What do you mean?" Tracy asked, taking the jar.
Matilda shrugged. "I don't know. She's just a little different."
"I suppose I've never seen a fairy with red eyes before," Tracy muttered, herself now transfixed by Eve's shocking crimson eyes.
"Do you think she could come from another place?" Matilda asked quietly.
"Don't be ridiculous," Marnie said firmly. "There is no other place."
"Well, what about Link?" Matilda asked. "He comes from another place. Maybe this fairy comes from wherever he was born."
"Don't go on talking about other worlds like you're Marin," Marnie snapped. "There may be other places out there, but they have nothing to do with us."
"Where are you from Eve?" Tracy whispered. "What stories could you tell us of places beyond the farthest horizon?"
Matilda was frowning now. "I wish Link would tell us more about his home. I wish I could go there."
"It seems to me, you have no reason to leave Koholint," Marnie said.
"It seems to me that I've had this same conversation with Valerie a thousand times already," Matilda replied.
Elinor groaned. "Please, will you two knock it off?"
Tracy, still staring at the glass jar, continued her rambling. "What's it like beyond the ocean Eve?"
"Tracy," Marnie said gingerly, "that thing can't understand you."
"I know," Tracy murmured. She finally forced her eyes to look away from the glowing jar.
"We better get back to the village," Elinor said cheerfully, "Breakfast will be served soon. Tarin's cooking today."
"Great, leftovers," Marnie deadpanned, hiking up her long yellow skirt and headed back, towards the entrance to the woods.
"Hey!" Elinor screamed, "wait for me!' She scurried after Marnie, her large hips bouncing rhythmically as she ran.
"Skip breakfast?" Tracy asked Matilda.
"I'll meet you in the Animal Village Cantina," Matilda said nodding. "Just give me ten minutes to clean up."
Tracy nodded. Matilda walked off, slowly. Tracy frowned and lifted the fairy jar to her eye level again. Eve looked back at her evenly, her tiny hands still clasped behind her back. She swayed back and forth slightly, wrinkling her rose petal skirt. She couldn't explain it, but a strange sort of anticipation filled her tiny head. Her heart fluttered with excitement.
For the past few weeks, since she had winged into the Mysterious Woods, she had felt something coming, something big, yet she had trouble even grasping the idea that she was a 'she' and not an 'it.' She knew not what it was, but she was certain whatever happened, it would involve her in some way. Maybe the answer would lie with this Molly person the strange women kept talking about.
Eve searched her mind, going as far back as her memory would allow her. Something was there, blocking her thoughts. Her conscious memory seemed to have begun a few months ago. She had no idea what her name was nor where she came from. All she knew was that she was. How strange it was to know only that you were, not who you were, nor what you were, just that you were.
She pondered that even as the sunlight disappeared from her vision and she was lost in a world known only as Tracy's carpet-bag. She sat down on the bottom of the jar and folded her hands over her knees. All she had to do now was wait, just wait. Everything would come in time. Only time. A little time, until the end of time. Link…that name had meaning…
The morning seemed to pass by quickly and with everyone all a talk about Molly's birthday, Valerie found it easy to escape into the hot summer sunlight. The sun was beating down as if the world were its drum and Valerie felt thankful for the white fabric of her dress, which repelled the worst of the heat. All the same, Valerie's skin never seemed to tan. She could stand out in the naked noon light for hours and her flesh would be no tanner than before.
Val wandered across the eastern road until it ended and found herself pushing through the tall grass of the Ukuku Prairie. During the summer dry season, the grass would turn yellow and stiff. As she made her way through the waist-high roughage, she listened to the crackling and snapping sounds, wondering if anyone else was close enough to hear it.
An instinct took a hold of Valerie's sense. Her eyes snapped upwards, only to be greeted by a clear, cloudless sky. She frowned. What was making her so nervous these days? She shook her head. Perhaps it was all the excitement of the past month. Link's arrival had shaken up life on Koholint.
As Valerie lowered her gaze, she found herself staring at a nearby tree. In a lower branch, shaded by layers of crisp green leaves, the owl Ezri sat perched. He flapped his impressive wingspan once and stared at Valerie, narrowing his eyes.
"What?" she asked with a slightly bemused expression, "are you feeling a premonition as well?"
Naturally, Ezri said nothing, but continued to stare fixedly at Valerie, as if he longed to tell her something. The white feathers around his neck flared and ruffled for a moment as he emitted a long, mournful hoot. He extended his wings again, then tucked them behind his back.
"Talking to birds is a sign of insanity," a cold voice droned, sending a chill through Valerie's warm limbs. She turned to find Richard standing behind her, his powerful arms planted firmly on his hips.
"It's not every day that you see a night owl sitting in the sunlight," Valerie said icily.
"Stranger things have happened on this island than the occasional cameo of a bird," Richard said, springing into motion. He circled her, like a hunter stalking his prey, staking his claim. "Premonitions you say?" he asked.
"Is the word too big for you Richard?" she replied smoothly.
"Well, you'll forgive me angel," he said, evoking Valerie's much hated nickname, "but we are not all as well read as you. Nonetheless, I know what a premonition is. You're sensing a possible future event of importance. Or at least you think you can."
"I see you're not a firm believer in the power of the human mind," she murmured, looking up at Ezri.
"The human mind?" Richard asked. "No not really. Not at all." He stopped, staring at Valerie, who kept her gaze in Ezri's direction. "But I must say that your mind fascinates me."
"Save your breath Alpha Male," Valerie muttered, not taking her gaze from Ezri for a moment.
"Tell me about this premonition of yours angel," he said evenly, now also glancing up at Ezri.
"It's not something that can be described," she said, too weary to insult him. "It's just a feeling. You do know what feelings are, don't you?"
Richard snorted. "Feelings are just human failings, weaknesses."
"That's what I thought you'd say," Valerie muttered quietly.
"Tell me, did you feel this sort of premonition when our Hylian guest first arrived?" Richard asked, now adjusting the thick leather belt, which fell over his red poet's shirt.
"What if I said yes?" Valerie asked quietly.
Richard walked around Valerie and looked her square in the eyes. "Then I'd say one of two things is true. Either you're insane, or I have another secret to keep. Whichever way though, I'd say your premonition was a let down. Link offers nothing of any value to us here."
"Of course," Valerie said smiling, "I should have known that the great secret hunter would smell business. But I do believe Link offers a great deal more to us that you give him credit for."
"Oh really?" Richard asked, cocking a thick black eyebrow.
"He's really a very friendly person. Do you know what a friend is Richard?"
"A liability," Richard said smoothly, turning away from Valerie and wandering idly over to Ezri's tree.
"From your point of view perhaps," Valerie conceded. "Link is just what Marin needs, I know that much."
"What's Marin got to do with this?" Richard asked, turning sharply on Valerie.
"Do you mean to tell me that I've managed to observe something that the great secret hunter failed to notice?" Valerie asked with noticeable surprise.
"I don't really care much for the Mabe Village scene these days," Richard said with a heavy sigh. "Do enlighten me." He threw his arms in Valerie's directly and bowed mockingly.
"Link and Marin are just what the other needs," Valerie said. "Marin's been too long without any sort of companionship and Link needs a friendly face to turn to now that his life is upside down."
"I'm not sure if you're telling me that they're courting or that they're playing on a tennis court," Richard said smoothly.
"I'm not saying either," Valerie said quietly.
"So are you saying you have a premonition about their relationship?" Richard asked coyly.
Valerie frowned. Was he trying to trap her? She lifted her chin in defiance. "Perhaps," she said coolly.
Richard sauntered back over to Valerie and looked her dead in the eyes. "And what premonitions do you have about yourself?" he asked dryly.
"That if you don't back away from me soon, I'm going to slap that smug grin off your face." She said calmly.
Richard's grin increased. He bent in a mock bow again. "Well, in that case forgive me dear lady." He began backing away. "I take my leave."
Valerie watched Richard continue on his way through the dry, tall grass until she could no longer hear the rustling and no longer see the blood red color of his shirt. She exhaled deeply, feeling all the tension trickle out of her muscles. She was disgusted with Richard in a way that she could never be with any other person, living or dead.
Ezri emitted another loud hoot, pulling Valerie's focus back to the mysterious owl, still sitting in the tree. Ezri's hoot was like none other. His voice was clear and firm, much like Tarin when he was talking to Marin. When music burst forth from Ezri's beak, everyone would stop to listen.
"I know you weren't warning me about Richard," she said quietly, edging her way closer to Ezri. "What was it?" she asked.
Ezri turned his face to the north. He then released a sound Valerie had never heard from him before. It was a cry. Unlike his clear hoot, it was confused and quiet, almost mournful. It started out low in both volume and pitch, but slowly, the sound grew louder, and the pitch more alive and painful.
"What are you trying to tell me?" she asked, fighting for her voice to be heard above Ezri's din. "What should I know? What are you warning me about? Is there danger coming? Another stranger? Is someone going to die?" she screamed.
By this point, Ezri had unfurled his wings again. His wingspan was an impressive four feet. He shook his brown and white feathers back and forth, still emitting his horrid cry. The talons of his yellow feet extended and contracted, digging deeper and deeper trenches into the bark of the branch on which he sat. He squeezed his yellow eyes shut and continued screaming.
Valerie brought her hands to her ears. "What do you want me to do?" she screamed, her voice lost beneath the owl's wail. "What are you trying to tell me?"
But Ezri was beyond hearing now. He wailed and moaned, turning to face north. Leaves fell from the branches of his tree and the bark flaked off, falling into stacks in the cool shade of the tree below.
"Something's coming," Valerie whispered, more to herself now than to Ezri. "Something very, very bad is going to happen," she cried softly.
Ezri's wailing stopped as though a conductor had cut off an orchestra. He slowly retracted his talons back into his yellow feet. His wide wings flapped once and pulled back into place. He opened his yellow eyes, staring at Valerie for one long moment. Calmly, as if nothing had ever happened, he tucked his head under a wing and drifted off to sleep.
The hypnotic roll of the waves carried across the island. Marin closed her eyes, lifting her chin to the sky. She breathed deeply for a moment, forgetting herself in the tender splashes of the waves upon the shore. She could have been anywhere on the island and she was certain the only thing she would have heard would be the waves.
Quiet seemed to be the trend on Koholint for the past three weeks. No one was talking more than necessary. It was as though each individual that Marin had known since her eighth year had become an isolated island, lost in a sea of his or her own thoughts. Marin herself was the champion of silence.
She hugged a woven basket to her chest and slowly opened her eyes. "Back to life, back to sense," she muttered quietly to herself.
She knelt in the soft sand and started running her fingers over it, searching for shells which she would use to make arrow-heads. She smiled slightly, feeling the grains of white sand roll over her fingers, smooth as silk.
An image from a dream crept into her mind. She tried to push the thought away, but it forced its way into the forefront of her mind. She had had another nightmare last night. She dreamt that she was hunting. A dark clad figure had jumped out of the shadows and drawn a knife on her. She fought fiercely, but he gained the upper hand. Holding her fast to the forest floor with his knees, he had carved a symbol into her forehead. The Triforce.
Marin sighed painfully. Her quest for seashells forgotten for a moment, she ran a slender finger across the damp sand, tracing the image of the Triforce. She had not, in truth, spared much thought for the Triforce since her ninth birthday. How strange it was that now it would resurface in her mind. Her nightmares had grown progressively worse and worse since Link's arrival, but the Triforce, an image of hope, had been present in all of them.
Link. Another stab of pain welled up inside of her chest as she watched the waves smooth over her Triforce, erasing it all but from her memory. She still wasn't sure where she stood with Link. Every time she saw him, she felt the floodgates of her memory open up. She had fought so long and hard to repress the part of her that was of the Triforce, but now, with Link around, she felt as thought it were being forced back to the surface again.
It was as if she had been split into two people. She stood on a white plane watching both her halves stare at each other in curiosity. On one side, there was a rugged island girl. Her skin was sun-dyed and her hands were coarse from a wooden bow draped over one of her strong shoulders. On the other side stood a dainty princess whose flesh had never seen the sunlight and whose hands had never known hard labor. Both women looked strangely the same, yet they were so vastly different, they could not help but gape at each other.
There had been no question in Marin's mind of which girl she favored, but now with Link around, she wasn't sure who she was supposed to be. Everyone else saw the rugged country girl, but did Link still see the princess? Marin doubted very much if there was any princess left inside of her at all.
She felt her fingers start to drift towards the necklace around her neck. She had not worn the silver chain until three weeks ago. It was the only part of her that still remained a princess. The necklace with it's tear pendant and purple gem was the only connection she had to a person she had once been nine years ago.
A shadow suddenly fell over the sand before Marin. She growled in annoyance. "Richard, I don't want anything to…"
"It's not Richard," a voice interrupted.
Marin turned around and saw Link standing over her. "Oh," she said quietly. She turned back and pretended to be busy with her basket.
Link squatted down in his place, resting his arms over his knees. He looked over Marin's shoulder at the basket. "What are you doing?" he asked nonchalantly.
"Gathering some shells for tools," she said as equally detached as he.
Link nodded. He fiddled with his brown leather gauntlets, pretending to feel more at ease than he really was. "I…I was just looking for a place. I should probably move out of your house and find a place to call my own," he said carefully.
Marin nodded slightly. "There are plenty of prime places for a house to be built," she said. She stood up, brushing the dusty sand from her skirt.
Link rose, matching her movements. "I want to be in the town, nearby," he said.
Marin smiled uneasily. "It'll be nice to have you nearby," she said awkwardly.
"Yeah…" he muttered, swinging his arms slightly.
"Well," Marin trailed slightly.
"Well…" Link echoed.
"Well…" Marin waited a few minutes, but the two of them just stood in silence. She suddenly started off east, along the beach.
"Marin," Link called after her. She didn't stop. She kept walking, trying to feign a sort of deafness. "Zelda," he called softly.
Marin spun on heel, a fiery fury in her eyes. "Don't call me that," she hissed.
"Our conversations have to consist of more than one syllable words," Link said, facing the fire in her eyes.
"When we're ready to talk, we'll find the right words to say," Marin said stiffly.
"Conversations don't work that way," Link said firmly. "You can't just wait until you're sure that you'll get them right. There's no right time and there's no right place."
"What do you want me to say Link?" Marin asked mournfully. "Do you want me to say 'I've been lying about my identity and race for the past nine years'? You already know that."
"Well, the only question as to that is 'why?'" Link said quietly.
"I had a choice to make and I made it," Marin said, her knuckles turning white as she clenched the rim of her basket.
"You turned your back on Hyrule," Link said with no effort to hide the hurt in his voice.
"I had no choice," Marin said with pain. "I'm not the little girl you remember Link. I'm not Princess Zelda."
"You are," Link said without hesitation. "To me, you are. To your grieving sister Amanda you are. To your lost uncle Matara you are. You can never be a Marin to them."
"I don't need to be a Marin to them," she said sternly. "I'm Marin to Richard and to Carry and to Tarin. They're all that matter to me now."
"Why?" Link asked, taking a step towards Marin.
"Because there's no returning to that old life. No matter how much I may want to return, I can't. Princess Zelda is dead. Marin is alive."
"You don't know what's happened in Hyrule," Link said crossly. "You don't know what's believed, what's held, and what's alive in Hyrule. There's so much I can tell you. There are so many things you need to know."
"I don't want to know," Marin said with pain. "I don't want to hear stories about a life that I can look at but never have."
"You can't turn your back on Hyrule," Link said.
"Maybe not," Marin said quietly, "but I can turn my back on you." To emphasize her point, she spun around and began to walk away from Link.
"Open your heart," Link called after her. "You need to hear what I have to say. There are too many things you don't know that you probably should."
"I don't want to hear about things that I've missed out on," Marin said just loud enough to be heard over the rolling waves.
"I fought Ganon," Link continued as he began to run after Marin.
Marin stopped in her tracks for a moment, though she didn't turn around to face Link. "You fought Ganon?" she asked quietly.
"Yes," he said catching up to her. He ran around to face her. "I finally discovered why I was born the Chosen Hero. Do you remember how we used to guess at that when we were little?"
"I remember," Marin said quietly, meeting Link's eyes with her own.
"I drew the Master Sword and I battled with Ganon. And I won Zelda, I won. I banished him to a realm far away from Hyrule."
"Banished him to another realm?" she asked, ignoring his use of her name.
"I've learned so much magic Zelda," he said with passion. "I was so unsure when I was young. I didn't know what my destiny was, I didn't know what I was to become."
"And now you know you were destined to be a hero in battle," Marin said, a smile threatening to break her lips.
"There are so many things I could tell you," he said, taking her shoulders in his powerful hands. "I could tell you stories of epic battles, of villains that defy description, and of your family."
Marin felt a stab of pain flush across her chest. As hard as she had always tried, a part of her had been unable to forget her parents and her older sister Amanda. Though she herself had long ago buried the last name of Harkin, it was still embedded in her spirit. She looked up into Link's blue eyes. He was filled with a giddy excitement with the possibility of sharing his infinite knowledge of Hyrule with her, but all she could think about was the pain it would cause her to hear the name of Harkin spoken aloud.
"No," she said weakly, pushing Link's hands away from her shoulders. She turned and began to walk in the opposite direction.
Link stood still, watching her leave, the wind swishing around her green dress. "In time Marin?" he asked quietly.
She paused in mid-step. "In time, I'll want to hear all your stories," she said hoarsely, "but the time will never come when you can call me 'Zelda' in public."
"That's fair enough," Link said softly, seeing the points of her ears peek through her hair. "I can accept that…for now."
Marin turned around. This time, her eyes were filled with pain, rather than rage. "Accept it forever," she said with a sense of pleading.
"I'll tell you want," he said, folding his arms behind his back. "I'll accept it until you're ready for me not to accept it."
Marin smiled slightly. "I have your word?"
Link dipped his head. "You have my word as the Chosen Hero of Hyrule. In the light of day, I will know you only as Marin of Koholint, even though my heart will know you as Zelda Harkin."
She lowered her eyelids. Something about his speaking from the heart made her feel as though she could trust him…and more. A blush threatened to creep up into her cheeks, so she turned around and walked away briskly.
Link watched her disappear behind some palm trees. The stabbing memory of his dream returned to him with blinding force. He gazed out at the water, almost searching for the creature, which had grabbed her and pulled her under. He had the oddest feeling as though it was all leading up to something. He didn't know what 'it' was and he certainly didn't know what this was leading up to.
"At least you know that you don't know," he teased himself quietly. He tried to laugh, but the laughter was weak, reminding him that something was afoot. He had had premonitions before, but they had never been so frightening. He had never known anyone who had meant as much to him as Zelda…Marin…Zelda.
He thought back to his dream. He had asked himself each night whether or not he loved her. The thought of something harming her seemed to answer the question. He was certain that he loved her. Once his fears faded, he would have to find a way to ask her if she felt the same. This frightened him further. What if the answer was no?
"I'm sure Molly's never tried my cakes before, so I think she's in for a big surprise," the Bear Chef named Wills said firmly.
"Well, she hasn't lived until she's eaten your pineapple surprise cake," the foxy Summer said with a friendly smile.
"What are you going to give her?" Wills asked, running his hands over his freshly starched smock.
Summer tilted her head to one side, smiling mischievously, although foxy Summer always looked mischievous. "I'm giving Molly a brass wristlet."
"A brass wristlet? What does a witch need with a brass wristlet?" Wills asked skeptically.
"I figure it's not a witch gift, it's more of a woman to woman type of gift," Summer said with a slight shrug. "Besides, my first idea of giving her a crystal ball was already taken."
Wills laughed. "Well, there's no laying claim on ideas these days," he said, clapping Summer on the back.
Carry leaned back, resting his head against the rough bark of a nearby tree. He watched as Summer and Wills drifted off in opposite directions, each returning to their respective homes. Life in the Animal Village was a series of short-lived conversations like the one Carry had just witnessed.
The dusk was just beginning to brush against the horizon. With the day's work done, Carry found himself relaxing in the cool shade of his favorite elm. He folded his clawed hands over the lap of his saffron robe, taking in the scenery. If there's one skill Carry had developed over the years, it was a tendency to observe people.
He liked to watch the citizens of the Animal Village converse with one another. He was particularly drawn to Summer, who was a tall young lady with jet black hair which fell to her shoulders in fat, abundant curls.
"Hey Carry!" someone shrilled, drawing Carry's thoughts away from foxy Summer. It was Matilda.
Carry smiled, displaying his long white teeth. "Hello," he said simply, pushing himself into a more upright sit.
Matilda trounced over to Carry and plopped down next to him under the tree. "We did it," she said excitedly. "We actually caught a fairy, a real live fairy!"
"Really?" Carry asked, folding his knees in towards his body.
"She's beautiful, the most beautiful thing ever!" Matilda continued. "She's as beautiful as…something that's really, really beautiful."
"From the forest?" Carry asked, slightly confused by Matilda's word choice.
She nodded. "It was an unreal experience. I mean, Molly always said that catching a fairy is a completely out of body moment, but I never thought it would be anything like it was."
"Listen to her go on," someone said sarcastically. "You would think she'd never caught a fairy before." Tracy walked over to Matilda and patted her on the head condescendingly. "You've caught plenty of fairies before, haven't you Carry?" she asked as Matilda knocked her hand away.
Carry nodded. "Lots," he said simply.
Tracy sighed and sat down on the grass next to Matilda. "I'm really looking forward to Molly's birthday tomorrow. It feels like ages since we had a decent amount of excitement around here."
"What about Link?" Carry asked with confusion.
"What about him?" Tracy muttered breezily. "Link is old news now. Mr. X has come and now he's here to stay. Nothing much to say."
"Still, he hasn't exactly told us much. There could be all sorts of interesting things to know about him," Matilda pointed out.
"Save the fun facts to know and tell about Mr. X for a dull time," Tracy said smoothly. "Molly's birthday should be a really nice change of pace. Think of it. How often do we actually get to see Molly?"
"Not that often," Matilda admitted, beginning to play with the folds of Tracy's blue dress.
"I'm positive our gift to her will be the best one she's ever gotten," Tracy continued.
"What are you giving her Carry?" Matilda asked.
"Don't know," Carry said with a slight shrug.
"You'd better think of something, the party is tomorrow night," Tracy scolded him.
Carry ran his claws through his mane of red hair. "I know," he muttered. He began digging through the many pockets of his robe. He produced a paper map of the island, at which both Matilda and Tracy wrinkled their noses.
"I wonder what she'll want to do with the fairy," Matilda said with a slight frown tugging at her lips.
Tracy shrugged. "It's not polite to implore about a gift once it's given," she said, trying her hardest to sound like a seasoned expert at gift-giving.
"Can I see?" Carry asked, casting his gray eyes in Tracy's direction.
"Sure, I don't see why not," Tracy muttered. She yanked her dress out of Matilda's wandering fingers and stood up. She stooped down and began digging through her carpet bag which had been resting at her side. "Here you go," she said, producing the corked glass jar.
Carry stood up clumsily. He reached out and clasped his fingers around the sides of the glass jar. "Thanks," he said, pulling his face close to the glass. Inside, Eve stared out at him in idle curiosity.
"Hey Carry, Eve has the same hair that you do," Matilda teased, leaning back on her elbows.
"Eve?" Carry asked, sweeping his gaze to Matilda.
"We named her Eve."
"She looks like an Eve."
"Oh." Carry looked back at the jar. "What does an Eve look like?
"Like our fairy," Tracy snapped, indignant at Matilda's sense of humor.
"Blue skin," Carry muttered, examining Eve carefully.
"Yeah," Tracy muttered, still clinging to the jar. "I know I've never seen a fairy like that before."
"And red eyes," Carry continued.
"She has pointed ears too, isn't that odd?" Matilda added.
Carry nodded. "Different," he murmured.
"Different isn't a bad thing," Matilda replied, only slightly defensive.
"No," Carry said quickly.
"Of course not," Tracy added.
"Everyone on this island is different," Matilda continued.
"We all have our little quirks," Matilda persisted.
"Matty, stop talking like Richard," Tracy snapped.
Carry pressed his nose to the side of the glass. He took a shallow breath, frowned, and took a deeper breath. "Fireflower…" he whispered.
"What?" Tracy asked, pulling the jar an inch away from Carry.
"She smells like fireflower," Carry said calmly.
"What's fireflower?" Matilda asked.
"A flower," Carry said simply.
"I got that," Matilda scowled.
"It's a red flower," Carry said, glancing from Eve to Matilda.
"It grows up near Tal Tal Heights, doesn't it?" Tracy asked, searching her mental herb list.
"Yes," Carry affirmed. "Beautiful flowers. Blood red."
"Describing something with the word blood hardly makes it sound appealing," Tracy pointed out.
Carry shrugged, not really understanding. "Fireflowers are hard to find. Very rare."
"You could say the same thing about old Molly," Matilda joked.
Carry smiled slightly, carefully keeping his mouth closed so as not to frighten Eve with his fangs. "Yes."
"Why are they called fireflowers?" Matilda asked, suddenly weary.
"They burn your fingers," Carry told her, finally pulling his face away from Eve's jar.
"I see," she muttered. "Look, don't touch."
"Those are generally words to live by," Tracy admitted. "So you think our fairy smells like fireflower?"
"I know she smells like fireflower," Carry said firmly.
"I've never heard of anything like that before," Tracy said. "I guess it makes sense though. I mean fairies live among the flowers. But you said fireflowers burn the flesh. Why would a fairy purposely live around such painful vegetation?"
"Don't know," Carry said, straightening his robe.
"Well, it'll be Molly's problem tomorrow," Tracy said with a sigh.
"When are we going to give Eve to her?" Matilda asked.
"Tomorrow morning, bright and early, when we go down to sing for her," Tracy said.
"You sing for her?" Carry asked.
"It's been a tradition for the past few years. A few of us go to Molly's window and sing to her on the morning of her birthday. She says it reminds her of her younger days," Tracy explained.
"Do you think Marin will actually show up this time?" Matilda asked.
"I don't know. Marin's head has been in the clouds for the past three weeks," Tracy snickered.
"I think she likes Link," Carry said bashfully.
"Marin? In lust with a boy?" Tracy asked.
"Unheard of!" Matilda cried with a slightly wicked smile. "She knows that if she ever found a boyfriend, we'd been merciless to her."
"Don't be mean to Little Marin," Carry scolded them.
"The way she's been carrying on for the past few weeks, it almost makes sense that she would be attracted to Mr. X," Tracy muttered, trying to piece together the idea in her head.
"Well, at any rate, I hope she shows up tomorrow to help us sing. A song is no good without someone doing the actual melody," Matilda said, falling back onto the grass. She brought her hands under her head and stared up at the sky, which seemed to be growing dangerously red in the dusk.
"Well, tomorrow we'll give Eve to Molly and find some real excitement around this dump," Tracy sighed.
"That would be nice," Carry told her with a shy smile.
"Yeah, any change of pace is good," Tracy said, carefully returning Eve to her bag.
"I'm not so sure about that," Matilda said.
Link sat on the windowsill, staring out at the ever-darkening sky. The nights on Koholint were a stark contrast to the Hylian sunsets in his mind. In Hyrule, the nights were just as busy as the days. People would be walking in and out of shops, across bustling streets, and through active marketplaces at all hours of the day. Were he watching the sunset in Hyrule, Link could have easily glanced out the window to observe a busy commerce zone filled with people.
Koholint was different. As Link rested his head against the inside wall of the windowsill, he saw a still life painting through the glass. Several palm trees, swaying in the cool evening breeze provided the only real motion he could see. Across the Mabe Village, tiny huts with windows glowing in firelight stood as solemn testimonies to the frightened lives of the people on Koholint.
Link imagined the people huddling together in their little homes, speaking in hushed whispers while moving ever closer to their loved ones. So strong was their fear of the mythological demons that haunted the island at night that they closed themselves off from their own environment every night.
Link was both disgusted and empathetic to their fears. On the one hand, he knew what it was like to face a monster, a killer. He could hardly imagine any of the villagers trying to slay the creatures of darkness that wreaked havoc on Hyrule in the days of Agahnim. Yet at the same time, he felt a profound distaste for the villagers' fears of creatures that most likely didn't exist. So long had they been adhering to the ancient beliefs, that they no longer knew fact from fiction. They had no idea if any real demons came out at night, they just assumed it was true.
Link sighed, lifting his gaze to the purpling sky. A wave of regret flooded through his chest. As hard as he tried, he couldn't stop thinking about Hyrule. It was a part of his every waking moment. Even trivial observations about the stillness of the Mabe Village always led his thoughts back to Hyrule. He felt that he had so much still to learn, so much to go back to. Perhaps he had been lying to himself when he bragged to Zelda about his knowledge. His skills in magic most definitely left something to be desired.
Magic. It was curious to think that Zelda had been able to cast such a strong spell over the people of Koholint when she first washed up on the shores. Link could see no sign that she used magic anymore, yet he knew there was some magic left in her. After all, as far as he could tell everyone on Koholint knew her merely as Marin. Their minds had not been unveiled to the reality of her identity.
He wondered how powerful her magic really was. Creating an identity for herself must have taken a lot of effort. Not to mention that creating an identity meant creating a history and a lineage to follow.
Link turned his attention away from the window. Tarin was busily moving about the hut, taking no pains to keep his noise levels down. He seemed unusually hyperactive this evening. He couldn't seem to sit still for more than two minutes at time. He darted back and forth, first cleaning mushroom spores out of his old green vest, then folding the bed sheets and quilts, then darting to the chest of drawers to rearrange his impressive collection of bartering items.
He had no idea. It amazed Link beyond measure. Here he was, living the life of a father, when in reality, he had never had any children and probably never had a wife. Once again, he found himself baffled by the power of Zelda's wish to become another person. Her affect on people was far deeper than most magic Link had ever witnessed.
"You look pensive lad," Tarin said, pausing to sit in his rocking chair a few feet away from the window. "Something troubling you? What's on your mind?"
Link sighed. "I was just thinking about my parents," he lied.
"Ah, I can understand that," Tarin said gravely, nodding his head.
"Tarin, may I ask you a personal question?" Link found himself asking.
"Of course, of course," Tarin said eagerly, gesturing for Link to continue.
"Marin's mother…" Link began.
"My darling wife!" Tarin interrupted him. "If only you could have met her, she would have loved you. It's a pity even Marin didn't get to know her. The fates took my dear Kally away before Marin was a knee high."
"Her name was Kally?" Link asked, fighting the urge not to smile. He knew full well where Zelda had come up with the name Kally. Her father, her real father, used to tell his daughters fairy tales about a beautiful princess named Kally.
"Aye," Tarin admitted with a nod. "A fine girl, she was. I loved her dearly. The day I asked her to marry me, I said to her, 'Kally, I don't have much to offer a sweet girl like yourself. This here is the whole package, and the whole package loves you, so you can take or leave it if you please.'"
Link laughed a little bit. "I'm sure you swept her off her feet," he said.
"I would hope so," Tarin said, leaning back. "She was quite the girl, independent to an extreme. Marin takes after her. She was always going off by herself for long periods of time during the day. Which makes me now wonder where Marin's off to. She'd better be back before the sunset."
"She always is," Link said quietly.
"Aye, she's a good girl, she's much set in her ways, but she knows not to worry me," Tarin replied proudly.
"What was she like as a child?" Link asked, swinging his feet off of the windowsill and down to the floor.
"Stubborn as sin, I'll tell you that much," Tarin replied with a twinkle in his eye. "She always got what she demanded and when she wasn't happy, she wasn't shy to let everyone who would listen know about it. When she was a little tyke, I used to call her my little princess, but the day she turned eight years old, she decided that she no longer liked that pet name and refused to answer to it. As I said, she was as stubborn as sin. Still is, only in a different way. She's grown into a witty young thing."
"Always pressing the limits," Link said, more to himself than to Tarin.
"Aye," Tarin agreed, "always pressing the limits. Staying out late at night and pushing Richard into lakes when he gets on her bad side. She's got fire inside of her, my girl does."
"She's not like the other girls on the island," Link murmured.
"I'd go as far as to say that she's not like anyone else on the island," Tarin said gruffly. "Richard calls her peculiar and while I would be the first to disagree with Richard, sometimes I wonder if it's true or not."
"Being peculiar isn't a bad thing," Link pointed out.
"No, of course it isn't, but it certainly makes one stand out in a crowd," Tarin said. "Marin always has her head in the clouds, her nose in a book, or her feet in the waters. Sometimes, it takes a certain amount of effort just to get a reaction out of her."
"Still waters run deep," Link said wisely.
"Aye," Tarin agreed. "Sometimes, it's hard to reach Marin. I wonder what she's hiding. Of course, no child deserves to grow up without knowing her own mother. Sometimes I think I would have had an easier time reaching out to my pretty pearl if her mother had lived long enough. I try as hard as I can, but it's hard to raise a daughter when you're a man. Sons are just so much easier to deal with."
"Well, all things considered, you've done a pretty good job," Link said re-assuringly. "Marin is a fine girl."
"That she is," Tarin said, rocking slowly. "And I'm glad that a young lad like you would notice her wonderful qualities."
"Marin is unlike anyone that I've ever met," Link said, reflecting on a new understanding of the spell that Zelda had cast. She hadn't created a new name for herself, she had created a complex person whose skin she now inhabited.
Tarin smiled and leaned forward in his chair. "Far be it for me to impose anything on you lad, but I wouldn't object in the least bit if you wanted to pursue any sort of relationship with my daughter."
Link blinked in surprise. "Relationship?" he asked.
"Marin's a lonely girl and I know that you're very much alone here on Koholint. I think you two would become fast friends. But I've barely heard you speak two words to each other since your arrival." Tarin rested his arms on his knees. "But I've seen the way you look at her lad."
"I don't mean anything by it," Link said. He frowned. "What do you mean by 'the way I look at her'?" he asked.
Tarin chuckled. "You look at her like you'd never seen a woman until you met her," he said knowingly. "You like to watch her sitting in that there windowsill, watching the sun reflect in her eyes. I don't mind bragging when it comes to my daughter. She's a pretty sight for sore eyes to see."
"She's very beautiful," Link admitted, feeling the blood rush into his cheeks.
"Don't get all embarrassed now lad," Tarin said laughing, "I don't want to scare you off. I just want you to know that you have my blessing to find an attraction in my Marin. It makes me happy, the thought that she might find her own intellectual equal on this blasted island after all. You two would make a pretty pair."
"I'd like that very much," Link admitted.
The door creaked open. The last embers of sunlight licked the floor of the hut as Marin quietly breezed in through the door, closing it softly behind her.
"Pushing the limits again, eh?" Tarin asked, smiling at Marin.
"Sorry," she muttered, kneeling next to a trunk, which she opened with her long slender fingers.
"And where did you wander off to tonight my dear?" Tarin asked.
"Just up to Tal Tal Heights," she said, rummaging through a pile of clothing in the trunk.
"Again?" Tarin asked. "What would you be doing out there at this time of night anyway?"
"I was just looking," Marin said quietly, finding an article of clothing and closing the trunk.
"Looking, always looking," Tarin grumbled good-naturedly. "Life is not a spectator sport my dear."
"I know," Marin muttered, walking over to the drawers, past Link whom she vaguely ignored.
"You have to get involved in life. Live it out full throttle," Tarin continued passionately.
"There's nothing to get involved in here," Marin said coldly.
Tarin sighed. "As you say my dear, as you say." He got up and returned to his work of folding laundry.
Link pulled his legs up onto the windowsill, watching silently. His awe had grown to admiration in a sick sense, for the complex life Zelda…Marin…Zelda had created with the flick of a wrist.
"Would you like to sleep in a bed tonight?" she asked Link distantly, focused intently on her hands. "I can sleep on the windowsill."
"No," Link said quietly, "I think I'll manage. I've had worse."
Marin nodded vaguely. "Goodnight then," she said, pushing herself away from the chest and walking back to her bed.
"Goodnight," he said in a voice so pathetic, it frightened him. He turned his gaze back to the window, trying to digest the conversations of the day. He looked out at the dimly lit night. The huts and palm trees stood still now. How he hated stillness.
It started out quietly, a small, thin sound cutting through the morning air. It was nothing special, just a soft, breathless whisper. If one had tried, it would have been easy to ignore. So frail, so quiet, it could barely even be called a song. It went on softly, barely even leaving its mark on time with an echo.
"I've often been told that the stars in the sky, are lovely beyond compare," the voice sang.
Her voice was so low that one had to strain hard to hear. The birds continued chirping as if there were not a human for miles. A soft early morning breeze washed over the scene, trying to drown out the sound. But it would not be silenced. Another voice joined in, adding strength to the song.
"But when I raise my eyes to the heavens, I find no beauty there," the two sopranos sang in harmony.
No movement came from the house. It was still in the chilly morning air. Old gray cobblestones lined the plaster walls. The only window lay dormant, two black shutters covering over the circular opening. The thatched roof was old and rotting. The hay was matted and smelled of the swamp.
A third voice complicated the harmony. "And they say that dragons, in all their beauty, would drive a person to tears."
There was a rustling sound from inside the dark, damp house. The sound of old, worn out bones cracking could just barely be heard over the song. There was a billowing noise as a silken sheet ruffled in the air and collapsed onto itself inside.
"But I have found that the sight of dragons will only ignite my fears," four voices sang. The harmony was rich and vibrant now. The sound was enough to silence the birds, out of shame rather than fear of human beings.
Floorboards creaked from inside the house. The light tapping of a bamboo cane echoed back and forth, against the walls of the stone and plaster house. The slight chipping of mouse teeth could just barely be heard.
"And they proudly proclaim that the spices of life are sweeter than the face you wear. Well if that's true, then life is the sweetest for the mystical Molly, I swear," the four voices concluded.
The shutters burst open. Light streamed into the window, illuminating a face that peered out into the daylight. Molly was old, it could not be denied, but she carried a certain air about her that seemed younger than a babe. She had long, thin white hair, which fell to her shoulders, fanning out a bit at the ends. Her eyes were a startling blue and always carried a certain glitter, a twinkle about them. Her soft, parchment thin skin was the color of aged oak and proudly displayed laugh lines and wrinkles about her mouth and eyes.
She leaned closer to the outside as the voices died down. In silence, she drew a pair of glasses from her windowsill and carefully rested them on the bridge of her crooked nose. She sternly examined the girls for a moment, her face not portraying an ounce of sleepiness.
She broke into a broad smile. "That was wonderful my girls," she said breathily.
The four girls laughed in embarrassment. "Thank you Molly," Tracy said sheepishly.
"I should be the one to thank you," Molly said. Her voice was always musical. "I should have known that I can always depend on you to make my birthday special."
"You didn't think we'd let you down now, did you?" Matilda asked coyly.
"Never," Molly said firmly. She eyed the girls for a moment. "Although, you do seem to be one shy this year," she pointed out.
"Oh, Marin?" Marnie asked. "She wasn't in her hut this morning. Tarin doesn't know where she is."
"Well, we can't call that odd behavior," Elinor muttered.
"No indeed," Molly said. She clapped her frail hands together. "Now, what other surprises does today hold for old Molly?" she asked, changing the subject.
"Plenty," Matilda said, "provided that everything pans out the way we planned it. The entire Mabe Village is getting involved. The Animal Village too. Everyone except Richard that is. He's the most animalistic of them all."
Molly laughed heartily. "You mustn't insult the animals by calling Richard one of them."
"Well, we humans aren't exactly proud to call him one of us," Tracy said wittily.
"Perhaps," Molly smiled. "I'm very excited. All my dreams told me that today is going to be something special. Full of surprises, I'll warrant."
"Well, we wouldn't want to disappoint your dreams now Molly," Matilda said, pulling on the strap of the bag that Tracy wore across her body.
"Oh!" Tracy said suddenly. She turned to her side and lifted a fabric flap from the bag and pulled something out.
"This is for you Molly, from all of us," Marnie said, ever the hostess.
Tracy carefully placed a glass jar with a bright blue satin ribbon on the windowsill. Molly leaned her face in close and peered inside the jar where Eve said quietly, looking around with her shocking red eyes.
"Oh girls…" Molly breathed, clasping her hands over her mouth. "I don't know what to say. She's beautiful. I've never seen any creature as mystical as she is."
"We're glad you like her Molly," Elinor said, gushing.
"There are a lot more surprises in store today," Tracy said.
"And now madam," Matilda said, removing her hat and bowing in a gentlemanly fashion, "we would be honored to escort you to the house by the bay for a breakfast befitting of a queen."
"The honor is all mine," Molly said, coyly playing along. She set Eve's jar on the inside of the windowsill. Gathering up her long, flowing skirts in one hand, she hobbled over to the door and slowly made her way out. Clutching her bamboo cane in one hand, she released her skirts and playfully thrust the other hand out. Matilda, playing the gentleman, took the frail hand, and escorted her to the road.
Eve watched on as the five women disappeared. She tilted her head curiously, wondering where they were going, but not really caring. They were unimportant. Nothing mattered except for the voice.
The voice was compelling her, daring her to move forward with it. With what? She wondered in vain. There was something more. She was something more. She couldn't quite make it out, her memory was still clouded with the smoke of captivity. Captivity? What did that mean?
She turned her attention towards the inside of the little cottage. It was dark, dank, and cold, but there was something important about it. She glanced around the room, letting her eyes adjust to the darkness. She made out a small bed on the wall opposite of her. The frame was made of cracked and dry oak and the mattress was stuffed with down feathers. Near the bed was a small water bowl and jar, both empty and made entirely of glass.
The rest of the room seemed bare. It's not here, Eve thought sadly. She frowned. What wasn't here? She couldn't seem to figure it out. She sat down on the bottom of the glass jar, her lower lip jutting out in a frustrated pout. It, whatever it was, had to be here somewhere. If it wasn't here, she would never find it.
She looked down towards the floor and saw a cast iron caldron just below her, leaning against the wall. A thick, white liquid was simmering inside. When the light hit the liquid, it took on faded shades of green and pink. The texture looked smooth and silky, but rather unpleasant. Somehow, Eve knew that this was what she had been looking for. It was her liberator, yet she didn't understand how a liquid, which she couldn't identify, was going to liberate her from a capture that she couldn't recognize.
Somehow, she was a prisoner. Not in the literal sense of being stuffed in a glass jar. Her body was a prison and her soul, for which she could not seem to recall a name, was the inmate. She felt a tingle run through her body. She'd know soon enough.
She stood up and pressed her hands against the side of the jar facing the inside of the cabin. She felt her breath catch in her throat. She wondered if what she was doing was wise. For all accounts, there was nothing wrong with her current existence, but she knew that she would never be happy as long as she knew something was missing. She needed to know who she really was and why she had come to this place.
Pulling strength from all the reserves of her tiny body, she leaned back, then suddenly, with a mighty surge, she threw herself forward, against the side of the jar. The glass bottom grained up against the wooden sill, making the sound of sandpaper. Eve fell backwards, landing on her behind. She shook her head and looked up. She had only managed to move forward an inch or so.
Estimating that it would take at least two more mighty shoves, she rose to her feet, determined to meet her goal, whatever the cost. Ignoring the ringing sound, screaming in her ears, she rammed herself against the side of the jar again. This time, she rebounded clear to the other side of the jar. Her back slammed into the glass and she sank to the bottom.
Her body ached, screaming for her to rest, to stop this torture, but her mind drove her on. She would not rest, she could not rest, not now. Not when her goal was so close at hand. She staggered to her feet, her thin, weak legs shaking like mad from the impact on the glass. Screaming in rage and madness, she plunged herself against the glass wall of her jar once more.
For a moment, she felt as though she had not accomplished anything at all. She felt herself frozen in the air, rebounding from the collision with the glass. It seemed to her that the jar was frozen, stuck to the wooden windowsill. She hadn't moved. She hadn't even gained that extra inch. She felt all her limbs tighten as she prepared to slam into the glass.
But she didn't fall backwards. The jar tilted slowly, at an ever-increasing angle. She had done it. Gravity's deceiving fingers wrapped themselves around the jar and as if in slow motion, it plummeted down, down, down. Inverted, the cork lid flew away. Where it would end up, Eve would never know. She closed her eyes, resigning herself to fate. She braced herself and she plunged into the caldron below.
At first, it was nothing. The creamy liquid easily gave way, cushioning Eve's fall. The broth was cool and smelled of herbs, as if she had fallen into a vat of liquid soap. She could move her arms ever so slightly, flailing in the thick liquid. But this was only for a moment.
She felt a tingle race over her skin. It grew more and more intense until it had turned into a burn. She could feel fire surrounding her. Hotter and hotter it grew. Her hair caught ablaze. Her rose skirt began to turn a brittle black color as the petals wilted in the immense heat.
Sights and sounds came racing through her brain. She could not understand what she was seeing, but she understood now that her existence was over. She was not real. She had never been real. She was only an illusion, a spell meant to keep her…whatever she really was, at bay.
She felt herself changing. A pulsing sensation engulfed her form. Power flowed into from every side, from every flame. She could feel her beauty giving way to a hideous reality. She watched her hands wither and transform into olive colored claws.
It call came rushing back suddenly. Hyrule. King Harkin. Agahnim. The Triforce. And Link. The flood was so over-powering and none of it made sense. At first.
Slowly, comprehension crept forward from the recesses of a sinister mind, long dormant, but now revived and pulsing with energy once again. Link. Link had done this. He had been the one who had mastered the deception. Link was the one who had created the prison and locked the prisoner in for all eternity. But Link had failed, and now he would be punished. That was the reason for being on Koholint.
Molly's caldron exploded with a wicked crack. Great gobs of white liquid flew out in all directions, splashing against the cobblestone walls and sliding down to the floor. The shattered cast iron frame broke up into a hundred sharp shards, each one embedding itself in the walls, bed, and window shutters.
A looming figure stood alone. He examined himself for a moment. He felt as though he were in an unfamiliar vessel. He looked at his severe hand, the skin olive-green and long black fingernails jutting out of each finger. He ran his hand down the side of his body, inspecting each part of him. His wild red hair, muscular shoulders and arms, both clothed in thick leather armor. He squeezed his hand tightly, feeling the leather gauntlets on his arms tighten accordingly.
A wicked smile slowly traced across his lips. It had been centuries since he had inhabited this body. Heroes had come and gone. He had been turned into a monster, a boar more closely resembling a pig, and then he had been reduced to nothingness. The fairy had been his vessel to returning into the real world.
He looked around the room. Slowly, he paced towards the wall, his large, heavy boots crunching on broken pieces of caldron. He reached out and pulled the largest, sharpest shard from the wall. Turning it over in his hands, his mind conjured up a thought, which made him devilishly happy.
Revenge, a voice whispered to him. Perhaps his hopes for taking Hyrule and the Triforce were dashed, but he would have his revenge. Here on this island. There was no place for the great, so-called, hero to run to. There would be no games this time. No Agahnim to hide behind. No shadows. No phantoms. No games.
"Let it be known," he muttered, his gravely voice echoing off the walls and into nothingness. "That you may turn me into a swine, you may banish me to realms beyond sight, but you may not silence the voice of power."
He smiled. Running the shard of caldron over the palm of his hand, he drew his own blood. He watched it for a moment in fascination. It was a sickly, pale yellow color. Slowly, he inverted his hand, letting the sticky drops fall one at a time on the creaky wooden floor.
"I swear on my blood," he said to no one in particular, "that I shall have my revenge. I shall have my revenge on this hero, and all that came before him." He smiled. "Ganondorf Dragmire has returned."
"Get away from me Richard," Marin muttered in a low, threatening voice as she increased her speed through the forest.
"You can't walk away from me," he sneered, chasing after her, his long navy cape billowing behind him.
"You're not fast enough to catch me," she said flatly, briskly turning a corner to lose Richard.
It didn't work. "I may not be athletically inclined, but I know your mind well enough Marin," he taunted her.
"Oh? You can read minds? Well guess what I'm thinking right now," Marin called back snidely, images of Richard's head on a stick flashing through her mind.
"Where are you going?" he asked for the millionth time.
"That's none of your business," she replied.
"Why aren't you at the party with everyone else?" he asked, jumping over a shrub to catch up to her.
"I don't feel like going to the party," she said plainly.
"You've never missed one of Molly's birthdays. Not one in your entire life," Richard noted.
"There's a first time for everything," she said with a shrug. She took a sharp turn and veered southwards, towards the Ukuku Prairie.
"There are exactly seventy sentient beings on this island," Richard said, stumbling over a bush, but managing to maintain his chase. "Sixty-six of them are at Molly's birthday party. I want to know what you're up to."
Marin frowned, more out of curiosity than annoyance. "Who else isn't at Molly's party?"
"Why do you ask?" Richard inquired.
"If you must know, I was just hoping I could be alone for awhile."
"Loneliness is a terrible waste of energy," Richard said snidely.
"There's a difference between loneliness and wanting to be alone for awhile," Marin said sternly.
"Is there?" Richard shot back.
Marin stopped. She looked at Richard with a combination of confusion and anger. "Yes. There is."
Richard shrugged. "Not in my opinion."
"Well your opinion doesn't matter," Marin said, picking up her flight again.
"Well, there are four of us absent from Molly's party. Your lovely self, Valerie, the outsider, and of course, me."
Marin frowned. "Link isn't at the party?" she asked, more to herself than to Richard.
"No, he isn't. I imagine he's looking for you as a matter of fact," Richard said, a slight ironic edge to his voice.
"This island is large. You would think there would be enough room on it that all seventy sentient beings could find someplace to be alone for awhile!" Marin exploded.
Richard smiled coyly at the release. "You're avoiding him," he said with a smug, matter-of-fact tone.
"So what if I am?" Marin screamed, swinging a sharp left hook in Richard's direction.
Richard barely managed to duck under the blow. "Now I wonder why you would be avoiding him," he said in a cool, easy tone.
"That's my business, not yours," she said evenly, trying to regain a certain amount of composure.
"My dear, dear girl," Richard said, circling Marin like a predator stalking his prey, "when are you going to learn that there's nothing that goes on here on Koholint that is not my business. It's how I keep maintaining a living you know."
"Your secrets," Marin said with a slight laugh. "Naturally, I should have assumed that you weren't just being annoying, you were being annoying with a purpose today."
"I always have purpose," Richard said with a slight shrug of the shoulders.
"I have no secrets," Marin lied, watching Richard wearily.
"Marin, sweet, stupid Marin," Richard cooed, "You know that everyone does."
"What's your secret?" Marin asked sarcastically.
"Now Marin, if I were to tell you, it wouldn't be a secret."
Marin set her jaw and firmly glared into Richard's icy blue eyes. "If you're not up for sharing, then why should I be?"
"Fair enough," Richard muttered, his annoying smile daring Marin further.
Marin frowned. Richard wasn't one for giving in so easily. "What's your problem today anyway?" she asked slowly and carefully.
"My problem? This island is my daily problem it seems."
Marin regarded him with curiosity. "Lately, everyone seems too cramped in," she admitted. She shook her head violently. This was Richard. No time to get personal. She continued walking towards the prairie.
"There's a troubled moon on the rise," he called after her. "Something strange is going on here, and I think you have something to do with it."
Marin turned around in genuine surprise. "Me?" she asked with such sincerity that Richard was taken aback. "Why would you think that?"
"A premonition," he said shrugging.
"I've never known you to be inclined to premonitions."
"Me neither. If I were, I would have known all the secrets by now."
"So what do you think is coming?" she asked.
Richard shrugged. "I don't know. But whatever it is, I'll find it most entertaining to see you deal with it."
"I assure you Richard, if I catch you following me around, I'll teach you the secret of my kneecap."
Richard winced. "Point taken." He swept his cape back behind his back and offered a low, mocking bow. "Fair thee well Lady Marin."
Marin merely glared at him for a moment before turning around and walking away on the beaten dirt road. Richard laughed quietly to himself. That girl was a piece of work. He wondered what made her tick. Whatever it was, it probably wasn't worth his effort.
He grabbed the bottom of his cape and whipped it around his shoulders. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly stand on end. The strange sensation that someone was watching him crept through his body, but he shrugged it off.
Jutting his nose up in the air for good measure, Richard ambled on, back towards his villa. He would have none of the festivities today. Perhaps there were no secrets to be gotten. He supposed he would track down Valerie or Link later, but for the moment he was content to isolate himself from the rest of the miserable inhabitants of Koholint. Giving no further thought to the creeping sensation, he wandered on home.
Link never ceased being amazed by the hustle and bustle of Koholint. Such being the case, he was grateful for a few minutes to himself. While the rest of the island had ventured down to the bay to celebrate Molly's birthday, he had wandered up to the foothills of Tal Tal Heights.
The wind was powerful up north. Few trees grew in the foothills, so there was nothing to tamper down the violent gales. Link felt a strange feeling of familiarity in this place. He couldn't help the feeling that he had been through a similar situation before, but for the moment he couldn't place it.
"Link!!!" He heard the sound of a shrill female voice calling his name. He turned in a full circle, but saw nothing. The gale pressed against his face with such an intense force that he felt momentarily blinded.
"Who's there?" he called out into the wind. Nothing. It was as though the voice had come from no direction and disappeared into nothingness. Link planted a hand on the hilt of the sword coming from the sheath strapped across his back. He slowly moved downhill, instinctively putting up his guard.
"Link!!!" He heard the voice again. This time he was certain that it was coming from the very direction he was headed in. He rushed down the hill. Loosing his footing, he slide across a pile of dust-covered pebbles, almost tumbling head over heels, but at the last possible second, he regained his balance.
"Where are you?" he called as he ran down the hill, slowly winding to a slow walk. He headed towards the violent river separating the foothills from the rest of the island. He couldn't remember where the footbridge was.
His eyes shot across the river. On the opposite bank, he saw Valerie standing, her hem in her hands, staring intently at Link. There was a panicked expression on her face, leaving Link absolutely certain that she was the one who had called out to him.
"Link, come quickly!" she shouted over the deafening sound of the wind and river.
Link glanced from side to side. Seeing no footbridge, he began wading rapidly into the choppy river water. The undertow immediately took hold of his legs, trying to force them out from under him. He released his hold on the hilt of his sword and held both arms out, flat with palms down to maintain a balance.
The water was cold. Waves splashed up on Link's arms, jabbing him like knives. He grit his teeth and fought the urge to lift his hands away from the water. A cold mist of water jumped out of the river, stinging Link's face. He closed one eye and continued fighting the undertow on his way across the icy waterway. A wave of water splashed into his face. Blindly, he stumbled on, just barely keeping his head up.
He crawled to the shore. Grateful for the reprieve from the water, Link knelt on the grassy bank, spitting the chilled water out of his mouth. He wiped his eyes clean with the back of his hand. The winds had died down a little bit, but there was just enough of a gale to make Link shiver as the water evaporated from his body.
He opened his eyes and looked up. Valerie, still panicked, stood over him, offering a hand. He took it gratefully and pulled himself to a standing position. "Well, that was a refreshing little venture," he said dryly.
"Come with me," she said quickly. She began rushing southeast, towards the forest. Link paused a moment to catch his breath before galloping after her. He wondered why all the woman of this island ran instead of walked.
"Would you mind telling me what this is all about?" he asked breathlessly chasing after her.
"You have to see," she said evenly, maintaining her pace.
Link stumbled over a raised tree root. He fell face first to the dirt, forest floor. Throwing his center of gravity forward, he somersaulted across the ground, ending up on his back, staring up at an incredibly blue sky.
He squeezed his eyes closed for a moment, seeing multicolored spots dance across the inside of his eyelids. When he opened his eyes, he saw Valerie's small hand hovering over him. Though his body screamed for him to lie still a moment, he grabbed hold of her wrist.
"This had better be important," he muttered, pulling himself to his feet. Valerie was a silent rock. Link could tell from her eyes that there was a grave situation at hand, he didn't dare question her.
The two of them resumed their flight through the forest, this time, Link trailing behind Valerie as he hung on desperately to her wrist. His head was spinning and Valerie was running so fast that he wouldn't have been surprised if wings had suddenly sprouted from her back and they were now flying.
Link didn't know how long they continued to run. It might have been five minutes, it might have been five years. It all felt the same to him. When they finally wound to a stop, Link fought every fiber of his being to stay standing.
He leaned against a sturdy oak tree and forced air into his lungs. Slowly, his breathing steadied and his heart stopped racing. He looked around, realizing that he had absolutely no idea where they were. They were in the forest, there was no question about that, but it was the edge of the forest. The trees were a bit sparse. They were standing on a grassy clearing. To his left, Link could see a small, uninviting pond.
Ahead of him, Link observed a small, squat cottage. It appeared to only have one room. The walls were made of sturdy mud and the roof was covered in a yellow, thatched material. There was one window to the right of the old wooden door, but all the same, the place looked perfectly inviting.
"This is Molly's cottage," Valerie said in a hushed voice.
"It's very nice," Link said, breathlessly. "Why are we here? Not that I mind a little speed sight seeing every now and then…"
"Come with me," Valerie said impatiently. She slowly moved towards the wooden door and began pushing against it as if to open it.
"Are you sure we should be doing this?" Link asked hesitantly.
"Breaking and entering."
Valerie stared at him for a moment, blinking. "I think it's okay," she murmured. She pushed the door open and slowly stepped inside.
Feeling as though he were intruding on a cemetery, Link followed Valerie through the door. The room was surprisingly dark. Link stood on the beaten floor for a moment, letting his eyes adjust to the dark. Initially, he couldn't tell what the source of Valerie's alarm was, but comprehension slowly dawned on him.
The room was a wreak. Large shards of pottery had been wedged into the walls, like sharp daggers protruding from various wounds. The bed had been overturned, its mattress lying naked and gutted across the frame. Several candles that had most likely been resting on the now legless table lay split and dead on the floor. The walls and the floor were both covered with a milky white substance that was slowly oozing with gravity.
Link took a few steps further into the room, the sound of his boots echoing off the walls. "What happened here?" he asked Valerie quietly, staring from side to side in disbelief.
"Destroyed," she said simply, fighting the urge to shrug.
"Who would do such a thing?" he asked stupidly.
"I can name plenty of people who would, but none who could," Valerie told him.
Link knelt on the floor. He swabbed up a dollop of the white mixture with his fingers. He lifted it to his nostrils and took a deep breath. It smelled sweet, a little bit like toadstools. He ran his fingers over the paneling of the floor, lapping up some more. He looked at his hands, noticing a strange swirl of another substance in the liquid.
He brought it to this nose again and inhaled. Immediately, he regretted it. Whatever that dark swirl was, it wasn't the toadstool mixture. He coughed as a foul sensation played in his chest. The smell had a certain familiarity to it, but it seemed so out of context that Link dismissed the eerie feeling.
Looking over his shoulder, Link saw Valerie kneeling near the window over what looked to be the remains of a table of some sort. He got up and knelt by her side. She was shifting through a pile of broken metal shards. Slowly, she removed a jagged piece of thick glass.
"This looks like the glass Tracy uses for her jars," Valerie muttered. She replaced the glass and picked up a small piece of cork. "Tracy and the other girls gave Molly a fairy for her birthday."
"In a glass jar?" Link asked.
Link frowned. "That wasn't a very wise idea."
"Fairies are unpredictable. When I fought demons back in Hyrule, they would turn into fairies when I defeated them."
"And this made you distrustful of them?" Valerie asked.
Link nodded. "I was always afraid that if something so ugly could become something so beautiful, why couldn't it just reverse the process?"
Valerie turned the cork over in her hand. "Well, it looks like the fairy fell into Molly's caldron. Maybe whatever she was brewing somehow changed the fairy into something else."
"The question is; what was she brewing?"
Valerie frowned. "I don't like the looks of this," she said, turning her face towards Link.
"Neither do I," he muttered. He almost felt like he was lying though. It had been awhile since anything as exciting as a good, old-fashioned demon had been a part of Link's life. True, the last time he had faced a demon, he had ended up facing something far worse, but that wasn't going to happen again. Not here.
Richard propped his feet up on the heavy oak table. Leaning back in his chair, he folded his arms behind the back of his neck. He wondered for a moment if he would spend the rest of the day just lounging about. It was a depressing thought and he found himself wishing he had elected to go to Molly's party. At least it would have given him something to do.
There was a knock at the door. Richard frowned, lowering his feet off the table. He very rarely had visitors. Occasionally Tracy would appear at his door, but that was only when he summoned her to call in a favor. But it couldn't possibly be Tracy. Richard had not summoned her and he felt fairly certain that even if he had, she would not have come during Molly's celebration.
Sighing with vague annoyance, Richard pulled himself laboriously out of his chair. "Yes? Who is it?" he asked sharply.
There was no reply. Instead, the person on the other side of the door merely knocked again, insistently. Richard was immediately disgusted. He took orders from no one and that persistent knock with no human voice attached to it seemed more like an order than a request for entry.
Well, it didn't matter. At least a guest would provide some entertainment. Richard begrudgingly walked to the door. He turned the knob with force and opened the door quickly, hoping to intimidate his late morning visitor.
Before he had time to open his mouth, Richard was set upon by the most hideous of creatures he had ever seen. He was blinded by a fierce left hook and felt himself being dragged across the floor. He heard the door slam shut under a brute force. He was slammed up against the wall with monstrous strength and he could hear his ears ringing in pain.
"I'm here for information," a low, grating voice rumbled.
Richard couldn't respond with anything more than a grunt. He felt ten sharp points digging into his shoulders. He closed his eyes, squeezing them tight. When he opened them, his vision had begun to clear.
Pinning him against the wall was a creature, taller than Carry, and frankly less domesticated. He had a bowl of bright orange hair framing a balding head. His skin was a sickening green color and covered in severe, leather armor.
Richard stared up wide-eyed. "Who are you?" he asked meekly.
The creature laughed, more to himself than at Richard's query. "I forget that I'm no longer in Hyrule. There my face would strike fear into the hearts of men."
"It's doing a pretty good job right here," Richard whimpered.
The creature responded by bashing Richard's head against the wall. "My name is Master."
"Your new Master!" he shouted. "Say it! I am your Master!"
Richard opened his mouth to speak. "No…" Before he could finish his sentence, the creature bashed him against the wall again.
"Say it!" the creature bellowed.
Richard considered objecting again, but the pain in his head was so great that he didn't think it would be wise. "Master…" he consented.
The creature offered what passed for a smile. He loosened his grip on Richard's shoulders, slightly, and nodded in satisfaction. "Now," he said firmly, "you will give your new master all the information he needs to know."
"What do you want?" Richard asked with a whimper. The creature posed to bash Richard's head again. Quickly, Richard recanted. "What do you want, Master?"
This appeased the creature. "I want to know where Link is," he said evenly.
"Link?" Richard asked, his eyes going wide.
"Yes Link. Of course, Link. Only the Hero of Time would satisfy me!" the creature roared. "I will have my revenge!!"
Old instincts took a hold of Richard for a moment. "Revenge? What he did he do to you?"
"He confined me to a dreadful prison, that's what he did!" the creature shouted, no longer taking much interest in Richard. He released Richard, who promptly sank down to the floor. "That dreadful boy and his ancestors have been plaguing me for generations!" he lamented, wandering around the room.
"Why, his most distant ancestor, the first Hero of Time transformed me into a pig monster! And his other ancestors in succession have squandered my every plan. But this Link, the Link of the line in this time, what he did to me, his crimes scream for vengeance! That boy not only took Hyrule and the Triforce from my grasp, but he confined me to an eternity in the Dark Realm!"
"How did you get out?" Richard asked carefully.
"Fool!" the creature roared, turning fast upon Richard. "Every idiot knows that when a creature is banished to the Dark Realm, a fairy takes his place, serving as his avatar of re-entry!"
"Oh…" Richard muttered, dumbfounded.
"But I'll have my revenge on him now!" the creature crowed. "He is not expecting me. There is nothing more vulnerable than a Hero caught off guard! This island has clouded his judgment and for that I am eternally grateful. No one would ever expect Ganondorf Dragmire."
Ganondorf sneered at Richard. Richard felt himself shivering, even in the warm prairie sunlight that streamed through the windows. For all his faults, Richard knew full and well that this Ganondorf was danger, not just for Link, but for the whole island.
"Now, my slave," Ganondorf rumbled, "tell your new master where Link is hiding."
"I don't know!" Richard blurted out.
"Liar!!" Ganondorf roared. "I saw you talking with that girl, you know all the happenings of this island."
The memory of Richard's morning run with Marin flashed across his eyes a moment before he felt Ganondorf lift him off the floor and slam him against the wall.
"Tell me where Link is!" Ganondorf shouted.
"He's out and about on the island, I don't know where, I swear it!" Richard shouted through the searing pain.
"Where is he normally?" Ganondorf asked, squeezing Richard's shoulders.
Richard swallowed, shutting his eyes. "Sometimes he's around the Mabe Village."
"Where is that?" Ganondorf demanded.
"Just northwest of here," Richard squeaked.
"Where else might he be?"
"Sometimes he goes to the forest. It's just north of the village. And he also spends a lot of time here, in the prairie. Please, put me down!"
"I'll put you down when I'm good and ready," Ganondorf yelled. "Now, tell me who his friends are."
"He's new here!" Richard screamed.
"No matter how new he has friends, he always does."
Richard winced, dreading any answer he could possibly give. "Sometimes he's with Marin. She's the red-head you saw me with today."
Ganondorf tilted his head to one side with vague curiosity. "Marin?" he asked, disbelieving the name.
Richard nodded weakly. "And sometimes he's with…" Richard stopped.
"Who is he with?" Ganondorf demanded.
Richard moaned miserably. "With Valerie. Please, please don't hurt Valerie!"
Ganondorf laughed at this request. "I'll hurt whomever I want. Any friend of the Hero's is an enemy of mine."
Richard coughed, feeling his insides turn to jelly. "Put me down," he sputtered.
"As you wish," Ganondorf sneered, releasing Richard who promptly fell to the floor with a gratifying thump.
Ganondorf roamed about the room. "I need a weapon." Richard watched him warily. Ganondorf examined the corners of the room before throwing open the doors to Richard's closet. He went through shelves and hampers, but was disappointed to find nothing. He slammed the doors to the closet closed and checked under Richard's bed, again finding nothing.
He turned back to Richard. "Give me your sword," he muttered.
"I don't have a sword!" Richard protested.
Ganondorf grabbed Richard by the collar and lifted him clean off the floor with one hand. He examined Richard like a man examining a fish in the market. He pulled a small dagger out of Richard's belt, dropping Richard back to the floor for a third and final time.
The last thing Richard saw before he blacked out was Ganondorf throwing the dull dagger away in disgust and storming towards the door. "You've been most helpful," Ganondorf scoffed before slamming the door shut behind him. In the darkness that followed, Richard dropped like a stone.
Through all the hustle and bustle of the celebration, Carry could smell something in the air. At first, he supposed his uneasiness stemmed merely from the fact that he didn't like huge crowds. The house by the bay was overflowing with well-wishers who had come to pay respect to Molly on her birthday. Carry found himself crammed in among his friends and neighbors to the point of claustrophobia.
Fighting his way through the crowds, he freed himself long enough to escape out the front door. The lawn wasn't much better. Citizens of the Animal and Mabe villages were milled about, talking incessantly. At least here Carry had the freedom to move about with far greater ease. He made his way towards a tall palm tree. Leaning against the bark he glanced up at the sky, searching with his senses for the source of his uneasiness.
Seemingly from out of the clouds themselves, Ezri swooped down, landing on Carry's right shoulder. Carry smiled. He curled his knuckles and ran them up and down the owl's soft, feathery chest. Ezri purred in satisfaction and closed his eyes.
Carry found his thoughts wandering back to the fireflower fairy that he had seen yesterday in the Animal Village. He hadn't heard any mention of Eve and had assumed that the girls had given her to Molly this morning. There was something different about the creature. Not that different was bad. Carry knew full and well that he was different from others and that didn't mean he was bad. No, this different was unsettling.
"A little too crowded for you too?" someone asked from behind Carry. He turned around swiftly and saw Matilda moving towards him. She looked different today. Her dark blonde hair, which was usually swept up underneath her green velvet hat hung loose today in long, fat curls around her shoulders. She was wearing a dark green dress that cut off just below her knees, revealing her soft felt boots.
"Uh huh," Carry muttered, wondering at his sudden interest in Matilda's appearance.
"Did you ever decide what to give Molly?" she asked, sweeping her hazel eyes from side to side in a conspirator manner.
Carry shook his head. "No," he moaned miserably.
"Well don't worry about it," Matilda said kindly, "I'm sure she won't notice if she gets your present a little late."
"Hope not," Carry said listlessly.
Matilda frowned. "I can't explain it exactly, but I feel like something's wrong," she said glancing over her shoulder where Marnie and Summer were in a deep conversation about something or other.
Carry's eyes flashed. "Me too!" he said excitedly.
Matilda lit up. "I thought I was going crazy, acting out like I had some sort of sixth sense."
"Things aren't right," Carry said simply.
Matilda licked her lips. "Have you noticed who's absent from the party?" she asked.
Carry shook his head. Such observations generally eluded him. "No," he told her.
"Well, Richard isn't here. No surprise there. Val seems to be missing, along with Marin and Link."
"But little Marin never misses Molly's parties," Carry said, glancing at the sleeping Ezri on his shoulder.
"No, but she's been acting so strangely lately," Matilda said quietly. "Tarin's noticed it too. You can tell from the way he watches her."
The door to the house opened and out hobbled Molly, smiling at everyone on the lawn. Instantly, the crowd focused their attention on Molly, helping her over rocks, making sure she had plenty to drink, directing her cane away from the soft dirt.
"She always looks so happy at these parties," Matilda murmured to Carry.
"Why shouldn't she?" he asked.
"I never said she shouldn't. I was just saying…" Matilda was cut off.
Suddenly, from out of the palm trees, Valerie appeared. Her white dress was covered in dirt and her generally pale face was virtually white with fear. She raced towards the lawn and it became apparent that she had run all the way to the bay from elsewhere.
"Valerie? What's the matter?" Molly asked from where she sat on a large, gray rock.
"You're late Val," Marnie muttered with a cruel snicker.
"Something's happened," Valerie said, fighting for her breath.
"What's happened?" Molly asked, struggling with her stiff legs to stand up.
"Your house was destroyed," Valerie sputtered. "Your caldron is in pieces and the bed was over turned."
"How could this be?" Molly asked, more concerned about Valerie's well-being than about her house.
"Forget how!" Matilda yelled, "let's talk about who. Who could have done this?"
"I don't know," Valerie said, finally regaining her calm. "Link and I couldn't figure it out."
"I think Link did it," someone sneered.
"No he didn't!" Valerie shouted back at the invisible source of the voice.
Matilda glanced at Carry. "Do you think this was the bad vibe we were getting in there?" she asked.
"Well I must see to this at once," Molly said, groping out for her bamboo cane.
"No Molly, this is your party, your big day," Marnie insisted, placing a hand on Molly's frail shoulder.
"Yeah, you stay put Molly," Matilda agreed. "Carry and I will go and see what's going on at your place."
"Yeah, let Carry and Matilda take care of it," someone echoed from the crowd.
Molly frowned, an expression that was rare to appear on her face. "Very well," she muttered, slowly sitting down on her the rock again. "But I don't want you getting into any trouble. If something's happening we all need to stick together."
"Stick together?" Marnie asked. "Well, what about the people who were too rude to show up at your party?"
"Someone's not here?" Molly asked.
"Richard, Marin, and Link are all absent," Marnie said firmly.
"Well this won't do, not at all," Molly exclaimed. "If there's some wild animal or monster out there we all need to stay together. A person could die alone out there." She turned to Matilda, Carry, and Valerie. "You must find them at once. They must be warned. There's strength in numbers!"
"Don't worry Molly," Matilda said easily, "we'll take care of them."
"Take care of yourselves too," Molly insisted. "Take hunting weapons with you and stay together. The greatest ally against something dangerous is a friend."
"Don't worry Molly," Matilda said. She grabbed Carry's wrist and the two of them joined Valerie who briskly turned on heel and headed back towards the Mabe Village.
"We can pick up supplies in the village," Val muttered, picking her way across the sand.
"How bad does it look?" Matilda asked.
"It looks like a wild boar got into the house," Valerie said evenly.
"Why would a boar destroy a caldron?" Matilda asked.
"I said it looked like a boar, I didn't say it was a boar."
Carry suddenly stopped. "Something doesn't smell right," he said.
"Literally or figuratively?" Matilda asked. When Carry responded with a blank stare, she sighed, rephrasing. "Does something actually smell?" she asked.
Carry nodded. He pointed towards the sky, swiping the air with five claws. "Here."
"In the air?" Matilda asked, lifting her face to the sky and taking a deep breath. "I don't smell anything."
"What do you smell Carry?" Valerie asked.
Carry looked her in the eyes. "Fireflowers."
"Marin!" Link shouted, picking his way through the prairie. He looked around, but couldn't see the red-haired girl. "Marin!" he shouted again, more insistent. Of all the times for her to turn moody it had to be now, when something as afoot. "Zelda!" he finally shouted.
Instantly, someone grabbed Link from behind, clapping a hand over his mouth. "You promised!" Marin hissed into Link's ear.
Link shrugged out of her grasp and turned to face her. Though he wanted to get his warning out right away, he again found himself forced to pause, taking in the sheer beauty of her presence. In the midday sun, her hair shimmered as though it hosted a halo of golden red. Her eyes were sparkling despite the anger behind them. "Marin…" he sputtered for a moment.
Instantly, Marin sensed the distress in his voice. Her eyes softened and she took a deep breath. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"I don't know," he said, regaining his composure. "Something destroyed in the inside of Molly's house. It isn't safe for anyone to be wandering around alone."
"Do you know what it could be?" she asked, letting her fingers drift towards the bow strapped across her back.
"No," he said in dismay. A warm breeze brushed across the golden prairie grass, but Link noticed Marin shivering. "You can sense it," he said quietly.
"What?" she asked in confusion.
"Hylians can sense evil things. Wicked things. It's natural and instinctive. When evil's around, we shiver and grow cold," he explained.
"Really?" she asked quietly.
Link nodded. He gestured vaguely to the goose-bumpy arm gripping his sword. "I can feel it too."
"What should we do?" Marin asked. "We need to warn the others."
"Valerie's headed back to the bay to tell everyone, I came to get you to safety."
Marin wrinkled her nose. "Get me to safety? What do you think I am?"
Link flustered. "Well I…that is…I mean. You're a…"
"A princess?" Marin asked in annoyance.
"No, that's not what I meant," Link stammered.
"You mean a girl then."
"Of course not!" Link protested. "Girls are tougher than guys. The Hero of Destiny is a girl! Her name is Tress! She could take me easily."
"What is it then?" Marin snapped.
"I just, I don't want you to get hurt, that's all," Link squeaked.
"I can take care of myself Link," Marin said dryly, "I'm not some helpless damsel in distress who needs a big strong man to come to her rescue."
"Of course you're not!" Link cried, "I just don't want the girl I love to get hurt!"
Marin stared at Link. There was a long moment of pure silence. All around the two of them, the breeze brushed the dry grass, making it bend and wave with a crackling sound. Marin's hair floated in the wind at an odd angle, letting one of her ears show in silhouette against the shimmering sun.
Link felt his heart sink down into his boots. He had said it. He had let is slip out. He hadn't wanted to say it, but somehow, it had been said. The awkward silence ripped at his chest and he found himself suddenly counting the beats of his heart. He wondered how many times the valves would open and close before either one of them had the courage to say anything.
"You love me?" Marin asked. She didn't ask in a tone of pleasant surprise. More she was asking as though she hadn't heard him correctly, as though he couldn't possibly have said that he loved her of all people.
Link sighed, wishing to Din he could take back the last fifteen seconds of his life. "Yes," he said softly.
"Why?" she asked.
Link found himself blinking rapidly. He couldn't seem to wrap his mind around a question like that. He felt his mind working rapidly. Why? She had asked. Why was the sky blue? Why was the grass green? Why did he love her? Why was such a difficult question to answer. He had no answer. All he knew was that he loved her. It was the only thing he had ever known without being taught it. It was instinct, like breathing, like running from danger. Loving her was natural, it was pleasant, it was simple.
Naturally, Link said the worst thing he could have in such an awkward situation. "I don't know," he murmured, looking down at his bootlaces.
Marin slowly started backing away from Link, like a frightened child running from a sudden wrong turn, which brought her face to face with Elinor's dog.
"Marin…don't…" Link stammered, taking a step in her direction.
Marin held a hand up, halting Link in his tracks. "You're crazy," she said quietly, almost to herself. "You can't possibly love me. You don't even know me."
"Marin, since the day I lost you, every dream, every poem, every stray tune in my mind has been about you."
"You've been in the sun too long," Marin tried to rationalize.
"I'm not crazy!" Link cried, longing to take another step forward. "I've loved you since the moment I woke up and saw you standing over me. You looked like an angel then, but you're more than that now. You're the happy thought of childhood that's kept me going. You're the only thing I have left to cling to."
"You don't love me, you love an idea," Marin hissed.
Link froze. He was suddenly horrified of what he had said. It was true that Marin was a last hope of Hyrule, but that really wasn't why he loved her. He loved her for her. Now he had messed everything up and he felt his shoulders sinking down into the ground. "No…" he whispered hoarsely.
Marin slowly began backing away again. Link didn't pursue her. What could he possibly do now to take back what he had said? He looked at her, his gaze penetrating her essence. She turned to run and he caught a flash of silver as the sun bounced off of her necklace, the one he had given her, the one she had worn every day to remind her of her roots.
Suddenly, she was gone. Link found himself standing alone in the high grass of the prairie. All thoughts of danger had fled his mind. He found himself wishing to the highest powers he knew that he could just hold her and tell her that he loved her in the proper way instead of blurting it out as he had just done. Foolishly ignoring the cold shiver that ran down his spine like icy cold water, he started walking away in the opposite direction.
He would give her time. She'd calm down and they could talk. All he had to do was explain to her that he hadn't meant to be so blunt. Perhaps he had destroyed any chance he could ever have at getting her to love him, but he knew that he would have to set things right in order to exist on the same island as her. Firmly, he decided that no matter what she said, he would never stop loving her.
As the ice ran up and down his spine, Link marched firmly towards the east, planning out his apology. He failed to notice that his own cold shivers were increasing as danger drew closer.
Matilda pounded her fist against Richard's door for the third time. Again, no answer came from within.
"Maybe he's not in?" Valerie wondered, watching Matilda pound.
"He's in there," Carry said firmly.
"Yeah, it's easy to smell a rat," Matilda affirmed, pulling back from the door. She frowned. "Richard! Open this door right now!" she shouted at one of the front windows. The trio stood still, waiting for a reply. Even a snide comment would have sufficed.
Nothing. "Are you sure he's in there?" Valerie asked.
"He's got to be," Matilda muttered. She turned to Carry, tilting her head in the door's direction. Wordlessly, Carry moved to the door, resting his palms on its surface. Grunting, he snapped a knee up, cracking the center of the door. As he pulled back, the door fell inwards, leaving the house open.
"Richard?" Valerie whispered, stepping over the door and into the house. The others followed, squinting in the darkness. Valerie moved to a curtain and pulled it aside. Light streamed back into the villa and the trio saw Richard.
He was sitting on the floor, his head down and to one side. The eye that was facing them was encircled by a purple ring. There was a large gash on his forehead, just beginning to scab over. His red shirt was torn at the shoulders, evidence that he had been clawed by something. He didn't look at the group, but rather he continued staring at the floor to the right of his body.
"Richard…what happened?" Valerie asked, rushing to his side. She took his face in her hands and turned it, to examine the left side, which was a little less battered, though there was a red bruise on his cheek.
"Ganondorf Dragmire," he muttered, unable to focus his eyes on anything.
"Who in the what?" Matilda asked in confusion.
"Ganondorf Dragmire," Richard, repeated, louder.
"What is a Ganondorf Dragmire?" Matilda asked, crouching next to Valerie.
"I think it's a person," Valerie muttered. She turned to Carry who was busy examining the room. "Carry, go outside and fetch me a red herb, the kind shaped like a heart." Carry nodded and walked over the door and out.
"A monster," Richard muttered.
"The one that trashed Molly's cottage?" Matilda asked.
"Very likely," Valerie said, frowning. "Why did it come here? What does it want?"
Richard moaned in pain, but finally managed to focus his eyes directly on Valerie's eyes. "He wanted Link."
"Link?" Matilda asked in shock. "Why?"
"Revenge," Richard blurted. "Revenge. Link did something to this creature. He wants revenge against Link and all of Link's friends."
Carry stepped into the house, back over the door, carrying an armful of red herbs. He dropped them carefully at Valerie's side. She picked up one and bit off the tip, spitting it to one side. Deftly, she brushed the soft insides of the plant over Richard's left cheek, watching the red mark start to disappear.
"What did Link do to this guy?" Matilda asked.
Richard groaned. "I didn't understand it all. Something about sealing him in another realm and making him live in this one as a fairy."
"A fairy?" Carry cried, his gray eyes widening.
"Or was it a pig?" Richard wondered to himself.
"Eve," Matilda said flatly, not hearing Richard's comment. "Something in Molly's cottage must have done it."
"You mean the fairy brought this creature into our world?" Valerie asked.
"No," Matilda said slowly. "The fairy was this creature. It makes perfect sense. Why else would a monster turn into a fairy every time we destroy it?"
"I wouldn't know," Valerie admitted, turning her attention to Richard's black eye.
"Well, however it came to be, we have to stop it."
"Before he gets to Link," Carry added.
"He's probably still in the prairie," Richard grunted, shifting his gaze away from Valerie.
"What does he look like?" Matilda asked, removing a hookshot from the strap across her back.
"Tall, muscular. It's hard to miss a monster," Richard said evenly.
"A little more description please," Matilda insisted in annoyance.
"He's got olive green skin and red hair." Richard glanced, first at Matilda's hookshot and then at Carry's staff and finally at Valerie's herbs. "Sticks, chains, and plants aren't going to bring him to heel," he said flatly.
"Well, it's the best we've got," Matilda shot back.
"This thing wants Link," Valerie said quickly. "So someone had better find him first. Carry and Matilda, go out there, try to find Link."
"What if we run into Ganondorf Dress-in-Drag?" Matilda asked.
"Dragmire," Richard corrected her.
Valerie cleared her throat loudly. "If you meet up with him, use your best judgment Matilda. I know you have some."
Matilda smirked. "Right. What will you do?"
"I'll take care of Richard, then I'll return to the bay and explain things to everyone else."
Matilda nodded. "Come on Carry," she said, bounding out over the fallen door."
"Matilda," Valerie said. Carry and Matilda both turned to look at her. "Be careful," she said quietly.
"Always," Matilda said smugly, sauntering out the door.
"You too," Carry said, glancing at Valerie before he too disappeared into the prairie.
"Why do I have the feeling we're all going to die?" Richard asked, resting his head against the wall.
"We're not all going to die," Valerie murmured, selecting another herb.
"Well, you're not," Richard said smugly. "Nothing can kill an angel."
"No one is going to die," Valerie said firmly.
"Why, can you foresee the future?" Richad asked.
"No. I just know."
"Ah, the advantages of having no pulse," Richard sneered.
Valerie narrowed her eyes. "Do you want me to heal your wounds or make them worse?" she asked.
"You're not going to hurt me," Richard said evenly.
"What makes you say that?" Valerie asked.
"Besides the fact that I know you can't hurt anyone? We're all on the same side now. You don't like me, but as much as you may loath me, I'm nothing compared to this Ganondorf. We're all the good guys this time."
Link was on his way to the beach, but he had decided to pass through the Mabe Village. He was walking past the town tool shop when its owner suddenly burst out the door.
"I've been robbed! I've been robbed!" the man cried.
Link turned around. "What happened?" he asked.
"Oh Link, it was horrid! A creature, the most hideous I've ever seen broke into my store and stole all of my weapons!"
"A creature?" Link asked.
"A monster!" the shop owner responded hysterically. "Green skin and orange hair. And those eyes…" the man was shivering now from fear.
"Where did it go?" Link asked slowly.
"It headed out towards the prairie. It seemed to be looking for something specific."
"I'll bet," Link muttered, racing out to the prairie.
Matilda and Carry had hardly walked fifty yards out of Richard's villa when they spotted him. He was massive, far more frightening than they had expected. He loomed at least a foot above Carry, which was something very rare indeed.
"You're Ganondorf Dragmire!" Matilda yelled to the creature's back. He turned around slowly, giving Matilda the need to hastily take a step backwards.
"Who are you little girl?" he asked gruffly.
"It doesn't matter," she cried.
"It's dangerous to mutter my name," he said smiling cruelly, "in Hyrule, people are put into the stocks for it."
"What do you want with Link?" Carry asked.
Ganondorf's eyes flashed. "So I was right, the Hero has made friends. So much the better." He raised his hand and in his palm a strange green glow appeared.
"What's he doing?" Matilda asked Carry through gritted teeth.
"Whatever it is, it's probably not good," Carry replied.
Ganondorf smiled wickedly at them. "Don't worry, you're not worth killing. You'll be perfect bait." Suddenly, a green ball of energy shot out from his palm, directly at Carry.
Carry raised his staff, meeting the energy head on. He smashed the part of his staff between his hands into the ball and watched the energy shatter, if energy could shatter, in a thousand different directions.
Howling, Carry rushed at Ganondorf, his staff ready to bash into the green man's chest. Ganondorf held his hands out defensively and met Carry's staff. With brute force, he wrapped his fingers around the stick and lifted Carry clean off the ground. With one hand, he tossed Carry, staff, and all over his shoulder. Carry landed on his feet, but that didn't concern Ganondorf.
He released another blast of green energy at Matilda. Unsure of what else to do, she leapt out of the way, somersaulting over the dry grass and quickly rising to her feet. She pulled her hookshot out from her sash. Resting it over her left forearm, she slammed the release device, watching the chain fly out at Ganondorf.
Unfortunately for Matilda, he caught the chain with one hand. Showing no signs of struggle or pain, he yanked on the hooked chain, jerking Matilda off her feet. He pulled her across the sharp grass, bringing her closer.
Suddenly, Carry's staff slashed through the hair, smashing into the back of Ganondorf's head. He howled in pain and dropped the hookshot. He turned to face Carry, his eyes blazing. "That was a fatal mistake," he said wickedly.
Matilda, who had partially retracted her hookshot, grabbed the hook and stabbed it directly into Ganondorf's foot. Forgetting Carry for a moment, Ganondorf screamed in pain, hopping up and down on his good foot. Matilda, panicked, dropped the hookshot and ran to Carry's side, now unarmed.
"You'll both die for this!" Ganondorf roared. He gave up trying to pull the hook out of his foot and rushed at the two of them, drawing a stolen sword.
"Stop!" a voice out of the darkness cried. There was such authority in the tone that Ganondorf stuck where he stood, slowly turning to meet a pair of blazing blue eyes.
A sick smile slowly curled Ganondorf's lips. "So, the Hero has come at last."
Link stared back defiantly. "Who are you?" he asked, tilting his chin upwards.
Ganondorf laughed, "Your doom."
"Do you practice those lines? Or make them up on the spot?" Matilda asked, standing in front of Carry who was still on the ground.
"I'll see to you in a minute girl," Ganondorf barked, barely sparing her a glance. He turned his body to face Link. "Surely you remember," he said slowly, taking a few threatening steps towards the Hylian. "Surely you remember the mark of your lineage, to strike down those that would have the Triforce." Link's face went white giving Ganondorf reason to laugh. "Yes, you do remember. My face may change but my essence will remain the same."
"Link, who is this guy?" Matilda asked carefully, watching Ganondorf drag her hookshot as he walked.
"It can't be," Link moaned quietly.
"Link, snap out of it and tell me what's going on!" Matilda commanded. She took a few steps after Ganondorf. "Answer me!" she cried.
Ganondorf whipped around most suddenly and grabbed Matilda by the hair. As she screamed, he hoisted her up into the air, letting her dangle. "Disarm yourself Hero, or I'll turn your little friend into a bird. I imagine she can fly at least fifty yards before falling…breaking."
Link looked from Matilda to Ganondorf and back again. He slowly licked his lips, assessing the situation. "He's some form of Ganon, a creature I defeated back in Hyrule," he said quietly.
"That's Ganondorf Dragmire! You see now the true form!" Ganondorf boasted loudly. "Now remove your sword before I send her into the ground."
Link slowly drew his sword, for a moment staring at the sun's reflection off the inscribed blade. As the seconds began to flow at a turtle's speed, he turned the point towards the ground, stabbing the sword into the soft dirt. He then held his hands up and moved closer to Ganondorf, careful not to make any sudden movements that might condemn Matilda.
Ganondorf smiled. With vague disinterest, he dropped Matilda who toppled to the ground at his feet. "That's it Hero, just keep walking this way." Ganondorf watched Link approach. His eyes seemed distracted somehow.
With blinding speed, and arrow flew out of the grass, striking Ganondorf in the shoulder. He doubled over, holding the wounded appendage. Matilda took the opportunity and grabbed her hookshot, still attached to Ganondorf's foot. She yanked hard on the chain and sent Ganondorf toppling to the ground.
Link ran back to where he had stood and pulled his sword from the ground. He looked over Ganondorf and past Carry where he saw Marin standing in the tall grass, her body still frozen as she held her bow.
Ganondorf roared in anger, flailing his arm into Matilda's face. She fell backwards, holding her bloody nose as Ganondorf rose once again. Before he could get completely to his feet, Link swung his blade at Ganondorf's head. The demon blocked the blow with his own sword and stood.
"I don't understand," Marin muttered, "I thought arrows were supposed to kill that thing."
Ganondorf heard her. "Only silver arrows pretty girl. You aren't going to find any of those around this dreadful island." He turned around, swinging his sword at Link's feet. Link jumped, stumbling backwards. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Marin fumbling with her arrows.
Matilda, still on the ground, groped out to grab the chain of her hookshot again. Ganondorf kicked her in the face. She flew backwards, tumbling into Carry, who rose to protect her from the fray.
Link thrust his sword at Ganondorf's wounded shoulder. Caught off guard, the monster leapt backwards. He turned to retreat, only to find Carry, staff in hand, blocking his escape. He turned back to Link and released a blast of energy. Link rammed his sword directly into the blast, sending it back at Ganondorf. Ganondorf dispelled it before it could make contact with him.
There was a sharp twanging sound and another arrow flew at Ganondorf, this time striking him in the small of his back. Dragmire roared in pain and fell over. From the point where the arrow had made contact with his flesh, a stream of purple energy began to flow from Ganondorf's body.
Marin lowered her bow and slowly made her way to Ganondorf's fallen form. Link had already knelt next to his foe and was watching the energy leak out. Marin moved to Link, her eyes fixed on the creature.
Ganondorf laughed. It was not the strong laugh of wickedness from before. Now he sounded frail, weak. "It's funny," he grumbled, using his remaining energy to lift his eyes, "that I should come all this way, only to be struck down by the Princess of Destiny."
Ganondorf's face dropped into the grass and for a moment, he was still. Link stood slowly and pulled the arrow out of his back. The tip of the arrow was the same stone that all inhabitant of the island used for hunting weapons, but wrapped around the point was the chain from Marin's silver necklace.
"Is it over?" Carry asked, pulling Matilda up to her feet.
"Not quite," Link muttered, unwrapping the silver chain, now glowing purple with Ganondorf's blood. The four turned their eyes back to the still form of Ganondorf Dragmire, only to find that it had vanished. In a haze of gray smoke a shimmer of light appeared. On the stiff prairie grass lay Eve, her wings wrapped around her tiny body in deep slumber.
Two weeks later, Link again found himself walking the beach in twilight. He had hardly spoken to anyone since the incident of Ganondorf. Though he knew it was hardly his fault, he felt partly responsible for what had happened. Ganondorf was wicked, but it had been Link's presence that had inspired him to wreak havoc on the island.
Richard had recovered and returned to his annoying habits, now desperate more than ever to discover Link's deepest, darkest secrets. Matilda's nose was broken in two places, but it was healing nicely, thanks to Valerie's attentive care. Link had escaped without a scratch, physically, but mentally, he was uncertain about his future. How many demons had he slain? How many of them might somehow return to the mortal realm?
Looking forward on his unpaved walk, he saw Marin sitting on the sand, letting the water rush over her feet. She looked pensive, but no less beautiful than ever before. Summoning up the last of his nerve, he approached her.
"Can I sit with you?" he asked quietly.
Marin nodded. "There's plenty of sand for everyone." Link sat next to her. For a few minutes, both were silent. "Sometimes, it feels like sand is the only thing we have," she said after another moment.
Link looked at her, furrowing his brow. "Pardon?"
Marin shrugged, still facing the sunset. "This island, it's filled with only two things; sand and secrets." A breeze blew from the ocean, causing Marin's hair to fly back. Link watched the arch of her ear for a moment, letting her wisdom sink in. "Ganondorf called me the Princess of Destiny," she said quietly.
"He did," Link nodded.
Marin let a wry half-smile stretch across her lips. "I wish I knew what that meant."
Link leaned back, letting his fingers sink into the sand. "Hyrule is filled with titles. Hero of Time. Hero of Lore. Hero of Destiny. Sage of this. Sage of that. It gets tiring after awhile."
"Well, I don't understand a lot of the titles," Link said. They were silent for another long moment. "But…"
Link smiled. "Princess of Destiny makes more sense to me than most."
Marin looked at him with surprise. "Why?" she asked.
Link shrugged. "Because it's you." He leaned back on his elbows and listened to the water rush the shores.
Marin frowned. She looked at Link for a moment, though she said nothing. She slowly pushed her hair behind one ear, letting her fingers trail down the side of her face. "Link…" she whispered.
"Yes?" he replied, staring at the waters.
"I'm sorry that I can't be…everything you expected me to be."
Link sat up and looked at her. "Zelda, I never expected you to be anything. I think you're perfect just the way you are." He turned to her, placing a hand on her cheek. "Don't ever apologize for being who you are."
She took his hand off her face, holding in both of hers. "Link…" she started hesitantly. She stopped, looking at his eyes, so like hers. "Tell me about Hyrule," she said softly.
Link took a moment to let her request sink in. "What do you want to know about?" he asked.
Marin closed her eyes, still clutching his hand. "Tell me about my sister."
Link smiled slightly. "Amanda. Well, she's well. She misses you a lot. I always hear her talking about you. She's married now. She has a two year old daughter…"
Marin suddenly cut Link off by leaning over and kissing him gently on the lips. Link felt his world melt into nothingness. For a moment, the two of them were frozen between paradise and reality.
Slowly, Marin pulled away, though the two of them kept their eyes locked. "Was that for telling you about Amanda?" Link asked, baffled.
"That was for being you," she said quietly.
"It'll be a little hard to keep this a secret," Link said.
She smiled a little. "Maybe, but even so, the best secrets are the ones that are eventually told." She leaned over and touched her forehead to his. Tenderly, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and lowered her eyes. "Tell me everything Link."
Link smiled, folding his own arms around Zelda's waist. The two of them, for the first time, didn't notice the ocean rolling in and out around them. For once, they were complete with the secret of Hyrule, identities, and their new love.
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