A Wind Waker fic. Mid-game spoilers apply.
If Link of Outset Island seems a bit "too eloquent" for his age and general personality here, it is merely because I am describing his core feelings more than his thoughts and "voice" - in other terms, things in his heart that he probably wouldn't be able to put into words himself. In my recollection of the game - we couldn't see a lot of the little details on the big Hero's statue, but I'm sure Link could.
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Link stared up at the statue. It had been the first thing he'd noticed in the dilapidated remains of what had been once, surely, the great hall of a great palace. The giant bronze figure on the pedestal looked very much like him - except with longer, stronger limbs and generally more mature features. The figure wore the same kind of clothes he did, complete with the floppy hat, depicted as if it were blowing in a breeze. It looked downright triumphant, which was not a word the twelve-year-old lad would have used to describe his own hat. When his grandmother had given it to him, he'd thought it was silly, and the rest of the outfit was much too warm.
He'd wondered why he'd had the misfortune of being born in summer when the traditional Hero's Clothes were so itchy and hot. Link had worn them with grace, to please his grandmother, as she'd worked so hard on them. He'd kept them on when he'd set out to find Aryll because they'd just seemed appropriate then. As of now, they'd begun to feel right.
He hadn't believed that the legends were true. His grandmother had taken the old Hero of Time legend as though it was stone-set history, and he'd believed in it when he was little. He used to spend most of his time playing at being the Hero of Time, using a long stick for a sword, chasing crabs and seagulls, and sparring with other children on
. Trees became looming monsters. Rocks became rare treasures. Feathers and shells found on the beach became objects of "healing" when a little "adventurer" got "hurt" and talismans against evil. There used to be an artist on the island who would drill holes into the shells and string them on strands with beads or on leather cords for the children so they'd always have their "talismans" close. Link had even wondered if the great Hero had, maybe, just maybe, shared his name. All of the boys on the island had wondered if they'd shared the name - Alesh, Breedon, Cole…children who'd grown up before Link had and had left the island in search of their fortunes. He'd been told that there wasn't a large chance of it. "Link" was not an especially common name. Outset Island
The boy had grown out of his belief in the legend a year or so ago, but had continued to play it with Aryll, as she enjoyed it and the games were fun. Now, Aryll really was a damsel in distress and he was in some strange place beneath the sea, looking up at a very real statue honoring the legend he'd stopped believing in before his journey began. The kingdom from the stories did exist, as he was standing in it - a land trapped in the past and beneath the waves. It was nothing short of overwhelming. He felt foolish, like the traders that would come to
and hear people talking of fairies, only to say "I don't believe in fairies." To the islanders, to say "I don't believe in fairies" was like saying "I don't believe in seagulls." They were real and obvious for those who knew where to look for them, and many a trader had been quite appalled when someone had come back from the fairy hollow with one of the tiny creatures unhappily trapped in a bottle. Outset Island
Link knew that he had to get the Master Sword, located somewhere in this place, sealed beneath what appeared to be a sliding-stone puzzle nearby, but he could not help but contemplate that statue. He'd needed a good rest, anyway. The man in bronze was holding up a great blade victoriously - it must have been a depiction of the Master Sword. He looked so strong - in every way a magnificent hero. Link's eyes fell on the Hero of Time's face. The jaw was set strong, but the eyes looked immensely sad. This would have been the doing of the sculptor that crafted the piece from which the bronze had been cast, but Link wondered if the actual man's eyes had been like that. Everything about the statue was such a strange combination of triumph and melancholy.
The old legend said that the Hero of Time had left the ancient kingdom for another land and when the people cried out for him, he did not appear. It was a confusing piece of the legend, Link thought. If he's saved the kingdom, why hadn't he stayed? He'd obviously been loved and honored very much, to have this huge statue made of him. More importantly, why would he just leave when the kingdom would need him again someday?
Then Link remembered something very important and he felt suddenly sad. "To leave for another land" was sometimes used as a gentle way to say that someone had died. Among the islands, it was sometimes one and the same - someone would leave to sail the seas only to be lost in a storm. People would say "The traveler… left on a journey. Who knows when we will see him again?" His father had left on just such a journey when he'd been very young and Aryll just a baby - he'd suffered a shipwreck and had washed up pale and cold on Windfall Island, according to the men who'd brought his body back to Outset. His mother had followed him to the "other land" shortly thereafter, the victim of an illness. When she was sick, she'd told Link that she was "going on a journey" and that it was an adventure that she hoped he wouldn't take for a long, long time.
Maybe the Hero of Time had not left Hyrule… maybe he'd simply died and those that had prayed for his return were hoping for his resurrection or for someone to take up his calling. As it was, as this was a story from an ancient time, the Hero had surely, by now, made his "journey to another land."
Link set to work with the sliding puzzle, wondering about those eternally sad eyes.
He'd gone back to the Forsaken Fortress and had fought his way to his dear sister. Aryll was now in the care of Tetra's crew. Although they were pirates, Link trusted them to take care of her and the other rescued girls. Pirates though they were, they'd shown themselves to be noble outlaws. Link had just hoped they wouldn't charge his poor grandmother an arm and a leg to release Aryll once they'd gotten to Outset. The boy had settled his score with the Helmaroc King and found himself confronting the man behind him - the being of ancient evil whom the King of the Red Lions had warned him about.
That is when everything had changed. Ganondorf had been just too horribly strong and had left him hurting, struggling to pick himself off the floor. The man had told him that the Master Sword had lost its power, that the Hero's weapon had become nothing more than a useless slat of thick metal. That is when Tetra showed up. She'd fought and Ganondorf had grabbed her. He kept calling her by a different name… "Zelda." Everything else was something of a blur for Link after that. He and Tetra had been rescued by friends, held up over the sea by strong Rito claws… Valoo had set the cabin on the Fortress ablaze.
Link decided that he must have passed out after then, because the next thing he knew, he was in the King of the Red Lions, still in a bit of physical pain, looking down at Tetra, limp on the deck. His friends must have sensed his panic, for he was told that she was merely unconscious. "Merely unconscious" wasn't exactly something that comforted him - she'd been hurt because she'd tried to help him and he'd been too weak to save her from being hurt.
It was then that he thought he understood, maybe, why the Hero of Time statue had such sad eyes. It was because, legend though he was, he was only one person and people were limited. No matter how much anyone wanted to save every good person from every misfortune, it was impossible for one person to do. Link had helped many people in his travels, but he couldn't keep friends from getting hurt… like Tetra. Link knew that he had sad eyes looking down on her, hoping she'd wake up quickly.
She did awaken promptly and was utterly herself, to Link's immense relief. The King of the Red Lions took them both back to the forgotten kingdom beneath the sea and they followed a mysterious voice. Many strange things were revealed to them both - Link really still wasn't used to this whole hero business - and, apparently, rough Tetra was truly a princess and being hunted by evil.
When the Hero statue's pedestal began to rumble and slide over the chamber where Link had left her, he let out a yelp of despair. The king that they'd met had said that she needed to be protected, but Link had not expected it to be quite like this. This was Tetra - a roving pirate, a free person. To dress her up in fancy clothes and seal her up in a cage just didn't seem right! It was up to him to take on Ganondorf again… for her to be free. Would he ever see her again? Would she be alright down there?
After he'd banged on the pedestal and cried himself hoarse, he took a deep breath and looked back up at the bronze Hero of Time with his sad eyes, frozen in time. Link sighed and smiled faintly. He had the thought that, in some small way, that man was still protecting. He ultimately could not save his world forever, but this memory of him, cast in bronze, was protecting his own captain and princess, and the key to saving the new world that had been built atop the old.
Before leaving the great hall to return to his boat, he looked up at the statue and gave it a nod.
"Take care of her for me, please? Keep her safe."
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