The very concepts were foreign to him, after seeing something so bright eclipse his field of vision, and hearing the piercing shrieks of those beholding the sight of what was happening before them. He remembered the burning, the hopelessness, and the failure, and that sick cackle from the possessed scarecrow, holding his prized possession in his hands, away from his reach, but only just. He knew what he was facing. He had faced this kind before. He had faced the king of evil before.
He looked down at his wooden torso, feeling dejected about his limited mobility and how he had been so easily defeated and twisted by this creature. It angered him… it incensed him to think that he was going to meet his end, whimpering like the rest of the people on the surface, staring their fates right in the glowing red eyes of that moon. The Hero of Time, chosen by the gods… reduced to ash like the rest of this world.
Not like this.
He inflated a sap bubble, and shot it out of his mouth, smacking his ocarina out of the clutches of that insane creature. He scuttled to it, moving as fast as he could, grabbing it, and looking up at the moon crashing above him.
If only he had time…
It was almost too perfect. With his fairy companion Tatl calling to the goddess of time itself, he went to put the ocarina to his mouth, watching it change shapes in his hands to a set of pipes, suitable for a deku scrub to play. He knew the melody he had to play. It had already been the song that had changed his life so drastically before. The song that introduced him to the ultimate darkness that could one day ravage the lands and lives of the world… the song that introduced him to pure evil. Ironic… that it would also be the one to save him from it as well.
And so he played the Song of Time… and then felt the world reset… and start over. It was strange to him, at first, the thought of turning back time. To him, it felt relative. Time was ever changing, like he would never be part of the same line that he originated on. It felt… wrong.
What happened to those people that I left behind? Are they here? Or did they just die without me? He thought, trying to rationalize his actions. Those people could be dead, in their own time strand, left behind by the one person who could save them… used as sacrificial lambs in order for him to figure out just what he was actually going to do to stop this evil that had permeated through his own reality, or they were with him again, still unaware of the real battle that was unfolding behind them.
Throughout this ordeal, that thought had crossed his mind every time he chose to go back in time. He felt like a coward, having to do so. He was forced to call on to the power of the dead in order to help him accomplish his goal.
In the end, after he had defeated the evil that lied in Majora's Mask, and freed the Skull Kid from its evil clutches, he felt like he had finally overcome that adversity, and the necessity of making those choices for the sake of at least saving someone.
As he parted ways with the people he had come to hold dear, and rode off with his horse into the woods, he had no doubt in his mind that Termina had changed him, but he did not quite understand how much.
It seemed that fate had one more twist for him, as that world suddenly collapsed around him. As that world went dark, as it went silent… as he fell into a pit of darkness that grabbed him out of nothing, he knew that Termina was only the start.
The next thing he knew was that he woke up on a beach, on some foreign island, with his horse at his side. The trinkets he had received from his time in Termina, his sword, his shield, and his masks were all gone… just like that universe. All he had was Epona, the clothes on his back, and his Ocarina. It was as if it never happened. It was as if Termina never existed.
Those people… did I really save them?
His eyes shot open, and he flinched at the sound of his name being shouted loudly to wake him up. He felt a hand on his forehead, and then looked at the concerned man at his bedside. He was in his early 30's in age, with a short brown beard, and braided hair.
"N… Nils?" Link muttered, sitting up, gazing at the man with slight curiosity.
"I was worried you might be sick; you were tossing and turning quite badly. I heard you from down the hall," Nils replied, "But at least it's not a fever dream. Did you have a nightmare again?"
Link combed his right hand through his hair, and then put his hand over his eyes.
"Something like that," Link answered, looking down at his hands. His hands were shaking slightly, and he felt a cold chill permeating through his back.
"You're probably just nervous. You've got a big day today, you know," Nils remarked, putting his hand on Link's shoulder to comfort him.
"Come, I'll make you breakfast," Nils continued, patting Link's shoulder, and standing up, walking back to the open door to the guest room, where Link was staying.
"Thanks, Nils," Link replied, "I'll be right out."
"Okay, take your time," Nils advised, and then walked out, shutting the door behind him.
Sighing, Link got out of bed, and walked over to the chest on the other side of the room, and then opened it, revealing a packed rucksack inside, and a set of clothes, folded up, ready to be put on.
Once he changed, he packed his old clothes into the rucksack, and put his boots, which were sitting next to the chest, on. He grabbed his rucksack, and then walked out of the room, down the hallway. It was still dark outside, but the faint candlelight down the hall was all the light Link needed to see where he was going. Once he reached the den, where Nils was laying bread onto plates and bringing them to the table, Link put his rucksack down, next to the front door. Link then sat down adjacent to Nils, who filled a cup of water for him.
"Excited to be doing your first delivery?" Nils asked, now filling his own cup.
"More nervous than anything," Link replied, staring at the water in his cup. The journey was going to be a long one, but strangely, it felt like it was nothing.
"It's your first time traveling in…"
"Almost three years now… I was ten when I left Hyrule," Link replied, finishing Nils's sentence, eating the bread on his plate, and taking a sip of the water.
"To think it's only been that long since I found you on that beach," Nils started, sipping on his tea that he had made himself earlier, "I still find it remarkable how quickly you grasped our language when none of us were able to speak yours."
"I had a good teacher," Link answered, standing up and stretching his arms and legs. It was going to be a long day, so he didn't want to end up being too sore once he stopped for the night.
"You still give me too much credit, Link. Cambrian isn't that easy to learn," Nils remarked, standing up as well and taking Link's now empty dishes to the wash basin, and set them on the end-table next to it.
"Nonsense," Link replied as he stretched down to touch his toes, "You've taught me a lot since I've been here. I'm glad I stayed."
"As am I, Link," Nils said as he picked up a bronze sword from the weapon rack at the front of the small house, and then holding it to Link ."I couldn't have asked for a better apprentice."
"Thanks, Nils," Link answered, taking the sword and strapping it to his back. Nils went to open the door, and Link grabbed his rucksack in the meantime.
Nils held the door open for Link, and they went outside to the cold, blustery winter weather. The landscape of the small country of Ariston was fairly mountainous, and the city that Link and Nils lived in was fortunate enough to have the proximity to the coast, but the weather was often very cold in the winters, but fairly mild in the summers. The air always had a certain crispness to it, less claustrophobic than the large cities Link has been to in the past. There was always a faint aroma of the sea, even indoors. It took Link a little while to get used to it, but after doing so, he came to enjoy life on the coast. To him, it was even better than his life in the forests of Hyrule.
Ariston became his home, and Link wanted to keep it that way. He just wanted to stay and live out his life away from adventure and away from the past. However, Nils wanted Link to take on more responsibility, and he had proven himself useful in more ways than he ever thought.
When the order came in for the sword to be made and delivered on the other side of the country, from a rich aristocrat, Link felt obligated to help with not only the crafting of the sword, but the delivery as well. They were paid handsomely for it, but even then, Link had never seen Nils so dedicated towards one sword. He obsessed over it, but Link encouraged him, as it was a sign of Nils's growing reputation as a blacksmith. Link had learned a lot from Nils over the past three years. Not only did he learn the foreign language that he had become nearly fluent in, but he had learned a trade as well, one that would benefit him for the rest of his life. He still had a lot to learn, but Link had cast his own sword within a few months of Nils's tutelage. Granted, it was a bronze sword that would have a tough time against steel, but Link was proud of it, and enjoyed the ease of recasting it in case there was a fault.
Link walked over to the small stable he built which housed his horse, Epona. He lashed his rucksack to the back of the saddle, and then mounted his mare. Epona had matured quite a bit since they landed on the coast of Ariston, and she was on the cusp of adulthood, according to Nils. Link guided Epona to the road, and looked down at Nils, who was walking alongside him.
"I'll be back within the week, Nils," Link started, "I'm not planning on hanging around over there for long."
"I hope so; don't push yourself too hard though. I'm not going anywhere," Nils smiled, giving Link the sword, packaged in an ornate box, completed with a bronze crest that Link had cast himself. "You be careful, and if you can, try to at least have a little bit of fun when you get there. You're still a kid after all, act like one."
"I will," Link agreed, "thanks for everything, Nils. I'll be back soon." Link uged Epona forward, and she broke into a quick jog, leaving Nils behind.
"May the gods guide your journey, boy," Nils muttered, and then turned around and walked slowly back to his house.
The roads were very barren this time of the year. There was a thin layer of snow on the ground, and the cedar and fir trees around him held a lot of snow on their branches. Occasionally, the sound of snow falling from the branches would be the only sounds Link would hear. Winter was definitely a time where many things would retreat to their warm shelters. Link had made good time, he thought. He made his way to the northeast, and managed to find himself in a valley, with mountains surrounding him. He figured he had made a great deal of progress, but as he went further to the northeast, the weather did get colder, and the night didn't help much either. He shivered thinking about it.
Link heard the sound of flowing water near him… the sound of a creek. He was trying to find a place to set up camp, so being close to a water source would be easier for him instead of melting snow instead. He made his way through the brush and came to the shallow creek. It was a very clear area around him, and the night sky was finally clearing up as well. Link filled the bottle of water up, and then took a look at his surroundings again, trying to find a nice, flat, dry place so he can pitch his tent and start a fire. The moonlight did wonders for him, as he didn't need to even light a torch to see what was around him. Link decided to walk alongside the creek, taking a look at everything around him. Eventually, he noticed that the water was turning a different color. He knew, even with the only the moonlight to see, what the source of the other color was.
Link unsheathed his sword, and looked over the brush to find a wounded woman, probably in her early twenties, bleeding heavily into the creek next to him. Link approached her slowly, also checking his own surroundings to see if it's a trap, and then checked the vitals of the woman. She was still breathing, but she also had blood flowing from her head. Link looked closer and found that her eye was cut and she also had a head wound, likely from a fall. The woman was wearing tattered clothes, but luckily she also had a cloak on, keeping her warm. Blood was dripping from her wounds, down into the creek. Link spotted a flat area, away from the creek, next to a large rock that he could use as a campsite. He sheathed his sword, and grabbed the woman from under her shoulders and dragged her a few yards over to the camp. He wasted no time, and got a fire going, and began tending to the woman's wounds.
Link took one of his older, smaller shirts and cut it so he could use it to wrap around the wounded woman's head once he was done. He stitched up the woman's head wound, but he found that he could not save the area around the woman's eye. He wrapped the repurposed shirt around the woman's head, and brought her closer to the fire to help her warm up. Link went to go fill another bottle of water up, but left the other near the fire to warm up so he could give to the woman once she woke up. He was confident that the wounds weren't fatal, but at the same time, he was worried about what was near him in the area since this woman was obviously attacked. He came back, checked on the woman again, and started to pitch his tent. As he was working on the tent, Link wondered where the woman came from, and if she's dangerous. He wanted to be on his guard, but it also looked like the woman was already down on her luck already, which made him suspect that she wasn't a bandit, but a migrant of some kind, maybe a possible fugitive?
I guess I'll know who she is when she wakes up, Link concluded as he finished up pitching his tent. It took around an hour for Link to get everything situated again, but once he finished, he sat next to the fire, trying to keep warm as the weather got cooler as the night went on. Link stared at the woman, not once looking up to see if anything else was around. He wanted to have his attention on this woman as long as he could. Eventually, there was a cough, and Link ran over to see the woman hacking and coughing and grimacing in pain.
"Hey, wake up," Link whispered, "you're safe. It's okay, just wake up." The woman didn't acknowledge him yet, so Link urged her more. "Wake up, you're making a lot of noise."
Without warning, the woman jolted awake, grabbing Link by the neck and tackling him to the ground, squeezing as hard as she could. Link gasped and struggled for air as the woman was strangling him, but the woman kept him pinned down.
"WHO ARE YOU?!" the woman yelled, "WHERE AM I?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH ME?!"
Link struggled a bit more, trying to free himself from the stranglehold, and then the woman noticed what she was doing. She loosened the grip on Link's neck, but kept herself on top of him, pinning him down.
"I'm the guy who just saved your life!" Link gasped, feeling the air reach his lungs again. He was starting to get dizzy. "I found you next to the creek, freezing and bleeding to death." Upon hearing this, the woman got off of Link, and sat back down on the ground, staring blankly. Link got up and dusted himself off, trying to control the anger he had about nearly being killed by the woman he saved, and started telling himself to think rationally again.
"When I found you, you had a pretty nasty wound on your head, and your right eye was beyond repair. It looked like someone sliced you across the eye. Do you remember anything about what happened? It looks like you were attacked."
"N-no, I just remember waking up here." The woman replied, feeling the bandage around her head.
"What were you doing before you were attacked?"
"What about your name? Can you at least tell me that?"
The woman looked up at Link, with a very confused but very forlorn look in her eye. It was a look that Link had seen before. It was a look he would never forget.
"I don't know."