Disclaimer and Notes: The Legend of Zelda and related characters belong to Nintendo. No profit is being made or sought from this fan fiction.
As an artistic gimmick, this story contains verses from the Bible (New International Version translation). I wanted to play with a theme of “spirituality and money” and the Bible happens to be the spiritual heritage I am most familiar with. The story is built around select out-of-context verses as a theme, but in no way is a preaching or “conversion” type of fan fiction. (I personally find those obnoxious). The verses exist only as a motif, much in the way people use poetry or song lyrics separate from a plot to illustrate a theme. In other words, do not worry or get excited – I’m not trying to “Christianize” Hyrule. If you’re looking for that, there are fics of that stripe out there – this just isn’t one of them. Enjoy the theme if you can. If you cannot, hit the back button. What this author believes or doesn’t believe is also beside the point. It was an artistic decision – nothing more, nothing less.
The title is a reference to the original Legend of Zelda game. When you play that game, occasionally, you’ll come across old men who demand “Your money or your life!” and you’ll be given the choice to leave behind rupees or one of your heart containers.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Link walked through the streets of
in the gloaming of early evening. The streets were largely devoid of people. A few milled about listlessly. The rain had just stopped, leaving still puddles to reflect the clouds in bright colors. Pet dogs and stray cats took shelter under the awnings of closed outdoor shops. One old cat mewed at him and he smiled, even as he was on his way. He had business with an old shop on a particular street. He’d already seen some old friends and had a drink at Telma’s, but he wasn’t in town to stay and socialize. Castle Town
The feasts and parades for him had stopped long ago. He’d heard that there was a statue of him in the royal garden, but he’d never seen it. Hyrule had been at peace for nearly twenty years now. Time and peace had a way of easing and erasing people’s memories. The only people who ever recognized him anymore when he’d come back to old haunts were dear old friends. Even in his ancestor’s clothes, most people who took notice of him mistook him for just another lost soul trying to impersonate the Hero. It was too much of a bother to try to correct them. After all, a land at peace had no need for a Hero.
Link found the shop he was looking for and the back entrance to it that he was likewise looking for. He sought out a particular person this day, the only one who could be of help to him. He knocked on the door.
Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him. __ Psalms 49: 16-17
“Coming! I’m coming already!” a voice on the other side of the door sounded. “If you’re here with supplies, give me a moment to find my pen to sign for them.”
After a few moments, the door opened with a creak. “You?” the owner of the voice asked. “I thought you were dead.”
Link laughed softly. “No, I’m afraid I’m not dead just yet. May I come inside? It’s awfully wet out here and I have a proposition for you.”
“Come in,” the young man said. “I thought you were one of my Goron tradesmen. My custom black powder supplier is late on his shipment; he’s been wanting double the rupees for his trouble suddenly when he’s been at the same rate for years. It’s highway robbery, I tell you! So, Link, it’s been a while. I last saw you… what? Four years ago? That’s new.”
The man pointed to Link’s face, specifically, to a prominent scar across his right cheek. Link was glad that he never expected politeness from Malo. He had certainly grown up from that strange little kid he’d once known. The events of twenty years ago had changed them both. Malo had not grown into a handsome person by any stretch of the imagination. He wasn’t particularly enormous, but he was rotund and with a fat face. He looked as though he were balding, though he was only in his twenties. His skin was the pale color of one who did not go outside much. What Malo was above all, however, was rich – very rich. He was dressed very well today – in crimson robes and gold jewelry.
Link, by contrast, was thin, sinewy, tan and scarred. He wore his favorite set of clothes – his Hero’s tunic, which, after all these years, remained in good condition. He took great care of it. The color of its fabric, however, seemed drained in a mild sense, from what it once was. Link’s blue eyes were a little paler than they used to be and did not carry the fierceness they once had. Everything about him seemed to have a faded quality today and Malo noticed this.
Link’s expression brightened, however, when he looked around the room he was in. This was Malo’s back office. It was full of plush furniture and hanging upon the walls were many beautiful paintings and ornamental weaponry with shields. Link’s sensitive ears could pick up strains of the music that played in the main Malo Mart on the other side of the wall.
“Sit down,” Malo ordered, pointing to a chair beside a large desk, which he sat behind. “What brings you here, Link? I thought you were off fighting evil.”
“Well… yeah,” Link sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’ve just come in from a kingdom called Labrynna. Things have been slow in my life, so I thought I’d come home for a bit.”
“This is hardly home,” Malo commented. “For you, I mean. You don’t have a home anymore. Some of the folks in Ordon have been asking about you, though. Did you know that Mayor Ilia just had her third kid?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Maybe you should visit Ordon and let everyone know you’re still alive.”
“I’m not sure they’d want to see me like this, as I am. It was pretty rough on everybody the last time I visited. I make a better memory, don’t you think?”
Malo laughed. “So what does the faded Hero want? Perhaps you’re here to help me with my Goron problem. You can go be my muscle and flash your sword for me, get them to drop their supply prices so I can keep my prices low and purchases high. Lots of people come into my store just to buy that powder for construction projects and the like. I’d be willing to pay you a fair price.”
Link glared at the younger man. “Why don’t you just pay what the Gorons demand? I’m sure you could keep your business going. The luxury of this room tells me that you aren’t hurting for rupees. Rumor has it that you’re the richest person in
, save for the Queen, of course, and she doesn’t really count because the royal wealth is the public trust. Isn’t what you have enough?” Castle Town
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. __ Ecclesiastes 5:10
“I still have dreams,” Malo said. “I’d like to have more stores and to make a name upon Hyrule. A person like you may be forgotten easily, but the king of all merchants will not be. Anyway, why have you come? Is this a social call?”
“No,” Link said. He dipped a hand into a leather pouch on his belt and brought out of it a tiny object. He set it upon Malo’s desk and tapped it with his thumb. The object expanded in size and collapsed upon the desk. It was red and golden, but the gold looked as though it had lost its luster and was nothing more than tarnished brass.
“I haven’t seen that in years,” Malo stated. “I’ve never been able to find another set of magic armor like it.”
“Then, hopefully you’ll be willing to pay me a fair sum for it?” Link suggested. “I cannot afford to use it anymore.”
“I’ve noticed,” Malo said dourly. “It runs on rupees and transfers whatever funds you have on hand right into a special coffer that I keep. That coffer has long been empty. I just assumed that you’d gotten yourself killed somewhere out there when you weren’t wearing it and that’s why I wasn’t seeing any profit from you.”
“Will you buy it back from me? I’ve found my travel funds had run dry. I cannot hunt for my dinner all the time.”
“Are you really that bad off?” Malo asked. “So much for being a Hero. You save people’s lives and their freedom, and what has it gotten you? You have scars on you and no one even recognizes who you are anymore. If you were smart, you would have settled down and started a business of some kind. I remember when you used to be a rancher – you could have cornered the market on goat milk or something of that nature.”
“People needed me,” Link responded, “Needed my skills. I felt restless when I wasn’t using them. I guess I could just never go home again, not really.”
“You ought to look to yourself more, Link. You have to be greedy to survive in this world. A little greed has gotten me a comfortable life. What has your abundance of altruism gotten you?”
But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. __ Matthew 6:20-21
“I am still looking for something,” Link said softly. “Another world, I guess. I never felt that I could go home and back to a quiet life after the things I’ve been through. I always felt that I had to honor the skills that I have and they are skills that cannot be honored with a quiet life. When I break a curse or save someone from monsters, or just when I’m helping someone with a small problem… I feel like I’m right where I need to be. There are still evils in Hyrule… small evils, and there are other lands. I guess I just keep riding, hoping I’ll one day find a gateway to the world I’m looking for… or one day run into the person I’m looking for.”
“That sounds like a poor life,” Malo said flatly. “A thankless life with a lot of hunger and hardship, especially if you’re here to sell me back something that’s probably saved your life on multiple occasions. I’ve never been one for poverty. Give me nice lodgings, fine clothes and the glitter of rupees – that’s all I’ve ever wanted and what I want more of.”
Link smiled gently. “I once knew a man who sold his soul for riches. This was a long time ago.”
“My soul is in perfect shape!” Malo contended, “If I have one, if any of us even have one. To think about such things too much is impractical.”
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. __ 1 Timothy 6:9
“Anyway,” Link continued, “I once knew a man who sold his soul to gain untold wealth. He was visited by Poes, sixty of them that did, indeed make him very rich. However, they quite literally stole his soul and shattered it into sixty parts which they kept for themselves. His soul made them quite strong while the poor man was made very weak. They’d turned him into a golden statue, glittering with many jewels. They even transformed his cat. The man’s name was Jovani.”
“That old drunk?” Malo exclaimed.
“The very same,” Link said sadly. “I cannot disclose the details of it, but I did manage to help him… those many years ago when the reign of darkness was going on. He got his soul back, but was never the same as he once was.”
“He gave away most of his money,” Malo said, “To the shelter for orphans, to
… and most of it to Telma’s Bar. He bought quite a bit of fish from me the last time I did business with him. I’ve gotten a deal with some Zora fishermen lately – they bring me both kinds, colorful fish for pets and fish for food. I’m unhappy with their trade prices, as well. I saw Jovani last week feeding stray cats outside his place. The nerve! Reekfish is premium and he’s feeding it to worthless flea-bitten animals!” Castle Town University
“Why should it matter to you if that’s what makes him happy?” Link asked. “He paid for the fish, didn’t he? It is his to keep or give away as he pleases.”
“Yes,” Malo conceded, “but it seems a bit… odd. I’ve worked quite hard to have what I do and I like to enjoy it. It just seems a little too free.”
“I suppose it is why I live the way I do,” Link sighed. “We all sell our souls to something. Some sell them to work, or to status, or to money. Some of us sell them to other people. I’ve sold my soul to see people smile and to see the peace in their eyes when they feel they can be safe. It is my freedom, I guess.”
“And that’s why I’m happy to leave the hero-work to dreamers like you,” Malo replied. “Anyway, I will buy the armor back, unless you wish to do some work for me, instead.”
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. __ Matthew 6:24
“What you mentioned before, right,” Link said.
“Be my muscle… my ‘negotiator,’ if you will, Link. The Gorons will listen to you. You’re their ‘sworn brother,’ so you can schmooze them. If they will not listen to that, you’re strong and skilled with the blade. I can use you with the Zoras, too.”
“You’re asking me to be a henchman!” Link growled. “Listen, Malo… I’m sure your suppliers set their prices according to their needs. I am not going to be your gangster. I will not lower my honor like that. I prefer to help people in need when the times call for it. I am not a hired sword.”
“Very well,” Malo replied. “We could have had a great partnership. I could have shared quite a bit of my wealth with you, but if you are content with your hunger and hardship, I’ll leave you to it. Just think upon how ‘well’ you are remembered and honored, Sir Hero. Just think about it for a while.”
“I will,” Link promised, taking the purse of three-hundred rupees from Malo’s hand. It was far less than what Link had originally paid for the armor, not to mention all of the money that he’d sunk into keeping it active in the occasional battles he’d used it in. It was used armor, after all, its powers of nigh-invulnerability aside, and he did not think he could get any more out of Malo without resorting to something beneath his honor. He would let it go. After all, Malo was an old friend.
As he turned to leave, he looked back at the portly younger man. “I don’t think I’ll change my mind, though,” he said, “After all, they say that one cannot serve Farore and Money.”
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