Zelda Has A Breath

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Chapter 3

Zelda Has a Breath 1.3


By Post



            It was nighttime, and torch flame danced all around.  Link swallowed and held his breath.  He crept forwards, his back hunched over in a cautious crouch.  Finally, he reached a line of wooden crates and had a chance to relax.  He sat his small self against the wooden structures, trying to regain his composure.

            It was odd, because Link never recalled ever feeling this paranoid about a moment in his quest before.  It was like his defenses were about to crumble away and he’d not be able to stop it.  The fact that it was nighttime did little to console him.

            The boy took a deep breath, and peered up and over the crates.  He could spot the length and width of the Pirate’s Fortress quite well from his vantage point, and the place was teeming with female guards.  He knew very little about these seafaring Amazonians, thus he could barely make any judgment about their notoriety.  There was no reason for the boy to end a life or start a fight with any of them.  So what Link settled for was a plan to strategically knock out a few of them so that he could make his way to the ladder at the bottom of the metal tower, climb up, and work his way from there.

            There was one guard coming up rather close to Link’s right.  She was armed with a spear, like the rest of them.  Somehow her violet colored tank top and velvety leggings standing against the amber firelight made her an easy target.  The boy whipped out a deku stick he had been saving since the morning he entered the Great Bay.  He waited until she had passed and had her back to him.  Then, under the shelter of the falling moon, he dashed out from behind the crates, approached the woman pirate with his deku stick raised, and brought it down swiftly across her back.


            She had no breath to cry out, and her body fell unconscious in a second.

            Link dropped the deku stick and glanced around, panting.  Afraid that somebody might have seen him.  And yet, he was still good to go.  With the rest of the path from there to the tower open to him, Link made a run for it….

            ….and inexplicably tripped on a rusted hole in the metal ground.


            The boy’s body fell to the ground.

            Link winced as a shock of pain swept through him.  But what was most painful was just how loud a sound he had made.

            And of course…it betrayed his presence.

            “HALT!!!” came a sharp, womany voice.

            Link gasped.  He jumped up to his feet and spotted a woman dashing towards him from his left.  She had a spear raised and she glared at him with amber eyes.

            “You go no further!!!”

            In a blink, he had his sword whipped out and he deflected her spear.  But he swung the sword too hard, and it slipped from his grasp!!

            CLANG!!!  The blade stuck into the ground a few feet away; inaccessible without confronting another guardswoman with a spear.

            Link bit his lip and ran desperately towards the tower as fast as he could.  But suddenly he found himself squaring off with two other guards.

            “HALT!!!” they both shouted in feminine unison.

            The boy realized that he still had his Hylian shield.  He whipped it out and pressed the weight of his whole body into shoving one of the two women away.  But the shove turned into a scuffle, and she ended up grabbing the shield and falling back with it.  Thus, Link was totally defenseless right as the second guard came charging with her spear.

            He ducked and rolled to the side, but not without the blade of her spear catching the right shoulder of his tunic and ripping the green garment in half.  His roll turned into a tumble and he landed awkwardly against another line of crates, feeling thoroughly bruised.

            He heard dozens of footsteps around him; soft and poisonous.  His eyes opened to a circle of curvy pirates aiming spears at him.  It was over.  He had been caught.

            “That’s as far as you go, little mister!” chanted one of the dangerous ladies.

            “What do we have here??” one hummed, stepping forward and placing her hands on her hips.

            Another chirped:  “It takes courage to come thieving in the pirates’ fortress!”

            Young Link weakly stood up.  The cold air of the night was working torture on his now-exposed chest.  That or he was mesmerized by the proximity of the serrated metal spears before him.

            “Check out the little boy!” mused the leader, walking into the spotlight.  “Far away from home!  The little punk thought he could find company with us, ladies!  Who does he think he is?”

            “Awww….but isn’t he cute, though??!”

            The other pirates giggled, and they sounded rather girlish.  Slowly, they seemed to be closing in on the boy.

            Link fingered his pouch, tied to the rear of his belt.  He knew he had some deku nuts handy to strike the ground, blind his opponents, and make a run for it.  But….for some strange reason….he didn’t do that….

            “Poor thing….look what we did to his tunic!” hummed a pirate who was suddenly at Link’s left.  She fingered the shredded halves of his shirt and made a pouting face.  “He’ll catch cold out here all alone!”

            Link blushed, for suddenly a pair of female arms were hugging him from behind.

            “Well, we’ll just have to keep him warm ourselves, won’t we?” a voice murmured into his ear.

            Again, they all giggled…in cadence….like bird songs.

            And their arms turned into feathers as they smiled their way towards him in a circle.  With eyes and lips and legs and crimson hair.

            “Awww….poor thing…”

            “Isn’t he soooooo cute?”

            “So huggable too!”

            “Come here, you….”

            Link gasped.  Soft skin and warm breaths and hands moving and hands dancing and legs swaying…..





            Link’s eyes opened.

            One beat….two….

            He bolted upright in his cot.  The light of morning announced itself softly from behind his curtain door.  The fresh air of a Terminian dawn swept through the Stock Pot Inn.

            He blinked; watching the visions of pirate women dance away in the corners of his mind.  Feeling them less and less in the corners of his body.  The boy suddenly realized how uncomfortably warm it felt underneath his covers.

            He attempted to whip the sheets off him.  But in doing so, he took one glance down and gasped; covering himself back up in an instant.  An unmistakable shade of red ran across his cheeks as he took a second, horrifying look.

            And a wave of disgust and embarrassment surged through the thirteen-year-old like never before…




            Downstairs, in the lobby.

            “So what happened then?” Anju asked, sipping deku juice.

            “Well…,” Kafei smirked.  “…he said, ‘If you’re from the West, at least make sure your bones are dry before eating!’  Hahahaha….get it?”

            His wife chuckled.  “No….No, I don’t get it.”

            “Yeah…well….Mutoh thought of it.”


            A pitter patter of feet….then Link emerged from the bottom of the stairs.  His face seemed flushed, and in a suspiciously paranoid manner he walked briskly up to Anju and gestured.

            Anju ‘read’ him and blinked.  “Um…why, no….I-I haven’t done the laundry today, Link.  But I was going to—“

            He gestured emphatically.

            She smiled.  “Really?  You really want to?  Why thank you, Link.  That’s most helpful…”

            The boy nodded, turned around—nearly bumped into the wall—then ran up the stairs.

            “What was that about??” exclaimed Kafei with a curious raise of the eyebrow.

            “I don’t know!” Anju replied, humored, before returning to her deku juice.  “I’ve never seen Link so desperate to do the laundry before!”

            “Well, as long as it saves us from breaking our backs, I’m happy for his enthusiasm!”




            A half an hour later, Link arrived at the laundry pool at the southwest corner of Clock Town.  He was far from the only person there.  All around the pool, busy citizens of Clock Town were dipping their loads of clothes and sheets into the waters, giving them a good scrub down against washboards, and ringing them out before being taken somewhere to hang and dry.

            But it was a less busy day than normal.  Link had only done the laundry on a few occasions before (he tended to help around in most other chores of the Inn), but today he was very….very glad to do it himself.

            He wasn’t glad for a few other things, though.  For instance, he had forced himself to wear his backup clothes; a dark-dark gray tunic with a matching cap.  It was something he made for himself in a desperate but feeble attempt to recreate his classic green garb.  But somehow it didn’t look so right in his opinion, and he put it aside forever just because of that dislike.

            But today, he’d rather be wearing anything except for the normal tunic he worked in, fought in……and slept in.

            When he reached the waters, he knelt with his bucket of linens and washboard and prepared to go to work.  He was quiet about his task; like he had been quiet about everything his whole life.  But what he did, however silent, nearly deafened him.  It seemed as if he woke up with a sudden sense of self-awareness, of vulnerability, and of feelings….feelings he never felt before.  It was unnerving.  It felt like he was losing his guard.  He had to concentrate…unless he was losing his mind.

            A sound startled him.  A soft sound.  He glanced innocently towards his left.  In the distance, beyond a mother and child playing with a dog, he saw two girls his age squatting besides the pool with their own load of laundry.  They both looked at them and giggled.  One of them whispered something to the other and they went back to their work, trying not to appear like they had been staring his way in the first place.

            Link went back to his own work and bit his lip.  He knew it….he could feel it….he was blushing.  But why?  Did they trigger it?  How did they trigger it?  None of this was making sense.  A senseless morning.

            The boy sighed and glanced up at the moonless sky.





            “My mother was the sweetest person who ever lived.  Hehehe…I guess all little girls would say that.  She gave me the sweetest smile whenever I made her happy…which was a seemingly hard thing to do cuz as much as I remember, she was sick in bed a lot.  I don’t think my father truly means anything bad by it, but he says that my coming into this world was what finished Mother off.  He loved her so much….just like I did.  When she passed on….it devastated him.  Father’s never been the way he used to be….”

            Zelda strolled alongside Link in a promenade overlooking the royal gardens.

The boy’s every sense was trained on her.  His whole attention was in tune to her voice.

            “Being anywhere in this castle reminds me of her…,” she drifted and reminisced.  “It breathes and smells of her.  It echoes with her footsteps.  Did I ever tell you she was one of the chief designers of the East Wing?  Yes…she helped put this place together.  She spread life into it.  And….i-it makes me happy to think that the more I’m living here….the more I’m living with her and her spirit.”

            After a silent pace, Zelda’s movement came to a stop.  She whirled about and looked at Link.

            The boy was standing there…ever patient….and smiling.

            The princess blinked.  Then she giggled, “You really like listening to my stories, don’t you, Link?”

            He slowly nodded yes.

            “Do they excite you that much?”

            His eyes trailed.

            “Well…..I’m glad somebody’s finally here who will listen….,” Zelda went off.  A beat.  She snapped out of it and leaned forward—startling Link.  “Do you have any memories of your mother?”

            Link stared at her.  There was a space of empty confusion between his eyes.  He blinked and looked off….thinking.

            “You know….,” Zelda smiled.  “Your mother!”

            Link was silent.  He made a gesture to raise his hands—paused—then signed a few blurred words.

            Zelda did a double-take.  “Say what??”  A pause.  Then she smirked.  “Link….of course you know that only Kokiri grow from the roots of the The Great Deku Tree!”

            Link blushed and she giggled.

            Then she said, “But you’re Hylian, remember?”

            He looked at her.

            “Didn’t you tell me you found that out after cleansing the Forest Temple of Phantom Ganondorf?” Zelda remarked.  “The Deku Tree Sprout!  It told you that you were a Hylian raised by the Kokiri.  You….Y-You do realize that, right?”

            Link scratched his head.  He shrugged.

            Zelda knew he was hesitantly admitting that.  Why?  She wasn’t certain.

            “Then do you remember your mother at all, Link?” she asked.  “If you didn’t pop out of a tree, you had to come from somewhere!”

            The boy looked straight at the princess.  Rather calmly, he gestured forth a question.

            “What do mothers have to do with being born?”

            Zelda was taken by surprise.  Not that such was an uncommon thing when talking to Link.  “Wh-What do you mean by that?  Of course you know…….um………y-you must know that we all come from…..er…..that babies come from…….um….”

            Link stared at her blankly.

            The princess gasped and cupped a hand over her mouth.  “Y-You don’t know, do you??”

            He shook his head ‘no’.

            “Oh………...OH…..”  Suddenly, the princess went into a fit of giggles.

            “???” Link rose an eyebrow as if the princess was a total loony.  He was beginning to pout, and had it not been for her beauty he would have stopped looking at her laughing form.

            “Ohhhhhhh, Link,” Zelda wiped away a tear as the chuckles began to subside.  “The world could do with more innocents such as yourself.”

            His eyes were imploring.

            That made the royal daughter gulp.  “Y-You can’t be serious.  You want ME to explain??”

            He stared.

            “But……I m-mean, wow.  Nobody ever TOLD you?  What about Saria—oh wait, she’s Kokiri.  Hmmm…..Navi?  Nah….forget about it.”  A long, unearthly pause.  “Wow, Link.  That makes perfect sense.  You must not know a thing as to how babies are made.”

            Link folded his arms and looked aside.

            Zelda giggled once and place a hand on his shoulder, “Nothing to feel bad about!  The circumstances of your youth!  I understand!”  Zelda stopped for a moment.  “Then that must mean….when you went seven years into the future…..and met me……you couldn’t possibly have felt—“

            Link glanced at her, immensely curious.  For she had stopped in mid sentence.  His look said everything:

            “Think what?”

            Zelda felt like she was going to faint.  She moaned, “Ohhhhhh….this is gonna be a long afternoon.  Come, Link.  Let’s go someplace remote where no one can see you blush.”

            Not knowing what horrifying knowledge lie ahead of him, the forest boy smiled victoriously and followed the princess off towards the gardens.





            So deep into his thoughts was Link, he didn’t realize where he was going until he bumped into a tall person in front of him.

            “Excuse me!” the man said and rushed off into a nearby huddle of bodies.

            Link snapped out of it and realized he was almost losing grip of his basket of Stock Pot laundry.  He took a glance at where he was—West Clock Town.  It would appear that the usual noonday crowd of masculinity had gathered in and outside the Swordsman’s School.  But today, the crowd appeared extraordinarily large…excited….curious.

            This same curiosity overcame the clothes-bearing-boy, and he couldn’t help but wander over and investigate.  Wander over, he did.  And—placing the basket of clothes in a seemingly safe place—he swimmed his small way through the crowds of onlookers and into the heated interior of the School itself.

            A ring of men had gathered around a tiny arena where a duel was taking place.  Across the sandy circle, two combatants were pacing across from each other with swords in hand.  Each wore a protective layer of leather armor—made to absorb the piercing attack of a sword before it could enter the skin.  This was a mere training duel—not mortal combat, which was illegal in Termina.

            Link recognized the taller of the two as Lead—the enthusiastic guard who regularly served under Captain Viscen’s command in Clock Town.  The second man totally surprised Link.  After a double-take, he realized that it indeed was Mordun—the Xonan visitor who had escorted the Feordian Priestesses into their stay at the Stock Pot Inn.

            Off to the side, Therald was cheering—having thus broken his shy shell for the sole sake of rooting on his companion.  He wasn’t alone.  All the men were excited to see who would win in a face off between the stranger mercenary from Xona and the local soldier from everyone’s beloved Clock Town.  In the crowd Link could spot Adasmith, Kirk, Mutoh, Crow, and even the Postman!  It seems as if everyone had turned out for this occasion.

            “Show no mercy, Lead!”

            “Yeah!  Give him the Clock Town fury!”

            “He can’t take all of us one on one!”

            Therald had the sudden guts to cheer out:  “Sh-Show him who’s boss, M-Mordun!”

            A round of boos, hisses, and laughter.

            “Give them room, men….,” boomed the voice of the wise and ever-serene Swordmaster.  The hairy little man sat cross-legged at the platform towards the rear of the room—where he got the perfect view to judge and critique the duels in action.

            Mordun grinned.  He never kept his eyes off Lead for a second.  Not only that, but he was silent.  Observing.

            Lead, on the other hand, was full of words.  “Your luck is about to run out, outsider.”

            “Please….call me Mordun,” the bearded fellow grinned.

            Lead started it.  He let out a growl and jabbed his blade forward in a blink of an eye.

            To the young fellow’s surprise, Mordun had anticipated it and had spun to the side before Lead could even thrust.  There was a cry, and Mordun slapped the guardsman on the back with the flat of his blade.

            “YIPE!” Lead stumbled forward and his helmet fell over his eyes.

            Everyone laughed….including Mordun.

            Lead got back to his feet.  He gritted his teeth and approached Mordun.  He started to approach from all angles, constantly attacking whenever he got the chance.  At each instance, Mordun would merely deflect with his own blade and literally push Lead back.  Lead was sweating and putting forth a workout.  Mordun—on the other hand—was hardly shifting his feet an inch.

            Link watched with major interest.  Just then, a heavy hand clasped on his shoulder.  He gasped loudly and spun around—looking up.

            “Exciting stuff, ain’t it?” Kafei smirked.  “Looks like our humble visitors are attracting quite a lot of attention.  Even yours!”

            Link gulped and frantically signed something to Kafei.

            The man held out a hand.  “It’s okay, Link,” he said.  “I saw where you put the laundry.  Heck, I was already in here when you stopped by.  We can take care of the clothes later.”

            A look of shock and perplexion came over the boy.  Again he gestured something.

            Kafei laughed.  “Ha ha ha ha…..believe me, if Anju had held a sword even once in her life—she wouldn’t mind either.  Ooh, look!  I think Mordun’s getting the best of Lead.”

            Link shrugged and looked back to the duel.

            Lead was growing more and more frustrated with Mordun’s calm prowess.  Above the noise of the cheering crowed, he growled:  “Stop patronizing me and fight like a man!”

            Mordun gave a mock bow.  “What’s there to patronize?”

            Immense laughter ensued.

            Lead’s eyes bugged out of his face.  He let out a warcry and charged at full-force.

            “Take him out, Lead!”

            Mordun stood still.

            Lead held his sword up.

            Mordun stood still.

            Lead brought the blade down.

            Mordun quickly exchanged hands, brought his sword up in a high arch, and brought it down just in time to catch the momentum of Lead’s swing early and throw it heavily down to the ground.


            Lead’s blade was embedded in the sand and his whole body limped awkwardly towards Mordun because he wouldn’t let go of his grip on the hilt.

            All Mordun had to do then was simply swivel his body around and sweep a leg out from under the guardsman.

            “DAH!!” THUMP!  Lead flipped over and landed hard on his butt.  Before he could even regain his breath, Mordun was pointing the tip of his weapon at the man’s neck.

            “What’s this I hear about fighting like a man?” smirked the Xonan.

            “Man down!  Winner, Mordun of Xona!” boomed the Swordmaster emotionlessly.

            There was a hushed silence of disappointment throughout the crowd.  But in time, they all agreed it was deserving an applause.  Soon Mordun was receiving a good room-ful of claps.  He accepted it stoically.

            Lead—however—was fuming.  And when Mordun offered him a hand up, he merely upturned his nose and walked with more or less dignity in and out of the crowd.

            “Yeah!  Woo-hoo!  Teach ‘em, Mordun!” Therald exclaimed….then cleared his throat….then acted natural.

            “I’ll tell you what….it’s not everyday you see a man that good at a blade,” said Kafei.  There was an extra layer of intention in the sound of his voice.

            But Link didn’t quite make it out.  He merely nodded dazedly.  For the clanking sounds of metal against metal and the heat coupled by combating bodies and rushing adrenaline brought back an instinct that raged inside of him.  An instinct he knew too well—for he felt it months on end when he had to battle the odds of evil itself.

            “Ugh!  I can’t believe what waifs our soldiers are becoming!” Mutoh spontaneously spurted from the crowd.  “To think this measly Xonan beat off five of our guys already!”

            Link gasped.  Five opponents defeated?

            The Swordmaster lifted his head and spoke to the crowd:  “He accomplishes his mastery by thorough training, no doubt.  And with precious knowledge from generations of powerful teachers.  If this is the product of Xona…then I am indeed more than proud to see it exercised in my dojo.”

            There was a muttering of agreement and reverence from the crowd.

            Mordun took the moment to sheathe his sword and drink from a pitcher of water.

            The Swordmaster wasn’t finished:  “I must say, though.  I’m gravely disappointed that none of our merited soldiers have been able to match this humble mercenary!  I’m tempted to ask once again; is anyone out there fully trained and honorable enough to challenge him to defeat?  I’m almost afraid to ask this…for never before have I seen a man win six times in a row in my School.  And a foreigner of all things!”

            A rise of noise and commotion.

            Therald smirked.

            Mordun leaned against the Swordmaster’s platform and caught his breath.  Soon, he too was smirking again.

            “What about Captain Viscen?!” exclaimed Kirk.

            There was a loud murmur of agreement until Crow had the guts to say:  “He’s on a mission in Ikana right now!”

            And so there was a noise of shame and disappointment yet again.

            Kirk shoved Crow and Crow shrugged.

            Kafei suddenly smiled out of nowhere and looked down at Link.

            Link looked up at him.  At first, he was curious.  Then the boy gasped.  And he furiously shook his head ‘no’ pleadingly at Kafei.

            “Well?” the Swordmaster again addressed the group loudly.  “You didn’t all come here for a tea party in such numbers, did you?”

            Everyone laughed nervously.

            “Who will challenge this worthy opponent from the North?”

            Kafei cleared his throat and—to Link’s horror—cupped a hand around his mouth and shouted:  “I know somebody who will!”

            “Who??” the crowd muttered.

            Link yelped as a strong hand pushed him square in the back and out to where he stumbled to a stand in the center of the sandy arena.

            Whatever noises had been in that room were nonexistent now.  All the enthused men grew silent.  Adasmith and Mutoh’s eyes widened in hope.  Kirk and Crow smiled.  Lead—who had actually lingered in the back—stood on the ends of his boots to see the young lad.

            Link bit his lip and tried not to blush.  He had been in here before.

            And he was known……

            For the first time that day, a subtle smile came slowly over the Swordmaster’s face.  “Why….if it isn’t the Green One.”

            As if on cue, a gentle rise of cheers and applause came over the crowd.

            Mordun and Therald were hardly surprise.  They merely exchanged glances.  And it seemed—at least to Link and Kafei—as if they had somehow expected this turn of events.

            As the applause died, the Swordmaster continued:  “A newcomer to Clock Town….a mere boy at that….and yet within the last two years he’s become the only undefeated student I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing.”

            Murmurs of acknowledgement…

            Link cast a death glance at Kafei.  Kafei suppressed a laugh and bore an ‘I’m sorry’ shrug.

            The Swordmaster leaned forward, looking humored: “Though….I must ask….why is the Green One not dressed in green today of all days?”

            Link spun and faced the teacher.  Though his eyes didn’t show it, the boy’s mind traced the day back to the morning.  And the thought of that finally brought out the blush to his cheeks.

            Nobody knew what it meant, but they chuckled merrily anyways.

            “Never the matter,” the Swordmaster leaned back.  “Does the silent young man choose to challenge the master from Xona?”

            Everyone cheered.  A gradual chant grew from the crowd.  Something to the extent of ‘Green One!  Green One!’.

            Link looked at Kafei.  Then he looked at Mordun and Therald.

            The two bodyguards smiled back. And when Mordun gave a brave thumb’s up, Link got his answer.

            “Green One!  Green One!  Green One!”

            Suddenly, Link raised his hand and faced the Swordmaster.

            The chanting’s fever pitch fell.

            Slowly, Link swallowed and nodded with a meaningful little smile.


            Kafei clapped loudly.  He knew of Link’s skills.  He saw his weaponry.  He knew that someway—somehow—the boy had learned things from his past that gave him a chance to prove himself.

            And this was the arena….

            “Give him a blade!” the Swordmaster said.

            The chanting arose again—softer this time—as a man of Viscen walked over with a sword which Link promptly unsheathed and inspected with still blue eyes.  When another man walked over to offer him a leather bit of armor, the boy declined.  He had suddenly turned into a machine; systematic and meticulous.  He knew what he was doing…like it was greater than breathing.  And you don’t need leather armor to breathe.

            Therald leaned over and whispered into Mordun’s ear.  “Th-This is where we st-stop showing off….I-I think….”

            Mordun nodded and firmly spoke back:  “You’re smarter than you give yourself credit, Therald.”  He whipped out his sword and approached the center of the sandy arena where Link was already prepped and ready.  “Are you willing to take me on?”

            Link automatically nodded.  There was no more blushing this time.  There was no more smile.  Something concentrated and surreal had taken over the little boy.

            Mordun interpreted this as something much more superficial.  It was a gentleman in him as opposed to a coward that turned up towards the Swordmaster and spoke out loud:  “I will fight him…..but I don’t see much justice in doing so.  He is but a child.”

            The chanting stopped completely.

            The Swordmaster’s eyes narrowed on the Xonan as he said:  “This is no mere chicken guard to be plucked so easily out of the arena, Sir Mordun.  This boy is one of my most respected students; more than capable of matching Viscen himself.  With the sword, he is as grand a man as ever.  And I trust you to accept him that way.”

            Mordun didn’t have to think twice to believe the Teacher.  He smiled and politely bowed to everyone as he said:  “Then mark my words….a soldier from Xona takes it easy on no man…..no matter the height.  I am honored to duel with you….and may the best talent win.”

            Link smiled briefly and bowed with great earnest before setting his position across from Mordun.

            Mordun did so himself….and soon the whole room was poised for the start of the match.

            But this time….Therald was biting his nails.

            “Ready?” the Swordmaster rose his hand.

            Link’s eyes narrowed.

            Mordun was silent.


            Kafei beamed.

            Crow and Kirk wrung their hands.

            Lead, Mutoh, and Adasmith were breathless.

            The Swordmaster’s hand fell.  “FIGHT!!”

            The first attack was Mordun’s.  And it was an attack of desperation.  He took a deep breath, ran, and literally flipped over Link.  It summoned a huge gasp from everyone in the room—including the Swordmaster—because nobody suspected a man of that muscle and girth to be capable of doing such a maneuver.

            But when Mordun came down on the other side of Link….and when he brought his sword down to hit the boy….Link parried.

            Mordun immediately did his trademark leg-sweep.

            But Link jumped back…and just in time too, for Mordun was thrusting forwards at body-length with his sword.

            In indescribable grace, Link drifted to the side, deflected Mordun’s thrust, and sent him ambling towards the side of the arena.

            Cheering spectators jumped back as Mordun unleashed a surprising spin attack at the end of his trip.  He expected Link to be in the line of attack.

            Link was…..but he was ducking.  The blade went completely over the boy’s head as he crept a foot, rolled to the side, and jumped up in time to deflect Mordun’s fifth attack…when sent the man stumbling backwards.  In exercising all five cat-like maneuvers, Mordun had thoroughly exhausted his beginning bout of energy.

            Now it was Link’s turn….

            “HIYAAAUGH!!!!”  CLANK!!

            The silent boy’s sudden scream was loud and it was furious.  It threw Mordun into a brand new, never-before-seen frontier of the term ‘surprised’.  He found himself stunned—backing up and blocking blow after blow after blow after rapid blow that the short blonde was suddenly and mercilessly unleashing.

            “HAA!!  HURRAAAUGH!!  RAAA!!!”

            CLANG!!  CONG!!  WHANG!!  CLANK!!!

            Sparks flew.  Metal clashed.  Sweatdrops fell.

            But they were all Mordun’s sweatdrops.  He could only parry as Link drove him in circles around the sandy arena.

At one point, he did manage to get a thrust in.  He knew Link would block it….he just didn’t know how.  Link spun around and slashed his sword down in an awkward, behind-the-back downstroke.  This pinned Mordun’s blade to the sand.  The man was shocked when Link put all his weight onto both blades, twisted his body vertically like a top till he was upright and directly facing Mordun with his hand still on the hilt.

“!!!” Mordun backed up.  Just in time too, for Link brought his sword into an instant upwards arc that would have easily clipped off the Xonan’s nose.

There was a throng of laughter and Mordun realized that—in his panicky effort to outstep Link’s range of attack—he had left his sword pinned to the ground a couple of feet away.

A devilish smirk came to Link’s face.  He gracefully kicked the sword up into mid-air with his boot, spun around, and struck the blade dead center like one would a ball.  CLANG!!

It came flying at Mordun.  He flinched until he realized just how it was flying at him.  He reached a hand out and grabbed the hilt easily as one catches a snowflake.

Link had tossed it back at him….by striking it in mid air.

The Xonan’s jaw dropped.

But he didn’t have anytime.  Link let out a cry and…well…..spun at him.


Mordun parried and it was the same old game again.

            Link drove him in circles….literally.  There was cheering and shouting and clanging and all the other assorted noises of regulated chaos.

            Soon, Mordun had very little breath—or will—to fight left.  Even if this was mortal combat, he realized in horror that he wouldn’t have a chance against the little spirit of blades.  But he had one final attack to make.  Or so he thought…

            He jumped back, making one of Link’s swings meet nothing but air.  There was a gasp from the crowd as the Xonan himself yelled and dove forward with an overhead swing.

            But alas, Link rolled to the side and shoved Mordun in the ribs.  The man spun dizzily.  As soon as he caught the boy coming in the corner of his eye, he swung a desperate horizontal arc.  Before it was halfway through, Link deflected it to a stop and suddenly spun with a high-aimed kick.


            The blade was deflected out of Mordun’s hand where it spun towards the ceiling like a comet.

            Everyone’s eyes went up to watch it fall down.

            Thus—hardly a soul saw Link as he swiftly rolled on the ground—between Mordun’s legs—and jumped up behind him, giving him a kick in the rear.

            “AGH!” Mordun stumbled forward, giving Link room to swiftly grab his falling sword by the hilt.

            The air screamed as Link swung both swords about ceremoniously and struck an audacious pose…aimed directly at Mordun.

            The crowd cheered.

            Kafei smirked.

            Mordun panted.

            And Link smiled.

            Mordun shrugged.  “Finish it.”

            Immediately, Link spun around—tripping Mordun’s leg with a flat slap to the knee.  Then the boy was behind him…and using his limbs and the safe flat of the blades, he shoved Mordun’s body in seven different places.

            The Xonan was merely confused at first.  But whatever Link did to him, Mordun suddenly felt the world turn upside down two and a half times.  He landed hard on his back.


            Both swords formed a ‘X’ around his neck.  Mordun couldn’t help but laugh.

            As Link giggled, the Swordmaster rose a hand and announced loudly:  “Man Down!  Winner, the Boy!”

            Cheers.  Loud cheers.  Enthralled cheers.  Finally, someone had beaten that Xonan!

            Mordun regained some breath as Link brought back the swords and extended a hand to help him up.  He wouldn’t believe it when Therald told him later on; but by the time Link beat him, the battle hadn’t even lasted forty seconds!

            “You are…..magnificent,” Mordun managed to pant.  Therald gave him the pitcher of water and after a swig the man continued:  “Do me a favor and never let me anger you sometime….”

            Link smiled bashfully as the two stepped away.  As he turned around, he was a bit overcome by the line of applause and chanting being thrown upon him.  Sword still in hand, he made a desperate attempt to rejoin Kafei and get the heck out of there.  But someone pushed him back in, so there he stood blushing and hesitantly accepting the praise in his usual, innocent silence.

            He needed to return the sword, he thought to himself.  Maybe that way they would leave him alone.

As soon as he turned around however, a huge sliver of metal flew at him.

            Link jumped back and raised his sword at the last second.


            Everyone gasped.

            Mordun and Therald spun around.

            Kafei furiously ran towards the arena but stopped at the backs of the inner onlookers.

            Link pushed back against the large blade, panting, and found himself standing face to face with a very tall creature.  He was a man slow in gait and even more frozen in features.  An icy grin remained plastered on his weathered face; a face that once must have been regal but somehow turned brown and scratchy with too many weeks exploring the harshest of elements.  He held a very long blade in his grasp.  It was dull and gray….lost of all its shine….and yet surprisingly sharp.  It almost matched the dull brown of his cloak…which hung very wide and loose about the man’s thin, rectangular figure.  Everything about him….from the way he drew back his sword…the way he slowly paced about….the way he gently turned his head suggested a very stiff and very firm demeanor.  A man who knew what he wanted to know and knew how to make what he wanted to know known.  For an uncomfortably long amount of time, his eyes rested on Link as he spoke softly—yet loudly enough for the whole hushed crowd of shocked onlookers to hear:

            “An expert man of the sword indeed.  I see this boy can block any blade that comes to him.  Even those that betray the line of sight.”

            Link regained his breath.  Nowhere in the battle had he lost it.  And yet—in one sudden attack—this stranger had stolen it from him instantly.

            The stranger retracted his sword and continued his speech.  “He fights with the spirit of the forest…. unleashes the fury of fire…. summons the grace of water…. deceives the essence of shadow…. and surprises…. the spirit…. of a nation.”  He paused….then suddenly smirked at the crowd.  “Sounds poetic, doesn’t it?  It’s been written before….. about…….’heroes’.”  Once again he looked at Link.  “Heroes………. of unbeknownst courage….”

            Link stared firmly back at the man.  The boy wasn’t frowning or grimacing.  But most likely it was something wary enough to fall between….

            Kafei finally managed to step out of the crowd.  “Look, mister…,” he stood behind Link with his hands on the boy’s shoulder.  “We don’t want any troublemakers….”

            The stranger kept looking at Link.  “Do I detect…..the voice of the mayor’s son?”  He slowly, liquidly, tilted his head upwards and met Kafei’s gaze.  “Who is presently a co-owner of an inn…. away from his young wife…. encouraging his son to engage in… how should I put it…. highly dangerous swordfights?”

            Kafei took a calm breath before saying.  “I’m afraid you’re mistaken, sir.  He’s not my son.”

            “Oh….he isn’t?” the stranger leaned forward, then paced to the side.  “I guess that makes sense.  A parent would be too caring and cautious to let their beloved children engage in life-threatening situations without any form of common sense.”

            These words hit Kafei hard.  But he wasn’t angry.  Instead, he bit his lip and stared off towards the arena floor.

            Mordun and Therald noticed this especially.

            Just then, the Swordmaster stood up.  “Sir….if all you came here to do was challenge the integrity of our citizens, you’ve come to the wrong place.”

            “Oh….I’ve come to the right place, all-right,” the stranger smiled.  He stepped leisurely towards the other end of the arena and swung his sword about ceremoniously.  “I’ve come here to this very building to do one thing and to do one thing only…”

            The Swordmaster was losing his patience, but his voice kept calm.  “And what is that, stranger?”

            WOOOSH! He spun around, the long blade aimed at Link of all people.  “Why….to challenge your greatest swordsman to a duel, of course.  That’s all I want.”  His eyes met Link so softly they stung.  “A simple….friendly….duel….”

            Link had to clench his free hand to stop from shaking.  Why was this man having such an effect on him?  Nevertheless, their eyes remained firmly locked.

            “All well and good,” the Swordmaster replied.  “But sudden attacks from behind are not an honorable way to get such a match started!  And if you wish to challenge him, you must have your sword replaced.”

            The stranger kept aiming it at Link from afar.  “Why, pray tell?”

            “Why….isn’t it obvious?  It’s far too long!  It’s not regulatory for duels…”

            The man’s eyes slowly closed.  “Tell me…..Master….,” he slowly lowered his sword and faced up at the hairy veteran.  “….wouldn’t a sword of extraordinary length be just about as regulatory in your Book as a student of extraordinary shortness?”

            The Swordmaster’s eyes narrowed.  “A sword of that length isn’t allowed—“

            “That is very well in the Book of Rules, I’m sure,” the stranger said—quickly paused—and let the next part roll off his tongue:  “And what of allowing midgets to engage in battle?”

            “He’s not a midget!” Kirk shouted from the crowd.  “He’s a boy!”

            “A boy!” the stranger remarked, then grinned wide.  “A child wielding a sword!”  He glanced up at the Swordmaster and cocked his head to the side.  “Well isn’t that dandy.  A child student working under the tutelage of the Clock Town Master.”

            The Swordmaster began to stutter.  “Well…he….i-is…..of exceptional sk-skill…”

            “A child has been engaged in swordplay under an esteemed master for—what was it that you said—two years and running!  My my….how remarkable…”  The stranger began swinging the sword about again in ‘practice’ as he finished off with:  “A marvelous thing for the outer Guild of Trainers to learn about…..wouldn’t you say?”

            The Swordmaster’s mouth clenched shut.

            The room was eerily silent.

            Until it was pierced by the stranger’s words:  “Oh come now, gentleman!  Relax!  This tension is uncalled for!”  He paced about, glancing at both the crowd and the Swordmaster in turn.  “We pride ourselves in breaking the Book of Rules.  Sins they may be….but isn’t the art of the blade a sin it itself?  A proliferation of the pointy-eared-soul and his quest to dominate the lengths of the world through prowess in carnal violence?  When a student becomes an expert in even a fraction of this, he must come to expect the encumbering whole.”  He then spun about and faced Link again.  His mouth lingered before saying.  “I would like….to challenge the whole strength.  And today we’ll see which is the lesser of two evils.”

            Everyone in the room murmured.

            Mordun stroked his beard, staring at the stranger.

            The man in question grinned wide….dreadfully soft.

            Link was still.

            The Swordmaster slowly sat back in his seat.  The odd sight of sweatdrops on his elderly brow was quickly hidden by the stroke of a wrist before he sighed and said:  “It all depends……will the Green One accept the stranger’s challenge?”

            Only then did Link’s eyes avert themselves from the stranger.  He glanced at the Master…then at the waiting crowd….then up to Kafei.

            Kafei was still staring off into space.

            Link’s lips parted.  He reached a hand out and tugged Kafei’s sleeve.

            The mayor’s son jumped—as if startled—he cleared his throat and leaned forward to say:  “You be careful, Link” before patting the boy on the shoulders and leaving for the spectator’s position.

            Link’s heart fell for some reason at that.  He slowly turned to see the grin still on the stranger’s face…..and his eyes meeting his own.  For the first time that day, Link felt angry.  He no longer looked meticulous and rigid as he got into a starting position, his sword at ready.  Instead he looked curved….bent….and determined.

            The Stranger already had his long sword ready before half of his speech was over.  He didn’t have to move a muscle.

            “Th-This is wrong…,” Therald whispered to Mordun.  “That m-man’s sword is almost h-half the size of Link!  And a-after all th-that baloney he said, the S-Swordmaster’s not going t-to do anything!”

            Mordun held a hand.  “Shh….Therald.  Don’t be too quick to worry.  This is Link we’re concerned about here….”

            Therald was quiet, but he looked over Mordun’s still shoulder in apprehension nevertheless.

            Kafei was shaking visibly….although nobody was focused on seeing him.  They were all locked on Link and the stranger.  The young man let out a nervous breath and wrung his hands together.

            The Swordmaster looked weary this time.  Nevertheless, he rose his hand.


            Link’s fingers gripped tightly to the hilt.


            The stranger’s grin suddenly morphed into a frown.

            Link’s pupils narrowed.


            The room jumped….but it turned out only to be the spectators in expectation.  The Swordmaster had shouted out, but both Link and the Stranger were dreadfully still.  Their fighting stance was nonetheless tense, and they held their weapons by the hilt tightly.  Link with one steady hand to his nimble blade; the Stranger with two strong grips to his hulking sword.

            A burning tension danced in the center of the arena as Link and the Stranger slowly paced along the outer rim—poised directly opposite of the other.  A fire pulsed in Link’s eyes and shot out with every trigger-pull of his heart; only to land flat and fall off the stonefaced frown of his opponent.

            Such a bitter freeze-frame of emotion.  It taunted Link more than any monster he could remember.  Except…..





            Lightning flashed.

            Inside the circle of brilliant flame, the thunder echoed like an agonized banshee.

            Link panted, clutching his wounded side in one hand and the Master Sword in another.

            Ganon raised both swords beneath his chin.  He stared emotionlessly.





            Link’s lips parted.

            He felt his heart drop.

            The crowd was cheering.  The room was rising.  The world was swirling.

            The Stranger stared in a never-ending frown.

            Link’s eyes twitched.




            Link paced himself carefully across the room full of dancing colors.  The air inside stung and burned him at the same time.  Every half-a-minute the bowels of the moon would shake.

            And there was Majora’s Mask.  Floating ever so dreamily.  Its unearthly gaze set permanently on Link.  Never-changing.

            Link’s eyes narrowed.  He whipped out his bow and arrow and took aim.

            It was then that the stonefaced Mask charged up with an aura of light; and aimed a streaming fire of energy at the little Hero.



            Link stumbled.

            For a naked moment, the crowd gasped in shock.

            Therald made a half-step, as if he had to do something.

            Link found his footing.  He was sweating profusely.  He looked up.

            And then…..right then….the Stranger was smirking.




            “So, you think you can protect them from me.  You've got guts, kid,” Ganondorf smirked.

            Drenched in rain, a wide-eyed Link tried his best to hide his trembling.  But the image of a frightened Zelda blurring out the gates of Hyrule City set forth a fire from inside him.

            With a brave frown he held out his shield and…





            ….raised his sword.


            Link’s tiny feet morphed into hooves of thunder and in less than a second he was across the arena, bringing his blade down against the Stranger’s.


            Sparks flewed.

            Spectators cheered.

            The Stranger smirked even more.

            The fuel fell onto the fire in Link’s eyes and he swung again.



            The blow deflected the Stranger’s blade, but he kept his ground.  It was as if he was in control the entire time….or so he desired to convey.

            Link felt it more than anything.  He spun about and flew down a diagonal arc of singing metal.

            SHIIIIIIIIIIING!!!!  Link’s sword slid down the length of the Stranger’s till their hilts met and the two opponents practically leaned chest-to-chest.

            Something in the Stranger’s eyes twinkled, and Link felt a burning fire in his chest.






            Bright torches.

Zelda’s tomb.

            Flower petals falling into the abyss.

            A shuddering cry.

            The torches blow out.





            Link gasped.  He fell back.  The sword nearly slipped from his grip.

            The Stranger paced around him.

            The spectators were murmuring.

            The little boy shook his head.  There was a cry.  With a growl, he raised his sword again and met what he knew was coming.


            Their swords met.

            Link hopped back to his feet and thrust deeply and sharply.

            The Stranger spun around and swung with a downward arc.

            Link blocked in reverse, twirled about, and raised his sword.


            Again, both swords’ lengths slid against each other and the opponents came together so close they could smell each other’s breath.

            And it burned again.






            Screams in the street.

            A battle in Hyrule Courtyard.

            Alone by a fountain.

            The white horse against the earth.  Its throat is missing.

            Zelda’s tears.  Red tears.  She looks up from a deflated flower and with a cry, her hand explodes.




            Link’s breath left him.

            This time when he stumbled, he nearly fell outside the circle of the arena.  Everything was shaking and spinning on a pin.  And that pen was in the center of Link’s heart.

            His eyes bled….or was it blood?


            The boy’s lips quivered.  Zelda’s face turned pale as the coffin lid went over.

            “LINK!!!” Kafei shouted for a second time.

            Link’s eyes widened.  He grit his teeth and raised his sword just in time.


            The Stranger had just struck, but to no avail.

            “RrrrrrrrRRAAAAUGH!!” Link screamed and shoved his entire weight into his opponent.

            The Stranger’s blade flew back in his grasp and never again found a better opportunity to strike.  Link had turned into a cyclone of metal.  The boy’s sword was quick enough to dodge oxygen.  It swung around, twirled about, danced against, and manipulated every parry that the Stranger had to offer.  And when the man tried to get in one last strike, Link ducked, rolled, and leapt upwards with a slash that struck the longblade so hard it spun out of the Stranger’s grasp and embedded itself into the ceiling.


            The Stranger’s feet suddenly flew out from under him as Link tripped the man, spun about, and brought his sword down less than an inch away from the downed opponent’s neck.


            The audience was stunned dead.  But not with reverence as before when Mordun was done.  But this time in utter shock.  What had brought out this monster from the boy?

            Link’s pants came with his sweat came with his shakes came with his eyes that strained to focus on the downed Stranger……for the man was still grinning.

            “Just as I expected….,” he whispered so that only Link could hear.  “….but what I truly came here to find out, boy, is do you have the courage to finish it when the time comes?”

            Link’s mouth snapped shut.  For a second, he didn’t even breathe.

            The Stranger continued.  If he could, he would have kissed the tip of the sword.  “What surprises you, little one?  Don’t you know that everything must someday catch up with us?  Like the validity of our courage?”

            Link’s eyes turned into ovals.  He started to tremble for a reason he didn’t quite understand.  His skin turned wet.

            Would you…..have the courage……….to finish it….

            “Winner….the Green One!!”

            Slowly, gradually….everyone clapped.

            And yet, Link stood there….trembling……until—

            “Link….,,” Kafei put his hands on the boy’s shoulders.

            The young lad jumped.  He immediately sheathed his sword and stood there, staring off into space.

            The Stranger slowly got up, not caring to brush himself off.  The applauds began to die out as all attention focused on him.

            “What is your name, sir?” asked Adasmith.  “You who would fight such a challenging young student.”

            “My name is trivial,” the Stranger said.  “But if you wish you can call me……,” there was an awkward hesitance in his voice, but he covered it with a grin and glanced at Link through the corners of his eyes, “……Jonas.”

            As the crowd murmured about, Link’s gaze trailed off.  He hadn’t been defeated.  But it could just have been as well.  What happened to his breath?  What happened…


            The little boy looked up at Kafei with weak eyes.  He took a wounded breath and signed something with limp fingers.

            “…..,” Kafei nodded slowly.  “Sure…..d-don’t worry about the clothes.  I-I’ll take them home safely….”

            Link breathed in through his nostrils.  Turning like the sun, he drifted off.

            Kafei watched him go.  Thoroughly dismayed.

            Thoroughly confused….




            Sheathing his longblade beneath his billowing cloak, Dumakyd stepped out into the alleys of West Clock Town.  Out from the shadows he was met by two of his associates.

            “How did the introduction work, ‘Jonas’?”

            Dumakyd gave him a sarcastic smirk.  Then he said:  “Jilscythe, there is a method to all madness…even when involving the most bland of titles.  Come, let’s make haste.  Though the coward is presently drifting, we must not take this time for leisure.  Now, we have a place to be…”

            And they hurried off…



            The drifting turned out to be North Clock Town.  Afternoon was in bright bloom, and a good handful of families were out picnicking in the parks and grassy scenery.  Surrounding the wide area, the sandstone walls of the city promised protection and security to those enjoying their serene excursions.

            If there was much to enjoy to begin with, that is.  Link eventually shuffled over to a corner of where the walls met.  Behind a pillar of an abandoned children’s playground, he sat with his wall to the stone.  A pained breath left him, and as the wind began to dip its way down over the soil…he hugged two shaking arms to himself….

            And let his mind loose…..





            His desperate lungs heaved.  His heart balanced between beating and breaking.  Through his bobbing vision, Link saw a huddled mass of soldiers and servants in the center of Hyrule Market.  Commoners and city dwellers had formed an outer ring around them; and they were already sobbing.

            That was the sight Link needed to open his mouth.  And in spite of all the pain leaping forth from his throat—even then, no words came out.

            Out of the crowd, a haggard Impa saw him.  She caught Link’s body before it could fly into the huddle.

            “Don’t look, Link,” she breathed.  He struggled in her strong arms, and she tried to wrestle him down.  “She’s gone….don’t look, please….”




………I failed her………

            Link looked up.  Wet trails slid down his face, but otherwise he was perfectly stoic.  Slowly, he raised his left hand up for Impa to see.  It startled her, for the Triforce of Courage was pulsing with golden fury from his skin.

            “…………*it* knows of my failure…………*it* knows that I let the Sage of Wisdom fall………





            Link’s eye clenched shut.  He tilted his face up to the Terminian sky and held tightly to his burning left hand.




Link’s whole body spun in her grasp.  His damp eyes clenched shut, and he dashed the last two or three steps needed to pierce the wall of bodies and see that which was in the center….

            And Link saw her…

            And his face died for the first time…

            But not the last time…




Impa swallowed.  Her own eyes started to water.  For once, the strong Sheikah had no answer.

            But Link did.  He looked to the casket. The Triforce’s power lit his sad face.

            …………*it* knows……that I loved her……and it knows that she never heard me………





            Link’s body shuddered in North Clock Town.  The wind increased.  It stuck to his skin.

            Water trickled out the cracks of his eyelids.  An arrow flew out from deep inside the earth and impaled him.

            He slumped over to his side…surrounded by dust….and shook.

            There was always the risk that the happy citizens out and about could see his sobbing form.

            He didn’t care….





He slumped to his knees beside the Princess’ body.

            A bleeding hole had been gored into the center of her throat.  A thin, red cut wrapped up from the underside of her fair chin.  Her neck leaked forth onto her silken dress; staining it forever red.

            But what was worse….what was the last straw….was when Link’s eyes drifted down her body…down her arms….and to her wrists.

            Her left hand was there, but her right hand was gone.

            Her right hand…




"Please...," Zelda placed her soft hand on his left knee. "Look at me..."

His vision slowly rose to meet hers.

The princess' eyes were nearly turned invisible with the glistening tears begging to come out. No one in that age had ever received such a compassionate gaze. Link was the lucky one.

"You're not guilty. You are innocent, Link," she said.




            Mido fumed.  “Well you’re nothing but a coward!”

            Link’s eyes went wide.

            “That’s right!  You heard me!  A gutless coward!!!”




            Zelda leaned forward.  "Don't feel ashamed for being silent all these years. Under the heat of hatred and false-blame….”





“Just as I expected….,” Jonas whispered so that only Link could hear.  “….but what I truly came here to find out, boy, is do you have the courage to finish it when the time comes?”

            Link’s mouth snapped shut.





Link’s wet eyes clenched shut.  His hands held themselves ever tighter around his mouth.

            “But now you’re hiding behind your own punishment!!” Mido cackled, practically in little Link’s face.  “Now you think just because you can’t talk, everyone around you will treat you nice!”





Anju looked at Kafei, and her husband returned no more than a look of sympathy.

            The lady swallowed back her own tears and said:  “It’s okay….Link.  You’ll be safe here.  You don’t have to go back….”

            Link suddenly stopped shaking.  His eyes opened wide, brimming with tears.

            And Anju’s words echoed:  “You don’t have to go back…”




            Jonas continued.  If he could, he would have kissed Link’s sword at his neck.  “What surprises you, little one?  Don’t you know that everything must someday catch up with us?  Like the validity of our courage?”




            Ganondorf stopped running his fingers across the keys to the organ.  With a slumping sigh he paused and then said rather calmly:  “The Triforce parts are resonating.  They are combining into one again.”

            Adult Link held his sword firmly—an eye glancing up at Zelda’s crystal imprisonment every second or two.  Navi huddled, frightened, behind the Her of Time’s neck.

Ganondorf snickered.  “The two Triforce parts that I could not capture on that day seven years ago…..I didn't expect they would be hidden within you two!”

The desert man spun around, his cape billowing.  “And now, finally, all the Triforce parts have gathered here!”




Saria exclaimed.  “It’s about Zelda, isn’t it?!  You think you failed her!!  You think there’s nothing that can be done of this!!”





Jonas said.  “He fights with the spirit of the forest…. unleashes the fury of fire…. summons the grace of water…. deceives the essence of shadow…. and surprises…. the spirit…. of a nation.  Sounds poetic, doesn’t it?  It’s been written before….. about…….’heroes’.  Heroes………. of unbeknownst courage….”





“We're both alike, Link,” said Zelda.  “We're both afraid of that which we don't know. Me? I was afraid of never being able to know the hearts of you or my kingdom. And you, Link, I sense that you're afraid to live in a world that was stolen from you by angry words.”




Saria was reaching a fever pitch.  “For the love of Din, Link!!  It wasn’t your fault!!  None of this was your fault!!  Impa’s told me all about it!!”




“No, Link,” Impa said firmly.  She clenched her fists and averted her eyes from his gaze.  “I was with her on that day.  I was the one given the lifelong charge of protecting the Princess.  It was I who failed Zelda on that day, not you.  You are as humble in voice as you are in action.  Listen to me, Link.  Do not accept the blame for what has happened….”




Ganondorf sneered.  “These toys are too much for you!”

The room turned dark and hearts caught fire as he slowly lifted his hand like it was a mountain and displayed the Triforce of Power in all its blinding fury.

His eyes flared and his hair lifted as he growled.  “I command you to return them to me!!!”





            Jonas smirked.




Lying in bed….under the darkness of night and the curtains….Link’s eyes fluttered open.

            Slowly, he glanced at his left hand.  It was glowing softly….alive….ever present.

            The boy swallowed.  His eyes grew misty.  Nevertheless, he turned over in bed and ‘hugged’ his left hand closer to his chest.

            And it warmed him….

            As it burned……him………





Impa cocked her head.  She took a step towards Link. Something on him was glowing………

            ………I failed her………

            Link looked up.  Wet trails slid down his face, but otherwise he was perfectly stoic.  Slowly, he raised his left hand up for Impa to see.  It startled her, for the Triforce of Courage was pulsing with golden fury from his skin.

            “…………*it* knows of my failure…………*it* knows that I let the Sage of Wisdom fall………




He slumped to his knees beside the Princess’ body.

            A bleeding hole had been gored into the center of her throat.  A thin, red cut wrapped up from the underside of her fair chin.  Her neck leaked forth onto her silken dress; staining it forever red.

            But what was worse….what was the last straw….was when Link’s eyes drifted down her body…down her arms….and to her wrists.

            Her left hand was there, but her right hand was gone.

            Her right hand…





            Link’s body shook.  He tried to cover his face.  But then he had to cover his glowing hand.  But then he had to cover his cursed mouth.

            The wind flew into his heart and tore it apart.





            Sliced off….hacked off….leaving only a bloody stub…

            The defiled…naked blood of the princess pooled around it…

            Ripped off and stolen…

            Link lowered his head and wept.  He never stopped.  And on days to follow when his face would be dry, he’d actually be sobbing inside.




            “One week ago….on a Tuesday….at precisely fifteen hundred hours….Princess Zelda embarked on her scheduled trip to Kakariko Village.  She was traveling on horseback, accompanied by the most elite squad of our Hylian cavalry.  The procession through Hyrule City was to be slow, and steady.  There were no detours to be made.  The path would take them straight down the Royal Path from Hyrule Castle, down Main Street, pass Hyrule Courtyard and the Market, and towards the awaiting gates of the city.  The urban stretch was entirely checked and cleared of all strangers and citizens for the time being.  After all….since the Imprisonment War transpired and ended all at once….efforts have been made to tighten security, especially in regards to the Princess’ well-being.  Now I was leading this cavalcade.  And as soon as we entered Main Street, chaos ensued.  Arrows came down out of nowhere from the rooftops.  Spear-tipped deku sticks were chucked out our flanks.  In the first attack alone, four of our horsemen fell.  We immediately formed a circle of protection around Zelda…and attempted to rush her safely back to the Castle.  It was then that a wall of flame erupted at the entrance of Main Street from which we came.  Many of us suspected sorcery….and sooner than naught we assumed that we had a battle with a warlock on our hands.  All this time, the arrows and spears kept flying.  Our archers attempted to pick off the attackers….but soon enough we all realized—to our horror—that these fiends were nowhere to be seen.  They were virtually invisible…a wonder that only black magic can conjure up to their aide.  All of these factors thrown into one hellish mix was—ashamed as I am to say—enough to break up the line of our defenses.  There was no more order to Zelda’s bodyguards.  And suddenly, the princess’ life itself was in danger.  I took charge.  I guided her and her horse away from the battle scene.  It was a desperate attempt, but if the rest of the soldiers were willing to sacrifice themselves to distract the attackers, than I could take Zelda to a structure as safe as the Temple of Time.  But no sooner had we taken this route that an arrow flew forth from its invisible host and fatally wounded my horse.  I fell to the ground.  The Princess cried out to me, but I shouted back an order.  I….I commanded her to make haste to the Temple of Time.  After all, we were so close to it….there was no other alternative.  The Princess was on her own……………………… Somewhere along the way, she must have been redirected by the invisible onslaught.  Thusly, her path to the temple turned into a winding flight of misdirection.  Princess Zelda lived a sheltered life in the Castle….and as a result, she never did get to explore the streets of Hyrule City enough to ever truly memorize its labyrinth of avenues.  Her royal steed was also prone to being spooked from even the simplest of outbursts.  Whatever the case—I am convinced—our foe knew of all these negative factors.  And he used them all—purposefully—to get the Princess somewhere alone….vulnerable….and without any form of protection.  She died a mere twenty two minutes after the procession began.  And as soon as she did, the invisible onslaught stopped.  The firewall dissipated.  The arrows and deku spears stopped flying.  When our soldiers and doctors first came across the Princess….her throat had been inflicted with a fatal wound.  It ran up…thin and deep…from her voice box down to the bottom of her chin.  It was purposefully cut so that she would live long enough to feel the pain of her right hand being severed off uncleanly…..as it was missing at the scene of the assassination.”

            At the end of her testimony, Impa stopped pacing, sat down at the end of the long wooden table, and folded her hands under her chin.

            “Dear subjects…..the King of Hyrule has ordered us all here…..to start figuring out who did this………..and why.”


            It was hours after the funeral.  And all who had gathered in the tent outside Kakariko at the base of Death Mountain were as grave as the overcast sky that afternoon.

Darunia looked off into space, a granite frown plastered across his features as he ran his dry fingers over each other in intense, furious thought.

Nabooru had her chin rested in her palm.  She leaned against the table and spun a dagger into it with her other hand.

King Zora looked sleepy….but it was in fact the obese Zora’s version of sorrow.  He nodded his head into nothingness and strained to keep his fish eyes dry.

Ruto had taken this all very emotionally, and she kept trying to choke back sobs so as to not disrupt the silence of solemnity in that room.

Rauru was stone-still.  Even in the direst of situations, he could remain calm.  His age contributed to his acceptance of things.  Even the most horrible of things.

Saria looked like a wounded deer.  The forest girl had her knees tucked up and she hugged them to her chest as she bit her lip and stared into the wood of the table.


            At the head of the table, Impa waited.  She blinked.  She sighed.  She hung her head.

            After a while…a long while…the woman managed to say:  “Surely, it is our place to mourn for the gone princess.  But as there is a time of mourning, there is also a time of action.”  She looked up firmly.  “We must act…..with our collective wisdom, we can find an instinct to rely upon.  We’ve come against odds before.  For Zelda’s sake, let’s not sit idly upon the honor of her regime……”


            And then Rauru spoke.  “After the Hero of Time returned from his Seven Year excursion into the uncharted future….he brought back with him the sacred memory of Ganondorf’s defeat.  Most of us here are the sages that retain that memory and retain that memory alone.  We are all uniquely linked to the Seventh Sage…Nayru rest her soul.  We are all indebted to her lifelong quest to exorcise the evil that was once let loose upon our lands.  We….more than anyone else….are qualified to seek out an answer amidst our wounds.  For when the fair lady Zelda died….she took a piece of all of us with her.”

            In liquid agreement, everyone nodded.



            Darunia’s fist slammed onto the tabletop, producing a yelp from Princess Ruto.

The immense man jumped up and boomed.  “DISHONORABLE WRETCHES!!!  Fiends of no redemption are those who would dare rip out the life from an innocent little monarch!!  We are dealing with no more than common thieves!  Bastards of the night!  Hearts as dry as sand---“


            Nabooru stuck her dagger deep into the table and frowned.  “Watch your words, mountain man…”

            But Darunia instead glared at her.  “You know very well what this looks like!  Only the rogues of your kind would be so gutless as to make this sort of inhumane strike!!”

            Nabooru stood up in a flash and stared him in the eyes.  “Your insinuations are unfounded!!  My women are free, living beings now!  No longer do we follow the code of heartless fiends!  That was the way of snake-tongued ruler, Ganondorf.  And as you well know—ever since the Hero of Time return we have silenced that devil man’s power!”

            “What stays in your blood remains in your blood,” Darunia sneered with an added breath:  “….sandhound.”

            At the infamous Gerudo insult, Nabooru’s amber eyes bulged.  Before she could whip out her scimitar and slice the Goron’s throat in twain, King Zora’s hand touched her shoulder.

            “Leave him be to his insults, desert child,” the blubbery fishman said and cast a suspicious eye at Darunia.  “Thieves are not the only ones who could have done this.  Nay, for this act was just as mindless as it was heartless.  Any simple Goron lughead could have been talked into killing the Princess if it meant a hearty appetite of granite as a reward.”

            Darunia fumed.  “Do you mean to insinuate that my people can be so easily bribed?”

            “People, please!” Impa cried out in desperation.  “Do not be so quick to blame!  Neither Gerudos or Gorons could have done this.  Neither race professes a wizardry capable of the mana necessary to cast the flame and invisibility we witnessed that day!”

            “Ah!” Darunia grinned mischievously.  “But the Zoras pride in their magical talents!  Surely any single one of them could have lent a hand to this assassination!”

            “Don’t be stupid!” Ruto pouted and crossed her arms.  “We couldn’t have done a flame wall!  Water is our specialty!  Fire is out of our element!”

            Nabooru leaned in, “Ah!  But invisibility, your highness guppy!  Invisibility is right up your alley, ain’t it?”

            Ruto frowned.

            King Zora stood his fat self up and glared at Nabooru this time.  “Think twice before speaking in such a tone to my darling daughter!”

            Nabooru smirked.  “What’re ya gonna do about it, blueballs?”

            “People, please!” Impa—deflated—pulled at her hair and hung her head.  “This…..This is not what Zelda would want.”

            Everyone remained glaring at each other still….

            Saria rubbed her blue eyes and continued staring at the table.

            And then Rauru said:  “There is one person who has not spoken up yet….”

            Everyone looked at him.

            Rauru’s head tilted to the side.  “Let’s hear the Hero of Time’s opinion.”

            “……,” everyone looked across the tent in one accord.

            At the far end of the table—opposite Impa—Link finally raised his head.  His eyes were moist, but his face was as emotionless as ever.  He caught sight of all the gazes aimed at him, and looked away.

            “Dear Hero of Time…,” Rauru spoke.  “What is your theory on our foe?”


            Link didn’t look at them.

            “Link….,” Impa said softly.  She leaned forward.  “Tell us what you think….”

            Then he looked up.  He glanced at Saria.

            She glanced back.

            Slowly, he started to sign.

            Saria ‘read’ what he had to say.

            “Wh-What does he tell us?” Ruto asked.

            Saria swallowed.  When she spoke, there was a bit of choking in her voice.  “He….H-He says that we all failed Zelda.  All of us……..failed her.’”  A pause.  She blinked the tears out of her eyes as she looked helplessly at the rest.  ’And our enemy….is a person who knew that we would fail her……from the very start……’”

            Everyone’s heart sank.  Darunia slowly sat back down in his chair.

            Nabooru went off pacing towards the edges of the tent.

            King Zora stood in place and stared at the floor.

            And Link…..Link looked away and drifted off again….




            The boy blinked.  His faced said ‘I’m stunned’.

            Across from him in the gardens, Zelda—who was sitting on a bench—swallowed nervously.  “Um…..d-did any of that gross you out?”

            Link scratched his head.  He tried to shrug it off, but the truth was—he was blushing furiously.

            That just had to make the princess giggle.

            And so she did, “Hehehehehe!  Yes….well….as silly as it is, that’s how it happens.  That’s how babies are made.”

            Link let out a breath and sat down on the bench, looking exhausted.

            Again she laughed.  “Jeez!  Don’t make yourself look like you’ve been roasted over an open fire!  It’s the facts of life!”  A pause.  “Oh…and um…..Link?”

            He looked at her.

            She smiled serenely, “If you’re at all…..erm…..embarrassed that I—of all people—was the one to share that with you.  Don’t feel bad.  You just……well…..you just never got the chance to hear it beforehand.  You lived with Kokiri all your life and……well…..you n-never had a….parent around to tell you.”

            Link nodded.  There was a calm smile on his face, and that eased Zelda.  Then he signed something.

            “Sometimes, Zelda, you’re like a mother to me……

            Zelda was no longer giggling.

            An awkward pause.  A butterfly drifted by and landed on a nearby flower.  A soft touch of breeze kicked at the two; embracing them with life.

            Zelda cleared her throat and smiled.  “That’s very sweet, Link.  But……I don’t ever want to be a mother to you…”

            Link’s lips parted.  He cocked his head to the side as if to say:  Oh?”

            “Uh uh,” Zelda smiled.  She placed a gentle hand on Link’s and smiled into his eyes.  “I’d rather be…..something else to you, Link…..”

            Link signed with one hand.  Like what, Zelda?

            She opened her lips.

            Link waited.

            She paused.  She hesitated.  Then she looked down to their feet and smiled bashfully.  “I……heh…..I-I’m not sure yet, Link….”

            Link was very….very confused.  And yet….he was very very happy.  He kept staring at her hand.

            Zelda looked up, still smiling.

            And at that moment, Link brightened.  With a curious grin he gestured:  Do you ever want to have a baby someday, Zelda?

            Zelda blinked.  She took a moment to compute that.  But before she could finish, she took one look at her hand—which had magically shifted itself to Link’s knee halfway through their moment of silence.  Well, it was her moment to blush and she retracted her hand so quickly it nearly startled the Hero of Time.

            Link bit his lip and signed something apologetic.

            Zelda shook her head and suppressed a giggle.  “Nothing to be sorry about, Link.  That’s just…..heh…..a g-good question.”  A long pause.  She overcame her blush and looked him straight on….calmly…..“To be honest with you….I don’t know about that either.  But……whatever comes will come.”

            Link nodded….as if he understood this.  His hands drifted through the air.

            “Whatever comes will come………”




            Whatever comes will come……

            Link stared blankly at the Royal Family’s grave.  He stood with his legs parted…like a statue….and his hand stuck in his cloak’s pockets.

            The rain drenched him from all angles.  It soaked his hair…fell off his bangs…and coated his sapphire eyes.

            He didn’t care.  For as he stared at the last remnants of her……the rain served as a great camouflage.

            It felt as if an eon had passed before Saria ran in from the entrance of the graveyard.  She was carrying with her a leather umbrella donated from Hyrule Castle.  “Link!” she cried loud enough to be heard over the downpour.  “Come on!  Impa’s about to start the meeting!”

            Link’s head tilted down.  With a wounded sigh, he spun about in the mud and trudged after Saria towards the tent erected off in the distance of the mist…

            And that was the day that the prayer began………





Dear Goddess of Time……bring her back……please……Dear Goddess of Time……bring her back……please……Dear Goddess of Time……

Link’s lips moved, but there was no sound.

He remained their….lying on his side….behind a pillar of stone in North Clock Town.

Alone with his past….and the humor of the gods….





            Halfway through the door, Dumakyd paused.  He looked straight up…as if the moon was falling.

            His four men stopped dead behind him.  Most of them were confused.

            “Sir?” Ninero asked.  “What is it?”

            Slowly…..Dumakyd grinned smugly.  He looked back at his followers and said, “He’s beginning to lick his old wounds….”

            The four men looked confused, but nevertheless they chose to accept him.  From the very beginning, that was their choice….to follow him.

            And he lead them on through the doorway, and into the lobby of the building.

            Anju looked up from where she was sweeping behind the counter.  “Welcome to the Stock Pot Inn, how can I help you?”

            “Good afternoon, milady.  My name is Jonas….a traveler from afar in search of many things.  My men and I thought it’d be profitable on our part to stay in this humble town of yours.  Now….may I ask….how can I go about renting a room?”



to be continued………

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