by Eric J. Juneau
"What are we doing here again?"
Link had his arms crossed defiantly, a few feet inside Zelda's room, the door securely closed behind him. This morning, Zelda had told him to be in her room at 22:00 sharp, and he had been wondering all day what for. Now he was impatiently waiting for his answer. She didn't seem mad, but she didn't seem happy, either. She seemed... determined. She didn't have on her nighttime clothes and the way she was hurriedly moving around indicated she had no intention of getting them on soon.
Her blue eyes focused on her mirror image as she ran her hairbrush through her smooth yellow strands quickly and hastily, making ripping sounds when it reached the ends.
She made a quick glance at the door, making sure it was shut. "Okay, you know that pub that opened in Castle Town? That new one?"
"No, not really."
"Well, we're going there tonight."
"We are?" This was about the time Link was hitting the hay as well, and he'd just as soon do that tonight than go out. He could tell Zelda was high-strung about it though, bordering on neurotic.
"It's all anyone's been talking about these days. I hear it from the gardeners, the washwomen, the nurses, the cooks. The castle guests come in and ask me about it. I hear it's always busy." Zelda put down her hairbrush and went to her chest of drawers, pulling out articles of clothing. "They've got all kinds of new drinks, the decorations and lighting look great. And they've got this great band there that plays this new type of music, they say its great for dancing. Anyone who's gone there has had a great time."
"Uh-huh," Link said with a non-committal tone.
"And we're going there tonight?"
Zelda stopped her busy-as-a-bee preparation and looked Link square in the eye. "I am getting so jealous of everyone being able to go, and not me. It's all they talk about every morning, and it's all I ever hear. I want to stop being a princess for one night and have some normal fun."
"So why am I coming with?"
"Frankly, because you're the only one who can." She pulled out an orange shirt from her wardrobe, examined it, evaluated it, and threw it on top of her eveningshade. "I'm a princess, I don't exactly make merry with all the servants. I mean I'm friends with all of them, but I can't invite them to royal meals, and they can't joke or hold a conversation with me. We're from two different worlds. There's all that underlying class difference. My only real equals are other royalty... like Princess Ruto."
Link couldn't stop himself from uttering a guttural "euh" in agreement. Zelda pulled out some slacks and threw them across her dressing shade as well. Link was surprised she had some pants at all, and wondered where she got them from.
"Besides," Zelda continued, "It's more fun to go with a friend than alone. Safety in numbers." She picked up a pair of small metal fragments. "These earrings or these?"
"You're asking me? They look exactly the same."
Zelda sighed, "You're hopeless. Anyway, you in?" she smirked, "Or are you just gonna sit there asking questions all night?"
"Do you think I'm going to do nothing but ask questions?" he smirked back.
"Have you made a single statement since you got here?"
"Don't you remember?"
"Are you saying I'm lying?"
"Is... What do you mean by that?"
"It... awww," Zelda gave up. "So, anyway..." she asked him again.
"Yeah, I guess I'll go," Link said. He wasn't really keen on going to a trendy club. From his experience, taverns were meant for day-to-day toilers in the field, giving them a chance to unload some steam and drink, or elite members of society so they could find some respite, socialize, and exclude others. Even one meant for the younger crowd was probably not his scene. "Isn't it awful late in the night to go?" Link asked.
Zelda pulled out a final piece of clothing and walked back around her shade to begin dressing. "I'm sick of waiting," she said resolutely. "This is the best opportunity I'll have. Cagor, you know, the head guard, is out sick tonight. Sanch is taking his place."
"So we are sneaking out of here," Link confirmed.
"Of course." She reached her hands over her head, pulling off her top. Link's eyes wandered around the room, trying not to look at the silhouette of Zelda changing clothes.
As he scrutinized one of her commissioned paintings, Link said, "I still don't know why you can't just come and go as you please." He figured it was her royal right to be able to go anywhere she pleased.
"I can come and go as I please. As long as I have a set of guards. But I need a bit more anonymity than that."
"Why don't you just go as Sheik?"
Zelda peeked out from behind the shade angrily. "You think Sheik's going to go to a pub and start dancing?" She ducked back in. "No. No magic powers, no sheikah uniform, no stealthy moves. No Zelda. No Sheik. Just a common girl looking for some fun tonight."
The princess stepped out from behind her dress curtain, slowly, and turned to Link with a sigh. "How do I look? ... and no laughing." She patted her legs once and spread her hands out at her sides
She had her long voluminous blond hair tied back in a draping ponytail behind her, and her forehead had a small subtle gold coronet that clung tightly around the center. The make-up she had on was far more colorful than the elegant face polish she wore for formal gatherings. It was almost gerudo-like, with hypnotic black mascara around the rim of her eyes and red dye bringing out her lips. The shirt had changed to a thin, long-sleeved common orange hue, tucked in, with a forest-green vest cross-laced in the front. Its neck was wide, showing her collarbone and even a few inches below that. Link truly was astonished.
"You look so... normal."
"Thanks, you too," she said sarcastically. Then she stalled, and put a finger to her lips. "You're going to have to change too."
Link looked down at his kokiri garb, something he rarely changed, and never saw a need to. "What? No."
"At least lose the hat and tunic. You've been running around the streets of Hyrule so much, you're as recognizable as I am."
"Maybe I want to be recognizable."
"If they recognize you, they're going to recognize me." She opened her drawer again and rifled through it. "Fortunately, I think we've got something for you."
Moments later, Zelda presented him a quick ensemble from her archives. Without regard for his audience Link pulled off his green tunic in front of Zelda, who uttered a girlish shriek and spun around. To that, Link smiled devilishly, and changed into a rough black peasant short-sleeved shirt. It was embroidered with artificial gold lame along the cuffs and collar. For some reason, Link became self-conscious of the light brown hair on his arms, which he wasn't used to seeing.
"Looks pretty good," Zelda commented.
"You ready to go?"
Zelda turned toward her window and opened it inward.
"Uh, we're not taking the door?" Link asked as he approached the window.
"I said we were sneaking out, didn't I?"
The sky was washed cornflower blue, with speckles of stars across the canopy. High risen clouds cast the hazy light of the moon down on them. Cliffs and moors in the distance shadowed the empty courtyard and garden hedge maze below them. Draped vines clung to the wall as if climbing up into the room. Link took hold of one, ready to climb down.
"I'll go first, just in case," he said.
Zelda scrunched her face at her ever-playing-the-hero friend. "Just in case what?"
"Just in case... something happens, I don't know."
He was slowly climbing down, making sure each of his holds on the trellis was secure. Zelda impatiently gripped the cold stone windowsill, fidgeting, trying to reason out whatever this 'danger' was. "I can't wait for you, slowpoke."
She hooked her leg over the edge of the windowsill, irritated at both his false chivalry and his sluggishness. It was gonna take her forever to get to the tavern at this rate. With her hips balanced on the edge of the brick outcropping, she grabbed onto the one of the planty ropes and started putting hand under hand, not even bothering with the footholds.
Link's head followed her, watching her chug past him on the side, grunting with each tug of gravity that pulled her down. He wouldn't admit it, but he was rather bemused at her sacrifice of safety to her willfulness and determination. She wasn't as experienced climber as he was, spending all his childhood in the trees.
Link warned, "Careful, there, don't go too fast-"
"Yeah, yeah," she interrupted, "I'm perfectly fine!"
"But you might sli-"
Her hand grabbed a slippery creeper and slid off. The force of falling was too great for her other hand and she tumbled off the wall, falling seven feet onto the ground, face first, with a quiet dead -THUD-.
Knowing she wasn't hurt, her comical spread eagle landing having absorbed the fall, Link took his time, keeping his arms and legs firmly planted in the tractioned vines, methodically placing hand under hand, until he jumped the last foot to the ground. Zelda was still implanted in the grass.
"You all right?" he asked lightly.
"Peachy," she mumbled into the dirt. With a -poit- she extracted her head from the ground and stood up, brushing herself off. Link picked a spot of dirt off her porcelain nose, while Zelda glared daggers at him. "Come on," she said.
Link grabbed Zelda's hand and they sped down into the hedge maze. The castle was much more vigilantly guarded closer to the fortress, so they would be starting tough and ending easy. Link didn't really care. He'd made this trip before and knew the moving patterns of the faceless personnel. Going south, he held the princess behind a bush for a minute then sped off, dragging her around the wall of the center hedge island. After the guard stopped at his line of movement and turned away, they darted behind him and around to the next section of the garden. This part was easy. Two stepping stair-like hedges connected to a ceiling lattice of vines and flowers. The guard walked around the central pillar, oblivious to anything not in his line of vision. Link had easily bypassed the guard before by walking across the lattice on top, and escorted Zelda up the stairs to do the same. They tiptoed along the branched patchwork terrace, keeping their eyes down on the guard.
Link felt his boot slam through as he tried to take a step. Bits of plant and wood crumbled down below. Before Link had the chance to pull his foot out of the net-like entanglement, the break in the trellis caused a chain reaction, collapsing the entire structure inward and down. Zelda shrieked as the floor caved in below her. The two of them dropped and crumpled on the ground, trapped in the mesh.
Link had then just remembered, as he rubbed his head, when he did this last time he was also only ten years old.
The guard immediately rushed over to the two disoriented teenagers. "Hey you! Stop!" It confirmed what they both first thought as they sat trying to recover from what happened – busted. No dancing, no drinking, no fun, and a very long boring speech from the king. The guard pointed his spear. "You, kids, over there... oh, Link," he said with realization. "What's going on here?" He looked back and forth between Zelda and Link, trying to piece together the sudden events.
It hit Link like a ton of bricks. The guard recognized him, but not Zelda. "Uh-er-uh-I was... I, uh, caught this, uh, urchin, trying to sneak into the palace... to steal some food."
Zelda gave Link a dirty look. Link looked angrily at her and hissed through his teeth, trying to coax her into playing the part. She certainly looked the part, with her common clothes and now grubby face. Now if she would just stop being so stubborn and go along.
"What?" she said, "I'm not-" Link kicked her in the shin, prompting her to yelp "Ow!"
"Don't try and deny it."
"Oh, uh, let me go! I wasn't doing nothing," she forced, doing her best to lessen her use of royal grammar.
"She was stealing food? In the garden?" the patroller asked.
"Oh, I, uh, caught her in the castle, and I was trying to bring her back, but she wrenched herself free, and I was pursuing her across the garden." He stood up, stepping out of the heap of branches. "But I got her back now. That'll teach ya." He picked Zelda up roughly, grabbing onto her smooth-skinned arm and forcing her out of the debris.
"Oh, let me go, you brute," Zelda tried and struggled.
"You need any help?" the guard said, offering his hand, lowering his spear.
Link gleefully reached down and grabbed Zelda's leg, heaving it up over his shoulder. "Hey!" Zelda yelped without a hint of acting in her voice as she was hoisted over Link's shoulders like tied up livestock.
"Nope, I think I got it covered now. She's pretty skinny, she won't put up much of a fight."
"Put me down!" she commanded. "Don't let him do this to me!"
The guard saluted. "I'll notify the groundskeeper to fix this up."
"Good man. I'll take her outside the castle gates."
"This is ridiculous," Zelda slowed down her struggling.
"Now, we'll have none of that, you rapscallion. It's out you go."
Link boldly carried her all the way out of the garden maze, giving the same story to the other guards that passed by, while Zelda sat there, draped over like a roast pig, grumbling to herself. They walked all the way to the castle gate, to the edge of Castle Town, before he set her down gently.
She growled at him, "I bet you think that was pretty funny, don't you?"
"Yep," he simply said, grinning from ear to ear.
She rolled her eyes at him.
Castle Town at night was the archetype of quiet. Everyone in the commune was tucked in their beds, sleeping peacefully. The two of them wandered into the deserted town square, down the cobblestone walkway, heading to the spouting fountain in the center. There was very little light to see by, since there was no nightlife in the town, and keeping pole-lamps lit was challenging and expensive. Crickets chirped, hiding in the bushes and between the cracks of the pavement. A yipping terrier bounded in a circle nearby.
"Pretty empty," Zelda commented, feeling some of the creepiness of a bare town.
"It's been emptier," he said, remembering the ReDeads that had taken over a long time ago.
Link followed Zelda after that. She took him down into the streets of the east side. A few times, Link wanted to ask if she knew where she was going, but then, the way she turned without hesitation dropped the question from his mind. Besides that, he could start to feel a vibration under his boots. It would continue for a few minutes, then stop and be replaced by a different rhythm. After the second time, he realized it was a thumping bass line. It had to be coming from the tavern.
Then he finally saw it, when they had arrived in an obscure corner of the town. All the other houses around it were darkened, but this one had bright yellow light streaming through the cracks. The bass line was especially strong here, he could feel the vibration through to his socks. And it was heavy, like the pounding of a foot. The pub almost seemed to be bounding up and down in time with the music. The swinging rectangular wooden sign above the door read The Empty Bottle.
"Interesting," Link said.
Zelda's eyes were wide with delight. She dragged him to the entrance when they noticed a Goron standing near the door, just waiting out there, staring across the street with his big blue eyes.
"Big Brother Link!" he called out in a deep, hollow voice when he noticed the two. "It's great to see you. How have you been?"
"Good... good..." Link wanted to call him by name, but all Gorons looked alike. "What are you doing here?" Gorons didn't come down from the mountain very often except to sell bomb flowers.
"Oh, I got a job here as guard... well, they call it a 'bouncer'. Anyway, I'm supposed to make sure no one gets in here who's too old and no one with a weapon and no one starts no fights. You don't have any weapons on, do ya?"
"Nope," Link said, not having needed a weapon for a very long time, especially in Castle Town.
"Okay, well, the boss says I'm supposed to 'frisk' ya, but since you're a big brother, I'll let you in, no problem."
"Thanks... uh, thanks."
"Come on," Zelda snapped. This time she grabbed his hand and pulled him through the swinging double doors. Link snapped back in recoil like a rubber band and followed her in.
This was nothing like any tavern Link had ever seen before. Instead of torches, they were using some device to flash mechanically spinning light, rotating bright colors like flowery pink and ocean blue. Even the dance pad was lit up in flashing squares. Most dancing he'd seen was done in a ballroom-type atmosphere, one that was very regal, very refined, very elegant. Always two-by-two, down the row. This was a square area in front of the band where patrons were hopping up and down, side to side, just gyrating in time with the music. If Link didn't know better, he'd think there was a riot going on. But they all looked like they were enjoying it!
Otherwise, the layout was similar to an inn, but with a large central room and a back employee nook. There were some weird items decorating the wall, like cowbells, road signs, and even gold skulltula pieces. The roof was thatched without a real ceiling like most homes had, although rafters could be seen running criss-crossed for support. This probably kept it cooler for the hot dancers.
Zelda was hypnotized by the whole thing, entranced by the flashing lights and addictive music. She was already bopping her head up and down to the beat like a cucco. Link gave her a strange look, as he'd never really seen this sort of wild behavior before.
The princess finally couldn't wait anymore and grabbed his hand. "Come on, we came here to dance."
She pulled him down the set of small stairs to the lower level where the chaotic dancing was thriving, the music was blasting, and everyone looked like they were having the time of their lives. Link could see Honey and Darling, the ever-rotational couple by the fountain, had migrated in here, perhaps finding a more appropriate forum. The woman with the itchy back was in another corner, still itchy. The rest were generic Hylians, bumping into each other, reveling in the silliness. Some were dressed a little more revealingly than they would be in the marketplace (and he thought Zelda had shown a lot of skin). They wore tight clothes and tops that revealed pushed-up cleavage. Some even looked wrapped on. Link had never looked at so many butts.
Zelda had to practically pull Link across the border to the dancing area. After a few seconds she started moving her arms and hips in time with the music, looking like a pro. Trying to distract himself, Link glanced up at the band. They were all humans, playing a lute, organ, bass, and drums. The layout reminded him of the Zora band in Termina, but this group was more fast-paced and heavy on pumping the bass through the seahorn amps at each side.
Zelda, seeing him nervously looking around, huffed and grabbed both his hands, forcefully pulling him back to reality. Looking deep into his eyes with a hint of irate glare she pulled him in and out with her, trying to get him to start moving to the beat. He eventually started getting the hint.
Link tried to get a feel for the what was going on. One of abilities that had gotten him far in life was adapting to any situation, but this just wasn't something he could put his finger on. This wasn't his scene. There were too many people crowded into this small space. He was used to open fields and forests. Zelda looked so good doing this, he just felt like an old dork, trying to move in time with the music. He felt like... Tingle. Ew.
"I don't think-" Link stammered slowly.
"Come on," Zelda chided. "Just for a little while."
Link nodded. The song dragged on, melding into a new one with an even faster tempo. Why couldn't he do this? Why couldn't he look as good? He was trying his best but he couldn't get his body to move in the right time consistently. It looked odd, to say the least. And he risked bumping into someone if he was off-balance, because he was having trouble keeping track of where the beat was. The thing was, he couldn't relax, and it just ended up with him looking wobbly on his feet. Unrefined.
Zelda, however, was totally into it. Once she no longer had to parent Link to keep him on the dance floor, it was like she was entering a different world. She was performing magic without a spell. How come she could look so lively and bouncy while she was moving, and he just couldn't keep track of it all? At least the music was good. It was energetic, and made you want to move. With all the music he had used on his quests, he found himself falling into it. Unconsciously, he was trying to shift his feet as if he were in a battle, trying to strafe around and dart forward and back. He focused on Zelda as if she were a stalfos, moving as she moved, fake dodging, shuffling back and forth.
"What are you doing?" Zelda shouted over the vibration. She grabbed his hands again, resetting him in front of her, and pried them open. Link hadn't even realized he'd balled them up into fists, thinking he had his sword and shield clutched tight. "Just move like this." She went back to swiveling in rhythm.
Link wanted to say that's what he'd been trying to do in the first place. She was making it look easy. He just couldn't relax. One misstep later he planted a good one on Zelda's foot. She yanked it out from under his sole with cat-like reflexes and gave him a look. Link angrily and shamefully looked down at his feet. He felt like a stiff scarecrow.
"Did you bring your wallet?" Zelda shouted out.
"Why don't you get us a drink?"
"Okay," Link shouted back.
Thankful to get away from the dance floor and imminent embarrassment, he backed off and turned around. Halfway back, he looked over his shoulder to see Zelda getting her groove on quite capably by herself. So why did she need him to dance with her, when she seemed fine dancing by herself? Maybe he was just her escort after all.
At the bar, a Business Scrub was efficiently and industriously making and handing out drinks to customers at a rapid pace, moving almost like an octopus with multiple hands. He made sure every person got their drink and every rupee made it back to his register, very becoming of a Business Scrub.
"What can I get ya?" he said as he whipped toward Link, his leafy mustache swinging with him. His trumpet-like knothole mouth contorted like a snout as he spoke.
"Two Chateau Romanis," he said, holding up two fingers to help communicate over the din.
The Scrub nodded and put two glasses under a spigot behind the bar where cool frothy milk spouted out. He presented the drinks in his woody claw-like hands.
"That'll be 400 rupees."
Wow, guess prices didn't change here either. It was a good thing Link had his adult wallet with him. He brought out his last stash of colored gems in exchange for two tall glasses shaped like cones.
As he turned around he nearly ran into a girl walking across his path. He stumbled forward, shaking up the drinks a bit further. The girl shrieked suddenly and skipped back out of the way.
She stepped forward with her finger near her mouth cutely. "Link?"
"Malon?" he asked, now seeing her red hair in the dark. She was even still wearing her yellow handkerchief and white blouse. He'd seen Malon quite a few times since he was ten, almost as much as Zelda. They maintained a good rapport, with her keeping Epona safe and happy on the ranch. Her lazy, but good-natured father ran the ranch and ever so often asked Link if he'd like to marry her, to which Link always stammered and changed the subject to his famous super cuccos.
"Fairy boy, I'd never thought I'd see you here. I almost didn't recognize you."
Link took a look at his clothes, reminding himself he was wearing uncharacteristic black. "I know, I'm here with Zelda." He pointed one of his heavy glasses towards her direction. Malon turned around, scouring the dance floor for sight of her. She was still dancing, integrating well with the rest of the patrons, one hand behind her hair, keeping the hotness off the back of her neck.
Malon whipped back around. "PRINCESS Zelda?"
"Shh," Link hissed. "We're in disguise."
"Oh, hee-hee, gotcha," she winked. "I'm kinda here in disguise too. I told my dad I was delivering some product, but I'm really here to party too."
"I won't tell if you won't," Link smiled.
"Is this your first time here?"
"Yeah, her's too."
"I try and come here all the time, but it's hard with the ranch and all. It's all anyone talks about when I come into town."
"Yeah, that's what I heard too. How long as this place been up?"
"I don't know, I started hearing about it a month ago. It's because its so different. We finally got something for the young crowd. The band is really great."
"Yeah, I can't believe they can play with such energy for so long."
"They just got done with their break so they'll be playing for a while."
"…Oh goody!" Link maintained his enthusiasm and grinned.
"Anyway, I gotta get a drink. You know what's good here?"
"I just got a Chateau Romani. I'm not sure what else they have." Link had no knowledge of any drinks besides water and milk.
"Romani's good. I've got some relatives in Termina who make that. Thanks for helping out the family." She gave an ironic thumbs-up.
"Sure. No problem." Link smiled, and suddenly thought his drink was starting to get warm. "I'll see you later."
"Kay, bye." She skipped off to the bar. Link raised his glass to her politely.
He made it back to the dance floor just as a new song was starting. Zelda steadily took the cool drink out of his hand and started sipping, still dancing. An effervescent sheen of sweat was beading on her forehead.
She finished her drink, almost downing a quarter of it, and licked her lips. "Ah, that's good." Apparently, getting a drink didn't mean you could stop dancing. Link now had to contend with a full glass of liquid in his hand while keeping time. He took a big gulp out of it to lessen the chance of spillage.
He looked around nervously again, his arms tending to go up to his chest as if he was protecting his body. Zelda forcefully pushed them down. "Just relax," she said. Now, with the drink, he felt stiffer than ever. He had no idea where to put his hips, his arms, his feet. Dammit, this shouldn't be that hard. He should be able to move his body in time with the music. That's all this was. He dragged that ocarina around forever, playing all sorts of tunes. It's not like he couldn't grasp the concept. There was just something about moving your body with time. Just take this song, for example. It's just one, two, one, two, one, two, one, two...
That was it. He was trying to focus on dancing to every song. He just had to focus on this song, the song being currently played. One, two, one, two, one, two. Move a foot out, move it back in. That was working... sorta. Just move a foot out, foot in, other foot out, other foot in. He was imagining there was an invisible baseline to step out from each time. Okay, that was sort of working.
Now that he had his feet not stepping on himself, he could concentrate on how to move his hands. He loosened up his fists and got his shoulders and hips into the rhythm. Just keep them loose, keep them moving.
"That's it," Zelda said and grinned. She took another big sip of her milk. Link, delighted at the praise, breathed a sigh of relief. Now that he had it down, he could finally calm down. This dancing was all right. He liked the music, he liked the energy and the release it gave him. He lightened up. He focused on the dancing woman in front of her, who took another sip. She looked really enticing, dressed up normally and having a good time.
"Hey," she said.
"I said, having a good time?"
"Yeah, see, this place isn't so bad. Would you want to come here again?"
"Eh, maybe," he said, realizing his movements were dropping off. He had to keep time with the music and hold a conversation at the same time.
She took another big drink. "This is really good. I feel revitalized already."
"Yeah, it has that effect," Link smiled.
Suddenly, something hit him in the back, almost dragging him to the floor. He nearly spilled the remains of his milk. "What th'?"
"Link!" Malon was standing right beside him, holding his shoulder up. She had nearly run into him. "Link, I need help."
She pointed to the doorway, trying to hide behind Link at the same time. Ingo was standing there, with the doors swinging shut behind him. His face seemed to be scowling more than usual and he was still dressed in his dirty scarlet overalls and green shirt, way out of place for this place. His head was slowly scanning back and forth, scouring the people in the house, his thick, curled mustache twitching.
"Yeah, it's Ingo," Link commented. "He looks really mad."
"Yeah, see, I wasn't really making a delivery. I sorta snuck out of the ranch to come here. And possibly accidentally locked Ingo in the barn."
"Well, he was gonna gamble on the horses again and leave me there all alone. Please, you gotta help me hide or something. Please?"
Link sighed and looked at Zelda, who shrugged her shoulders.
"All right, come with me." Link grabbed Malon's hand and pulled her off the dance floor. Zelda followed in pursuit.
Link looked around, surveying the area, looking for exits. There was one in the back to the kitchen alcove. No luck there – the employees would catch them and cause a scene, resulting in attention being drawn to them.
"Eep," Malon said, still being grasped by Link. Ingo was heading down the stairs toward him, mad as a wet cucco. His steps were slow and methodical, like he knew he couldn't be stopped no matter what.
Link's head darted up and down, around and around, trying to be resourceful. He saw a tall bookcase against a wall, almost reaching the rafters.
"Hmm, come on." Link rushed over to the wall with the bookcase, dragging Malon and Zelda.
"You are in trouble, little lady. I guarantee you of that," Ingo called out.
"Start climbing," he instructed Malon, holding her by her hips to push her up and get her started.
"What?" Malon looked back down at him, already two shelves up.
"Just go," he whispered.
"Link, what in the world are you doing?" Zelda pleaded.
"Come on," he called to her. With Malon up, he was speedily ascending the shelves as well.
Zelda looked back and saw the sleazy-looking Ingo was heading towards them with fiery eyes. Zelda doubted that he was going to commit any capital acts here in a tavern surrounded by people, but why partake of that wrath? Zelda scooted up the bookcase too.
Link hoisted Zelda up the last of the way. The three of them stood there as if on a sinking ship, holding onto the wall for support and balance. Link wasn't sure how the other girls felt about heights, but if they had made it this far, they could go the next step.
Ingo craned his neck up to look at the three of them. He put his hands on his hips. "You're not getting away from me that easily, little girl." Then he grasped the two shelves in his hand and started pulling himself up.
Guess this wasn't going to be as easy as he thought. They were trapped on this tiny bookcase shelf, probably fifteen or twenty feet above everybody else. There had to be a way out. There was always a way out.
"Now what?" Zelda asked Link. Malon clung to him like a savior.
Getting another great idea, Link took hold of the ceiling rafter right next to them. "Get on the rafter," he pointed.
"Are you nuts?" Malon said.
"We can climb across and find a place to drop down over there. And it's the best chance we got right now."
Malon took one look at how close Ingo was getting and jumped on the wooden beam like a horse. She bent down and straddled across the bar, keeping her hands underneath her, and scooted along it like an inchworm.
"Come on, you too," Link said, calling Zelda over like he was directing traffic. With the two girls ahead of him, there was a better chance of them getting away, and he wasn't afraid of Ingo. He could stand against him, stall or something to give them enough time. Zelda did the same as Malon, scooting along the rickety wood.
Once she was on her way, Link looked down at the floor. Ingo was more than halfway up, with no signs of stopping. Pure determination marred his face, making it even more craggy.
The Goron bouncer came in then. Who knows where he had been before. "You there, stop! Halt!" he called out. Somehow Ingo had gotten by him, but not for long. He rushed over to the bookcase and looked up at Ingo, making a quizzical utterance deep in his throat. Obviously, he probably couldn't climb up the same way - he would crush the shelves with his first step. The bouncer stood there scratching his head, as Ingo pretended not to notice him. Then his face childishly lit up with an idea. He grabbed a side of the bookcase, and shook it violently.
"AaAaAaAaAaAaA," Link moaned, lifting one leg off the shelf for balance. Ingo vibrated too, but somehow managed to stay on. With this new resolve, he climbed even faster. Link wasted no time in scooting after the two girls.
He wasn't even a quarter of the way down before Ingo fully ascended the ladder. To their surprise, the ranchhand straddled onto the nearby rafter and started clambering after them too. The poor people down below, obliviously dancing the night away, had no idea of the four bodies above them, making their way across like monkeys.
"I'll get you yet," Ingo uttered, his beady eyes trained on grabbing Link's boot. Link gritted his teeth and shimmied down the beam faster, urging the two girls to stop looking behind them and hurry up. Link kept his eyes down as he crawled, watching the mess of bouncing heads. The Goron bouncer, apparently run out of options and helpless, kept track of the intruder and followed him down, keeping his hands on his wide hips.
Link looked ahead, Malon was about three quarters of the way there, thankfully she hadn't gotten acrophobia at all, and neither did Zelda.
"Come on, Malon. Go," Link called out words of encouragement. Malon looked back behind her and saw how close Ingo was. She shrieked and doubled her efforts. Link looked behind him as well.
Ingo reached out for his foot. "Gotcha!"
Reflexively, Link kicked his boot out to the side. Ingo shied away, and grabbed onto the rafter when he felt like he was going to fall. Link surprised even himself and lost his equilibrium, slipping over the side of the wood. "Whoa!" His sturdy hands still held on though as he swayed over the side, and hung there like a sloth on a branch.
Link looked around curiously, wondering what he was going to do about this new development. Now he was at a real disadvantage, because he couldn't move as fast. Plus the distance from the ceiling to the floor just seemed to get a little farther, and a lot more significant.
For whatever reason, the Goron bouncer then decided what was good for the goose was good for the gander. He seized the structural pillar closest to the string of four hangers-on and pumped it back and forth as hard as he could without breaking it. With his rock-like strength, all four of them quivered violently and grabbed on to their holds as tight as they could. Link and Ingo, however, being in the middle of the rafters, weighed down on the weakest point of the strut
The sharp shaking jarred Ingo's hands from their grip, and he tumbled off. "Whoaaa!" Link lost the grasp of his feet, and with the inertia of his legs falling down, his handhold. The rafter seemed to vanish up into the air out of his reach.
The two of them plummeted down to the floor. The people watching above saw a giant scary-faced man with terror in his wide white eyes plunge face first on top of them. The group of dancers broke his fall but they all collapsed in a heap in a series of grunts and groans.
Link saw the ceiling rising up and up. Fear bounded in his mind, as he had no idea when he was going to make impact with the floor. Twisting his core stomach muscles, he instinctively righted himself up like a cat and planted a perfect landing. The shock to his legs and knees went straight up to his spine and he gritted his teeth from the pain.
When he opened his eyes, he found he was standing on the edge of the stage, in front a full crowded dance floor with a deep throng of eyes and faces staring at him. The band behind him hadn't missed a note, still playing their dance tune, in fact, climbing to the climax of the song.
One of the Hylians in the center of the crowd pumped his fist in the air and shouted. "Dance!"
The others in the crowd picked up without hesitation. "Dance! Dance! Dance!" they yelled with their fists thrust into the air.
The band kept playing their chord over and over again, trying to coax the man who was apparently bold enough to make such an entrance, but not enough to fill the expectations he brought on himself. Link looked up to the rafters, to Malon and Zelda still hugging the wooden plank, staring at him with confused eyes.
"Well, do something," Zelda shrugged and said.
Link turned back to the crowd, ready to tear him if he didn't do something spectacular. Oh, how he wished he had his kamaro mask right now.
He tried to remember how that dance went. He squatted down on the ground and waved his arms with his palms facing each other, like he was trying to frame a picture, then spun around on one foot. Um, what came after? Some more hand waving? Swing the hips? What was it? He tried sweeping his arms back and forth in large motions, but it just wasn't working. It wasn't fitting with the music and the crowd was just confused. Weren't these supposed to be the most popular moves in the world?
He could feel Zelda's eyes boring into him to move on. Something peppier. What other dance? He spied the Goron bouncer picking Ingo up out of the pile of people. Of course! Darunia.
Link started hopping from foot to foot like a sumo wrestler or a wobble toy, with his fists square in the air like a gorilla. He swiveled his hips back and forth and gritted his teeth and squinted his eyes. To the others he looked like he was furious with something he'd just heard, or stubbed his toe, or something. He tried bending down, adding a little of Kamaro's moves into it, trying to flow into the rocky dance.
Ooh, the scarecrow. There was something that flashed in his mind – the scarecrow's dance, whenever he played the song. It would bounce around on its pole and swirl around and around. Link tried doing that, twirling around and around and hopping on each foot alternately, swinging his arms up and down like he was doing stretching exercises. Two bounces on one leg in time, then two on the other. He tried to make it as buoyant and happy as possible. At this point he had forgotten why he was even dancing, and was just focusing on making the motions good.
The crowd still looked unconvinced. Zelda and Malon stared down perplexed at Link making a fool of himself, and then looked at each other. "Come on," Zelda said.
"We've got to help him." Zelda swung her legs off the rafter and hung down by the grip of her hands. As Malon was doing the same, the princess dropped down onto the stage slightly behind Link to the left. Malon fell a moment later on the right. Link had no idea of their presence as he was so caught up in the song and making the biggest, most flagrant steps that he could.
Zelda watched what he was doing for a second, trying to copy his indiscernible pattern. She hoisted her arms back and forth and spun her hips around, imitating a butter churner. Her feet stomped up and down, like they were trying to hop, but were too heavy. Malon watched both of them, flailing around like idiots. She couldn't even begin to copy what they were doing, so she just shrugged and tried to back Link up as best she could with exaggerated movements.
The crowd watched the three dancers on stage, spiraling around, gesticulating in rhythm. Although it looked ridiculously flamboyant, it was actually in keeping with the music, and it was kind of cool to see them so into it. And since he had been joined by two others, it must not have been that lame. A few of the girls on the floor got the idea and tried it out for themselves. Faster and faster, the trend caught on, although more personal space had to be allowed for the participants. Some looked more Darunia-ish, some looked more scarecrow-ish. A lot of the guys were adopting the Kamaro moves, probably because they looked so smooth and sleek. In the end, everyone was sort of dancing their own hybrid way.
Link, having realized he had his own back-up dancers fall in on him, looked back at Zelda and winked. "Having fun?"
Zelda, obviously embarrassed and discomfited, glared back at Link for ruining her night out. "You owe me."
"I owe you? You wanted to dance, and we're dancing, aren't we?" He migrated from a twirl into a squatted snake-arms.
Malon piped up, "I have no idea what this is, but I don't think it's dancing."
"But we're having fun?" Link said.
Malon looked out at the crowd of people, all dancing as absurdly as her.
"And you got a night out like you wanted," Link addressed Zelda.
"So everyone's happy."
"Except for him," Malon pointed.
Link watched the Goron bouncer pushing a struggling but hapless Ingo in-between the stage and the dancers. The ranchhand thrashed his head from side-to-side, since that was the only appendage he could move with the rock-monsters locking his arms in a vice-grip. "Let me go!" he shouted, "You, you blockhead! Let me go this instant!"
The bouncer stopped for a second, and gave a quick wave to Link, "Nice dance moves. You'll have to show me some time."
Link saluted back, keeping his feet in time, smiling all the way Ingo was thrust towards the door and thrown out into the street.