“No!!! You can’t do this!” Zelda was desperately trying to get her father to listen. He wouldn’t even look at her. His eyes were hidden from view under a blood red cloak.
“He was hiding you from the royal guards! It is a punishment worthy of death.” His voice was cold and hard. This was very unlike him.
“Father! What is wrong with you?! I know you would never kill anyone! This is the Hero of Hyrule!” She stomped her foot on the ground,
“I refuse to let you kill him!” The King didn’t move, his harsh voice developed a mocking ring.
“You silly girl… you have no power. The decision is mine and mine alone! He shall be hung by sunset tomorrow!” He lifted himself off the ornate throne and walked through the hall leading to his quarters.
Zelda couldn’t believe her father. He had never acted so… so cold before.
Link groaned as he shifted his position on the stiff wooden bed. He opened his eyes, slowly and painfully, allowing the darkness of the cell greet them with the melancholy grayness of stone. His head throbbed with piercing pain as he attempted to look around his surroundings. His gaze was met with iron bars and endless stone walls. The only thing that was slightly cheering to a cell bound soul, was the barred window, far above his head, which allowed a limited amount of light through. Despite his headache, Link managed to pull himself upright. This did him no good, for instantly, a wave of pain rushed through him, causing him to bring his head down to his knees, gritting his teeth and clenching his chained fists. Heavy footsteps echoed hollowly against the outer walls just outside the prison cell containing Link. Link lifted his head slightly, blonde bangs covering his face. His deep blue eyes looked dull and glazed as he peered past the screen of hair to his visitor. Heavy armor breast plates, greasy black hair, and a rich red robe told him it was the captain. He stuck a key in the lock and with a click and the scraping of metal, the door opened. The captain planted his feet in front of Link, who kept his head lowered, and sniggered, placing two large, gnarled hands on his hips.
“Well, I see the hero is coming around.” He grabbed Link’s face tightly and pulled it up to his. His eyes were black and cold.
“When your hung tomorrow morning, I’ll make sure the rope is nice and tight for you.” A malicious smile spread across his liquid white face. He brought back a hand and struck Link hard across the face, sending him spiraling against a wall. Dazed, Link looked up at him with blurred vision, warm blood now creeping down the back of his neck.
“So, I guess the Hero of Time can’t wriggle his way out of every trap, can he?” The captain laughed wickedly and spun on his heels to leave Link sitting in the dark cell.
Zelda’s face was buried in her hands.
“This is all my fault….” She mumbled to herself. Why had she been so stupid? She shouldn’t have stayed with Link. Now her dearest friend was to be hung because of her mistakes….because she ran away. His death would always be with her. If he died, she would never be able to forgive herself. He was the only one who understood her and was always there when she needed him. She brought her head up. And now he needed her. Now realizing what she must do, she jumped to her feet and ran to her dresser. She grabbed the black cloak. Suddenly behind her, she heard a soft clanging of metal, almost like little bells. She whipped around to find a pair of keys where thrown under her door. Zelda rushed over and picked them up.
“Thank you Impa…” She whispered, putting the small silver keys into a large pocket on the inside of the cloak. Turning back to her dresser, she was ready to execute the brilliant plan forming in her mind.
“Huh?” A sleepy guard snapped his head up. He looked from side to side, scanning the long narrow halls.
“Hmmm….coulda sworn I heard som‘um” He scratched the back of his head and shrugged, deciding he was just hearing things because he was tired. That was not the case. Lurking in the shadows, just out of sight, was a cloaked Zelda holding a small bag. She peered around the corner to see that the guard was dozing off again. However she hadn’t noticed another guard’s spear propped against the wall next to her. She stepped forward into the light, but quickly shot back after hearing it clatter to the ground. The guard jumped to his feet and grabbed up his spear.
“Hey! Show yourself!” He barked. He ran down the hall and started to turn the corner.
“I know your h…..ACK!” Zelda laid it across his head with great force, causing the fallen, wooden spear to splinter and the guard to collapse in a heap on the cold floor. She pulled the unconscious pile to the darkest corner, hiding him from other’s view. Luckily, no one heard the shriek, so her presence was not betrayed for the moment. She looked around the corner once more and crept along the wall, searching the cells. Finally, she reached a dark, lonely cell with a figure slumped over in a damp corner. Immediately, she realized the dark green stranger was in fact Link. Zelda ran over and grabbed the bars, getting as close as possible.
“Link!” She hissed watching the hero in such a sad state. Slowly, his dirt covered, blonde bangs swept to the side as two cloudy eyes gazed at the hooded princess in front of him.
“Zelda?…” His voice was soft and questioning.
“Shhh…I going to get you out.” She flipped through the ring of assorted keys until she pushed the correct one in to the lock and opened the giant iron door. Hurriedly, she ran to Link’s side and grabbed the chain lock. Once again, she searched for the correct key to open it. Sliding off his wrists and hitting the floor like a shower of metal beads, the chain was unbound. Zelda helped the wounded boy off the floor and grabbed his hand, leading him out of the prison. They raced along the corridor until the light of a nearby torch spilled on the wall near the exit in front of them. The two ducked behind a crate just as a guard came striding toward them. Without warning, Link quickly jumped in front of him, for they would have been seen too late, and grabbed the end of his spear. With a quick motion and the other end still in the guards hand, he jumped up and smacked him square in the forehead, flipping over him and landing safely on the other side, with the spear in hand. He tossed the long weapon to the side and placed a hand on his green cap lightly. He swayed a little, vision getting blurry and head still throbbing. Zelda grabbed him and they continued their endless sprint through the courtyard, ducking behind bushes and dodging the sight of any one. Link’s breathing was heavy and pained. His head felt like it was going to explode. The pain was almost unbearable, but he had to keep running, for Zelda’s sake as much as his own. Soon the were half way through Hyrule Market. Link ducked behind an alleyway and stopped. Beads of sweat were forming on his forehead, already scratched from creeping through the rose bushes. He was panting hard, trying to catch his long lost breath.
“Zelda….I can…make it ….from here on out…..you….need to go back…” Zelda too was trying to get her breath.
“No, Link….I’m coming with you.” He looked up at her with uncertainty. She slipped the black hood off and let it fall on her shoulders. Link sighed. He wouldn’t protest. He would always obey her, and she had infinite wisdom, he believed in her. She smiled and put a thin hand on his cheek.
“Don’t worry, I have a plan….
Link started to pile his few belongings into a small leather bag. He slowly reached for his shield and sheath, strapping them to his back. It reminded him of his days roaming the land, fighting and searching everywhere for a clue that might lead to Zelda’s whereabouts, if she was still alive at all. Finally, he grabbed the hilt of the Knight’s Blade and held the sword up, watching it reflect the moonlight as he carefully sheathed it. He swung the bag over one shoulder and turned to face Zelda. She was leaning against the wall with one shoulder, looking up at the raven-cloaked sky. Her eyes lowered to his and she smiled. Link was suddenly overcome with a strange emotion. He couldn’t stop staring into her eyes. It was like somehow her gaze had frozen him. This had never happened before. A look of concern flooded Zelda’s face.
“What’s wrong?” Link quickly shook his head and brought his eyes to the floor.
“Uh…nothing….nothing…..” Zelda lifted an eyebrow, more with uncertainty that anything else. Link noticed and tried to cover up with a smile. Seeming to buy his little act, she turned and scanned the rest of the room, making sure Link didn’t forget anything.
“Alright, we’d better head out before we’re discovered. I think we have enough food for a while and we’ve got plenty of rupees.” Before Zelda had fled the castle with Link, she packed two simple cotton dresses, a handful of golden rupees, and a few personal belongings. Link walked to her side and placed a friendly hand on her shoulder.
“Are you sure you want to do this, Zelda?” He already knew what the answer would be, but felt he had to ask anyway, just to ease his conscious a little, knowing she truly wanted to do this.
“Yes, more sure than I’ll ever be…” She smiled and looked up at him, putting a hand over his. Reluctantly, he released her shoulder and walked out to Epona, who was waiting patiently for them. He strapped his and Zelda’s bags to each side of the saddle and placed one leather boot in the stirrup. Swinging his leg over the side, he motioned for her to sit behind him. Zelda reached up and took his hand, pulling herself onto the saddle as well.
“Let’s go.” He tapped the mare’s side with his heels, starting her in a brisk trot. They rode on the familiar dirt path leading to Hyrule Field. They cut across the field like a knife, slicing through the air, wanting to get to their destination as fast as possible. They reached a small stream with many trees and a large boulder sitting near. The clear water tumbled over small rocks and other debris. Little whirlpools swirled and churned in the water, making it look alive. Link slid down the saddle with great ease and lifted his arms to help Zelda down. Link led Epona to the cool, crystal water and let her drink, splashing some water on his own face. His head still hurt, but the cool water subsided it for the moment. Earlier, Zelda had cleaned the wound on the back of his head and wrapped it with a white cloth. She started to undo the leather straps that bound the bags to the horse. Link stood up and walked to the rock, studying it. He tapped it with his fist lightly and put his ear to it. He nodded and, placing his hands on it’s rough surface, pushed it over to the side, revealing a small hole. Zelda tied Epona up to a tree next to the hole and joined Link. Carefully, he examined the wooden steps leading down. He went down first, closely followed by Zelda. He pulled the large rock back over the hole and continued down. Once at the bottom, Link pushed a small wooden door open and stepped inside. It looked like a cottage on the inside. It had a blanket on the floor, and a small table, joined by a chair, nestled in the corner. This is where Link used to stay before be built his house at Lake Hylia. It was built for one person, but it would have to do for now. Zelda placed the bags in the corner and untied the black cloak. Her long blonde locks tumbled out and set down, past her shoulders. Link stood there admiring her, until she turned around and smiled at him. He returned the smile, and proceeded to fixing up the temporary home. All of their things remained in the bags, except for the quilt Zelda brought along. Link pulled out two chunks of bread for them to eat, along with a strip of homemade jerky. Their meal was finished quickly and quietly and they brought themselves to bed. Link unbuckled his boots and left them in the corner, along with Zelda’s shoes. The blanket that had already been there when they arrived acted as a mattress and Zelda’s quilt rested on top of them. Link’s eyelids were heavy and his head would annoy him with pulsing pangs. Sleep seemed to be the best thing in the world at this point. His slow, heavy breathing told Zelda that he had fallen asleep before her. The day’s events would have been normal for her a couple months before when she was helping Link as Sheik. The only thing that bothered her though was a deep feeling of danger that she had only experienced once before; just before she fled the castle with Impa seven years ago.
Forks of lightning split through the sky, tearing the deep violet night in two. The graveyard was empty, save one small girl. The torrential downpour of rain flowed from the sky and pelted the girl’s shoulders, soaking her black dress. Her blonde hair dripped and hung limp around her shoulders and head. Her shadowed face was hung close to the ground. A single tear fell as she knelt in front of the fresh grave. Zelda was standing at the entrance to the graveyard. The harsh wind swept the rain into her face, stinging her cheeks. She held an arm up to shield her face and rushed to the child’s side. Poor girl…she must have lost someone close to her heart. Zelda was familiar to the feeling, but this just seemed a little too familiar. Zelda put a comforting hand on the little girl’s shoulder trying not to startle her at the same time, but the girl already knew she wasn’t alone. When she turned, Zelda almost fell back, covering her mouth and staggering with shock. This girl was Zelda at 6 years of age. Her blue eyes were flooded with tears as she mourned the loss of a loved one. Her black dress whipped and swirled at her ankles, caught in the wind. The mixture of wind and rain ripped at the both of them, seeming to go right through their skin. Lightning illuminated the name on the headstone revealing a name forgotten by the kingdom 11 years ago: her mother’s. The blonde six year old clutched a small silver lily. Her head lowered once more as she pointed to another grave. Zelda saw the tombstone and walked to the grave. This one was not familiar however and seemed to be fresh also. A blood red rose was placed on it, undeterred by the brutal weather. Zelda knelt down and put a hand on the ice cold stone, leaning in to read the engraving. It was simple but clear. The words made Zelda’s blood run cold. Six simple words seemed to tear apart her life; Here lies the Hero of Time…
Zelda gasped and sat bolt upright in bed. Her heart was pounding loudly against her ribs. She looked around the room to see she was still in the underground cottage. Cold sweat ran down her cheek and her face was as white as a sheet. Lying next to her, Link was still sleeping soundly. She watched his sides rise and fall with each easy breath. Alive…the thought was greeted with a heavy breath of relief. Link’s muscular arm lay limp and heavy next to his side. Butterflies started flitting in her stomach. What was wrong with her? She shook her head.
“I must be hungry…” She whispered to herself. She pushed the quilt to the side and stretched her legs. Her limbs were stiff from sleeping on just a small blanket, but she’d get used to it. She dragged herself to the small chair in the corner and plopped down, laying her arm on the table next to her. Even though she had just woken up, she was more tired than before she went to sleep. She brushed a stray strand of blonde hair to the side and rested her head on her arm, letting her thoughts wander for a while. She quickly found her self contemplating her nightmare. She looked over to Link, still lost in sleep. Why had his name been on a tombstone? She had had dreams that foretold events before, but this couldn’t be true….this couldn’t be a prophecy. The image of Link’s grave flashed in her mind. She felt a sting in her chest and was overcome with a powerful emotion. She felt like bursting into tears and screaming at the top of her lungs. What is wrong… it was only a silly dream. She had to reassure herself though. She rushed to Link’s side and placed a hand on his arm, wanting to see his eyes open and hear his voice. He stirred a little, still not quite conscious. He blinked and noticed a hand was on his arm. He brought his head up and looked up to see two big blue eyes looking back. Zelda’s golden hair was tickling his cheek and she smiled when he rose from the warm quilt.
“Good morning Link!” She was beaming at him. Inside, she was just glad he was breathing. She hugged him tightly. Link’s eyes widened, but he returned the unexpected embrace, a little surprised. Then he pulled away and grinned.
“Well, what are you so happy about today?” That was when Zelda had realized what she had just done. She certainly wanted to hug him, but she didn’t exactly mean to do it. I mean it felt good but…
“Oh, um…uh…nothing…I…just…uh…” Link put a finger to her mouth, grin still plastered on his face.
“It’s alright, I was just kidding.” She smiled back, cheeks a light shade of pink. Link put a hand on the floor and brought himself to his feet. He pushed his messy bangs out of his face and looked around.
“So are you hungry?” Zelda stood and dusted herself off, shrugging. Link took that as a yes. He went to his bag and started digging in it for some food.
“My people, listen to me!!!” The King’s voice boomed. The large room was packed with hundreds of people. His face was still buried in shadows beneath the blood red cloak.
“Yesterday, a criminal was apprehended. He had tricked my daughter to stay with him and held her captive, hiding her from the royal guards. But somehow, he managed to escape from prison late last night. We expect he used some form of sorcery to get out. However, he was eager to resume his plot to destroy my fair kingdom. He kidnapped Princess Zelda and fled. We can only hope he hasn’t already done away with her. This felon is none other than the so called Hero of Time: Link.” The crowd buzzed with the new information. Some nodding their heads and some just too shocked to speak.
“Please! If you see him, bring him back alive! We want him to have his proper punishment!” Some people in the crowd cheered, thinking that the King’s words were the only truth. In the middle of the whole crowd stood a pretty red head with a plain dress on, and big, round blue eyes. An expression of shock, terror, and disbelief was painted on her round face. She was a little younger than Link and Zelda. Her name was Malon. Talon, the owner of Lon Lon Ranch, was her father. She had a thin hand up to her mouth. Shaking her head, she refused to believe Link would do such a thing. He had saved her beloved horse and friend Epona, from Ganondorf. They had been friends ever since she was 10. Her nickname for him was fairy boy, because he used to have a guardian fairy named Navi. Navi helped Link through his adventure, targeting enemies and telling Link their weaknesses. Occasionally, she would give helpful advice, but she sort of had a knack for pointing out the obvious and could get a little on the annoying side. But Link did enjoy her company throughout most of his task and was sad to see her go. Malon pushed through the crowd to the exit and made a mad dash back to the market. She had to get back to the ranch and find Link, before anyone else did. She knew just where to start.
Zelda’s hands moved swiftly over the fabric as she mended Link’s tunic. Out of the few things Zelda did bring, a needle and thread was one of them. Link’s tunic was torn when he was literally thrown in jail, so now he was just wearing his white undershirt and a pair of light brown pants. He was kneeling on the floor, tending to the dug-out fireplace he made. It did tend to get chilly underground. He stood up and clapped his blackened hands together, sending a light, mist-like cloud of soot to the ground. He glanced over at the doorway.
“Well, I’d better go get some more firewood. We’re running low.” Zelda looked up from her work, a worried look on her ivory face. Her cheeks seemed to glow with the light of the fireplace. Link noticed her expression and smiled.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.” He grabbed his sword and reached into his bag, pulling out a long brown cloak. He had used it to travel through the Dessert Colossus on his way to save Nabooru, the Gerudo Sage of Spirit. This saucy red-head found Link to be quite handsome and developed a great liking for him. Still, she realized they were not meant to be and was satisfied that they had a good friendship.
Link opened the door and walked up the dusty stairway. Carefully, he put his hands underneath the boulder and rolled it to the side. He looked around to make certain that no one would see him and crawled out of the hole. He pushed the boulder back into place. Epona nickered softly at the sight of him and tossed her head. He stroked her muzzle and scratched behind her ears, smiling lightly to himself. Tying an old, large rag to the side of her saddle, Link hopped up on Epona’s back and pressed his heels on her sides. He turned and silently made his way to the nearby woods.
Malon dashed to the stables and grabbed a dark brown horse.
“Oh, oh, oh….” Malon was going as fast as possible. She was visibly trembling with worry. What if the guards found Link first? What if he was killed? What if he really had gone mad and kidnapped the princess? Malon quickly pushed those thoughts out of her mind and continued fastening the leather saddle to the whinnying horse. She lead the horse outside and jumped up on it’s back. Clicking with her tongue and kicking her heels, Malon urged the horse to gallop. It’s hooves pounded the ground, kicking up dirt and ripping the grass beneath them. She would have to go as fast as this horse would bring her to reach her destination before sunset.
Hours had already passed in the thick woods. Link had an armful of dry wood in the tattered rag. A few more thick pieces and he would be ready to head back. He scanned the forest floor for dead branches and fallen trees. After only a minutes worth more of searching, he found an old, dried up tree lying on the ground. Placing his bundle on a large rock, he pulled out his sword. He mentally marked where he was going to cut the wood and prepared himself. Holding the sword high above his head, he brought it down. With one swift motion, the sword sung as it cut through the air and sliced the wood through the middle. It was almost like cutting butter for Link. His arms where like iron and his sword was always sharp, so jobs like these would be a little easier. He continued cutting and chopping until he had a neat pile of fire worthy wood. A few chunks he cut into thin strips for kindling. Link wiped his forehead with the back of a gauntleted hand and sheathed the shining blade. He wrapped up the rest in the rag and slung it over his shoulder, making his way back to the underground cottage. Link picked his way trough the undergrowth and climbed over rocks and other debris. All the way he listened to the sweet melody of the birds and chirping insects. His headache was considerably better and the gash on the back off his head was on it’s way to a good healing. Hopefully it wouldn’t leave a mark. He doubted it would anyway. Link was nearing the edge of the forest when his ears caught a far off noise….hoof beats. His heart started to beat faster and he blocked out all other noise, focusing on the rhythmic pounding. It was getting progressively louder, meaning whoever was coming was probably looking for him or Zelda. Link dashed to the outer trees and ducked behind one, trying to catch a glimpse of the stranger. His blood turned to ice. He could make out the person standing right in front of the entrance to his hideout. He heard a feminine voice echo across the space between them and suddenly realized who it was.
“Link!!!” It was Malon’s voice. She was searching around the boulder. She knew about his temporary home and thought that was where he must have been. Inside, Zelda was gripped with fear. She did not recognize the ranch girl’s voice. What would she do? What if Link was found? What if she was found? Beads of sweat started to form on her forehead. She ran to the door and looked up the passageway. She ran back inside and started pacing back and forth.
“Oh no, oh no, oh no….” she whispered to her self in despair. She stopped pacing when she heard the most frightening thing…..silence. Had they heard her? Then, the sound of hooves started up again. This time they were going away. Malon had noticed Epona by the woods and was heading in that direction. She stopped the brown horse next to Epona abruptly, causing it to whinny sharply. She jumped down to the soft grass and looked around, not seeing signs that anyone was or had been here.
“Link?” She didn’t know if he would hear her at all if he was even there. The blonde shadow stepped into sight, right in front of Malon. He had been standing behind the tree next to her and she hadn’t even noticed. She though not even a hound would have noticed him there, he was so deathly silent. She ran to Link and squeezed him tightly.
“Oh Link! You’re alright!” He wasn’t surprised about the hug, Malon was a cuddly kind of person, but he was surprised that she had been looking for him to make sure he wasn’t injured. She looked up and saw the bandage on Link’s head.
“Your head, is it okay?” She seemed a little frightened.
“Yeah, it‘s fine, but how did you know I’d be here, and how did you know I was in danger?” Malon stepped back and lowered her head, pulling a piece of bright red hair through her fingers.
“The King held a town meeting. He told everyone that you took the princess and hid her from the guards. When you were caught and thrown in jail, you used sorcery to escape and kidnap the princess. Everyone in Hyrule is looking for you. They were told to bring you back alive so you can be punished properly….” Her big, deep blue eyes came up to his, wide and damp.
“Link….they’re going to kill you….” Link was shocked. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“That’s a lie! I would never do anything like that!” Malon brought her head lower again.
“I knew that. That’s why I had to find you and warn you. I didn’t try to tell anyone else. I knew they wouldn’t listen.” Link shook his head.
“I don’t understand, why would the King say that?” Malon twisted her hair around her finger even tighter.
“I don’t know…” her voice trailed off and she shut her eyes. She was pondering the King’s lie. Her eyes wandered back up to Link’s.
“Where is the princess?” Link blinked and pointed to the hideout in the distance.
“Zelda was the one who freed me from prison. She insisted that she come with me when we fled from the castle.” Link picked up the sack of firewood he dropped when Malon hugged him and lashed it to Epona’s saddle. He jumped up and motioned for Malon to follow him as she climbed up on her brown horse as well. They rode quickly to the giant gray boulder.
Zelda was listening very closely. Even a ladybug scuttling across the wall would have sounded loud in the silence of the cave. It was like a tomb. Adrenaline was coursing through her veins. Her eyes widened as she heard multiple hooves on the earth outside. The were drawing nearer with every second. There was no doubt in Zelda’s mind that their destination was where she was hiding. She had to protect herself. She wouldn’t be taken back. Not ever. She snatched up Link’s bag and dug through it looking for anything to fight the approaching danger with. She closed her hand over a smooth wooden bow and took it out, along with the quiver. The riders stopped just outside the boulder. She could hear it scrape against the dirt as it was rolled to the side. Zelda pulled an arrow straight, aiming it at the door. There was no way in hell they would take her back alive. Footsteps pounded on the wooden steps and rang in her ears. Zelda’s muscles tightened and she pulled the arrow further back. Slowly the door creaked open and the footsteps ceased. She narrowed her eyes to see the shadowed strangers. The tallest, brown cloaked shadow stepped forward.
“Zelda, it’s alright…” Link’s voice drifted softly to her from under the cloak and she suddenly recognized it. He pulled the hood off and pushed the cloak off his shoulders. Zelda loosened the string and let the bow and arrow slip from her grasp and fall to the dirt floor. She sunk to her knees and put a hand on her chest. She almost killed Link…
“You…you scared the life out of me….” Zelda panted, shakeing her head.
“You scared me too,” Link laughed softly, pointing to the bow. Zelda tried to smile, but couldn’t force herself to do it.
“I could have killed you….” Tears came to her eyes at the thought of it, but she blinked them back. Malon, who was watching in awe behind Link, stepped forward and curtsied, her red hair tumbling over her shoulder.
“ I’m glad to see you again, Princess Zelda. If only it were a happier occasion…”
“Malon! You’re here!” Zelda jumped to her feet. She thought about the voice outside. It must have been Malon’s. How stupid she had been not to recognize it. Link stepped forward, a hint of moroseness in his eyes.
“Zelda, please sit down,” he glanced at Malon, “we have some important things to tell you.”
“Do it.” the king ordered.
“But your highness,” Impa begged the king, “ do you really mean for me to kill the Hero of Time?” His eyes were still hidden, but Impa felt his burning stare on her.
“Yes, if you see him, you destroy him,” he stepped dangerously close, “and if you don’t, I’ll have you banished. You should soon share the same fate of the sheikahs who were banished from Hyrule before you. The history of your race will be erased from the land forever! Do you want that?” It was more of a statement than a question. Impa’s crimson eyes flashed, but she held her tongue. She bowed and said no more. This was one command she would never obey, but would feign her loyalty for a while to help Zelda and Link. Tomorrow and for as long as it took after, she would find them and help them hide, for she would know all the actions the king would take in trying to locate them. She would forsake her vow and betray the kingdom she loved for the lives of the goddesses’ chosen children…
“No…,” Zelda shook her head and spoke softly, “no…” She was choking back tears, “he wouldn’t do this…..” She looked up into Link and Malon’s sympathetic eyes. “ This isn’t him…” Malon went to her side and knelt down. She ran her hand up and down Zelda’s spine, attempting to relax her a little.
“I’m so sorry…” Malon could think of no more words to say. Link still remained standing, staring at the floor. He was silently blaming himself. He couldn’t speak. He longed to say something, but no words would come out.
“Why?” Zelda was curled forward with her eyes pressed shut. Malon stayed at her side for as long as she dared.
“I really must go.” She felt bad for leaving them like this, but the results of her staying could cost Link his life and Zelda her spirit. She stood and walked to the exit.
“I’m really sorry.” She cast her gentle gaze to the both of them.
“Please, try to get some rest.” She opened the door and disappeared into the dark staircase. Link finally took his eyes away from the floor. He walked to Zelda and sunk down beside her. He dropped his head into his hands and let his unruly bangs fall forward.
“This is my fault.” Zelda looked at him with curiosity and surprise.
“What do you mean?” He started to mentally punish himself.
“If I hadn’t been so selfish, none of this would of happened. I should have known that our friendship wasn’t meant to be. I was supposed to go back, back to being a child, but I convinced you to let me stay and now this has happened.” Zelda’s glassy eyes searched his face.
“Link, not once in your life have you been selfish. You can never say that you’ve been selfish. I wanted you to stay. I couldn’t survive without you here.” She put her hand on top of his. He brought his eyes to hers. She smiled lightly.
“I’m glad you’re here…”
They were both floating in the clouds. Hyrule was inching back towards peace. Zelda had her eyes lowered.
“All the evil that had plagued the land was my doing. I was so young, I could not comprehend the consequences of trying to control the sacred realm. I dragged you into this and stole your childhood away from you…” Link was staring at her. He could never blame her for anything. He had chosen to pull the Master Sword from the pedestal because he believed in her.
“Link, please give me the Ocarina of Time. With it I can send you back to your own time. When the Master Sword is laid to rest, the gate of time travel will be sealed and you can have a normal life.” Link’s eyes were wide. She was going to send him back?! He would be a child? He reluctantly withdrew the deep blue instrument from his pocket, and studied it. He put out his hand and looked up at her, drowning in her eyes. His heart was breaking and his breath stopped. She placed her hand on the ocarina and let it stay there a while. A lone tear slid silently down her cheek. Finally she pulled away and slowly brought the mouthpiece to her soft, pink lips, closing her eyes. She felt a hand on her arm and opened her eyes. Link was holding her arm.
“Zelda, please….wait.” His eyes were begging her.
“I have changed in ways unimaginable in my past challenge. I have memories that I won’t forget, that I can’t forget. Memories that no amount of time could ever erase. They have been etched into my soul forever.” Tears were flowing freely down Zelda’s flushed cheeks. Link’s eyes were teary as well.
“ Life can never go back to the way it was. I would be a man in a child’s body. I can’t leave you in this world alone.” He put a hand on her cheek.
“I could never be happy knowing you were alone…” Zelda put her hand over his and smiled, still crying.
“I want you to stay, Link. You can…”
A lone wolf howled, signaling that the day had melted into chilling twilight. The night took over the shadows and spread the endless darkness to every thread of land. Moonlight shivered and waltzed across the grass. Inside the underground cottage, a warm fire crackled and sputtered. It’s red and orange arms licked the air and reached higher, longing for more to hold onto, but would soon calm and dim until the next piece of wood was added. Link poked around the fire with a charred stick. His eyes reflected the dancing light and his thoughts took over his consciousness. His movements were robotic and soon ceased as the thoughts got powerful enough to even control his actions. Zelda watched him with wondering eyes. What was he thinking? Her question answered itself with time. She could almost feel his thoughts. She knew he still felt guilty for the events that had all taken place, and he would feel responsible for any events that should come. Always blaming himself. Why? Was this a hero’s curse? Zelda shivered and brought the quilt close under her chin. Link blinked and was pulled back into the world of living. His sight was immediately drawn to Zelda.
“You cold?” Zelda shrugged.
“A little…” Link smiled and motioned for her to come sit by the fire. He helped her pull the bed over near the flaring embers. He draped the quilt over her shoulders and wrapped it snuggly around her thin frame. She smiled up at him and began to stare endlessly into the fire as Link had done. She was so wrapped up in it’s enchanting dance. Link leaned back on the wall adjoining the fireplace. Was this their fate? Was this what they were destined to do? To be in hiding from the world? Away from all others and always afraid of what the future might bring? Zelda’s eyes closed slowly as she drifted slowly from consciousness. The world was blurry and faded. Her limbs weakened and dropped onto the soft blanket. She sank deeper into the sweet smelling cloth and swam in a warm comforting darkness. All troubles and worries faded away with the rest of the world as she slipped into the world of dreams…
To be continued…
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