Chapter 1: A Fish Out of Temporal Water
The song flowed through him and came in waves that danced around him, cooling his blood. The waves of the music crashed over him, stinging up and through his nostrils and hitting him with physical force. The young man exhaled and watched bubbles escape his mouth to float to the surface of whatever mysterious place he was in. The water that intruded past his lips tasted of salt.
How did I get to the sea? he thought.
His chest hurt, his lungs screaming for air. He kicked for the surface and saw a blue object floating out in front of him.
He reached for it, but it floated away from him and then down into the depths. Darkness edged the periphery of his vision. The flow of water buffeted his body. It flowed into his throat and rushed into his lungs like knives. Suddenly, a calm came over him, along with the darkness. The young man wondered if this is what dying was supposed to feel like and then knew no more.
The sun shimmered on the sands and warmed the shoulders of a little girl who bounced along the beach. She sang a little nonsense song to herself as she headed to her special lookout tower. The people on the island said it belonged to everybody – it was the place where they watched for merchant ships and visitors, but Aryll knew that it really belonged to her. It was the place where she would watch the seagulls. It was also her older brother’s favorite place to take naps.
Her older brother – Link… He was gone now, off on some adventure without her. Just thinking about it was enough to make her pout. He had to go do important Hero-stuff. She would have been resentful, except that he’d told her that she needed to take care of Grandma. Grandma couldn’t go on dangerous sea-journeys like he was on and she would be lonely if she didn’t have someone to stay home with her to keep her company. So, Aryll was content to say, just to keep Grandma happy.
She wore her blue, flowered dress today. She had a pink one with skulls on it that Link’s pirate-friends had given her, but Aryll thought that dress was special. She was going to save it for when she got to go on adventures. It was an adventure-dress.
The noise above her was almost deafening. My! Her gulls were excited today! She watched them gather on one section of the beach she could barely make out between the tall grasses. Her toes played with the grainy sand beneath her feet as she watched the pale birds land and lift off. The little girl wondered if a dead gyorg had washed up. That happened occasionally, but she didn’t smell anything putrid or fishy.
Aryll parted the grass and jogged up the portion of beach. She gasped and she felt like her heart had leapt into her throat.
Oh, please, goddesses, no!
“Big Brother?” she asked tentatively. The figure lay motionless on his side, arms splayed out with his cheek resting in the sand. The salt-kissed breeze played over his blond hair and his long green hat.
Aryll’s thoughts raced. She imagined a great storm, her brother tossed overboard of his friends’ pirate ship… him running into rocks in that little red boat he skimmed the waves in, it splintering out from under him… or worst yet… had he and his pirate friends been involved in a fight with other pirates? Did they stab him through the gut and toss his body overboard to wash up here? In any case, her brother lay here dead! Dead! Leaving her and Grandma all alone!
There was no blood on the sand. Link sure had gotten bigger since the last time she’d seen him. No… this wasn’t Big Brother. This corpse’s legs were long and lean, the calf-muscles creating nice bulges in the white tights that clothed them. His face was different, too – older, more serious. Aryll walked around this unfortunate person.
She felt very weird. He looked so much like Big Brother – like a version of him grown up. The dead man had to be around eighteen, possibly twenty. Why was he wearing those funny clothes? The green Hero’s Clothes were something for little boys when they turned twelve. Kids didn’t usually wear them for more than a year. Some only wore them the day of their birthday to please the adults and never put them on again. Link went away wearing the Hero’s Clothes; then again, he was declared the Hero of this age. He’d found the Triforce of Courage and everything, which made him the Hero of Winds, so it was okay for him to wear the Hero’s Clothes for as long as he wanted to. Also, Big Brother was a weirdo.
This man had a sword and shield on his back. They were a little different than Link’s. If he’d been shipwrecked or tossed overboard, they’d probably weighted him down. Poor guy. Aryll didn’t know what to do. Should she say a prayer to the goddesses or to the wind deities for him like Grandma had taught her to do when a pet or person died? Should she go get one of the adults? Maybe she should get Orca… if the man has a sword on his back, maybe he’d have wanted warrior’s rites and Orca was the only person on the island who knew any of that stuff. As it was, she was mad that he looked so much like Big Brother and had scared her like that.
The seagulls were picking at his exposed ear. It was long, like the ears of people in her family. The birds were trying to get into a little pouch on his belt. He probably had food or something inside of it – very soggy food.
Aryll’s eyes went to a piece of driftwood on the beach – an appropriately long stick. The girl picked it up and trembled as she poked the body in the belly. Poke. The chest – Poke. She prodded the chin, moving the head a little.
One of the hands twitched. The sand-flecked eyelashes fluttered. The body groaned. Aryll screamed and dropped her implement of exploration. The young man hefted himself to a sitting position, shaking his head.
“Are you alright, mister?” Aryll yelped. “I’m sorry, I thought you were dead!”
The figure moaned softly as he contemplated the blur in front of him. He blinked and wiped the sand from his face.
“A little girl?” he questioned. He looked around himself. The waves lapping on the shore and the sound of seagull cries filled his pointed ears. “Where am I? Can you tell me where I am?”
Aryll was taken aback. This man was spouting gibberish at her. He spoke at her forcefully, his face twisting into all kinds of shapes, beads of sweat forming on his distressed brow. It was almost funny.
She shook her head. “I don’t understand anything you’re saying, mister.”
The young man suddenly started pawing in the sand. He got up, walked into the surf and started pawing around in the wet sand as if he was looking for something.
“Mister, what are you doing?”
The young man swayed and shook, falling to his side with a grunt. Aryll stepped up to him, letting the cold water of the ocean spill over her tender little feet. She cautiously reached out and touched his shoulder. “You’re hurt,” she said.
He looked up, his face quizzical and sad.
“You’re hurt,” she repeated. “You should come with me. My Grandma will make you some soup and it will warm your insides and make you feel all better.”
“I’ll be okay,” he said. “Need to find it...”
“Are you from one of the distant islands? I don’t know what you’re saying. No one around here speaks like you do. Yep! You must be from far away, huh, mister?”
“What are you saying? Leave me alone…. Wanna sleep…”
The man closed his eyes.
“No! No!” Aryll insisted. His eyes were open now. “Don’t go to sleep! You might die if you do that, silly guy! Come on. Come with me. My Granny will help you.”
She tugged at his outer tunic urgently. The man seemed to get the message as he sat up, then stood up. Aryll grabbed his right hand and started walking slowly toward home. The stranger walked slowly, but he was walking, which was a good sign. Aryll noticed a sharp smell on the air. She guessed it was coming from the man’s clothes. He smelled like vomit. She didn’t see anything nasty down his front. He had probably thrown up seawater when he’d first washed up, then blacked out on the shore.
Aryll chattered as she walked, hoping it might make the stranger feel better even if they couldn’t understand each other’s words. “We’ll get you a nice warm bath, maybe something to eat if you feel like it, and then we’ll find out where you’re from! It must be like Outset because of the clothes you wear. Those are birthday-clothes for boys when they become men, but they don’t wear them as long as you have, mister. They’re supposed to be clothes like the Hero of Time wore, but he’s supposed to be just a legend or dead by now. My big brother is the Hero of Winds and he said he found a kingdom beneath the sea, but he might be lying. He makes up stories sometimes, but that Tetra-lady said it was true, so it probably is.”
“Sure are a talkative little thing, aren’t you?”
“You’ll like it here for as long as you need to stay. Everyone on
is real nice… I live with my Grandma. Big Brother used to live with us, but he’s out in the sea trying to find a new land for people to settle and he said something about rebuilding the kingdom from the legend. I think he should have stayed here with us. I miss him lots. You’d like him. He looks a lot like you.” Outset Island
A young pig waddled by. This caught the attention of the green-clad stranger.
“Ganon,” he said, his word clear to Aryll’s ears.
“No, no, no!” Aryll insisted. “My big brother took care of Ganon! Ganon was this evil, evil man who locked me and other girls up and was making monsters appear everywhere – Link defeated him and he’ll not ever bother us ever again! It’s safe here! Was Ganon chasing you? You’re safe now, okay?”
“Ganon,” the young man repeated, pointing at the pig. “Gan-on.”
“Do you mean the pig? Piiiig. Pig.”
“Pig,” the man repeated with a smile.
“I guess ganon is what you call a pig in your language, huh?”
Indeed, it was little known to the residents of the islands of the
that the terrible evil that had so recently threatened them all was a man who shared part of his name in the ancient language with the common word for “swine.” It would have been no surprise for them to learn that the pig was the sorcerer’s personal totem-animal. Great Sea
“Rin-ku,” the man said softly, smiling down at Aryll and motioning to himself.
“Link. My name is Link.”
The way he pronounced his name sounded vaguely to Aryll like the name of her brother, but it came out of the man’s mouth with a heavy accent of some sort.
“Rinku?” she questioned.
Aryll pointed to herself. “Aryll. Ah-rill.”
“Good! Good! We can teach each other! You know, you sound like old man Sturgeon when he reads from old books and when he curses sometimes. I was there when he hit his thumb with a hammer once and he sounded just like you! It was weird. We’re here!”
Rinku was tracing the design on the front door with his left index finger. He seemed to be fascinated by it.
“Come on inside, silly. You’re probably still all woozy.” She opened the door. “Grandma!” she called, “We have a visitor! I found him washed up on the beach. He’s a little funny-looking but he seems really nice. He’s still sick, so I told him he could rest here.”
A short, wrinkled woman hobbled out from behind a partition. “Oh, my, my, my,” she declared, “You poor dear. Why are you wearing such clothes? You seem too old for your get-up.”
“He looks a lot like Link, doesn’t he?”
“Yes, he does. Come on, young man, sit! Sit!”
Rinku looked at the old woman quizzically, his grip tightening slightly on Aryll’s hand.
“I don’t think he understands you, Grandma,” the little girl explained. “When I found him he was speaking all weird, like some other language.”
“Oh, my, the poor boy might have a head-injury.” She took Rinku’s left hand and led him to a chair. “Let’s get that sword and shield off you. Maybe Orca can help you, if you are a warrior.”
Aryll let out a scream and her grandmother cringed as Rinku suddenly flinched back, whipping his sword out of his scabbard. He stood tense and panting, eyes wide, as if even he didn’t believe what he had just done.
The old woman held up both her hands and Aryll cowered by her side. The young man sheathed his sword and started jabbering what seemed to be some sort of apology. His face carried a look of pure contrition.
“I am sorry,” the grandmother said. “I shouldn’t have touched your sword like that. You were just acting on reflex, weren’t you?” Her voice was calm. She tried to speak in the most soothing tones possible. “Poor dear… you really must be a seasoned warrior to have reflexes like that. I’ll let you take your things off.”
“You can trust us, Rinku,” Aryll added. “We won’t hurt you.”
“Rinku?” her grandmother questioned.
“Yeah. I think that’s his name. He learned mine. Rinku, this is Grandma. Grrraaaand-maa.”
“Grandma,” the young man repeated as he stripped off his heavy equipment. He sat down heavily in the nearby chair with a sigh and groan of pain.
The old woman approached him cautiously. She touched his arm gently. “You need to be looked at.”
The young man smiled slightly and said something to her that she didn’t understand.
“It sounds like how Sturgeon speaks when he’s mad, doesn’t it?” Aryll asked, “Except Rinku’s not mad.”
“It does, actually,” Grandma acknowledged. She put a hand on the young man’s back and traced it up his side subtly, checking his ribs for injury. He seemed to understand what she was doing. “I am not a professional, but I used to do a little healer-work back in the day. It would seem you’ve been tossed around a bit, but I think you’ll live. A little rest, a little of Grandma’s soup and a hot bath and you’ll be just fine.”
The old woman hobbled to the hearth and stirred the pot that was resting over it. She had been fixing lunch for herself and her granddaughter. She had the soup on almost perpetually, anyway – it was one of those special dishes that took the residue left behind by the last batch and built upon it. This soup-pot had been going for seven generations, or so the family legend had it. According to the story Aryll’s grandmother had been told when she was Aryll’s age, the first batch of soup this pot was host to was made before the Great Flood and had, since those days, it had been imbued with a special kind of magic.
The old woman set out bowls upon the dining table for their guest, for Aryll, and herself. “We’ll all have lunch together,” she said with a sweet smile.
“You’ll like Grandma’s soup, Rinku!” Ayrll said excitedly as she sat down near him. “It’s the bestest soup in the world!”
Rinku took a spoonful.
“This is wonderful”! he exclaimed. “I can taste magic in this. There’s a warm tingling throughout my body… like fairy-magic or a potion, but not like a potion because this actually tastes good.”
Aryll and her grandmother understood one word of that sentence.
“Fairy?” Aryll questioned. “You know about fairies?” She made a fluttering motion with her hands.
“Fairy?” Rinku responded, making a motion with his finger that mimicked a healing-fairy’s dance around an injured person.
“Yeah!” Aryll laughed, “They heal people!”
The young man turned. There were many faces pressed against the window. Men, women and a little kid with a snot-dribble coming from his nose peered in at him. The people of
were curious about the stranger in their midst. Outset Island
Back to Story Menu