Chapter 6: A Slice of Life Pie
Seven years brought prosperity to the Hylian Settlement, which had quickly become Hyrule City. The burgeoning Royal Family was in the process of moving out of their initial cabin and into the "castle" that was built as a governing center. It was modest as far as palaces went, nothing like the ones in the tales of old – just a place with rooms for offices and meetings and a family residence for Hyrule's leaders on a second level, but it was built of strong stone-brick. Zelda foresaw that succeeding generations would expand the structure and, for now, felt a little awkward moving into it, but her family did need more space than the old cabin could provide.
The queen of Hyrule walked with her king through the center of town, heading toward the southern end with their children. Pipit and his sister, Araucana, skipped and ran on ahead of their parents. Link bounced a giggling Taurin in a holster on his back. Taurin was the newest edition to the family, just beginning to form some of his babble into the simplest words, his apparent favorite being "mine!" He'd been named for the land just the other children had been named for the sky. Araucana was a bright five-year old and Pipit was nearing his eighth birthday.
The family was headed to Uncle Bats' Daycare for the day. Between the children and dealing with delegation, leadership and general politics, Link and Zelda rarely had a chance for any relaxation. Today, they'd scheduled an afternoon to themselves in Faron Woods. Thankfully, the children liked Mr. Batreaux a great deal and were happy to spend a day with friends at his place, which doubled as a primary-education school. They'd even have a visitor today. The Skyloft apothecaries (Bertie and Luv), were spending a week down in Hyrule City and had their daughter in tow, Maggie. Araucana loved Maggie like the big-sister she didn't have. The girl and Pipit argued all the time, but in a way that reminded Link and Zelda of when they were little.
"Hey, Momma!" Araucana chimed, "Did Mr. Batreaux tell you any stories when you were a kid?"
"No," Zelda gently answered, "I didn't know him when I was your age."
"Really? 'Cause he's really old. He says he's like, a thousand years old or somethin'."
"Hmmm," Link mused, "You know what, he might actually be."
"Nu-uh!" Pipit contested, "People don't get that old! Only gods and dragons and monsters and stuff!"
Link laughed. "I do have a story about him when you are ready."
"I'm ready!" Araucana chimed.
Link rubbed her head. "No, I don't think you are. I don't think most people are ready for that kind of story."
"Because most adults would be afraid to let you kids play with him if I told that story, even though he's a very good person."
"The same reason Daddy can't tell you everything that happened on his adventure yet," Link sighed.
"You're keeping a secret!" Araucana laughed.
"Yes. You remember how special secrets are, right?"
"Uh huh! Hey, you know what? Last time, Mr. Batreaux told us that there are secret little people living around all over the place, but only special children can see them – and only when the little people want them to."
"Yeah! I've been looking around all over under things but I haven't caught any yet. I don't think they live in the city 'cause we've got remlits and cuccoos and they don't wanna get ate."
"Mr. Batreaux has the best stories at story-time!" Pipit championed. "He doesn't even need to read them out of books; they're all in his head. I really like the one about the lone knight and the sixteen giant-creatures of fur-and-stone. It was really sad, though! This guy was trying to bring this girl back to life and…"
They'd come upon the southern limit of the city, where the brickwork and cobblestone met the grass and ground leading into the wilderness. It really did just stop abruptly like that, and looking out over the forest beyond was a marble statue, just about twice life-size. Pipit looked up to it. It was the first time he'd seen it in a finished state. It even had a little white and green spat on the right shoulder, meaning that it had now been christened and accepted by the local wildlife.
There were three grand statues currently in Hyrule City, aside from the great Monument of the Goddess in the dead center. They were all considerably smaller than the Goddess, being each about twice life-size of the people they were commissioned to represent. They were a great civic project – a way for the people of Hyrule to honor heroes, provide work for artists, and they beautified the city, as well as serving to remind people of history.
One of these statues was of Impa and resided just outside the old Hylia Temple and Library. It was of Impa as she was in old age, sculpted from descriptions and sketches made by Link, Zelda and Groose. They'd all decided that she would prefer her elder and supposedly wiser self when it came to a memorial-monument. Groose had approved of it when finished, which was the best acceptance anyone would hope for.
Another statue stood at the west end of town and depicted an individual who was still alive and stood tall much to its subject's embarrassment. The statue was created anyway because very many people wanted to give him the honor and liked the idea that he could see it as a living man. Also, the chief sculptor really wanted an excuse to sculpt the powerful body of a horse. At the west point of Hyrule City was an image of Fledge holding back a rampant Phila with a halter and rope. It was meant to depict him as the great wild-beast tamer who'd brought the new citizens of the Surface the power of the horse. Link and Zelda had humored the artists on that one. The statue looked like Fledge enough in the physical sense but it didn't capture his gentle and meek spirit at all.
The third statue, here on the south end, had been sculpted from descriptions and pictographs and everyone who'd known the subject thought it captured his spirit very well. A man in a Skyloft Knight uniform with a big arching hat, impressive beak of a nose, crossed arms and a stark marble gaze out into the wild was there for all to see. The pedestal upon which he stood told a story of his accomplishments and of how he'd saved the life of Hyrule's king as the cost of his own. The sculptors had somehow, through some subtle coloring of the stone, managed even to depict freckles.
"Whoa!" Pipit said, "This is the guy you and Mom named me after, right?"
"Yeah," Link said. "I've shown you pictographs of him before."
"This is really cool. He doesn't look anything like me, though, not even as a big honkin' statue, though the statue is almost as cool as I am."
Link laughed. "Of course not. You're not nearly as tall, little kiddo, and I don't mean just the big statue. All kids of mine are destined to be short, you see. Besides, your sister is the one hogging all the freckles in the family… But he was very smart and very brave and I think you'd do very well to grow up to be like him. We've told you the stories, and so has Lady Karane."
"I wanna be like you, Dad."
Link laughed. "Look, there's Maggie. She's waving, you should go say hello."
"Maggie?" Araucana exclaimed. She immediately ran off to greet her older friend. Pipit followed along after her.
Link adjusted Taurin's pack and noticed that the baby had fallen asleep. He could feel drool seeping into the back of his tunic. He was wearing his adventuring clothes, which was not what he usually wore day-to-day anymore, just because he and his wife were going out into the woods. He was going to head back home to get his sword and shield before they set out, after dropping off the children. Zelda was wearing practical clothing, as well - pants and a purple knight's tunic, which was very different from what she wore when she addressed her people formally.
"It turned out really nice," Zelda said.
"Well, the last time Mallara was here, she broke down and cried and hugged Mr. Miguel to thank him for it, so I think it's as good a tribute as we're going to get. No stone can truly capture a soul, but… it's beautiful."
"Mallara put in a bid to move down here permanently. The courier brought it to me yesterday."
"Really? What does she want to do? I mean, if she's going to be alone, our old cabin will be free soon."
"Apparently," Zelda said, "She'd like to open a textile and seamstress business."
"Just as long as she's not putting in a bid to be a housecleaner."
Zelda smacked Link on the arm. "I remember buying homespun remlit-yarn from her years ago… very nice stuff, actually. I knitted it into the best set of winter-mittens I ever made."
"A little known secret…" Link said, "Is that I didn't always go to you for clothing repairs. Pipit – the late Pipit, I mean – was very good at patching. He'd take care of a pair of pants or shirt so that you wouldn't even know it was torn. I once asked him where he learned that and he grumbled something about his mother…"
"Cuccoos can't fly!" a small, female voice shouted.
"Nuh-uh! Can too! We have some! I've seen them fly!"
Maggie and little Pipit were apparently having an argument over the flight-mechanics of domestic fowl. Pipit the Second stood in front of the statue of Pipit the First and, quite unknowingly, imitated the stone's pose perfectly – arms crossed indignantly and an intense glare. Then he ruined the moment by sticking his tongue out and going "Pfffft!" at little Maggie. Just because she was older than he was didn't make her right.
Link's eyes widened.
"Darling, what's wrong?" Zelda asked.
"Did you see that? I think I just had déjà vu."
"It is entirely possible," Zelda said as they sat upon the grassy bank of Swiftblade Creek next to a pair of fishing poles with their lines in the water and butt-ends rammed firmly into the mud of the creek-side.
"How so?" Link questioned. "You were already pregnant when Pipit died."
"Children are vessels," Zelda answered. "Not all of them gain their spirits right away. When I was with Impa, exploring the land and regaining the memories of Hylia, I had a very vivid dream. It was of my last moments as Hylia as I entered the mortal life. My mortal body was about half-formed within my mother. I knew I could have waited as long as the moment at which I took my first breath as Zelda to enter in, but I chose to enter early for the sake of spending more time with my mother. As Hylia, I knew that her life would not be a long one."
Link rubbed Zelda's back. "You had time with her, though, and that's precious."
"More than the time you had with your parents."
"So, yes, it is entirely possible that our son may be our old friend. I do not know for certain, though. In any case, it is different now. Our son's life is his own. He really shouldn't be asked to be anything other than Prince Pipit of Hyrule, a child of the Surface, even if it could be confirmed that he once was anyone we've known before. I was Hylia and I am Zelda now. You were the Ancient Hero and you are the Hero of now."
Zelda smiled and Link took her by the hand. "It is my sincere hope that if he's lived before that he doesn't remember it," Zelda finished. "I think the fact that you bear no memories of your former life is fortunate for you."
"You seem to bear Hylia well."
"The knowledge was very hard at first, but I have come to terms with it."
"He shows some signs that… kinda freak me out sometimes." Link confessed, "Like this morning with the statue – that glare he does… just little mannerisms like that. And the fascination with swords…"
Zelda and Link had almost had simultaneous heart-attacks when they'd found Pipit, at age three, playing with Pipit' the First's sword on the floor in the center of their cabin. Link had gone into the kitchen area to cut himself some bread and cured meat for a snack while Zelda had gone outside for but a moment to address someone who'd come by knocking on the door. Each thought their little boy would be fine for just a few minutes, playing with his wooden blocks. They had no idea how the child had managed to get the sword off its display-hanger on the wall, but Link had come in to find the child staring at his reflection in the un-sheathed blade. He'd dropped his sandwich and grabbed little Pipit up before he had the chance to cut himself. Link still kept the sword as a memorial to his friend, but he'd devised a way to hang it much tighter. After all, it wasn't to be used anymore.
He'd crafted the child a wooden practice sword when he thought his boy had grown old enough to imitate Daddy out on the training grounds. Link's son now had a least a rudimentary understanding that swords were not toys. Araucana, for her part, wasn't nearly as interested in her papa's swords as she was in his bow. Link had crafted her a small bow and arrows with blunted tips she could shoot at a stack of straw bales and pumpkins.
"He wants a Loftwing," Zelda said, awakening Link from an almost-snooze.
"Pipit told me wants a Loftwing, like we've got."
"We hardly use ours anymore… we mostly just let them fly free. You know, I'm actually thinking of scheduling a visit out to Lonordona to Fledge's ranch and asking him to finally teach me how to ride a horse. With the continued expansion of the castle, we could probably stable horses… If they're the future, we should be riding them."
"They're touchier than Loftwings," Zelda added, "Besides… maybe we shouldn't cut all ties to the sky in a single generation. Although I do not ride my bird much anymore, my Loftwing is still very important to me. The human contract with them is coming to an end, but I know there are some who will still be drawn to that partnership, both those with feathers and those without."
"Before my partnership with you," Link admitted, "My bond with my bird was the most important thing to me. Pipit's a little young, but I haven't taken the kids to Skyloft in a long time. Maybe I should call my bird down and do just that. I'll show Pip how to sense and call and maybe something interesting will happen. It's been a while since Pipit's been there and Araucana was so young she probably doesn't remember it at all, and Taurin hasn't been to the Sky at all-"
"Taurin stays," Zelda said matter-of-factly. "It is too dangerous for him. We'll schedule you a few days off. You can take Pipit and Araucana for a visit. I'll stay here with the baby."
"I'll call Lady Karane in to do royal bodyguard duty. I'll have no fear with her around, and it'll be easier for her than the last time she did personal attendance to us, since the 'little monsters' will be with you."
Link chuckled remembering how his older children, having no fear of Karane's title – "The Iron Lioness," decided to play a game of "Let's climb Mt. Karane." The look on her face was priceless, which was probably why he lingered more than he should of in prying little Pipit and little Araucana off of her armored person.
"It's good, isn't it?" Link said, looking out over the flow of the creek.
"The world," Link answered. "What we're doing now, this brave new age. Are we headed into a Golden Era?"
Zelda hugged him from behind. "Maybe," she said, "though such things are a myth."
"No times are perfect. Even the days of Hylia had the usual natural and human struggles before the rising of Demise. I suppose, in some ways, all times, even those that are best for most of the people, aren't good for some. The idea of Golden Ages is really just nostalgia."
"When did you get depressing, Zelda?"
"Not depressing - philosophical. There are some things I have realized since I've regained those ancient Goddess-memories… just how hard the mortal life is, for one. I guess I am feeling remorse. I really just never knew before."
"I want to make this age the best it can possibly be, for as long as it can be."
Zelda gave him a kiss on the cheek. "And that's why you have a Hero's heart."
Pipit and Araucana ran to embrace the elderly man at the Skyloft Knight Academy first-floor doors.
"Didja bring us something, huh, didja?" the children chimed.
Gaepora laughed. "How could I bring you anything when you're the ones who came here? I did not know you were even coming. Such a pleasant surprise!"
He looked up at Link, clad in his green clothes. "This was an unexpected visit. It's been a while." He looked around. "Where are Zelda and the baby? I bet he's grown since I was last in your city."
"Oh, they stayed down on the Surface, sir," Link explained. "Zelda was in her protective mother-mode. She didn't think Taurin was ready to fly yet, especially with me on my bird and the two ankle-biters all in a pile. Hey, kids! Stop jumping all over your grandpa like that!"
"Oh, it's quite alright," Gaepora said with his hooting laugh. "Hey, ow! That's Grandpa's knee!"
"Sorry, Grandpa," Pipit said. He and his sister calmed themselves.
"I decided to bring Pip and Ara here just to see their old man's stomping grounds," Link announced. "I also wanted to teach Pipit about Loftwings a little bit."
"I don't think he's old enough to partner with one yet, but he wants to someday and I thought it might be nice to prepare him, just in case. Also, Araucana missed you."
"I love you, Grandpa!" The girl laughed as she tried to wrap her tiny arms around Gaepora's belly.
Link looked around the grounds. "Purple is this year's uniform color?"
There were a few knights milling about in dark purple uniforms, two young men and one young woman, all with the traditional windsock-hats. They were apparently off-Skyloft scattered-islanders since they weren't anyone that Link recognized. He saw Gully on the grounds – he was a student here now, but an underclassman and thus he was dressed in civilian clothing.
"Um, yes," Gaepora said, clearing his throat. "The first of the official seniors is that young man over there, Martin. He won the Wing Ceremony in a way that almost made yours look like a cakewalk – a very close race. In fact," he laughed, "It was almost a mirror of the first ceremony of the Yellow Knights' year. The others are a pair whose grades are up to par who will be participating in the upcoming ceremony."
Link recalled the way of the Academy. If someone's grades were good enough, they had the right to wear that year's senior uniform but where not an official senior until they'd completed the Wing Ceremony and, after that, their specialized on-the-job training and things considered extra-curricular came into play before an official graduation to full knight-status. Graduates of the Wing Ceremony were knights, but they were considered trainee-knights and still spent time at school. Link would have still studied his "specialties" before becoming a true Skyloft Knight had the Surface and Destiny not interfered with his and Zelda's lives. Link had not been entirely sure what he'd wanted to specialize in – he'd thought about swordsmanship and night-flying. Zelda had thought that night-flying was out of his league, given his easiness toward falling asleep. He'd contended that nighttime suited him just fine, that he just wasn't a "morning person," and the bickering would go on.
Since the Wing Ceremony was held once a year, some young knights waited for up to two to three years before making senior-status. If someone failed on their third year, they typically dropped out of the program and found something else to do as a career.
Karane had actually given Link a preview of what his senior uniform would look like, save for the round hat she'd opted for (a fashion option for female knights-in-training). She was one of the unofficial seniors in that her grades were perfect, (much more so than Link's had been) but she did not take part in the Wing Ceremony during his year. The reason was that her bird was sick – it had been a minor ailment, the Loftwing equivalent of the common cold, but she thought it wisest not to risk her partner with such a strenuous exercise. She'd been content to brush up on her sword-skills for another year.
"Martin may be joining you on the Surface soon, Link," Gaepora said. "He has expressed a wish to explore the Surface as a specialty. Krowan and Robin, the other two in purple, wish to train for the Sky. I have been meaning to speak with you and Eagus regarding the training of your Surface knights. We've just been sending those that want to train on the Surface right to you without any regard… well, for you and my daughter - nor have we been able to adequately prepare them, as Lady Karane has written us…"
Link rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, it is true that the 'castle' doesn't yet have a proper training hall. I really wanted to get Eagus' input on that, but I know that he is at least as busy as I am. The open-air grounds have been a good start, but we really do need more… It's been largely peaceful, but, as you know, what monsters we do have problems with there are much stronger and nastier than any the Sky knows. The Surface Knights have done well to keep civilians out of the most dangerous of the ancient temples, and to guard the restorers while they work on the Skyview… But they themselves have had problems, even after training with me. I've had to clear out a lot of areas myself, actually…"
Gaepora smiled. "I take comfort in the fact that my daughter married a one-man army, but it must be rough on you."
"Nah," Link dismissed. "It's not nearly as hard as finding her after she was taken and decided to play a game of timey-wimey ball with me. Most of the really strong beasts, if I didn't kill them, just went back to the shadows once Demise was sealed. Anyway, I've decided to come back for a week's stay. It might be a little small for me and the kids, but is my old dorm available?"
"Actually, it is not," Gaepora answered, "Robin's making use of it, but my quarters are open, as are Owlan's, since he's on one of his extended plant-studies."
"Again? I wasn't even notified. Oh, well, I guess I should be glad that Faron likes him. He really goes deep into the forest. I always worry about that…. With Faron…"
"Hoo-ooh. I am ever glad that we who remain in the sky have Levias as our patron, for he's never been known to crave any sacrifice of meat, only pumpkin soup. Anyway, his quarters would be most appropriate for you while I take the little ones."
"Why, of course, my boy! The first day of your stay here is… the kids are going to have a day out with Grandpa while you get to tell my students about life on the Surface and show them your superior combat skills!" Gaepora thrust a little pin into the front of Link's tunic. "Congratulations. For the day, you're Instructor Link!"
The Academy bell rang and Link found himself, dumfounded, standing before a huge gathering of starry-eyed students, both uniform and civilian-clad.
Gaepora, for his part, walked away with Pipit and Araucana beside him. "Let's go get ice cream!" he said to happy shouts of "Yay!"
"Well, um…" Link stuttered, "Um… class…"
"I'm not ready yet," young Pipit said, looking into a sunset sky.
"Hmm?" His father asked. It was the final day of their visit to Skyloft. Araucana was playing with new friends while Link's eldest son watched the sky with him.
"For a Loftwing, I mean."
"Ah. I did think you were a little young."
"Does this make me cowardly?"
"Not at all. I think you've inherited your mother's wisdom. I was age ten when mine came to me."
"The red bird… the red bird comes to the brave, because it's the Hero's bird," Pipit said with a smile. "And the yellow ones come to cheerful people, and the blue ones come to creative people… like in the book you showed me."
"That's right, though people don't know if what the book says about colors is true."
"Gray ones come to warriors, people with a warrior-spirit, right Dad?"
"Yeah. That's what people think."
Pipit pointed to a bird lilting in the sky. The light was not fading enough that they could not make out the natural colors of the birds they were watching. The animal swept close to Skyloft. It was gray with its feathers tipped in yellow. Link did a double take. He'd seen a bird like that once, in a significant dream he'd had, only the bird was metallic silver with golden tips. The wild bird looked like a washed-out version of the creature Link remembered in his vision. It had been several years, but that dream stayed with Link.
"That one's calling to me," his son said, "But he says I'm not ready yet. Do you think he'll still be around here when I'm ready?"
"Yes," Link said slowly. "I think so."
Back to Story Menu