Chapter Thirteen: Earthquakes and Thunder
MIDNA HAD WARPED HERSELF INTO THE field to address her Twiliwarriors after Obsidian had returned. She stood at the forefront of the huge block of soldiers and surveyed each of them. They stood stiffly in their black gilt armour with their heads held high and their backs ruler straight. The gentle breeze ruffled the pale emerald horsehair plumes that crested the Twiliwarriors’ helmets. This moment was truly the calm before the storm.
“Today is the day we fight for honour, for peace and for stability,” Midna said loudly, her voice strong and steady. “Today is the day evil shall be buried and forgotten. Today is the day we bring down the very fiend whom has wronged you so cruelly in the past. Today is the day we claim our vengeance, and tonight, you all are heroes!”
She raised her arms in the air in a gesture of triumph amid cheers and stomping from the warriors. It was as if the Twiliwarriors’ hollering and roaring had broken down an invisible barrier between them and the monsters.
Midna turned her head when she heard roars, growls, grunts and shrieks that did not belong to her people. The monster army had mobilized and were now marching into their portion of the field. She produced a long sword crafted from the shards of the Fused Shadows and covered herself in a similar armour of that of her loyal warriors. When the monsters were very near to them, Midna raised her sword and gave the order to attack.
Although its exterior had been altered dramatically, the interior of the
had not changed at all. Accounting for this, Link made his way through the Forest Temple quickly and easily. Temple
In the dark chasm room that led to the chamber where Diababa was once housed, Link used his Clawshots to cross the pit. He landed with light footed sureness upon the wooden deck and then walked calmly (though not so: his heart was racing faster than it had ever before) to the mammoth fissure in the wall in front of him where a door once was. He nearly jumped out of his skin when Deku landed on his shoulder. The dragon’s serene eyes provided him with the confidence he needed to continue.
Link walked through the blasted out wall into the late Diababa’s hollow. Though the
on the whole had not been altered, this room had most certainly been. Temple
Where a magnificent cascade of water once was, two pillars of dark purple flame existed. How they weren’t incinerating the place, Link didn’t know. Skulls and other such remains littered the cracked and dry ground; remnants of Ganon’s meals. The strangest thing of all was that the Dark Beast Lord was nowhere to be seen. He looked all around for the brute until his eyes reached the lofty ceiling.
Ganon was clinging to the soft wood right above him. The beast spotted him and then dropped down to his level, landing perfectly on his four massive paws. The impact made when he hit the ground was like and earthquake. Ganon looked the Hylian hero p and down with his pupil less eyes. He lifted a lip and growled like a clap of thunder, and then crouched low and roared in Link’s face. He gagged at the fetid smell of the beast’s rank breath.
Ganon did something unexpected then. He leapt over Link’s head and then ran out of the
. Stunned, Link simply stood rooted in place. He fully expected to hear a terrified and painful scream outside as the scene of Ganon ripping through Zelda with his massive claws played in his mind. Temple
The Twiliwarriors raised their spears and swords and then rushed forward to meet the monsters. Some of the hell-bent creatures balked, but none of them turned tail and fled. Obsidian joined the battle, swiping at monsters with her serrated claws and snapping their necks between her mighty jaws. She swooped down and picked some of them up, and then hurled her captives into the crowd of their comrades, taking out many at once.
Midna was spectacular in battle as well. She cut down multiple foes at the same time with her blade, and blasted others with her Twilit magic.
Three Dynalfoses rushed at her in single file formation while her back was turned. Midna heard their heavy breathing and stomping, and with her reflexes kicking in, whipped around quickly as they bore down upon her. The Fused Shadow blade lengthened, and with it she thrust at them, impaling all three of them at once. As was typical, they exploded in a dark cloud of smoke, but left slimy green residue on her blade. The sword glowed and absorbed the blood, imbibing it with a new strength.
As the battle raged on, the Twiliwarriors fought fiercely, but despite this, many of them were dying at the monsters’ hands, claws and weapons. Each time she killed a monster, another would instantly replace it. It was then that Midna realised that they would eventually overwhelm her army. That was, unless Link and Zelda defeated Ganon quickly.
Why do you stand there still? Go after him! Deku shouted at Link, who then remembered how his legs worked and ran out. At a blinding speed, he dashed through the
, leaping over debris left by Ganon’s charge. It appeared that the beast had blasted through the walls with his massive bulk. Forest Temple
By the time he had exited the
, Were Boar Ganon was prowling the wasteland clearing with his head low to the ground and bushy red tail flicking from side to side. The massive monster was circling around Zelda and Epona, occasionally swiping at them. Like a cat playing with a mouse before it kills, Link remarked as he descended the path. Temple
As Ganon passed by her, Zelda leapt upon Epona’s back and then spurred the horse to gallop toward Link. Ganon saw this rash action and suddenly rammed the roan mare with his tusks, throwing Zelda violently out of the saddle and impaling the horse through the belly and neck. A spray of crimson blood stained the ash covered ground as the giant boar-like creature flicked the horse off his tusks with ease into the air and then caught her in his jaws as she fell. After the sickening crack of snapping bones came from Ganon’s mouth, he turned and snarled at Link with a bloody maw.
Link’s rage surmounted any other he’s ever felt. He transformed into the Sacred Wolf and then roared back at Ganon, peeling back his lips to expose every one of his razor sharp fangs. The gorge around them echoed his roar back, magnifying its volume. However, Ganon did not so much as flinch, or even move a muscle, save for those in his throat which contracted as he swallowed Epona. He remained stock still as Sacred Wolf Link padded over to where Zelda had landed after she had been thrown off the horse. He nudged her gently with his cold, wet nose. She stirred and moaned once as she sat up. She started when she saw the big, golden furry face staring concernedly at her.
You okay? Sacred Wolf Link sent telepathically.
I think so, but Epona…Oh, Link. I’m so sorry, she replied sadly.
It’s not your fault, Zelda. All amends will be made when I rip my claws through Ganon’s ugly head and smash in his brains.
Zelda suddenly screamed and pointed behind him. Almost in slow motion, Ganon was in a midair leap at him. Sacred Wolf Link turned sharply and met his foe’s charge by slamming his wide forepaws into his chest. The dark beast was hurled to the ground and hit it hard in an explosion of ash and earth. He was not down for the count, however, for he immediately surged to his feet and rushed at the Divine Beast again.
Like wrestlers, the beasts locked arms in an effort to try and throw his opponent back to the ground. Sacred Wolf Link lifted one of his hind legs forward and then raked his back claws against Ganon’s belly. He roared in pain briefly and then slashed his own claws against Link’s broad, furry chest. Now, four long red gashes blemished the wolf’s shimmering golden fur, but the lacerations didn’t stop him. He crouched and then sprang at the boar like villain and caught his head between his paws.
Repeatedly, he pulverized the were-boar’s head. Finally, after many blows, Ganon broke free but not before Sacred Wolf Link had shattered his tusks. Ganon lunged at Link and then sank his teeth into the wolf’s shoulder and used his claws to slice as his side. Clumps of blood matted fur were ripped from Wolf Link. Ganon was about to rip into his belly when a streak of golden light zipped past his head. Distracted, he let the wolf go.
Staggering to his feet, Sacred Wolf Link turned his bloody head to see Zelda standing above them on Deku’s shoulders with a Light Arrow nocked to her bow and ready to fire.
Ganon leapt at the dragon, but missed and collided with a tree. On impact, the wood splintered and the tree fell. Wolf Link seized his chance. He pounced on his enemy and dug his claws into the villain’s sided and then clamped his jaws around his neck. Ganon roared in pain as he tried to shake the wolf off. He succeeded, for the vile taste of Ganon’s blood gagged Link and thus he broke his hold.
By now, both beasts were dripping blood and exhausted.
However, their exhaustion didn’t compare to that of Midna and the Twiliwarriors. Although many were more than willing to keel over and sleep, none were prepared to give in. the Knights of Hyrule, or most of them, had already turned tail and fled; or were killed by steel or claw.
Midna spun her Fused Shadow blade above her head and then drove it down upon a Darknut’s skull, splitting it in two in a jet of violently bright green blood. That’s one way of getting it done, she thought grimly as she watched her sword absorb the vital fluid yet again.
It was after the blade was clean again did Midna feel a different power emanating form it. In curiosity, she raised the weapon in front of her and found that its edges were enveloped in dark flames. In experiment, she leapt in the air and then slammed the steel into the ground as she descended. The flames left the blade and reappeared at the feet of any monster within a twenty metre radius of her. The monsters were instantly incinerated, but didn’t explode into their characteristic cloud of black smoke. Their corpses instead remained in the field.
Astonished, Midna looked at the sword in awe. As she turned it in her hands, the flames appeared again, harmlessly licking the lethal edge of the Fused Shadow blade. Grinning maliciously, she struck the sword into the ground yet again, but a few paces forward from where she had stood before. Once more, the inferno swallowed the monsters up, but left the Twiliwarriors untouched.
Midna realized then that Ganon must be getting weaker….
….which he was. The beast could barely hold his heavy head up any longer. He staggered around the clearing; every step was a laboured activity.
Wolf Link was equally worse for the wear. His energy was spent and he was weak from losing so much blood. For a good half hour, the combatants circled each other; their heavy paws leaving bloody prints in the ash until they regained enough energy to resume their fight.
It was Ganon who struck first. As he leapt in the air, Zelda caught him in one of his pupil less eyes with a Light Arrow. The boar-like beast fell heavily on top of Wolf Link. With his dying strength, Ganon raised his paw and then slashed his claws through the tender flesh of Wolf Link’s throat. The dead body of Ganon exploded into a cascade of dark shards, which disappeared as the clouds above them separated, letting the meek sun shine through.
Deku landed next to the prone form of Sacred Wolf Link, who slowly shrank and left his human form lying in the ash. Link had numerous wounds, nearly all of them fatal. The blow to his throat translated on his human body in the area of his collar bone; the deep holes where Ganon’s claws had pierced his skin followed through to his lungs. The slash marks across his chest expose his rib cage, and one of his shoulders was torn and bloody. The only sound in the clearing was Link’s rattling breath.
Zelda dismounted from Deku’s shoulders and then threw her helmet and other pieces of her armour aside. She dropped to her knees beside her dying friend, releasing a puff of ash into the air. She lifted his head gently and slowly and rested it on her lap. Link opened his eyes slowly, as if doing that simple act pained him greatly.
“The fiend is dead…my final destiny has been fulfilled,” he said quietly. His words ended in a fit of choking, after which his lips and chin were dampened with lifeblood.
“No…you haven’t…your time here is not up! Link, you can’t die!” Zelda sobbed, her tears falling to the ground and mingling with the ash and Link’s blood. The Hylian hero smiled faintly.
“Take care of…Hyrule, Zelda. The people, they—” he coughed again— “need you…. Do not forget it…don’t give up on them…don’t…forget….” Link’s final breath left him and took his life with it. Before he closed them, the light in his clear blue eyes faded and disappeared.
Zelda’s shoulders heaved as she wept for her fallen champion, and Deku put a comforting wing around her. The feathery tip of Deku’s tail brushed Link’s lifeless arm and moved it slightly, exposing something beneath it.
It was a tiny green shoot.
Chapter Fourteen: Goddesses and Goodbyes
DEKU HAD CARRIED LINK’S BODY AND ZELDA BACK TO HYRULE Castle a short while after the battle. They flew over Hyrule Field where the war with the monsters had ended.
Inside the castle, Deku and Zelda slowly trudged through the corridors and made their way into Aramis’s study where the old mage kept all of his spell components and magic books. When they entered, Aramis looked up from a particularly large tome.
“Princess, and Deku the dragon, what brings you… oh my,” he whispered when they lay the fallen hero on the divan situated against the left hand wall. “What mangled him like this?” Aramis stepped around his writing desk and then crouched beside their dead friend.
“Ganon killed him, but not before his own life was taken,” she replied in a monotone. “Aramis, can you perform his last rites?”
“Of course, dear one,” he responded gently. From a leather pouch affixed to the rope belt at the waist of his long white robe, he removed a silver amulet and a broken arrow. “The amulet,” he began, placing it on Link’s chest, “for purity of soul and mind. Silver banishes the creatures of the night. The broken arrow, a symbol for attained vengeance, but that the avenger has died in achieving his goal. And finally, Link, Shepherd, Hero, Beast master and Bringer of Light, I give you the golden key so that you might unlock the mysteries of the afterlife and gain entrance to the Sacred Realm. May the goddesses receive you with a hero’s welcome. Farewell.” Deku, Aramis and Zelda then bowed their heads in last respect.
Where am I? What happened here? How come my wounds…don’t hurt? What is this place? Link thought as he surveyed his unfamiliar surroundings, except there weren’t any. There was no sky, no ground; and yet he was standing on something solid.
He walked around for awhile before he called out, “Hello? Is anybody here, wherever here is? Hey!” he rushed forward when he saw someone in front of him. In fact, it was three people. When they heard his shout, they turned around to confront him.
“Welcome, hero,” said a woman in a jade tinted dress decorated with trees and beasts of all kinds. She had waist length green hair that was braided with ivy.
“We have been expecting you,” said a woman wearing a red dress embroidered with flames and dragons that had cherry coloured hair.
“Indeed, but not for some time yet,” intoned a sapphire haired woman bearing an azure dress patterned with waves, hearts and glittering stars. All three women looked identical, save for the colour of their skin, which was a lighter shade of their hair’s tone. They smiled at him and beckoned him closer. Link felt as though his legs were moving of their own accord.
“Where am I? Is this the Sacred Realm…or the Dark World…? And who are you three?” he asked of them.
“I am Farore,” said the woman in green.
“I am Din,” answered the woman in red.
“I am Nayru,” declared the woman in blue. Link’s jaw dropped. Yep, that proves it. I’m dead. Well, at least I took Ganon down with me, he thought sadly. But Zelda…Mayor Bo, the guys from Ordon…Ilia…Deku…. I never got to say goodbye….
“Do not worry on your loved ones, O hero. They will see you again. You are neither in the Sacred Realm nor in the Dark World. This is the Convergence Zone, the In Between, the dividing line between life and death. It is a place where everything and yet nothing exists,” explained Farore. Link knitted his brows.
“I don’t get it. I thought that once a person died, they go to one place or the other, not in between. Wait…who comes here?” he asked as he began to pace.
“Those whom are given a second chance,” Din replied.
It had been three days since Link’s death, and Zelda had taken it upon herself to inform his friends of the terrible news. With a heavy heart, she mounted Snowflake and then left for Ordon village. She plodded through the fields, thinking about all that had happened in the past week.
She had not heard from Midna since the day the Twilight Princess had summoned the Twiliwarriors and gone into battle. Her father, King Solomon had returned from visiting Jurich and things had quickly become stable once more. The kingdom had never been so bright and well off.
But Zelda didn’t care.
She and Snowflake passed the
that was well on its way to recovery. Tiny blades of grass poked their little green heads through the thinning layer of ash that had been swept away by the warm summer wind in some places. Forest Temple
The princess passed Ordon Spring where she could hear the joyful melodies being sung by the Light Spirit. She traveled beyond Link’s house as she made her way into the village where Malo and Colin were teaching Talo to walk with crutches. Conrad Jackson was sitting with Ilia and Mayor Bo on the porch of their house. It was he that spotted her first.
“Lady Zelda!” he said, surprised as he stood and bowed. “What brings you to this humble village? …It isn’t the hearing, is it…?”
The princess shook her head. “I’m afraid not, Sir Jackson. It is upon dire events that I impose my presence upon you all. I…I—” she began and then dissolved into tears. Mayor Bo stood carefully with his cane and then hobbled over to the weeping girl.
“What is the matter, dear one?” he asked kindly. Zelda tried three times to speak, but each succession furthered her endeavour no more than the last. Finally, after four times in trying, she succeeded.
“Ganon has been defeated,” she replied shakily.
“But…how is that a…bad thing?” asked
confusedly. Ilia glared at him for his apparent insensitiveness. Jackson
“He…has been destroyed, but at a price. A life has been taken,” Zelda continued.
“Whose?” asked Ilia.
“Link has made the ultimate sacrifice for us all. I have come also to inform you of his funeral taking place next week.”
Ilia stood up abruptly with an angry look cast at Zelda, dislike, disbelief and contempt etched across her features. “Are you sure of his death this time?” she demanded.
“I have never been as sure of anything in my entire life,” Zelda retorted. “The wounds on him were deep and there was no way he could have survived them. His lifeblood was on my hands; and I heard his last breath as he succumbed to his numerous fatal injuries!”
“Oh dear gods,” Mayor Bo murmured as he cradled his now sobbing daughter.
Meanwhile, another funeral was being planned; the funeral for Midna’s father, the deceased Twilight King. It would be a joint memorial service for him and the dozens of Twiliwarriors who had died in battle.
Midna sat at her desk amid the floating black shards of Twilit magic that no-one really noticed preparing the speech she would present at the service. She was not doing well with this, for her mind was troubled with her impending increases in responsibility. Every day since she’d returned to the Twilight Realm, her mother Dawn had incessantly reminded her that she would now have to take her place as Queen….
“A second chance? You mean like coming back to life? How…and why?” Link wanted to know.
“Your predetermined time upon the earth has not come to its natural end, and so we are sending you back,” Nayru explained calmly.
“And when was my date of death decided?” Link demanded.
“At the time of your birth,” said Farore.
Link sighed. “But how? I thought that only so many souls could be in existence at one time! Surely one has already taken my place,” he said fretfully, his mind already hinting at what the goddesses would have to do for him to be able to walk among the living once more.
Simultaneously, Din, Farore and Nayru smiled. “We will make the exchange of souls,” said Nayru.
“What?! Link blurted explosively. “No! I won’t have it! I won’t go. Not if someone has to go in my place. Not even the oldest man or the sickest child. I don’t care. Send me to the Dark World for all it matters to me.”
“It is not your choice to make, Hero. Your destiny has not been fulfilled. Your life is not over. You shall return to us when it is your time. Farewell, and use your time wisely,” said Din. The goddesses each placed a feathery hand upon him and then he was transported out of the Convergence Zone in a beam of light.
* * * * * * * *
Link gasped as he sat up. He flailed his arms about wildly to pull the white sheet that had covered him away. He put his hands around his neck and felt his heart beat there, strong and full of life. He was glad to be alive for sure, but at what cost? Who had the goddesses spirited away?
Link jumped down from the sheet less bed he’d been on and then surveyed his surroundings. There were other beds in the small room that held what he assumed to be dead bodies. He was in a morgue. Then, a thought suddenly sprang into his mind like a mountain cat leaping down from a high place. Were there spirits floating about? In order to find out, Link focussed his energy to transform into the wolf, except he couldn’t.
Despite his efforts, he remained human. So that’s the sacrifice, he mused. They went and killed off the wolf! Link jumped in the air and then gave small cheer. He quickly exited the morgue and once he shut the door behind him, he ran down many flights of stairs. It seemed as though the dead house was in its own tower.
Link caught his reflection in a wall sized mirror that he ran by. He discovered that he was wearing a neatly and expertly tailored black knee length tunic and beige pants. My death suit, he thought, shortly becoming somewhat depressed.
He continued to gambol through the castle until he reached the heavy, iron bound door that led into Aramis’s study. He opened the door cautiously and then peered inside.
“Aramis?” he said hesitantly. The old mage spun around abruptly at the sound of his voice and fixed him with an astonished expression.
“Link…! How is this possible…? I…I performed your last rites!” he said incredulously. “Come in here, my boy!”
Entering the spacious book lined room, the young Hylian said, “The goddesses work in mysterious ways. I’m just glad to be in one whole piece.” Though, I’m really not, am I? The wolf was just as big a part of me as, well, my soul! Aramis pulled Link into a tight grip.
“It is good to see you back among the earth-bound people, and not with the high-flyers!” he laughed. “Your wounds, have they healed?”
“Yeah, but they left a hell of a scar!” replied Link with a laugh. Aramis chuckled briefly, and then shook his white haired head.
“Ah, the trivialities of reincarnation!” he said. “Have you been to talk with Zelda yet? She bears numerous scars from the battle as well.”
Link shook his head. “No, I haven’t…. Where is she?” he asked. Aramis rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
“Hmm, the last I saw of her, she was in her father’s study. You could check there,” he replied.
“Thank you,” Link said as he left. He shut the door behind him and then ran through the castle to the King’s study. Outside the ornate door, a knight was standing guard.
“Sir Link!” he gasped in shock at seeing him. “I thought…. Does this mean the funeral’s cancelled?”
Smirking, Link replied, “I guess so. Now, I’ve got something to ask of you; is that okay?”
“Of course, my Lord!”
“Are you going to let me in?”
“Pardon?” the knight asked as if he misunderstood.
“Yes, yes, I’m not a ghost, and therefore you have to open the door, got it?”
Swallowing, the knight responded, “yes, Sir,” and then opened the door. Link nodded slightly to the now flustered and confused young man as he passed him into the study that was like a small library. He sighed once and then ran his fingers through his shaggy golden mane.
“Zelda, are you in here?” he asked hesitantly. He waited patiently as the weary princess slowly descended a ladder that scaled the bookshelves with difficulty, struggling not to drop the armload of books she was holding. When she turned her fatigued eyes on him, she dropped every one of the large, ancient tomes. She cried out as they crashed to the carpeted floor.
* * * * * * * *
When the door to the study slowly opened without any introduction of a visitor, Zelda was still on the tall ladder trying to find more books on the history of Hyrule and any manuscripts on Hylian Mythology. She began to precariously descend the ladder when she heard the door shut and someone say her name. The tone and sound of his voice was so familiar that she turned her head to look.
Link was standing at the door with a strange and curious expression on his handsome face.
Zelda’s arms seemed to lose all of their feeling, and so she dropped every one of the heavy books that she carried onto the floor at her feet. Most of them landed on her toes, the sharp corners digging into the tender flesh through her soft leather boots. She cried out as much in shock as in the pain she now felt throbbing in her feet. Ignoring the ache, she kicked the books unceremoniously aside and then ran at him. An alarmed look sprang onto Link’s features as he threw up his arms to block her charge.
“Whoa, princess! Hold it!” he said as he caught hold of her wrists. She scowled darkly, wrenched them out of his grip, forced his arms down to his sides, and then hugged him fiercely. A little while later, she released him and then touched his face with trembling hands.
“You’re alive,” she breathed. Link nodded slightly and then took her small, shaky hands in his own large, steady ones. Warmth from his hands spread into her own as he squeezed them gently.
“I am, but the Hylian Timber Wolf is now extinct. The heroic howling of this majestic creature will never be heard again,” he said with a small chuckle. Zelda sighed and shook her head vigorously as a fresh tear rolled down her cheek.
“I don’t care, Link. You couldn’t begin to understand how overjoyed I am to see you again…. How much I have missed you in these short three days! I never would have thought that my feelings would have affected me like this…or of how deeply I care about you,” she said quietly.
“What?!” Link exclaimed incredulously, holding her at arm’s length so that he could see the look upon her face. She was looking at him with apprehensive eyes. “What you mean by that, I mean.”
“I…thought you knew, truly, I did. When you woke me from the curse, with how I kissed you…I thought you would draw the conclusion that I….” she said, her voice beginning to crack and waver.
“That was real?” Link cried in shock. Zelda put a hand to her mouth and then turned away from him. “Hang on a sec…. Listen, I’m sorry for being a jerk, it’s just that…oh, it don’t know! I didn’t clue in, but you know, I kind of hoped…. I didn’t say anything because, well, it didn’t—doesn’t—seem right. You’re a princess, and I’m a…nothing. I’m sorry I caused you so much trouble.” He sighed and then turned to leave, but she stopped him.
“No, wait. It’s my fault…I guess I was just in need of someone who has been through the same things I have, and you’re just so brave…I suppose I needed some of your strength,” she admitted rather dejectedly.
Link frowned, and then closed his eyes. Opening them, he said, “I sincerely hope that’s not all you still feel. That would disappoint me immensely…,” Link said quietly.
“Well, then I guess that matter is…what! Are you saying…?” Zelda said in disbelief. Had her ears deceived her? Her suspicion was proved false as Link drew her into a close embrace. The princess and the hero slowly became closer until their lips met.
* * * * * * * *
Later that day, Link and Deku were standing on the battlements of
watching the sun go down. The fiery orange glow reflected in Deku’s mirror-like golden scales and made him seem as though he were made of flame. Hyrule Castle
I am glad that you are not dead, Deku said to his human familiar.
Link smiled at the dragon. “Believe me, so am I,” he replied and then sighed. “I just wish Epona hadn’t have been killed. Man, I’ll tell you. That was the worst t-bone I’ve ever seen! The tusks went right through the horse! I couldn’t believe what I saw! And the bones…that damn fiend should’ve choked on them! Jeez…Ilia’s going to go medieval on me! She loved that horse…and so did—do—I.”
“Well, that event—the t-bone as you call it—was partially my fault, Link. If I hadn’t said to bring the horse around, she would still be alive,” said Zelda from behind them as she came out onto the catwalk. “I want to make it up to you.”
“How? I’ll never find as good a horse as Epona. I mean, she knew those goats’ tactics inside and out. She also stomped, bit and kicked when we rode through hordes of monsters!”
“Come with me and I’ll show you as good a replacement as I could find,” she replied, taking his hand and holding her arm out for Deku to settle on. “Of course, you’ll have to be open minded about my choice.” The princess led the dragon and his master through the castle, out onto the grounds and then finally into the stables. They walked down the rows to the final stall and stopped.
Standing in it was a medium weight warhorse. He had a soft and silky-looking coat that was whiter than freshly fallen snow; an ebony mane and tail; and a dark patch of fur between his eyes in the shape of a crescent moon.
“He’s beautiful,” Link murmured, reaching out and touching the horse’s nose.
“He’s yours, Link,” Zelda said.
Link tore his gaze from the horse. “Really?”
“Yes. Choose a fitting name for him, since a good name brings good fortune,” she replied.
Link’s brow furrowed as he concentrated on the steed. He walked around him, taking in every detail.
“I’m not sure about this,” he said finally. “I mean, sure I would like to have a new horse, especially one as fantastic as this one, but it doesn’t feel right replacing Epona so quickly.” He paused and looked at Deku for awhile. Sure, the dragon could ferry him for awhile, but he was sure that Deku would get tired of that. “I guess, though, he could come with me. My, my, he’s so strong looking! I bet he could clear Hyrule field—all of them—in far less than a day! Okay, I’ll take him. But for his name…hmm…how about Shadowchaser?”
Though it had been many days since the defeat of Ganon, it seemed as though the dark clouds were not removed from the skies above Ordon. Link’s death and
’s impending trial weighed heavily on everyone. Jackson
There was, however, a small happiness. Mayor Bo’s health had improved significantly, for he was able to walk about without the aid of his cane, even if for a short distance.
“Your mother always told me I’d rue the days of wrestling with Gorons,” he told Ilia that night. He was trying to bring a smile to her young face. “Yep, she was always, ‘Bo, you’re gonna hurt yourself,’ but I was always as hot-headed and stubborn as my craggy companions. Sure wish I had’ve listened to her. Conrad! You better heed the good words of your lad there. She’s got a good head filled with sense on her shoulders.”
“I will, sir,” said the young knight with a slight nod. “That is, of course if I survive this trial…usually treason equals death.”
Ilia gave a small sob at the word ‘death.’ Mayor Bo glared at him. “Boy, what exactly did you do?” he asked.
“Ah, well, I disobeyed a direct order from my superiors, but that’s not the issue here. The order I was given was of crucial importance; it would have protected Hyrule from danger. By not following it, I put the entire kingdom in jeopardy. But in my defence, I really and truly believed everything to be okay! A huge explosion and the advance of evil just happened to go right after we left…but that’s no excuse. We could have caught it. Ha, ha…my ma always told me to stop cutting corners,”
sighed. “But it’s too late for that advice now.” Jackson
Mayor Bo stood from his chair. “You know, a brave young lad I once knew always believed that it’s never too late. As far as I can tell, he was always right. You can’t give up, Conrad. Hyrule’s going to need all of its knights now that its first line of defence has been blasted away,” he said strongly. “Don’t throw away what you’ve worked so hard to attain. Think of those who care about you. You just might get off.”
“Don’t let us down, love. Not like Link did,” Ilia added quietly.
“What?! Girl, what are you implying? That man was the greatest person ever to walk away from Ordon. How did he ever let us down?” Mayor Bo demanded.
“He died, father! He said he’d always be there for me, he promised he wouldn’t do anything out of his league, but he lied! He was supposed to succeed you, remember! It’s exactly as you said: he walked away from Ordon. He abandoned us and left the village to the wrath of the monsters! He could have protected us, but he chose otherwise!” she retorted angrily.
“Now just you wait a minute!” shouted
from the sidelines. Then in a gentler tone, he added, “you’ve got me now, Ilia. You don’t have to rely on some silly childhood promise.” Jackson
“It wasn’t silly. Link always kept his promises, even when we were little. Whenever I felt low, he was always there…he was my best friend, my guardian…no, more. He was my brother, and now he’s gone,” Ilia said. “I’ve lost too much family….”
Mayor Bo hobbled over to his daughter and hugged her. “I know how you feel, sweetheart. Your words just might help him when he’s talkin’ to the goddesses,” he said gently.
“I hope so, father.”
Outside the open window, a cloaked, eagle faced spectre-like person heard these words. As he swept away into the night, a tear rolled down his cheek.
Chapter Fifteen: King Solomon of Hyrule
“ALL RISE,” SAID THE BAILIFF. At the trial of Conrad Jackson, nearly all of the Knights of Hyrule had shown up to either support their comrade, or to condemn him. “Presenting his Honour, King Solomon of Hyrule. Take your seats.” The king, in his long, red robe and gleaming, elaborately forged golden crown emerged from a small door at the front of the courtroom and then took his seat behind the judge’s bench. When he had appeared, the knights began to talk to one another excitedly.
“Alright, alright, settle down,” said the king loudly. “Order, I say! Now we shall begin. On trial today is Conrad Jackson, order of the Hylian Eagle, second class…promotion set for one moon exactly. Well, for one with suck a heightening rank, you sure do sniff out trouble! Charge is…treason! Humph! Obedience is a virtue, Sir Jackson.” The king cleared his throat.
“For the defence: Sir Nathan Riley, and for the prosecution…who?” he asked, indicating the empty bench beside Riley and Jackson. As if on cue, a person came into the hall.
“That would be me, Sir. Dreadfully sorry for my tardiness, Sire,” said a red haired bespectacled young man.
“Yes, yes. Take your seat. Your name, young man?”
“Shad Ackley, Sire.”
“Of course. For the prosecution, Shad Ackley. Mr. Ackley, your opening statement, if you please,” said King Solomon, peering at Shad behind his own glasses as he thumped the gavel on its pedestal.
Shad cleared his throat. “Right. As we all have known, the past five years or better have been riddled with danger and tidings of dark magic, specifically in the Gerudo desert. Err, yes, okay,” he paused to pull at his collar. “The Knights of Hyrule had been employed as protectors for the populous, including Sir Jackson. It is for failing to do so and for violating direct orders that we bring him here today.
“It was nearly two and a half moons ago that Sir Jackson and a small company of knights had been dispatched to the desert. Their mission was reconnaissance. They had been ordered to report any suspicious goings-on. The fault: the company, under the order of Sir Jackson, did not remain for the intended duration of the mission. They returned prematurely, and in doing so missed the opening of an alleged villain’s lair.”
“Objection!” yelled Riley, standing abruptly. “That villain was not seen in Hyrule, Sire!”
Solomon thundered the gavel on the bench. “Overruled! Keep quiet until he is done! Continue, Ackley,” he barked.
Shad drank from the glass of water that was on the desk in front of him. “Thank you, Sire. As I was saying before, due to this sudden leave, the evil chasm was not known of until outside help was brought about. In regards to the ferocity of this evil, I call Auru Sarksan to the stand,” said Shad, his voice becoming clearer and more confident.
Auru rose from his seat behind Shad and then walked up to the judge’s bench.
“Place your right hand over your heart,” instructed the bailiff. “Now answer: do you solemnly swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?”
“Aye, I do.”
“Right, give your account.”
Auru took the witness’s stand. “Ah, right. On the desert. Well, not long ago, I personally, along with others, traveled to the Gerudo desert to, erm, storm this very lair,” he began.
“And who are these ‘others’?” asked the king.
“Shad Ackley, Rusl Smith of Ordon village—I believe he’s here—a young lady by the name of Ashei, and Link of Ordon, but the latter is dead now,” answered Auru.
“Carry on,” said Solomon.
“Inside this lair were innumerable hordes of hell-bent monsters, all commanded to destroy, kill and maim. Not only had those done the lair house, but the underling of Dark Lord Ganondorf himself: Emperor DarkKnight. In fact, ay I wish Link were here; he could tell you exactly, this very DarkKnight abducted Princess Zelda and was set to sacrifice her soul to the very fiend he served. Of course he was stopped, but barely,” finished Auru.
“Thank you; you may resume your former seat,” said Solomon. “Well! That’s some incriminating evidence, think you not? Defence, have you something to say to that?” an awkward silence followed his words.
Riley slowly, reluctantly stood and cleared his throat nervously. “Ah, I’d just like to point out that…he was stopped,” he said feebly
“Yes, yes, as you have stated before. Is there anything else, or is this trial over?” retorted Solomon. Riley said nothing; he only turned his embarrassed gaze onto his boots as if they would be a source of confidence to him.
King Solomon was about to declare Jackson’s sentence when the courtroom doors burst open, revealing a tall figure in a green and brown mottled cloak. The mysterious figure’s face was completely obscured by a mask in the likeness of an eagle’s features.
There was a collective gasp from the crowd when the sight of the person met every eye simultaneously.
“Might I make a statement?” asked the Ranger as he strode forward. Complete silence gripped the room as he made his way up to the judge’s bench. As he came to a halt before the king, the assembly began to chatter excitedly.
“Order! Order! SILENCE!” roared Solomon. He hammered the gavel on the desk with so much force that the sound of it nearly drowned out the babble. He addressed the Ranger when they became silent. “Whose side are you on? Choose and be called! This is a courthouse, not a barn!”
“I’m here to defend Conrad Jackson,” the Ranger replied curtly.
Nathan Riley stood with a triumphant grin set on his face. “I call the Ranger to the stand!” he said almost proudly.
The Ranger took his place at the witness’s stand. “Yes, I swear,” he said when the bailiff opened his mouth to initiate the Oath. “Sire, is it true that a lesser sentence can be given…for such a minor charge…if the accused displays good behaviour after conviction?”
“…yes, that is correct. Where are you going with this?” replied the king.
“I have knowledge from a reliable source—”
“—my own eyes. As I was saying, I have knowledge from a reliable source that in the duration of the desecration of the Faron and Ordona provinces, and during Jackson’s suspension for that matter, that he stood guard over Ordon village. He may have single handedly protected the place by defending its mayor. And if I say so myself, he has certainly succeeded,” the Ranger finished.
“Hm! I see…. Alright! The defendant is found guilty! However, taking this last minute piece of evidence or whatever into account, instead of banishment from the Realm of Hyrule, Conrad Jackson, I hereby revoke your rank and expel you from the Order of the Hylian Eagle. Do not return to this castle. Court is adjourned,” declared King Solomon.
Promptly after he had finished talking, everyone filed out of the courtroom except for Jackson and the Ranger.
“Why did you help me?”
asked the enigmatic vigilante. Jackson
“I didn’t do it for you, but for those who love you,” the Ranger replied quietly. He then left the room without another word, leaving
to muse. Jackson
At the exact time of the trial, a funeral was held in the Twilight Realm. Not a single luminescent orange eye was dry as King Noctris was laid to rest. Many Twili paid their respects to him and gave their condolences to Midna. She accepted their sympathies with dignity; she did not weep profusely, for she now had a task at hand: becoming queen.
Directly following the funeral was a meeting between her and the Tribal Leaders. One of them was to be the next King. However, the conferences went nowhere, for Midna was adamant on ruling alone.
“I don’t need anyone to be my king. I can take care of this Realm on my own. Zant, in all of his crazy childish evilness, showed me that,” she told her mother after the meetings were through.
“I’m quite sure that is so, but what of the kingdom and its rulers that will come after you? My dear, might I remind you that you still do need an heir,” replied Dawn.
“I know, mother, but…ah, we’ll deal with that when it comes.”
It was not until after the sun had fled form the sky and that the crescent moon had replaced it that
returned to Ordon village. Jackson
He took his gray warhorse, Ash, up to the barn in which the goats were housed. The horse had once shared a large stall with Epona, but now that Link was gone, the horse had seemingly fled as well. The goats bleated in astonishment when he swung the doors open wide and then led Ash into the empty stall.
He trudged wearily down the mountain path back into the village. Lights were on in many of the houses. He had been crossing the tiny bridge over the dried up creek when he heard the voice of his young squire call out to him.
“Evening, Smithson,” he said dully to the boy. “What are you doing out this late?”
“I wanted to ask you how the trial went,” Colin replied, falling into pace with the former knight.
chuckled darkly. “Oh, it went better than I’d expected. Technically, you could say I got off,” he said. He wasn’t going to tell Colin that his days of being a knight had been officially terminated. Jackson
“Alright! Way to show ’em, Sir Jackson!” Colin cried joyfully.
smiled wearily as he clapped the boy on the shoulder. Colin saluted him and then ran home. Jackson
He continued walking, his footsteps as heavy as the burden he felt on his shoulders. Once he had arrived, he opened the door to Mayor Bo’s house where he found Ilia waiting impatiently for his arrival.
“So, what happened?” she demanded of him as soon as he set foot in the house.
“Humph! Good evening to you too!”
replied quietly. “Ah, well, I’ve been expelled from the knighthood. It’s a lesser—far lesser—sentence than I was originally supposed to get, thanks to a mysterious benefactor.” He sank into a chair while rubbing his eyes. He brushed the light brown hair out from his line of peripheral vision while he waited for his fiancée or for her father to reply. Jackson
Taking a seat on the arm of his chair and taking up his hand in hers, Ilia said, “Who was it that helped you?”
was shocked by her question. Did she not care that he was now unable to support her? I will thank my lucky stars if that thought never crosses her mind. However, I can still find a job…just not a really high paying one. The king will see that that never happens…, he thought with a twinge of guilt before his relief came flooding into him. Jackson
“I can’t call him by name because I don’t really know who he is. However, I believe he’s popularly known as ‘the Ranger,’ or something like that,” he replied and then yawned.
Ilia leapt suddenly to her feet. “Impossible,” she breathed.
frowned at her. “How? He was right there in the courtroom. I mean come on; the king almost crushed his hand with the gavel! Besides, ghost or not, he testified for me and I owe him one.” Jackson
“I mean how he was there…? He’s supposed to be dead,” Ilia said in disbelief. “Was it all a hoax? It’s certainly happened before…but the princess and the lifeblood…I don’t understand.”
stood as well and placed his hands on either side of Ilia’s head. Tilting it upward, he stared intently into her expression of deep confusion. “Do you know who the Ranger is, Ilia?” he asked her quietly. His brown eyes held her green ones in a locked stare. He would make sure that she didn’t lie to him. Jackson
“I….” she began, choosing her words carefully. “Yes, I do know who he is. I can’t tell you, though. I promised that I wouldn’t reveal his secret to anyone. Although, with the current circumstances, I suppose I could.”
She stepped away from him and then turned her back to the door. “I know you probably won’t understand his motives once you know the truth, but listen anyway. The Ranger is the same person who has saved Hyrule from Ganondorf twice.”
“What, you mean Link? Ilia…I know how much you want to hold onto his memory, but the man is dead,”
said in a condoling tone. “As I said before, I don’t care if it was even a ghost that helped me. If he came back her from wherever his place of rest is, then he must have had to straighten things out between us. He told me, actually, that he did it for those who love me…I’m assuming he meant you. But! He opened the doors on his own, so he can’t have been a ghost, could he? What if he somehow survived?” Jackson
Immediately after he had uttered the word ‘survived,’ he wished he hadn’t. The look on Ilia’s face knotted his guts. He feared getting her hopes up. “Well, there’s only one way to find out: we’re going to
. Grab your shoes and let’s go!” he exclaimed suddenly. Hyrule Castle
“But your sentence…I thought you were banned?” Ilia asked.
“Who cares about that? We’ve got a hero to find,”
“He could be anywhere! What makes you think that he’s at the castle?”
“I don’t know, but it’s a good place to start. Come on! Do you want to see if your friend is alive or not?”
“Of course I do, but what about my father? I don’t think we should leave him,” Ilia said as she cast a glance to where her father was sleeping.
“He’s a grown man…or a half Goron or whatever…he can take care of himself! Let’s go!”
grabbed Ilia’s shoes and gave them to her. Once she had laced up the sandals, he took hold of her wrist and then pulled her out the door and up to Ordon Ranch. He brought Ash out of the barn, vaulted into the saddle, helped her on and then they rode out of the village and into the moonlit South Hyrule Field. Jackson
Link lay on the marvellous four post bed in the room he’d been loaned at the castle, staring up at the canopy above him. Tiny Deku had curled up to sleep on his belly. The dragon rose and fell with each breath Link took.
He was thinking about how different his life would be, now that he was allegedly dead. The changes were staggering. I’ll have to clear up that issue, he thought. I can’t believe that Zelda would tell them so soon…well, maybe I can. If I had seen someone get stabbed in the chest with three inch long claws, I’d probably do the same. How was anyone to know that I’d come back to life? I didn’t even think that was possible! Still, things will never be the same.
Link gently lifted Deku and then placed the sleeping dragon in the warm place where he’d been laying after he stood. He smiled faintly at the little golden reptile as he watched him sleep peacefully, undisturbed by nightmares.
He walked over to the glass doors that led out onto a small balcony that overlooked the grassy courtyard and the training field where some warhorses were coached to bear riders with lances, spears and swords. He opened one of the doors and then stepped out into the warm summer night.
“There must be some reason they brought me back, it can’t just be for nothing, just for time. There must be something I still have yet to do, but what is it?” he murmured to the crescent moon’s winking eye that observed him with cool indifference. He did not feel the urge to howl at it. Since he’d lost his transforming ability, he felt strangely empty.
Off in the distance, he could see the pulsating Twilit warp portals hovering over Hyrule field. The portal existed like a sinister scar among the merrily twinkling stars of the constellation Orion’s Belt. Don’t worry, Orion. That portal and its peoples’ magic is, or was, just as big a part of me as well, he thought with a heavy hearted sigh. As empty and weary as he felt, he no longer experienced that numbing loneliness. I guess I can thank Zelda for that.
From inside the tower room, he heard a faint rustling. The sound grew louder when he saw Deku fly out to him on wings of a translucent leathery membrane. The shrunken dragon folded the wings easily as he settled on Link’s outstretched arm and then curled his prehensile tail around the limb as the Hylian set as warm smile on him.
There may be no design to the goddesses’ actions, Link. Perhaps they simply wished to reward you for all that you have done to protect their Realm. Set your mind at an easy rest: you have your whole life ahead of you that is to be free of monsters and evil. You have prevailed in your quest, said Deku. After a brief silence, he added, and think of this: you even came away with the attentions of the fair maiden. You are lucky!
Link laughed. “I guess you’re right, my friend,” he said as he carried the dragon back into the tower. He crawled back into the bed and closed his eyes. Before long, he was asleep.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The next morning, Link woke abruptly to the sound of a knock at the door. When his eyes had adjusted to the morning to the morning sunlight filtering in through the thin curtains cloaking the glass doors, he sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He stood up and crossed the room and then opened the door. A young boy of around thirteen stood on the threshold.
“Sir Link, you have been summoned by Lord Solomon. He wishes to meet you in the drawing room,” said the boy.
Link ran a hand through his tousled hair. “Right, just let me get ready…can’t meet His highness the King looking like this, now can I?” he asked groggily.
“No, sir, certainly not!” replied the messenger in scandalized tones as if he thought that Link was seriously contemplating walking through the castle in his pyjamas. “Shall I collect you in ten minutes?”
Link scratched at his beard. “Ah, no, thanks. I can find my own way,” he said and then closed the door. As far as he knew, the only clothes he had there were those he was supposed to be buried in. he was definitely not going to walk around like the living dead.
He walked around the room, rifling through drawers, dressers and a wardrobe, but found nothing. He sighed, defeated, and then retrieved his black tunic and the cream coloured pants from where he had placed them on the writing desk. As he shook out the shirt and moved to pull it over his head, something by the door caught his eye.
It was a small green packaged bundle.
Link dropped the tunic and then walked over and picked up the bag. He sat on the bed and untied the thin ribbon, which came undone in his hands easily. Within the package was a beautifully embroidered blue tunic that matched the exact hue of his eyes. Also within was a pair of loose fitting beige trousers and a golden belt whose buckle was forged in the shape of a wolf’s head.
“Well, fancy that,” he chuckled as he dressed. He picked up the bundle’s wrap and found that it was actually a knee length forest green overcoat. Across the back and shoulders of the coat was a phoenix spreading its fiery wings beautifully adorned in red, orange, yellow and gold thread. It looked as though the mythical bird would come to life and fly off.
Threading the wolf’s head belt through the loops in his tunic, buckling it and then pulling his arms through the overcoat, Link thought, wow, someone really went all out for me! It fits perfectly! He strode to the mirror and checked his reflection. I look like a prince!
“Deku,” he addressed the dragon. “Are you coming?”
The little dragon performed a small bow from his perch on the sun bathed windowsill. I wouldn’t miss meeting the king, surely not! He replied.
Link laughed. “Let’s go, then,” he said and then left the room with Deku on his shoulder.
Chapter Sixteen: New Beginnings
THE ELABORATELY CARVED WOODEN DOOR TO THE KING’S drawing room opened and a young knight stuck his head in. Zelda recognised him as Dante Sarksan, grandson to Auru who was her old tutor. The young man had been a knight not yet a week, and was apprenticing to be the Hylian Army’s next strategist. He was a bright young lad with a calculating mind, but he was horribly shy.
“S—Sire? He’s here,” said Dante.
Solomon stood from his chair behind the large and stately desk and then crossed the bookshelf walled room with folded arms. He grabbed the door three thirds of the way up with a strong hand and then wrenched it open wider. “Right, send him in,” he ordered.
He turned to Zelda and then regarded the two other people in the room, a young woman with a confused expression and the other a former knight whose wrists were clad in black iron shackles, with cold eyes. “You two shouldn’t be here so unannounced, least of all you, Jackson. Nary one day has passed that you violate your sentence. Bad form, I’ll call it. I ought to throw you in the dungeon without a second thought.”
“Why, my king! Take it easy on him, eh? He’s to be married soon,” said a new voice, the voice of the one who was summoned. Its speaker stepped lightly into the room. When she saw him in the formal attire the seamstresses had made specifically for him, Zelda’s heart skipped several beats.
“Good morning, Link,” she said.
The Hylian hero set his gaze upon her and smiled, then bowed respectfully. He then turned his attention to the visitors. His brilliant almost-fanged smile rapidly turned into a frown of worry.
“You see, there’s nothing doing when you don’t believe me!”
hissed. “Why would I lie to you?” Jackson
“You wouldn’t, and I’m sorry that I didn’t believe you,” Ilia replied to him. She walked over to where Link was standing with an expression of confusion and alarm on his face. Zelda could tell that he didn’t understand what had happened between his friends, and why they were there. Through their bond, she could feel the bewilderment radiating from him, but the feeling was not directed at the current situation.
What is he so worried about? To what does he feel obligated?
Ilia had walked over to where Link was standing. “Are you immortal?” she asked. “It seems to me that every time you’re rumoured to be dead—” she cast a venomous look at Zelda—“whether it be true or not, you come out alive.”
The princess felt a strange new emotion—a vile and twisting thing it was—uncoil like a snake in her gut as the friends tenderly embraced. Flashes of a lonely childhood swam in her vision as she looked on at them. The feeling grew stronger as the time of their interaction grew in length.
“Ilia, this time I actually was dead, no joke. I…don’t know why, but some how I was resurrected. Do you believe that? At first I didn’t. I know it sounds, and is, absurd, but it’s true,” Link said softly to his friend of his early days.
The beast inside of Zelda rose and roared in its furious strength when she saw the look of such deep apology and timeless care that he set on the Ordonian girl. True friends ‘til the end…something I never had. She set her jaw to keep herself from saying anything that would interfere, against the beast’s better judgement.
“Don’t worry, my brother. I believe you, and Sire,” Ilia added in a pleading tone to the aging king. “Please don’t condemn Conrad for this; he broke his restrictions on my behalf, so that I could see that my greatest friend was still with us.”
Solomon tugged thoughtfully at his short, cottony beard as he surveyed the three of them. He passed be his daughter and came to rest in front of the prisoner.
“If I went so lightly on him, then what would become of the law? I can’t release every criminal just because he has a wife and children at home,” he said sourly in soft, nearly menacing tones.
“Sire, just wait a sec, OK? Let the man go. He’s not a criminal, nor has he done anything to hurt anyone…directly…and it’s not like it was intentional,” Link said suddenly. Everyone present gave him a bewildered look. “Ah…listen! He and I, it’s true, we don’t get along like home made bread and Ordon goat cheese, but if I can say that about him, then it must be true, right?”
Solomon was quiet for a small time; during which Zelda felt intense anxiety and anticipation enter her through Link. Such a deep connection…it must be the Triforce, she suddenly realised.
The king finally nodded. “Fine,” he said disdainfully as he reluctantly unlocked
’s manacles. “Very well, but this is the last time, understand? You will be thrown in the dungeon next time you infringe your punishment with no chance of release—” he cast a meaningful look at Link, who turned his eyes skyward and scuffed the toe of his boot on the carpet innocently—“no matter who testifies for you. Do I make myself clear?” Jackson
“Excellent. Good day, Lord Beastmaster, Zelda,” he said as he crossed his arms and then left the room. He was just short of slamming the door behind him.
Link cleared his throat and then walked over to
with his hand extended and a friendly smile upon his face. “This is my way of giving you the fabled olive branch. If you’re going to be marrying Ilia over there, then we have to get along,” he said. Jackson
smiled and shook Link’s hand. “A truce, then,” the former knight replied. Jackson
The rivals exchanged more words of farewell and then when the pleasantries were all done,
and Ilia left to return to Ordon. Jackson
It was when the door had closed behind then and after Link made to leave himself that Zelda realised that her feeling was of jealousy.
Later that day, Ilia and
arrived back in Ordon village. It had been a very quiet ride, for each of them had said very little. They were about to enter Ilia’s home that she shared with her father when she stopped Jackson from turning the door handle. Jackson
“Conrad, I want to thank you,” she said.
“For what? I almost got us arrested,” he replied confusedly.
“Well, it’s for what you and Link did, actually. I can’t believe him—being alive like that, especially after what had happened—I think it’s important, your truce. For you two to have done that sincerely shows how much you love me; especially since I know that you both aren’t exactly friends,” Ilia said as she held him close.
She pressed her ear against his muscled chest to hear the rhythmic beating of his heart. Ilia was sure now more than ever that this was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. As he spoke next, she could feel the vibrations sent through him by his vocal chords.
“Ilia, know that I will do anything for you. I would give up my life so that you could live. If I wasn’t willing to go to the Dark World and back, then why would I ask you to be my wife? Now!” he said, his voice gaining a lighter tone, “inside we go to finish the very extensive and tedious preparations for the wedding!”
As they walked inside the empty house (Mayor Bo had gone to
to visit his old friend Gor Coron), Ilia asked, “Well, on that subject and the guest list, should we invite Lady Zelda too?” Death Mountain
snorted. “Just so long as His Highness doesn’t accompany her. I don’t want that man wrecking everything.” Jackson
“How would he do that?”
“He would show up,” he replied mordantly. “Besides, why would she want to come to this one horse town? She doesn’t know anyone—”
“Besides Link. And on top of that, she stayed here for a few days five years ago when they were rebuilding the castle. She made friends with a few people. Other than that, I think that Link would bring her,” Ilia explained.
“Why? His invitation didn’t exactly say ‘and guest’. Remember? We didn’t think that he’d be involved with anyone. Wait, are you suggesting—?”
began with a hint of a smile on his features. Jackson
Ilia nodded. “Yes, I think that the two of them have gone beyond a professional relationship. I may have grown up with Hyrule’s next king. Isn’t that nice for him?”
shrugged. “I guess so. They are kind of alike, aren’t they? And they fought back evil together—twice. I suppose if anything would draw two people together, then that would be it,” he said. From a shelf in the corner of the sitting area near Bo’s desk, he removed a folder that was stuffed with leaves of parchment. “Okay, I’ll tell you what. If he can bring her, then he has to sing, that’s the deal. Sound good to you?” Jackson
Laughing, Ilia said, “Sounds good to me. He won’t be happy though.”
“Why? Does he sound like the bleating of a wounded goat?”
“No, he’s actually quite good.”
“Then what’s his deal?”
“He hates getting up in front of people to do anything, except show off his swordplay skills.”
“If he gonna be king, he’ll have to suck it up!”
“Did you call for me, Lord Solomon?” the hero known as Link asked him as he closed the door to Solomon’s study. The king eyed the young man with a scrutinizing gaze, his smoky blue eyes flashing behind his wire rimmed glasses. The boy certainly wasn’t ugly, but was he a good candidate to be his successor?
“I did. Please, my boy, sit down. I have a few questions for you,” he replied.
Link sat in the spindle legged chair facing the large desk. He was strong-looking, with no obvious defects. From the look of his golden blond hair, blue eyes, and long pointed ears, he was a full-blood Hylian. Who his parents were didn’t really matter; he was a respected and noble-by-natured hero. All of these factors were ideal for carrying on the bloodline of the Hylian Royal Family.
The next dynamic to consider was his character.
He did not fidget under Solomon’s piercing gaze, like many of the lords and bravest knights often did. Not to quail or express the feeling of inferiority was both a sign of respect and equality, but it could also be viewed as an act of arrogance.
He was not impatient, for he said nothing in the king’s long pause.
“Tell me about yourself,” Solomon said finally. He saw Link’s Adam’s apple move up and down as he swallowed. Was the lad nervous? Would he lose his composure?
He cleared his throat. “What is it that you wish to know?” he asked in a clear, strong voice that was neither too deep nor too high.
An excellent question to answer with and he does not brag about the swordplay skills I know he possesses. There may be hope for him yet, Solomon thought with some satisfaction. “Tell me,” he began, fixing his sharp stare on him yet again, “where you are from.”
“I am from Ordon village in the southern
,” Link replied. Ordona Province
“…Good. Tell me your previous occupation.”
“I was…a goatherd.”
The king began to pretend to write his answers in a book of blank parchment. “Yes, have you had any prior relationships?”
“Friendly, professional, or intimate?”
“Ah, the latter.”
Link looked taken aback. His expression of intense incredibility caused Solomon to laugh.
“You look shocked, my boy! Surely you knew that I would ask this question! Now, answer it and do so truthfully,” he said in amused tones.
Link surveyed his closely cut fingernails while he was silent. Finally, he looked at Solomon again, looking embarrassed and ashamed. “I…haven’t had any at all, Sire. None. I just haven’t had the time,” he replied quietly.
Solomon nodded. “Nothing to be ashamed of, lad. It’s actually something to be proud of. Most young men your age have been through more relationships than they’ve got years on their lives. Now, tell me. Do you think yourself fit to rule?”
The corners of Link’s mouth twitched and his brows furrowed. “I…can’t honestly answer that. I could say yes and tell you what I would like to do for Hyrule were I going to be king tomorrow, but I could also say no, because I wouldn’t know how to do it properly. However,” he paused, smiling slightly, “I would not be ruling alone, would I? Just as they say it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a king and a queen to rule a kingdom.”
Solomon was thoroughly impressed with Link’s answers. He stood, indicating for Link to do so as well, with his large, gnarled hand extended. Shaking hands with the hero, he said, “It seems I was wrong to misjudge you. I give you my faith and my blessing. I hope that soon I can welcome you into my family and call you son.”
“You just might, Sire. You just might.”
* * * * *
Link exited the king’s study to find Deku waiting for him immediately outside the door.
Well, what did he want? The little dragon demanded.
“He wanted to ask me a few questions,” Link replied as Deku settled on his shoulder.
Ah, he wanted to see if you were good enough for his daughter.
“Yeah, no. I don’t think so. Was there ever any doubt to that?” he retorted. Of course, Deku’s theory was right on the mark, although the king had been good at concealing the fact. He was just glad that he had indeed proven worthy. That woman is my sun, my moon and my stars, thought Link.
There was only doubt, said Deku with a grunting laugh. Tiny puffs of smoke emerged from his nostrils with the force of his laughter. Whatever, if you say so. By the way, your celestial goddess has been looking for you. She wants you to meet her on the Western battlements. You’d better not keep her waiting; it sounds as though she has something important to say to you. If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen picking a bone with the leftovers. The Master cook said I could suck the marrow out of the dinner boar’s bones. Later! Deku finished as he lifted off of his favourite perch on Link’s shoulder and then flew in the direction of the kitchens.
“I thought I told you to quit listening to my thoughts!” he roared after the dragon. “No respect,” he added, muttering to himself as much as his familiar.
When he had sighed and forgotten his anger and frustration towards Deku, he made his way outside.
After he closed the door behind him, he stepped out onto the sunset bathed parapet. He turned his cobalt eyes toward the sun, which was already well on its journey to its place of rest. In fact, he could see the sun’s sister, the moon, more clearly than he could the fiery orb.
He walked along the ramparts slowly, listening to the bluebirds’ and goldfinches’ last shrill songs of the day. Further up his path of motion, he spotted Zelda staring fixedly off into the distance. He came to a halt beside her.
“I always enjoy watching the sun go down,” he told her quietly. “It makes me think of a great, bright beast closing its eye, and the moonrise as a shadow beast much like the wolf opening its own. It’s the opposite for the sunrise, but no one seems to think that mournful as they do the sunset.”
Zelda stood silently for a moment more. Link marvelled at how the princess’s eyes caught the fading light and reflected it back, like the sunlight glinting off the surface of
. The angle at which the light hit her face bathed the half he could see in shadows, and outlined her frame in a thin layer of radiant illumination. It made her cascading blond hair seem as though it were made of finely spun gold. The beauty of her at this moment made his breath catch in his throat. Lake Hylia
At last she said, “I agree with you, but I rarely have time to witness either.” She turned slightly to look at him. “I think that it brings good fortune to the next day if someone you love sees it with you.”
“Hmm. I like that philosophy,” Link said gently as he put his arms around her.
Zelda leaned her head against his shoulder. When they stood face to face, the top of her head barely reached his eyebrows.
“What did my father ask of you?” she murmured.
“He just wanted to get to know me better in the form of a short interview. I suppose he just wanted to know only the things he felt were important.”
“Oh? Like what?”
“He basically asked if I was a sort of ‘ladies man’.”
Zelda laughed softly. “Well, to him, there’s nothing worse. Was he pleased with your reply?”
“Did he ask anything else?”
“Yes. He wanted to know if I thought myself fit to rule,” Link replied. “I didn’t really know what to tell him. I said that I had some ideas about reforms and other things, but I told him I couldn’t do it if I had to be crowned tomorrow. He seemed satisfied with that. Does he think that I’m some amateur who’s greener than Faron Woods after a rainstorm?”
Zelda pulled back a little so that she could see his face. “I don’t think so, Link. I believe he was just trying to find out if you were more arrogant than the champion of the annual Hylian swordsmanship contest who thinks he’s invincible. Did you say anything else?”
Link nodded. “Yes. I explained my feeling and told him that, even if I could, I wouldn’t do it alone. I said that I counted on your invaluable partnership,” he said with a small knowing smile.
“Do you truly think that?”
“Of course I do,” he replied. “Do you?”
“Yes, I do. In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way. You are my king, and I want it to be that way forever. I love you, Link,” Zelda told him.
Link’s heart swelled as happiness consumed him. “I love you too, Zelda,” he replied. He pulled her close again and kissed her tenderly. “And I always will. Don’t forget: always.”
* * * * *
SIX WEEKS LATER
* * * * *
“Deku! Hold still! Whoa, boy, you’re not getting away that easily! If I have to wear it, then so… do… you!” Link growled as he fought to put a bow tie on the dragon, which fiercely fought to avoid it.
Stop it, or I’ll bite you, he warned, clacking his jaws together threateningly. Link ducked just in time as Deku’s feather tipped tail narrowly missed his head. Having foreseen the dragon’s struggles, Link had not yet dressed in his own formal attire.
“Come on, just co-operate! It’s not going to kill you. Here, I’ll tell you what. After the wedding, you can burn it. Does that sound okay to you?” Link said pleadingly. “If it makes you feel better, I didn’t get to choose what I’m going to wear, either.”
The little gold dragon snorted out a puff of black smoke. Fine. I just—what was that? He said, snapping his attention to the door of the room. Listen, there it is again! Link, someone’s at the door.
Link eyed his friend suspiciously. “You’d better not be lying to me,” he said, and then opened the door to admit Zelda.
“Why aren’t you two ready yet? Come on, the wedding starts in two hours!” exclaimed the princess. “I hope you aren’t considering going in your pyjamas, Link. I’m not sure that anyone would appreciate that.” She was wearing a midnight blue dress that had red accents around the hems, sleeves, and waist.
“Sorry, it’s just that someone,” he glanced at Deku, “wouldn’t co-operate. I’ll meet you in a little while.” And with that, Zelda left.
Link tied the scarlet silk ribbon around Deku’s long neck. He then dressed himself in the clothing that was set out for him: a dress-tunic the identical colour of Deku’s ribbon with brass buttons; black slacks with a red stripe down the side of the leg; and a ornate gold worked sword belt and scabbard in which he was to put an ornamental sword. The sword which he had been given by the king to replace SunFire was the most beautiful blade he’d ever seen.
The crosspiece of the blade was an emerald green colour, and its shape was that of a dragon’s head with the actual blade protruding from its mouth. The blade itself was a tempered green adamantine ore and gold alloy—making the blade unbreakable—etched with the image of a running wolf and the Triforce. The dragon’s fangs were a lustrous crystal, and its eyes were an iridescent blue. The blade’s colours were gold set with swirling veins of green. Its hilt was likewise gold and was wrapped in pure adamantine wire. The pommel was artfully forged to the likeness of a dragon’s claw grasping a robin’s egg sized emerald.
He had called it ‘Ferocitas,’ for Courage.
As he buckled on the ornamental sword belt, he walked slowly over to the tall mirror mounted on the wall. He had picked up a small trimming razor on the way. He checked his reflection in the mirror and then proceeded to delicately shave off the sparse stubble that was around his thinly trimmed beard.
When he was finished, he brushed back his newly cut hair. It had gone from a nearly shoulder length mane to a closely cropped style of about four inches long. Now everyone can see those beautiful eyes of yours, he recalled Zelda telling him as he’d initially complained about his haircut.
Link replaced the razor and the wire brush on a small table. “Coming, Deku?” he asked.
Lead the way, Deku replied as he took his customary place on Link’s right shoulder. Together they walked down to the entrance hall, where they found Zelda waiting for them.
Catching sight of the hero and his dragon, she complimented Deku on his smart looking bow tie and Link on his actually looking clean, tidy, and organized.
They bid farewell to the door man and Solomon as they exited the castle. Outside, Snowflake and Shadowchaser were groomed and saddled, waiting patiently for them. Link and Zelda mounted the horses and then departed for Ordon.
* * * * *
When they finally reached the gate at the end of the rope bridge spanning the gorge between Ordon and Faron Woods, they found that it was closed and locked. Someone was standing on the other side of it with their back turned to them.
“Ay! Come on, man! Open the gate, will you?” Link asked as he dismounted from Shadowchaser. The person turned at his request.
“Only if y’all have got an invitation,” he replied. Fado peered between the wooden posts. “Sorry, partner! I didn’t recognize y’all in that fancy getup. Woo-wee, y’all sure do look good! Come on in! Actually, I think y’all are the last to arrive.” He paused. “Hang on, partner, where’s Epona?”
“I told you we should have left earlier,” Zelda hissed in his long, pointed ear.
Link ignored her comment. “ It’s good to see you too, Fado. I’ll tell you about Epona after the wedding. Have they started the ceremony yet?” he asked the ranch hand as he led Snowflake and Shadowchaser through the gate and into Ordon Woods.
“Not yet, but they wanted to. Seems Ilia ain’t wanted to start without y’all. I suppose we’d better hurry along now; they’re gettin’ antsy out there!” replied Fado.
When they got there, Link picketed the two horses outside of his house in the small paddock. Fado, the hero, and the princess hastily made their way up to the ranch where at least thirty chairs were set up facing a flowered arch on a small platform. Each was occupied by a guest; some of whom Link did not know by looking at them. Darbus and Gor Coron were standing with folded arms behind the phalanx of chairs as they could easily see over two peoples’ heads if they stood on each other’s shoulders. Everyone from Ordon was seated in the first two rows. They took their seats in the three available chairs. The bright afternoon sun glinted off the metallic structure and the chairs.
It truly wasn’t a large gathering.
“Nice fences, eh?” Link muttered to Zelda on his left. She gave him a small smile.
To his right across the aisle, Colin was seated. The boy caught his eye and waved in greeting to him.
No more than five minutes later, a flutist began the wedding march tune with a shrill note. He was later accompanied by a harp and an acoustic guitar.
The people seated in the back row gasped as Mayor Bo led Ilia up the aisle to where Jackson was waiting with his best man, is ten year old brother, patiently.
Link gasped as well as his eyes fell upon his friend. Her dress was truly stunning. With its long train and elaborate lacework on the bodice and hems, there was nothing plain about it. He turned his head to study the groom’s reaction.
’s face nearly split in two with the force of his smile. The expression lit up his brown eyes that carried the gravity of his love for Ilia in them. Jackson
As she passed by Link, Ilia gave him a smile that said thank you for being here for me, my brother. The Hylian hero gave her thumbs up in return.
When the bride and her father reached the altar, Mayor Bo said, “Conrad Jackson, I give to you my daughter’s hand in marriage.” Then, in an undertone he added, “Make sure you don’t screw this up.”
laughed merrily and then replied, “I won’t, sir, and I accept.” And so, the priest (actually Aramis) began the ceremony. Jackson
“We are gathered her today…in this most holy goat pasture—” there was a laugh from the friends and faming— “to join this man, Conrad Jackson and Ilia of Ordon village in holy matrimony,” he said. The observance continued with the reciting of vows and the traditional ‘I do’s.’
Many of the women, Fado and the two Goron Elders burst into tears when Aramis said, “I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.”
lifted Ilia’s veil, and as their lips met, a tumultuous peal of thunder sounded. However, everyone was too caught up in the high emotions to notice. Jackson
They finally became aware of the approaching storm when the sky opened up and released a torrent of cold rain upon them all. Cries of shock and joy were uttered from everyone as they ran back into the village. Only the Gorons remained; they were letting the blissful rain moisturize their dry and rocky skin after suffering nearly three months of drought and volcanic eruptions.
The residents of Ordon went back to their homes, and the immediate family of
and Ilia entered Mayor Bo’s house. Shad, Telma, Aramis, Jackson Ludaand Zelda all sought refuge inside of Link’s cabin.
Looking out the water streaked window, Link said, “Looks like today is a day of new beginnings. Everything’s going to explode after this rain. We’ll all wake up tomorrow to a world so green, it’d be as if someone put a green shade over the Sun.” The rainstorm lasted nearly two hours straight, and when the sun finally came out, everyone returned to the ranch.
addressed the crowd that had assembled. “Sorry for the…inconvenience. We’re not calling off this get-together on account of rain! Now, it’s my pleasure to introduce our first performer of the evening, the talented though reluctant, Link! Come on, mate, don’t look so surprised! You knew this was coming,” he said happily. Most of the people turned and looked at him. Jackson
With an embarrassed shrug, Link said, “Alright, but don’t blame me if your ears start to bleed.” He walked slowly up to the raised platform that had once served as the altar and climbed onto it. He sighed and then began to sing.
The general opinion of his talent was fairly okay. He truly didn’t sound like a warbling egret, but many of his higher notes sounded like howls. The song he sang was quick and lively, and everyone got up and danced to it, whether out of respect for him or that they liked it, Link was unsure. After the last note passed his vocal chords, Link leapt off the platform and ran to where he could get a drink.
As he gulped down some cold water, Zelda came up to him. “Why didn’t you tell me you could do that?” she asked him.
Link put down his glass and then wiped his mouth. “I’ve been howlin’ with the wolves far awhile, so I’ve had some practice. Besides, I’m not all that good, they’re all just being nice.” He laughed. “now, come on, let’s dance. Don’t be surprised if I step on your toes.” He held out his hand, which she eagerly took, and then led her onto the dance floor.
* * * * *
When the celebrations had ended and everyone had returned to their homes, the newlyweds, Mayor Bo, Link, and Zelda assembled in the mayor’s kitchen.
“Thank you for coming; it really meant a lot,” Ilia said as she hugged both Link and Zelda as they were leaving.
“Ah, it was no trouble, honest. Besides, I think that it was a lot of fun,” Link replied. “I guess I’ll escort the lady here back to her castle, and I’ll be back in the old wood cabin later if you need
” He paused and then winked at me. . “But I’m sure Connie here can take car of y’all, so don’t bother me. See you later.” Jackson
The group exchanged a few more words of farewell and then the two Hylians left. They collected their horses and swiftly rode back to
, where King Solomon greeted them. Hyrule Castle
“How was the wedding?” he asked as he ushered them into the large foyer.
“it was a lot of fun, father, better than any of the galas you hold here,” Zelda responded.
Solomon laughed heartily and then left them.
“Well, goodnight. I’ll see you tomorrow when I come for work, if there is any,” Link said and then kissed her. “See you later.”
Link walked out onto the grounds where he mounted Shadowchaser and then galloped into and out of
. He took the shorter route through South Hyrule Field, and then picketed the white and black horse in his yard when he got home. Castle Town
He climbed the ladder into his home and locked the door behind him out of habit.
He changed into his pyjamas and then crawled into his bed. He folded his arms behind his head, closed his eyes and sighed softly, finally relaxed, for he knew that Hyrule was safe once and for all.
After the Twilight: Epilogue
Thirty year old Link walked silently through the dark, misty grounds of Hyrule castle. The great stone monoliths that were the bases of the tall towers loomed over him like an oppressive protector, their ivy strangled faces blank and unreadable. They betrayed no echoes, no feasible signs that any life had walked among them.
His heartbeat was that entire he could hear in the eerie silence, its thump-thump-thump drowning out even the slight whispering sounds his boots made as they passed over the damp grass.
He cast a furtive glance behind him to see if he could catch a glimpse of his stalker, but he found nothing, no one. The only other humanoid being among the late evening murkiness was his own shadow, and even that ghostly entity was vague.
As his animal instinct took over him, his senses became sharper. With a trained ear, he blocked out the sound of his heart beating and focussed on the rustling of the bushes off to his right. He knew that his pursuer would attack his weaker side, so he slowly and silently turned around.
An arrow came flying out of the bushes, making a soft whistling sound as it travelled toward him in a graceful but deadly arc. Link smiled sadly as he moved out of its path, but his reflex came too late. He grunted as it struck him on his left shoulder, leaving a dark stain spreading from the impact site.
He clutched at his shoulder and fell to his knees, groaning in agony. He squeezed his eyes shut and stood laboriously. He chuckled quietly as he opened his eyes and picked up the bagged arrow filled with crimson elderberry juice from where it had fallen. He shook his head. How could he be so negligent?
Link sighed resignedly. “Alright, Jaykob. You won. You got me!” he called out.
Almost immediately after his shout, a five year old boy with short golden blond hair and bright blue eyes and long Hylian ears popped his head out of the bushes from where the arrow had been shot. With an excited cry, he ran on his short legs toward where Link was standing.
“Oh yeah! Did I really get ya? Did I really win, huh, Dad?” little Jaykob squealed in delight, hopping up and down while waving his junior bow back and forth. A small quiver filled with similar bagged arrows was strapped across his back.
He smiled at his son and tapped his shoulder where the practice arrow had struck. “Yup, but you were a little off the mark. You have to account for your prey moving. You aren’t shooting at targets anymore,” Link replied as he crouched down to the boy’s eye level and ruffling his hair. “If this arrow were real, it wouldn’t have done any lethal damage, but you would have disarmed me. Good job, Jake, you’re getting a lot better. Now, c’mon. We’ve got to wash up and get to dinner; we don’t want to be late again. Remember what happened last time?” he grunted as he stood and lifted Jaykob onto his broad shoulders. Jaykob was small for his age, and so he took up hardly and space on his father’s shoulders.
“Yeah, Mama got kinda mad last time,” he said with a shudder. “She’s real scary when she’s mad, right, Papa?”
“You should see her when she’s furious! She could make Deku cry!”
The two of them made their way into the castle where Sebastian, the doorman, greeted them.
“You’d best be hasty in your preparations, my Lords. Dinner will be served in ten minutes,” he said stiffly. He did also not approve of them coming in late for the evening meal, and wearing soiled clothes at that.
Link removed his son from his shoulders and placed him gently on the floor. “Run along, Jake. Change into your red tunic, you know the one your mom likes so much?” he told the boy as he began to scurry away.
Jake turned back, a child’s scowl creasing his small face. “Aww, Dad! Do I have to? It itches!” he complained.
“Yes that one. She got the tailor to specially make that for you, and you never wear it. Come on, it’ll make her happy,” Link replied sternly.
“Okay, Dad, but it’s your job to keep Mama happy, she told me so,” he said and then scampered off to his room.
When Jaykob was out of sight, Sebastian addressed Link. “Sire, has he become more proficient in his marksmanship?”
“Considerably. I’d say he’s got his mother’s hawk eyes,” he paused. “Just one more thing, my name is Link.”
“Link. That’s my name, and I really hope that all the people at the castle would call me as such, including you, Sebastian.”
The young king clapped the man on the shoulder, said “good man,” and then dashed off to clean himself up.
Not but five minutes later did Link emerge from his chamber wearing a regal white tunic. He adjusted the sleeves and then made his way into the dining room where Jaykob and his mother were already seated. He pulled the chair at the head of the table out and sat in it. He smiled and gave a small wink to his son, who giggled.
“You’re a little late, Link,” said his wife of six years.
“Sorry, Zelda, but…I’m sorry. It won’t happen again,” he said in a small voice that he put on for the benefit of little Jake. “I just hope you weren’t too hard on the boy.”
“I wasn’t, but he’s not at fault here. Will you pass the potatoes?” she replied.
Link lifted the bowl and handed it to her. “Again, I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you,” he apologized again. That was the type of husband Link was; the sort that felt guilty for even the smallest thing.
“It’s okay, love. You just have to be a little more responsible with him, that’s all,” she said, smiling slightly as she scooped the mashed tubers onto her plate.
Link grinned. “Okay, how’s this: Jaykob, eat your vegetables,” he said in a mock stern voice.
Jake, with a little gravy on his chin and cheeks, smiled widely and giggled again.
“I’m serious. If you want to grow up big and strong and be a hero, you’ve got to eat your greens.”
Jaykob nodded vigorously and then speared a carrot on the end of his fork and hastily ate it.
The rest of the dinner ran without a hitch, with Jaykob telling his parents about his lessons, and with Link and Zelda discussing the meetings taking place the following day.
Afterward, they took their places in the sitting room where the king and queen played numerous board games with their young son until it was time for Jaykob to go to bed. Link carried the yawning boy up to his room.
“Good night, Jake,” he said as he tucked him in. “see you in the morning.” He gave his son a light kiss on the forehead.
“I love you, Papa. Tell Mama I said good night and give her a big hug for me, will ya?” Jake squeaked as his father blew out the candle on the bedside table and then opened the curtains to let the soft moonlight in.
“I will, for sure. Love you too, buddy. Sweet dreams,” Link replied softly. He gently closed the door behind him and then climbed the stairs up to his own room on the next floor.
Inside, he found Zelda sitting in bed reading. She closed the book and replaced it on the nightstand as he came in.
“Is he going to sleep soon do you think?” she asked as Link dressed to go to sleep himself.
“He probably will. That training exercise tuckered the little guy out. He wanted me to tell you something,” he said and then climbed into bed. He leaned closer to his wife and put his arms around her. Giving her a bear hug, he said, “‘good night, Mama,’ from Jaykob.” He kissed her lightly. “From me.”
Zelda smiled. “Well, that’s responsible of you,” she said with a small laugh. Now, get some sleep so that you’ll not be grouchy and offend one of the many Realm ambassadors that are coming tomorrow. I know they met you before, but that was eleven years ago. You have to show them that you’re still the same man, who doesn’t get ornery with age.”
“How old do you think I am anyway?”
“With the way you sometimes act, Jake’s age, and sometimes, older than my father,” Zelda replied amusedly. “Good night, Link.” She blew out the candles and lay down.
“Good night. Don’t let the Walltulas bite.”
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