“So, what am I supposed to do again?” Link asked, toying with the hem of his tunic.
“Just make friendly conversation with anyone you can, and try to be polite,” Zelda answered from by the mirror where she was braiding her hair.
Link yelped in shock when Impa slapped him across the back of his hand.
“Stop that,” she scolded. “You’ll wrinkle your clothes.” Link immediately stopped. “Now don’t slouch, and for Din’s sake, brush your hair!” Link was quick to do as he was told.
“Looking regal is hard enough,” Link muttered, raking a comb through his hair. “I hate to think about what being king will be like.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Zelda replied. “I’ll help you figure it out. It’s really nothing more than solving other peoples’ problems.”
Link looked in the mirror and frowned. As soon as Impa left the room, he messed his hair up.
“It looks more like me,” he explained when Zelda cast him a disapproving glance in the mirror. “Zelda? Do I have to dance with people?”
“I will not force you to, but it would be good for your image if you did.”
“Alright…but if someone with two left feet…”
Zelda giggled. “I’ll save you! Don’t worry…you’ll do just fine.”
“As I’ll ever be. Wait a minute, you forgot something.”
Link quickly placed his crown on his head. Zelda looked at him for a second, then straightened it.
“Darn it, I never get it straight.”
“You’ll figure it out sometime.” Zelda stepped back and gazed at him. Link was wearing a dark blue tunic with silver trim, the only pair of tights he had that were not covered in horse hair, and immaculately shined black riding boots. Simple, yet Link looked like the prince he was. Zelda still had not grown accustomed to the plain silver crown hiding in his blond hair. It was so…different to see Link like that.
“You look handsome, to say the least.”
“You don’t look so bad yourself.”
Zelda was wearing a light blue dress similar to the one she had battled Ganondorf in.
“But it’s so…plain…”
“You look beautiful nonetheless,” Link kissed her cheek. “You always do.”
Zelda smiled at him. “You’re just being nice so I will kiss you back.”
“Can you blame me?” Link shrugged innocently.
“Later, I promise.”
“Well…shall we go?”
Zelda nodded and followed him to the ballroom.
Being the humble person he was, Link had insisted on not having a grand entrance, so Zelda casually followed him onto the floor. Link looked around in awe at the gigantic room. The crystal chandelier hanging from the high ceiling, the music, the crowd…it was enough to impress him.
“Still haven’t gotten over it?” Zelda asked a few minutes later.
Zelda laughed, until she felt Link tense up.
“Trouble at 12 o clock…” Link turned pale.
“HI LINK!!!!” Ruto cheerily flounced up to him. Zelda couldn’t help but feel jealous. Stupid Ruto…trying to steal MY man…
“Hello, Ruto,” Link practically moaned, and Zelda began to feel sorry for him.
“Care to dance, cutie?” Ruto asked.
“Umm…sure.” Ruto literally dragged him away. He looked back at Zelda and gave her an expression like that of a dog being dragged to a bath.
Zelda heard Malon giggle behind her.
“Poor guy! You’d think he was being led to slaughter!”
No sooner had Malon spoken that sentence than Link and Ruto went twirling by, Link with an expression that screamed, “HELLLLLPPPPP!”
“Someone should go save him…you want me to, Zelda?”
“Be my guest.”
Malon went racing after Link and Ruto. Soon, Malon returned with Link, who looked extremely relieved.
“May I cut in?” Zelda asked.
Malon stepped aside and let them dance. Link gently laid his hand on Zelda’s waist, and Zelda rested her hand on Link’s shoulder. She placed her hand in his, and followed him around the room.
“You’re a good dancer for someone who only learned a few weeks ago,” Zelda said, wishing the night would never end. Link held her closer to him, never once losing step.
“I had a good teacher,” he responded.
Zelda smiled. “I’m not as great as you think I am.”
“But you’re good enough for me.” Link looked down and smiled mischievously. Zelda gave him a questioning look when he looked back up at her.
“What are you up to?” Zelda couldn’t help but wonder.
Link laughed like a child about to jump on the bed in the master bedroom, and playfully stepped on her foot.
“Hey!” Zelda laughed. “You’d better watch it…I’m wearing heels!”
“Oh, Din! I’m sorry…I take it back!!!” The undertone of sarcasm in his voice hinted to Zelda he knew she was kidding. Link’s voice took on a different tone…much more grown up. “Maybe I should kiss you to make it better…”
Link leaned in to kiss her, but Zelda turned away.
“Not here…not now, in front of all these people!”
“No one is watching, and we are married.”
Zelda sighed. The offer was tempting…
“Very well then…follow me.”
Zelda led Link unto the balcony overlooking the castle courtyard. There was a slight breeze, and it was brisk. A symphony of crickets provided music, and the moon cast a silvery, shadowy light on them. Zelda heard a wolf howl in the distance, and Link howled back.
“What was that for?”
“I don’t know…I used to do it as a kid. An old habit, I guess.”
Link gently lifted Zelda’s hand off his shoulder and wrapped his arms around her.
“It’s so…peaceful out here,” Zelda commented, the wind playing with her hair.
“Yeah…it’s nice, though…” Link inhaled deeply, suddenly not caring if anyone caught them.
There was a strong gust of wind, and Zelda quickly hugged Link tighter to her. It surprised him, because he nearly jumped back a foot in shock. After he realized it was her, he smiled and held her closer.
“It’s cold out here, isn’t it?” She asked.
“Uh huh…” Link paused. “This is enough to keep me warm, though.”
A minute passed without them speaking, then Link loosened his hold on Zelda. Before she had enough time to ask why, Link kissed her passionately. Zelda could feel herself suddenly forgetting about the cold, the wind, the ball, and the stars twinkling overhead. All that existed for that brief moment in time was her and Link. Then, all at once, reality came crashing back and she felt herself longing for more when Link suddenly broke off the kiss. She was about to ask why he had done so when she saw Saria standing at the door, eyes as large as grapefruits.
“Sorry about that,” Link laughed nervously. Of all the times…dang, she must have gotten quite an eyeful!!
“Is this a bad time?” she asked.
“No, no, not at all,” Link answered.
“Liar,” Zelda said under her breath. She silently thanked Nayru that Link was still holding her tightly.
“What is it, Saria?” Link asked. Saria noticed he sounded impatient…obviously, he wanted to get back to what he had been doing.
“There is someone here from another country... he claims he is your father.”
“What?” Link was in total disbelief. “There’s definitely something going on here…” Link let go of Zelda and raced back inside at Saria’s heels.
“This always happens…” Zelda muttered to herself, lagging behind.
Link quickly noticed the whole room was silent. There was an eerie chill in the sir, but Link dismissed it. A large clearing had formed in the middle of the ballroom and Link saw a solitary figure standing in the middle of the floor. Cautiously, Link approached the man.
“Hello?” Link asked. The man was taller than he was, but looked like he could have been Link’s older brother. “Who are you?”
The man gave Link a look of surprise. “I am your father…I have heard of your success in this kingdom from the soldiers traveling to
, and I was surprised to learn you were still alive…I though you died in the war…” Galatia
“I thought you did too…” Link sounded slightly apprehensive. This man’s voice felt like ice to his ears. Ow…Link suddenly felt as if his hand had spontaneously combusted. He glanced down at it, and the triforce mark on his hand was glowing as brightly as the sun on a cloudless day. What’s going on? Wait…the top triangle glowed the brightest. I thought so…Link immediately jumped back and snatched his sword from behind a curtain. Thank Farore I was too lazy to take this thing back to the armory…
“Get…out…” Link growled, drawing his sword and placing the tip at his “father’s” throat. The air felt colder than it did a short while ago.
“Wait, wait…” the man laughed nervously, trying to move the blade away. “Is that any way to treat the one who gave you life?” The man smiled weakly and looked Link square in the face.
Link looked into the man’s eyes. He felt like he was living out a nightmare…the man’s eyes seemed to burn with fire from hell. Link immediately recognized that gaze…only one person in the world had that gaze…
“You’re not my father!” Link shouted, ramming the man in the chest with the handle of his sword. There was a swirling purple light, then the man grew even taller, his hair and skin darkened, and his voice deepened. Ganondorf chuckled as he stood before Link, who looked not at all surprised.
“Clever boy,” Ganondorf smiled in that creepy way he did and before Link could react, he seized him by the throat and held him in the air. “Unfortunately, you are not clever enough to prevent me from taking the triforce.” Link felt himself choking, but he was still able to think. He quickly drew his sword and pretended to swing at Ganondorf’s arm. The Gerudo king flinched and in doing so loosened his grip on Link. Link quickly pried Ganondorf’s hand from around his throat and fell to the floor with a muffled thud. Not about to be taken advantage of, Link hurriedly jumped back to his feet and backed out of Ganondorf’s reach. Ganondorf chuckled again.
“Very well…you will not give in as easily…a bribe, perhaps.”
Faster than Link could react, Ganondorf took hold of Zelda and pulled her into his arms. Link felt like killing the Gerudo right then and there for even touching Zelda, but he knew Ganondorf was only trying to twist him into doing what he wanted, so Link stayed put, fiercely glaring at the evil king. Zelda struggled to get away, but a look from Link was enough to still her.
“You have a good taste in women, boy,” Ganondorf loved making Link squirm. “Of course, you would be willing to share your finds with an old friend…”
Link felt a stronger urge to move. Oh, goddesses, what is he planning? His hand tightened around the handle of his sword. “Let her go, Ganondorf…do whatever you will to me, but don’t touch her.” Link put emphasis on the last three words.
“I can, and I will…who are you to stop me?” Ganondorf turned to Zelda. “How about a kiss, sweetheart?”
The last word made Zelda cringe. When Link said it, it was a term of endearment. When Ganondorf said it…Zelda never wanted to hear it again.
“I’d never be disloyal to the one I love.” Zelda looked like she was about to spit in Ganondorf’s face.
Link knew he would soon have to ask someone to hold him back…that comment gave him another reason to fight…for love.
Ganondorf smiled evilly. “That wasn’t a question, my dear. It was a command.”
Before Zelda had enough time to think, Ganondorf turned her face to him and kissed her…it was enough to drive Link up the wall. That, and Link noticed his hands were wandering. RAPIST! Link felt like screaming. That’s IT!! Link attacked Ganondorf, careful not to hurt Zelda. Link found a weak spot in the armor on his arm and pressed down with the blade until he felt bone. Ganondorf yelped in pain, dropped Zelda and scurried away.
“This is not the last time you will see me, Link! I will be back!”
He jumped out the window and galloped away on his black stallion. The people who attended the ball started to move around once they realized the danger was over for the time being, but Link immediately ran over to Zelda, still afraid. He knew as well as any caring person would what damage had been done.
“Zelda!” Link kneeled next to her and helped her up into his arms. “Are you okay?”
“I…I think so…” Zelda was trembling. Link held her tighter.
“Oh, Din…Zelda, I’m so sorry I didn’t do anything earlier…”
“Link, don’t worry about it…I know you were going to wait to see if he would actually do it…”
Link could see tears welling up in her eyes...and could feel a tear roll down his cheek. Zelda almost laughed.
“This happened to me and you’re crying?”
“So are you.”
“No I’m not!” Link gave her a questioning look. “Okay, maybe I am. But who cares?”
Link suddenly felt as though everyone in the room was staring at them, and it was starting to humiliate him. Before anyone could see, he rubbed the tears out of his eyes and helped Zelda off the ground.
“You think your father would let us leave a bit early?”
“He might…you in a hurry to be somewhere?” Zelda playfully punched him in the shoulder.
“No,” Link pretended to rub a sore spot. “I just think I’ve had enough for one day. I believe you have too.”
“Really?” Zelda sounded a bit depressed. Link noticed his childishness was rubbing off on her. “Too bad…I guess you’re right, though.”
“Then follow me.”
Before anyone could notice, Link and Zelda left the ballroom.
As soon as they got upstairs, Link raced out to the balcony and called Epona. The sweet melody echoed in the silence of the courtyard, and soon hoof beats could be heard in the night. Link climbed down the vines criss-crossing up the wall and swung onto Epona’s back.
“Want to come, Zelda?” Link asked hopefully.
“So you weren’t tired after all, you dog!” Zelda laughed. “You WERE in a hurry to go somewhere!”
“Yeah, so do you want to come or not?” Epona started to get restless and Link rode her in a small circle. “I don’t want to keep my girl waiting!”
“I would, but Moonbeam is currently at the farrier’s.”
“Who said you were riding Moonbeam?” Link motioned for her to climb down the vine. As soon as she was parallel to Epona’s back, Link helped her on and galloped off into the night.
In a short while, Epona, Link, and Zelda were in the middle of Hyrule Field. Link slowed Epona to a walk and Zelda asked him,
“Where exactly are we going?”
“How can we be going nowhere? We are going somewhere, so we cannot be going nowhere.”
“Ah, you still overanalyze situations. I am riding around in circles and in doing so I am wandering. When you wander, you do not go anywhere because you do not know where to go.”
“You are incredibly smart for someone who has never picked up a book.”
“You don’t learn this type of thing from a book. You learn it by just listening.”
“By listening to the world, to the gods, and mostly to your heart. I sometimes just ride out here late at night to think about things. It has taught me more than any level of schooling will.”
“Oh, mostly trying to figure out the world. But that thought only lasts for a little while, as people like me for who I am and I realize I should stay that way to find my place. There is another one that is always on my mind, though.”
Link swung off Epona and helped Zelda down. Link stroked his beloved mare and looked almost as if he were lost in a dream.
“Is it about your parents?”
Link glanced at Zelda, hurt, and looked away. Zelda bit her lip, mentally scolding herself for bringing that up.
“Yes, but that isn’t the most important one.”
“Then what is it?”
“You, of course.” Link smiled, almost as if he was lost in a daydream.
“I’d be afraid to know what about me you are thinking of with that grin on your face.”
Link snapped back into reality.
“Oh, nothing really. Just about how amazing I think you are, for loss of a better adjective.”
“How do you know what an adjective is if you haven’t been to school?”
“I am smarter than you think me to be, Zelda.” Link wanted to hurt himself for sounding harsher than he meant to.
“I didn’t mean to…”
“I know. I guess I do underestimate you sometimes. You have turned almost every law that holds the universe in place upside down.”
“Like how you can defeat someone in a game of chance that is twice your size and strength, or how you married me. And that’s the two most obvious things.”
“So, you’re trying to say…”
“I don’t think ‘amazing’ is an adjective good enough to describe you, though it is too good for me. I’m not as great as you think I am.”
“Why not? You are a princess, you helped me save your country, and what’s more, you posed as a boy and risked your life to guide me through a quest that wasn’t your burden to bear. I am not very intelligent, but I think that would qualify you as an amazing person.”
“Thanks, I think…”
“You don’t think. You know.”
Link and Zelda looked to the sky in time to see a shooting star streak across the infinite black void of the heavens. Link wished for an opportunity for Zelda to see what she was capable of. You underestimate yourself so badly…Link sighed. Open your eyes and see how blessed you are! Zelda wished for Link to someday learn about math, science, languages, and all sorts of things, but to never be corrupted by the knowledge. You would be the finest king in all of Hyrule’s history, she mused. You are already wise in the ways of the world and the spirit…more than most kings could ever say.
“Amazing,” Link muttered to himself. “You don’t see that every day.”
“No,” Zelda added. “You don’t.”
For a moment, neither of them said anything until Link grabbed Epona’s reins and led her so her saddle was parallel to his side.
“We should probably be leaving. It is getting late.” Link swung up onto Epona’s back and motioned for Zelda to follow suit. As soon as she did, Link reluctantly turned Epona towards the castle. Too bad you think of our well-being before anything else, Zelda sighed as Link heeled Epona.
By the time they returned to the castle, all of the guests to the ball had left. The ballroom looked almost the same as it did a few hours ago, with the exception of a spattering of Ganondorf’s blood in the middle of the waxed wood floor. By then, all light was nonexistent in the ballroom, except for the silvery, milky light of the moon wafting through the clear glass windows. Link gazed at the spectacle and commented,
“It’s almost like nothing ever happened.”
Zelda nodded and they continued up the hallway. However, as they were about to reach the end, the king stopped them. Even though it was dark, Link and Zelda could still see his expression. He did not look the least bit pleased.
“Where exactly have you two been?” He asked impatiently. Link knew he would have raised his voice had no one in the castle been asleep.
“Um, well…we decided it was getting a bit…awkward after Ganondorf sort of crashed the party…” Zelda tried to explain.
“What say you, Lincoln?” The king asked.
“No excuse, sir.” Link winced at the mention of his full name. The king must have been awfully mad to resort to that.
“No excuse?” The king looked Link squarely in the eye and Link desperately wished he had his sword with him. King Caedmon was in his late 30’s but was every bit as strong he had been back in his army days. Well over six feet tall, he towered over Link and Zelda. He was a gracious man…if you managed to stay on his good side.
“No, sir…” Zelda was surprised to hear Link’s voice tremble.
“Zelda…” The king said gruffly, not breaking eye contact with Link. “You chose a good man for a husband. There is much you can learn from him, such as honesty.”
Link nearly collapsed in relief, and Zelda was somewhat humiliated for a moment, but brushed it off. Link always knew what to do, especially in this sort of situation. It made Zelda wonder, as Link was good at dealing with her father although Link never had any parents.
“Good night.” The king disappeared.
“I was NOT scared,” Link said, trying to control an urge to smack Zelda with a pillow.
“Yes you were…your voice was quivering. I didn’t know you had the capacity to be afraid!”
“You’re never gonna let me live this down, are you?”
“Well, I’ll let it slide…on one condition.”
“Oh, nothing really…except you don’t talk for an entire day.”
Zelda clamped a hand over his mouth and whispered harshly,
“What are you trying to do? Wake everyone up?!”
Link shook his head no.
“Okay. Now, when I move my hand, you aren’t going to say anything, kapeish?
Zelda moved her hand, and Link immediately spoke up.
Zelda covered his mouth again and slapped him in the face.
“Shut up! I already warned you!”
Link rolled his eyes.
“Don’t roll your eyes at me, mister!”
Link started to laugh. He muttered something into her hand.
“What did you say?” Zelda moved her hand.
“You’re acting like you are my mother!” By now, Link was in hysterics.
“What’s so hilarious about that?”
“Oh, I don’t know….I guess if it was a nag I wanted, I should have been content with Epona!”
Zelda inwardly rolled her eyes at him. Sometimes, you’re so childish…
“That’s it…to the library with you…you are staying there tonight!”
“What’d I do?” Link smiled at her innocently.
“You were born, that’s what.”
“Okay…well, gosh, if that’s how you feel…”
Link solemnly left for the library. Zelda knew he was just trying to guilt-trip her into letting him stay.
“Don’t think that’s going to work, Link,” Zelda called after him. “You do it too often.”
Link had other plans. As soon as he left the room, he transformed himself into a wolf and cowered back into the room, tail between his legs, whimpering for effect. He slinked up to Zelda and laid his head on her lap. He gave her the most pathetic puppy dog eyes he could give, wagging his tail hopefully. Zelda crossed her arms and looked away.
“Do you know how ridiculous you look? Think about it…a big, scary wolf with pierced ears and shackles around his wrist giving me puppy dog eyes.”
Link whimpered and nosed her elbow. Zelda glanced back down at him, but only briefly.
“Go away, Link.”
Link gave her a look to ask, “Why so harsh?”
“Shoo.” Zelda shoved him. “Go on, leave…”
Link looked back at her like he had just been kicked. He somberly walked out with his head and tail low, and his gait was slow and miserable.
Link pricked his ears up and returned at the speed of light, tail wagging and eyes bright.
“Your joke wasn’t that bad, I guess. You can stay…”
Link looked at her like he was almost laughing on the inside. Note to self: Puppy dog eyes always work…Before Zelda could shove him back down, he was jumping up and licking her face, hands, anywhere exposed.
“Link…” Zelda laughed. “Good Nayru! If you are going to do that, turn back into a human. You’re a much better kisser then!” She pushed on his chest. “I can’t believe I am saying this to my husband…DOWN, boy!”
Link reluctantly jumped back onto the ground.
“Now, turn back into a human…”
Link did what she told him to.
“Now, where was I?” Link asked. “Oh, yes…” He smiled mischievously at her.
“Oh, Din. What are you thinking?”
“This.” Link tackled her, knocking her backwards onto the bed. Zelda laughed. “That’s a bit easier to do as a Hylian,” Link told her, gently pressing down on her shoulders.
“Hey, let up!” Zelda said jokingly.
“Nope.” Link had one knee on either side of her by now. “Can’t do that, unless…”
“Unless you kiss me.”
“Darn it, I knew there was a catch.” Zelda knew in an instant she had never sounded more sarcastic in her life. Link thought he saw a sparkle in her eyes as she pulled him closer to her. Then she got him. As soon as Link let his guard down, Zelda pushed his shoulder and found herself on top of him. Link looked at her questioningly.
“Ha, ha, gotcha.” Zelda laughed quietly.
Link pretended to be upset.
“Come oooooooooooonnnnnnnn…” He whined. “That’s not fair!”
“Life’s not fair, Romeo.” Zelda smiled and kissed him on the forehead. “Now, get some rest. You have a big day tomorrow…you can’t say anything, remember?”
Link looked at her sourly, then shrugged and lay down beside her.
“I’d hate you right now if you weren’t my best friend.”
Zelda almost laughed at Link’s comment.
“Good night, Link.” She said, trying to get her point across.
Link sighed. “Fine…night, Zelda.”
“I love you…”
“I love you too.”
That night, Zelda fell asleep in Link’s arms. Oddly, they had the same dream as well.
It was almost as if they had woken up in the middle of the night. The moonlight was drifting through the window, there was a soft wind blowing in from the outdoors, and there wasn’t a light to be seen in the
. Castle Town
“Huh…” Link looked around and saw Zelda sitting next to him, wide awake. “Oh, I’m sorry, Zelda. Did I wake you up?”
“Then, what’s going on?”
No sooner had Link said that then three ribbons of light streamed in through the window. Red, green, and blue…the lights flashed, and the three goddesses of Hyrule stood by the bed. Link and Zelda were in total shock.
“I must be dreaming…” Link worriedly placed a hand on his forehead. “Or I’ve gone insane…”
“No, what you see is truly happening to you,” Nayru reassured him. “But you are still asleep.”
“Then…for crying out loud, what do you three want with me? Did those beasts get loose again? Damsel in distress? Faraway city in need of help? Ganondorf plotting…”
Din shot him an icy look.
“Yes, Din.” If Link had been more aware of what was going on, he would have cowered behind Zelda.
“Din! How many times do I have to tell you? Don’t terrorize the mortals!”
Din rolled her eyes.
“Now, remember that star you two saw earlier?” Farore continued.
“Yes,” Zelda responded, still in awe.
“You both wished on it. However, unlike most mortals, you wished for what you thought was best for someone other than yourself…”
Immediately, Link and Zelda both glanced over at each other. Farore laughed.
“You guessed it! Since your wishes were unselfish, they will both be granted, but maybe in a not-so-obvious way…you never know what kind of mood we will be in.”
Link and Zelda nodded, and Link mentally added, especially Din.
“Thank you,” Link said to the three.
“Don’t thank us. Good deeds will always be rewarded.”
The goddesses waved their hands and they disappeared in three ribbons of light.
And like that, Zelda and Link both woke up with a start.
“Oh…my…dog…” Link said in utter surprise. “Did that really just..?”
“I think so…” Zelda replied, dazed. “They said it did.”
“What did you wish for?”
“I can’t tell you! It won’t come true!”
“Fine, then I’m not telling you either.”
Link heard the clock in the middle of the town chime the national anthem. Bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong…the last ring faded in the distance. Six in the morning.
“Ugh…morning already?” Zelda moaned, wishing she could go back a few hours in time.
“Yes…but I have an idea.”
“What is it? Does it involve some sort of random adventure, because if so, I’m half awake and no way.”
“Something like that…you and me, a ride to
, watching the sun rise…” Lake Hylia
“Sounds fun…alright, I’m game.”
“Then come on, or we’ll miss the sunrise!”
Before Link and Zelda could escape the castle (mind you, they were still wearing their clothes from the previous night), the commander in chief of the Hylian Guard stopped them in the doorway.
“Oh, Farore, what is it?” Link knew if they were coming at six AM, it could only mean something bad.
“Link of Hyrule, you are being summoned as part of the military draft. Ganondorf’s forces are gathering outside the Desert Colossus, and we have reason to believe they will attack Hyrule at dawn. You have twenty minutes to arrive at the center of Hyrule Field with your horse, weapons, and any other men you believe have escaped the draft. Am I clear?”
The general left Link and Zelda standing in the doorway, and Zelda could feel tears forming in her eyes.
“They can’t do that! You are the prince!” Zelda wished Ganondorf would fall off a cliff somewhere on the outskirts of the world and never return to Hyrule ever again. (Put the nicest way Hylianly possible)
“Zelda…I can’t ignore them. As prince, I have to do what is best for my country. If it means waging war, then so be it.” Link gently placed a hand on her shoulder, almost the same way a father would do to his oldest, most beloved son. “Goddesses willing, I will be home soon, and safely.”
“Goddesses willing,” Zelda repeated fiercely. “Ganondorf will go…”
A dog barked.
“…himself and never return to Hyrule ever again!”
Link pulled her into a tight embrace and kissed her repeatedly.
“It’s okay, Zelda…don’t get all worked up…” Link stroked her hair. “You’ll be fine without me. And I’ll only be gone for a little while.”
Link could feel on his back the heat radiating off of Zelda’s triforce mark.
“I’ll come home, I promise. I always do.”
“I don’t want you to leave,” Zelda muttered into his chest.
“Believe me, I don’t want to leave you either. But, this is what is best for Hyrule, and it is in the gods’ will. I cannot refuse them, can I?”
“Exactly…wait a second…maybe I DON’T have to leave you!”
“He said to bring anyone who escaped the draft…quick, go get into your Sheikah disguise. If we do this right, they’ll think…”
The lightbulb in Zelda’s head went off.
“…That I’m a man!”
“Exactly! Now, hurry…”
Zelda left before he could finish the sentence.
Soon, Zelda as Sheik and Link were standing in the midst of the cavalry ranks of the Hylian Guard. Epona whinnied excitedly-she could taste a battle in the air and she loved it. However, Whirlwind, the king’s old warhorse that bore a resemblance to Moonbeam, (except he was more muscled and taller) pawed the ground anxiously under Zelda.
“Whoa…” Link had to admit, it was downright strange hearing Zelda’s voice much deeper than normal. “Steady, Whirlwind…” Zelda tugged on the reins. “Easy, boy…” Whirlwind started breathing faster. “Steady, steady…” Link reached over and grabbed Whirlwind’s reins to help Zelda restrain him, but it didn’t help. Whirlwind squealed and reared so suddenly, Zelda almost fell off. He tried to bolt in any direction possible, but realized he was trapped. Whirlwind reared again in fear. “Whoa!” Zelda tried to urge him to stay down.
Thankfully, the head officer gave the order to charge and Whirlwind was able to gallop forward at full speed. Whirlwind now semi-under control, Zelda drew her sword and Link followed suit. Quickly, he tried to show her how to use the stirrups to use the horse’s momentum to her advantage when attacking enemies. Done correctly, the rider would be able to bear down on a foe with more force and knock his head off in a single swipe. However, the Gerudo ranks were approaching fast, and Link suddenly disappeared into the mess of swords, horses, and clashing metal.
Duck! Dodge! Slash! Rear up, Whirlwind! Stab! Clang, clang, CRASH! Zelda tried to ward off the Gerudo’s spinning slash, but one of the blades grazed her shoulder. She almost cried out in pain, but reminded herself if she did, she could give away her secret and get herself...or worse, Link, into trouble. She galloped behind the Gerudo and shot a perfectly aimed arrow. As she rode off in the opposite direction, she heard the Gerudo fall to the ground. One down, a billion more to go…she turned Whirlwind to the left and saw a battle between Link and a well armed, strong Gerudo occurring out of the corner of her eye. Zelda yanked Whirlwind around and galloped in Link’s direction. She saw the Gerudo cut Link in the arm with one of her blades, and Link almost dropped his sword. He seemed totally ignorant of the blood streaming profusely down his arm and dripping onto his boots. All that mattered in an instant to him was self preservation. Link swung as hard as he could at the Gerudo, but she sidestepped and he fell over from the force of the swing. The Gerudo almost stabbed him in the back when Zelda rode up behind her and forced Whirlwind into a rear. Zelda shut her eyes and gripped a handful of Whirlwind’s long white mane as the horse came down hard on his front legs-on top of the Gerudo. Link flashed Zelda a thankful look, and tried to climb back onto Epona. He was unable to, however, because of his injured arm-the Gerudo’s blade had cut clean through his arm, nearly cutting it off. Zelda could see the bone in his arm was snapped clean in half, like a twig when you ride over it on a horse. She hastily shoved him up onto Epona and galloped off in another direction. She almost got another thief when…
“Retreat!!!” One of Ganondorf’s minions called. The Gerudo forces receded like a wave on the beach and soon, the battlefield was left scattered with corpses and wounded soldiers.
“Is that it?” Zelda wondered aloud.
“I believe so,” The captain sheathed his sword. “For now. I can assume they will be back in a matter of days. Be on the ready to be called back. Return to the camp at once.”
Zelda nodded and waited until the battlefield had silenced some. She rode up to Link on Epona and took a hold of Epona’s reins.
“Come on, Epona.” Zelda urged the mare into a walk. “Tread softly. Your master is hurt.”
At the army camp, Link looked at Zelda as if the world had just ended and he was the only one left.
“There has GOT to be a medic around here somewhere,” Zelda said, scanning the camp. By now, she had staked Whirlwind by a tent she had claimed for herself and Link and was leading Epona and Link through the camp. She found a tent with a red snake and shield on the door-what she was looking for. “Ah, here we go…”
She awkwardly helped Link dismount Epona and led him into the tent.
“Is there a doctor in here anywhere?” Zelda asked.
“Over here…” A voice replied from behind a curtain in the tent.
Link leaned on Zelda carefully, trying not to hurt her with his weight. Zelda tried to push back with equal force on Link’s side, but quit after she remembered he was hurt. Soon, the doctor, a tall, thin man, appeared from behind the curtain.
“How can I help you…”
“Yes, Sheik.” The doctor listened intently.
“My friend here nearly had his arm sliced off,” Zelda explained. “It’s broken clean down the middle, and the wound is deep and wide so I think it needs stitches and a good few weeks’ rest.”
“Interesting diagnosis, Doctor Sheik.” The man chuckled in a pleasant way. “Who are you to be so wise in the ways of medicine?”
“You see, sir, my father was a doctor…he taught me everything he knew.”
“Oh, interesting…by my observations, I would believe your father is a good doctor. Now, just help your friend here over to this bed, and that’ll be all I need from you…unless your friend…”
“Link…” he said weakly, as Zelda gently laid him on the bed.
“Link…would like you to stay around for a while.”
“Well…I’d appreciate it, Sheik,” Link said.
“Very well. But if the officer calls me…”
The doctor cut her off. “I understand…wait, what happened to you?”
Zelda instantly remembered the wound on her shoulder.
“Oh, um, this?”
“Yes…it looks sort of deep.”
“Oh, no, just a scrape.”
“You should probably at least cover it…prevent infection and all…”
“No, I’m fine…”
“He’s too modest and doesn’t want to remove his shirt…” Link cut in from the other side of the tent.
Thank you sooooooo much, Link. I owe you for that. Zelda sighed with relief.
“Very well, but it is your fault if it worsens.”
“I understand.” Zelda didn’t know how dire the consequences were…in about a year, she would be back at the tent and would almost have her secret revealed…but would be saved thanks to Link.
“Oh, Nayru, Link…” Zelda sighed as soon as she returned to the log she had tied Epona and Whirlwind to. “I don’t know how to do any of this fighting stuff…er, at least not against an army’s worth of Gerudos.” She stroked Epona’s white forehead stripe absentmindedly. “Maybe Epona could help me, but I’d probably be a burden to her…”
The answer may lie in your instincts. You were trained to fight by a Sheikah…to fight offensively. Make the most of what you have and do your best; that is all you are asked to give. The triforce reminded her.
“Well, I guess the triforce is right, but I don’t know if I can do it. I am a girl, after all…”
Yes, but a strong adult nonetheless. Look around you. You are fighting people of the same gender as you. Therefore, you are equally matched, if not advantaged. You have the triforce after all. What do you have to fear?
“Death is my only concern…”
Death? You already came out to the battlefield and you cannot go home until someone wins. Remember, you do this for your country, not for yourself. Think of it as practice for when you are queen.
“What does this have to do with anything?”
You are learning to make sacrifices for your kingdom. Zelda, you are capable of much more than you think. All you need is a shove in the right direction.
“You know, I think that is it.”
Later that day, Zelda sneaked back into the medic’s tent and called out,
“Link?” She looked around for the doctor, but could find no signs of him. “Are you awake, or are you still out from the surgery?”
“Sheik?” Link asked, half-awake. “You there?”
“Yes, Link, I’m here…is the doctor in here?”
“No…he left to get some medicine for my arm from the Zoras. He won’t be back for a while…” He tried to sit up, but did so with difficulty. “I didn’t notice it, but apparently she got me in the abs too…” Link laughed painfully.
“Wait, don’t move…” Zelda came out of hiding. “Stay down. Don’t hurt yourself.”
“Too late for that.”
“I wish I could help you...you know, I wish this was one of those ‘kiss it and make it better’ things. Now, I’m alone on the battlefield, and I don’t know what to do.”
“I think I know just the thing to do...reach under this bed, would you?”
Zelda did what she asked him, and pulled out a long object she quickly recognized as a sheathed sword…the Master Sword. Totally astonished, she gave him a questioning look.
“I know, but that sword has saved my life so many times…it’ll save you too. You have the triforce, so you won’t get hurt by it, I don’t think. It’s the least I can do for you.”
“Link, I think I would kiss you right now if we weren’t in the military…can’t have people thinking you’re…”
“Yeah, I know. Too bad…”
Suddenly, a trumpet sounded and there was an uproar outside the tent.
“You’d better go see what is going on…” Link said, motioning to the door. “Good luck to you, and may Farore’s courage be with you.”
Zelda nodded and raced to the doorway of the tent. Before she left, she mouthed the words “I love you” over her shoulder to Link. She didn’t bother to look back, but she knew Link had done the same thing to her.
The center of the camp was a chaotic jumble of whinnying battle horses, clanging armor, shouting, and foot soldiers. From her spot on Whirlwind’s back, Zelda could see the captain trying (unsuccessfully) to restore order. What in Nayru’s name is happening? Zelda heard fragments of conversations… “Ganondorf’s troops…to the north…armed…larger…last time…coming fast…steal…” Immediately, she knew. They’re planning to raid the camp and Link is injured! If they find him, they’ll most likely kill him…Zelda hurriedly located Epona amidst the chaos, grabbed her reins, and galloped off to the makeshift hospital.
“Link!” Zelda sounded worried.
He immediately woke up at the sound of Zelda’s voice, no matter how it sounded.
“What is going on?” He asked tiredly.
“Gerudos…are going to raid the camp. If I don’t get you somewhere safe, fast, they’ll kill you!”
“Say no more.”
Despite the mass of bandages covering his body, Link was able to get up and run out to Epona.
“Here, girl…” Link tried not to sound rushed. As soon as Epona reached him, he turned her side to face him. “Now, stay…” He tried to get on, but was unable to because of the pain. Oh, come on, you have been near death before. This is nothing! Suck it up…Link wished Epona was shorter. He reached for the saddle horn and tried to pull himself up, but his injury had left him weak. “Sheik?” He asked hopefully.
Zelda sighed and dismounted Whirlwind. She hastily shoved Link up onto Epona and got back onto Whirlwind, turning herself so she was facing Link.
“Go somewhere safe…the
Templeof Time, the castle, Ordon Village, the , as far from the battle as possible. I don’t want you to get hurt…” Zelda tried to control an anxious Whirlwind. “You are in no shape for a fight in your current condition.” Kokiri Forest
“I understand…I will pray for your safety,”
“And I yours, now get out of here before the Gerudos come!”
Link turned Epona to face the far end of the camp and dug his heels into her side. “Get up Epona!” The mare obediently galloped in the direction Link pointed her, and that would be the last time Zelda would see them for a long time.
“Faster, faster…” Link said, urging Epona on and trying to ignore the pain her galloping strides gave him. Epona was breathing hard by now, sweat pouring from her sides and foaming profusely at the mouth, but Link wouldn’t let up…not until they were safe. So on they rode for the rest of the day, and into the night. The stars overhead, the night winds blowing, an owl’s hoot, and the sound of Epona’s hoof beats were the only things Link saw or heard for a long time. It was nearly dawn by the time Link reached Ordona, exhausted from staying up all night with an aching side. Epona turned her head and looked at him contemptuously for making her gallop at full speed for fourteen hours straight. She nipped his boot and Link dismounted her.
“Thanks, girl,” He said, stroking her lathered neck. “You did good.”
Link turned her loose at the ranch to do whatever horses do in their spare time, and left for his house.
“Ahhh…home sweet home,” Link said, collapsing onto his bed. “Haven’t been here for a while.” He looked around, breathing in the pure Ordona air. “I missed it…after living in a castle for a month or two, this will feel like camping,” he joked. “Yeah…this will be great…I don’t have any work to do…no stiff clothes…no trying to impress anyone…no formal events…” Link felt an instant pang of loneliness. “No Zelda…Link, get a hold of yourself! It’s only for a little while…” His bed suddenly felt empty. “It’s no use…why bother lying to myself? It could be a long time…”
Link knew he would have talked with himself longer had he not been so drowsy.
“Goddesses, I should probably try to get some rest…but not for long…I’m sure someone is going to see Epona at the ranch and realize I am home…and drop in for a visit…”
No sooner were the words out of his mouth than Link fell asleep, dreaming of returning to a peaceful country once again.
Bang, bang, bang…Link opened an eye sleepily. Bang, bang, bang…it took him a while to realize someone was knocking on the door. Bang, bang, bang…Link yawned and reluctantly got out of bed.
“I’m coming!” Link called. “Sheesh…” He opened the door to see Rusl standing there. “Rusl..?” Link asked groggily, leaning in the doorway. “What are you doing here?”
“I was wondering if you wanted to come hunting, but, good Din, Link, are you lost in a hangover?”
“What kind of person do you think I am?” Link gave Rusl a venomous look of contempt. Link? Rude? How is that possible? “Heck, no! Try no sleep…” Link yawned. “I was trying to recover when you came and woke me up…”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I guess I’ll be leaving…”
“Whatever. And please keep those blasted cuccoos of yours quiet…kind of hard to sleep with them crowing…”
Weird…Rusl thought, climbing down the ladder. I’ve never seen Link like this before…acting like such a…he’s probably just tired…He left to go find his “blasted cuccoos” and decided to check on Link in a few hours.
Late that night, Rusl awoke with a jolt. Something told him there was something amiss in the village, and he had a strange feeling it had to do with Link. Looking out the bedroom window, he saw a candle flickering in Link’s house…he must have built a fire, for it was as bright as day. He sneaked out of bed, trying not to wake his wife, and tiptoed down the hall so not to wake Colin. Much to his surprise, Colin was lingering by the door, very much awake.
“Where are you going, father?” Colin asked.
“Oh, um…nowhere really. Just to visit Link.”
“Link came back?” Colin’s eyes lit up. Link was like an older brother to him, and possibly the only friend Colin had.
“Yes, but you cannot come…”
“And why not?”
“Um…I saw him earlier, and he was a bit…harsh. In a bad mood, you know.”
“So? Mother gets mad at me a lot…”
“Sorry, but I can’t…”
“Please? I won’t tell mother, and I promise to help collect firewood tomorrow…”
“Very well, then. But you must be absolutely quiet going over there…don’t want to wake the village, you know. And, please…don’t annoy Link.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t.”
On the way over, Rusl saw someone on the path in front of them. It was suspicious, as no one in Ordona usually left their house at night…gods knew what kind of creatures were outside, hiding in the dark.
“Hello?” Rusl called in a hoarse whisper.
“Hello?” He heard a familiar voice reply.
“Ilia? What are you doing up this late?”
“It’s about Link…I’m worried about him. He’s been awake for quite some time now, pacing…”
“Pacing?” This was worse than he thought.
“Yeah, I can see him in the firelight. He’s been walking back and forth for about an hour now.”
“Then we’d better get over there before he goes insane…”
Ilia nodded and followed Rusl and Colin up the path.
Bang, bang, bang…Link rolled his eyes, trying to pretend he wasn’t home. Bang, bang, bang…Link wanted to shout at the knocker to go away. Bang, bang, bang…
“Link, open up.” Ilia called, her voice muffled by the door. “We know you’re awake.”
Link gave an exasperated sigh and answered the door gruffly.
“What in the hell do you people want?” Link asked, the fire glowing behind him becoming eerily appropriate.
Rusl, Ilia, and Colin were shocked. Link never swore, and was always so stoic and polite…this was definitely not like him at all. Ilia and Colin stepped back and let Rusl handle Link’s hostility.
“I don’t know…maybe an explanation as to why you have been so rude today!” Ilia and Colin knew the fierceness in his voice was forced, but you had to fight fire with fire.
“Maybe I don’t want to give one!”
“You owe us that much, after shoving us all away! I thought we were your friends!”
“I thought so too…” Link said so cruelly, it sent shivers down Ilia’s spine to hear him speak. “But you people have been badgering me so much, I don’t believe you are my friends anymore...now go home and leave me alone!”
“I can, and I will…”
Link reached for his sword and remembered he had given it away. Before he could think of an alternative, Rusl wrestled him to the floor and held him there, trapped at the point of no escape. Link gave him a contemptuous glare, and Rusl returned an equally harsh look. I hate to do this to you…Rusl smacked him-hard-across the face.
“Get a hold of yourself!” Rusl shouted at him.
Link shook his head, and the fire in his expression instantly died. He gave Rusl a vulnerable look, and asked timidly, “Will you let me up?”
Rusl realized Link had come to his senses and helped him back onto his feet. Link looked around outside and realized who was there.
“Ilia? Colin? What are you guys doing here? Especially this late at night…”
“We came to make sure you were okay.” Ilia answered. “I saw you pacing…and what was with the ferocity?”
All three of his visitors gave him a look of disbelief.
“Did you forget everything that just happened?” Colin asked.
“Oh…that…I’m sorry, I guess I’m out of my mind…but I don’t know why. I’ve been like this today for a while…on and off. It’s like I’m being possessed…”
“Possessed?” Ilia asked incredulously.
“Well, maybe not possessed...I don’t know…”
“Link? What is that huge bulge under your shirt?” Rusl pointed out.
“Oh, this? Long story…did you hear about the war?”
“War?” All three asked simultaneously.
“Oh, boy…it’s a long story, but I was injured by a Gerudo in the war, and I had to be stitched up and stay in the hospital. They left for a bit, but then they were coming back to raid the camp. If they found me, they would have killed me. So, I had to get out of there, and I have been riding from about five o clock yesterday evening to about noon today…and I had to come here for my own safety. I really do not care about that so much as I would like an explanation of why I can’t control my temper…”
“I’ll try to find the doctor for you tomorrow,” Rusl offered.
“Thanks…ah, I am an idiot. If only I had been watching my back, I might still be in Hyrule right now…”
“Speaking of Hyrule, how is Zelda?” Colin asked. The boy had never met or seen the princess before, and was interested in news about this mysterious person Link was married to.
“Zelda? Um…she sort of sneaked into the war, dressed as a Sheikah man, and is fighting to save the country right now…” Link’s voice faltered. “She even helped me escape…I can’t believe I didn’t do anything but run off like a coward!”
“You’re not a coward…you just wanted to live.” Rusl offered. “Self preservation instinct…kind of hard to get out of a person…it’s only human that you ran away.”
“I guess. It’s getting cold out…want to come inside?”
Link invited them all inside and tried to relight the now-dying fire.
“So, why exactly did all of you come to see me? And, why this late at night?”
“We were all worried about you,” Ilia answered. “We could see the light coming from your house and assumed you were still awake.”
“I see. Well, nothing to be worried about…I just slept the day away, so I’m wide awake now…” Link hoped they couldn’t see the tips of ears turn red…they always did when he lied.
“Oh?” Rusl smiled in an amused way, and Link wondered what was so interesting. “Well, then are you actually trying to catch your shirt on fire?”
“Huh?” Link looked down casually and saw the edge of his tunic was beginning to burn. “Ack!” Link nearly jumped through the roof. He tried to smother the flame with one of his gloves, and realized it wasn’t working. Faster than a Jack Russell terrier on caffeine, Link raced over to the table by the fire and snatched the jug of water sitting on top of it. He had meant to use it to put out the fire before he fell asleep, but this was more important. Link doused the flame and tried to regain his composure. The fact that Ilia and Colin were trying not to laugh made it difficult-Link wanted to run down and hide in the basement until everyone left.
“Well, that was eventful,” Link said with mock calmness, straightening out his tunic.
“That is an understatement,” Colin muttered.
“So, now that we know you just lied to us, how about saying what is wrong?” Rusl inquired.
“I told you, nothing!” Link stared into the flames, trying to give his visitors the cold shoulder, hoping they would understand and back off. For a minute, no sound could be heard except for the crackling of the fire. He said so silently it wasn’t audible, “I miss her already.”
Zelda drove Whirlwind on, looking back over her shoulder in the direction Link had galloped off in. She could almost see Link and Epona racing for their lives. I just hope you are safe, wherever you are…The camp was now broken down, as the Hylian Guard was moving to a location farther east in Hyrule. The only sign the soldiers had ever been there was a fire pit and beaten grass where the horses had been kept. Blood stained the green grass, and the sky was a dull grey. It’s going to rain…terrific. Whirlwind snorted and tossed his mane, bringing Zelda back to reality. She could faintly hear thunder in the distance.
“Ugh…you’d think the world just ended.”
“Better get used to it boy,” A strong, tall man on a bay horse responded. “You left your old life behind…you’re a soldier now.”
That’s right, I am…I hope I can get through this.
Late that night, the captain pulled his horse to a halt. Zelda stood in the stirrups and looked up ahead. Men were beginning to dismount their horses, and the foot soldiers were setting up camp.
“Thank the gods,” Zelda said to herself. “The ride is over!”
She dismounted Whirlwind and led him to a sturdy looking tree. She tied the reins to a branch and looked back to the west. I might not see him for a long time…may as well get used to the idea. Suddenly, she heard muffled hoof beats behind her. Zelda turned to see the same man who had replied to her earlier riding in her direction. The man dismounted his steed and motioned for Zelda to come over to him. She did as she was told.
“You know,” The stranger said. “I think you have the makings of a good soldier.”
“You think so?”
“Of course…you didn’t once complain about the long ride, or become frightened in battle, not to mention, you are a Sheikah…born with endurance and agility.”
The man stuck his hand out.
“The name is Rako…merchant from Catalia…moved to Hyrule 17 years ago with my wife Serena. And you?”
“I’m Sheik…and I’m from Hyrule…and I’m seventeen.”
They shook hands, and something-triforce, imagination, or a hunch-gave Zelda a feeling this man was someone from the past…a long forgotten hero…or friend.
A few uneventful weeks passed, and Zelda could feel herself getting stronger. Sparring with the other men and wrestling competitions made her more equal in strength, and gave her an opportunity to practice swordsmanship-a skill she had just started a year ago, and was now proficient in. All was good until one night…the battle trumpet sounded, and Zelda looked to the east to see a large army charging full speed at the camp. She hurriedly found Whirlwind and swung up onto his back. She drew the Master Sword from its sheath and galloped in the direction of the battle.
Whirlwind was breathing heavily, running at top speed. Zelda urged him on and charged at a Gerudo on the back of a horse. She held the Master Sword in position, ready to attack, when an unexpected blow from a club-wielding George Washington purple monkey knocked her off Whirlwind. Totally unaware of what happened, Whirlwind galloped on. Zelda hit the ground with enough force to give her a painful bruise, but she ignored the searing pain and leaped to her feet. The mounted Gerudo swung at her from the horse’s back, but Zelda expertly deflected every blow, even the spinning slash. The Gerudo gave Zelda an impressed look, then searched the chaos for a comrade. She asked a question with her expression, and the other Gerudo nodded. The Gerudo in front of Zelda cast a spell, and Zelda felt herself losing balance. Oh, good Nayru, no! Not a sedative spell! She tried to fight it off with the triforce’s power, but to no avail. Exasperated, she gave in to the overwhelming spell and fell to the ground unconscious.
was beginning to worry about Link-even the lantern oil seller who only saw him once in a blue moon. Every night, Link paced around his house, and the fire blazed until very early in the morning. Of course, being the person he was, Link didn’t want anyone to know why and burden them with the answer. He tried to act like everything was hunky-dory, but in everything he did, he appeared exhausted. A town meeting was held to discuss what would be the smart thing to do, and it was agreed someone would go try to talk some sense into him. Everyone knew that person would be Rusl-he was practically Link’s father. So, late that night, Rusl left to go confront Link… provinceof Ordona
Bang, bang, bang…Link heard the familiar knock once again. Bang, bang, bang… silently, he answered the door.
“Hi, Link…you still awake?”
Link shrugged. Rusl realized Link was trying to hide something behind the silence…trying to cover up a weakness.
“Could I come in?”
Link motioned for Rusl to step through the door and closed it after him. Link solemnly walked over to a spot beside the fire and sat down. He didn’t dare look Rusl in the eyes, for fear he would see the tears forming…
“Link? What is it?”
Link glanced over at him, with an expression somewhere between extremely hurt and aggressively asking him to go away, then looked back away.
“Come on, you can tell me…”
Link still refused to answer. They heard another knock at the door. Rusl got up to let Ilia in. She immediately understood what was going on, and walked over to Link. He didn’t do so much as acknowledge her presence. Ilia knelt next to him and placed an arm around his shoulders. Surprisingly, Link didn’t try to shrug her off.
“Please say something…we’re all worried about you…”
Ilia noticed a tear roll down his cheek.
“Link…come on, tell me...”
“I miss her…a lot…”
Ilia didn’t have to ask to know who he was talking about. In some odd way, she was touched by this. Maybe because it showed that though Link was a highly esteemed hero, he was still human. Or, because it showed the strength of the bond between him and Zelda…stronger than any Ilia had ever seen. It almost made her want to cry. Zelda was the world to Link…
“I know…” She hugged him, fighting back tears. “I know.”
Zelda felt as if she was lost in an out of body experience. Huh? She blinked, slowly coming to. Where am I..? She looked around and saw nothing but high stone walls. It was somewhat dark, and the only window was near the top of the building. She touched the walls to see if this strange place was like the Shadow Temple-things weren’t always what they seemed. It was as she suspected-a normal stone wall. Zelda heard a chuckle and turned around, heart racing.
“Oh, don’t try to escape, young man…there is no way out, unless the jail warden is drunk.”
“You know me, don’t worry…”
“Show yourself!” I wish I had that sword…
“That would be sort of hard in this lighting, don’t you think?” Much to Zelda’s surprise, Nabooru stepped out of the darkness into the dim light streaming from the small window high above. Note to self: get used to strange ways of Gerudos. Zelda hoped Nabooru couldn’t see her heart pounding through her clothes.
“Nabooru? What are you doing here? Is this some sort of meeting with the sages?”
“I wish I could say that truthfully…you’re in the
…otherwise known as jail.” Gerudo Fortress Tower
“How did I get here...?” Zelda felt a searing pain shoot through the back of her head like an arrow. Ugh…
“Long story…basically, you were put under an unconsciousness spell during the battle, because I couldn’t let my sisters kill you…I let them take you prisoner instead.”
“Um…thanks for sparing my life? Getting me thrown in the dungeon instead of dying?” Zelda asked, rubbing the sore spot on her head, most likely from when she hit the ground.
“You don’t know how truthfully hilarious you are…” Nabooru swung a small metal key in front of Zelda’s nose. “You forgot I am queen of the Gerudos and have an all-access key?”
Zelda grinned. Ah, how good to have friends with connections…
“Now, stay quiet and follow me…”
Zelda did as Nabooru asked, and followed her out a door she hadn’t seen before. Seeing Zelda’s look of surprise, Nabooru explained,
“How else do you think I got in here? Things aren’t always what they seem, you know...especially around here. You can never tell if someone is your friend or your enemy…or, since so many of the halls here look the same, which way is what.”
“How do you know the difference?”
“I have my ways…er, a map of the Fortress I created myself. I have a lot of spare time, now that no one comes over here anymore and Ganondorf isn’t here to boss us around…off doing Din knows what…”
“Rape and pillage?”
“Your guess is as good as mine, though you probably just put a finger on it.”
Nabooru stopped in front of a wooden door and knocked on it.
“What was that for?”
“To see if anyone was in there…they would have responded otherwise.”
“I’m stealing your sword back, now don’t draw any attention to yourself or the armory.”
Zelda milled around aimlessly as Nabooru slipped inside the door and was gone for quite some time. Zelda heard footsteps at the end of the hallway when Nabooru come out of the room, Master Sword in hand.
“Hate for this to get locked up in there for the rest of eternity,” Nabooru commented, handing it to Zelda. “Now, follow me, and I’ll try to get you out of here without being noticed.”
Not until many years later would Zelda wonder why the Master Sword hadn’t burned Nabooru when she picked it up. She would learn that, because Nabooru was a fellow sage, the Master Sword couldn’t hurt her.
“We’re almost to the exit…we’re home free!” Nabooru whispered. “Wait, not yet…get down!”
Zelda tried not to yelp in shock when Nabooru shoved her onto the stone floor of the hallway.
“Suck it up,” Nabooru looked out into the courtyard.
“What do you see?”
“Guards…and lots of them.”
“How are we going to get out?”
“Usually, you have to use bribery of some sort…they get to choose though…Din knows what they would want from us…or you, thinking you are a man…”
Zelda swallowed the lump in her throat and shuddered.
“Of course, I’ll try not to let them…I’d hate to think of what would be racing through Link’s mind if you told him about it.”
“He’d probably wipe out the entire Gerudo race,” Zelda smirked. “Knowing how overprotective he is.”
“He’s not overprotective; he just loves you more than anything else in the world and wouldn’t want that to happen to you...Not everyone has someone who cares about them that much, so you should be grateful.”
Zelda nodded. “I’ll try to remember that.”
“I could use a bit of excitement today…I say we make a break for it and try to talk our way out of it if we are caught.”
“Sounds like fun…which way do we go, though?”
“Through the part with the most action…mwahahaha…”
Zelda raced around a corner after Nabooru, and wasn’t surprised in the least to hear a whistle. TWEEEEEEEEEEE!
“Stop! Where do you think you’re going?”
“Erm…nowhere,” Nabooru said coolly. “Just going to the archery grounds.”
“With a prisoner?” The guard asked skeptically, glaring past Nabooru at Sheik.
“Why not? I need someone to fetch my arrows for me…you know how bad my aim is on horseback.”
“Very well…but I’ve got my eyes on you, as do the gods…”
Zelda felt chills run up her spine when the guard said that. Freaky, much!
“Good,” Nabooru gestured for Zelda to follow her.
1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4…Whirlwind’s hooves hit the ground in a steady rhythm. Zelda spurred him faster, but saw the depth of the canyon, lost her courage, and pulled her horse to a stop at the edge of the broken bridge, just inches from the ravine. A few pebbles skidded off the edge and fell down to the river in the canyon.
“You have to go faster if you want to clear it!” Nabooru called. “It’s not as hard as it looks!”
“I can’t! It’s too wide!” Zelda called, turning Whirlwind around and backing up.
“No it isn’t! Whirlwind cleared it easily on the way over here, and Link does it all the time on Epona! Just close your eyes and go for it!”
“You’re braver than you think, and there’s no other way out!”
“Fine! I’ll try.” Zelda took a deep breath and spurred Whirlwind into a gallop. 1,2,3,4, Whirlwind’s hooves pounded the ground, faster with every stride. Zelda took a hold of his long white mane and closed her eyes. Then, she felt Whirlwind lunge forward, and his hooves left the ground.
“Look around, but don’t look down!” Nabooru shouted.
Zelda looked down and nearly had a heart attack. Far below them the river leading to
churned, with sharp rocks on every side. She looked up to see the sun…it looked so close, it was almost as if Zelda could reach out and hold it in the palm of her hand. She was surprised to find herself laughing…it was exhilarating freedom to be flying over the ravine. Zelda was disappointed when Whirlwind hit the ground with a jarring thud on the other side. Lake Hylia
“Now, ride for your life! Back to the army! They’re just north of here!”
“Thanks!” Zelda called back. She spurred Whirlwind into a gallop and saw a spot of tents just over a hill…
Bang, bang, bang, Link moaned and covered his head with a pillow. Bang, bang, bang.
“Go away…” Link muttered.
“Link! Open up! The doctor is here…and it’s almost noon!” Rusl called from the other side of the door.
“Fine…COMING!” Link reluctantly got out of bed to open the door. Ugh… “Hey?” Link asked, totally out of it. “Why are you people here?”
“To see what was wrong with you the other day.”
“Probably just teen angst,” Link yawned. “I’m still 17, you know.”
“I somewhat doubt that,” the doctor said. “That type of aggression is triggered by something. The kind you have isn’t natural…to be set off by nothing.”
“I see…whatever, do your worst.”
Link ushered them in and gave the doctor a questioning look.
“I heard you were stabbed?” He asked.
“Yes, I think…” Link responded. “It’s already stitched, though.”
“Who were you stabbed by?”
“That explains everything. Gerudos have poison tipped weapons…the poison makes people irritable and generally unpleasant. If the wound was still open, I could have just applied an antidote and left it. But, since it is closed…that makes it a bit harder.”
“What do we do, then?” Link asked, dreading the answer.
“Well, you have two options. First, we could just leave it and wait for the poison to wear off…but it has a detrimental health effect, as it can blind you if too much is left inside you. Second, I could give you the antidote, but it has to be applied at the site…that’s where this poison sticks…it stays at the site of the cut, but the poison casts a spell over your mind and actions. I’d have to undo the stitches…but it isn’t as dangerous as leaving the poison.”
“Tough…well…I guess I could go with option two…”
Link hoped he wasn’t doing something stupid.
Whirlwind, the inexhaustible Energizer bunny of a horse, was beginning to tire, breathing rapidly yet trying to carry on at Zelda’s request. Zelda tugged on the reins and let him slow down when she saw the army campsite a short distance away from her in the glow of the setting sun.
“Good boy,” She reached out and stroked Whirlwind’s neck, but shrunk back in disgust. “Gross,” Zelda said to herself, wiping her hand on her tights. She had forgotten that Whirlwind sweated like a pig when he ran. “You could use a bath…” Whirlwind snorted. Zelda knew what he had just “said…” So could you! Zelda smirked and rode into the camp just as the sun disappeared behind the hills.
After Zelda had given Whirlwind a well-needed bath in a nearby stream, she picked up his saddle and bridle and walked back into the camp as though nothing had ever happened. Amazed glances and mutters of disbelief followed her through the camp until she reached the central campfire.
“Miss me?” She asked, but bit her lip after she realized she hadn’t dropped her voice. Oh, Nayru…please don’t let anyone have heard that! She was welcomed back by the congregation by the fire, and one man who she recognized as Rako clapped her across the back. She almost fell over from the force of the blow.
“Where have you been?” He asked, laughing at something someone else had said.
“Oh, nowhere…I was just captured by Gerudos…” Thank the gods! No one noticed!
The noise died down and every single person around the fire turned to look at her.
There were excited whispers among the crowd.
“Tell us about it!”
“That must have been exciting!”
“Okay, okay!” Zelda held her hands up and walked to the front of the fire. “I’ll tell you! Okay, so, in the battle…”
Ow…Link sighed, lying on his back. I’d fight Ganondorf a hundred times before I would go through that again! Colin raced in through the door, and gave Link an amazed look.
“Oh, hi…” Link muttered, noticing Colin’s shocked look. “Well, you see…”
“No, my dad already told me everything…that sounded like it hurt…”
“Like…like getting sunburn on top of a gash from falling out of that huge tree and getting scratched by a cat with super sharp claws on top of it…or something like that.”
“Did you cry?”
“Hell, yeah…” Link bit his lip so hard he tasted blood. Not again! Second time in two days! I have to watch my mouth…
Colin gazed at him in shock, eyes bigger than grapefruits.
“Dad said I’m not supposed to use that word…I don’t think you should either.”
“You shouldn’t…” Link winced, pulling himself up into a sitting position. “I’m sorry, it just sort of slipped. Don’t ever use that kind of language around your father or he will kill me for sure.”
A huge smile spread across Colin’s face. “I don’t know if he could put you in any worse pain than you are in right now…”
“You do have a point,” Link smirked. Colin started to laugh. “What’s so funny?”
“It couldn’t hurt to find out…”
“Oh, you wouldn’t…”
“Oh, I would…”
One look at Colin’s evil smile and Link’s terrified look was enough to make both of them start laughing.
“Come on, Link! There’s a really big one over here!” Colin called, gesturing for Link to follow him into the woods. Link smiled and rolled his eyes. Kids…
“Okay, where is it?” Link asked, looking around in the woods. Light was streaming through the trees, moss blanketed the ground, and little colorful flowers were sprinkled across the moss carpet, reminiscent of confetti and streamers strewn across a street Link had once seen in the aftermath of a parade. Wow, Zelda would love this place…I’ll have to bring her here sometime. Link shook his head, coming back to reality. I can’t think about her for my sake, if not everyone else’s…
Link had offered to help Colin with his chores after hearing he had promised to do extra ones if he could visit Link. Yes, he had guilt tripped himself into doing it, as he had treated Colin so badly when everyone came and visited him, but it also gave him something to do. Deep down, Link knew he was mainly doing it to keep his mind off of Zelda…
“Over here.” Colin struggled, trying to lift a large log. Despite his efforts, he was unable to even make it budge. “See? I’m not strong enough…but you are. You can pick it up, can’t you?”
“I don’t know if I can with these stitches, but I’ll try.” Link managed to get his hands under the log and almost effortlessly lifted it off the ground. Colin watched in amazement.
“How do you do that?” he asked in awe.
Link chuckled, trying not to concentrate on the pain the log’s weight was causing him.
“Well, you have to be pretty strong if you’re going to save the world. That and all women want a strong man as their husband.” Link started to walk back to the village with Colin at his heels.
“Link? If you don’t mind my asking, what is Zelda like?”
“Zelda? What do you want to know about her?”
“Anything…What does she look like? What’s her personality? Why do you like her?”
“Ah…she has really long hair…it’s brown, but if she wears black, it almost looks gold. It comes down to a little past her chest…she has blue eyes, the same color as mine…and a smile that reminds me of your mother’s. Her ears are long like mine…she’s about a centimeter taller than I am…she’s pretty thin for someone her height…not too thin, though.”
Colin tried to get an image of her in his mind, but it was hard, not really knowing what she looked like. Link promised himself that no matter how much Colin begged, he wouldn’t go into any more detail that day, for fears of feeling lovesick and homesick at the same time.
“What is she like?”
“She’s very sweet…that’s why I like her. She loves archery…horses…flowers…the forest…wolves…the stars…oh, and chocolate.”
Colin giggled. Link smiled, lost in a day dream.
“You’d like her, I know you would. She has a great sense of humor, not to mention she is patient. Smart, too. She is almost always happy…and knows how to make you feel better when you’re sad…” He sighed. “No wonder I miss her.”
“She sounds nice.”
“She is…I’ll have to introduce you to her sometime.”
Colin nodded and they reached the woodpile in the village.
“Well,” Link tossed the log onto the pile and rubbed his hands. “That ought to be enough wood to build a house! I think we’re done.”
“I sure hope so. I’d hate to make you carry more logs.” Colin said sarcastically.
“Oh, shut it.” Link playfully punched him in the shoulder and raced after him to the center of town. Even if he did miss Hyrule, it was good to be home.
“…and that’s how I escaped the Gerudo Fortress.” Zelda looked around at the awed audience, smiling with satisfaction. Of course, I lied about some parts, but no one needs to know that. I can tell a pretty darn good story if I have to… Suddenly, a voice broke the silence.
“Hey, did you hear about the time I caught the queen of the Zoras in
?” Lake Hylia
Excited shouts surrounded the unidentifiable voice, and Zelda found that she was no longer the center of attention. Rako joined her on the fringes of the crowd.
“That story is hogwash…old Wesley is almost perpetually drunk, mind you,” He said in a whisper.
Zelda nodded in agreement and followed him away from the crowd.
“So,” Zelda asked, brushing the dried mud out of Whirlwind’s coat. “What was your family like?”
“Oh…Serena…I miss her so much. She died giving birth to my only son, and as I left to fight in the war before he was born, I never met him. Heck, I don’t even know if he is alive. Someone once told me what my wife had named him, but the name slips my mind…where was I? Oh, yes. Serena’s hair was somewhere between gold and brown, and as I recall, she was a bit shorter than you. She was intelligent and had a huge heart, especially for animals. Heck, she’d even save scraps of bread for the stray cuccoos living outside our house in Catalia! She was so generous and loving to everyone, so I always had a weary traveler or two residing in my house. Her personality so closely reflected that of a caring goddess…sometimes, it was as if I was living with Nayru herself. She always had something to laugh about, and I was told she was able to accept the fact she was going to die shortly after childbirth with a smile…sometimes, I wonder if her personality got passed on to my son…but who knows? Maybe he’s more like his old man. How about you? You have a family?”
“Oh, me? Though I’m seventeen, not yet. I haven’t met the right girl as of now…” But I do have a husband, and I miss him a lot…
“You will someday.”
Zelda nodded and continued to restore the shininess to Whirlwind’s coat.
As swift as an archer’s arrow, fall came and went without much event that year. The end of fall was especially cold, and the winter was almost cold to an unbearable extent. Besides the low temperature and impending frostbite, winter held new challenges for Link and Zelda.
Link decided he had finally had enough.
“ILIA!” Link burst through the mayor’s front door, letting a gust of cold air and a swirling of snowflakes into the house. He immediately prayed the mayor hadn’t noticed-a wet floor was his pet peeve.
“Goddesses!” Ilia jumped up from her place beside the fire. “Link! What’s wrong?”
“Then what in the heck is so important?”
“Oh, I don’t know…I was wondering if maybe you’d teach me how to read…”
“Oh…um, I might not be the best teacher in the world, as I’d quickly lose my patience with you. You know that from the time I thought you had hurt Epona leaping over fences.”
Link rolled his eyes at the memory. Typical Ilia.
“Well, I guess my father could teach you…”
Link felt his heart skip a beat. What in Hyrule would he say if he knew I couldn’t read or write? Would he start to wonder if I really saved the country? Would he think…that I’m a liar and I did nothing but make everything up?
Link scampered after Ilia up the ladder and stood on the platform of sorts which led to the door to the mayor’s bedroom. Ilia knocked on the door, and Link heard a muffled reply from within. She opened it and motioned for Link to follow her. He did so, all sorts of thoughts swimming in his mind.
“Ilia? Link? What can I do for you?” The mayor asked from his armchair by the fire.
“Well, father, Link was wondering if you could teach him how to read and write.” Link swallowed so hard he was almost certain everyone could hear it. I regret fear, but I can’t be brave…
“Link can’t read?” The mayor asked incredulously.
“No.” Please be careful about what you say, father. Ilia whispered a prayer to Nayru in desperation. Link is a very sensitive person…
“Well, then. We’ll have to fix that.”
“Do you need my assistance?”
“No, you may go back to what you were doing. Less distraction, you know.”
Ilia nodded and closed the door behind her.
“Link? Can you hear me?”
Link stopped gazing at the falling snow and snapped back into reality. He glanced over at the mayor tensely.
“Oh, um, yes…”
“Are you feeling okay?”
“Yeah, I guess…it’s just sort of…” Link rubbed his neck. “Gods, I don’t know…”
“Don’t be. Even the gods need help occasionally…come over here.”
Link joined the mayor by the fireplace in one of the mayor’s armchairs. He nearly cried out in shock when he sunk far down into the burgundy chair. DANG! I have got to get used to that if I’m going to be king…the mayor noticed Link’s surprised expression and tried to conceal a grin.
“So…can you read at all or write?”
“No. I never learned how, astounding as it may be. Apparently, literacy is not a requirement for becoming a hero.”
“Then I’ll have to start at the basics.” The mayor produced a piece of paper from a stack next to his chair, and retrieved a pen from his desk. He wrote the alphabet on the paper, and showed it to Link. “These are all the letters in our language. This is what each one is called. Repeat after me. A…B…C…” In turn, the mayor pointed to each of the letters.
Zelda shivered, trying not to concentrate on the fact it was so cold she could see her breath. Snow came up to her knees, and she realized the army was stranded on one of the farthest edges of Hyrule. Zelda had no idea where they were, as she lost sight of all recognizable landmarks a long time ago. Doesn’t make a difference anyway…everything looks the same when it’s covered with snow. Whirlwind whinnied nearby and jerked back on his tying rope. Zelda glanced over at him confusedly and saw something in the snow. Whirlwind reared up, slashing the dry, cold air with his front hooves. Something is over there…Zelda drew her sword and continued towards her panicking horse. The deep snow made it difficult to walk, and Zelda knew if it was something dangerous, she’d have no option but to fight it. Crunch, crunch, the snow gave way under Zelda’s feet. Then suddenly, all was still. The wind stilled in the trees, the snow stopped falling, and Whirlwind stood as still as a statue, his white coat blending into the blanket of snow. Zelda was almost concerned she would lose him in the snow drift if he remained stationary. Then, it attacked.
A low snarling came from the snow near Zelda’s feet. Her heart racing, she poked a nearby mound of flakes with her sword, and before she could think,
A White Wolfos leaped out of nowhere from his hiding place under the snow. Snarling and vicious, the animal tackled Zelda, pinning her by her chest to the damp, dead grass below where she had recently stood. Zelda struggled to toss the massive canine aside, but the Wolfos was too strong for her.
“Now, let’s see…” The Wolfos snarled, much to Zelda’s surprise. “A Sheikah…” He barked with emphasis, bearing down harder on Zelda. “I thought they all died out years ago in the war!”
“Yeah,” Zelda replied, trying to push the Wolfos’ paws off her chest. “All but me.”
“Oh, then…I’ll fix that…”
The Wolfos raised a paw; ready to strike Zelda with his claws when suddenly,
The Wolfos slowly lowered his aloft paw and looked over his shoulder.
“What?” He snarled, glaring back behind him.
Another White Wolfos appeared from the snow. It approached Zelda and the other Wolfos and stopped next to Zelda’s head. He snarled and snapped his drooling jaws shut just centimeters from her face.
“He’s a Sheikah.” The Wolfos circled Zelda like a vulture ready to swoop in and kill its prey. He had a low, snarly voice, almost reminiscent of Ganondorf. “We can hold him for a high ransom…if no one comes for him, I’m sure Lord Ganondorf will be pleased to have such a strong servant…” The Wolfos smiled meanly, flashing all of his sharp canines.
“Aw! I wanted to eat him!”
“Nonsense, fool! How many times must I tell you? We DON’T eat Hylians, no matter how hungry we are…” The Wolfos stopped and whispered into Zelda’s ear, drooling, “Even if they do taste good…” Zelda immediately quit struggling with the Wolfos on top of her. The massive Wolfos licked his canines and looked back over at his starving comrade. “Now, go! Back to Lord Ganondorf! Tell him of our captive!”
“But I’m huuuuunnnngry!” The Wolfos whined.
“I said, GO!” The second Wolfos growled deeply and snapped at his comrade, snarling a few canine swear words at him. The first Wolfos was quick to do as he was asked, and Zelda and the other Wolfos watched him scurry off across the field. Once he was out of sight, the Wolfos stepped aside and made a gesture for Zelda to leave.
“Just leave!” The Wolfos’ tone had changed. It was no longer deep or snarly, but was average and smooth. Zelda noticed he sounded eerily similar to Link... “I don’t want to see you killed…you did me no harm. As a matter of fact, I wish death to Lord Ganondorf…but I cannot fight with the Hylian Army because…”
“Because…look at me!” Zelda heard an exasperated whimper in his voice, but it was covered when his pitch got louder and more provoked. “At what I am…I’m a Wolfos! I am forced to serve him due to the law of the land…” He bowed his furry white head and continued weakly. “I wish I could break it…”
The Wolfos watched the snow melting under his front paws, filled with regret and anger. Zelda cradled his fuzzy chin in her hands and forced him to look up at her.
“Just because you are a Wolfos doesn’t mean anything.” She said in her most gentle voice, the same one she used with the frightened children who met her. “You go where your heart belongs and no one will judge you. Who knows? You might be able to avenge yourself. Come back with me.”
“Thanks…” The Wolfos slowly looked up. “But, how..?”
“I will send a letter…” Zelda said, standing up and brushing the snow off her clothes. “False of course…that you died by wandering into the camp. No one will ever know.” She gave him a confident grin.
“Thank you…” The Wolfos’ icy glare softened. “Thank you so very much…”
“Thank me later…this way.”
The Wolfos followed Zelda into the camp.
“Tell me, what is your name?” Zelda asked the Wolfos.
“Azmek …I hate it though.”
Azmek snarled under his breath and continued. “It’s a Gerudo name. It means “the king’s pride.” Everyone will hate me for sure if I keep it.”
“What do you propose we change it to, then?”
“How about Telro?”
“Telro? That sounds slightly Gerudo too.”
“It’s not. It’s from an old forest legend of a Hylian who could talk to animals and communicate with nature…since I can speak your language, it only seems appropriate.”
“Very well…Telro it is.”
“Telro, eh?” The officer looked down on the Wolfos and Zelda from his horse. “What would a Wolfos be doing here?” He eyed the white beast standing before him.
“I would like to join the army, sir.” Telro replied, unshakeable. “I have been unable to up to this point as the Gerudos have kept me from leaving the desert. I just escaped by posing as a scout.” Telro chuckled mischievously.
“Hmm…a tricky one, eh?”
Telro smiled coyly back at the officer, the howling winter wind ruffling his fur coat. The officer breathed deeply.
“It sounds suspicious…you can stay, though. But, if I hear of any funny business…” The officer drew his finger over his throat and Zelda and Telro understood.
“I understand, sir.” Telro responded as the officer turned his horse and trotted away.
Ow…ow…oh goddesses, ow…Link pushed himself up slowly, waking up enough to see where he was. Huh..? No wonder I’m in pain…Link looked to his left and sure enough, he had fallen out of bed. He rubbed the sore spot on the back of his head, and yawned.
“Well, that was eventf…what in the..?”
Link looked around in shock, seeing snowflakes scattered everywhere like crystal confetti.
“How did that happen,” Link gazed at the window. “I wonder…”
Link got up and investigated. Sure enough, the window was slightly ajar. Must have left it open last night…oh, Nayru, I hope I don’t get sick…well, time to start the day! He caught sight of himself in the mirror. It took him a while to realize he was looking at himself in the mirror and when he did, he laughed. Link looked as if he had run into a bear in the middle of the night, with his hair messed up and his shirt twisted to the side. Slowly, he recalled he had a nightmare, but was unable to remember what it was about. Link shut the window, but realized he was colder than he should have been. Wait…what in the heck..?Did I..? Something else registered at that moment as well, making Link’s laughter die in an instant. It was replaced by a nervous laugh. Well, I know that whatever it was, it was terrifying…Link reasoned, changing into his tunic and tights. He was grateful no one was there to see him blush in embarrassment, ESPECIALLY Zelda. If it was THAT scary, it was probably another prophetic dream…it suddenly came rushing back. Link had been in an out-of-body experience of sorts, watching the war while unable to participate in it. He was impressed to see Zelda fighting as if it was second nature to her, but soon a Gerudo sneaked up behind her…Link tried to warn her, but she couldn’t hear him, and the sword came down…and that’s when Link realized he had fallen out of bed.
“Oh, goddesses…goddesses, I hope it isn’t…” Link paced around in panic. “I can’t fight right now! What am I gonna do…what am I gonna do…wait…what season was it in my dream? Let’s see…there wasn’t any snow…must have been spring, summer, or fall…in short, I need to get well enough to return to Hyrule…but what to do in the meantime? I’m trying to learn to read and write…but what about the stars? Or mathematics? How about medicine? Well, I can study that last one when all this is over, but…well, I can do basic math…let’s see if there is anything around I can use to teach myself a higher level of it…”
Link paced until he remembered when Rusl gave him a few books a long time ago.
“Where did I…the basement! Of course! Where I put everything I can’t use!”
He scurried downstairs. Link wanted to impress Zelda when…or if…he saw her again.
“Sheik…hello…are you in there?” Telro pawed the sleeping warrior desperately, panting tiredly. A bit of drool dropped onto Zelda’s forehead. It was cold enough to wake her up
“Huh...what? Oh…” Zelda rubbed her eyes. Through the darkness, she could just make out a white, furry outline. “Eww…” She said, wiping the slobber off her forehead. “What is it, Telro?”
“The officer…he wants…everyone to the middle of camp! Immediately…” Telro panted, gesturing for Zelda to follow him. She jumped up and followed him, knowing that if the officer called everyone to attention when it was dark, something interesting was going to happen. She followed Telro through the camp at a brisk pace, trying to keep up with his speed. Shortly, they arrived at the middle of the camp and joined the crowd around the central fire. The clashing of armor filled the air, as well as the sounds of conversation, but all was silent when the officer shouted for everyone’s attention.
“ALRIGHT! Listen up! The Gerudo army has been spotted just north of here. If we can advance quickly and quietly enough, we can take them by surprise…and end this once and for all!”
An uproar of agreement filled the air, but was hushed by a glare from the officer.
“Saddle up your horses, grab your armor, and follow me to their camp. When you arrive, get as close to the middle as you can, then start to attack people in their sleep…anyone. Steal nothing unless you absolutely need it…and if you can, attempt to kill their leader! Am I clear?”
“Good…now, let’s ride!”
Link awoke with a start. What in the…it’s still dark out! Why am I awake? The triforce on Link’s left hand shone brightly in the semi darkness of his house. Oh…it’s today! I’ve got to find Epona! Link leaped out of bed and dressed hastily. He gathered his bow and arrows, his shield, and a sword he had found by the river one day. It’s slightly dull, but it will have to do. Link raced out the door and called Epona to him. She seemed to understand the situation, because as soon as Link was in the saddle, she galloped to the bridge to Hyrule.
Zelda gripped Whirlwind’s reins, while Whirlwind pawed the ground. From on top of the hill, she could see the whole Gerudo camp, including a large tent where she assumed Ganondorf was. Whirlwind tried to surge forward, but Zelda yanked on the reins, trying to keep him still. In the process of trying to move, Whirlwind almost stepped on Telro. Telro jumped to the side and snarled up at Zelda.
“Control your blasted horse…”
“Sorry…Whirlwind is a little much for me…”
Telro grumbled something about “incompetent rider” and gazed down on the camp.
“Okay…are we going for that really big tent in the middle?”
“I believe so…”
“Okay…and rip the throat out of Ganondorf, right?”
“If you can…but be careful…” Whirlwind tossed his head, and Zelda gripped the reins tighter.
“Don’t worry about me…I’ll be fine.” Telro looked over at the officer, waiting anxiously for the go signal…everyone was. An eternity of silence and uneasiness passed, then the officer nodded. Telro slinked forward, and Zelda noticed how his paws made no audible sound when they hit the grass. Whirlwind saw Telro move, and took that as his cue. He surged forward into a full speed gallop, Zelda trying to slow him down the whole way to the camp. The rest of the army followed, each person hoping he wouldn’t be the first one caught…and to be the warning to the Gerudos of an ambush. Whirlwind galloped into camp, with Telro close behind. Zelda was immediately grateful Whirlwind had lost all of his shoes on the journey, as the grass muffled his hoof beats. Her heart beat mirrored Whirlwind’s hoof beats. Zelda was constantly afraid of being captured…they’d discover her secret for sure! She finally slowed him to a walk when she realized they had reached the center of the camp without being noticed or caught and breathed a silent prayer of thanks to the gods. Telro gestured for Zelda to follow him, and lurked into the tent where Ganondorf was expected to be. All was silent, until a vicious growl filled the air, the sound of a dog attacking, a smack, and a surprised whimper. Telro raced out of the tent with Ganondorf at his heels, and Zelda noticed that Telro’s mouth was bleeding, staining his snow white fur scarlet. She turned Whirlwind around and rode for her life towards the edge of the camp. She had almost reached it, but she was too late. Ganondorf had awoken the army, and the Gerudos made a human wall to prevent Whirlwind and Zelda from escaping. Zelda turned Whirlwind around and rode back in the direction she came. Whenever a Gerudo approached her, she hacked at the person, hoping she had done enough to kill them. Suddenly, Whirlwind slid to a stop in front of a collapsing tent, knocking Zelda off. He galloped off in another direction, and Zelda anxiously took up her sword and fought for life.
Link dug his heels into Epona’s sides urging her on faster. When he saw the Gerudo camp in the middle of the field, and noticed all of the commotion in it, he kicked Epona harder. Start without me, hey? Link hoped nothing bad had happened to Zelda before he arrived.
Shing! Shing! Clang! Zelda swung the Master Sword at a Gerudo, just barely escaping a spinning slash. With the agility of a true Sheikah, she side stepped the next blow, rolled behind the Gerudo, and stabbed her in the back. Looking around, Zelda noticed all the Gerudos surrounding her were dead or dying…except for the one sneaking up on her. Zelda didn’t notice the Gerudo until the Gerudo knocked the Master Sword out of her hand, hitting it far aside. Zelda looked over her shoulder to see a Gerudo on a tall horse, about to deal a fatal blow. Weaponless with low odds of survival, Zelda readied herself for the harsh blow…
…But it never came. She heard an all too familiar battle cry, the galloping of hooves, and the “shing!” of a sword being drawn from its sheath. A terrified cry preceded a muffled “thud,” and Zelda turned around to see Link and Epona standing behind her, with the dead Gerudo on the ground.
“Get on!” Link ordered, tossing Zelda the reins to the Gerudo’s horse.
Zelda swung onto the tall sorrel mare, realizing she would be much easier to control than Whirlwind. With this knowledge, she galloped in all directions in the camp, looking for another victim. Fiery arrows flew every which way, whizzing by her head. Tents started to catch fire, and one nearly exploded. There must have been lantern oil in that one… Looking around, though, no one was visible except for a small group of Gerudos in the middle of the camp. Zelda turned and galloped towards them, sword raised at the ready. One of the Gerudos raised a hand in a “stop” motion and gestured for Zelda to ride up to her. Zelda lowered her blade and slowed the horse down. Carefully, she walked up to the Gerudo, who said,
“We have decided to surrender to the Hylian Army, young man…if someone from your forces can defeat Ganondorf and another Gerudo in a two-on-two match.”
“Very well…I know someone who will, or at least one person.”
Zelda turned and rode off to find Link.
Link was enjoying a quiet moment with Epona near the outskirts of the camp when he heard the hoof beats of another horse. He looked over his shoulder to see Zelda and the sorrel mare cantering leisurely towards him. He turned Epona around and dismounted, waiting for Zelda with his horse. Zelda pulled the mare to a stop and jumped off. No sooner had her feet hit the ground than she was in Link’s arms, crying.
“I’ve missed you so much…”
“I know, I know…” Link pulled her closer, and Zelda was almost certain he was crying too. Though the camp was going up in flames just feet away, and the shrieks of the dying filled the air just as thickly as smoke, the noise died down and the flames were extinguished for just a few minutes…to Zelda and Link at least. “I’ve missed you too…” Link responded, calmly gazing upon the burning camp. “What just happened…”
“Surrender…that is, if two people can take on Ganondorf and another Gerudo and win…”
Link bore an excited expression. Be still, my beating heart…a chance to see if my wish came true! “Zelda…you know I will accept his challenge, but who else will…”
“No one is man enough…”
“But are you?”
Zelda felt her heart stop.
“You want me of all people to take on Ganondorf?!?!”
“With me at your side…anyway, look at how strong you have gotten…he wouldn’t stand a chance against the two of us…”
“I guess…but it’s too scary…”
“You never know what you are capable of unless you try…”
“You know,” Zelda admitted slowly, “You’re right…”
“I will fight with you, even if it means my death…”
Ganondorf and Ciceria, a well known bandit from the Gerudo Desert, stood in a ring of soldiers, jeering them on.
“Come on! Come on!” Ganondorf taunted. “Who is man enough to fight me…no one? A group of pansies you are, you Hylians!” He threw his head back and laughed.
“I’m not…” Link stepped into the ring, Zelda following him at his heels. He drew his sword and pointed it at Ganondorf’s throat. A chorus of “Ooooooooh” arose from the audience, along with excited whispers. Link ignored them and stayed with his eyes and sword locked on Ganondorf’s throat. The triforce on his hand shone softly.
“Back again, are you boy?” Ganondorf chuckled, pushing the sword aside as if it was a branch on a tree. “And who’s this?” Ganondorf glanced at Sheik. “Have we met before..?” It was posed as a question, but Zelda knew Ganondorf knew her real identity. “I know you…you’re Link’s boyfriend, now aren’t you?” He smiled, flashing his yellow teeth to them. People from the crowd started to laugh at him, and Link wasn’t able to shake off the rage.
“No…” Link replied coldly through gritted teeth, using all his strength to thrust his sword at Ganondorf’s throat and bear down on his dark skin. Ganondorf looked down at him in mock surprise.
“Very well…you have made your point,” He said, shoving the blade aside. “Let’s get this over with. The sooner you’re dead the better.”
Link, Ganondorf, Nabooru, and Zelda slowly circled around the ring, never once looking away. No one broke the chain until…
Zelda had caught an unexpected spinning slash from Ciceria on the Master Sword. DANG my reflexes are fast… Even Link was surprised by her reaction time. It was like she knew it was going to happen.
For a second, nobody moved. Then, total war broke out in the ring.
Shing! Shing! CRASH! Link had accidentally run into an armored knight in the audience. He quickly shook off the dizziness from the collision with metal, but he was still seeing double. He was unable to tell which of the two figures he saw before him Ganondorf was. He knew the other one was Zelda, and did not want to take chances, but time was precious during a battle. Link wondered if he could possibly trust the triforce’s power to attack the correct person in a last ditch effort. He closed his eyes and cleared his mind of everything, relying on pure instinct to guide him. Nothing happened at first, then Link felt a strong pull to his left and a burning sensation on the back of his left hand. In an instant, he knew it was the triforce guiding him. Link wasted no effort, running closer and estimating the difference, swung his sword when he guessed he was close enough. He heard a cry of pain, and felt a satisfyingly hard object being sliced away at near the end of his sword. Link felt a warm fluid spatter his face and arms, but wasn’t confident of the attack until he felt the ground shake and heard a jarring thud. Knowing whoever it was lay next to his feet, Link jumped and stabbed that same person, hearing a stifled cry of pain from two people, much to his surprise. At the same time, he felt like he had been shoved aside and fell over onto the ground. He opened his eyes to see Ganondorf mortally wounded on the dead grass, and Zelda lying close by, a gaping wound in her side. Ganondorf had accepted defeat, but with his last bit of strength, he had tried to kill Link by thrusting his sword at Link. When she realized Link could not see the oncoming attack, Zelda had shoved Link out of the way and had intercepted the blow. Link saw that the other Gerudo was dying, so he wasted no time in racing over to Zelda and kneeling at her side.
“Zelda?” Link gazed down at her anxiously. She didn’t look well, much less alive. “Can you hear me?” Link tried not to concentrate on her blood-soaked side.
“Link? Is that you?” Zelda asked tiredly, looking up at him, though Link knew her vision was blurred by the attack.
“Yes…yes…thank the gods, you’re alive!” Link smiled at her, though he would have taken her into his arms and kissed her for those four words…
“Probably not for much longer…I can barely see you, much less hear you…”
“The doctor…somebody!” Link called desperately to the audience, who had since closed in on them. “Someone! Call for the doctor!”
“No need to raise a ruckus, boy,” the doctor said, stepping out of the crowd. “I’m here.”
Link moved out of the way, yet remained at Zelda’s head. The doctor stepped in to see if there was anything he could do, and while he was investigating, Zelda spoke silently to Link.
“I know…so am I.”
“If the worst should happen…”
“Zelda, remember that shooting star we saw almost a year ago, and the goddesses promised our wishes would be fulfilled?”
“My wish came true…I only wanted you to see how blessed and talented you really are, and to stop underestimating yourself…look, you just defeated the most powerful person in the world…”
“But, you beat him several times. You’re the most powerful person in the land…”
“You still have me beaten…you’ve stolen my heart.”
Zelda smiled up at him.
“Who said mine wasn’t as well?” She asked him in reply.
Link felt like he had been the luckiest person to ever live…to hear that he had captured the heart of a princess. And who would ever have expected that from a farm boy who was orphaned at birth?
“Hey, boy…Link, wasn’t it?” The doctor piped up.
“Remove that cloth over your friend’s face…he’ll breathe easier.”
Link bit his lip. He didn’t want to refuse orders from a doctor, but did he want to expose Sheik’s true identity in front of everyone? Zelda answered for him.
“It’s okay, Link. I don’t mind if anyone knows…”
Link uncovered Zelda’s face, and a gasp of shock arose from a few people in the audience. A girl? Defeating the mighty Gerudo king? Much less, the Princess of Hyrule? It was just too weird. Link ignored them and let Zelda’s brownish-blond hair spill over his arm. He held her in his arms, desperate not to lose her...or at least to soften Death’s icy hand.
“I don’t know if I can do anything, Link…” the doctor said regretfully. “Might as well accept her departure…”
“No, wait…” Link remembered a spell he read in a book about medicine a few weeks ago. It was to give someone who was dying some of your health, but it was risky…overdone, it meant certain death…but Link decided to take his chances. He started to recite it, trying to pronounce to tricky old Hylian words in it.
“Link? What are you saying? Are you talking to yourself?” Zelda wondered.
Apparently, it was close enough. The triforce mark on Link’s hand started to shimmer with a soft glow.
He ignored Zelda and continued to recite the spell, the triforce mark glowing brighter by the second.
“What are you doing?” Zelda asked, some of the color returning to her face. When she felt the wound in her side begin to close up, she knew what he was doing.
“Link! Stop it! You’ll kill yourself!” Zelda cried, as the wound closed completely. She felt strong enough to smack him in the face and tell him to snap out of it, but she didn’t. Link had stopped talking. She noticed the color of his skin had faded the smallest amount from its usual slightly tanned color, and the triforce had faded to a soft grey. Zelda moved out of his arms and stood to the side. Anxiously, she awaited whatever would happen next.
Link knew he lacked the ability to do much, but he was determined not to give up just yet.
“Farore,” he pleaded softly. “Grant me just enough strength…”
To everyone’s utter disbelief, Link shoved himself off the ground and stood shakily before Zelda and the doctor.
“Why are we standing here? Can we go home?” Link asked no one in particular. Zelda noticed his knees quivering and knew he would soon fall over.
“Yes…” She started to ask for someone’s help in holding Link up, but Rako stepped from the crowd and steadied Link.
“Easy…” Rako said, as Link nearly fell into him. “Come on, stay awake until we can get you home…”
He didn’t get any response from Link.
“Come on…what’s your name, son?”
“Link…” He answered weakly. Rako felt as if he knew this weary soldier at his side…the name set off a memory, one that had been hidden away for years and had refused to reveal itself until that very moment…
“Who are your parents?” Rako asked, partly to keep Link conscious, and partly out of curiosity…
“I…I don’t know. I never met them…”
“Not even their names?”
“My mother…I’m not sure…I think she was kindhearted…died in childbirth…I’m an only child…my father…was a merchant…from Catalia…left to fight in the war before I was born…”
Rako and Zelda both carried the same seed of suspicion in their minds. Could he be..?
“How old are you?” Rako asked anxiously.
Zelda and Rako exchanged glances. Link was the right age…Rako fit the description of his father…their life stories meshed…
“Wait…” Rako remembered someone once had told him one thing about his son… “…do you have some sort of good luck charm?”
“No…unless you mean this…” Link gestured to the cord around his neck. “It was my mother’s…a blazing sun…I was found with it tied around my neck…”
Rako searched for the charm on the cord. He felt something cold and metallic between his fingers, and pulled it towards him. He saw an all-too-familiar sun pendant that looked exactly like the charm he had given Serena as a birthday present so many years ago…he would only be sure if he saw the back. Rako flipped it over, and though it had faded over the years, he could still see the inscription. Love you-always have, always will. Rako reasoned it out in his head. That pendant was one of five…and what were the chances of another one being inscribed with the same words? And, our lives fit so well together…good Nayru! This is my son…
“You may not know me, because I stepped out of your life before you met me…that charm around your neck was one of five just like it…and I gave one to my wife Serena many years ago as a gift…before I gave it to her, I had it inscribed with “Love you-always have, always will…” exactly like the one you have. Given how my life story fits with what I know of yours…and the low odds of another man leaving his family for a war, being a merchant from Catalia, and his wife dying in childbirth and leaving her only son, Link, with a pendant just like yours…I think I’m your father…”
Link looked up at Rako, searching his face for some sort of reassurance of this guess. The triforce on his hand glowed brightly, and to Link’s surprise, it was mirrored on Rako’s left hand. It was a sure sign from the gods…after eighteen years, what remained of a broken family had been reunited. Zelda watched, almost crying in joy, as a spark of familiarity lit up Link’s expression.
“Father?” Link asked incredulously, looking up at Rako. “Is is really you?”
Rako noticed the glowing triforce on his hand that perfectly matched the one on Link’s.
“The gods seem to think so…are they ever wrong?”
Link glanced over at Zelda, who nodded reassuringly at him. Eyes glittering with tears of joy, Link embraced his long-lost father. Rako looked shocked at first at the young man hugging him, but felt a sense of remembrance and returned it.
“Can we go home now?” Link asked Zelda over his shoulder.
“Sure, we…” Zelda spotted a mass of white fur at the edge of the clearing. “Not yet! Hold up for a minute.”
Link nodded respectfully and held the reins of Epona and Whirlwind (who had since been found calmly munching on grass outside the camp).
“Telro!” Zelda raced over to the fluffy whiteness as fast as her legs would carry her.
“Sheik?” Telro raised his head weakly, breathing heavily. “That you?”
“Yes, it’s me. And I’m not really Sheik, Telro. I’m Princess Zelda.”
“Zelda!” Telro panted, eyes wide with shock, as Zelda knelt beside him. “The princess! Befriending a Wolfos! My apologies for treating you as a commoner, your highness...”
“Don’t apologize, Telro. It’s all I ever wanted, to be treated just like everyone else. Plus, you saved my life…you have nothing to apologize for.”
“I don’t?” Telro asked, his voice becoming raspy from exhaustion.
“That’s right. Nothing. As a matter of fact, I thank you for saving me...” Zelda cradled his bloody muzzle in her hands and gently kissed it. “You’re a sweet Wolfos, Telro. I hope to meet another like you someday.” She brushed the dirt off the fur that was still white.
“Zelda…I think he shattered my jaw…I probably won’t make it…go on home with your friend and forget about me.”
“Telro…” Zelda said his name tenderly, tears clouding her eyes. “No…I can’t just let you die…”
“Sure you can…I’m just a mangy old mutt. Now go home and be happy.”
“No…I can’t be happy just leaving you here…Link!”
Link handed the reins to Rako and joined Zelda at Telro’s side.
“Link? The Hero of Time?” Telro’s eyes lit up when Link nodded. “I never thought I’d get to meet you! I’m honored.”
“As am I, to meet a Wolfos brave enough to turn against its leader.”
“Help me pick him up…” Zelda said, wishing she didn’t have to ruin the moment. “He’s a big dog…”
Link lifted Telro as effortlessly as if he had been a little puppy.
“What…” Telro looked around in shock. “What are you doing?”
“You saved my life,” Zelda explained. “Now I’m going to save yours. Link, hold onto him while I find a deer skin and some ropes. I’m going to make a harness and sled type thing so that sorrel mare can pull him back to the castle.”
“Okay…” Link said, watching Zelda race off. “Hey, Telro, was it?”
“You saved Zelda’s life?”
“I just put on an act and told another Wolfos to get Ganondorf to tell him of my hostage so, while my comrade was gone, I could let her go. Nothing big…I’m too weak to kill someone like her…”
“No, you’re too strong to bring yourself to that level…thank you for saving her.”
“You are welcome…anything for you, Link…”
“But you didn’t know she was the princess and saved her nonetheless…you have a good heart.”
Telro’s breathing slowed and his voice lowered to a whisper.
“I do…I guess…” He said, slowly losing consciousness with a smile on his face. Zelda returned with a long rope, an old cart harness, and a skin.
“Is he dead?”
Link felt for a pulse.
“No, just asleep…”
“Oh, thank Nayru…” Zelda said, poking holes in the skin with her sword and looping the rope through them. She then took the loose ends of rope and looped them through the harness, at a decent length with not too much slack. Zelda harnessed the mare and laid the skin, fur side up, on the ground. Link gently laid sleeping beastie on it and mounted Epona. Zelda tossed him a rope, with which he looped around the mare’s neck as to lead her back to the castle. Zelda rode behind the skin on Whirlwind to make sure Telro didn’t fall off, and they rode home to Hyrule Castle.
Zelda paced in the hallway outside the castle doctor’s room. His words echoed in her head. “I’m not a veterinarian, but I can try…” But Telro wasn’t just some animal. No, he deserved much more than a veterinarian. Something about him was downright human, so Zelda reasoned he would get the best care in Hyrule, if that was what it took to save him. “His jaw is shattered pretty badly. Even if I was able to piece it together again, he wouldn’t be able to movie it for a long time, and it would be hard for him to eat.” The doctor had suggested euthanizing him, but Zelda pitched a fit at the idea of killing her canine friend. For a minute, she stopped walking and looked out the window. It was a beautiful night, with the moon shining overhead and the stars twinkling like fireflies in the Lost Woods on a summer night. There wasn’t a single patch of fog or a breeze anywhere. All was still, bringing some peace to an anxious night. Soon, Zelda started pacing again, but she felt something catch her by the shoulder. She spun around to see Link gazing at her tiredly, pleading with her for something.
“Can I help you with something?” She asked.
“Zelda, it’s getting late; you really should get in bed. You can see Telro in the morning. Plus, he needs his rest, much like you.” Link yawned. “And me too.”
“Very well…” Zelda reluctantly followed Link back to their room.
Link had been in his pajamas for a while waiting for Zelda to return upstairs, so he immediately jumped in bed and let Zelda change. Zelda attempted to hurry, and tried to think of something to get her mind off Telro. Zelda started to walk into the bathroom, but guessed that Link was asleep and she didn’t have to bother with it and took her Sheikah clothes off in their room. Link sure is strange…he just falls asleep in a pair of shorts. I mean, I sure can’t fall asleep in my normal clothes. They’re too stiff and a bit heavy. Maybe Link’s aren’t…that’s a weird thing to think about…Zelda rolled her eyes at herself and pulled her nightgown over her head. Ah, much better. She let the light fabric fall down to her knees. Well, at least it is keeping my mind off of…oh, dangit. I tried. Zelda pulled the covers back and crawled into bed with Link.
“Maybe I just haven’t seen you in a while, but your figure looks terrific,” Link said, trying not to let Zelda see his mischievous smile.
“How would you know…” Zelda asked, and Link started to snicker. She realized what he meant and smacked him in the head with her pillow. By then, Link had started to laugh hysterically. “You peeping tom! You weren’t asleep after all!”
“So? I don’t like to strip down to nothing when I know you’re watching. Yes, we’re married, but we can still be decent, and I expect you to be decent as well.”
“It was only a joke! I didn’t mean it to bring on a lecture…who are you, my mother?”
“How would you know what your mother was like? She died giving birth to you.”
“Oh…then…” Link said, looking away, and Zelda realized she had struck the wrong chord.
“I’m sorry, Link. I didn’t mean to…”
“I…I know you didn’t.” Link looked back at her. “It’s okay…I’m used to it.”
“Yes, I know I am a bit strict with you, but I was raised that way and I tend to forget you weren’t. I’ll try to ease up, okay?”
“Good.” Zelda kissed him on the forehead. “Now, good night.”
“You can’t say that, because I know you won’t be able to fall asleep due to Telro.”
“How did you know that?”
“I just know these kinds of things…I know you too well.”
“Then, will you stay up and talk for a while? Please? So I can fall asleep?”
“Okay. What do you want to talk about?”
“Where did you learn that healing spell you used earlier today?”
“In a book on spells and magic pertaining to medicine.”
“How? You can’t read…”
“Yes I can. I learned how to read over the winter. The mayor taught me.”
“That’s great! Did you learn anything else?”
“Oh, all sorts of things…mathematics, some science, how to write, astronomy, and a lot about the Hylian system of government.”
“Do you know what that means?”
“That wish I made came true…for you to learn all sorts of things, so you would be a better king. You already have athleticism, wisdom, reason, cunning, courage, and character…all that was missing was academics.”
“So now I am better in your sight?”
“Not just for me, for the better of your country. Link, I am so proud of you…”
“Thanks, Zelda. That means a lot coming from you…I’m proud of you for discovering your full potential, too…”
“I have a question of morals…”
“What is it?”
“Is it okay to want something bad to happen for a good reason?”
“What do you mean?”
“Like, say…one of my friends started dating and, even if I knew it would break him, I wanted him to break up with his girlfriend because I sensed something strange about her?”
“Well, I don’t really know if there is an answer to that…I’d say it would be okay, because it is for a good reason, but you should probably talk to your friend if you think something strange about his girlfriend. Why? Do you…”
“No. I was just wondering.”
“Where do you come up with this type of question?”
“Oh, I don’t know. It just sort of pops into my mind.”
“I see…I have a question for you. If I had 19 cows to distribute between two farmers, and I couldn’t give away, kill, or keep the last cow, how would you decide who gets the extra cow?”
“If they both wanted it, I’d disguise myself as a traveler and go to both their houses. I’d give the cow to the more hospitable farmer. If there was a tie, I’d give it to the one who needed it more. Kind deeds do not go unrewarded.”
“Interesting…you think in a different way than most people do. I would have given it to the farmer who had fewer cows.”
“Oh, did I get it wrong?”
“No, it was an open-ended question. You’re very smart, and you’ll be a fine king.”
“Oh, good. Thanks.”
Neither of them spoke for a while, but when a wolf howled in the distance, Zelda broke the silence.
“Link…” She said, taking him by the wrist and shaking his arm until he responded.
“Are you thinking of him?”
“I don’t know what to say…I’m not good at starting conversations.”
“I don’t know either.”
Link contemplated something, and decided it would work. He pulled Zelda on top of him, and she looked at him confusedly.
“I don’t want you to think of Telro,” Link said with all the seriousness he could muster. “I want you to think only of me…”
“Shh…” Link placed a hand over her mouth. “I love you and I don’t want to see you worried, because it worries me to see you like that. Now, try to forget about Telro, please…”
Link slowly moved his arms from his sides and wrapped them around her waist. He gently kissed her on the cheek.
The night passed quickly, and Zelda found herself half awake, wondering what exactly had happened during the night. Slowly, she was able to recall bits and pieces of the night. We came home…I was so upset about something I can’t quite remember…Link tried to take my mind off it with…Zelda smiled to herself. He really knows what makes me tick…good thing he was half awake or we might have…anyway…what was so bad? Zelda’s memory came back all at once.
“TELRO!” She exclaimed, sitting bolt upright and springing awake. “I wonder if he’s okay…” She jumped out of bed and raced down to the doctor’s room, and surprisingly, Link slept through all the commotion.
When Zelda got there, the door was still closed, and there was a “Do Not Disturb” sign hanging on the door. She decided to forget about it, as the sun was up, and knocked on the wooden door. She listened hard and heard faint footsteps from the inside, getting gradually louder and louder. There was a click, and the door opened, squeaking a bit on its old hinges.
“Your Highness, if you don’t mind, it is early. Would you come back at a later hour?” The doctor asked, rubbing the tiredness from his eyes.
“I would mind. How is Telro?”
“I honestly don’t know…I tried to piece his jaw back together, but I have no clue whether it will heal…or if he will even wake up…”
“No! Don’t tell me you think he might…”
“Die? Possibly. Your Highness, he is only an animal…I wouldn’t get so worked up about it. And anyway, he might just be asleep. He did lose a lot of blood from the wound, so he is probably weak.”
“Can I see him?”
“Very well, but do not wake him up. He needs to rest.”
Zelda nodded and solemnly followed the doctor into the room. The floor was wooden, as were the walls. There was a medium sized window on the far side of the room, the width and height maybe about the same length as Zelda’s arm span. Sunshine beamed in through the window, and there was a mass of white fur in a bed on the side of the room near the window. It was just barely in the shadows, so Zelda could not tell from a glance whether the creature was breathing or not. She creeped up to its side and breathed a sigh of relief when she saw the fur moving up and down. He was still alive.
“Telro…” She whispered, stroking the fur on his side. “Oh, Telro, wake up…or at least show me you’re okay…”
For a long time, nothing happened. Telro remained asleep, and Zelda felt as if she was about to have a heart attack from the suspense. Then, the mass of matted fur and mud stirred. Telro blinked and glanced down at his side.
“Who…who is that?”
“It’s me, Zelda. Thank the gods! You’re alive.”
“Yeah,” Telro grinned the best he could. “Alive and kicking.”
“Does all that hurt?”
“Not really…the doctor gave me some medicine for the pain…that’s why I can talk to you.”
“Oh…do you think you’ll be okay?”
“I’m a soldier. Of course I’ll be okay…” Telro winced. “It’s wearing off…it hurts to move my mouth…”
“Then don’t talk anymore. I have to get back upstairs before Link notices I’m gone…”
Before Zelda could say anything else, Telro fell back asleep. She silently left his bedside and hurried back upstairs.
Zelda pushed her bedroom door open, and was surprised to see Link still asleep. Thank the goddesses…he’d be quite a hellion if I woke him up too early…Zelda tried not to make any noise as she curled up under the blankets again. Apparently, Link had heard her.
“Where have you been?” Link asked sleepily, remaining still and with his back to her.
“Oh, I just went to check on Telro…he’s alive, thank Nayru.”
“Whatever…are you going to let me go back to sleep for once?”
“Okay, but just because I kept you up late…”
Zelda got up to get dressed, and was about to change when she remembered the previous night and slipped into the bathroom. She didn’t want to risk doing the same foolish thing twice.
~A Month Later~
“So, what exactly is going on?” Telro asked, following Zelda through the hallways anxiously, his claws going click click clickety click on the waxed wooden floor of Hyrule Castle.
“It’s a…surprise we have arranged for you…to thank you for all you’ve done and to celebrate your good health.” Zelda explained, turning a corner and stopping at a tall door. “Now, wait here until the guards let you in,” She said, racing off somewhere.”
“Where are you going?”
Telro shrugged in his doggish way and contemplated the carvings on the door. There was an intricate design, almost like a rose vine, surrounding the perimeter of each of the doors. Thorns rose from the vine occasionally, and just inside the vines, there was a landscape. Rolling hills reached halfway up the doors, with a bright shining sun rising just above them. In front of the sun and the hills, overlapping half onto the sky and the land, was the royal phoenix, with a golden triforce between its wings. It certainly was beautiful, but Telro was about to see the beauty the doors concealed within. The doors opened slowly, and the guards stepped aside. Telro swallowed hard and walked down the center of the room.
His claws stopped clicking along the floors when he stepped onto a deep blue carpet, leading down the center of a large group of people. Telro walked tentatively at first, terrified of the immense number of people standing there, watching his every movement, but held his head high and walked with authority as he neared the throne, his tail streaming behind him like a snowy white banner. The national flag of Hyrule hung on both walls, and there was that phoenix again, just above the thrones. Telro almost jumped when, all at once, twenty guards drew their swords and formed a tunnel with them high above his head. He still wondered what was going on, but knew he would never forget the sound of a sword that, for once, was not being drawn to end his life. A hush fell over the room when Telro stopped just in front of the throne, bowing his head in reverence.
Link couldn’t help but notice how nicely the hair had grown back over the wound on Telro’s face to the point where it looked as if nothing had ever happened. Sadly, it was still thin in some parts, but the scar gave Telro a demanding presence. He snapped back into the present when Zelda nudged him and he stepped forward to stand in front of Telro, so close that his boots were almost touching Telro’s muzzle.
“Telro of…the Gerudo tribe...” Link began. “You have shown your great courage over the past year…you have rebelled against your king, the dark lord Ganondorf…you have received a battle injury for the sake of a country that was not yours to begin with…but which you felt pride for anyway. And, most importantly, you risked your own life for that of the princess…is all this truth?”
“Then, Telro of the Gerudo tribe…” Link drew the Master Sword from its sheath, and tapped Telro once on each of his shoulders. “I dub you Sir Telro, Knight of Hyrule. You shall be the first person from your tribe to receive this honor…and hopefully, not the last. Rise, and may this day forever live in history!”
Telro raised his head to look at Link, who smiled back down at him. The crowd cheered insanely, and Telro strode back out the way he entered.
Though it tore him to leave the people who had honored him so much and had accepted him though he was an outsider, Telro approached Link and Zelda out in the courtyard late that night.
“I must leave,” He told them. “It is not fitting for me to stay here. I must return to the desert, where I belong. My tribe has been devastated by the war, and it is my duty to help it rebuild itself in a way that would be more acceptable to the royal family.”
“We understand,” Link said, taking Zelda’s hand in his.
“But we hate to see you go,” Zelda said to him.
“Princess Zelda…I have gotten to know you so well, I can only hope that our paths will cross again…I’m sure they will, gods willing. And as for you, Link, I say the same.”
“The sun is setting, and soon, my tribe will be howling for me. I must leave, but I wish the best of luck to both of you, and in my tribe’s custom, I pray that any wish you make will come true…”
“Telro, Telro, Telro…” Link shook his head, as Telro trotted off into the growing night. “If only you knew…” He looked up at the stars overhead on the cloudless, perfectly clear night, then glanced over at Zelda. “I can speak for both of us…and say they already have…”
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