Disclaimer: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass belongs to Nintendo. I thought it was a cute little game, but was annoyed at one of the end-sequence gimmicks. I also wondered what happened to Jolene. She was fun to fight.
Link decided that he was not being paid enough for this. The gem he'd gotten had been rather nice, and big rupees too, but Linebeck had been getting mighty stingy lately. Playing bodyguard was getting old when it happened again and again and again. It seemed like none of their treasure-hunts lately went without the obnoxiously-familiar sound of a torpedo hitting and temporarily disabling the engine and a visit from the psycho ex-girlfriend.
Link knew what Jolene was. He may have been young, but he was already a seasoned world traveler. He'd heard people's stories and knew the look of the eyes of a jilted lover or would-have-been lover, including what he'd seen in a few girls who'd had young puppy-love crushes on him. There was no fury like that of women scorned – or even in some cases, just women. Tetra was a real pirate. This Jolene character, as fierce as she made herself out to be, was just pretending. While Link had cut down much evil with swords both sacred and mundane, he didn't want to cause death or harm where it was not needed. Jolene's fighting style was predictable, almost like that of a certain type of scaly monster he'd encountered many times. Link found it fairly simple to run up behind her and to give her a few spankings to the back with the flat of his blade. The strikes stung without causing any significant damage, especially on bare skin.
He hadn't drawn a drop of her blood.
He and Linebeck had gone below – the standard operating procedure – and Linebeck hid in his empty cargo-crate. Jolene came thumping down the stairs, demanding to know where Linebeck was. Link had the devilish notion of giving him up, something he knew his fairy-companion Celia would have cheered him for, but, as always, the boy decided to keep his secrets and do his duty. As much of a joke as Jolene was as a swordsperson, Linebeck wasn't a fighter, just a man of tall tales. Also, Link knew that Linebeck would likely kick him off his ship if he did a thing like that, and as much as he could take care of himself, the young hero knew he needed this boat. As a sailor and a crewman, he knew that the one who owned the boat was the one who made the rules. Besides, Link was a wind-navigator. He didn't know how to run a steam-engine. If Jolene fed Linebeck to the gyorgs and then generously left him the ship, he'd be dead in the water.
Just as he was missing a certain red dragon-boat of which he had been very fond in past travels, Jolene swiped for him and he, in turn, whapped her in the back. It usually didn't take more than a few paddlings before she'd had enough and would give up before the swordfight escalated into anything actually violent. She'd gotten her sword lodged in one of the walls once in a petty attempt to stab Link, but that had been about it. Link wondered if she kept a whole wall of swords on her own ship, because she often dropped her weapon when they'd gone sword-to-sword and she'd run off with parting words, leaving her blade behind. Link had been building a small collection of them, just in case he ever decided to try dual-wielding or to learn how to wield a scimitar. The basic broadsword model had been working well for him so far.
"Hwah!" the lady-pirate cried.
"Give it up already!" Link yelped. "How many times have I whipped you?"
"How many times do I have to tell ya, kid? Just tell me where that cowardly sea-dog is! I want to gut HIM! You should run home and play with your toys!"
"I have to save my friend!"
"He's not worth it!"
"Not him! I just need the ride! His boat, his rules!"
Jolene rushed him for a quick swipe. A streak of red appeared on Link's sword arm, but he didn't seem to notice it. Jolene stood stunned for a moment. She lowered her sword. Link kept his aimed, yet shaking. He didn't seem to notice the rather generous rivulets of blood running down his arm to leave stains on his tunic.
"Had enough?" the boy shouted.
"I…I hurt you… I actually hurt you!"
Link glared, tense and ready. "I won't let it happen again. Now get off this boat."
"D-don't you notice that you're bleeding? I mean, not even a little, but like… a lot! Where's your first-aid kit?"
"Are you kidding me?" Link asked, cocking an eyebrow. He picked up the woman's dropped sword as she rummaged around the cabin. The young hero watched her, puzzled.
"Ah! Here it is!" Jolene said. "Let me clean you and wrap you up… I.. I'm so sorry…"
Link grit his teeth and got a vein of frustration pulsing on his forehead. "Just. What. Is. Going. On. Here?" he demanded. "First you come at me with a sword, now you're trying to heal me? What kind of a pirate are you?"
"Don't you get it, kid?" Jolene growled, "I am after LINEBECK, not you! I was never after hurting some little squirt who wants to play bodyguard!"
"Funny way of showing it… Oh, look at me! The fiercest of pirates! Oh, but I faint at the sight of a little blood! Give me a break! My best friend Tetra would eat you alive! You wouldn't survive five minutes on her boat! Your sister who plays mermaid is right! This is just dress-up for you! A game! Swords are NOT toys!"
"I… Look, I'm sorry kid… Hey, wait, you know my sister?"
"She likes to dress up as a mermaid, right?" Link sat down on a convenient barrel. He was actually feeling a bit lightheaded – whether it was because he'd lost some blood or because he'd just let loose a great deal of anger in a verbal tirade, he did not know. He barely even noticed when Jolene stretched out his arm and began wrapping it in clean white gauze.
"Yeah, that's her. She told you about me?"
"Uh, huh. More than Linebeck's let on. What's the deal with you and him, anyway? I'm getting kind of tired of our meetings. He's a cheapskate to his 'crew."
Jolene laughed. "He should be fighting me. He's the king of all cowards, but to make a child fight for him, that's beyond low."
"I can take care of myself." Link replied as he pulled a bottle from one of his pockets. It expanded to its full size, the shrink-magic on it released. He drank it slowly and made a face at its bitterness. "I always carry potions, and what you did is much less than what monsters have done to me."
"Little squirts shouldn't be playing where there are monsters – especially the human ones."
Link gave her a sharp glare. "And you shouldn't be playing with swords. Like I said, they aren't toys. They're for killing monsters – and sometimes people."
"Ha! What do you know of killing, kid? I'll grant that you've taken out monsters in your day – everyone has to chase off a few chu-chus that come close to the towns once in a while. Phah! You talk like you're some sort of… adventurer or pirate! You're too young for that game. Ditch Linebeck and go home to your Momma."
"I don't have a mother," Link said very seriously, "or a father. I have a grandmother and a little sister I have to make the world safe for – and I have friends. I'm on these seas because I have to save my very best friend, who is in danger. And I know of killing monsters – and men. I had to kill an evil ancient sorcerer once. I stabbed him right in the head! I'm not even sure if he's really dead or just sealed away somewhere – he was that powerful. I left most of my adventuring-stuff back on my ship… and lost the rest when I fell overboard. If I hadn't I'd show you just who I am."
Jolene laughed heartily as she tightened up Link's bandage. "Oh, kid, you are too much! Linebeck has been training you well! Stabbing an ancient sorcerer in the head…What stories!"
"It's true!" Link said with a pout. This only made him look more like a petulant child with a big imagination to Jolene.
"Maybe you should crew for me, since you're pretty brave."
"Nah. I think I'll stick around here. I've had a lot of fun on this boat and Mr. Linebeck is great for sniffing out treasure to fund my journey with!"
"He's got more fear than a cuccoo and has a belly more yellow than that fairy-wee potion you're drinking! He's a filthy scavenger to boot!"
"Mr. Linebeck isn't all bad," Link said with a soft smile.
The crate across from them jiggled just a little, like something inside of had jumped in surprise.
"Live animal!" Link lied. "We're… transporting some….uh… cuccoos! You know, the things people hire a ship for these days… make any money you can, when you can!"
"Maybe I should take a look…"
"No!" Link yelped, hissing as he moved his injured arm. The potion he'd taken hadn't healed it completely yet. "They're… probably really, really mad after that torpedo strike jostled us! They'll claw you to death!"
"Alright," Jolene said, glaring at the crate with her hands on her hips. "What do you see in that man that inspires you to protect him so?"
"Like I already said," Link explained. "I need his boat."
"You refused mine."
"Mr. Linebeck… well… He's a bit of a jerk, but he's also kinda nice, you know? He's great to hunt treasure with and he's got a sort of fire to him… I dunno. He really knows what he's doing with ships and the sea. Sure, he gives me all the dangerous jobs, but that's because he knows I can do them. He doesn't look down on me like most adults do…"
Ceila chimed from somewhere inside Link's hat something about Linebeck calling him a "monkey." Link brushed her off.
"And he can be brave… sometimes… when he really wants to be," Link continued.
"I'll believe it when I see it," Jolene huffed. "Maybe when he stops letting a little boy fight his battles for him. My offer still stands, kid."
"He needs me."
"I'll bet he does."
Jolene headed for the stairs. "You're a brave kid… and more a man than that scurvy scoundrel will ever be."
"Please promise me that if I fail next time that you won't gut him…" Link made a face. "That can get… messy. And I know more of that than you think I do."
"I'm not making any promises."
"You two should really kiss and make up!"
Jolene gagged. "I… I think I feel seasick!"
"I'll tell your sister you said 'Hi' if I see her."
"Tell her not to get involved with strange men. You'd better brush up, kid. I won't go so easy on you next time."
After Jolene left, Link kicked the crate, hard. As its cargo emerged, much flustered, Link glared up at him.
"Hazard pay just went up. The next treasure-haul is all mine. Got it?"
"Oh, come on, be reasonable!" Linebeck pleaded. "My boat, my rules, as you said!"
"I think she knows the Secret of the Crate… but is happy to keep playing the game." Link made a little money-shifting motion with his good hand. "A good captain pays the medical expenses of his crew."
"Oh, alright. You earned it, kid. Thanks for saving my hide."
"Just keep the boat moving."
"Let's put these waters behind us!"
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