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Hyrule Field

Creeping up as silently as he could, feeling the erratic heartbeats of the bush quails in the foliage by the river, Link tried to suppress his anticipation. His supply of dried beef had run out a week before and he’d eaten nothing but fish since, giving him the great desire for something else. He moved slowly, holding his bow with an arrow notched towards the foliage, pulling the string back until the fletching kissed his cheek. In a moment, he would kick a stone into the foliage, causing the birds to scatter. The near hysterical heartbeats of the birds filled his inner thoughts; his need to hunt over the years had taken its effect on him and made him a skilled hunter, but had also developed the ability to feel heartbeats of all creatures near him. The amount of beats he could feel told Link that there had to be at least twenty bush quail hiding in the foliage. The beats remained steady as he prepared to kick the stone.
Boom! Link halted, he could feel a much larger heartbeat, and now it was him that was being hunted. Boom! It was behind him, sneaking up on him just as he was sneaking up on the bush quail. Boom! It was close, it was big, and any second it would strike at Link. Boom! Breathing deep, Link pulled the bowstring tighter, and slowly took a few steps forward, not allowing the creature to realize that Link had discovered it. Boom! He turned quick on his heel and loosed the arrow, impacting and stopping the large heart. The creature was a huge Octorok that had risen out of the river and the shriek it uttered as Link’s arrow pierced its heart made the bush quails he’d been hunting fly away. Link felt his heart sink as his prey escaped, fleeing deeper into the woods.

“Fish again.” Link mumbled in frustration, and turned to watch as the Octorok’s body dissipate into black smoke. He walked up to retrieve the arrow and anything else that magical creature may have left. Nothing but his broken arrow remained; though he was disappointed, this was a good thing. Rupees, the currency of Hyrule, didn’t digest in an Octorok’s stomach; the creature not having any Rupees inside it meant that it hadn’t eaten any travelers. Pulling the head off the broken arrow shaft, Link sighed, “Fish again.” He uttered again out loud; the Octorok, possibly having rupees in it, was his last chance for a decent meal. The hunting had not been plentiful and his rupees were even less. Link took a deep breath and whistled a short tune, and within seconds the pounding of hooves could be heard approaching. A minute later, a slender young brown and white mare trotted up to Link and affectionately nudged him with her nose, and Link returned it with a pat on her head. “Hello, Epona. Looks like we’re having fish again tonight.” He said with mock enthusiasm. The mare shook her head as if feeling the same lack of enthusiasm that Link did. “I agree, girl.” He muttered again, removing a small net from the saddlebag.

It was just after sundown, and Link sat on a cloth propped against a rock around a roaring fire. Three fish were skewered on sticks roasting over the fire, and the bones of two more were discarded nearby. Link watched as the flames started turning the wood to embers, and seeing the three fish Link sighed; he was tired of fish and these three would most likely go to waste. He could hear Epona behind him, he never tied her down; she was well trained and never went far away, and she always responded to the tune that her trainer, Malon, had taught him. Link sat trying to sleep, his Kokiri sword close at hand. A few moments later, he felt a familiar nudge on the back of his head. “I’m tired, Epona. Not tonight.” He said to the horse, but another nudge told him that it would not be that easy. “What?” He yelled, turning to face the animal and for a few moments, Link was in a standoff with the mare. “I guess it’s the only way I’m going to get any peace tonight.” Link said, relenting and rummaged through the saddlebag that was now on the ground next to his bedroll, and removed a beautifully carved blue ocarina with the symbol of the Triforce on the mouthpiece.
The instrument was one of Link’s most prized possessions. His life for the last four years forbade him to have many possessions, and he had only a few reminders of what he held most dear. After years of traveling, Link had met several minstrels and musicians who had taught him some songs, and with all that, he’d learned he would have trouble deciding which song to play. After some minutes, there was another nudge from Epona. “Do you want me to play or not?” He said, looking her in the eye again, “I know you want me to play, just relax.” Link then sat on his bedroll and slowly raised the mouthpiece to his lips.
There was a quick stray note, but then a simple melody had formed, a melody he knew well. The melody had held great power and helped him in the past, but it was a simple lullaby. It was a song he’d tried to forget on many occasions, but found himself playing it over and over again, and that’s when the memories and faces would start, her face and the memory of how she’d listen as he played the lullaby, how he would climb vines that grew up the side of the tower to her room at night at her request to play the song she loved, and especially the kiss on the cheek he would get in gratitude as he left. He and her shared a bond that was beyond friendship and the memories that flooded his mind were now of separation and how the vines he would climb at night were cut down and she was put into private study, and he was sent to the stables. Link had decided to search for Navi, his guardian fairy who’d been with him through a great quest. She had given him the ocarina when he left to remember her by.

The last few notes that he played were broken as the pain came back, and Link dropped the ocarina at his side. A tear worked its way passed his tightly closed eyes, and he sat for a moment trying hard regain his composure. The appearance of a heartbeat in his awareness broke the spell and his right hand immediately went to the small sword at his side. The beat was human sized, and it approached him and in a few seconds it would be in the light of the fire.
“Peace, good sir! I saw the fire while I was strolling, then I heard that beautiful tune. I had come and see who was playing it. You’re talented, my boy.” He heard and a moment later a well-dressed elderly man came into the light of the fire.
“And to you as well.” Link answered, quickly wiping his face. The man came closer as Link relaxed the grip on his small dagger-like sword. “Thank you, sir. It’s one of the first I learned.” He added, sitting up.
“I give great praise to your teacher. I played a lute in my younger years, but age has stiffened my hands.” He said, as he walked closer to Link. “I’m Paldnor Gorely.” He said, extending his hand. The two clasped wrists, a friendly gesture.
“My name is Link.” Feeling the sudden need to talk to someone, Link gestured to a large rock. “Please sit, my fire is open to all.”
“Thank you. My late wife and I enjoyed nighttime walks in the spring; it wasn’t long ago when walking at night meant certain death. But times are getting better, and that is good.”
Link nodded in agreement, despite his duel with the Octorok earlier, his run-ins with magical monsters were less every year. “I remember.” He said, memories of his first night outside of the Kokiri Forest flooding his mind.
“That is quite a catch, my young friend.” Paldnor said, pointing to the roasting fish.
“Help yourself.” Link said, “I’ve lost my taste for them, since I’ve been eating them for about a week now. Hunting is bad around here.”
“Thank you.” Paldnor said leaning down and taking one of the skewered fish, taking a bite from it. As he feasted, Epona walked up to greet the new guest. “Quite a mare you have.” Paldnor stated, looking at her with widened eyes. “You should hitch her to a tree though. Some brigand might steal her.”
That statement made Link laugh. “It’s been tried before, and I’d be more worried for the poor fool who tried to steal Epona; she’s well trained.” He replied, his mood brighter. “She had a great trainer, and that horse and I have been through much together.”
Paldnor listened and nodded as he feasted on the roasted fish. “So where is your destination?” He asked after finishing with a bite.
“I haven’t decided on that.” Link answered. “It’s been a while since I called anywhere home”.
“That is a terrible shame, but if it wasn’t for my late wife, I myself would’ve been quite the drifter.” The statement had taken Link aback; he’d never thought of himself as a drifter, but as he remembered the years traveling and moving around he could now see that’s exactly what he was. “What trade keeps you moving so much, you’re quite young to be a traveling craftsman, or carpenter?” Paldnor asked as he feasted.
Link thought for a moment. “At first, I was looking for someone. I found them some months ago.” He answered, remembering the adventures he had while searching for Navi. “I found her, and my quest was finished. I was glad to see her, but by then she had found where she needed to be. So I went on my way to find where I need to be.” Talking to Paldnor helped settle Link’s wounded heart. He’d thought of returning to the palace many times, but the thought of returning to the stables or being sent to the kitchens, and catching only the occasional glimpse of Zelda before she was quickly ushered away, kept Link away from Hyrule City and most of the large towns.
“A sad story, Link, truly. Was she a special lady close to your heart?” He asked inquisitively.
Link smiled. “A friend I shared a great adventure with. I left the one close to my heart to find her.” He answered, sitting up to stir the coals in the fire. He feared Paldnor would inquire further but to his surprise and relief, the old man changed the topic.
“You must stay in town. We’re planning a grand celebration for next week, and the feasting will bested only by the tapped ale casks.” Paldnor replied with a giddy smile.
The offer had compelled Link, for after a week of eating fish made him yearn for the wide variety of a feast. “I shall consider it, but what celebration warrants such a grand feast?” He asked.
“Detached you are, young sir.” Paldnor answered, finishing the fish before continuing. “Princess Zelda is turning eighteen, and will be granted a great honor. I wish I could see the festivities at Hyrule City; they will make ours look like a gathering at the corner market.” Paldnor continued to speak of previous celebrations from his past, and as he droned on the images flew through his head. “You really should join us.” Paldnor added, breaking the spell.
The memories in Link’s mind made the thought of celebration impossible. “I doubt I have the rupees to attend, sir.” Link shook his head, but Paldnor was not satisfied.
“All men are lords at such celebrations, and if it’s rupees you need then arrangements can be made, there is never a shortage of tasks that need doing.”
Link had worked for meals before, and would spend winter months in towns and farms helping out. He’d never stayed in any town for longer than a winter, though, and usually left as the snow melted, but Link was determined to avoid the town’s celebration.
“A very generous offer, sir, but I plan on making my way further east, the planting will start in mere few days and I could make a good deal of rupees if I’m there to start the plowing.” Link lied, thinking quickly, and apparently Paldnor had believed him.
“Truly, they need all the help they can get for bountiful harvest to be sure.”
Link felt guilty about lying to the old man, but he doubted Paldnor would have relented without such a reason, and Link wasn’t totally sure that Paldnor wasn’t looking for a stable hand or laborer. A few moments of silence passed before Paldnor spoke again. “Have you met many people in your journeys?”
The sudden change of subject relived Link once more. “Very many.” He answered.
“Do you remember any of them?”
Link nodded. “I do.” He answered which was very much an understatement. The power that gave Link the ability to feel heartbeats also seemed to give him the ability to recall a face that he’d seen. “I have quite a memory when it comes to faces.” He finished with a smile.
A grin slipped passed Paldnor’s face as well. “Then a trip to town might be quite profitable for you.” Paldnor apparently had not given up.
“Oh?” He said inquisitively.
“At the inn, there is a woman. She’s a royal courier, and she’s looking for someone, and offering a rather heavy bag of rupees for the person who can point her in the right direction.” He finished and looked to Link waiting for an answer like it was the climax of an exciting story.
“I do not think I could be of any help.” He answered, but Paldnor quickly came back.
“You won’t know until you try, my boy, but she leaves in the morning.” Paldnor was now very convincing.
Link started to ask another question, but was cut off. “If you can help her you’ll have enough rupees for a night at the inn, and if not, then be a guest in my home, as payment for the finely roasted fish.”
After this, Link realized that Paldnor would not be denied, and finally Link relented. “If you insist sir.” He answered, standing up.
“Excellent! But we must hurry I hope it is not too late.” Paldnor beamed, getting to his feet.

The two walked at a quickened pace to the town of Porsail, with Link holding Epona’s reins as Paldnor filled the air with his stories from the past. Link noticed that as he told his story, his voice had a hint of extra confidence, as if he had achieved a great feat in convincing Link to accompany him back to the town, and now Link felt that somehow the old man would find a way to keep him in town for the celebration. Link had purposely kept his past years living at the palace a secret, because as kindly as Paldnor was, he was certain his story would be all over the town, whether or not Paldnor believed him.
“This courier is a woman?” Link asked as the lights of the town appeared in the night.
“Aye, and a rather brawny looking one at that; she’s bigger than most men in the village.” Paldnor answered, using his hands to show how tall she was.
Memories sparked. “What was her name?” He’d met many of the royal couriers in his years and none of them had been women, but he did know a rather tall woman from the palace.
“I never got it, there were so many gathered around her telling her they knew who she was looking for. I never got the chance to talk to her; she had a large bag of rupees for the one who pointed her in the right direction, said she’d know if they were lying.”
Magic was the first word that entered Links mind; the ability to discern truth from lie was a difficult spell. The courier was well trained and very focused. “She reminds me of a young maiden from my youth.” Paldnor continued, starting another story. “She was a vision, a spring flower.” The old man seemed to be made of stories, and Link wondered how many more stories Paldnor would tell before he met the courier, and the many more he would hear while as a guest in his house.
“You have many stories Paldnor, I’m sure you’re a welcome guest at the local tavern.” Link answered, speaking up as Paldnor finished.
“If I could learn all the stories in history, it would be a dream realized.” He replied with a smile.
“Is that what you do? Collect stories?” Link asked, to pass the time, and Paldnor obliged him with a lengthy answer. “I learned to be a leather craftsman from my father-in-law, but in my youth, my main activity was trouble.”
“Trouble?! You?!”
“Unlike you, by your age, I had the entire town of Porsail wanting to flog the hide off my back.” He replied, making whipping motions with his hand. “If it wasn’t for the man who would become my father-in-law, and his stubborn young maiden of a daughter, I shudder to think where I would have ended up.” Paldnor added.
“You’re a leather craftsman?” Link asked, feeling the worn spots through the soles his boots. Perhaps the old man could help him patch them or show him some of his trade, he’d managed to buy a new belt some time ago but his scabbard and boots would wear out soon.
“I was never the master that my father-in-law was, but I provided for myself and my late wife, goddesses give her rest.” Paldnor started in his lengthy way. “I took on an apprentice several years ago, it was not long before he was better than I, but he was a loyal friend, so I handled the business end.” He continued, as they walked and Link could see the large building with several horses and carriages outside, and what appeared to be quite a bit of commotion, but Paldnor continued his story. “After my wife passed on, my heart was not in the work anymore, not that it was much to begin with; I did it for her and for my mentor. I gave the business to my talented protégé after my hands began to stiffen with age.”
After the story was told, Paldnor looked to the large building now before the two men. “Here we are.” He said, not hiding vigor he felt. Outside the inn was a large gathering of people conversing in angered tones, the tallest of the group seemed enraged, as Link could tell; his heart beating fast and hard, and from what Link could hear the royal courier had apparently called him a liar.
“That one seems mad.” Link whispered as the large man watched him and Paldnor approached the inn. Paldnor refused to return the look and quickened his pace. “Solormin, a hunter. The strongest man in town.” He said in a hushed and hurried tone.
“I see.” Link said, as he made eye contact with the tall Solormin.
“What do you bring into town, old man?” Solormin called to them as they passed. Several others gathered around Solormin had now taken notice to Link and Paldnor.
“Play along, Link.” Plandor said quickly to his companion, then turned to face the hunter. “Solormin, this is Link.” Paldnor continued as if introducing him to his best friend, apparently Paldnor was a good actor as well. “Link, this is Solormin, one of the best hunters in the village.”
Following what Paldnor said, Link extended his hand. “A pleasure, sir” He answered with a fake smile, but Solormin’s attention was on Paldnor. “I’m the best hunter, old man.” He shot back, not hiding the anger, and Link could feel his heart beat increase with anger.
Paldnor answered with an inclination of his head. “My apologies, Solormin” Link felt the large man’s heart ease; Paldnor’s false praise had appeased the large man. “Link is an old friend of my family, and I invited him to come for the festival.” Paldnor lied. Link felt more than one set of eyes gazing at him, and it was then that he realized that the years of living and surviving on his own had taken its toll. Link had instinctively brought his hand to the hilt of his Kokiri sword, which was now more of a large dagger than a sword. The heartbeats of the gathered men quickened, like thunder to Link’s ears, and he now tried to block them out. Solormin watched Link’s hand move to hilt of the small sword and a sarcastic grin came to his face.
“Do you plan on using that here, boy?” He said, and Link felt Solormin’s heart beat quicken yet again. The tall man came up to his full height, and tightened his large biceps. Glancing quickly to both sides, Link spied two of Solormin’s friends to his left, one on his right next to Paldnor, and his senses told him there were two more behind him. Doubting that the old man would be much help in a fight, Link slowly lowered his hand, letting it fall once more to his side.
“No, sir” Link said sounding apologetic. “I’m sorry, I’ve been out in the wild for a while, haven’t had a real roof over my head in some time.” He added, embellishing his situation, and hoping he didn’t sound too pathetic. Solormin’s eyes gave Link a quick once over and although the hard look on his face did not change his heart beat eased.
“You look like it!” Solormin replied, with a quick surge forward but Link held his ground, and Solormin’s attention returned to the old man. “You think that this scruffy boy may be the one that the courier is looking for?” He asked backing away, with his group falling in behind him. “She’s too proper, and reeks of royalty. He merely reeks.” The group burst in to laughter as they gathered to talk.

Paldnor wasted no time and led Link towards the inn.
“I’m sorry, Link. Do not feel bad; he’s like that to nearly everyone, except those in his social circle.” Paldnor stated, shooting a quick glance over his shoulder. “You were right not to provoke him. Not totally smart, but he’s strong as a Goron.” Link was no longer listening to Paldnor the smell of roasting cuckoo was coming from the open window of the inn, and several days of nothing but roasted fish had taken its toll on Link. The aroma of the roasting meat tempted his pallet, as well as his stomach as it gave a growl, and Link wondered how much of the roasted bird his few rupees would get him.

The two men stepped through the doorway into the inn. The main room of the inn was full; there was not an empty table to be seen and all the people had the impending festival on their lips.
“Now where is this courier? The sooner we see her, the sooner we can feast my young friend.” Paldnor’s words caught Link’s attention, and he looked at the old man. “I smell it too, my boy; the chef is particularly good.” He finished with a smile. Paldnor looked around the room for several seconds. “Pa’cal...Pa’cal!” He called while waving his arm. Soon, a short apron-wearing man with long gray hair came towards Paldnor.
“I had a feeling I would be seeing you Paldnor.” Pa’cal said in a high shaky voice, and he shook hands with Paldnor. “The moment Monal lit the fire under those birds, I knew I’d see you.” The two laughed, before Pa’cal noticed Link. “Who’s your friend?” The two attentions turned to Link.
“This is Link.” Paldnor introduced him, and Pa’cal wiped his hand on his apron and extended it to Link.
“Welcome to the Turnpike Inn, Link.” Pa’cal offered enthusiastically. Link shook hands with the short innkeeper.
“Thank you.” Was all Link had managed to say, before Pa’cal cut in.
“I always make room, Paldnor at the bar.” Pa’cal said patting old man on the shoulder. “I’m sure we can find some more for your young friend.” The two men smiled and Link immediately became worried.
“Sir, I don’t have many rupees.” Link started, but was again cut off this time by Paldnor.
“We’ll need two plates of Monal’s wonderful birds, two flagons of ale, and every bit of news you have for my young friend here.” Paldnor requested handing Pa’cal a red rupee. “But first we need to meet with that courier. Where is she? The sooner we see her, the sooner we can eat and talk.” Pa’cal’s smile disappeared at the mention of the courier.
“She’s in the back room. Most of whom you see here would be very happy to see her leave, no matter how many rupees she has.” He passed to them in hushed tone.
“What has she done?” Paldnor asked in the same hushed tone, and Pa’cal shrugged.
“Nothing at all besides turn away everyone who came looking for that bounty. She even turned away Solormin, twice I hear.” Pa’cal’s answer caused Paldnor to nod in agreement. “He was quite angry outside.” He added gesturing to the door, and the smile returned.
“Would have been good to see old Solormin try to take his anger out on her, she’d break him in two.” Pa’cal finished with a chuckle, but Link was suddenly interested.
“What’s her name?” He asked Pa’cal.
“I don’t remember exact, something short. That surprised me.” Pa’cal’s answer had now peaked Paldnor’s interest, but Link’s mind automatically brought the memory of one person in particular. “She’s proper and clean, just like any royals I’ve ever met. Not that I ever meet a lot, but she got no title, no nothing; doesn’t even want me to call her M’lady.” Paldnor was surprised by Pa’cal’s description.
“She’s in the back room?” The old man asked again, pointing to the back of the crowded room.
“Aye she is.” Pa’cal answered. “Best go and be done with it. I’ll have your food and ale waiting for you.” Paldnor started to lead Link through the large crowd.
“Thank you, sir.” Link said to Pa’cal. The innkeeper only nodded in reply.

It took several minutes to get to the back room; every table they passed someone seemed to recognize Paldnor and attempt to strike up a conversation or to join them for a flagon of ale. Slowly though, the two made there way to the door, and for the longest stretch of time, Paldnor was silent. The door was open only a few inches, and the flickering of a fire could be seen in the inner wall.
“It will be warm in there.” The old man said as they walked up to the door. “We walk in say hello, and then we eat, drink, and converse.” Paldnor added, patting Link on the shoulder. Link felt a tad overwhelmed by the old man’s generosity.
“Paldnor, you don’t have to do all this for me. I can do some work for you or something.” But Paldnor shook his head.
“I owe you a meal for the fish and fire you offered me, my boy. Besides, I long for company and conversation. You, my friend, have provided me with both. The rupees I drop on the table tonight are well spent, and I will hear no more of it.” The sense of finality in Paldnor’s voice told Link that talking about it further would offend the old man. Link relented and silently vowed to repay his new friend however he could. “Now let us go inside, Link; Monal’s cooking calls to me.” And with that, Paldnor opened the door.

They entered to see a tall, bulky, white-haired woman sitting at a table with a roaring fire in the hearth. She didn’t seem to notice them enter, and although he hadn’t seen her face yet, Link recognized Princess Zelda’s nursemaid and mentor, Impa. Link felt the steady heartbeat of someone lost in thought.
“Excuse me madam…” Paldnor started, and Impa looked up at the two men in the doorway. “My apologies for disturbing you…” Link felt the heartbeat quicken at this, while the woman shot up out of her chair quickly, startling Paldnor. “My goodness!” He exclaimed, as Impa walked over to them, a large smile now on her face as she stood right in front of Link.
“Link!” She exclaimed.
“Hello, Impa.” He replied, returning her smile.
“You look well.” Link didn’t have the chance to reply; she had gathered Link in a big bear hug. “I’ve been looking for you for some time now. I was about ready to move to the next town.” The big woman said, releasing Link from her vice-like hold. “Who is this man, Link?” Impa asked, gesturing to Paldnor. Link watched the surprised look on the old man’s face and felt the quickened heartbeat of the clearly confused man, and realized a way to repay Paldnor.
“This is the one who brought me here. If it were not for him, I’d be asleep in the fields right now.” Impa turned to Paldnor, and tossed him a large purse from her belt. The bag hit the old man in the chest and made him lose his balance and almost fall to the floor.
“Live well for the rest of your days, good sir, with the gratitude of the royal family.” She said to Paldnor, who was still confused as he regained his balance with the large purse of rupees cradled in his arms, a surprised look on his face.
“By the Goddesses... What’s going on here, Link?”

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