He took in the sights, the smells, the feel of the bustling, busy marketplace. It was shocking and overwhelming, so different from everything he was used to. Everyone here was on a particular mission, bushing by each other in an attempt to get to places quickly, coming in and out of stores. There were merchants yelling out deals, mothers firmly pulling their screaming children along on grocery trips, there was a woman with a yapping puppy running about, there was a pair of enthused lovers dancing in their own world… it was chaos! Utter and complete chaos… and he liked it. It was a safe, certain chaos, the chaos of society.
However, after a few minutes, he realized it was frightening in its own way. The people were too immersed in their own problems to cast a secondary glance at the poor lost little Kokiri boy. That is, if they even graced him with a first glance. He was stumbling along, looking around awed. He bumped into several people, and would’ve muttered an apology, but they hadn’t even stopped long enough for him to open his mouth and speak.
Focus, he told himself, you need to do what you came here to do.
From the mayhem, the rousing roar of haggling, selling, buying, laughing, yelling, screaming, and cursing, there came a sweet, tinkling, distinctive giggle. He turned his head, catching the sound and holding onto it. It seemed to be the only thing that had been directed towards him since he stepped into Castle Town. Finally, his gaze settled on the owner of the enticing, teasing giggle.
She was maybe a year younger than he, shorter. She had pale, powder blue eyes that glinted and long, luscious fire red hair that cascaded down her back like a waves. Her skin was healthy with exercise and tanned by an obviously loving sun. She had an addictive, contagious smile that curled the pretty pink lips into a cupid’s bow. She was wearing a simple, cream colored dress that ended at mid-shin and mud-splattered brown leather boots. She had an orange scarf around her neck, tied with a bronze, engraved emblem. She clasped her hands behind her back, shifting in her spot to turn more towards him.
He glanced around almost unsure before taking a couple of steps towards her. She smiled widely at him, as if reassuring him. He stood in front of her and felt her taking his appearance in. She giggled again.
“Well, hello,” she said with a comforting tone. “You’re new around here, aren’t you?”
He nodded and licked his lips, looking around at the chaos again.
She laughed. “Yeah, you look it. Can I ask what’s up with that outfit? It’s very… different.”
He looked down at himself and shrugged. He cleared his throat. “Everyone wears this back home.” It was the first time he’d spoken a word in four days and his voice sounded raspy, like it wasn’t his.
“Back home? Where is that?” she asked, bluntly but not unkindly.
“Kokiri Forest? That’s all the way to the south, isn’t it?”
He nodded. Just then there was a bright flash, and a sparkle. A pinpoint of flittering light and then a small, airy voice spoke close to his ear.
“Come on, we need to go!”
The girl was intrigued by the sight. “Oh, a fairy! Wow. She’s so pretty.”
He looked at his friend, who was smiling and blushing a bit, though it was hard to tell with the luminous shine coming from her. He grinned at his friend.
“This is Navi,” he explained to the redhead girl.
She smiled. “So you’re a fairy boy from Kokiri Forest. The getup makes a little more sense now. I’m Malon. My dad is the owner of Lon Lon Ranch. Maybe you’ve seen it?” He shrugged, trying to think back to his excursions out in Hyrule Field. “Its right in the middle of Hyrule field really. It’s a half a day’s walk from here. What’s your name?”
He swallowed before answering, almost a little relived that someone was actually interested in his name. No one ever really was before, except Saria.
“Link. That’s a nice name,” Malon said, nodding as if she approved. “So what are you doing here?”
Link glanced quickly at Navi who made a face at him. He knew perfectly well what it meant. He looked back at Malon’s genuinely interested expression.
“I need to speak to the Princess.”
Navi slapped a hand to her forehead and groaned.
“Princess Zelda?” Malon asked. “Well, good luck getting into the palace. I heard they just raised security because some dope tried to waltz into the castle. There’s a rumor going around that there’s a drain or a pipe that leads you into the castle gardens. But they say it’s very small. You know, too small for an adult.”
Navi pricked her head up at that and gave Link a look. Maybe he did that right thing telling this girl. She gave a telling smile, but pretended to be oblivious.
“Yeah, well, anyway, good luck. I’m waiting for my dad. He was supposed to be making a delivery of Lon Lon milk to the palace, but he’s been gone for an awfully long time. My dad’s pretty irresponsible. Most of the time, I end up taking care of him like if I was the grown up, but…” she shrugged indicating that she didn’t really mind. “Anyway, I’m stuck waiting here for him.”
“I’m sorry,” Link said, not really knowing what else to say.
Malon nodded and smiled at him. “You look hungry, fairy boy. Why don’t you get something to eat? There’s a great stall over there in that alley over there.”
Link looked in the direction she was pointing. He smiled appreciatively. “Thanks. Hope you find your father.”
“Thanks. Nice meeting you, fairy boy.”
At the sound of her tone, Link suddenly knew that this new nickname was going to stick with him. He waved goodbye to her and disappeared, following the growingly powerful aroma of food.
He bought some kind of meat pastries and savored the smell coming from within the wax paper wrappers. He devoured one, then another, then the last; leaning against the dirty alley walls a little way down from the cart.
Navi urged him on, tugging at his tunic and telling him that it was time to go. When he was done eating, he stood, wiping his hands on his chest and sighed. He was so tired, but Navi was right. Time was short and it was time to get going. Link walked out into the rousing chaos of the marketplace again.
He looked around wearily, and realized quite suddenly that he had no idea where to go. Maybe he could ask…
But when he looked to the spot where Malon had been standing before, she was gone. He glanced around, trying to find the spot of red that would give her away, but there was nothing. She had disappeared. He sighed and walked up to a woman fidgeting.
“Excuse me, can you-”
The woman gave an annoyed squeal, still fidgeting. “Damn it all, I can’t get to this spot!”
Link realized suddenly that she was trying in vain to scratch at a spot on her back and couldn’t. She was totally ignoring him. He tried several other people, but they were just as unresponsive, especially the man that was running around with a pocket watch, yelling about how late he was, but never seeming to go anywhere at all. Finally he decided to try the dancing, enamored couple.
“Pardon?” he called out.
They didn’t even turn to look at him.
“What is that?” the man asked, fawning over the woman. “A little boy?”
“Don’t pay him mind, Honey,” the woman replied, batting her eyelashes sickeningly. “He’ll go away soon.”
“Indeed, indeed. Scat, boy, scat.”
Link pulled back from the hand that was waved at him dismissively, but didn’t budge.
“Look, I just need to know which way the palace is,” he tried again.
“We don’t have time for you boy, now go,” the woman replied.
“You’re wasting more time not answering. Just tell me which way, please?”
There was an obviously annoyed sigh and the man pointed towards a northern exit that, in all the confusion, Link had missed. It was just behind the water well. He could’ve slapped himself for being so blind.
“Now scram, boy, you’re aggravating us.”
Link complied happily. He walked towards the exit as the sun was sinking slowly under the horizon. The people of Castle Town where packing things up to go home as the torches were lit by soldiers. The sound receded behind him as he walked onto the path leading towards Hyrule Castle.