Disclaimer: I dont want to get in whatever trouble people can get into when using other peoples characters so - The Legend of Zelda, Link, Zelda, Ganon, Hyrule and other related characters and settings belong to to that wonderous console company, Nintendo. No infringement intended.
Juliet A. Singleton (firstname.lastname@example.org) & Kirsty Singleton (email@example.com)
Change was coming in Hyrule. All around, the leaves on the trees were turning from green to red, orange and gold, the sun shinning a little less brightly than before. The season was changing once more. Link, Hyrule's hero, contemplated this as he gazed out from the Northeast tower balcony early than morning. A crisp brown leaf drifted past on the breeze and he turned away, looking back into the tower room. His wife, Zelda, was still fast asleep. Link was still coming to terms with the events of the past few months and his heart felt restless and uneasy. For the last few weeks, things between him and Zelda had been ultimately peaceful, if not even better than they had been for months. He couldn't fault her for her behaviour, and she was even more attendant on him than she'd ever been for years, just like when they had first got married. Perhaps it was guilt, perhaps it was the realisation of just how close they'd come to throwing away almost nine years of marriage, or perhaps it was simply both. But somehow, it ultimately felt like a charade. They had never discussed what had happened and it had slowly been eating away at him for weeks. It was so unlike Zelda to never mention things that had come to pass. For years they had argued passionately about many things, Zelda's stubbornness and fiery temperament causing much of their disagreements. Her reaction to his recent affair with Fayzie seemed misplaced and even now, when it was close to being buried, it still gnawed at his heart, causing him much heartache, pain and suffering. He had not spoken to Fayzie in weeks, not wanting to upset either her or Zelda, but there had been too many things left unsaid simply to let things lie. He knew that he loved Zelda, and what he had done had been wrong, but there had been no resolution, no way to rest.
The hero sighed, walking back inside the tower, closing the French windows behind him as he did so. Zelda stirred at the noise, opening her eyes and yawning. Presently she sat up in bed, noticing him and smiling.
"Is it early?" she asked sleepily. He nodded.
"The sun has just risen... I wanted to watch it," he explained. "I didn't sleep well last night," he added, looking troubled. Zelda gazed at him worriedly.
"It's nothing. Really. I just couldn't settle, that's all," he replied, wishing that he hadn't said anything. But it was true. He had been having trouble sleeping. The whole business of Fayzie, along with Robert's betrayal of Catalia was taking its toll on him. He knew that Zelda knew it as soon as their gazes met.
"Link... please, I wish you'd stop thinking about things so much," she said, getting up out of the bed and walking up to him. "We promised we'd forget everything that happened and just start again." He nodded.
"I know Zel, but..." She wrapped her arms around him comfortingly, placing a kiss on his forehead.
"No buts," she murmured, leaning down to meet him in a long, sweet kiss. As they parted, she smiled at him. "Just think, hopefully, we might have another baby." He smiled back at her uneasily. That was another thing. After Brianna, Zelda had insisted she wanted no more children; something he hadn't wanted to agree with. Link had always wanted a big family, Zelda hadn't. Ewan had been conceived not long after they had wed, Brianna had been a surprise, over seven years later. He couldn't help thinking that Zelda's new-found enthusiasm was down to guilt and insecurity over their relationship. But to keep her happy, up until now, he had gone along with things.
"I think I'm going to go for a walk," he said quickly, drawing away from her. She looked a little hurt and frowned.
"But Link, it's so early! Come back to bed, it's a while before breakfast, you can go for a walk later," she said plaintively. Link took a deep sigh and grasped hold of her shoulders, looking at her squarely.
"Zel..." She gave him a puzzled expression.
"Link, you need to stop worrying about things so much, for both our sakes," she murmured.
"I can't, okay? It isn't that easy," he replied. "And the goddesses know, I love you Zel, I love you so much. But I don't want you to do something just to make me happy, if you're going to be unhappy." Zelda shook her head.
"Link... really, I... I know that I..." she paused, blushing. "I want to make you happy," she said finally, casting her gaze down. He reached forward to ruffle her hair affectionately.
"You do make me happy Zel," he insisted. "Just you, and the kids. You make me so happy."
"But... but... you..." she stammered, beginning to look upset.
"It doesn't matter what I've said in the past, it doesn't matter at all," he replied, letting his hand come to rest upon her cheek. "You're everything to me, I don't know why I ever doubted it." Zelda stepped away from him, folding her arms.
"Because I wasn't there for you when you needed me most. I never deserved you, Link. I don't deserve anyone," she exclaimed inconsolably.
"That's not true," he replied, reaching forward to grasp her hand. "I will never, ever forgive myself for what I did to you, I wouldn't have blamed you if you never wanted to see me ever again."
"Oh Link," Zelda exclaimed, letting out a small sob. She pulled away from him once more, turning away and walking across the room. "I hate Fayzie, I hate her so much! But I have no-one to blame for what you did but myself!" Link leaned against the wall, looking pained.
"Please Zel, it wasn't Fayzie's fault and it wasn't yours. It was mine. It was me, being an inconsiderate fool. I deserve neither of your forgiveness, I was thinking only of myself and my wrongful desires . For that, I deserve only to be alone for the rest of my days!" he stated, running a hand through his hair in agitation.
"I always worried that you would love someone else," Zelda murmured, still not looking at him. "We're so different, no wonder you fell for Fayzie. She..."
"But Zel, that never mattered! I would still have loved you, whether you were a princess or just a peasant like me. And as for Fayzie... it was a mistake. It was like I was another person. I don't know what I was thinking, or why I did what I did. I hurt both of you, and I hate myself for it!" Link interrupted. Zelda remained silent and when she turned back to look at him, her face was impassive. "I don't have any excuse for it, or some sort of half decent explanation. I wish that I did. But I haven't. I just..." he trailed off there, looking upset.
"I wouldn't want to hear them," Zelda said shortly. "I just want to forget it, as if it never happened," she added.
"But I can't forget it!" Link retorted, his tone wavering slightly.
"I don't want to discuss this, Link! I just want things to be how they once were, and if you can't at least try then... then..." She paused, her expression anxious. "I... we... we...."
"I'm going for a walk," Link interrupted abruptly. "It might help clear my head."
"Oh fine," Zelda remarked, her tone now derisive. "If it makes you feel better!" When he looked at his wife, she looked furious, but he wasn't in the mood for dealing with her right now.
"I'm sure it will. I'll see you at breakfast," he replied, walking across towards the door.
"Don't count on it, I'll be too busy!" Zelda snapped after him. He didn't bother to answer.
Fayzie finished her task of sweeping the main room of Damon Owen's large wooden cottage. He insisted upon her stay there that she refrain from any sort of tasks, but she felt like she had to help out somehow, no matter how small. She was grateful to the woodman for his kindness, without his gracious hospitality, she would have been left with nowhere for her and her young son to stay. Over the past few weeks she had gotten to know Link's long time friend a little better, but it still remained a mystery to her why he was not yet married. The cottage had been crying out for a woman's touch and already Fayzie had cheered it up with bright arrangements of autumn blooms, dusted and cleaned long-forgotten nooks and crannies and baked fresh bread and cakes each day.
"I feel like we are married," the ranger had joked one night when he'd settled down to a hearty meal that she had prepared for him. Fayzie had blushed at his words and turned away slightly.
"I am just doing what I know best," she had replied. Damon had smiled at her kindly.
"That is not why I am looking after you, for you to cook and clean for me. I have made a promise to Link, and that promise, I shall keep," he'd said. "Already I have collected plenty of wood to build a small cottage for you here, that is, if you wish to stay." Fayzie had nodded. Tarn was a friendly place, nestled within the trees. She was already starting to get to know its inhabitants, and every one had showed her nothing but kindness and sympathy. Damon had explained to them that Fayzie had come from Catalia and was an old friend of Link's; her husband had been killed in the war. Tarn seemed a long way from both Catalia, and of course, North Castle. She and Link were separated by an entire sea, Catalia by an entire ocean. The village was peaceful and in some ways, it reminded her of Gardarika in its isolation. The native Catalian put the broom back in a cupboard and walked across to the kitchen table, preparing to start work on a meat and vegetable pie. Damon had brought back a deer carcass the previous evening and the succulent venison had been delicious roasted. He had taken much of the meat to sell down in Darunia, along with other goods native to the forest, but Fayzie had kept a little extra to put into a pie.
At that moment, Aden came running into cottage gleefully, chased by another small child and Damon's grey wolfhound. Fayzie smiled down at the children and patted the dog as it looked up at her with mournful eyes, smiling the meat and drooling.
"No, none for you today Grey," she laughed at the mutt. It let out a pitiful whine and wagged its tail hopefully. "Maybe later," she promised, wiping her hands on her apron and watching as the children ran back outside. Aden had settled into life at Tarn well, despite the recent upheavals. She was relieved. She treasured her son greatly, over anyone and anything else. She wandered outside into the sunshine and smiled as she noticed Ashleigh, younger sister of Aaron, who lived nearby. She too had a young son, Charlie, and he and Aden got on well.
"Fayzie," Ashleigh greeted, her blue eyes warm as she smiled and waved in greeting. She was a pretty girl, maybe seven or eight years younger than Fayzie, with long dark hair and a kind face, not dissimilar to her brother's. She was a housewife, much like herself, and worked the odd evening at the local tavern The Dice And The Table. She was married to a carpenter called Jefferson Caffrey. They had struck a friendship more or less straight away, when Damon had introduced them.
"Hi Ashleigh," Fayzie smiled, walking across to speak to her friend.
"Those two have such much energy, it's unbelievable," Ashleigh laughed, pointing over at their sons who were engaged in an energetic game of tag, Grey also seemingly taking part, bounding around after the two boys and barking loudly. Fayzie nodded.
"I know, but this fresh air will do them the world of good. Soon it shall be too cold for them to be rushing about outside," she said.
"So Damon told you it can get dreadfully cold here?" Ashleigh laughed. "It's those hot winds from up north, they mix with the cold sea and then curse us with freezing, icy winds and snow."
"It is quite high up here isn't it?" Fayzie said, remembering the steep incline they'd travelled up in the mountain pass. She had been to Darunia a few times with Damon, which was built right into the mountains. Ashleigh nodded. "Third highest place in Hyrule I believe, after Darunia and Ruto of course. Anyway actually, I was just going to ask you, could I borrow a little cornflower? I appear to have run out and it really is too tiresome to go all the way up to my parent's shop," she laughed gaily. Her parents ran a large store called Westley Provisions, which was a popular stop-off point for the many warriors travelling to Valour Hold.
"Oh Ashleigh, but it is but only ten minutes walk away!" Fayzie laughed but she walked back inside to the get the ingredient for her friend. It was vital to the constitution of many a broth and stew, after all. Ashleigh followed her and Fayzie measured some out into a cup.
"It is mother, oh she talks so dreadfully long, and although I love her, she can be most tiresome!" her friend remarked. Fayzie grinned. Mrs Westley did have a penchant for long discussions. There had been many a time where she too had been held up by the talkative woman.
"Your mother is a dear," she laughed.
"Always poking her nose into the rest of the village's business, I'll wager! And never do get her started on our dearest Aaron!" Ashleigh exclaimed. The whole of Tarn was extremely proud of Aaron Westley, and Mrs Westley would not let them ever forget him.
"Your brother is one of the kindest people I know," Fayzie admitted.
"It's too bad he's already married. You and he would have made a great couple!" Ashleigh said. "Of course, I adore Aimée, she's lovely, and my little nephew Timmy, I miss them all so dreadfully. But sometimes I do wish he wasn't so far away," she added, somewhat wistfully. Fayzie nodded.
"It does seem far away," she agreed.
"And he is all so friendly with the Royals, gosh I should think I would be too scared to speak to any of them! Princess Zelda, she is so beautiful, and Sir Link, he's so handsome," Ashleigh giggled. "To think, my Aaron is one of their greatest friends!" Fayzie looked down at her words, a flush covering her cheeks. She quickly picked up a carrot and started peeling it to put into the pie.
"Link is very nice," she mumbled.
"Ah of course, you once knew him, didn't you?" Ashleigh questioned, not appearing to notice her embarrassment. Fayzie nodded, chopping the carrot up into neat slices.
"We were childhood friends. He hasn't really changed a bit," she remarked, thinking about the handsome hero longingly.
"I love my Jeff, I really do, but Link, oh, every girl dreams about him! He's so strong, and brave and utterly handsome after all," Ashleigh sighed. Fayzie looked over at the young woman. Obviously, what had happened between she and Link had been kept very quiet indeed, since it hadn't appeared to have reached the shores of Eastern Hyrule. She dreaded the day that it might.
"Link has a good heart, he always has done," she said, slicing up some potatoes.
"Princess Zelda is so lucky," Ashleigh remarked. She doesn't know how much, Fayzie thought to herself glumly, throwing the potato and carrot into a bowl with the meat. She looked over at Ashleigh again and smiled. "Ashleigh, there's some herbal tea over in that cupboard, and a few ginger biscuits. How about you make some refreshments whilst I finish up on this pie, then we can take this cornflower back to your place?" she suggested.
"Good idea," Ashleigh agreed, reaching up into the cupboard. Fayzie turned her attention back to the pie, trying not to think of Link and what he might be doing right now.
Link walked for what seemed like hours. He had no destination in mind, no confidant to visit and seek council with. He just walked. The air that day was brisk and cool, but beautifully clear and refreshing. Western winds carried the scent of the sea from the Eastern coast, and as Link walked, he fancied he could hear the sea’s never ceasing song as his feet hit the path before him. For a long time, the hero did little but put one foot in front of the other, not a thought in his mind, not an emotion in his soul. But he could only carry out such an existence for so long. Sooner or later he would have to think, feel and cease his aimless wanderings. Sooner or later he would have to decide where he was going, and who he was going to. By the time he broke out of his silent reverie, he had reached a crossroads in the path – one branch led to Mido town, the other to naught but graves and caves. It was not a difficult decision for him. He began to head eastwards, towards the capital of Hyrule.
The usually bustling town was empty when Link arrived, the streets were silent and devoid of all life. The streets were as Link felt inside, bare and melancholy. Nonetheless, the hero continued his path, treading the white cobbles of Hyrule’s most prosperous town and port alone. It did little to lift his spirits, rather, it only emphasised the bleak mood that had pervaded him since this had all begun. Since everything had gone so wrong.
He took pause at the great fountain, located in the centre of the town, leaning over to look into the clear pool of water that lay within the great marble base. A shower of water rose and fell from the centre of the pool, causing endless ripples and disturbances in the water. The odd rupee lay deep within, doubtlessly thrown in by an eager child or a generous passer by. Link did not know what he had expected to find when he stooped over the pool, but he noted his reflection briefly, before sharply turning away. Fingering the hilt of the sword that hung by his side, Link turned his back on the great monument, built to commemorate some infamous event no doubt, and began to meander his way down a narrow side street, suddenly lost in thought once more. He did not know where he was going, nor what he was doing. He had not for such a long time now, and it not only worried him, but terrified him. It seemed that all life had thrown at him had finally caught up with him, and he was dragging every event of his life behind him like a carthorse. It was pulling him down, to depths he had never even thought to exist, and he did not know how he could shed the load, nor if he even could.
He continued to walk alone, with only his own thoughts for company, through the winding back streets of the town, not seeing another soul as he went. Even if he had done, it was unlikely that he would have noticed them. It did not take him long to reach the boundaries of the town, where land met sea, and yet he continued, walking out onto the sea front, his leather boots padding softly upon the worn timbres of the pier. He passed empty boat after empty boat, the sea spray occasionally brushing against his cheek. The cry of a lone gull was all that the hero heard, besides the raging sea. By the time he had reached the end of the pier, the winds were whipping through his hair, and the spray of the sea stung both his eyes and cheeks. He finally lifted his lowered head and looked out to the horizon, where he saw little but a seemingly endless stretch of ocean. He knew, however, that it was not endless, and that just beyond lay the coast of Hyrule’s other half.
“Well boy, you look like you’ve got the world’s weight dragging you down,” remarked a booming voice, coinciding with a strong slap to Link’s shoulder. Link knew the owner of the voice, even before he turned, and he could not help but smile, despite his cheerless mood.
“Orion,” he greeted, nodding to his father’s friend. Orion nodded back.
“See anything out there, out in the endless blue?” inquired the sailor, joining Link in his observation of the ceaseless waves. Link shrugged mutely. “Bein’ a sailor and all, I find myself looking out there, even when I’m on land. It was always my calling,” remarked Orion, sensing the young man’s reluctance to talk. Link chuckled humourlessly at Orion’s comment.
“I thought I knew my calling. Now I don’t even know who I am,” admitted the hero bitterly. Orion chewed on his lip thoughtfully as Link spoke, and shoved his great hands deep into his jacket pockets.
“Well sure you do, you’re Link! Hero of this whole damn island!” Link glanced up to Orion as he spoke, and shook his head.
“I thought that. But how can I call myself a hero? How can I even call myself a man?” Orion cocked an eyebrow as Link spoke, and then broke out into a crooked, gold gleaming grin.
“You know, boy, for a hero, you do a whole lot of wallowing in the past! We learn from our mistakes, that’s what they’re there for. Why, a man without mistakes isn’t a man at all...the only people in this whole ocean without mistakes is babies and they don’t know anything,” claimed Orion loudly, his blue eyes twinkling as he spoke.
“I’m supposed to be more than that, Orion. I’m not supposed to be just any man. I’m supposed to be the best. The chosen one...you know?” Orion twitched his nose as Link spoke, before tilting away and spitting into the sea. He looked back at young man with concern in his eyes.
“That sounds like a chore to me. But heck, if you want that, be my guest. I talk to any man in Mido and mention your name and they’re buying me drinks like I’m the man himself. I don’t mind it of course, free drink is free drink. Listen, the point I’m trying to make is that regardless of what you think, there’s a heck of a lot of people who think a whole lot more of you. You weren’t born with special powers, you’re a man plain and simple who goes beyond the call of duty again and again. You risk your neck when no other man can, that’s what makes you a hero. Not no goddamn Triforce o’ Courage...remember, you’re a man who is a hero, not the other way round. You gotta have some allowances for yourself, else you’d never do anything with your life.” Link listened as Orion spoke, his eyes on the ocean. He knew that Orion’s words should make him feel better, but they did not.
“I feel corrupted,” he murmured quietly. Orion frowned at him for a moment then promptly broke out into a smile.
“By the void, boy, we all feel like that sometimes. It’s called ale,” cracked the sailor. He managed to raise a small smile on Link’s lips.
“I’ve not drunk any of late,” he remarked wryly. Orion clapped his hand on Link’s shoulder once more.
“Well now, that is one thing I can remedy. Come on, let’s get out of the cold and into the warmth. I know an excellent place that serves the finest ale in the whole of Hyrule, not to mention that they’re mighty big fans of yours!” suggested Orion. Link looked at his friend sceptically, and finally gave in, unable to resist the irrepressible cheer that lined the old sailor’s face.
“Well I suppose it can’t harm,” agreed Link reluctantly.
“That’s the spirit!” remarked Orion cheerfully, before marching off and away from the pier, leading Link back into the heart of Mido town.
Zelda regretted the way that she'd spoken to Link almost immediately after he left and she was still fretting hours later when he hadn't come back at breakfast. However she'd had little time to worry about it, since her father had dragged her to the library to help him with some paperwork and preparations for the memorial that was to be held in Mido in the following week, to commemorate and mourn the deaths of those who had served and perished in the recent battle to stave off Catalia's threatened invasion. Sitting at the desk near the window, she let out a bored sigh as she signed yet another document.
"Oh father, must we do this all morning?" she complained, looking over at the nearby grandfather clock. It was barely lunchtime and yet it felt like they'd been there for hours. Her father chuckled.
"Zelda my dear, soon, this will all be your own job and I shall not be here to help you," he pointed out.
"Unfortunately," Zelda said darkly.
"There is a lot more to being a monarch than would appear at first glance. Some people imagine we do nothing but sit on our thrones all day, but nothing could be further than the truth," Harkinian said.
"In my case at least," Zelda said, suddenly grinning.
"Well, we shall not include your various escapades," Harkinian stated, shaking his head to himself. "I know you would rather be rushing off about outside, but you need to learn how to become a queen, which is why I need all your attention to on this. Have you even read those documents I have asked you to sign?" Zelda flushed visibly; she hadn't. She had just signed each without a second thought.
"No," she admitted.
"Those are proposed plans for new buildings to be erected in Mido; a beautiful new library similar to the one in Kasuto and an adjoining study hall. Dion Insequi is in charge of the architecture, which you have just given consent to," the King explained. Zelda looked at her father in interest.
"A new library?" she asked, her eyes sparkling at the thought. Zelda loved to read, more than anything, and Mido's library had always seemed a little on the small side to her.
"I thought you would be pleased," Harkinian smiled.
"And a new study hall too, how wonderful! Shall it teach Hylian?" she asked. Up until now, should Hyrulians want to further their basic education taught as children, they would have to travel to Kasuto, home of many a scholar.
"Yes, it shall be an extension of the college in Kasuto," Harkinian nodded. "If you read through those documents, you shall see that they have asked you to be president of the new college. Would you agree to such a duty?" Zelda's expression turned to one of excitement to happiness.
"Oh really?" she asked. "They want me to be in charge?"
"Zelda my dear, you are one of the most learned Hyrulians, your grasp of Hylian is as near perfect as it can get. Isn't it logical that they should want you? the King asked.
"Oh... oh really... I can't believe it..." Zelda stuttered, at a loss for words for once.
"Well, that will teach you, my dear daughter, to read your supposedly 'boring' paperwork in future," Harkinian laughed, his blue eyes twinkling. Zelda gave him a wry smile. His expression turned serious and he laid a hand on her arm. "And I thought it would help you to take your mind from recent events," he added. She looked away, a lump forming in her throat.
"Don't think that I haven't noticed how troubled you still appear to be," he remarked.
"It's not Link, it really isn't, it's just..." she protested, her voice trailing off when she realised that she couldn't even begin to explain her troubles to her father. "He seems so... different..." she concluded, somewhat lamely.
"A lot of things can happen to change us. The question is, are you happy to work things out?" the King questioned gravely.
"I'm trying father, I really am. But I just don't know what to do anymore," she sighed, setting her quill down and putting a hand to her forehead.
"I wish I could advise you on this, but in the end, only you know what to do Zelda. Just don't make the mistake I once did, and let go of the person who you truly love," Harkinian replied. Zelda looked up at her father in surprise.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"It was a long time ago Zelda, a long time before you were even born. A long time before I met your beloved mother. I do not regret you, nor Alina, but there was once another who captured my heart," Harkinian said softly.
"What was she called?" Zelda asked.
"Her name is not important, but I loved her. I loved her dearly. But alas, we were both young, and foolish, and proud. We threw away our love long ago," he said, suddenly looking wistful.
"You think that's what Link and I are doing?" Zelda questioned, gazing at her father intently.
"I know that you and Link love each other in a very special way. Don't ever let that go, Zelda, no matter what. You will never love anyone else the way you love each other," Harkinian answered. Zelda stared at her father in surprise. But he had already turned back to his papers, signalling the end of their conversation.
Drake let out a shaky sigh as he finished reading the short, scrawled letter that had been delivered to him that morning. He felt a lump form in his throat as he read the looping script of a fellow knight’s hand, and his grip on the scroll slackened as he absorbed the last words of the missive, allowing it to drop to the dusty floor. The knight licked his suddenly dry lips, and turned his eyes to the heavens, before squeezing them shut, willing it all to be nothing more than an unwanted dream. The goddesses did not grant his wishes, however, and when he opened his blue eyes once more, he saw that hated letter still lying at his feet, mocking him and his foolish attempts to undo the impossible. A growl emerged from deep within Drake’s gut as he contemplated the meaning of the words on the page he had just read, and he rose to his feet, an almighty bellow of anger escaping from his lungs. He lashed out at the desk he had been sat at, his fist pounding painfully against the solid oak desktop, before he swept all clutter and mess to the floor in one furious swipe. His anger did not dissipate though, and the knight found himself wanting to go further than merely venting his frustrations on the furniture. He kicked the chair he had been seated on aside, sending it to the floor with a hollow clatter, before he turned his attentions to a modest collection of shelves located just by his desk. He pushed them aside, causing them to hit the cold, stone floor with an almighty crash, books spilling everywhere. He booted one or two of the leather bound volumes high across the room, sending them flying into the opposite wall, before he managed to regain a reign on his feelings. Glancing around at the destruction, the knight suddenly sagged inwards, all of his strength and anger seemingly gone. Breathing heavily from his exertions, Drake cast his eyes about his room, and felt as if he had been here somewhere before. Of course he had, he knew, for it was not the first time in his life that he had received such news. Kneeling down, he cleared away some of the debris he had created during his rage and retrieved the cause of his outburst. Leaning against the wall, he looked back down at the piece, his heart dead and heavy. He read those same few lines again and again, willing them to go away. But he knew they would not.
The letter read:
It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you of the death of Byron LeFord. He died bravely during a skirmish in the desert, fighting remaining Catalian rebels. My sincerest apologies,
Sir Dane Empith
Running one hand through his sandy hair, Drake could not help but shake his head in dismay. He had not shed a tear since the death of his own family, many years before. But now his eyes were damp with the thought that Byron LeFord, his young and jovial cousin, had now joined the swelling ranks of the many who had died in the last few weeks, fighting pockets of Catalian rebels up in the desert. He crumpled up the note in one hand, before carelessly discarding it and rising to his feet. His cousin had only been twenty four years old. A whole life left unlived. Drake had always thought that one day, his cousin might follow his own footsteps, and become a knight of the realm. Now that would never come to pass. Byron would never marry, would never become a father, would never do any of the things Drake had expected of him. Shaking his head once more, Drake began to wearily tidy the mess he had created, unable to feel anything more, for fear that it might lead him to places he did not wish to know.
“Go on, get that down your neck,” instructed Orion as he slid a frothing tankard of ale in Link’s direction. Link glanced down at the amber liquid and then met Orion’s eyes.
“I guess it can’t harm,” he conceded, gripping the mug firmly by the handle, and lifting it to his lips.
“You’re right there, friend. A drop of ale never harmed anyone!” exclaimed Orion, tipping up his own mug and taking a lengthy draught of ale. The two clattered mugs as they finished, and grinned. “Cheers!” motioned Orion cheerfully. Orion had been correct, Link thought, the ale was indeed divine. It had a crisp, clean bite with just the correct amount of kick. As the liquid slid down his throat, he could not help but feel refreshed and invigorated. Orion watched Link expectantly as he set down his mug, still grinning. “I’ll wager you’ve never had a finer drop of ale!” exclaimed the sailor boastfully. Wiping his lips, Link studied his mug of ale carefully for a moment, before nodding resolutely.
“I believe you are right, my friend. Why, I even think Sir Drake would approve!” agreed the hero. He lifted his tankard once more, taking another gulp. Even the second time, it tasted just as good, if not even better.
“So, enough talk of the ale. Let’s talk about you,” began Orion, resting his elbows on the grubby table the two were seated at. A crackling fire was already roaring away behind them, and a few patrons nursed their own drinks in their own private corners. Link frowned as Orion spoke, shaking his head as his tankard hit the table once more.
“To be honest, Orion, I’d rather not...” he mumbled quietly, scratching his throat thoughtfully. Orion shrugged amiably as Link replied and finished his ale in one swift gulp.
“I’m lending my ear, boy, it doesn’t happen often. Sometimes...well, it helps to talk things through. Get a different perspective on things...” Link looked at Orion as he spoke, a little surprised. He had never considered Orion as the type for talking things through. He’d always had Orion pegged as a man of actions, rather than words. Orion must have caught some of Link’s thoughts in his glance, for he let out a loud chuckle, shaking his head.
“There’s a time for action, and a time for words. Now is the latter of the two,” stated the sea captain, nodding to the barman. “Another round over here, my man,” he instructed.
“I wouldn’t even know where to begin...” protested Link lightly. Two more tankards of ale landed on their table, served by a rather bulky gentleman with a shock of dark hair.
“It’s on the house, sirs, it’s an honour to be in the presence of both of ya!” remarked the barman humbly. Link nodded to him, as did Orion, both grateful for the man’s generosity. Link turned back to Orion, who was already downing his next pint.
“It just seems that these days I can do nothing right...” began the hero despondently, gazing into his own tankard of ale.
“We all have days like that,” dismissed Orion cheerfully. Link looked up at Orion, who grinned at him.
“I’ve hurt so many people, Orion. My wife, my children...my friends. And...I can’t help but feel that the battle with Catalia could have been prevented, if only I’d paid more attention or been a little less rash...” Link’s words trailed off as he continued to look into his tankard miserably, Orion let out a soft sigh as the young man finished.
“Robert would have attacked Hyrule one way or the other, there was nothing you could have done,” consoled the sailor, grimacing slightly as he thought of Link’s kinsman.
“Perhaps,” murmured Link, though no real conviction lay in his voice. Orion leaned back in his seat and began to speak.
“Well, the way I see it, you have two choices. You can spend the rest of your days wondering what if and dreamin’ of what could of been, or you can accept what’s happened and move on.” Link watched Orion as he spoke, his eyes never leaving the sailor’s face. When Orion had finished, Link lowered his eyes back to his ale and slowly shook his head.
“I can’t forget the mistakes I have made,” he murmured. Orion leaned closer to Link.
“No one said you should. But you can’t change them by regretting them. You can only try and make amends. Which I know you will,” said the sailor. Link looked back at Orion, and caught the sailor’s cheerful wink.
“Make amends...” echoed Link slowly. He knew Orion was correct. He had to make amends.