The Legend of Zelda: Dimensions
Part One – Into Another World
It was a bright and warm summer day. The sun was high in the sky, indicating that it was around noontime. The birds sang cheerily in the trees and the sounds of the ocean were soothing to the ear. A single horse, with two riders, trotted toward a grove of trees.
“Oh, Michael! This spot is perfect!” Catherine said into his ear.
“I told you it was.”
The horse stopped gently near one of the trees in the grove. Michael hopped off first and helped Catherine off the horse. She had long blond hair and a pretty face with bright blue eyes. She was a very beautiful woman and Michael appreciated her every time he looked at her. In her left arm, she carried a picnic basket, with a white and red blanket for the two to sit on.
“Go get that stuff set up, Catherine. I’m going to tie up the horse.”
She gave him a quick little kiss on the cheek and skipped to a clearing in the trees that she felt was ideal for their picnic. Michael took a hold of the horse’s reins and tied it around the nearest tree. He was of average height for an elf and had brown hair and green eyes. He was built like a Knight, and he was eager to join their ranks. Walking to the side of the horse, he grabbed a truffle of food out of the side bag. He placed the truffle over the horse’s mouth. The horse whinnied.
Michael laughed a little. “I know, girl. I hate tying you up as much as you do.” He patted the horse on the top of its head. “But it won’t be for long.”
He turned around and began walking over to Catherine when he suddenly stopped. Catherine saw his action and was alarmed.
“Michael? What’s wrong?”
He answered by putting a single finger to his lips. She obeyed and remained silent as he stood there. He cocked his head to the left, toward a thicker grove of trees. Silently, he waited, but nothing happened. Giving up, he looked back at Catherine, smiled, and walked over to her.
“What’s wrong?” she repeated as he was sitting down beside her.
“Nothing. Just thought I heard a noise.”
She smiled. “Of course you did, silly! There are lots of animals around here. You probably just heard a squirrel or something like that.”
Michael looked around, not buying into her simple answer. Something wasn’t right, but he wasn’t going to worry about it now. He didn’t want her to worry. “Yeah, you’re probably right. You’re so smart.”
She smiled again and reached into the basket and pulled out two sandwiches. “Here you go. I made your favorite.”
“Grilled Cucco on Rye!” he said excitedly as she handed him the sandwich. As he took a big mouthful, he saw her staring at him, as if waiting for something. Quickly swallowing what he had in his mouth, he added, “I mean, thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” she said as she took a bite out of her sandwich.
They sat there eating their sandwiches in silence, each admiring the beautiful scenery and the gorgeous day. A light breeze blew and the trees rustled. They could see fisherman hard at work out in the ocean. The town of Oceana, to their left along the shoreline, was full of life.
Upon finishing his sandwich, he finally decided to go along with his plan. He politely waited until she had finished her sandwich and looked at him.
“There’s something I want to ask you,” he said as his body began to shake slightly.
Catherine’s heart rose in her chest. She had been waiting, almost yearning, for this moment for quite some time, but she tried her best to not show it. She didn’t want to be mistaken, either. Her mother always told her “Don’t expect too much, or else you will be let down.” It made sense to her.
He reached out and held her hand in his and looked her in the eyes. “I’ve wanted to ask you this for a while now. Catherine…,” he quickly jerked his head to the left. “What the hell was that?” he said loudly.
“That noise… what the hell was that?”
“What noise? I didn’t hear any noise.”
Suddenly, every bird in the adjacent grove of trees flew into the air, covering the entire sky. Michael and Catherine both looked up at it, wondering what was going on.
“Something’s not right. I’m going to check it out,” Michael said as he stood up and released her hand. He ran toward the other grove of trees while Catherine had yet to move.
“Damn it,” she said. “So close.” She got up and headed after him.
She reached the edge of the large grove of trees just a few steps behind him. The grove was so large that it was almost like a very small forest. The dense foliage blocked most of their view into the grove, so Michael began walking deeper into it with Catherine in tow. As they made their way among the trees, they could make out a smooth red glow emanating from somewhere in front of them. Curious, they headed deeper in, without uttering a single word. Catherine reached up and grabbed Michael’s hand, squeezing it. As they continued walking, the glow became brighter, and her grip on his hand became tighter.
Stepping past the next set of trees landed them in the middle of a small clearing, totally surrounded by trees. The point of origin of the glow was now visible to them and they stared at it in awe and wonder, mixed in with some fear and anxiety.
“Michael,” she whispered over the low humming of the object. “What is that?”
“I don’t know, Catherine,” he said as he inched closer to the mysterious source. “It looks like some kind of disturbance.”
“Disturbance?” she repeated. “It’s beautiful.”
The disturbance was a small circle hovering about five feet off the ground and was about a foot wide. The interior of the circle was illuminating the soft red glow, as it swirled with red and white. Michael moved even closer to it, slightly to the left side. He decided to walk around it to see if there was any clue as to what it was. As he walked around its side, it disappeared, but the glow remained.
“Where’d it go?” he asked Catherine.
“What do you mean?”
“It just disappeared.”
Catherine looked at him quizzically. “No,” she said, wondering what had gotten into him. “It’s right there.”
Puzzled, Michael walked in front of it again and sure enough, there it was. He walked back behind it, and it vanished from sight.
“What the hell?”
“What?” she asked as she walked over to him. As she reached him, she realized what he had seen. The disturbance was no longer visible. “How can this be?”
“It’s like it’s only a two dimensional object,” he walked directly beside it. “Look, it has no thickness.”
“I don’t like this,” she said, fear seeping into her voice. “Michael, let’s go.”
“Amazing,” he continued as his concentration was solely on the disturbance. “It’s as if it doesn’t really exist.”
“Michael, please, let’s go.”
He continued to ignore her and picked an apple from one of the trees. Tossing the apple up in the air a few times, he tried to guess what would happen if he threw it into the disturbance. Not sure, and extremely curious, he threw the apple directly into the disturbance.
“Michael!” she whined to get his attention, but to no avail.
As he watched on, the apple seemed to stop in place when it hit the disturbance. It sat there for only a second or so before it disappeared.
“Interesting,” he said to himself. He moved to within inches of the disturbance and raised his hand to about chest high.
“Michael! No! What are you doing? Are you crazy?” Catherine said quickly, becoming more and more hysterical as he ignored her and messed with the disturbance.
He brought his hand closer to the disturbance and held it there. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, relaxing all of his muscles. Opening his eyes again, he prepared to put his hand into the disturbance. He slowly moved closer to it. As he was about to make contact with it, the disturbance shrunk until it disappeared altogether, as well as the soft red glow.
“Damn it!” he shouted, upset that he didn’t get to try his experiment.
Catherine was relieved that the disturbance was gone, and couldn’t have cared any less about it. Finally able to get his attention, she said, “Michael, let’s go home.”
He stood there, staring at the spot where the disturbance had just been. Sighing, he said, “Okay, Catherine. Let’s go home.”
He grabbed her hand again and led her out of the trees.
* * * *
“Evan!” Link called. “Evan! Time for lunch!”
Getting no response from the eleven-year-old’s room, Link headed up the flight of stairs. As he made his way up, Nick was on his way down.
“Hey Link,” he said. “Having trouble getting Evan for lunch?”
“You know it,” Link answered with a smile. “Sometimes I don’t know why I bother.”
“At least he’s learning something up there,” Nick said as he gestured to Evan’s room.
“Yeah. It’s a little weird though. Ever since that day three years ago when he helped us dispel the barrier around Ganon’s Tower, he’s holed himself up in his room.”
“I wouldn’t worry, Link. He’s just trying to figure out what magical powers he has. I mean, just look at his mother and father.”
Link laughed. “Yeah, you’re right. Well, go get some lunch, Nick. I’ve got to go drag Evan away from his books.”
“Good luck,” Nick said as he continued down the stairs.
Link arrived in front of Evan’s door and knocked hard while turning the knob and opening it. At his desk, Evan looked up to see his father peering in.
“Hey, Evan. How’s it coming along?” he asked as he walked over to his son’s desk.
Evan placed a bookmark into the book in front of him and closed it. “I’m not sure. I know I’m doing everything right, but I can never get anything to work quite the way it’s supposed to.”
“I’m sure you’re doing everything right.”
“But I must be doing something wrong, or else these spells would work,” Evan replied, almost dejectedly.
Link placed his hand on the back of Evan’s head. “It’s going to take time for you to develop your magic. One day, it’ll come to you. Just wait. The Goddesses have a master plan for all of us.”
“Yeah, well I wish they would hurry up with mine,” he said, slightly angry.
“Don’t say stuff like that, Evan,” Link said calmly. “Never curse the Goddesses. They are wiser than anyone could ever be, and they know what they’re doing.”
Evan gave his father a little smile. “I guess so.”
“That’s not good enough. I guess I’ll have to beat it out of you,” Link said jokingly as he gave Evan a shove.
“I’d like to see you try!” Evan shouted back, a big smile on his face as he pushed his father back. The two laughed and messed around for a few more minutes until Link had Evan in a headlock.
“Say uncle! Say uncle!”
“Uncle! Uncle!” Evan cried.
Link released his grip and the two laughed some more.
“Come on,” Link said. “Let’s get some lunch.”
* * * *
Evan didn’t get back to his books until later that evening. He spent most of his afternoon getting fighting lessons from his father and Nick. He hated those lessons and he often skipped them, much to his father’s disappointment. They were always pushing him to become a great fighter, but he didn’t see the need for it. In his mind, Link would be around forever, so there was no need for him to be worrying about fighting, unless it was with his magic.
He sat down in his favorite chair and pulled himself in front of his desk. Opening the book where he left off, he began to read the chant and tried to familiarize it with himself.
“There must be something I’m doing wrong. Just has to be,” he muttered to himself.
He read the passage to himself over and over again until he could recite it without even looking at the book. When he had completely memorized it, he sat back in his chair.
“Well,” he said under his breath, “here goes nothing.”
He spoke the words, but not loud enough for anyone else to hear him. As he made his way through the spell, he could feel a strange tingling sensation in his body, just like every other time. He repeated the chant several times over, trying desperately to make it work. After a few minutes, he finally gave up and dropped his head onto his book.
“Why can’t I get it to work?” he asked angrily to no one.
I will help you.
Evan’s body bolted upright in his chair. Without moving anything else, he slowly turned his head to the left, then to the right.
“Is someone there?” he asked, his voice shaking. “Hello?”
I’m right here.
He looked all around the room, but found no one. “Right where?”
Right here. In your mind.
“In my mind? How is that possible? Who are you?”
“What do you mean, you’re me?”
I’m your subconscious.
“If you’re my subconscious, how come I can hear you?”
Because it’s time for you to become a great wizard. Together, we can make the spells work.
“Right,” Evan said sarcastically. “I suppose I’ll all of a sudden get this spell to work.”
“Alright, fine. Prove it.”
Chant the spell.
Evan once again recited the spell that he had just recently memorized. And once again, he felt the tingling sensation throughout his body.
Keep going. We’re almost there.
He continued with the spell, repeating it twice more before he felt the small, tingling sensation become a large sensation. He could feel the magic around him and he became excited at the prospect of actually completing a spell. Finally, he felt the sensation die down and he could once again move about normally.
He looked excitedly from one side of the room to the other, but he was met with disappointment.
“It didn’t work,” he said frustrated.
On the contrary, it did work.
“Then where is it?”
I’m not sure. But you’ll get better with practice.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. Evan jerked his head in the direction of the door, fully expecting his father to be standing inside the room, staring at him. Instead, the door remained closed, and he was thankful.
We mustn’t be caught! Quick, dispel the magic and get the door!
Evan nodded and dispelled the spell with his mind as he walked to the door. He opened it slowly, wondering whom it could be. When he finally opened the door all the way, he noticed a castle guard standing at attention.
“Master Evan,” the guard began, “it is time for your sister’s birthday party and your parents would like you to attend.”
“Tell them I’m on my way.”
The guard saluted and walked back down the stairs. Evan looked back into his room one last time. More specifically, he looked at the book on his desk. Still unsure if all that had transpired had actually happened and wasn’t part of some sort of daydream, Evan turned around and closed his door behind him.
He would try again later.
* * * *
“I’m going, Catherine! There’s nothing you can do to stop me!”
“No,” he said sternly. “I’ve got to know what that thing was. I’m going back to that grove and I’m spending the night there.”
“But it could be dangerous,” she whined.
“That’s why you’re not coming with me,” he answered. He opened the door and ran to his horse.
“Please don’t go!”
Without even acknowledging her, he sped off toward the grove of trees where the disturbance had been only a few hours before.
“…I have a bad feeling,” she said quietly.
* * * *
He forced himself awake once again. He had been nodding on and off for the past two hours as he waited for the disturbance to come back. He had been there for several hours and the sun was getting close to the horizon. He shifted his weight on the tree trunk and reached for his canteen. Taking a small drink, he stared into the space where the disturbance had been. He desperately wanted to see it again and figure out what it was and why it was there. Discouraged, he looked away.
“What am I doing? This has been a huge waste of time.”
But rather than pack up his stuff and go back to Oceana, he stayed there, resting up on the tree trunk. Time was flowing by slowly and he felt his head become heavy again. Fighting the urge to sleep, he snapped his head up, smacking the back of it against the tree.
“Damn it!” he yelled as he rubbed the back of his head with his right hand. The constant throbbing was enough to make him too uncomfortable to sleep, so he stared into the clearing again.
Another hour passed, and still there was no sign of the disturbance and Michael was becoming more and more impatient by the minute. Still, he waited silently, as if it would reappear if he was as quiet as possible. The throbbing in his head had died down some, and he felt the back of his head with his hand again. The area was still sensitive and touching it only made it worse. Learning from his mistake, he pulled his hand away.
As he looked into the clearing again, he noticed a small dot that didn’t seem natural. He rose to his feet, dropping the canteen over that had been resting on his lap. Slowly, he walked up to the dot, but now it had grown.
“This is it! It’s back!” he yelled out to no one.
The disturbance grew to its former self and Michael stood directly in front of it. Picking up yet another apple, he tossed it into the center of the red and white circle and watched it disappear. His curiosity got the better of him for a second time and he decided to stick his hand into the disturbance. But before he could even move up close enough, the disturbance disappeared.
“No!” he shouted as he put both his hands on the top of his head. “Not again!” He picked up another apple and threw it as hard as he could over the trees. “I can’t believe I missed the chance again!”
He walked angrily around the clearing, not knowing if he should stay and wait for it to return for a third time, or to call it quits and go home. However, his decision was made for him as the disturbance opened once again.
He stopped ranting around and moved in close to the disturbance, but he could tell that something was different about it this time. He watched on, as the disturbance grew larger than it had been the two previous times. It now was big enough for an entire person to walk through it with no problems. The soft, red glow covered the entire grove of trees in its light. He stared at it for a moment longer.
Behind him, Catherine had made her way to the clearing in the grove. She had become very worried about him and decided to see how he was doing. When she had reached the grove, she had noticed the same soft glow that she had seen before, and she hurried through the trees. Now, she made it all the way to the clearing, only to see Michael standing in front of the large disturbance.
“Michael! No!” she yelled as she sensed what he was planning to do.
He turned his upper body to the right and looked at her. He smiled, and she smiled back. They remained in that position for a little longer before Michael broke the silence.
“I love you,” he said as he turned and jumped into the disturbance.
“No!” she cried out as she ran toward the disturbance. His body remained visible and motionless for a second longer, than vanished. She couldn’t bear to be without him. “I’m coming, Michael!”
When she was close enough to the disturbance, she jumped into the air, directly at it. The split-second before she came into contact with it, it vanished. Still in midair, her momentum carried her passed where the disturbance had been, and she fell hard onto the ground.
She curled up in the fetal position, her arms and legs scraped and bloodied, her face strewn with tears.
“Michael,” she sobbed, “don’t leave me.”
She cried more.
“…Happy Birthday dear Michelle,
Happy Birthday to you!”
Link and Zelda stood alongside their 3-year-old daughter and motioned for her to blow out the three candles that decorated the cake. Michelle blew as hard as she could, but the candles merely flickered. Zelda smiled and leaned over the cake.
“Ready, Michelle? One, two, three!”
With her mother’s help, Michelle was finally able to blow out her birthday candles, and the room filled with cheers. Link walked over to the rest of the Knights while Zelda began cutting the cake.
“It’s already been three years,” John said in disbelief. “Time sure does fly.”
“Tell me about it,” Link replied. He turned to Nick, “So where’s Charles?”
Nick motioned with his head. “Celes has him over there.” He waved to his wife and son, whom they had named after their fallen friend.
Already with a piece of cake, William asked, “So when do we get to celebrate his third birthday?”
They all laughed. “Easy there, William,” Robert said. “We don’t need you choking on anything. Cause I know I’m not going to save you.”
“Thanks for the support,” William said as he shoved another forkful of cake into his mouth. “I love this cake.”
“Well, William,” Nick started, “I’m sorry to inform you that you missed Charles’s birthday.”
“Sorry, but it was last month, while you were back in Malaank.”
“We thought it best not to tell you about it,” Link said, smiling.
“Some friends you are,” William pouted, as he ate more cake.
Chris came running up and practically knocked John onto the floor. “Oh John! I love this song! Do you want to dance?”
“Like he has a choice!” Robert exclaimed, laughing heartily. All but John joined him.
“I do to have a choice!” John said, trying to defend himself. It didn’t work too well, since as he was saying it, Chris was dragging him out to dance.
“Young people,” Robert simply said, as if it explained everything.
Aaron looked around the room and spotted Evan next to Michelle, politely waiting for a piece of cake. “So Link,” Aaron said, changing the subject from Robert and cake, “what’s this I hear about Evan studying magic?”
“Yeah, how come he isn’t into swords and battles as much anymore?” Nick added. “He used to love that kind of stuff.”
Link smiled a little. “I don’t know. But for some reason, he likes magic more than swordsmanship and battle skills. I don’t care for magic myself, but if that’s what he wants to focus on, I’m not going to stop it.”
“Do I sense some disappointment?” William asked him.
“A little. I wanted to train him to become the greatest fighter ever, even better than myself. But now, it doesn’t look like that will happen.”
William patted Link on the back. “Cheer up, Link. He’s a great kid, and I’m sure he’ll become a master of magic.”
Nick noticed that Celes had stood up and was carrying a sleeping Charles in her arms. “Well, it looks like it’s time for me to go. Goodnight, everyone.”
“I should be going as well,” Robert stated.
“Me too,” William muffled, cake still in his mouth.
“It is getting a little late,” Link added. “I’ll see you all in the morning.”
The Knights all went their separate ways, with Link going up to his family. Link picked up the sleeping Michelle and began the walk to her room. Zelda and Evan followed.
“You haven’t spoken that much tonight, Evan,” Zelda told him. “Is there something wrong?”
Nothing. There’s nothing wrong.
“No, nothing’s wrong. Why?”
“No reason. I’m just a worried mother,” she said with a smile, stroking the back of his head lovingly. “How’s the magic coming along?”
He smiled at the question. He loved attention. “It’s going grea…” he started. No! Tell her it’s going slowly! We mustn’t let her know! “I mean, it’s coming along slowly.”
“I wouldn’t worry too much about it. You’ll figure it out in time.”
They had reached his room and stopped outside his door. Link kept walking ahead of them.
“When did you first start using magic?”
She thought about it for a moment. “I must’ve been about your age. About the same time that I met your father. It seems that our lives were destined to be entangled.”
“Was it hard?”
“Of course it was. Even to this very day I don’t believe I’ve mastered the art,” she saw the disappointed look on his face. “Don’t worry, Evan. You’re much stronger with it than I ever was. I’m sure you’ll become powerful.”
He smiled. “Thanks, Mom.”
“You’re welcome. Now go to bed,” she instructed him as she opened his door. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Goodnight,” he said as he closed the door behind him.
Now we can get back to work.
Evan stopped where he was, standing in the middle of his room. “But I don’t want to. I’m tired,” Evan said to the voice in his head.
We must become stronger! We must practice!
“But it’s late. Can’t I practice more tomorrow?” he asked through a yawn.
Do you want to be weak? Because he thinks you’re weak.
You know whom.
“No, I don’t. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Dad thinks I’m weak?”
Yes. He’s disappointed that you gave up the sword and have turned to magic.
Anger began to swell up inside of Evan.
You should show him who’s weak. Practice. Make him understand just how strong you really are.
Evan looked over toward his desk, piled high with books of magic. With a determined look on his face, he walked over to it and sat down.
“I’ll show him.”
* * * *
“Link, have you noticed anything strange about Evan lately?” Zelda asked as she changed into her robe.
“He doesn’t practice his swordsmanship enough anymore.”
She sighed. “You know what I mean.”
Link looked over at her. “No, honey. I haven’t noticed anything strange about him recently.”
“Well maybe that’s because you don’t spend enough time with him,” she shot at him as she got into bed and pulled the covers on.
“What do you mean? I spent all afternoon with him today,” Link said defensively.
“You never spend any time with just him, without any fighting lessons. You never do anything he wants to do.”
“You never do what he wants,” he said under his breath.
“I heard that!” she said as she elbowed him. “Seriously, Link. You need to spend more quality time with him. Please? For me?”
He looked into her eyes and realized that he couldn’t say no. “Alright. I’ll spend some time with him tomorrow.”
“Thank you,” she said, kissing him on the cheek. “Goodnight.”
* * * *
The sun shined brightly on the travelers. It was not yet midday, but they were almost at their destination. Link and Evan rode up in front, with Nick and Aaron right behind them. Further back rode Zelda, Celes, Sarah, Michelle, and Charles, all in a carriage.
“Are we almost there yet, Dad?” Evan asked, becoming a little impatient.
Link smiled. “We’re very close, Evan. It should only be about another half hour.”
They were on their way to Oceana. At the request of Zelda, Link asked Evan if there was something in particular that he wanted to do that day. Without any hesitation, Evan had said that he wanted to go to the beaches of Oceana. He hadn’t been there in a very long time, and he missed it. Taking the opportunity to get away from it all, Link agreed with Evan’s suggestion and invited all the Knights. However, William and Robert had things to tend to in their own countries, while John was off with Chris on their own private getaway. The two often traveled back to Baru to help the townsfolk rebuild their town and honor their dead. And, of course, visit their friend Liz, who decided to go back home after Jacob’s death.
“I haven’t been to the beach in a long time,” Aaron said.
Nick looked at him strangely. “What do you mean, Aaron? You were just in Oceana last week.”
“But that was on business. I was speaking in a pleasure sense.”
“I see. In that case, I haven’t been to the beach in years, either. I hope the day stays this beautiful.”
“I doubt it,” Link called from the front. He and Evan then slowed down until they were walking beside the two Knights.
“Why do you say that?” Nick questioned.
“Storm clouds to the south,” Link responded.
“That doesn’t mean that a storm will hit Oceana,” Aaron remarked.
“But the winds are moving north,” Evan said. “It seems as though I’ve picked a bad day for us to go the beach. Sorry.”
Link rubbed his son’s head. “Don’t worry about it. I’m sure we’ll get at least an hour or so on the beach. Then we can see what else the town has to offer.”
“But it looks like a really big storm, Dad. What are we going to do if we get caught in it?”
“Not to worry, Evan,” Aaron butted in. “I have a good friend in Oceana. I’m sure he will let us stay in his house until the storm passes.”
“There,” Link said. “Is that alright?”
Evan smiled. “Yeah, that’s fine.”
They were now within sight of Oceana. The town was alive with people; in the streets and along the beach. The harbor currently had four ships docked and the sailors were roaming the town in search for things to do before they shipped out again. Link, Evan, Nick, and Aaron all came to a halt.
Aaron sighed. “It really is beautiful.”
“That it is,” Nick agreed.
They stood there for a moment longer, the carriage behind them just about caught up to them. An idea rose in Link’s mind, and he was sure Evan would like it.
“Race you!” Link shouted as he kicked Epona into a sprint. As quickly as he could, Evan kicked his horse to a run, with Nick and Aaron in pursuit.
The four riders approached the town with Link still out in front. He continuously checked behind him while laughing as the others tried their best to catch up. Several villagers had heard the commotion and had come out to see the race. Children cheered joyously as each of the riders flew by them. Even the older children, the young adults, and some elderly cheered the men on.
Link finally stopped just before he got to the beach and turned around. To his surprise, Evan wasn’t very far behind him, but Aaron and Nick were way behind and the carriage wasn’t even in sight. Evan halted his horse in front of his father.
“No fair!” he protested. “You cheated!”
Link laughed. “Son, that’s something that fathers get to do to their kids.”
“I don’t like it,” he mock pouted. Unable to pretend to be angry any longer, he smiled. “At least I beat them.”
Link laughed again as Nick and Aaron finally made their way up to him. “What’s wrong, old-timers? A little slow?” He and Evan both laughed.
“You cheated,” Aaron replied, causing Evan to laugh even harder. Missing the joke, he continued, “Might as well get a spot on the beach before that storm gets here.”
Link turned to Evan. “Why don’t you pick us out a spot, Evan?”
Evan smiled. “Sure thing, Dad,” he said as he dismounted his horse and ran onto the sand. Link, Nick, and Aaron all watched him go.
“He really is a good kid,” Aaron complemented.
“Sure hope Charles is just like him,” Nick said.
“Yeah, he is a good kid,” Link said, smiling. He sighed. “I just wish he would concentrate on swordsmanship than magic, though.”
Nick dismounted his horse. “Give it a rest, Link. Today is a vacation day. No talk of battles, swordsmanship, or magic.”
“Good,” Nick continued. “Now let’s stable the horses, catch up with Evan, and wait for the girls to arrive.”
* * * *
The rain came fast and hard, and they barely had enough time to get off the beach and get cover from it. In desperation, they made for the stable, and were already regretting it.
“I hate this smell,” Zelda said, Michelle beside her, holding her hand.
“Same here,” Celes agreed.
“It’s better than being out there!” Nick reminded them. Realizing that they had chosen the lesser of two evils, they nodded.
“So what do we do now?” Sarah asked, hugging Aaron for warmth from the cold rain.
Link remembered what Aaron had said before. “Aaron, didn’t you saw you had a good friend that lived here?”
Aaron nodded. “Yeah, he doesn’t live to far from here, but we’ll still get drenched in the rain.”
“What if we wait for the rain to let up a little?” Sarah asked, not wanting to be soaking wet.
Link protested. “We don’t know how long it will be until then. I suggest that we go now.”
“Absolutely not!” Zelda cried out. “I’m not going out there in this. Besides, Michelle will catch a cold that way, and if she does, so help me Link, you’re going to take care of her!”
Nick laughed and pointed at Link, but it didn’t last long.
“That goes for you too, Nick!” Celes scolded him. In response, Aaron laughed and pointed at both Link and Nick.
“That’s a shame, guys,” he said. “Being ordered around by a couple girls!”
“Pipe down!” Sarah yelled at him, pushing him away from her.
“Okay, okay. That’s enough!” Link shouted. “We need to decide what to do.”
“Wait for the rain to die down!” Sarah reiterated.
“But we don’t know when that will be!” Link said back. “It could be in an hour or two.”
“Or now,” Evan said calmly as he stepped out from under the stable. “It stopped.”
They all walked out from under the stable slowly and looked up toward the sky.
“But for how long?” Celes asked.
Aaron joined Evan outside. “Well, I’m not waiting to find out. I’m heading for Michael’s house. Anyone that wants to come, better start moving now.”
Without a single word, they all followed Aaron out of the stable and down the street.
* * * *
Catherine was lying on his bed, crying into his pillow. She had been there for the last day, not wanting to go home. In her mind, as long as she stayed there, he would return. So she waited. Her crying began to subside, but she was still sniffling, her face red.
There was a knock on the door, startling her so much that she gasped loudly. Wiping her face with her hands, she got up from his bed and walked to the front of the house. The first thing she noticed when she opened the door was that it was raining. She hadn’t even noticed that it had started to rain until now.
“Catherine?” a familiar voice asked.
She opened the door wider so she could see who was there. Her heart was hoping that it was Michael, but her brain knew better. When enough light showed the man’s face, she felt a little better.
“Aaron! What are you doing here?”
“Well, myself, Princess Zelda, Sir Link, and some others were at the beach when we got caught in this storm…”
“The Princess is here!” Catherine exclaimed as she tried to find Zelda among the people outside the door.
“Yes, yes,” Aaron continued, desperately wanting to get inside. “Could we come in?”
“Oh, of course! How rude of me! Yes, come in! Come in!”
The group of nine people flooded into the house, delighted to be out of the rain. As soon as the last one entered, Catherine closed the door and turned to them.
“I’ll put on a fire and heat up some water for you! You must be freezing!” she exclaimed while running around the house.
“Thank you, Catherine,” Aaron answered politely.
“Is that Michael’s wife?” Nick asked, low enough so that only Aaron could hear.
Aaron shook his head. “No, just his girlfriend. Although, he informed me that he was thinking about marrying her.”
“So,” Link said, “where is Michael?”
“I don’t know,” Aaron answered. He called out to Catherine, “Hey Catherine! Where’s Michael?”
The answer he received wasn’t what he was looking for. She didn’t respond, but from the other room, they all could hear a pot crash onto the floor. Concerned, Aaron rushed to the kitchen, with Link and Nick behind him.
“What happened?” Aaron asked before they had gotten there.
They still got no response, but as they entered the kitchen, they all stopped. Down on her knees on the floor, Catherine was crying softly.
“Catherine, what’s wrong?” Aaron asked as he kneeled down beside her, putting his arm around her.
She continued to cry.
“Let’s bring her into the other room,” Link suggested. “Nick, go grab a blanket from the bedroom.”
Nick left for the bedroom as Aaron helped Catherine up off the floor.
“We’re going to bring you into the living room, okay?” Aaron asked her rhetorically.
Link, Aaron, and Catherine entered the other room again. Link stepped aside as Aaron led Catherine to a chair. Right behind them, Nick came back with a blanket and wrapped it around the crying girl.
“What happened in there?” Zelda asked, curious and confused.
“I don’t know,” Link said. “We just found her crying on the floor.”
“Catherine?” Aaron was saying softly. “What happened? Can you tell me?”
Catherine tried to calm down, and was able to do so a little. She struggled to speak between sobs. “M… Michael… is gone.”
“Gone?” Aaron repeated. “What do you mean, he’s gone?”
“Is he dead?” Nick asked, promptly receiving a hit and the evil eye from Celes. He mouthed ‘What?’ to her, and she gestured with her head that he shouldn’t have said that.
“I don’t… k… know,” she answered.
“Catherine, can you tell us what happened?” Link asked.
She began to cry more again and Sarah walked over and sat down beside Catherine and attempted to comfort her while they interrogated her.
“It’s okay,” Sarah said. “You don’t need to tell them just yet.”
“B… but… I need to…” She once again tried to calm down and was slightly successful. “Yesterday, w… we were having a pi… picnic whe… when he thought he h… heard something. He went to g… go see what it w… was and we found some kind of dis… disturbance.”
“A disturbance?” Link repeated.
“T… That’s what he called it. But it d… disappeared. He went b… back in the evening to find it. I went to check on h… him and when I got there the d… disturbance was much bigger. He… he… he leaped into it and v… vanished.” She immediately broke down in tears again.
No one noticed that Evan had slumped in the corner and was very pale.
Told you it worked.
He shook his head.
You did it, and there’s no telling where he could be now. Better not let anyone know, otherwise they’ll get mad at you.
“No,” he said aloud.
They all turned and looked at him. Feeling their eyes upon him, he began to panic, but the voice inside his head kept on talking.
Don’t let them know. They mustn’t know. Not yet.
Thinking quick, he said, “No, that’s horrible. We should investigate.”
“Good idea, son,” Link agreed. “We should go check this place out when the storm passes.”
“Catherine?” Aaron asked. “Could you show us where this happened?”
Still crying, she answered him by nodded her head. Aaron placed his hand on her shoulder and rubbed it comfortingly.
“We’ll find him,” he continued. “We’ll find him.”
The five of them reached the small grove of trees where Michael and Catherine had their picnic the previous day. They each rode on horseback, with Catherine leading the way for Link, Nick, Aaron, and Evan. The women had decided that it would be best if they returned to Hyrule Castle as soon as the rain had let up. After several hours of waiting, the two parties had gone their separate ways.
“The disturbance appeared in that set of trees,” Catherine said as she pointed to the large grove.
“More of a small forest,” Nick commented.
Link nodded his agreement, but said nothing. They rode to the edge of the grove in silence, and upon reaching it, dismounted. Each horse was tied up to a separate tree, and the five elves huddled in for discussion.
“It was in there?” Aaron asked.
Catherine nodded. “Yes. Somewhere in the middle of this grove is a small clearing. It’s there that the disturbance appeared each time.”
Link looked into the grove and began walking. “Well, let’s go,” he said as he entered the trees.
Curious, Nick and Aaron followed Link into the small forest with Catherine right behind them. Evan remained where he was for a moment longer, swallowing hard as he realized that the disturbance was his doing.
He stood there still, pondering his next move. “Run?”
Yes. They’ll find out that it was you. And then you’ll be in trouble.
“They’re going to find out already?”
“But if I run, won’t that make them realize it sooner?”
There was no response to his question, and he no longer felt the presence of his subconscious. Figuring that what he said had silenced it, Evan decided to go into the grove and play dumb about the whole thing. He walked in.
Slowly, he made his way through the trees, spotting the small group not too far ahead. They had stopped walking forward, so Evan figured that they had already reached the clearing. He emerged behind them.
“…right here,” Catherine was finishing when he entered the clearing. Link, Nick, and Aaron were circling the area, trying to find any clues as to what was here and what its purpose was.
Link continued checking the area. “What did it look like?”
Catherine tried her best to recollect the image of the disturbance in her mind. “It was circular, with red and white swirls inside it. It gave off a reddish glow, too. But the strangest thing that Michael showed me was that you couldn’t see it unless you were in front of it.”
“What do you mean?” Nick asked.
“Well, if you stood in front of it, you could see the disturbance, swirls and all. But if you stepped to the side of it, or tried to get a look from behind it, it vanished.”
“Two dimensional,” Aaron said matter-of-factly.
Nick looked at him. “Two dimensional? What does that mean?”
“It means it didn’t really exist,” Link jumped in.
“Sort of,” Aaron replied, “but not quite. Everything in our world has three dimensions. For example, you have a height, a width, and a depth. Each one is a different dimension. However, if what Catherine is saying is true, I believe that the disturbance may have only had two dimensions.”
“And that would mean you couldn’t see it besides being in front of it?” Nick continued his questions.
“Almost,” Evan chimed in, finally moving into the center of the clearing. “That explains why you can’t see it from the sides. Since the disturbance had no depth, it is virtually invisible from those angles.”
Link looked at his son with some curiosity. When did he get that smart? Evan caught his father’s stare and quickly shunned away from it.
“But what about seeing it from behind?” Nick asked.
“Beats me,” Aaron said, shrugging his shoulders.
“Maybe it was magic,” Evan stated.
Link looked at his son once again, but this time Evan had his back to him, so he couldn’t see his face. “Catherine, you said that when Michael jumped into it, he disappeared?”
“So did the apple that he threw into it during our picnic.”
Nick threw out an idea. “Perhaps it was some kind of doorway?”
Evan tensed up as Nick stated his idea, much to the confusion of Link. He watched him closely.
“It would take a very skilled magician to do such a thing,” Aaron declared. “Hell, it took the Goddesses to open the Time portals for you, Link.”
Link kept his eyes on Evan as he replied, “I agree, Aaron. Whoever made this ‘doorway’ has to be very strong in magic.” Link noticed that Evan began to breath quickly.
“But the disturbance was weak at first, was it not?” Nick asked in the direction of Catherine.
“I guess so.”
“Well, it did become much bigger when Michael jumped into it, correct?”
She nodded. “Yes, it did grow significantly.”
“Maybe the magician isn’t very strong,” Nick pondered aloud.
“No,” Aaron contested. “Maybe inexperienced, but definitely strong.”
Evan tried his best to calm down so he wouldn’t give his guilt away. He didn’t know why he had to hide the fact that he had created the disturbance, but he wasn’t going to let it be known now.
Get out of there. You must get out of there before it’s too late.
Thinking quickly, Evan said, “Dad, I don’t feel so well.” Faking a swoon, he fell limply on the ground.
“Evan!” Link yelled as he ran over to his son. “Evan, what’s wrong?” He bent down and lifted Evan’s head off the ground.
“I’m tired, Dad. So tired.” Strangely enough, he was beginning to feel tired and sickly, almost as if he had willed it upon himself so that he could get out of there.
“We’ll get you home, Evan. And we’ll take good care of you,” Link said as he lifted his son up off the ground, carrying him in front of his body.
“Link, we’ll bring Catherine back home,” Nick called after him. “You go straight to the Castle!”
Without responding, Link left the clearing and disappeared into the trees.
* * * *
Zelda removed the moist cloth from Evan’s head. The once cold cloth was now at room temperature as Evan’s fever warmed it up. She got up and walked over to the bucket of water that she had Link bring up and dunked the cloth into it. Squeezing the excess water out, she returned to Evan’s side and placed the cold cloth on his forehead. She ran her hand along her son’s cheek.
“How is he?” Link spoke out from the doorway, startling her. He began walking toward Evan’s bed, with a glass of water and some bread in his hands.
She sighed. “The fever seems to have gone down a little, but he’s not out of the clear yet.”
“I wish I had noticed something wrong with him earlier, but I thought…” he stopped his sentence as he knelt beside Evan and placed the food and drink on his nightstand. He then began stroking his son’s hair.
Zelda waited patiently for Link to continue, but he didn’t. “But you thought what?” she asked him, wanting to know more of what happened in the grove.
He turned to look at her, the left side of his lips curled up. “I thought…,” he began. “I thought that he was responsible for the disturbances and Michael’s disappearance. He was acting so weird, like he was trying to hide something. My mind was clouded by the anger that I felt as I was convinced it was his doing.” He looked back at Evan. “But he was just sick.”
Zelda knelt beside Link and wrapped her arms around him. “It’s not your fault, and you know it. If it weren’t for you, he might not have been alive.”
He sighed deeply. “Yeah, you’re right. But I wonder what’s wrong with him? It all happened so quickly.”
“I don’t know. But I’m sure he’ll be fine; he just needs some time to rest. Come on,” she said, kissing him on the cheek and standing up. “Let’s head downstairs for dinner.”
Link didn’t move a muscle. He only stared at Evan.
“Link, he’ll be fine. You can come back up here after we eat,” Zelda told him, reaching her hand out for his.
He remained where he was for a moment longer, then finally, he placed his hand in Zelda’s and pulled himself up. “I could use some food right now, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to come back up here afterwards. The Knights and I need to talk about this situation with Michael’s disappearance,” he explained.
Link and Zelda left the room.
* * * *
Evan woke up a short time after his parents had left the room. He looked around the room confused, wondering where his parents were. Shouldn’t they be here nursing me? he thought to himself. He glanced over to the small nightstand next to his bed and caught sight of a glass of water and some bread. He figured that they had left it there for a reason, so he decided to oblige them. Grabbing a piece of bread, he took a big bite, as if he hadn’t eaten in a long time. He washed the dry bread down with some water, sat back in his bed, and gazed around the room, lost in his thoughts.
The voice came back, much to Evan’s displeasure. He had grown sick of his inner voice. It was nothing at all like he was.
Evan tried to ignore the voice, hoping that it would just disappear and never return. Several minutes of silence followed, and it seemed that the voice had gone away. He reached over and took another bite of the bread.
Giving up, Evan decided to acknowledge the voice. “For what?” he muffled, his mouth still full of bread.
To open the portal.
Evan swallowed the last of the bread. “No. I’ve already caused too much trouble. I’m not doing it anymore.”
Insolent fool! You will do as I say, whether you’re willing or not!
The voice changed dramatically. It was now more dark and evil instead of the middle-of-the-road sound it had before.
“Who are you?”
You’ll find out soon enough! But for now, chant the spell!”
“No!” he yelled back at the voice again. “I won’t do it!”
Evan felt a tingling sensation run through his body, much like the sensation he felt when casting the spell. Slowly, he felt his body go numb. To his surprise, his body no longer obeyed his command, but rather the command of the voice in his head. All he could do was watch his body work against his will.
His body got up out of the bed and walked into the center of the room. Once there, his arms rose above him in the shape of a ‘V’, his head pointed skyward. Then he heard his own voice, though he wasn’t speaking. He recognized the words easily. His body was chanting the portal spell.
He felt no tingling sensation this time around, as his body was numb. Around him, he could see a soft red aura, but he couldn’t see that he was floating several inches above the ground. His voice continued to chant the spell, faster than before. He knew it wouldn’t be long before he would see the portal open in front of him.
Suddenly, there was a loud banging on the door, and Evan could feel the voice lose its grip on his body slightly. He was still unable to move, but he was able to stop chanting the spell. The door was then swung open, and in the doorway stood Link, Master Sword drawn. Evan could barely see him out of the corner of his eye, but he was able to make out the mixed expression of surprise and confusion on his father’s face. The force that had taken control of his body was now weakening even more and Evan found that he could move his head. He looked directly at Link and knew immediately that his father knew, and that he was going to have a lot of explaining to do.
As Link walked toward his son, the force released its grip on Evan and he fell hard onto the ground. Link sheathed the Master Sword and helped Evan up off the floor.
Evan was exhausted. Whatever the voice had done to him while he was under its control had taken much of his energy. He was unable to stand under his own power, so Link was forced to carry him over to his bed once again. As his father laid him down, Evan could see the disappointment on his face, further proof to Evan that Link knew what he had been up to.
Before Link could say anything to his son, Nick yelled up from the stairs. “Link, come quick! Michael’s back!”
Link sighed and looked into his son’s eyes. Then he turned and ran out of the room and down the stairs.
Now he knows.
Evan now hated the voice. “That was your fault.”
Perhaps, but he won’t blame me. He doesn’t even know I exist, and who would believe you when you tell them that the voice inside your head made you do it.
His heart sank. No matter how much he hated the voice, it was right. The blame would be solely on his shoulders. “So what now?”
Run. Get out of here. Fast.
“I’m too tired,” he groaned. Without a response from the voice, Evan felt the strength return to his body. All of a sudden he was up and about, practically bouncing off the walls.
Now go. You must get out before anyone comes back for you.
Evan stood still, gazing around his room for what he thought would be the last time he would see it. He wasn’t sure if his father would ever forgive him. Nodding his head slightly, he took in one last deep breath before he left.
He walked over to the door and peered out to see if anyone was coming. The hallway clear, he made his way down the stairs quietly. I have to get to the stables, he thought.
He made his way out of the castle.
* * * *
Link, Zelda, Nick and Aaron brought Michael into one of the planning rooms. The servants were ordered to bring him food, as he looked famished. They all politely waited for him to eat some food before they asked him any questions.
Finishing his plate quickly, Michael wiped his face and hands with his napkin and turned to the waiting Knights. “I suppose you want to know where I went?”
“Please,” Link said.
“I was in the land of Shakar,” he simply stated.
Nick chuckled. “No such land exists. Do you take us for fools?”
“I doubt that, Nick,” Aaron said, defending his friend. “Michael wouldn’t do that. He’s an honest man who wants to be a Knight himself.” He gestured to Michael and said, “Continue.”
“Thank you, Aaron,” Michael said gratefully. “As I was saying, I was in the land of Shakar. And what Sir Nick said was in fact right.” Nick grinned. “But he was also wrong.”
“How can he be both right and wrong?” Zelda asked, confused by the paradox.
“There is no land of Shakar,” he paused for effect. “In this realm.”
“Are you saying?” Aaron asked, not finishing his question.
Michael nodded. “Yes, I traveled to another realm, another dimension.”
“Like the Sacred Realm?” Link asked, trying to figure out if this boy had actually been to the Sacred Realm.
“Far from it,” Michael stated. “This world was very much like our own. When I found a map, I could tell that the geography was almost exactly the same, though some areas were destroyed by war and natural disasters. Although geographically similar, none of the names were the same.”
“Were you able to understand people and read their writings?” Nick asked, wondering if their was another connection between this world and their own.
“No, but a man from the village where I stayed taught me the basics. It was enough to get by.”
Aaron inquired, “Just how long were you there, anyway?”
Michael thought it over in his head. “About a month.”
“A month!” Aaron exclaimed. “But it’s only been a day!”
Link wasn’t interested in how long Michael had been there, so he changed the subject. “What else can you tell us of this world? Who were the leaders? The living conditions?”
“From what I could gather, they are all ruled by one person; an evil ruler that they simply call ‘The Wizard’. Under his rule, they are not free to do anything and they have very little. They all wish to be free of The Wizard, but they don’t have the strength or resources to do anything about Him.”
“Tell us of the disturbance that you went through,” Nick told him.
Obliging, Michael went on, “The disturbance is nothing more than a dimensional portal. There is really nothing to it. When you step in one side, you travel to the other.”
“I meant more along the lines of do you know who created it?”
“No, I still can’t figure it out.”
“I know who did it,” Link spoke up.
“Who?” they all asked in unison.
He got nothing but stares back, as the rest of them found it hard to believe.
Zelda walked up to him. “Evan? Honey, I thought you were mistaken about that.”
“I thought I was too, until I heard some commotion from his room. So I went up there and found him in the middle of chanting a spell. The spell that brought Michael back here.”
“Figures,” Aaron said.
“What figures?” Nick asked.
“Figures that it was someone so close to us.”
Link walked to the door and reached for the knob. “Well, I for one want to speak with Evan. If anyone wants to join me, then come on.”
He opened the door and walked out of the room, and every one of them followed.
* * * *
Evan was already outside of the castle. Once there, the guards were curious why he was alone, but they didn’t question him. Every now and then, he would venture into town alone, but it was usually after an argument with his father.
He came up to the stables on the west side of the castle and walked in. Inside, the stable keeper was wiping down one of the horses.
“Good day, Master Evan,” the elderly man greeted the young prince. “Had another tussle with Sir Link, I see.” He laughed, but Evan didn’t even acknowledge him. Instead, he jumped right onto his horse and rode out of the stable as quickly as possible. “Must’ve been a doozy this time,” he said to himself as he watched the young boy flee.
* * * *
“He’s gone!” Link yelled as he ran back out of the room before any of them had even gotten up the stairs.
“What do you mean, he’s gone?” Zelda asked, confused why her little boy wouldn’t be in his room.
“He’s running from us!” Link yelled to her as he ran by them. Nick, Aaron, and Michael pressed themselves up against the wall and out of Link’s way.
Zelda yelled down after him. “Why would he do that? What did you do, Link?”
Michael and Aaron ran down the stairs after Link, while Nick ran up to Zelda. “No time for that, Princess!” he exclaimed as he grabbed her by the arm and ran down the stairs with her.
Link ran as fast as he could through the castle, figuring that Evan would make for the stable and get his horse. He nearly knocked over a servant as he turned a corner near the front gate, Michael and Aaron right behind him. As he ran by them, the guards saluted him and Aaron. The stable keeper had come outside to see off Evan and was surprised to find Link barreling down on his position.
“Sir Link!” the elderly man exclaimed. “Good day to you.” Link didn’t respond, and the stable keeper was puzzled. Link had never chased Evan after a feud before. He knew something wasn’t right, and he smartly stayed out of the Hero of Time’s way.
The elderly man watched on as Aaron and a stranger ran up to the stables, followed by the Princess and Nick. Link bolted out of the stable, almost knocking Aaron over, but the Knight went along like nothing happened.
“Michael!” he yelled. “Stay here with the Princess! Leave this to us!”
“I understand!” Michael yelled back as he stopped running outside the stable. A few seconds later, Aaron flew out of the stable atop his horse. Michael turned around to see Zelda and Nick catch up to him. When they reached his position, they stopped.
“Princess, stay here!” Nick ordered her as he ran into the stable.
“But I want to make sure my baby is okay!” she complained. “I don’t know what Link may do to him!”
Nick mounted his horse and hollered back to her, “Don’t worry about him! Aaron and I will make sure that his anger is kept in check!” He kicked the horse and off he went after his two friends.
* * * *
Evan drove his horse hard and fast. Currently, he was headed north for Dolsena, but he knew that he would never reach the town without his father catching up to him. He didn’t know how, but he knew that he was being chased, and he needed to do something drastic in order to not get caught. He continued pushing his horse as fast as it would go while surveying the land, looking for a place where he could hide out for awhile.
Up ahead of him, along the banks of the Hylian River stood an abandoned windmill. The Hylian River ran from the mountains surrounding Death Mountain, across the countryside between Hyrule Castle and Dolsena, through the Gerudo Desert and finally emptied into Lake Hylia. With nowhere else to go, Evan made way for the windmill. When he finally came up to it, he realized just how old and decrepit it really was. No matter, he thought, just as long as I can still hide in it.
He dismounted his horse and gave it a quick slap on the rear, causing it to neigh and run away from the windmill. Quickly, he ran inside the windmill and ran to the top floor, which was about three stories high. From there, he watched out the window and waited.
He’ll find you.
“No he won’t!”
Yes he will. You forget he is the best in the land. He will find you. Look.
Evan looked out the window to the south. Sure enough, he could see three figures on horseback, riding in his direction. He knew the one out in front was his father. “So he’s coming north,” he said to the voice, “That doesn’t mean he’ll find me.”
Just as the voice in his head finished, Evan noticed that Link had come to a complete stop, giving time for the other two riders to catch up. When they did, the three of them huddled and discussed what course to take; all the while Evan sat nervously atop the windmill. To his dismay, he saw one of the riders point directly at the windmill. He jumped back and ducked down, hoping that they hadn’t spotted him.
“I should’ve never played with magic. And I shouldn’t have run from the castle,” he said softly. “That only made him angrier.”
There is a way out.
Open the portal and walk through.
“I don’t want to!”
Would you rather stay here and be caught by him? He’s very upset with you.
Evan looked out the window again, and the three riders were almost to the windmill. Desperate for a way out, he nodded his head. “Okay.”
He stood up and began chanting the spell. Once again, he could feel the tingling sensation throughout his body. The soft red aura returned, and he lifted off the ground.
Outside, Link, Aaron, and Nick had reached the windmill and they all could see the strange red light coming from the top of it. Dismounting quickly, they ran into the windmill and began running up the stairs.
In front of him, the portal opened and he landed back on the ground. He hesitated, still not quite sure if he really wanted to go through it, but the sound of the oncoming footsteps caused him to panic and he decided to go through.
“Evan!” Link yelled up as he neared the top floor. “Evan! Stop!”
The three friends arrived on the top floor just in time to see Evan step into the portal and vanish. Immediately, the portal began to close. Reacting, Link ran as fast as he could toward the portal, but he was too late.
He stood there, disappointed in his son and in himself. Breathing heavily, he collapsed on the ground and wept silently.
Nick turned to Aaron. “Go get the horses.”
Understanding, Aaron quietly walked back down the stairs to fetch the horses. Nick stood there for a moment longer before he walked over to the slumped Link.
They rode back to the castle in complete silence, neither Nick nor Aaron knowing what to say to Link. The only sounds were that of the wind and the horses’ hooves on the ground. The sun was beginning its final run over the sky as it slowly set in the west, over the Gerudo Desert. Link found it very symbolic. As the sun went down and brought on darkness, he could feel his soul becoming more depressed.
When they arrived at the castle stables, Zelda and Michael were not there waiting, and this suited Link just fine. At this moment, he didn’t want to have to face his wife and tell her that their only son had vanished and may never return again. It would be too much for her, not to mention himself. Dismounting from his horse, Link walked away, leaving his horse where it was. Nick, having already stabled his horse, emerged from the stable and watched on as Link made his way, not to the castle, but rather into town. Feeling a great sadness for his friend, Nick sighed as he grabbed Link’s horse by the reins. As he led the horse to the stable, the elderly stable keeper approached him.
“Sir Nick, is there something the matter? Sir Link always stables his own horse.”
Nick stopped in front of the old man and looked back into Link’s direction. “Just family troubles,” he lied. “You needn’t worry about it. Things will be back to normal in no time.” He stood there for a moment longer before turning back to the old man. “Here,” he said, handing the reins over, “Stable her. I’ve got other things to attend to.”
The old stable keeper reached out and took the reins from Nick’s hand. “Of course, Sir Nick.” There was a brief pause as Nick stared back into the direction Link had gone. The old man looked as well, knowing that things were, in fact, not going to be back to normal for quite some time. “Please, go take care of your business. I’ve been doing this long, and won’t need any help.”
Nick looked back at the old man and nodded, and the old man nodded in return. As he turned to stable Link’s horse, Nick called out, “Aaron!”
Aaron appeared from out of the stables and rushed over to Nick, passing by the stable keeper without so much as a greeting. He stopped in front of Nick.
“Go into town and keep an eye on Link,” Nick ordered him.
“Nick?” Aaron asked, confused about the task.
“I’m sure he won’t do anything stupid,” Nick answered. “But we need to know where he is so when the time comes, we won’t have to search for him.”
“When the time comes for what?”
Nick sighed and once again looked toward town. “I don’t know, Aaron. I just have this strange feeling.”
“Of course. I won’t let him out of my sight.”
“When and if he settles down somewhere for the night, send a messenger to tell us of your position.”
Aaron simply nodded and began walking toward town, leaving Nick standing alone in front of the stables. He looked toward the west and observed that the sun was already halfway down. It would be night soon. Slowly, he turned and headed back to the castle. He needed to speak with Zelda.
He entered the castle and proceeded down the main hall, toward the Throne Room. Several Knights were to his left and right. They had all witnessed the commotion earlier and were curious as to what happened and where Link was. However, the look on Nick’s face was enough to make them all hold back any questions that popped into their heads. Instead, they silently watched him walk down the hall.
Celes had been off to the left off the entrance with the other women and had seen Nick enter. Leaving Charles in the care of her friends, she ran into the hall behind him.
“Nick!” she called, but he didn’t answer. “Nick! You’ll never guess what happened! Nick!”
Without turning around or slowing his pace, he said calmly, “Not now, Celes.”
She didn’t listen to him and ran up alongside him, a smile spread across her face. “Charles did the cutest thing! He…”
“Not now, Celes!” Nick shouted at the top of his lungs, startling and quieting her at the same time. He continued walking, leaving her there, an expression of hurt replacing her smile. Several of the Knights looked at each other, their concern over the situation growing. They had never seen Nick react like that, especially to Celes. The Knights and Celes all watched on as Nick opened the large doors of the Throne Room and closed them behind him. There they remained for several minutes afterward, confused and worried. Celes wiped the tears from her face.
In the Throne Room, Nick found no sight of Zelda. Approaching one of the guards, he inquired about her whereabouts. Respectfully, the guard informed him that she was in her quarters. He immediately headed up the stairs to her room and knocked lightly on the door.
“Come in,” she responded from inside.
He opened the door and found her on the balcony, gazing out over the land. Without saying a word, he walked to the doors of the balcony and stopped. She whirled around.
“Nick!” she exclaimed. “I’m glad you’re back. Were you able to find Evan?”
“Tell me you were able to find him.”
Still, he didn’t answer.
“Princess…” he began, but couldn’t finish.
“Nick,” she began to ask, her voice quivering. “What happened?”
Nick sighed and looked her in the eyes. “I’m sorry, Princess, but we couldn’t bring Evan back.”
“What do you mean?” she asked, her heart sinking.
“He went through a dimensional portal.”
“Did Link follow?”
“He tried, but the doorway closed before he could.” She turned her back to him as she felt herself beginning to cry. Nervously, she placed her thumb in her mouth and pressed down on it. “I’m sorry, Princess, but I don’t know if we can get him back.”
“And what of Link? Where is he?” she said while trying to hold back her tears.
Nick sighed again. “I don’t know right now, but Aaron is following him. He needed some time to think.”
Zelda allowed her head to hang down as the first tears began to stream down her face. Nick could see her body shaking with pain and sorrow and decided that it was best for him to go.
“I’ll keep you informed of his whereabouts,” he said. Sighing for a final time, he turned and left the room.
As soon as she heard the door close behind him, Zelda began to weep uncontrollably. She ran over to her bed and threw her body onto it, burying her head in one of the pillows. She wanted to think that Link would figure out a way to bring back Evan, but deep inside, she wasn’t sure that there was a way.
She cried long into the night.
* * * *
Aaron followed Link for two hours, never venturing within a hundred feet of him. He always kept in the shadows, although he felt that Link knew he was there. During that time, he had been all over Hyrule Castle Town. Early on, he had stopped at a clothing shop and bought a cloak so that he could walk through the streets without being recognized. Once disguised, he had made his way slowly through the streets, stopping every now and then to look in on mothers and fathers playing with their children. Aaron couldn’t help but feel sorry for him every time he stopped. After an hour or so of wandering the streets, Link entered a pub for some drinks. Aaron waited patiently outside for nearly an hour before he spotted Link leaving. He noticed that his walk was a little unsteady, but he seemed fine enough for Aaron to stay back. Zigzagging back and forth across the street, Link finally made it to an inn. Upon his entering, Aaron walked up to the window and made sure that Link was staying the night there. Inside, he could see Link pay 30 Rupees as the man behind the counter gave Link a key and pointed up the stairs. Aaron couldn’t hear anything that was being said, but it was easy enough to know that Link was indeed spending the night there. He watched Link struggle up the stairs and once he couldn’t see him anymore, he moved away from the window.
“Might as well head back to the castle,” Aaron said aloud to himself. “Don’t know where I’d find a messenger around here anyway.” He began to walk away from the inn, but stopped abruptly and glanced back at it. “I’m sure he’ll be fine. I’ll come back in the morning.”
Aaron headed back to Hyrule Castle.
* * * *
I’ve been here before, he thought to himself.
He was standing in the middle of a field, a large forest off in the distance. Under his feet, the earth was the same color as it had always been, but when he looked up, he saw a golden sky. He surveyed his surroundings, wondering how he had gotten there. The field was mysteriously devoid of life except for him. Suddenly, he felt a warm sensation from behind him and immediately turned around. Standing only twenty feet away from him, and appearing out of nowhere, stood a familiar man.
“Ian?” Link asked, making sure that his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him.
Ian smiled. “Hello, Link. It’s been awhile.”
“Why am I back in Purgatory?”
“Actually,” Ian began as he walked up to his friend, “you’re not here.”
Link was confused. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that this is a dream. You’re actually fast asleep back in an inn in Hyrule Castle Town.”
“So, why am I here?”
“I needed to talk to you, and this is the only way for me to do so.”
Link sat down on a nearby boulder, which seemed to appear out of nowhere as well. Deciding that it was best to not think about it, Link turned his attention back to Ian.
“It’s about Evan, isn’t it?” Link asked, already fully aware of the answer.
“Yes,” Ian replied as he sat down next to him.
“You’re not going to try to console me, are you?” he asked with a smile.
Ian let out a small laugh. “No, no. I’m here to help you get him back.”
Link’s smile faded away. “That’s impossible. I saw him disappear through that portal with my own eyes.”
“You shouldn’t doubt the Goddesses, Link,” Ian told him. “They always have a way of getting things done.”
“So what do I need to do?”
“You need to reopen the portal.”
“Easier said than done,” Link said back, doubtful that anyone would be able to do it. “There could be thousands of dimensions. What are the odds that we’d find the one where Evan went?”
“Trust in the Goddesses, Link,” Ian reminded him. “They won’t steer you wrong.”
Link sighed. “But who can open it?”
“Me?” Link repeated. “I’m not that great with magic, Ian. I can’t do it alone.”
“You’re right about that. You can’t do it alone, but you can do it with Zelda’s help. The two of you need to repeat the chant at the same time in order for your combined magical energies to open the portal. Only then will you be able to get Evan back.”
“Sounds pretty easy,” Link commented.
Ian laughed again. “This is only the beginning, Link. The road beyond the portal will be treacherous and you’ll need all the help you can get. Be prepared for anything.” As he said those last words, Ian slowly disappeared.
* * * *
Link awoke in the inn and quickly jumped out of the bed. With a sense of urgency, he put his boots on as fast as possible and grabbed his hat off of the bedpost. He had a pounding headache, but he pushed the pain aside and bolted out of the room and down the stairs. He threw the key to his room in the direction of the innkeeper as he rushed past him and out into the streets of Hyrule Castle Town. The sun was barely up as he ran to the castle.
* * * *
John rode slowly through Hyrule Castle Town, enjoying the atmosphere that surrounded him. It was early in the morning, yet people were already out haggling with the merchants over food, clothing, and jewelry. It was a welcome change from his hometown of Baru, which still had not fully recovered from its destruction three years ago. Chris had decided to stay in the town for a couple more hours with Liz, but she planned on being back by noon. So John was left to himself. As he made his way toward the castle, John felt his stomach growl, begging for food. Giving in to his hunger, he stopped at a nearby food cart and purchased a loaf of bread from the merchant. As he was paying the man, he noticed someone running through the town.
“Out of my way!” the man yelled, almost knocking over a group of women.
John quickly handed the merchant his money, took the loaf of bread, and jumped back on his horse. He watched the man run feverishly in the direction of the castle. Still too far away to see who the man was, John kicked his horse into a trot and weaved in and out of pedestrians.
“I said out of my way!” the man yelled again as he brushed by a family of four. He was now free of the crowds and ran quickly toward the castle.
John still couldn’t make out the features of the running man, but he noticed a bright gleam of light reflecting off his back. Realizing that the object that had reflected the light was most likely a sword, John kicked his horse into a run, ordering those in front of him to stand aside.
“Stop where you are!” he yelled to the fleeing man. “In the name of the Princess of Hyrule, I order you to stop!”
The figure up ahead looked back, but didn’t stop running. Furious now, John bore down on the man, and just before he caught up, he suddenly realized who it was.
“Link!” he called. “Link, what’s wrong?”
Link finally stopped running and waited for John to come to a stop beside him.
“What’s wrong?” John repeated.
Breathing heavily from his long run, Link tried to tell John what happened as brief as possible. “Evan created a dimensional portal,” he began to say between breaths. “Now he’s gone. I must get him back.”
John nodded even though he didn’t really follow what Link had told him. However, he could feel the desperation in his friend, and would help him anyway.
“Jump on,” he said as he patted his horse. “It’ll be faster.”
Still breathing heavily, Link jumped onto the back of the horse and grabbed a hold of the saddle. Once he was sure Link was holding on tight, John kicked his horse into a run and headed for the front gates of the castle.
* * * *
William and Robert had returned to the castle in the early hours of the morning and were now politely waiting for the rest of the Knights and Zelda at the breakfast table, unaware of the events that had transpired over the last couple of days.
“Where do you suppose everyone is?” William asked.
Robert shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t have the faintest clue. I would’ve thought they’d have been here by now.”
Just as he finished his sentence, the door to the dining hall opened and in walked Nick, his face tired and full of concern. He walked over to the table and sat down.
“Nick,” Robert said, “you look terrible. Is there something wrong?”
The other two Knights sat there, waiting for Nick to tell them what was wrong. Instead, Nick just stared off into space, lost in his own thoughts.
“Well?” William asked impatiently.
“Well, I’d rather wait until everyone else got here before I go into all the details.”
Disappointment was present on their faces, but they understood the situation. It was always annoying to keep repeating yourself as others joined in the conversation. This way, they would all be on the same page. They sat there in silence, Nick contemplating the recent events, while William and Robert wondered what had happened while they were away.
Ten long minutes later, the door to the dining hall opened once again and Aaron, Michael, and Zelda entered the room. The silence remained as the three sat down at the table.
Nick looked up at Aaron. “I thought I told you to follow Link?”
“I did. For two hours, I followed him throughout the town. He finally ended up at Murphy’s Inn, so I decided to come back here.”
William was very confused. “Wait. Why would you be following Link? And why didn’t he stay in the castle last night?”
“It’s a long story,” Nick said.
“We don’t care,” Robert stated. “Tell us what’s happened.”
“Very well,” Nick said with a sigh. “You all know that Evan had been practicing magic. Well, he created a dimensional portal that brought Michael here into another world.”
“I guess you’re Michael?” Robert asked the stranger sitting at the table.
“Yes, sir. I live in Oceana. That’s where I first encountered the dimensional portal.”
“But you’re back,” William commented. “So what’s the problem?”
Nick didn’t seem as though he was going to continue, so Aaron decided to continue the story. “Well, Link become upset when he learned that Evan was the cause. So the boy ran away from the castle and Link, Nick, and myself gave chase.”
Nick picked it up from there. “We tracked him down to the abandoned windmill on the Hylian River. There, we noticed that he had opened another portal. We rushed up the stairs to the top floor as quickly as possible, but it was too late. As he reached the top floor, Link saw Evan jump into the portal and disappear. He tried to follow, but it closed before he could go through.”
The room fell completely silent except for Zelda, who was softly crying over the apparent loss of her son. William and Robert stared at each other, trying to come to terms with the tale that they had just been told.
“So where’s Link, again?” Robert asked, still shocked by the whole situation.
“Right here,” Link called from the other side of the room. Next to him stood John.
Zelda jumped up from her chair and ran toward Link, hugging him. “Oh, Link,” she wept, “Evan’s gone!”
“No, he’s not.”
She stopped crying and picked her head up off his shoulder. “What?”
“Link?” Nick began to ask, “Are you saying that there’s a way to get him back?”
“Yes. It involves us reopening the portal.”
Aaron asked, “And who is ‘us’?
“Zelda and myself.”
“We can?” Zelda asked quietly.
Link smiled. “Yes, honey. We can get our son back. But it’s going to be tough. Even when we do get the portal open, we’re going to need all the help we can get in the other world.”
“You can count me in,” Nick said.
“I’m in,” Aaron agreed.
“You can count on us,” William added, answering for himself and Robert. John also volunteered.
Michael spoke up, “I guess since I’ve been there before, you could use my help. Count me in.”
“Thank you,” Link said to him. “Zel, you’re staying here.”
“Oh, no I’m not!” she yelled. “I’m coming with you to get my son back! And there’s nothing you can do to stop me!”
Link thought about arguing with her, but quickly decided that it wouldn’t help. Giving in, he said, “Alright, you can go. Eight is a nice even number anyway.”
“So when do we leave?” Aaron asked.
“As soon as possible,” Link answered.
Nick interjected. “I think that we should all get something to eat first.”
“I agree,” William said, his stomach growling at him.
“Very well,” Link conceded. “We shall eat first, then prepare ourselves for the journey. We’ll meet in front of the castle quarter before noon.”
Without saying another word, they all left the dining hall to begin preparing. Zelda headed over to the kitchen staff and requested a large breakfast be made ready as soon as possible.
It was going to be a long journey.
* * * *
The sun shone brightly in the sky, illuminating everything. Outside the castle gates, many citizens of Hyrule Castle Town had gathered. The commotion throughout the morning had worried many of the townsfolk and they demanded to know what was happening. Extra guards were posted near the gate in order to hold back the concerned mob.
Link waited patiently on the castle’s front lawn. In the distance, he could hear the demands and questions of the increasingly restless mob.
“We demand to know what’s going on!”
“Is Ganondorf attacking?”
“Tell us what you’re planning!”
Under normal circumstances, he would’ve informed the people, but in this case, he forced himself to look away and completely ignore them. He looked up toward the sky, his right hand shielding the sun from his eyes. Glancing back at the ground, he knew it was close to noon as he shadow slowly faded away into obscurity. His patience running out, Link began to walk back into the castle, but before he even got back to the bridge, Nick, Aaron, and Michael walked out of the castle.
“Sorry to keep you waiting, Link,” Nick apologized for the three of them. “We had a lot of last minute preparing to do.”
The apology didn’t fully satisfy Link (he would have preferred that they were on time), but he accepted it anyway. “Where’s everyone else?” he demanded to know.
“We passed by the Princess on our way out here,” Aaron informed him. “She should be out soon.”
“What about William, Robert, and John?”
“Right here,” Robert called out from behind the other group of three.
“We apologize for the delay, but we wanted to make sure that we were prepared,” William added.
The seven men huddled around and waited for Zelda, all the while Link’s patience growing shorter. Several minutes later, his patience was gone and he turned to John.
“John, would you please go into the castle and bring my wife out here?”
“Certainly, Link,” John replied as he headed into the castle.
The remaining six stayed where they were, once again waiting for Zelda. After another several minutes, Link’s patience ran out again and he was about to go get Zelda himself when he heard a lot of talking coming from inside the castle.
Emerging from the castle were not only John and Zelda, but also Celes, Sarah, Chris, and Catherine. The group of women, with John, headed toward the group of men gathered in the center of the castle’s front lawn.
“Now I see what took so long,” Aaron whispered to Michael. “She had to wait for the whole entourage to get ready.”
Michael snickered and whispered back to Aaron, “In that case, they’re early. I would’ve thought we’d have to wait until evening.” They both laughed silently, trying not to draw attention to themselves, but it was too late.
“What’s so funny, Michael?” Catherine asked in a slightly ticked voice.
“Nothing!” he blurted out quickly, but this only resulted in a glare from her. Aaron jumped in to save him.
“It was just a joke I was telling him, Catherine.” He said it with such a straight face that it surprised even himself.
Catherine looked at him and thoroughly believed him, and smiled. She turned back to Michael and looked into his eyes. “Now you be careful,” she instructed him. “Because if you get hurt, we’re through.”
Michael was shocked, and his face showed it. Before he could protest, Catherine was already laughing. “I’m just teasing,” she said. He smiled and they embraced.
“Just a joke, huh?” Sarah said out of nowhere, almost causing Aaron to let out a small shriek.
“Yup,” he said, “just a joke.” They too embraced.
Celes released Nick from her grip and smiled at him. “Come back in one piece, alright?”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he replied.
“I love you,” Celes said, followed by a deep, passionate kiss.
John looked on and made a disgusted face. He turned to Chris and said, “You’re not going to get all mushy on me like that, are you?”
“Maybe,” she simply responded before kissing him as well.
William and Robert sat back and watched the whole spectacle play out in front of them.
“Now I feel lonely,” William said. “I wish there was a girl that would send me off like that.”
“That could be arranged,” Robert told him.
“Yeah. I believe Diana is alone. Why don’t you get her to ‘send you off’?”
“Never mind,” William responded and the two friends laughed.
All the goodbyes said, Link and Zelda turned to the group of Knights, the crowd outside the gate bigger and louder than ever.
“We now begin another journey,” Link started. “Where it will bring us only the Goddesses know. So if there’s no further interruptions or objections…” he was cut off by the crowd screaming even louder, as if they could hear him and were protesting the plan. He glanced over to the crowd and realized that they were leaving the country defenseless, but there were more important things to do in his mind. He turned back to the Knights. “Let’s go.”
He put his right hand into Zelda’s left, and they two closed their eyes and began to say the chant that they had studied all morning to memorize. They repeated the chant over and over again before they felt the first effects of the magic.
Watching on, the Knights saw a green aura surround Link, while a blue one surrounded Zelda. Electric energy filled the air, causing their hair to stand on end. Outside the gates, the screaming mob fell completely silent as they witnessed the opening of the portal. Slowly, Link and Zelda were lifted into the air, until they were hovering about three feet above the ground. A few yards in front of them, a sliver of light began to shine. The light was the same soft red glow of Evan’s portal, although Link didn’t see it at first.
The Knights, the guards, and the crowd outside watched on in amazement (and silence) as the doorway began to open. When it had grown big enough for a person to walk through, Link and Zelda were slowly lowered back onto the ground. Although he had already seen the portal when Evan had gone through, Link was still amazed at it and was frozen in awe as he gazed upon it. Around the front lawn, everyone stood in the same frozen awe, even the townsfolk outside who were barely able to see it. They all stood there for what seemed like an eternity before Link forced himself to move.
“Now, we go through!” he yelled, trying to bring all the Knights out of their semi-hypnotic state. Without waiting for the others to come around, Link ran into the portal and vanished.
Finally, Aaron came to. He looked around at the still frozen Knights. Quickly, he smacked Michael across the face, bringing him back to reality.
“Come on, we have to go! Start hitting people!”
Aaron and Michael went from Knight to Knight, giving them each a quick little wake-me-up. Once they were all back to normal, Nick ordered them through the gate. Aaron went first, followed by Michael, then William, Robert, and John. Zelda remained where she was and Nick walked up beside her. He shook her gently until she came to. He smiled, and without saying a word the two of them went through the portal.
Shortly after Zelda disappeared, the portal closed on itself and the remaining group of women, the crowd, and the guards were no longer frozen in place. However, none of them wanted to move. They continued to sit there and stare into what used to be some kind of doorway.
No one moved for hours.
The portal opened up on the outskirts of a town, dumping the eight travelers onto the hard ground. Picking himself up, Link clutched his head and shook off the pain. Behind him, the other seven did the same. The town was located to his left, and he turned to look it over.
Michael brushed the dirt off his pants. “This is it.”
“This is what?” Link asked him, turning to face him.
“This is where I came through last time.”
Nick walked in the direction of the town, but stopped just as he passed everyone. “If my memory serves me, you said this place was called Saker?”
“Shakar,” Michael corrected him. “The town and the island bear the same name.”
“Where in the hell is that?” William asked rudely.
Michael hesitated before answering, his head pointing up, as if his eyes could look into his brain for the answer. “If I remember correctly,” he paused as he lowered his head back to its normal position, “and, of course, if the maps I saw were accurate, Shakar should be southwest of what we know as Hyrule.”
“What do you mean, ‘What we know as Hyrule’?” Link asked, slightly puzzled.
Aaron answered for Michael. “What I think he means,” he paused, “is that the country of Hyrule doesn’t exist in this world, but the land mass is there.”
Michael nodded to Aaron. “That’s exactly what I mean.”
“So what do we do know?” Zelda asked.
John looked toward the town and pointed to it with a gesture of his head. “We should see what this town is like. Maybe get some information about the area.”
“Agreed,” Link consented. Without waiting for any else’s input, Link started heading for the town of Shakar.
“What if they speak a different language?” Robert called up to Link as the others walked to town.
Link didn’t respond, didn’t even turn around. Instead, Nick stopped and waited for Robert to catch up to him. “That’s Michael’s job. He learned some of their language the last time he was here.” Nick tapped Michael on the shoulder when he was close enough and asked, “How much do you know, anyway?”
Michael turned his head until he could see Nick in the corner of his eye, all the while still walking forward. “Not much, but it should be enough not to get us killed.”
“Comforting,” Robert commented as they continued toward town.
* * * *
The farmer carried a bale of hay over to the barn for the horses. It was still rather early in the day, but the heat was almost unbearable. He reached the barn and threw the bale of hay down in front of the bigger pile of hay. Beside the pile lay several pitchforks, one new, a couple worn down, and one rusted completely over. Picking up his straw hat with his left hand, the farmer wiped his brow with his handkerchief and placed it back in the front pocket of his overalls. He had been hard at work all morning, and he decided that he deserved a short break. Pulling up the only chair in the barn (it was there for instances just like this one), he sat down and let out an exhausted sigh. No sooner had he finished sighing than the family dog began to bark and growl angrily, causing the horses outside to neigh wildly. Soon the chickens joined in the chorus of noise.
The farmer bolted up from the chair, knocking it over with the backs of his knees. The next thing he heard, other than the continuing chorus of animals, was his 10-year-old son calling for him frantically. Reacting quickly, he grabbed the new pitchfork and started out the barn. But before he took two steps, he turned around, put down the new pitchfork and chose the old, rusty pitchfork instead. Satisfied with his selection, he ran in the direction of his son.
As he ran toward his son (who was only on the porch and in no real danger), the farmer looked out over his fields and saw what the dog had previously detected. Walking directly through his fields were eight strangers. Not one to trust strangers, the farmer called for his wife to bring out their crossbow. Obediently, she emerged from the house with the crossbow in her arms and the quiver slung over her right shoulder. She ran to her husband and he grabbed the weapon from her and one of the arrows. Placing the arrow into its position, he raised the crossbow and aimed at the oncoming strangers.
He yelled a warning to the oncoming strangers, but they didn’t respond. He wasn’t sure if they couldn’t hear him, or were just plain ignoring him, so he gave them a second, and final, chance.
He warned them one last time.
* * * *
“Are you sure about this?” Aaron asked Michael as they neared the farm, which formed the border to the town.
“You better be,” William said from behind him, “otherwise we’re in for some trouble.”
Michael was leading the way to the town, insisting that the others follow him. When he was last in Shakar, he had befriended most of the town, including Isaiah. The makeup of the town still etched in his mind, he was sure that the farm he was heading toward was his friend’s. So they continued on their way, Michael and Aaron up front, William and Robert behind them, followed by Link and Zelda. John and Nick brought up the rear.
In the distance, a dog began to bark, obviously aware of their arrival.
“I never liked dogs,” John said to no one.
Zelda turned around. “Why not?” she asked him anyway.
“I had a bad experience with one once,” he replied.
“What kind of bad experience?” Zelda pried.
“Well,” he paused, “one of my friends had one. A big one, actually,” he paused again, remembering the large beast. “Anyway, one day when I was eight, we were playing in front of his house when, for no apparent reason, the dog attacked me.”
“Oh my goodness,” Zelda gasped. “What happened?”
“Thankfully, my friend’s dad acted quick and shot the dog in its hindquarters, stunning it,” he went on. “Him and some passing townsfolk subdued the dog. Luckily, I wasn’t hurt too badly, but I was left with this scar,” he said as he pulled his left pant leg up to his knee. On the outside of his shin, a scar in the shape of a dog’s mouth was still present.
“I’m sorry,” Zelda apologized, even though it was in no way her fault.
John laughed and was about to say something, but instead he faintly heard a yell from in front of them.
“What was that?” he asked in general.
“What was what?” Aaron asked from the front.
“That yell. Didn’t you hear it?”
“I didn’t hear anything,” Aaron told him. “Michael?”
“Nope, not a thing.”
“Did anyone, besides John, hear anything?” Link asked. No one answered, prompting John to doubt his hearing. “No one else heard anything,” Link told him unnecessarily.
Then, they all did hear something, but it was like an alien language to them, except for Michael.
“Oh no,” he muttered.
“Oh no? What? What’s wrong?” Aaron fired in succession.
“Move!” he yelled as he jumped to the side, burying himself in the tall, uncut grass. Following his lead, the rest of them jumped to either the right or the left, unsure as to what was happening.
They could then hear another sound: the sound of an arrow flying quickly through the air. The arrow passed so close to Link that he could feel the wind as the arrow sliced through the air. Behind him, Nick wasn’t as lucky, as the arrow embedded itself into his right calf, just below his knee. He cried out in pain.
Michael got up as fast as he could and yelled over the sounds of Nick’s cries. He only hoped that Isaiah could hear him.
“Stop shooting!” he yelled, forgetting to use the native language.
The response from the farmer was another flying arrow. Michael ducked his head just in time to avoid getting pierced by it, and the arrow fell harmlessly behind the entire group.
“Isaiah!” he yelled.
* * * *
The farmer abruptly stopped reloading the crossbow a second time when he heard his name called out. Doubt began to rise in his mind. The fact that one of the strangers shouted his name couldn’t have been just a lucky guess. Somehow, one of the strangers knew the farmer, and he intended to find out.
He fully reloaded the crossbow now, just in case the situation turned ugly. Turning to his son and wife, he instructed them to head inside and to stay there. Unsure of the situation, the two stood there silently. The farmer raised his voice, repeating his command, and they promptly turned and ran for the house.
Once he was sure they were inside, he began walking toward the strangers, crossbow armed and ready.
* * * *
Link could now see the man that had fired upon them and unsheathed the Master Sword. Behind him, Nick was still in intense pain and Zelda and John were trying anything to help him. He walked forward, toward the approaching farmer.
Michael was once again standing, and could now make out the person coming toward him. He had been positive that this had been Isaiah’s farm, and now he knew he was right. Behind him, he heard someone walking, and from the sounds of his footsteps, Michael could tell whoever it was, was angry. When Link was directly behind and to the right of him, Michael stuck out his arm.
“No?” Link asked rhetorically, anger filling his voice. “This jerk put an arrow in Nick!”
“I know, but you mustn’t attack him.”
“And why not?”
Michael turned to face Link. “Because he can help us.”
“Help us?” Link asked hysterically, his voice raising an octave. “He just shot at us!”
“That was just a misunderstanding.”
Link wasn’t happy with that answer, and he stared directly into Michael’s face, his eyes squinted.
“Trust me,” Michael said, reading Link’s expression perfectly. “Everything will be alright.”
Link stared at him for a moment longer. Finally, after what seemed like several minutes, Link relaxed his muscles and sheathed his sword.
“Thank you,” Michael said gratefully.
The man approaching was now no more than fifty yards away and Michael returned his attention to him.
“Isaiah!” he yelled again.
Isaiah continued walking toward them at the same pace, and with the crossbow raised. The person that had called his name looked vaguely familiar, but he wasn’t absolutely sure yet. In his native tongue, he called out to the familiar stranger.
Link couldn’t understand what the man said. For all he knew, it could have been a declaration of war. But he sensed that it wasn’t when he noticed that Michael wasn’t tensed up and worried.
“Michael!” Michael called out his own name.
The farmer stopped in his tracks. “Michael?” he asked, happiness beginning to rise in him. “Michael!” he yelled. Dropping the crossbow on the ground, Isaiah ran the remaining distance.
The two friends embraced each other as the others either looked on or tended to Nick. Link stood directly beside Michael and tried to listen in on their conversation, but he couldn’t make any sense of it. This is going to be annoying, he thought.
Michael and Isaiah talked excitedly back and forth, Michael struggling at times to find the right word. Link picked up on this and knew that this could cause problems later on. Suddenly, amidst all the gibberish (at least to Link), Michael pointed to Link.
“Link, this is Isaiah. He owns this farm,” Michael informed him.
A little uncomfortable with the situation, Link faked a smile and shook hands with the stranger. Isaiah smiled back. While the two were shaking hands, John grabbed Link’s attention.
“Link, we have to get the arrow out as soon as possible,” he told him. “But we can’t do it here.”
“Michael,” Link said, “we need to take care of Nick. Will he help us?”
“I’ll see,” Michael answered. He began talking in gibberish again to the farmer, whose face took on a look of concern. Isaiah then formed an ‘O’ with his mouth, gasped, and placed his right palm over it. His eyes became larger as he saw the wounded man on the ground. Talking quickly, Isaiah began walking back to his house, waving his hand in a gesture that read ‘Come, come!’
“Now that I can understand,” Link said with a smile, which soon melted away as he remembered that Nick was injured.
John ran back to Nick’s side and he and Robert picked him up gently and placed each of his arms around their shoulders.
“Come on, Nick,” Robert said. “You can make it.”
* * * *
Night fell on Isaiah’s farm, and the air finally began to cool down. Michael and Isaiah were sitting at the kitchen table, talking in the gibberish that was the native language. There was only one guest room in the house, and Nick now occupied it. They had successfully removed the arrow without any serious trouble, and promptly bandaged it up. Link was sitting in a chair beside the bed, looking over his friend.
“We got lucky today,” he told Nick, although he knew that he had already fallen asleep. Link fell silent, thinking about Evan and the journey to come. They had only begun, yet already one of them had been injured. If this is a sign of what’s to come, he thought, we’re in for some trouble. Link put his hands on his thighs, sighed, and stood up.
“Rest well, my friend,” he said as he patted Nick on his right shoulder. He walked out of the room and down the stairs. As he passed by the kitchen, he heard Michael speak those alien words again and wondered if they would have to rely on him the entire time.
Out of the corner of his eye, Michael caught a glimpse of Link. Stopping in the middle of his sentence, he called out, “Link!”
Link abruptly stopped, turned around, and walked into the kitchen.
“I’ve been talking with Isaiah and he says that there’s an old wise man that lives north of town.”
“And it seems as though he can speak our language fluently.”
Link’s face lit up at the thought of being able to communicate with someone from this world.
“Isaiah says that he can help us on our journey,” Michael continued.
“Good,” Link said, “we’ll leave as soon as Nick can move around.”
“Do you expect him soon?”
“Maybe a couple of days. But I hope sooner,” Link replied. “I’m going outside to tell the others, and then to get some rest.”
“I’ll be out there in a few minutes.”
Link nodded, turned back around and headed for the front door. Since Nick had taken the only extra bed, the rest of them were forced to rough it outside, under the cool sky.
The night was extremely dark as there were no lights on the farm. In the distance, Link could make out several specks of light, which he figured to be small torches. The only light that was able to pierce the night sky enough for him to see was the small campfire that the others had set up. All five of them huddled around the fire, and Link joined them.
“How is he?” Aaron inquired about Nick.
Link threw a small twig into the fire. “He’s resting. He’ll be alright, but it may be a couple of days before he can walk on it without excruciating pain.”
“So we’re stuck here?” William asked, his voice hinting at his displeasure.
“We’re not stuck here on the farm,” Link reminded him. “Just in this town, which I suggest, we head into tomorrow morning.”
“To get supplies for the journey,” John stated, even though it was obvious to everyone.
“Speaking of the journey,” Robert paused, “where are we going, exactly?”
Zelda moved up against Link for added warmth and comfort. Paying no attention to her, Link answered Robert. “Michael was just telling me that there is a wise man to the north of this town. Apparently, he knows our language.”
“Well, that’s great!” Robert exclaimed. “I’m sick of not knowing what Michael and Isaiah are talking about.”
“We all don’t need to go to town tomorrow,” Zelda said, fighting back a yawn. “At least one of us should stay back and take care of Nick.”
“I agree,” Aaron said.
“Okay,” Link said, and then paused to think. “Aaron, Michael, William, and myself will head into town tomorrow. The rest of you stay here and take care of Nick and help out on the farm.” They all nodded their heads in agreement. “Now, we need to rest. It may be the last good night’s sleep for all of us.”
With no other words, they each found a spot to sleep and looked up at the night sky. Each one became lost in their own thoughts as they slowly fell to sleep.
* * * *
They were already in town by the time the sun was fully visible over the horizon. Few other people were out this early, most of which were merchants busy setting up their shops. The group of four strangers walked down the middle of what could be considered the town’s main street, although it was nothing like the main street of Hyrule Castle Town.
William felt his stomach growl. “I wish we would’ve eaten some food before we left.”
“Relax,” Aaron said. “I’m sure there’s someplace to eat somewhere around here.”
“You better be right, because I don’t know how much longer I can take this.”
Link was walking behind the other three and spotted a merchant selling some fruit. He walked over, picked up the juiciest apple he could find, and paid the man with the moustache. Jogging back to the rest of them, he called out to William.
William turned around to the sound of his name and saw an apple heading directly for his head. Reacting quickly, he moved his right hand up and caught the apple on the fly.
“Nice catch!” Link shouted. “That might hold you over for…”
Link stopped abruptly and watched in amazement as William breezed through the apple like it was nothing. As he took his last bite, William threw the core back to Link, who caught it easily.
“Thanks, Link,” he said. “But that won’t hold me over for long.”
Michael started to laugh, while Link still stared at William, shocked. “Talk about a good eater!” he stated between laughs. “I’ve never seen anyone eat an apple that fast!”
“Yeah, it was amazing,” Aaron said sarcastically. He looked further on down the street and noticed an inn on the right side of the road. “Perhaps they have food there,” he told the others as he pointed in the direction of the inn.
“Food!” William exclaimed. He immediately walked directly to the inn with Michael and Aaron behind him.
Link remained transfixed in his position, still shocked at the sight of William wolfing down the apple. Realizing that they were walking away from him, and that he was still holding William’s discarded apple core in his hand, Link shook his head. He threw the apple core behind him and wiped his hand feverishly on his tunic. When he was satisfied with its cleanliness, he walked to the inn.
* * * *
The meal was good, but not great. The layout of the inn reminded Link of the inn in the town of Saria from Hyrule’s future. There were only a couple of people in the inn’s dining room, which was really just a small room adjacent to the lobby.
About halfway through their meal, one of the other people in the room had suddenly jumped out of his chair, had shouted something in their language while pointing at Link, and had proceeded to run out of the inn.
“What was that all about?” Aaron had asked to Michael in particular.
“I have no idea. I couldn’t catch what he was saying because he was talking too fast.”
No longer concerned with the strange man, they had continued to eat their meal. But now, they were once again confused.
They stepped outside of the inn and right in front of them was a large mob. The second that Link appeared in front of them, almost everyone in the crowd gasped. There was a moment of silence before the entire mob erupted in cheers and cries.
“What the hell is going on?” Aaron asked Michael again.
“I don’t know, but I’ll try to find out,” he replied as he walked toward the crowd. He pulled the first man aside and began to question him.
Meanwhile, the rest of the crowd continued to chant and shout. Link looked around nervously, wondering if they had done something wrong in the inn at some point and were going to be attacked. He brushed the thought aside as he realized that they weren’t threatening him. But why are they cheering? What are they saying? he kept asking himself. He turned and looked directly into Aaron’s face, silently asking him what was going on. Aaron replied by simply raising his hands and shaking his head. Link repeated the same questioning with William, who responded the same way.
Finally, Michael ran back to them.
“So, what did he say?” William asked.
“It seems that there’s a prophecy.”
Aaron inquired, “What kind of prophecy?”
“Well, apparently there was a prophecy made a long time ago that a warrior would come and save them all from tyranny and oppression.”
“Big deal,” Link said. “Every society has that same prophecy.” William and Aaron nodded their heads in agreement.
“But it’s more detailed than that,” Michael stated.
“More detailed? What do you mean?” Aaron kept prodding.
“For starters, the prophecy indicates that a group of strangers will show up from seemingly out of nowhere. They would look and talk like no other people in the known world.”
“Oh come on!” Link exclaimed. “That could be anyone! These people have probably never seen, or will see, other peoples of the world!”
“That’s true,” Michael continued, “but the prophecy actually specifies the unknown language and the townsfolk can pick it out very easily.”
“Are you sure about that?” William asked, a little confused.
“Yes, but that’s only part of the prophecy. The other part tells of the lead warrior.”
“What about him?” Aaron asked.
“It said that he would be wearing a green tunic.”
Silence fell among the group as they all looked at Link.
“Yes. According to them, you’re the destined hero that they’ve been waiting for.”
“That’s absurd. I didn’t come here to save them! I came here to get my son back!”
“Michael, where did these people hear this prophecy?” William asked.
“From the wise man north of town.”
“I see,” William paused, “I think that we should pay this wise man a little visit. Don’t you agree, Aaron?”
“Yes, we should definitely go see him to find out how he predicted our coming and what else he knows.”
“Let’s go,” Link stated.
Nick woke up confused and in pain. At first, he had no idea where he was, or what he was doing here. He thought back in his mind and tried to piece everything together, but he was in so much pain that it seemed to be blocking his thinking. Unsure of what to do now, he turned over in the bed.
“Hey…” he tried to call out, but it only came out as a raspy whisper. “Somebody… is anybody there?” Still no luck. He cleared his throat and called out again, and this time, his voice carried further. “Hey. Anybody?”
Suddenly, the door swung open and in stepped Zelda. She smiled at him, and he smiled back. He was still unsure of where he was, so he asked her.
“Princess, where are we?”
“On Isaiah’s farm,” she answered. “We brought you here after you were shot in the leg.”
Nick looked down at his right leg and finally noticed the bandage that was wrapped around it. Slowly, the events of the past few days came back to him, and he knew exactly what was going on. At least, until the time he passed out.
“How long have I been out?” he asked.
“Almost a day.”
He grimaced in pain. “Where’s everyone else?”
“Link, Aaron, Michael, and William all went to town. The rest of us are still here on the farm,” she said as she handed him a glass of water and some pills.
“What’s this?” he asked, taking each in his hands.
“Some medicine to ease the pain. With any luck, you could be up within the next day.”
“Within a day?” he asked doubtfully.
“Miraculously, the arrow didn’t do any major damage to your leg. The wound isn’t very deep, so it should heal without any problems. Of course, you’ll have a slight limp for awhile.”
He popped the pills into his mouth and washed them down with the water. Zelda put her hand on his left shoulder.
“Now get some more rest,” she instructed. “You’ll need it. Link is planning on leaving as soon as you can walk. If you need anything, just holler and someone will be in.”
Nick nodded his head and closed his eyes, practically falling asleep on the spot. Zelda opened the door, then turned around to look at him one last time. She couldn’t help but think about his family back home. She only prayed that he would be all right and make it back to them. She prayed for the safety of all eight of them. She walked through the doorway and gently closed the door behind her.
* * * *
It was a good hour before they reached the outskirts again. The crowd had made it extremely difficult to even walk down the street. Now, they were out in the open again, the town behind them. In the distance, they could make out a building, but they couldn’t judge how far it was. The sun still was rising in the sky, but already the day was hot. Fortunately, Isaiah had warned them of the intense heat and they had all taken water skins with them.
William stopped in his tracks and took a swig of his water. He licked his lips to moisten them and placed the cap back on his water skin.
“This walk is a lot longer than I thought it would be,” he commented to the others.
No one answered him. They just trudged along the beaten path in the grass. William sighed as they ignored him and began walking again. He looked up into the distance at the hut. He couldn’t explain it, but it seemed as though the hut was not getting closer. Attributing it to the heat, William shook his head and continued along with the others.
They walked on for another hour and William again thought that the hut had not gotten any closer. Stopping, he rubbed his eyes and looked forward again, confirming what his eyes were telling him. Curious, he turned around and was shocked at what he saw. Behind them, the same distance as it had been roughly an hour ago, was the town of Shakar.
“What the hell?” he muttered to himself. He turned back around and called up to the others. “Hold up!”
This time, they didn’t ignore him. Link stopped first, and turned to face William.
“What is it?”
“Doesn’t this seem a little strange to you?”
“Does what seem strange?” Aaron asked.
“The fact that we’ve been walking so long and haven’t gotten any closer to the hut or further from the town.”
They all looked around them, as if seeing it for the first time. “Well, I’ll be,” Aaron muttered under his breath. “We haven’t been going anywhere!”
“This can’t be right,” Michael remarked. “There’s something wrong here.”
“But what?” Aaron continued.
Link looked in front of them, then behind them. His brain was hard at work, trying to figure out what was going on. His eyes were telling him that the hut was exactly where it had always been, but he knew better. An idea popped in his mind and he acted on it. Instead of walking straight down the path, Link stepped off it. What he saw amazed him. Instead of the town being directly behind them, and the hut far in front, he saw the town far behind, and the hut close. Puzzled, he continued to look around.
William, Michael, and Aaron gasped as Link had stepped off the path. All of a sudden, he had disappeared into thin air.
“Where’d he go?” William asked, a little hysterical.
Michael and William stood there and watched on as Aaron began to walk off the path. Just like Link had done, he disappeared.
“What the hell is going on?” William asked again, a little more hysterical.
Michael shook his head. “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.”
“Wait!” William shouted. “It could be a trap!”
But it was too late. Michael had already disappeared through the same invisible wall. William stood there, alone, and looked back at the town and forward to the hut again. He sighed.
“Well, I’m not staying here by myself,” he said aloud.
He walked through the invisible barrier and came out the other side next to his friends.
“Glad you could join us,” Link said, patting William on the shoulder.
“What was that?”
“I have a theory,” Link stated.
“Well?” William asked, curious.
“I believe we were trapped in an illusion. As long as we followed that path, we would remain in it for who knows how long.”
“Well done, Link,” came a voice from behind them.
All four of them turned around quickly, swords drawn. In front of them stood a short old man, hunched over and shrouded in an oversized brown robe.
“You needn’t be afraid of me. I mean you no harm.”
“Who are you?” Link demanded.
“I am who you seek.”
“You’re the wise man?” Aaron asked in disbelief.
“I am a wise man, yes. There are quite a few of us, so I’m not really the wise man.”
“What kind of game are you pulling on us, old man?” Link asked, rather harshly.
The wise man laughed. “That was merely an illusion, Link. You’ll find that many things in this world are not what they seem.”
“You’re testing us?” Michael concluded.
“Testing you? No. On the contrary, I’m preparing you.”
“Preparing us?” William asked next. “For what?”
“The road ahead of you is treacherous and full of mystery. You cannot always trust your eyes. You will need to rely on your wisdom as well as your strength if you are to continue on with your journey.”
“Tell us about our journey,” Link said. “And tell me, how did you know my name?”
“You’re presence here was determined a long time ago by the prophecy.”
“Tell us about our journey!” Aaron demanded of the old man.
“Not here,” the wise man replied. “Come. We will hold counsel in my hut.”
The old man waved his arm in an inviting fashion and walked toward his hut. Link and Michael followed immediately, but William and Aaron remained for a moment longer.
“There’s something not right about that old man,” Aaron stated.
“I agree,” William said. “But we’ll never find out what it is if we don’t follow.”
Aaron took a deep breath, and then sighed. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“And besides,” William said, patting his stomach. “He just might have some food.”
Aaron laughed and shook his head. “Always thinking with your stomach.”
They both laughed and began after the other three. To William’s relief, the hut actually moved closer as they walked toward it.
The hut was barely large enough for the old man to live in it. It stood on a small patch of healthy grass, surrounded by dead grass. There was a chimney on the right side of it, which led to a small fireplace inside. On the left side of the hut, roughly halfway between the hut itself and the surrounding “bad lands”, was a single well with a bucket attached to a pulley system. The old man walked over to the well and turned the crank in order to pull the bucket from the bottom of the well. Once it was above the wall of the well, he stopped the crank and removed the bucket from its hook.
“Here,” he offered. “Take some to refresh yourself. Then fill your water skins to the brim.”
The four of them stared at the water bucket he offered, and were a little disgusted with the looks of it. The bucket itself was old, the wood a little rotted, and the metal rings rusted. To them, it didn’t seem possible that the water was clean.
The old man caught the looks on their faces and reassured them, “Don’t worry. The water is perfectly safe.”
Michael walked up to the old man and reached his hands into the bucket of water. He cupped his hands and filled them with water before bringing them to his mouth. Upon tasting the water, he turned to his friends and smiled.
That being said, they all went for the bucket and took large drinks and threw some on their faces to cool down. Above them, the sun had reached its highest point and was blazing down on them. The coolness of the water was a pleasant relief from the hot day. Once they had all taken their fill, they each filled their water skins one after the other.
Seeing that they were satisfied, the old man continued, “Now, let us go inside and get out of this heat. We have much to discuss.”
More sure of the wise man now, they all followed him into the hut without a second thought. Upon entering the hut, they observed that it was crowded with shelves of books, medicines, and other scholarly materials. In the center of the main room, which was barely big enough for them all to be in there at once, was a circular table with some open books on it. A chair was located on one end of it, and the old man sat down, while the rest remained standing.
“You may ask me anything you wish,” he stated.
“How did you know who we are?” Link asked.
“As I said before, it is written in the prophecy.”
“What exactly does the prophecy say?”
“Basically, it states that a band of strangers from another land will come to this world and free it from the clutches of evil.”
“How can you be sure that it’s us?” Aaron asked.
“Because Link is The Destined Hero of this world.”
“But how can you be sure?” Aaron repeated.
“There is a similarity between this world and your own.”
“Which is?” Aaron motioned for the old man to continue.
“This is your world.”
“That’s ridiculous!” William shouted out. “This is not our world! Our world is in a time of peace and tranquility! This place is consumed with fear!”
“Let me finish,” the old man instructed William. “This is the future that never happened.”
“What?” Link asked.
“Five hundred years ago, the man known as Ganondorf was victorious over the Hero of Time. In the years that followed, the evil man hunted down the Princess of Destiny and killed her, at which time he acquired the full Triforce. Does this sound familiar?”
“That never happened!” William exclaimed.
“I would have to agree with my friend here, wise man,” Aaron said.
Link felt his heart sink as he realized what the wise man was hinting at. He spook up.
“I remember that.”
Michael, William, and Aaron turned their attention to Link and stared at him, confused about what he was saying.
“Yes,” the old man hissed. “You were beaten by the evil man and the world was plunged into total darkness.”
“But I traveled through Time and came back to defeat him!” Link yelled at the old man.
“That you did, and so order was restored to your world. But, my young friend, you didn’t destroy the future. All you did was merely cause a rip in the space-time continuum.”
“Come again?” William asked.
“Link’s actions that day split one dimension into two. One of these dimensions, yours, returned to normal. But the other dimension, the one you find yourself in now, continued on as if you never came back to defeat him. This is the future that was damned by your failure the first time.”
“So Ganondorf ruled the world?” Aaron asked.
“That he did, until recently that is.”
“Until recently? What happened?” Aaron continued.
“He was overthrown by another who was consumed by evil.”
“But if he had the full Triforce, he should be unstoppable,” William informed the wise man. “How could he have been overthrown?”
“I know not,” conceded the old man. “But your journey remains the same. You must go to the forbidden island that was once your land of Hyrule.”
“How do we get there?” Link wanted to know.
“You must first trek across the island of Shakar to a port town called Kabar. There, you will set sail to the mainland that lies between here and the forbidden island.”
“Then what?” William asked.
“I cannot help you any further,” he said.
“Why not?” William yelled.
The old man looked up toward the sky, although they were still inside. “I have fulfilled my role in the prophecy. There will be others to guide you.” They all looked at each other. “Now, be gone from here. Join back up with the rest of your friends and begin your journey. But beware, there are many obstacles ahead.”
“Thank you,” Link said to the old man as they began filing out of the hut.
They stopped abruptly when they got outside. When they had entered the hut, it was midday with the sun beating down on them. Now, as they left, the sun was no longer out and the moon hung silently in the night sky.
“This is getting stranger by the minute,” Michael commented.
They all nodded in agreement and walked back in the direction of town and Isaiah’s farm. According to the wise man, it was going to be a long and dangerous journey, but Link was ready for anything. He had a feeling that this world’s outcome would have something to do with Evan, but he didn’t know how. All he knew was that he wanted to find his son.
As they walked away, they never bothered to look back on the hut. If they had, they would’ve seen the old man standing silently outside of the hut by the door. He watched them go, and after a brief moment, he turned and walked inside.
The hut, and all its surroundings including the old man, disappeared.
* * * *
Nick woke up in a cold sweat, his breath short. Frantically, he looked back and forth across the room, making sure that nothing was there. His sleep had been marred by nightmares, and he feared for the lives of everyone he had come with. Slowly, he began to calm himself down with deep, relaxed breathing. Next to him, on the nightstand, was another glass of water. He greedily reached for it and drank it down as fast as he possibly could, although a good amount trickled down his chin and neck, soaking the collar of his shirt. He let out a breath of approval and placed the glass back onto the nightstand.
Outside the room, he could hear someone talking, but it was too muffled by the door and wall for him to make out who was talking, and to whom.
“Hey!” Nick shouted out, his voice finally coming back to normal.
The talking ceased immediately, and the shadow underneath the door told Nick that someone was reaching for the doorknob. The door opened, and in walked Link, a smile across his face.
“You’re finally up!”
“How are you feeling?”
Nick raised his shoulders and tilted his head slightly. “Fine, I guess. It doesn’t hurt that much anymore.”
“Yeah, well wait until you try to walk on it.”
“Did you just get back from town?” Nick asked, changing the subject to something other than himself.
“Actually, we got back late last night,” Link replied.
“Late last night?” Nick asked, shocked. “You mean I was out for another day?”
“It appears that way.”
“What took you so long?”
Link looked up toward the ceiling and took a deep breath. “We went to go see the wise man who lives north of Shakar.”
“What did he say?”
Link looked back at his friend. “He told us that this world is really our world, but along a different timeline and that we’re the prophesized ones who will free them from evil.”
“Right,” Nick said, not believing it.
Link laughed a little. “That’s exactly what I thought when I first heard of this ‘prophecy’. But it seems that it lies along the same path as our mission to save Evan.”
Nick squinted his eyes, “How can you be sure?”
“I don’t know how I know, but I just know. That’s hard to believe, but that’s all I can say.”
Nick nodded his understanding. He himself had a young son, Charles, and at times, he could sense if the boy was doing something that he shouldn’t be. Father’s intuition, Nick thought to himself, letting out a small chuckle.
“What’s so funny?” Link asked.
Nick looked at his friend and suppressed his laughter. “Nothing. Don’t mind me.”
“Anyway,” Link said, after a short awkward pause, “lunch will be ready soon. I suggest you try to walk a little. I want to leave here as soon as possible. But until then, you rest.”
“Yes, sir,” Nick said, mockingly. He and Link both smiled.
Nick laid himself back down as Link left the room, closing the door beside him. I hope those nightmares don’t come back. Maybe I should tell someone about them. He thought it over in his mind for several minutes before falling back asleep.
* * * *
Early the next morning they were all getting prepared to go. The day before, Nick successfully walked around the farm, although it brought him discomfort with each step. Fighting back the pain, he had walked as much as he could before the pain was too intense for him to go on. He knew how badly Link wanted to set out as soon as possible, so he tried as hard as he could for his friend. This morning, he was sitting on the front porch of Isaiah’s house.
“Feel any better today?” Zelda asked as she and Aaron walked by.
He nodded. “Yeah, the pain has gone down again.”
“What’d I tell you?” Aaron quipped. “He’s a tough guy! Aren’t you?” he asked Nick rhetorically, giving him a quick jab in his upper arm. The two continued on down the porch steps and over to where Link, Robert, William, and John were already standing.
“We’re just about ready to go,” Aaron said. “Just waiting on Michael.”
“So where are we heading, Link?” Robert asked.
“Northeast to the port town of Kabar.”
“Is it dangerous?” William asked.
“Probably,” Link replied.
Just then, the front door to the house was opened and Michael walked out with Isaiah right behind him. They were talking in the gibberish that was the native language. Once they had made their way down to Link and the others, they stopped talking.
“Did he know anything?” Link asked.
“Vaguely. He knows of stuff, but he hasn’t actually seen any of them.”
“Well, why not?” William inquired.
“Because he’s lived his whole life here on the farm,” Michael answered, as if telling an idiot. Robert smacked Michael in the back of the head.
“Ow! What was that for?”
“Just be quiet for now,” Robert ordered him. “So anyway, Michael, what does he know?”
“Well, there are two main natural obstacles to overcome. The Chasm of the Damned and the Demon Mountains.”
“I don’t like the sound of them,” William said under his breath, quickly getting another hit on the back of the head from Robert.
Michael waited for William to pay attention again. “But we also have to beware of outlaws. Apparently, they hide out in the surrounding areas, striking at any that try to cross the country. That’s all he knows.”
“That’s good enough. Good job, Michael,” Link said, then turned his attention to Isaiah. Although he knew the farmer couldn’t understand him, he said, “Thank you,” and held his hand out.
The farmer acknowledged the gesture of thanks and shook Link’s hand. The rest of them each shook Isaiah’s hand and picked up their gear and supplies, Aaron picking up both his and Nick’s. When he saw them begin to shake hands, Nick stood up off the chair and made his way to the group with a slight limp. Once there, he too shook Isaiah’s hand. Isaiah pulled him in for a hug of apology, and Nick graciously accepted it, gesturing to the farmer that it was no big deal.
They all turned and headed north, the farmer’s dog barking at the leaving guests. They would head around the town and work there way to Kabar.
The sun rose steadily in the sky, and the band of eight continued on their journey across the land. They had been walking for nearly four hours, only taking short breaks for the sake of Nick’s leg. Link and Zelda led the way, followed closely by John, Michael, and Aaron. Right behind them came William, Robert, and Nick. William looked back on the town, now a small dot on the horizon. He searched the rest of the horizon, but couldn’t see anything, and that bothered him.
“Hey, Aaron,” he called up to his friend.
Aaron slowed his pace until William was walking beside him. “What?”
“Where the hell is the old man’s hut?”
“Right over there…” Aaron stopped abruptly as the area in which he was pointing was totally vacant. “What the? Link!”
Link turned his head, but continued to walk on. “Yes, Aaron?”
“The old man’s hut. It’s gone!”
“I know,” he answered calmly.
Aaron and William were flabbergasted. “You know?” William asked.
“The whole thing was an illusion. I knew that it would disappear the moment we left.”
“An illusion?” Robert asked as he overheard their conversation. “For what purpose?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea who or what conjured it. Or for what purpose. Let’s just drop it for now.”
They continued on, through the vast wasteland that was Shakar. They hadn’t seen a single sign of life since they left the town. The scenery rarely changed; up ahead, they could barely see the outlines of the Demon Mountains. Other than that, there was no scenery, only flat land that stretched on for miles in every direction.
John took a swig from his water skin, which was now becoming lighter and lighter. Water seemed to be a hard thing to come by in this barren land, and if they couldn’t find any soon, they would die of dehydration before ever reaching the mountains. But with no water in sight, John decided against bringing the subject up.
* * * *
They walked on for many more hours, taking a brief break sometime in the early evening. It was then that they had eaten some dinner, although the meal was hardly enough to sustain them. Their rations were slim, and they had to rely on dried meat and bread because of the lack of firewood. After consuming as much as they dared, they continued on again for several more hours, the sun all the while setting on their left side as they headed north.
The darkness of night was soon upon them, and they were forced to wait until morning. As they set up their sleeping arrangements, which consisted of a small blanket and their own bags for pillows, a strange feeling of being watched overcame Robert. He sat upright on the ground and stared out into the darkness.
“Robert?” Nick asked, sensing how tense his friend was. “What’s wrong?”
“Sh!” Robert ordered him, placing his finger over his mouth. “I thought I heard something.”
As the rest of them made themselves as comfortable as possible, Robert and Nick listened intently to the dark surroundings. From the darkness, they could hear nothing, which disturbed them both. They should have at least heard some crickets, or perhaps some other nocturnal animal that roamed here. But the place was just as dead at night as it had been during the day.
“I don’t hear anything,” Nick told Robert. “I’m going to sleep. I suggest you do the same.” Nick rolled over and slowly went to sleep.
Robert, however, still had the strange feeling and couldn’t bring himself to sleep yet. He sat there and watched the darkness for almost another hour. Still he heard nothing, and he finally began to think that the noise from before was just part of his imagination. Giving in, he laid himself down onto the ground and fell fast asleep.
* * * *
The ear-piercing scream woke up not only Link, but also the other six elves. They all jumped up quickly and unsheathed their swords, ready for a battle. Instead, Zelda was standing fifty yards to the west, looking at the ground and shaking.
“Link! Come quick!”
They all ran over to her and looked at the ground. There, written in the dirt, perhaps with a piece of stick or a staff, were the words:
GO BACK OR DIE
“Seems someone doesn’t want us to go any further,” William said.
“But for what reason?” Michael asked the obvious question.
“Who knows,” Robert replied, “But it’s not going to stop me.”
“Me either,” Aaron said, his chin held high.
“Well,” Link said as he looked toward the sky, “we might as well continue on our way seeing as we’re all awake already.”
“Agreed,” Nick added.
They all walked back to where they had set up camp and began to pack everything back up again. As soon as they were done, the eight of them headed out into the wasteland once again. John thought again about the lack of water, but still decided not to bring it up.
They moved across the dry, arid land for an hour without incident, the scenery remaining the same, although the mountains were slightly bigger. The hot sun beat down on them, indicating that the day would be even hotter than the previous day. Despite the heat and shortage of water, they trudged on through the dirty landscape.
Aaron wiped his brow with his handkerchief, which was now becoming almost too dank to dry him. Placing the handkerchief back in his front pocket, he stopped and pulled up the bottom of his shirt and wiped the sweat off his face. As the others slowly moved ahead of him, he glanced around the horizon for any signs of civilization, but found none. He wasn’t surprised, but he was disappointed. He had hoped that they would have found someone living out there, someone with water and some warm food. Lowering his head to the ground, he began to catch up to the others when something off to his left had caught his eye. He stopped immediately and slowly walked over to what had intrigued him. Stopping in front of the inscription in the dirt, he yelled, “Hey!”
No one responded at first, due to the fact that they couldn’t hear him because his voice had faltered from the dryness. He took a quick drink from his water skin to moisten his throat and yelled again.
They all stopped suddenly, as if they were all completely caught off guard. About a hundred feet behind them, Aaron was waving his arms in the air and signaling for them to come back. Already exhausted from the heat, they grudgingly walked back to the awaiting Aaron.
“What is it, Aaron?” William asked, annoyed for the detour.
“Look!” was all he said as he pointed to the ground.
The inscription that was there seemed fresh to Link, although in this environment, that could mean ten minutes, or an hour, or several hours. The message was another order, just like the previous one:
“Who do you think keeps writing this stuff?” Zelda asked, a little frightened that their lives were in danger.
“I don’t know, and I don’t care,” Robert said, almost repeating himself from the first message. “If they want to fight, I’m ready.”
“I hope they don’t want to fight,” John said sheepishly, as if he didn’t actually want to be heard.
Robert heard him faintly and faced him. “And why not? Are you a coward?”
“I certainly am not, Robert. And you know that.”
“Then why don’t you want to fight?” Robert asked, antagonizing John into a feud.
“Because it’s too hot,” he simply replied.
Robert was taken aback. “Too hot! It’s too hot! You don’t want to fight because it’s too hot?” he yelled.
“Calm down, Robert!” Nick called out. “We can’t afford to get ourselves worked up over nothing.”
“Nothing? You call this nothing?” Robert repeated. “He doesn’t want to fight because it’s too hot!” he argued, as if that was reason enough.
“I don’t want to fight in this heat because we have almost no water left!” John finally yelled out. “And without water, we’ll surely dehydrate and die one by one!”
Robert’s face of anger quickly changed into that of realization. He reached to his belt and pulled his water skin from its place. Shaking it next to his ear, he could hear the small amount of water splashing around against the walls of the water skin. Putting the water skin back, he faced John once more.
“You’re right,” he conceded. “I’m sorry, John.”
John patted his friend on his left shoulder. “You’re forgiven, Robert. I don’t blame you. It’s the heat.”
“Anyway,” Link interrupted, “Back to this problem about our water and these messages.”
“There has to be an oasis around here somewhere,” Michael said, hopeful that he was right.
“I haven’t seen anything yet,” Link said. “Although the land does seem to change slightly up ahead.”
Nick limped his way over to Link. “What do you suppose it is? The Chasm?”
“Probably. But we won’t know for sure until we get closer.”
“I hope there’s some animals up there. I’m starving,” William commented.
“Of course you are,” Aaron said sarcastically. “Deal with it. The rest of us are just as hungry.”
“Enough talk,” Zelda interjected. “The longer we stand around here, the greater the chance of us dying of thirst. And I, for one, don’t plan on dying out here.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” they all responded, as if they were forced by their mothers to do something that they didn’t want to do.
Without another word, they trekked on down the invisible path that led north. Ahead, the land did indeed change some, and their hearts were filled with hope; hope that the land became fertile again and could sustain life and give them food and water.
The distance to the changing landscape was almost impossible to determine, and they were forced to suffer for several more hours than any of them had anticipated. From the first moment they had seen it, they all thought that it would take no more than two hours to reach it, but it in fact took almost five hours and one break period. Sweat dripped down all their faces, their shirts soaked through. The air around them was too humid to absorb any of the liquid from their bodies, so there it stayed.
As they finally neared the new land, their spirits were raised. An oasis lie in front of them, its water calling to them like a siren to sailors. And just like a siren, danger was in the air. Their hopes were dashed, as in front of them was the Chasm of the Damned, blocking their path to the oasis.
The Chasm was immense. The narrowest part, rather the narrowest part that they could see, was a couple hundred yards wide. Although it didn’t appear to be very wide, the biggest problem was the shear length of the Chasm. It stretched for miles and miles to the east and to the west. In fact, from where they were, they couldn’t see the end of it. Instead, all they could see were the walls of the Chasm converging to a single point on each horizon. Despite the massive odds against them, they had apparently walked to the right part of the Chasm. A few hundred yards to the east lay a bridge across the deep. Nick pointed in the direction of the bridge, and they all looked east.
“Looks like that’s the only way across,” Aaron said, stating the obvious.
“Well, let’s get going,” Robert said, already heading toward the bridge.
They all followed, each of them walking very close to the edge of the south wall of the Chasm. Michael glanced down into the abyss. His heart began to pound heavily as he looked down into the gaping hole in the earth. There seemed to be no bottom to the Chasm, only darkness. The smell of molten rock and sulfur paining his head, the darkness of the deep allowing his imagination to run wild. His breathing became a little more rapid than normal, and he had to pry his eyes from the void that stood before him. Behind him, John could hear, and even sense Michael’s fear. He, too, looked down into the vast emptiness. His fears were not as intense as Michael’s, but he felt a sense of doom. Quickening his pace, he caught up with Michael.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” he asked as he slowed himself down to Michael’s pace.
Michael turned to face John, his face pale white, his lips quivering, his eyes pulsing. He looked back and forth between John and the Chasm, as if this was all that was necessary for John to understand. Failing to catch what was truly bothering Michael, John asked again.
“What’s bothering you? Why are you so afraid?”
“The Chasm. Too deep. Fall.” Michael could only mutter in fragments, his ability to think clearly destroyed by the fear that ran through his body.
“Are you afraid of heights?” John assumed, but asked to make sure.
Michael simply nodded, his breathing still rapid.
John sighed. “Well, you need to overcome your fear right here and now, Michael.”
Michael shook his head.
“You need to. There’s no other way across.”
Ahead of them, the rest of the group had reached the bridge. They all congregated at the foot of the bridge, surveying its stability. The rickety, old bridge was made of wood planks and rope supports. Two posts were driven into the ground on either side of the bridge, securing it to the two sides of the Chasm. Link walked up to the first plank and put his right foot on it. Shifting all his weight to his foot, he jumped slightly up and down to test it. The bridge bounced up and down, in rhythm with Link’s jumps. Satisfied with the safety of the bridge, Link began to walk across.
Link stopped dead in his tracks and turned around to see Robert standing directly behind him.
“Let me go first. If the bridge should fail, I would rather it was me than you.”
“Robert…” Link began, but was cut off.
“I’m going first whether you like it or not, Link. You have to find your son, and you can’t do that if you’re lying on the bottom of this ravine, smashed on a jagged rock. Now, move.”
Link stepped aside; aware that there was no way that he could win the argument. Robert walked by him slowly, testing the bridge himself. Once he was satisfied, or at least partially satisfied, he began to walk across it. None of the others moved as he made his way across, the bridge swaying back and forth from the shifting of his weight. A slight breeze had appeared, adding to the swaying just a little, but still enough to make them all worried.
“Please,” Robert muttered to himself. “Goddesses, please, I beg you. Don’t let me fall,” he said as he placed one foot in front of the other. He moved at a snail’s pace, and he didn’t dare move any faster.
Robert was now halfway across, and the tension in his body began to subside a little. With each small step, he could feel the pressure begin to lift off him. Behind him, none of the others dared to step on the bridge until he was fully across, and he was grateful for that. Although the bridge seemed able to support his weight, there was no way of telling what would happen if two or more people were on it. His eyes remained fixed on the north side of the bridge, not daring to look down into the deep abyss below him. As he neared the end of the bridge, he became anxious, his body desperately wanting to get back on stable ground. With one last giant step (almost a leap), he stood on the dry ground once again, relieved that he had made it safely across. Raising his arms in the air and flailing them around, he indicated to the rest that he was safely across.
“Good!” William exclaimed. “He made it! Let’s go!”
“Wait,” Aaron said, putting his arm out in front of William, who had begun to walk toward the bridge. “We should probably still go across one at a time.”
“I agree,” Nick added in. “If we all go at once, we risk destroying the bridge.”
“Let me go,” Zelda asked of everyone.
None of them was going to say no to a woman, after all, as the saying went, ‘Women and children first.’ It didn’t hurt that she was their Princess, either.
Zelda stepped onto the bridge, her hands clenching tightly to the guide ropes on either side. Closing her eyes, she took one last, deep breath. She reopened her eyes and stared directly at Robert, forcing herself to not look down. The tension from the six remaining people behind her was just as high now as it had been when Robert made his way across, and they all watched on in silence. Michael couldn’t even bare to watch, his fears of falling consuming his mind.
Halfway across, Zelda’s own fears were beginning to go away. She felt surer of the bridge now, unafraid of its rickety old appearance. Becoming complacent, she wasn’t worried anymore and began to casually walk across. Her mistake was immediately shown to her, as her left foot missed the next board and fell between two. She felt her heart jump into her throat. It happened so fast, that it was all over before she had screamed. Back on the south side of the bridge, Link had already gotten ten feet onto the bridge or so before Zelda picked herself up. She turned back around, her breathing rapid, and called to Link.
“I’m okay! I just slipped!”
Link sighed and looked at her with relief. His own breathing slowing down, he turned back around and walked off the bridge.
No longer allowing herself to fall into a false sense of security, Zelda concentrated on the task at hand. She walked even slower than before, fearing that she would miss another board. Time around her seemed to slow down and the distance to the end of the bridge seemed to be getting greater and greater with each passing moment. Knowing that it was just her mind playing tricks on her, she fought through it and reached the north side, where she received a quick hug from Robert.
On the south side, there was some debate as to who should go across next.
“I should go next!” William exclaimed.
“Why?” Aaron asked.
William racked his brain for a plausible response, but couldn’t find any. “I don’t know. Because I said so!”
“Maybe the man with the injured leg should go next!” Nick said.
“How many times are you going to use that as an excuse?” William asked, a little annoyed.
Link tuned out the arguing and noticed Michael and John standing furthest from the bridge, not seeming to care who goes across next.
“Does one of you want to go next?”
John looked up at Link, but Michael remained in the same position. He stood staring at the ground, his arms cradled around himself, his body swaying back and forth. John left him there and ran up to Link.
“Michael is going to need some more time, Link.”
“He’s afraid of heights. I’m working on convincing him to cross, but…,” he broke off. “Just make sure everyone else gets across.”
“Okay, John. I’ll wait here with you as well. Once these three are across, I want you to follow them.”
“Of course, Link. Thanks,” John said as he jogged back to where Michael was still swaying.
The other three continued to argue and Link had enough.
“That does it! I’m going to pick who goes next!”
All three of them stopped immediately and waited for his answer.
Aaron smiled and headed for the bridge. Once he was on the first board, he turned to face William and Nick, and very immaturely stuck out his tongue, much to the dislike of the other two.
“Just go across!” Link yelled, frustrated with the bickering.
Aaron quickly pulled his tongue back into his mouth and faced the north side of the bridge. As he made his way across, John was still trying to get Michael to face his fear.
“You have to face your fear someday, Michael, and that day might as well be today.”
There was no response from Michael. John looked back at the bridge and noticed that Aaron was across and Nick was beginning his trek over the Chasm. He turned back to Michael.
“If you don’t go across, what will happen to you? No one else will be around. It’s almost a two day hike back to town, and you don’t have enough water to last you that long.”
Michael made an almost inaudible, incomprehensible sound.
Michael tried again, this time he raised his voice enough to be heard, “Okay.”
“Good, good. Now, are you ready?”
“Give me a few minutes,” Michael responded, his fear still evident in his voice.
“Okay,” John said. “Let’s walk over to Link for now.” Michael nodded and the two of them walked to the foot of the bridge next to Link.
“Is he ready?”
John lifted the left side of his lips up in a half-smile. “As ready as he’ll ever be, I suppose.”
“Good, because you two are next.”
John looked onto the bridge and saw William halfway across. John would go after him, followed by Michael and Link. For now, they just stood there, waiting.
Suddenly, Link’s ears picked up a faint noise that was all too familiar. Acting quickly, he dove onto the ground, an arrow flying over his body and embedding itself in the left post.
“Where the hell did that come from?” Link yelled as another arrow landed nearby.
His question was answered by the blowing of horns from all around them. Jumping up from the dirt in their camouflaged clothing, the outlaws appeared in front of them, fifteen strong. On the north side of the Chasm, another ten outlaws emerged, completely surrounding all eight of them. Link looked across the bridge and noticed that William was safely across.
“John, Michael! Go across! Now!”
“But Link, we don’t know what will happen if two of us go on at once!” John yelled back.
“Well, we’re about to find out! Now go!”
John realized the dire situation that they were in. They were clearly outnumbered and wouldn’t stand a chance of survival if they stayed on the south side of the Chasm. Making up his mind, he ran across the bridge as fast as he dared.
Link unsheathed the Master Sword and waited for the first wave of attackers. They came in only groups of three, confident that they would easily kill their prey. The first wave came forward and Link sidestepped the first attacker easily and pushed him in the back, sending him into the abyss below. He ducked under a blow from the second one and ran him through. The third attacker squared off with Link, and the two moved in a circle with each other. The outlaw lunged forward, but Link blocked the attack with the Master Sword. Surprised that his attack failed, the outlaw left himself vulnerable, and Link took advantage by slicing the man across the throat. The outlaw dropped his blade and tried to cover the gaping wound in his jugular with his hands. Falling to his knees, he gasped for air. Finally, his body gave on him and he fell dead, flat on his face.
Link had a short time to catch his breath before the second wave came across. He knew he would have to run soon, so he checked to see if the bridge was clear. John had made it all the way across and was engaged in battle with the other Knights and outlaws, but Michael remained on the south side.
“Michael!” Link yelled.
Michael turned around slowly, as if they weren’t in increasing danger.
“Cross the bridge, Michael!”
Fear in his eyes, Michael turned to face the bridge again, but he still didn’t move. Link was about to yell at him again, but the second wave of three was upon him.
This time, two of them came at him at once. The first ran directly at him from the front, the other from the right side. Thinking quickly, Link bent over, dodging the first attack while also getting underneath the outlaw. As he threw the first outlaw over his back, Link dropped to the ground and swept the second man’s legs out from under him. Landing hard on his back, Link could hear the outlaw gasping for air as he had the wind next out of him. The third attacker swung his blade down vertically, and Link was barely able to roll out of the way in time. Executing the move perfectly, Link wound up on his knees next to the attacker. With one quick thrust, he pierced the side of the outlaw, sending him into cries of pain.
Link jumped up and saw the remaining nine outlaws running directly at him. Unable to be victorious under such insurmountable odds, he took off running back to the bridge. Michael still stood in front of it, too frightened to move an inch. His mind made up, Link ran directly at Michael and grabbed him as he ran by.
“Come on, Michael! There’s no more time!”
Michael fell to the ground after Link had tried to grab him. Looking back behind him, he saw the outlaws charging the bridge. Reaching deep down, he found the strength that he needed to make his way across the bridge. Quickly, he stood up and ran after Link.
On the north side of the bridge, the Knights had successfully slaughtered the gang of outlaws and awaited Link and Michael.
“Link! Hurry up!” Zelda screamed at the top of her lungs.
“What are they doing?” William asked in general, as he pointed to the outlaws on the south side.
The outlaws had stopped their pursuit of the two fleeing elves and stood at the foot of the bridge.
“I don’t know,” John muttered.
As they looked on, a gleam of sunlight shone across their eyes, reflected by something that one of the outlaws was holding. The lead outlaw placed the object next to the rope that anchored the bridge to the ground.
“Oh no,” Nick said under his breath.
Aaron knew it too. “Link! Hurry! They’re going to cut the bridge!”
Link and Michael, now halfway across, both heard Aaron’s warning, and both pumped their legs harder, almost in an all out run on the old bridge. Neither of them dared to look behind them.
“Grab on to something!” Robert yelled.
The lead outlaw cut through the rope that supported the right side of the bridge, and Link and Michael were thrown off balance. Reacting, they each got a grip on a plank and hung from the bridge over the Chasm. The outlaws then cut the rope supporting the left side of the bridge, and it swung from its position, heading directly at the north wall of the Chasm.
“Hold on, Michael!” Link yelled down as the two moved with the bridge.
They braced themselves for the impact, as they swung closer to the wall. With a sudden stop, they hit the wall hard, sending pain through each of their bodies. Miraculously, they managed to hold on to the bridge and they hung there, unwilling to move for the moment.
“Climb up!” John yelled from above them.
“Easier said than done,” Link muttered to himself as he took his right hand off the board and reached for the one above it. He successfully made it up one board before they were bombarded with arrows. “Damn it! This keeps getting worse and worse!”
“Stop them!” Nick yelled to the other Knights.
Zelda and John each readied their bows and fired across the Chasm. Luckily for Link and Michael, the outlaws were lousy shots. Unfortunately for the outlaws, Zelda and John were not. Four outlaws fell before the rest gave up and retreated from the south wall, guaranteeing Link and Michael an easier, although still difficult, climb.
They each made slow progress up the bridge, taking special care making sure that they had a firm grip on the next board. They struggled for another twenty minutes before they were both pulled out of the Chasm, where they immediately collapsed on the ground from exhaustion.
“Come on,” Robert said. “Let’s get them to the oasis. We can rest there.”
Aaron picked up Link, John picked up Michael. The oasis was no more than half a mile away, but it might as well have been ten miles away. They made their way slowly across the wasteland toward the oasis.
They rested at the oasis for the remainder of the day, all of them exhausted, especially Link and Michael. The oasis had plenty of water to refill each of their water skins several times over, and that they did, replenishing their bodies of its lost liquid. There were many plants surrounding the water, several of which provided fruit to the hungry travelers. Throughout the rest of the day, they took turns sleeping. Two would stay awake at all times, letting the other six rest up for the ongoing journey.
The sun had long since set in the west and the night air was much cooler than the hot air of the day. Robert and Aaron sat next to the pool of water and stood guard as the others slept.
“Hey, Robert,” Aaron said, breaking the silence that had lasted for nearly half an hour. “Do you think we’ll ever get there?”
Robert paused as he noticed Aaron’s slight depression. “Of course we’ll make it home, Aaron. Link wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said, trying to cheer up his friend.
“I know. It’s just that…” he paused and took a deep breath. “I have a feeling that all of us won’t make it back.”
“What makes you say that?”
Aaron sighed. “Well, every time that Link goes on a big adventure to ‘save the world’,” he gestured quotation marks with his hands, “he ends up losing men.”
“That’s not Link’s fault, and you know it,” Robert snapped, taking offense from the fact that Aaron was accusing Link of incompetence. “Those men sacrificed themselves for the greater good of Hyrule. Link would’ve done the same thing, and would have on several occasions, if others hadn’t volunteered. They realized that Link was, and still is, our greatest fighter, and sometimes he’s our only chance for survival.”
“Is that why you went over the bridge first?” Aaron asked, beginning to understand.
“That’s exactly why,” Robert responded, placing his right hand on Aaron’s left shoulder. He shook him, and the two smiled. “That’s better. We can’t afford anyone losing faith at a time like this.”
Aaron looked north into the darkness, in the direction that the mountains were. “It’ll probably take us another couple of days to reach the mountains.”
“I figure a little less than that. But let’s not worry about that for now. Our shift is up.” Robert and Aaron stood up and quietly walked over to the next two watchers: Nick and John. Although it was already late, they would still be able to get a few hours sleep before they moved on.
* * * *
They rose with the sun the next morning and headed back out into the scorched land, leaving the oasis behind. Of course, they had each filled their water skins to the top, and had taken a dip in the cool pool of water before leaving.
The mountains were now easily visible, looming over them all even from such a great distance away. Their goal in sight, their spirits rose and for the first few hours, none of them felt any discomfort at all. In the east, the sun was still rising in the sky, blanketing the earth with its light and heat. To the west, there was still nothing to be seen, only flat, dead land. The Chasm was now far behind them, but so was the safety of the oasis. There was no way to tell if another oasis awaited them on their current path, so they were forced to ration out their water in order for it to last the hike to the mountains.
Their pace slowed as the sun reached its highest point in the sky, the intense heat gradually wearing them down. Without anything to offer them some shade, they were forced to remain in the blistering heat, even during their short breaks. By this time, all the water that their clothes had soaked up from the oasis had long since evaporated. Instead, their clothes were becoming soaked with sweat, disgusting them to no end. They hadn’t brought any other changes of clothing because it would have added weight to their cargo, which they had no intention of doing. So they continued on wearing the same cloths, desperate to reach the next town so that they could purchase a new set.
By mid-afternoon, their pace had slowed to a crawl, but they were all too determined (or perhaps stubborn) to stop unless they absolutely had to. Nick’s leg throbbed with pain, but he had grown used to it and tried hard to push the thought out of his head. Although it still hurt, the pain was becoming less and less each day.
As the coolness of the night fell upon them, they welcomed it. Although they were exhausted, they decided to keep moving while it was cool. They marched on for several more hours in the darkness, hoping that they weren’t veering off course. Finally, about four hours after the sun had finally set, Nick’s leg gave out from under him, and Link decided that they had traveled long enough for the day. Once again, they took turns standing guard during the night.
When they awoke on the second day out from the Chasm, the Demon Mountains were very close. Judging from the distance that they estimated they made the day before, they felt that they would make it to the mountains by nightfall, barring any serious sidetracks. Exhausted from the last few days of hiking, William grumbled to himself as they set off in the early hours of the morning. He wanted to sleep in and rest up some more before they headed out, but Link and Nick insisted that they leave early and get as far as they could before the heat became unbearable. He was relieved to know that he wasn’t the only one who was getting sick of the journey; behind him, he could hear Aaron groaning as well. Of course, Aaron was still battling the sense of certain doom that he had felt two nights before.
John was just as tired of the journey as well. At times, he found it hard to go on, but there was always one thing that egged him to go that extra mile, and then the mile after that and so on. His fuel was Nick. John was amazed at how determined and strong Nick was. Despite having an injured leg from an arrow, he continued on, never complaining. In fact, whenever the entourage did stop to allow his leg to rest, it wasn’t his idea. Many times, the rest of them had to force Nick to stop and take a breather. Of course, Link would’ve gone right along with Nick and continued walking without a break at all, but Zelda and Robert always convinced the two of them otherwise.
So they moved on, Link, Robert, and Nick leading the way through the desolate land toward the mountains. Behind them, Aaron looked up to the top of the mountains and smiled slightly. The tip of each mountain was covered in snow, and the prospect of moving on to cooler temperatures eased his mind just enough so that he could bear the last leg of the wasteland. He smacked William on the arm and when he got his attention, Aaron pointed to the snowcapped mountains.
“Right now, I would just dive into the snow and stay there forever,” Aaron quipped.
“I’m with you,” William agreed, imagining himself lying in the snow.
Bringing up the rear were John, Michael, and Zelda, each seemingly lost in their own thoughts (or just zoning out). Blank expressions covered each of their faces as if they were merely mindless souls lost to the world.
They marched straight on through into the afternoon, their sun-burned skin now starting to peel back some. Their clothes, once vibrant and clean, were now faded and soiled with dirt and salt. The shear determination of Link and Nick seemed to keep everyone going, as if it were to ever fade, they would simply collapse on the spot, awaiting death. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of walking, Link stopped.
“We’ll rest some here,” he said as he remained standing.
The others went to sit down, but Nick stopped them. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Once you sit down, you may never get up.”
“But my legs are killing me,” William protested.
“You have to stay on your feet,” Nick told him.
“He’s right, William,” Aaron conceded. “If you sit, it’s like claiming defeat, and the wasteland would have won. Is that what you want? Are you a loser?”
“I certainly am not!” William exclaimed, immediately regretting it as he got a head rush.
“Don’t talk either,” Michael said from behind them. “Don’t want to waste your energy.”
They stood around for nearly half an hour, no one sitting down for fear that they would never get back up. Although they didn’t move for that rest period, it didn’t do them much good. The hot sun continued to beat down on them, not caring that they were supposed to be resting and getting cooler. William looked up toward the sun and made an inappropriate gesture toward it, which caused John to snicker.
Link couldn’t take the break any longer. He was too anxious to get to and over the mountains and find his son. Unable to wait another minute, he turned to the Knights and ordered them to continue walking. His order was met with criticism, but they all knew that they needed to keep going.
In the mid-afternoon, the mountains lay just a couple miles in front of them, their dangerous, rocky peaks stretching high into the sky, as if the land wanted to reach the stars. They soon found themselves on the remains of a path that once led from the town beyond to the wasteland. Of course, at that time it was probably a lush and fertile land that was inhabited by all sorts of plants and animals. That time had long since passed, and the beaten path was barely visible among the dead land that it sliced through.
They walked down the path, their hearts elevated slightly now that their goal (although it would be only one of many) lay so close. Their pace quickened a little, each of them desperately wanting to reach the mountains and the cooler air that was sure to lie behind them, next to the sea. The path was only big enough for them to walk single file, which they did: Link in the lead, followed by Robert, Nick, Zelda, Michael, William, John, and Aaron.
The beaten path led directly through the mountains, and although it didn’t seem to be used in quite some time, it was still in rather good shape. There were no surprises waiting for them as they approached the base of the mountain range, and if all went well, they could make it over the mountains in only a few hours. At first, the slope of the path was only slight, so little as to imply that they were still on flat land. As they continued walking on the path, it began to steadily become steeper, and if it continued the way it currently was, they would soon be walking up a straight wall. But the path remained inclined at a somewhat comfortable angle. The cool air began to sweep down from the high altitudes above, much to the relief of the eight travelers. The situation became bearable again, and soon, they didn’t mind it at all.
After the first half hour of walking, the path leveled out a bit, allowing their legs to recover from the constant uphill battle. Ahead of them, it began to wind around some of the adjacent mountains, and often times the path came up to the edge of a valley. Michael’s fear came back, but he was able to suppress it to some extent. The incident at the Chasm had actually made his fear diminish slightly, but he could still feel his heart pounding as they rounded a corner. John was currently walking behind him, moving past William as he thought about how Michael might react to the dangerous heights that they were now walking at.
“How are you doing, Michael?”
Michael swallowed hard and answered, “A little shaky.”
“Well, you’re doing fine. Just keep your eyes in front of you and don’t look down.”
Michael nodded his understanding, even though he had been doing just that for the entire time on the mountain now.
After another hour of traveling, Link brought them all to a stop with a single arm gesture.
“Look,” he said, pointing down the mountain.
They all looked, and to their delight, there stood the town of Kabar and the sea.
“It’s about time,” William said under his breath.
Despite that, Aaron heard him and muttered under his breath, “Yeah.”
William snickered slightly, trying to not draw attention to himself. Apparently, the other six hadn’t heard them, as they continued to gaze down on the town below. The sun was no longer visible, the mountains blocking the view to the west. To the east, the moon was beginning its journey across the night sky as the light faded.
“I don’t think that we should go into town yet,” Robert said out of nowhere.
“Why not?” Zelda asked. “I want to rest in an inn! I’m sick of sleeping on the ground!”
“I don’t think it’s wise,” he contested.
“Why do you say that?” Link asked.
“Well,” Robert started, “we don’t know how they’ll react to a group of strangers walking into their town in the dead of night. Remember what happened on Isaiah’s farm? And that was during the day.”
“I get your point,” Nick said, rubbing the back of his knee.
“Funny,” John said sarcastically.
“So what do you suggest we do?” Link asked, bringing the topic back.
“I say we descend down the mountain and sleep outside of town for the night. We could then enter town in the morning.”
Aaron nodded. “That’s a good idea.”
“But I want to sleep at an inn!” Zelda whined again.
“Sorry, Princess,” Robert apologized. “But you’ll have to rough it for one more night.”
Zelda crossed her arms in front of her and expressed her disagreement, but she was outnumbered.
“Then it’s agreed. We sleep outside of town tonight,” Link said. “Okay, let’s go.”
Link began walking down the path that led to the town. The others followed, Zelda going last, still upset that she was going to have to sleep on the dirty ground again. This is no way for a Princess to be treated! she screamed in her mind.
The eight of them descended the mountain.
* * * *
The town came alive early the next morning as fisherman and their crew prepared for their day of work. A total of eight fishing ships were docked in the port, as well as two transport ships. The docks were bustling with merchants as well as fishermen, and even some families had come by to watch the ships depart. Not too far to the east of the docks lay the recreational beach. The beach wasn’t as crowded as the docks at this early hour, but there were still a few older people walking along the shoreline.
The eight elves entered the town on the west end, opposite that of the docks and beach. This side of town wasn’t nearly as alive as the east end, but there were a few people jogging down the streets. Link and the others stopped briefly before going any further.
“Strange,” Aaron said.
“What’s strange?” William asked.
“This town doesn’t seem as dilapidated as Shakar.”
Indeed, the town wasn’t nearly as rundown as Shakar had been. Whereas the townsfolk of Shakar seemed to be barely getting along, the citizens of Kabar seemed to be getting by just fine, if not well off. The buildings around them were still in great condition, no cracking paint, no fallen awnings, nothing. Two joggers ran by, and both seemed to be perfectly healthy and happy. This was definitely not the case in Shakar.
“Probably because it’s a port town,” Link suggested. “With the influx of ships comes money. Shakar has no contact with the outside world.”
“Makes sense,” Robert agreed. “So what do we do now?”
“Find a ship that will take us off the island,” Link said.
“”Well I, for one, want to get some grub,” William said, rubbing his stomach. “I’m starving.”
“For once,” Nick jumped in, “I would have to agree with William. We all need to eat a good, hearty meal soon.”
“Very well,” Link conceded, his stomach growling at him as well. “Let’s look for a place to eat.”
The eight of them walked down the street, toward the east end of town. As they moved across the town, more and more citizens came out of their houses, ready for the day. After walking for another five minutes, they came upon an inn that served breakfast. Walking in single file, they entered the building.
The woman at the counter said something in that gibberish language.
“Uh… Michael?” Aaron asked, turning to face him.
“She said, ‘Hello. Welcome to the’ something ‘inn. Have a seat anywhere.’”
“The ‘something’ inn?” Robert asked, smiling.
“Whatever she said. I don’t know the word she used,” Michael defended.
“Let’s just sit down,” Nick said from behind them all.
They all sat down at the nearest table and were given menus. Unused to such things, and unable to read it, everyone just looked at Michael. Taking the hint, Michael ordered their food for them, hoping that he was using the right words. The waitress smiled and walked away.
“Michael,” Link said, “you need to ask them about chartering a ship, too.”
“I’ll ask around,” Michael answered, standing up from his seat. He walked over to the greeter first and asked her, and she pointed him in the direction of another customer sitting at the far end of the room. Michael thanked her and headed over.
As Michael sat down at the far table, the remaining seven waited for their food.
“So where do we go next?” John asked.
“Well, if this world is geographically similar to ours, then we should be headed for what is our Malaank and Dellenia, although it most likely has some other name here,” Robert answered.
“To be back in my own country of Malaank,” William sighed. “They have many a great feast there.”
“Would you shut up about food for ten minutes?” Aaron asked, although it was more of a demand.
“I’m sorry,” William contested, “but I’m hungry.”
“Anyway, wherever we land on the landmass, we need to head northeast to another port town,” Robert continued.
“Do we even know what town that is?” Zelda asked.
They all looked around at each other, completely clueless as to where they would need to head once they arrived on the continent to the northeast.
“Wonderful,” Zelda said. “We have no idea where we’re going.”
“Honey, I’m sure we’ll find out from someone,” Link tried to convince her. “Besides, we don’t need to know the name of the place, just as long as there’s a port town on the northeast side.”
“Do we even know that?” she inquired, and again, they had no response. “Well, we better find out right after we land.”
They sat in silence, lost in their thoughts, for the next few minutes. The silence was broken only by the return of Michael, his face expressing satisfaction.
“We have ourselves a boat,” he notified the others.
“Good,” Link said. “When do we leave?”
“He said that his crew could be ready by noon.”
“How much?” Nick asked.
Michael thought for a moment, trying to remember what the captain had said. “About 150 dollars.”
“Dollars? What the hell is a dollar?” John asked, unfamiliar with the term.
“I have no clue,” Michael said, “but hopefully, our Rupees will satisfy him.”
“And the owner of this inn,” Aaron said.
“We’ll find out soon enough,” Robert said, just as their food arrived.
The waitress placed all their food in front of them and walked away. Famished, they all immediately stopped talking and dug into their food. It had been a long journey so far.
* * * *
When they left the inn, they knew that their Rupees would suit the sea captain just fine.
After they had finished their meal, the waitress had supplied them with a ‘bill’, or so Michael said she called it. Remarkably, they could all understand the written numbers, as if they were universal. The bill was in the amount of 80. When the waitress came back for their money, Nick reached into his bag and pulled out the equivalent monetary value of Rupees. Instead of 80 dollars, they paid 80 Rupees. As soon as Nick brought the Rupees out, the waitress’ eyes widened with awe. In front of her, she saw one purple gem and three red gems. She took them from Nick’s hands and told them to wait right there.
A couple of minutes later, the owner of the inn had come back and offered them supplies for wherever they seemed to be going, since they looked like travelers. Figuring that the Rupees were worth much more here than in their own world, they took the man up on the offer and took clothes and more rations for their continuing journey. When they were done, the owner continued to shower them with praise. Finally, they were able to leave, but not before drawing a lot of attention, especially from the sea captain.
“I guess that answers that question,” Aaron quipped as they exited the inn.
Suddenly, from behind them, the sea captain called out in the gibberish of the land. They all turned around as he ran up to them, speaking quickly and incoherently while shaking each of their hands. Finally, Michael was able to get him to calm down and speak slower.
“What is he saying?” Robert asked.
“He says that he can have his ship ready in fifteen minutes,” Michael said, turning to them.
“Change of heart, huh?” William said. “I guess your Rupees are quite valuable around here.”
Link smiled. “Tell him that we’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”
Michael nodded and turned to the sea captain. Once he was done talking, the sea captain smiled and ran in the direction of his ship, shouting to all of his crew.
“Shall we?” Link asked Zelda, taking her by the hand.
She smiled brightly. “Lead on, Sire.”
The two of them walked arm in arm toward the docks. The rest began to follow, except for Nick and Aaron.
“Sometimes, during this whole journey thing, I forget that they’re in love,” Aaron said, smiling.
Nick smiled, although it was really more of a fake smile. He was happy for the two of them, always was. But at a time like this, he felt lonely, and slightly jealous. Link had Zelda with him, never to be apart. But he had to leave Celes behind, and the homesickness that started out as only a minute feeling, now began to grow steadily. After a long silence, he sighed.
Aaron, realizing his mistake, apologized to his friend. “Nick, I’m sorry. I know you must be missing Celes a lot. It just came out. Why am I still talking about this? I’m an idiot, I’m sorry. I won’t say another word. I’m…”
“Don’t worry about it, Aaron,” Nick said, cutting him off. “It’s not your fault, or Link’s.” He paused for a moment longer. “It’s what keeps me going. Through all this pain and suffering, the only thing that keeps me going is she. I want to see her again, kiss her. And nothing, nothing, is going to stop me.”
Aaron stood in silence, unsure of what to say to that.
“But for now, let’s go,” Nick said, breaking the silence once again. Relieved that the conversation was over, Aaron walked beside him.
* * * *
“All hands on deck!” John yelled. Laughing, he turned to William, who was standing next to him. “I’ve always wanted to say that.”
William laughed along with John, and the two watched on as the ship filled with the rest of the crew and their other friends.
Shortly thereafter, the ship left the dock and headed out, away from the island. Link and Robert stood at the back of the ship, watching the shoreline move further and further away.
“I’m glad to be leaving that place,” Link said.
“As am I,” Robert agreed.
Silence followed. After several minutes, Link finally said something, although he never turned his head to face Robert.
“Do you think I’ll ever see Evan again?”
Robert was shocked by the question. Never had he seen Link so doubtful, so unconfident in his own abilities. “What kind of question is that? Of course you’ll see him again.”
“But what if I’m already too late? That something terrible has happened to him?”
Robert sighed. “In your heart, you know he’s okay. That’s all that matters.” A short pause followed, until Robert said, “First Aaron, now you.”
Link finally turned to look at his friend, confused. “What? What about Aaron and I?”
“You’ve both questioned this whole journey,” Robert said, and when he saw that Link had no clue what he was talking about, he went on. “Back at the oasis, Aaron questioned that all of us would return to our world alive. It took some doing, but I believe I helped him through it. Although it probably is still haunting him.”
Link nodded, fully understanding not only what Robert said, but how Aaron must have felt. The sense of dread that had apparently filled Aaron (and Nick too, although none of the others knew of it) filled Link as well.
“Thanks, Robert,” Link said. “You’re a good friend.”
“No problem,” Robert said. “But I think I should start charging you people for all this psychiatric help. What do you think? Twenty Rupees for every half hour?”
Link smiled at first, but was unable to hold back the laughter. He let it flow from him, and he and Robert laughed heartily on the stern of the ship. The two laughed for several minutes before they were able to calm down.
* * * *
Two hours passed, and the shoreline of Shakar was no longer in sight. Link, Aaron, Michael, and Robert were still above deck, while Zelda, John, Nick, and William had gone below. Through Michael, they were able to find out where they were scheduled to land and what water they were in. Their destination was the country of Jercia, which was across the Gulf of Hamero from Shakar. They also found out that there were four countries that made up the continent. Besides Jercia, which occupied the southern portion of the continent, there was Midia to the west, Gilrond, which ran from the north to the east, and Tribot, a small country that bordered the water and was surrounded on three sides by Gilrond.
“So we need to get to Tribot?” Link asked Michael, making sure he understood what was going on.
“Right. To the town of Pomina, the port town that lies closest to the Forbidden Island.”
“They’re still calling it the ‘Forbidden Island’?” Aaron asked.
“Apparently, the actual name was lost centuries ago, and no one has dared name it since,” Michael explained.
“Anyway,” Robert said, turning the subject back to the task at hand, “at least we know where to head. But how long will it take us?”
Michael continued, “The captain says that it should be another few hours before we reach Jercia, and after that, it shouldn’t take longer than a week, as long as we stick to the roads.”
“Sounds easy enough,” Aaron said.
“I wouldn’t count on that,” Link said.
“Nothing is ever easy.”
“Except this boat ride,” Aaron commented.
Just as he uttered the words, something hit the ship. Strong and violent, it sent the four of them onto their backs, water crashing over the sides of the ship.
“Way to jinx it!” Robert yelled over the crashing waves.
“Look!” Michael yelled, pointing to the dark sky above them.
They all looked skyward, surprised that storm clouds had appeared out of nowhere. However, they didn’t have any time to sit around and stare at the coming storm.
“Michael!” Link shouted. “Come with me! We’re going to the captain!” Michael nodded. “Robert! Aaron! You two go below and make sure the rest of them are okay!”
The two headed for below deck while Link and Michael worked their way to the bow of the ship, the wind making it harder. After a struggle, they finally made it to the captain, who was struggling with the storm himself.
“Michael! Grab the wheel!” Link ordered him, and Michael quickly ran for the spinning wheel and tried to grab a hold of it. Several times, the handle smacked into his hand, causing him to cry out in pain. After a few attempts, he was finally able to grab it, although it took all his strength to try to keep it from spinning more.
Link ran to help the captain and his crew with the sails. They feverishly tried to pull them down, but the storm was relentless. One of the sails swung unexpectedly, knocking two men overboard into the churning sea.
They continued to struggle for several more minutes. Soon, Aaron and William appeared at the bow of the ship and pitched in.
“Help Michael!” Aaron yelled to William as he ran over to help Link and the sea captain.
The pounding rain and fierce winds were proving too much for the small crew, even with the added help of the passengers. William and Michael were struggling to keep the ship steady, and the rest of the crew was still battening down the sails. Lightning struck and thunder boomed as they continued their tasks.
Amidships, a fire started where the lightning had struck. The men at the bow of the ship couldn’t see it, but the remaining four passengers, now standing at the stern, could.
“We have to put it out!” Zelda screamed, and Robert, John, and Nick ran to the fire. Unable to find anything to put it out, they were forced to hope that the waves of water would put it out for them.
Unfortunately, the fire grew quicker than the water could put it out. Soon, flames engulfed the whole middle of the ship, and they reached high enough that Link and the others could see. Link immediately left the sails alone, as did Aaron, and ran toward the stern. Michael and William spotted the two, and then spotted the flames rising in the air. Glancing at each other, they released the wheel and headed back.
“Zelda!” Link shouted at the top of his lungs. “Zelda!”
“Link!” he heard back, faintly.
“Link! No!” he heard, although it wasn’t Zelda’s voice. This one was much closer. He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see Aaron holding him back. “The fire is too much! You’ll never make it!”
“She’s in good hands!” Aaron told him. “Nick, Robert, and John will take care of her! Now take care of yourself and don’t go through!”
Painfully, Link suppressed the urge to run through the sprawling fire to his loved one. Instead, he just stood there, staring through the flames, praying that she would be okay.
“Link! Come on!” William yelled. “The ship’s going down!”
Link turned and saw Aaron and Michael jumping overboard. William jumped soon after them. Link looked back through the flames and heard voices from the other side. He couldn’t make out anything, but he got the feeling that they were jumping as well. Reluctantly, he walked to the edge of the ship where the other three had just jumped and looked into the water. He stepped back to get a running start and took off. As he jumped into the air, he heard an explosion behind him, followed instantly by an intense heat. He felt his body flying through the air and he hit the water hard.
He was knocked unconscious.
* * * *
“You mustn’t give up yet, Link.”
Link groaned in pain as he tried to get up.
“Stay still. You must rest for a while. But you mustn’t give up. This is merely a bump along the road”
“Yes, Link. I’m here.”
“Am I dead, Ian?”
“No. But you were close, my friend. Again. I seem to remember a time that you were poisoned. And the time that you almost died of dehydration. And of course, those wolves. In fact, you should’ve been dead many times.”
Link tried to laugh, but it only brought pain. “Thanks for the support, Ian.”
“Of course,” Ian said while laughing.
“Are you here to tell me where to go next?”
“No, I’m just here to make sure you don’t die.”
Ian laughed again. “Back to your old self. Good, you’ll be fine.”
“My job is done for now, Link. Remember, you mustn’t give up. Ever.”
Link continued to lie there. Gradually, he began to feel himself rock back and forth, and a vision of Evan and Zelda popped into his head. Evan didn’t speak, but Zelda did.
“Link! Link! Link!”
* * * *
“Link! Link! Wake up, Link!” Aaron pleaded, shaking the unconscious Link’s body.
Link groggily opened his eyes and Aaron smiled immediately.
“You’re alive! Thank the Goddesses! I thought you were dead!”
“Not quite,” Link said, rubbing the back of his head with his right hand. He sat up in the sand and looked around. “Where is everybody?”
“William and Michael went to survey the area.”
Aaron sighed. “I don’t know. We couldn’t find any of the others anywhere. I’m sorry, Link.”
Link sighed. “It’s not your fault. Besides, I know she’s alive. I can feel it.”
Aaron offered his hand, and Link accepted the aid in standing. Once he was up, they could see William and Michael returning.
“So?” Aaron asked.
“Nothing,” William answered.
“What do you mean nothing?” Link asked.
“We mean that there’s absolutely nothing around,” Michael informed them. “We’re nowhere near a town, so who knows where we are.”
“So what do we do now?” Aaron asked everybody in general.
Link looked toward the sky and noticed that the sun was close to the horizon. “Is it morning?”
“Yes,” William answered. “We landed in the middle of the night, but you were still unconscious from the explosion.”
“No clue, but that ship was completely blown out of the water,” Michael responded.
“So what now?” Aaron repeated.
Link sighed. “We head northeast. That’s where we need to go, and the others know that as well. Wherever they are, they’ll try to head northeast.”
“Okay, then,” Aaron said. “Let’s head northeast.”
Picking up what little remained of their gear, the four travelers headed off into the new land, unsure of what lie ahead of them.
To be continued in
Part Two – A Journey Torn