Disclaimer and Notes: The Legend of Zelda is something I do not own and am just playing with. Link, the enemies he fights and the towns he visits all belong to the good folks at Nintendo. Retro-gaming is fun and I’m just trying to draw some attention to the classics. I got this idea while playing a round of AoL. This fic is game-setting rather than cartoon or comic inspired. A word of warning: I tend to write a little on the bloody and “realistic” side in dealing with game enemies and such no “disappearing in puffs” here.
The young man gazed down at his bloody hands. They glistened in the sunlight, dark and sticky. He yanked his sword out of the thick, reptilian skin of the carcass of his attacker – a daira. He grabbed a cloth out of a pouch on his belt and wiped his hands and blade. Some blood ran into his eyes and he wiped his forehead. Immediately he regretted that action, sucking air through his teeth with the sting.
Link’s adrenaline had been up in the fight and he’d been fighting hard. He remembered now… the daira had swept its handaxe toward his head. He did not think it had landed, but it was obvious now that he’d been mistaken. He delicately touched around the wound. His skull and brain were intact, but he’d nearly been scalped. Now that he’d had a chance to catch his breath and rest, he noticed other pains in his body – scrapes, cuts, bruises and aches in multitude. There was no way around it – he’d have to go into town and find a doctor. He knew the healer in Saria well, but it was a long trek. According to his map, Mido was supposed to be near here.
Sheathing his sword, he stared down at his kill. The crocodile-like creatures’ mouth was open in a perverse smile, its tongue hanging out in the dirt. Link had been doing this far too much, he thought, fighting. He was very good at it, but there was something about being doused in blood all the time. The daira’s blood was red, like his. The young man had seen many colors of blood. He felt he was becoming far too used to it. Its slick feel and strong smell were very familiar. Still, as always, it was a matter of the enemy falling or him and he enjoyed being alive. It was becoming tiresome, being on an important quest all the while attempting to avoid becoming a human sacrifice. Ganon’s minions didn’t seem to be too careful about trying not to spill too much of his blood in their attempts to capture him to perform the sacrifice.
Link pressed the cloth to the gash on his head as his feet shuffled through the sands on his way to the main road. A sea breeze billowed over his tunic and played with his hair. He smiled as he approached many beautiful little houses walled in white stucco. They shined among the sands like pale seashells. He read the sign at the entrance. “
of Mido.” Harbor Town
The streets were bustling with people. Men sold fish from stalls. Children played. A woman walked her dog. People stared at him. Some of them gasped. “Sir! Sir!” one burly man said, “The healer is just up the way!”
Link nodded his thanks and proceeded onward. He refused a young couple who attempted to help him to walk, telling them that he was fine to walk on his own. A woman in a red dress came out of a small home with a sign indicating it was a doctor’s office. She looked a lot like Cassiopeia in Saria.
She took him by the hand. “Please, let me help you,” she said as she led him inside. She fussed over him and took him to a table covered in a white sheet. “Sit down here and let me have a look at you. Ooh, ooh, this is a pretty deep gash. Can you hold still while I give you stitches?”
Link grunted out a “Yep,” all the while overwhelmed. “It’s from a small axe… Daira attack.” He watched the woman wash her hands in a basin and prepare medical supplies. He removed his hat. “What is your name?” he asked, “You look a lot like the healer over in Saria.”
“Cassandra,” she answered, threading a needle she’d sterilized in a tray of alcohol, “and you must mean Cassiopeia. She’s my twin sister, actually. You can call me Cass.” Cassandra smeared a strange-looking jelly from a jar onto Link’s forehead. “This will numb the area a bit, but you’ll still feel the thread go through, I’m afraid. You aren’t seeing any sparks of light in front of you are you? Have you passed out any?”
“No, no,” Link answered. He winced as she began lacing, but did his best to hold perfectly still. Wounds like this and the techniques to heal them were things he’d become used to. “By the way, I haven’t introduced myself proper… my name’s Li-”
“Link,” Cassandra finished for him. “There’s no need to introduce yourself, almost everyone knows who you are. Your face, your clothes… the way you carry yourself… the world entire speaks of you and portraits have been passed around. You really must have spent a long time just around the royal grounds to not realize how famous you are in the countryside.”
Link blushed. “Really?” he asked, “I thought most of what I did was in secret. The river keepers at Saria didn’t know me right away. I had to get a letter of approval before they let me cross freely.” He winced as she tied off the last stitch. She began winding a bandage around his head. Her fingers were delicate and soft.
“And messenger pigeons from North Castle have been sent out… we received one bearing a scroll from Lady Impa giving us word that you’re seeking out the ancient palaces, that you’re doing something with them that is going to bring back the original Grand Princess Zelda and restore order to Hyrule. Lady Impa did not write out the details, but she asked our town – and according to the letter, all the towns receiving the message - to help you out in any way we can.”
“That’… that’s very flattering,” Link replied as the healer flexed his arms and dabbed his minor scrapes and cuts with the strange jelly. “It must be why the people of Rauru and Ruto were so forthcoming.”
“There used to be a palace near here, but all the roads to it sank into the sea long ago. I cannot tell you how to get there, but maybe, if you ask around town, you can find someone who knows more about it. You might want to see Sir Mallory while you’re here, too, if you can find him. He’s our town’s knight, but he is such a hermit.” Cassandra tied off a bandage over a cut on his right arm. “You’re going to be just fine. I suggest you get a room at the inn. That way you can rest up a while and ask people around town for information leading to what you seek.”
“Thank you,” Link said with a polite little bow. “Do I owe you anything? The other healers didn’t charge me, but I’ll be happy to pay-”
“Don’t even think about it,” Cassandra said with a light laugh. “Heroes get help free of charge.”
Link walked through Mido feeling very much better. The medicines Cassandra gave him put him at great ease, though the bandage on his head was uncomfortably warm in the strong sun. People smiled at him and tipped their hats. A small boy excitedly talked to him about Sir Mallory. A woman said something about the ringing of a church bell. Like much of Hyrule, Mido seemed to be caught between ancient and new expressions of religion.
He searched for the local inn. As he passed a long house, a middle-aged woman forcibly caught him by the arm.
“Ouch!” he yelped in surprise. The woman’s bony fingers had caught him right over a deep bruise. He turned around quickly in a defensive stance that had become second nature to him. She looked up at his face with pleading eyes.
“I am sorry,” the woman said, “I did not mean to hurt you, but you have to help me. My daughter is sick! You have to help her!”
“I am not a healer,” Link said gently. “I wouldn’t know what to do. I’ve just come from the healer. Why don’t you take your daughter to her?”
“The healer will not see my little girl,” the woman said.
Link set his gaze hard. He turned around and walked with forceful steps right back up the way he had come. He flung open Cassandra’s door. The surprised woman dropped a vial on the floor. “Link? You’re back already? What’s wrong?”
“What’s this I hear about you not seeing a sick child?” he demanded.
“Oh… Rosalee,” Cassandra sighed, putting a hand to her head, “Jakob and Verna’s girl.”
“Can they not pay you? Is that it? I’ll pay for her care if that’s the case!” Link offered, “You saw me for free…”
“Link, Link, calm down,” Cassandra said. “I’d gladly treat her if I could. You see, the sickness that child has is beyond my skills. Rosalee needs a very special medicine. It’s only made by a few people in the south of Hyrule. It is a magical medicine that can cure almost any ailment or wound. If I’d had it, I wouldn’t have had to give you stitches. I was expecting a shipment of it, but the caravan got waylaid by monsters.”
Link remembered the battles he’d fought in the southern reaches of Hyrule many seasons ago. He’d been able to buy strange forms of medicine there that had saved his life in battle many times. He left Cassandra’s office, sighing. The last he’d heard, all the roads to southern Hyrule had been blocked by earthquakes and landslides – one of the many signs that not all had become well in the land after he’d defeated Ganon. These years of restoration had been going slowly and times seemed to be getting worse.
He noticed, too, that he seemed to put off some kind of aura. People went to him readily for help, even if they didn’t know that he was the royal family’s “official hero.” He did not think he could help this time and it broke his heart.
Then a boy came up to him and told him that he knew a secret, that he’d heard that there was magic to be found in a cave in Morgue Swamp. Link asked about it and was given a story about a small group of wagons that had been waylaid bringing trade goods to the town. As the story had it, the monsters took away several of the trade goods and retreated to a cave, which they blocked off with a large stone. Link fingered the hammer on his belt and knew what to do.
He sprinted to the house of the woman who’d pleaded to him. He put a hand on her shoulder, looked her in the eye and told her that he would help her daughter. Then, he left Mido and set out down the road. The
was dangerous and his body still ached from previous battles. He walked all night and found himself in the swamp by morning. If the girl was very sick, there was no telling how much time she had left. Morgue Swamp
The swamp was arduous country, filled with octorocks and predatory birds. Deflecting rocks spit by the cephalopods with his shield was easy enough, but the moby hawks would swoop down from the sky and catch Link in the shoulders with their sharp talons. He found a cave blocked by a great rock, set his magic hammer to work and was soon inside.
The monsters he found within were mainly of the weaker variety, but the cavern was like a labyrinth. It went down into the earth until he caught sight of the tell-tale glow and heat of live magma. He jumped between pillars of rock over the deadly substance. He felt his skin tighten and sweat stung his eyes.
He wandered down further into a stifling chamber and readied his sword when he heard a roar. Out of the darkness came a charging daira. It grunted and growled as Link ducked its axe and dodged past it. His heart lifted when he saw a gleaming object a few feet in front of him, a large, shining glass bottle filled with a bright red substance. He ran toward it, but fell when the daira’s axe caught him in the side. He rolled on the ground as the beast brought the axe down for his head. Thinking quickly, he brought his sword up and speared the creature through the chest. It howled as it fell, spasmed in a death throe, and stilled.
Link pushed the body off of his. He stood up and immediately fell to his knees, grabbing his side. The young man hissed and forced himself to stand. It was a bad wound. He found his way to the bottle of medicine. He wondered if there was enough for both him and the ailing child. The thought entered his mind for a moment that he should gulp it all down right there – it wasn’t an impulse borne of selfishness, just of instinct, a strong survival instinct that he’d been cultivating for a long time. After all, if he fell, Hyrule fell and he had a duty to his country to finish his appointed task. He grit his teeth and shook the thought from his head. It wasn’t the kind of thinking that befitted a hero. He slipped the bottle onto his belt and made his way to the surface.
By the time he saw the light, he was quite dizzy and he was surprised he’d managed to jump over the lava again. He survived the swamp and made it back to the main road. He’d managed to keep himself from bleeding to death by unwrapping the bandage from his head and winding it around his side. He’d found a pool to wash his tunic, for he did not want to attract enemies through the smell of his blood.
Link made it back into Mido by the opposite way he’d come into town the day before. He met Verna, pacing outside of her home and presented her the bottle. He smiled, trying to hide his exhaustion.
“The Water of Life!” Verna exclaimed. “Come inside, quickly!”
Link was dragged inside to the bedside of a little girl with dark hair. She appeared to be around eight or nine years old. She was very pale and was breathing softly. “What are you waiting for, boy?” Verna said, “Give her the medicine!”
Link gently lifted the lip of the bottle to the girl’s lips. The first few drops dribbled over her teeth and lips, but then she appeared to wake up just a little and drank the red fluid down to the last drop. Link sat in a chair beside the bed. Some compassionate instinct led him to hold her hand. Her mother sat on the other side of the bed. “Thank you,” the woman said, her eyes shining.
“No… no trouble…” Link said shakily.
Little Rosalee grasped Link’s left hand and opened her eyes. “Mama?” she said groggily.
“Rosalee… how do you feel, honey?”
“I can breathe again, Mama… and I’m not cold anymore… and I don’t hurt all over…and… and… who’s this?”
She looked over at Link and he smiled warmly at her. “Hey? Is he famous?” Rosalee asked her mother without facing her, “He looks like a poster I saw.”
“This young man risked his life to get you medicine,” Verna said.
“You’re hurt, too…” Rosalee said, looking at the ugly stitches lining Link’s scalp. She sat up slowly and looked at the hand she was holding. “Huh? You are the Hero, aren’t you?”
Link smiled. “I’m glad to see you better,” he answered humbly.
The girl looked at him in awe, then back to the crest on his hand. “I was saved by the Hero,” she gasped.
“It’s…uh… what heroes are supposed to do, right?” Link replied with a grin and a blush. His head ached, his muscles were sore and his side throbbed. The smile on the girl’s small face made all thoughts of his pain melt away. She playfully traced the crest on the back of his left hand with her fingers and then went back to holding it.
“Your hand is rough,” Rosalee observed. “The fingers are calloused. Is that from holding your sword?”
Link nodded. “Yes, that’s my sword hand,” he said. He remembered how many times the skin of that hand had been covered in the slick blood of deadly creatures. It was now clean and being held by a child he had just healed with a potion he had gained through skilled and lucky swordplay. His hands were not soft like Cassandra’s were, but, perhaps they were healing hands, too. They’d dealt death to many creatures, but for moment, they were gentle. Link liked this feeling very much.
Link was snapped out of his musings by the voice of Verna. “You should see my father,” she said. “He is skilled in transformative magic. It is only fitting that you receive a reward for helping my child, he can teach you one of our family’s secret spells.”
Link stood up and wobbled. Rosalee looked up at him with concern.
Verna gave him a stern glare. “When you’re done talking with my father, you get yourself right to Cassandra, you got that, young man?”
“Of course,” Link said with a nod before heading to the family’s basement.
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