The sky rained with pastel streamers and sweet-smelling flower petals. Every citizen of Hyrule had turned up to see the King's youngest daughter off as she sailed to Beiger for schooling. The dock was crowded with merchants and artisans and standing above them, on a makeshift stage, the royal family watched, King Ferdinand Harkin with his wife Queen Gilda Maarin, their older daughter Princess Amanda huddling in between them. Standing to one side, joining in the festivities was the King’s brother Matara and the wise men.
In the harbor was a grand ship, royally commissioned, from generations past. Many believed that the original Hero of Time himself had taken a journey or two on the very same vessel. From the tip of the bow to the blunt back of the stern, the ship stretched the entire length of the dock, glistening with a reddish hue in the golden morning sunlight. A long railing ran along the deck, supported by thick, cherry pillars, bulging out on the bottoms. Sailing up into the sky where three tall masts, each hosting white, billowing sails that swelled up with the gentle wind. The crowning glory though was the elegant steering wheel mounted directly in the middle of the boat, made of polished oak which was certainly dating back at least to the Imprisoning War, if not further.
On the deck of the majestic ship stood the princess; Princess Zelda. Only eight summers old, the young red head had become a figurehead of Hyrule. Though her mother wanted had to name her Marian, the wise men had insisted that she be named after the original Princess of Destiny. This had made her something of an idol for the people who clung fast to the ancient ways. After all, it had been written in the Book of Mudora that there would forever be a Zelda in each generation.
Her tiny arm was between the sturdy rails of the deck, holding the hand of Hyrule's chosen hero, a young tow headed boy of eight named Link. There was no doubt in the collective minds of the wise men that he was related to the original Hero of Time. The seers had told of visions of his birth and when the day arrived, it was made official that the boy was to be a hero. As he had been orphaned, he was brought to North Castle to be raised by Matara Harkin and trained by the wise men, alongside two other Heroes, yet to be born, the Hero of Destiny and the Hero of Lore.
Now he stood holding hands with Zelda, his childhood playmate. His other hand was covering a pointed Hylian ear, to block out the sound of the crowd. "Promise you won't forget me?" he asked her.
"Link, it's only for six months," Zelda pointed out.
"Well, promise me anyway."
"Okay," she said ruffling his yellow-blond hair.
"Here take this.” He withdrew a blue, velvet box from one of the oversized pockets of his tunic and passed it up to her. She took it in both hands, sitting on her heels on the deck.
Zelda opened the box. "Oh, Link," she gasped. Inside was a silver necklace. Attached to the delicate chain was a silver tear-drop pendent with a single purple stone in it. Link closed his eyes, screwing up his face in concentration, and the necklace lifted out of the box, closing around Zelda's neck. *Thank you,* she whispered telepathically to him, offering a charming little smile.
The massive horn of the ship bellowed and with a groan, it lurched forward. Zelda thrust her hand forward again, holding onto Link’s from in between the columns. As the vessel began to pull out of the harbor, Link ran alongside, people backing out of his way and watching with amusement. They kept their hands clasped tight until the ship pried them apart at the very end of the dock.
"Goodbye Zelda!" Princess Amanda called to her younger sister.
"Have fun kiddo!" Uncle Matara added.
Link stood at the dock and watched Zelda become a speck on the horizon. One of the wise men came up behind him and with a firm hand, began to lead him away. “When will I see her again?” he asked quietly.
Old Higgins smiled. “Soon enough,” he replied.
Two weeks later, the debris that had been Zelda's ship washed up on the shores of Sutherland. Link cried himself to sleep.
Angry waves smacked the ship, their milky white crests slicing through the small cracks in the hold and oozing out onto the floor of the inside cabins. Louder still, great explosions of thunder fell from the heavens, shaking the small ship, tossing it about like a tiny rubber fall. Long, streaking flashes of lightening tore across the black darkness created by the storm clouds.
“Hold her steady!” the commander bellowed, gripping the wheel with white knuckles.
“It’s no use!” a sailor cried, “The goddesses are against us!”
The entire top deck was filled with screaming. Passengers and sailors alike scrambled back and forth, their efforts to bail out the ship long forgotten. Like ants, they crawled over the sinking ship, some of them plunging themselves into the icy depths of black Alastrian Sea. Through the mass of chaos, only one figure seemed collected at all. A handsome seventeen year old boy stood on the deck, his arms hugging the mast. All day he had sensed something was going to happen, but his death wasn't what he had had in mind.
“Every man for himself!” a young woman screamed, violently ramming her elbow into another man’s gut and throwing him off balance. She pushed him aside and yanked a piece of driftwood out of his hands, jumping into the sea with a cry.
The commander turned to the seventeen year old. “Ever seen a storm like this?” she asked, offering him a wry smile.
“I’m not sure which is worse,” he replied, watching the crowds, “the weather or the people.” He stared off to the port side where the captain of the ship was snatching a life preserver from the side rail. Evoking Farore in a most vulgar manner, he leapt over the railing, disappearing into the black water.
“They’re scared,” the commander said wisely. “You never learn a true person’s nature until you see them in crisis; until you see them facing their own death.”
“Are we going to die?” he asked.
The commander stared off into the horizon for a moment, her jaw set. Finally, she nodded slowly. “We are,” she muttered. For a long moment, she was completely silent, swaying with the tempest about them. When she spoke again, her voice was low and husky. “It seems ironic, doesn’t it Link?”
Link looked at her. “Ironic?”
“That you should meet your end this way. You faced down Ganon and saved Hyrule, only to be struck down the terrors of nature. It’s unfair, that’s what it is.”
“Things aren’t fair.”
The commander smiled fatalistically. “This is how I always wanted to go though,” she said. “Down with my ship. It isn’t how you ought to die though. No Hero should have such an unbeatable foe as this storm.”
“I don’t mind,” Link said quietly. “I’ll die like her.”
There was no need for the commander to ask what he meant. All Hylians understood. Instead, she turned her gaze outward, over the heads of the panicked people. She stared into nothingness. Link watched her, following her gaze out for a moment before turning back to her placid expression. Slowly, she lifted her eyes to the mast above Link’s head. He looked up and saw a white flag, waving violently in the wind, the gold insignia lighting up with each flash of lightening. She sang softly. “In a realm beyond sight, the sky shines gold, not blue. There the Triforce's might makes mortal dreams come true.”
“Why are you singing?” Link asked.
“No better time than now to start getting in touch with the goddesses,” the commander replied. “There’s a plan to this.”
“A plan…” Link turned his eyes to the fierce battle taking place below. Passengers and crew alike wailed and screamed, climbing over each other to find whatever was left on deck that would provide any floatation.
The commander was singing once more, her voice louder and clearer than before. “With grace and charm, she alights on the island of Farore. The dream is a reality and she is the spirit guide. Take her courage lost soul, it is yours to have. Trust in her to carry you from innocence to knowledge to freedom. Have faith in the sleeper of the dust. Sing to Farore, pray for courage and she will appear. Beware your secrets, she will know them all. Take her hand to salvation.”
Suddenly, there was a strike of lightening, fiercer than Link had ever seen before. Ripping across the very fabric of space, it fell, hitting the great steering wheel of the ship. Sparks flew and flames erupted. The commander didn’t even have time to scream. She fell to the wooden planks below, smoke spiraling from her fingertips. Things slowed down as Link felt the boat begin to slowly fall apart, splitting in two right where the captain had stood. A cable from the sails, cut loose by the lightening, swung at Link, hitting him in the temple. Then, everything went black.
"You're going to be all right." A soft voice broke the silent void. Link slowly opened his eyes. At first, all he could see was a bright white light, stinging his eyes. Gradations of color started to appear, swimming in front of his vision. Blinking several times, he tried to clear his head. That’s when the brilliant pain set in. His head began throbbing, sending shooting pains down through the base of his skull to his shoulders. He knew he wasn't dead because of the pounding pain in his temples, but before him, stood an angel.
She was a tall and slender woman with light orange hair framing her round face. At first he thought it was Princess Amanda. She had the same regal bearing, only she wasn’t dressed in fine silks or royal robes, but rather in a light cotton dress, tied around her tiny waste with a red slash. There was no way she could have been Amanda anyway, she was far too young. Link doubted she could have been much older than seventeen.
"Where am I?" he muttered, squeezing his eyes shut again.
"You're on Koholint Island," she said soothingly.
Link opened his eyes again, this time in surprise. He realized that she was speaking his language perfectly. A rush of relief ran over him. "Where?" he asked sitting up to examine this surroundings. He was in a cozy little dwelling. From the looks of it, it was only one room, but it was a large one room. From his position, supine on a bed in the middle of the room, he noticed another bed to his right, flushed against the wall.
"Koholint Island," a male voice replied. Sitting in a rocking chair, Link saw a jolly looking man, with black hair and a large mustache to match. He looked a lot like Matara, at first glance, but he too was dressed in the simple clothing of a peasant. As Link examined him, he noticed that the tips of his ears were rounded, like a Human, not pointed like a Hylian.
"I've never heard of Koholint Island before," Link said, rubbing his temple. The girl had moved to a dresser against the back wall. She opened the top drawer and removed a glass bottle, filled with a thick red liquid. After removing the cork in the bottle neck, she came to Link’s side and sat down on the bed, gently dabbing a small amount of the goo on his forehead. Instantly, a cooling sensation rushed through his temples. The pain stopped.
"I'm not surprised," the man continued, "we don't get many visitors here. In fact, you're the first outsider to ever come here."
Link nodded to the girl, giving her a smile. "How come I've never met anyone from Koholint then?"
"No one ever leaves either," she said, rising from the bed. Link detected a hint of sadness in her tone, even an amount of shortness. He watched her walk back to the dresser, returning the medication to the drawer.
He swung his legs over the side of the bed. "Why not?"
"You can’t get more than a mile off our shores,” she said. Now she sounded downright angry. “People have tried, believe me. One time, a man I knew got almost a mile and half out before a shark came along and punctured a hole clean through the floor of his raft.”
The older man chuckled. “Don’t forget that time that Lexx’s father tried to go sailing out beyond the shores. His wind sails caught on fire.” Neither Link, nor the girl seemed to see the humor in this.
“I don’t understand,” Link said. “I mean, just because you people have bad luck with sea fairing…”
“It isn’t bad luck,” she said tightly. “It’s more than that.”
“A monster,” the man said wisely. “That’s what it is. They say some sort of creature beyond our understanding is what causes all this, as you call it, bad luck. No one, in the entire history of Koholint has ever left. No one’s even gotten beyond the most distant rocks of our shores.”
“But I have to go home,” Link said urgently.
“Son,” the man said gently, “you are home.”
Link was silent for a long time. "You mean," he asked quietly, "I'm stranded here?"
"It would appear to be that way. But where are my manners? Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Tarin and this pretty pearl,” he pointed to the red head, “is my daughter Marin."
"What's you name?" Marin asked, leaning against the dresser.
"What? My name?" he murmured sourly, "What difference does it make?" He fell backward on his back, shutting his eyes and pulling his green cap over his face. Inside, he couldn’t describe what he was feeling. Turmoil mostly.
"Well that was awfully rude," Marin said in sotto to Tarin.
"Marin, the boy's life has just been torn apart, show some compassion," Tarin pleaded, leaning over to pat her hand.
She sighed irritably. "Then I'm sure our nameless guest won't mind if I open a window, it's a bit stuffy in here," Link sensed something dangerously cocky in the girl's voice, even though he couldn’t see her walking over to the shuttered windows against the wall.
Suddenly, with a loud snap, sunlight streamed into the little hut. It penetrated Link's eyelids painfully. He heard a shriek, followed by voices, lots of voices. Link opened his eyes and lifted the hat away from his face, sitting up to look at the window. There were faces, thousands of faces, it seemed, peering in through open window. They were all murmuring, exclaiming undifferentiated different things. Marin stood smugly to the side, with her hands folded across her chest.
"What are they doing?" Link asked in a high pitched voice, scuttling away from the window on his hands. He hit the headboard with a loud thud and cringed.
"I told you," Tarin smiled, "They've never seen an outsider before, they're a bit curious about you." Link groaned and pulled a pillow tightly over his head. “Marin dear,” Tarin said, “why don’t you go outside and chase away the crowds? I think you’ve given them enough of a peek for now.”
“All right,” Marin said. She gathered up her skirts in one hand and curtsied grandly to Link. “If I have permission of course.” Tarin gave her a stern look and she walked out the door. As soon as she shut it, a gaggle of girls rushed around from the side window, babbling excitedly at the same time.
The one of the local girls, Tracy, grabbed Marin’s arm, pulling her excitedly from the doorway. "He's not all that unlike us," Tracy cried.
"But he's different," Marin sighed.
“Oh for goodness sake!” the local healer, Valerie, exclaimed. “He’s not even on the island a full day and you’re already gossiping about him!” It was a well known fact that Valerie hated gossip, yet she kept the strangest company considering this.
A girl with short dark hair, hidden beneath a green felt cap, draped her hands over Valerie’s shoulders, grinning mischievously. "Lighten up Valerie," Matilda said, noticing her unease.
"I just thought we were more than gossiping birds," Valerie said plainly.
"We are," Tracy said, "gossiping is for the older women, we're just discussing the hottest topic on the island."
"What's his name Marin?" Marnie asked, putting her hand on the head of an excited child who was jumping around her feet. Marnie had five children, the quints, who were chronically in orbit of her.
"I don't know, he wouldn’t tell me," Marin admitted, "we can just call him Mr. X."
A very curvy woman, Elinor, grabbed Marin’s other arm, pulling her in the opposite direction from Tracy. "He doesn't really like it here, does he?" she asked worriedly.
"Does anybody really like this crummy island Meowmeow?" Matilda asked, evoking Elinor’s long time nickname.
"What's there not to like?" Valerie asked indignantly, bushing a tuft of blond hair over her shoulder and putting her hands on her hips. "We've got sunshine, moonshine, trees, flowers, lakes, ponds..."
"Demons, monsters, sea storms," Matilda finished for her.
"Face it, Val," Marin sighed, "this island is just a pretty prison."
Tracy started pulling Marin back in the other direction. “Details girl!” she demanded. “I want to know everything, starting with the moment you found him washed up on the beach to the moment you walked out that door.”
Marin yanked her arm free of Elinor’s grasp and reached over, yanking a pale blue bow out of Tracy’s brown hair. “Details?” she asked haughtily, “you want details?” With that she began racing up the northern road, Tracy, Matilda, Valerie, Marnie, and Elinor in hot pursuit.
Link had taken a walk. He hadn't really planned on going anywhere; he just followed a path of his own design, passing a house with a rather large dog in the yard and then one with an old woman sweeping outside. She called out a friendly greeting to him, but he just walked by. He walked by a village well and a beautiful library filled with books that had apparently washed up on the island's shores, rather like himself.
Now he was on the beach. A sign proudly proclaimed ‘Toronbo Shores’ in large black letters. Link looked out at the stretch of land before him. The water was perfectly blue with white crowned waves that rolled in and out kissing the grainy yellow sand with little green plants popping up here and there.
Something had caught his eye. The hot, golden sun, which was doubtlessly already burning his thin Hylian skin, was shining down on something metal and the glare on the metal, in turn, was shining in his eyes. Link began to make his way toward it, carefully avoiding the little animals creeping across the sand. He couldn't see it until he was almost on top of it, but he knew what it was. Half buried in the sand was his sword, the trusty blade mirroring the sun.
He slowly pulled it out of the sand and held it at his eye level. The Master Sword was so familiar, his name on one side of the blade and the legend on the other. Sullenly, he recalled the day he had found it in the forest west of North Castle, on his daring quest to ride Hyrule of Ganon. Seeing it now made him think of home. Hyrule seemed so far away all of a sudden.
A shadow fell over the sword and Link’s back and his head snapped up. Spinning around quickly, Link found himself face to face with the source of the shadow. Before him stood two very interesting characters. The first was a man, sort of. Bright red hair ran down his neck like a mane. He regarded Link with kind eyes, granite gray, sporting enormous pupils. Confusing his kindly expression, however, was his grin which displayed pearly white teeth, more like fangs. On his should was the second of the two characters, a beautiful owl who's eyes seemed to lock on Link instantly. Instincts screaming at him, Link tensed for battle.
"Yours?" the red-haired man asked. His voice was soft, nothing like the growl Link had been expecting.
"W-what?" Link stuttered, slightly baffled.
"Yours?" he asked again, pointing to the Master Sword with a black claw.
Link relaxed his muscles, both relieved and embarrassed from his expectations of battle. "This? Oh, yes."
"Ah," he said. He reached out and pulled the sword toward him with both hands. Link was amazed when he saw no blood spill from his palms. The strange glanced at the inscription. “Link,” he read. He released the sword and put one hand on his chest "Carry," he said.
"Carry?” Link repeated. The stranger nodded. “W-well, good to meet you Carry."
Carry grinned, displaying his teeth again. "Ezri," he said pointing to the owl.
"Ezri? The owl's name is Ezri?"
"Yes. We live in the Animal Village," he pointed east.
Link fumbled for words. As he examined Carry, who was a good foot and a half higher than him, he realized that he had absolutely no idea what he was. Link had never seen anything remotely like this creature before. "The Animal Village?"
"Sister to the Mabe Village. Little Marin lives in the Mabe Village, and Valerie and Tarin."
"I see," Link said, beginning to get a picture of the island. The Mabe Village must have been where he had just come from. "So the Mabe Village is to the north, the beaches here are in the south, and the Animal Village is in the east."
"The Ukuku Prairie is in the east too, and the desert and the graveyard," Carry explained enthusiastically.
"What's that way?" he asked pointing north, "after the Mabe Village?"
"The Mysterious Forest, then Tal Tal Heights.”
“Wow,” Link marveled, “I certainly found the right person to ask about the geography of Kola…Kolon…um…”
“Koholint,” Carry supplied.
“Ezri and I have tracked the entire island. I make maps,” he explained proudly, touching his claws to his chest.
"Do you have a map of this island?" Link asked.
"Sure," Carry said. He parted his saffron robes and withdrew a yellowing scroll of parchment.
Link took the scroll and unrolled it. Neatly drawn in black ink was an organized grid. Within the squares were little pictures and captions, explaining what each location was. "How much for the map?"
"Normally, ten Rupees, for you, it’s free. You’re the first outsider to ever want one.”
"Gee, thanks.” Link smiled, though inwardly he must have been scowling. Rupees? That was the currency of Hyrule. They used them on Koholint, yet no one from Koholint knew a thing about Hyrule? That didn’t make any sense.
"Carry, I see you've met our new friend," a voice said suddenly. Link turned around to see a stunning woman with brown hair, flanked by five other women, including the girl called Marin.
"But I haven't," another said stepping forward. "Marnie," she addressed Link, offering him her hand. Link didn't know whether to kiss it or shake it. He shook it.
"I'm Valerie," a pretty blond said in a soft voice, giving Link a warm smile, "and this is Tracy, this is Elinor, and this is Matilda.” She gestured to the leader of the pack, then a woman whose dress was covered in dog hair, then a girl in a brown tunic with a felt cap. “I believe you already know Marin," she added, waving her hand in the direction of the angelic red head.
"On your way to food?" Carry asked them.
"On your way to food?" Link repeated questioningly. He realized that his hand was still being grasped by Marnie. Gingerly, he pried her fingers loose and took a step back. He didn’t like the way she was looking at him.
"He means the community meal," Tracy explained, "we all eat together in the house by the bay."
"Doesn't that get difficult?" Link didn’t really care, but he found it polite to at least pretend to show some interest in island life.
"Not really," Elinor said, "we take turns cooking and cleaning up, it all works out."
An old woman had appeared from the east. She was the same woman Link had seen her earlier sweeping outside a house in the Mabe Village. She smiled at the group, her eyes crinkling with a hidden youth. "You better get over to lunch," she called, "We're having chicken."
“Again!” Marnie exclaimed.
"Come on pal," Tracy said, slapping Link on the back, "we'll show you the way." They all began to walk off, Link practically being dragged. Matilda, however, broke away from the group, veering down to the edge of the shore. Valerie glanced over her shoulder and saw her. She stopped, letting the group get well ahead of her before she turned around and followed after Matilda.
"What are you doing?" she asked quietly.
"Nothing," Matilda replied, now wadding ankle deep in the water.
"Aren't you going to eat?"
"I'm not hungry." She was scanning the water, her head going back and forth as her eyes swept from west to east then from east to west again.
"What are you doing?" Valerie demanded again. The direct approach was always best, she reasoned.
"Just looking," Matilda said irritably.
"Nothing." Valerie stared at her for a moment. She dropped down into the sand, folding her arms and staring out at the horizon. "Aren't you going to eat?" Matilda asked, looking down at her.
"I'm not hungry."
"Okay," Matilda said sitting down next to Valerie in the sand, "I get the point."
"What point?" Valerie asked innocently.
"Never mind." They were both silent, listening to Tracy chatter as she and the rest of the flock led Link over to Grandma Ulrira for introductions.
"What were you looking for?"
"Well," Matilda said sheepishly. "Mr. X washed up after a shipwreck. I thought maybe some other stuff might wash up."
"What kind of, other stuff, did you expect to find, pray tell?"
"No, I don't know, enlighten me," Valerie said crisply.
"Stuff," Matilda shrugged in exasperation, "clothes, crates, jewels, or spices. Cargo I guess."
"Really Matilda!" Valerie fumed, "you're a vulture, preying off of others misfortunes like that."
"Well there's no sense in letting perfectly good cargo go to waste."
Valerie shook her head. "I can't believe you."
"A ship has been destroyed, people have died and all you can think about is claiming its goods."
"Look, here's how I see it. You live in the woods, you see the same trees day in and day out, but me, I see the waters which aren't a part of this island, they come and go bringing things with them."
"You sound like Marin, dreaming of an outside world."
"No, I'm no so starry-eyed, I'm more practical," Matilda said, sounding very defensive.
"There's a fine line between being practical and being heartless."
"Valerie, I'm not heartless. It’s just that, well, we’re all alone out here. Anything new adds some excitement to this dull life. Don’t you ever get curious?"
"I think that Mr. X is excitement enough for now," Valerie replied evenly.
"Maybe you're right, but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming of places beyond the island. Maybe Mr. X will be able to answer all of our questions.”
“Don’t harass him with questions, Matilda, not now.”
“I don’t get you Valerie,” Matilda said, giving her a cock eyed look. “You’re acting like seeing a stranger wash up on our shores happens every day. Does nothing surprise you? Does nothing excite you?”
For the next few days, it was decided that Link would stay with Marin and Tarin in their small one-room hut. Marin had given up her bed to Link, more for her father's sake than for his. The bed was hard and the sheets were thin, but he pretended to be grateful. Marin gave Link a patchwork quilt to keep him warm until he got used to the tropical climate of Koholint, then she had disappeared.
"It's a bit chillier than usual tonight," Tarin babbled as he shuffled around the room, "must mean rain."
"Doesn't rain often around here?" Link asked, not caring one way or the other.
"No," Tarin said as he opened a drawer and riffled through its contents. While Tarin was busy, Link quietly drew his sword and stuffed it between the bed and the mattress.
"Where did Marin go?" he murmured absently sitting down on the edge of the bed.
"Oh she probably went off to Manbo Pond," Tarin replied, "Or Tal Tal Heights. It doesn't matter; she knows to be back by sunset."
Link raised a curious eyebrow. "What's at sunset?"
"They say demons come out at sunset and roam the island. There are all kinds of ancient stories about them. They say some carry swords or spears. They haunt the shore and deserts, and woods. Tracy says she's seen them with her own eyes," Tarin said darkly.
"Really?" Link asked, wide-eyed, suddenly hungry for some excitement.
"Nobody knows for sure," Tarin shrugged, laughing it off, "but that's why no one is ever out after sunset. Better be safe than sorry, lad, that’s what we know."
"Well, in that case, I think I'll go for a quick stroll before sunset," Link said getting up.
"Okay." Tarin said. He laughed a bit to himself as he heard Link slam the door shut.
Link had already grown tired of wandering the Mabe Village so as soon as he cleared the threshold of Marin and Tarin’s house he turned left heading away from the village as fast as his legs could carry him. In the quiet evening calm he could hear Marnie yelling at her husband, Papahl, while a dog barked from inside Madam Meowmeow's house. Despite his extreme depression, Link had taken pains to try and learn everyone’s names. In some ways, he considered himself an ambassador for Hyrule. He was, after all, the first Hylian to set foot on the island, and when he left, and he did plan to find a way home, he wanted them to think kindly of him and his homeland.
He rounded some rocks piled on top of each other and found himself face to face with another large sign. ‘Ukuku Prairie’ this one said in the same bold black lettering. Seeing a friendly signpost on every corner reminded him of home in many ways. How would he get back there? Marin and Tarin had told him that some magical force was keeping everyone trapped on the island. Perhaps he could fight it? He was the Hero of Time after all. Wasn’t it his job to fight monsters and dark things?
"How dare you!" a sharp voice sliced through his train of thought. He stumbled over a bush at the sudden cry, losing his balance and falling face first into the grass. Standing up, he regained his posture and took note of his surroundings. He was deep in the prairie. To his left was a field of wild bushes and to his right was a garden with several tall trees, unattended and growing completely out of control. Looking up ahead on the path he saw a house. The voice he heard was coming from someplace nearby that house.
"You've sunk to a new low" the voice continued. Link recognized it now, it was that girl named Valerie.
"I'm honored," an unfamiliar male replied smugly. Link rounded the corner of the small house and found the source of the argument. There was Valerie all right; standing with the cockiest man Link had ever seen. He was tall with long black hair, tied back with an orange ribbon in a ponytail. Icy blue eyes peered out of his boney skull, overpowered by a smirk that was begging for a punch in the nose.
"You can't get away with blackmail!" Valerie was shouting.
The man gave her an incredulous look. "It seems that I can," he said coolly, “after all, I’ve been getting away with it for a good nine years now.” He folded his very muscular arms across his chest, leaning against the side of the house.
"What's going on?" Link asked stepping in, always the hero.
The strange man looked Link up and down, his square jaw set in a scowl. "Ah, the famed Mr. X," he said at last, cooing with some sort of secret delight.
Link blinked. "What?"
He waved it off with a flick of his wrist. "Never mind, may I introduce myself? My name is Prince Richard." Touching his fingertips to his chest, he bowed deeply, the ponytail flipping over his shoulder.
"You're not a prince," Valerie muttered dryly.
"Prince Richard," he repeated in response to Valerie’s comment, "a pleasure to meet you." He held out his hand but Link didn't shake it.
"I believe I heard the word blackmail," Link said stone-faced.
Valerie pointed an accusing finger in Richard’s direction. "Yes, he's blackmailing me."
"Blackmail is such a harsh word, don't you think?" Richard said to Link. He walked over to Link, leaning forward as if to share some sort of ancient wit. "Everyone on this island has a secret, you see, even this little angel," he gestured Valerie, who gave him a dirty look. "My job," he continued, "is merely to discover them and get small favors in return for silence."
Link stared at him as if he were insane, which Link was beginning to suspect. "Sounds like blackmail to me," he said dryly.
Richard shrugged. "I call it a hobby. It all depends of your point of view, I suppose."
"I think your point of view is messed up Richard," Valerie deadpanned.
"Whatever. So, as you see Mr. X, I can get anyone's secret so you might as well tell me yours and save us both a lot of time and trouble." Link folded his arms sternly across his chest, continuing to stare at him in disbelief. "A typical response. Have it your way," Richard sighed, "and Valerie, think about my offer." With that, Richard went into the house and slammed the door.
"What was that?” Link asked staring at the door, trying to comprehend what had just transpired.
"You’ll get used to it. Thanks for getting the Richard, formerly known as Prince off my case, at least for awhile" Valerie sighed.
“He’s not really royalty?”
“No. Koholint doesn’t have a monarchy. It’s a long story behind Richard’s delusions.”
"Oh. Well. What did he want?"
"It’s complicated,” Valerie said. “Richard supports himself through blackmail. It’s his only source of income.”
"What a creep."
"He was right about one thing though," she said with a twinkle in her eye. "This is an island full of secrets."
Link furrowed his brow. "What do you mean?"
"Shhh!" Valerie said putting her finger to her lips. She gestured grandly to the empty air. "Listen."
Link stood perfectly still for a moment, feeling rather foolish. As it was, he was beginning to think that everyone on this island was completely batty. Nevertheless, he concentrated all his energy to listening. Suddenly, he realized what he was listening for. He heard music, soft at first, then growing louder. It was sad, but beautiful at the same time, on some sort of flute or woodwind. "What is it?" he breathed, feeling a pain beyond words sink in through his skin.
"Marin," Valerie replied, "up on Tal Tal Heights. She likes to play up there because she thinks no one can hear her."
"What's it called?" Link asked, still entranced by the melody.
"Ballad of the Wind Fish," Valerie said looking up in the direction of the sweet sound. "She wrote it herself. It speaks of dreams."
"Marin once told me that if she could have one wish, she'd wish to be a seagull, then she would fly away to sing to the people of different lands. Marin has always believed."
“Believed in what?”
“That someday Koholint would be touched by the outside world. She always knew it was there.”
“Why is that so important to her?”
“Because, to many, things never change on Koholint.”
"I can see how this island would provide a sheltered life."
"There's more to it than that." They were silent for a time, listening to the music. "It's getting dark; we should head back to the Mabe Village."
He nodded absently, following her up the winding road, through the prairie, and back to the small village. All the while, he was captivated by the mysterious song. Something about it was hauntingly familiar, though he couldn’t place just where he had heard it before. Link had a rough night. He tossed and turned and dreamed of a land far away called Hyrule. He finally gave up trying to sleep and lay awake listening to Tarin snore.
The next morning, was hot. The sun streamed down through the trees, causing the waters of Manbo Pond to steam. It was a morning ritual that after breakfast, the younger women of the Mabe Village would travel down to the small lake to wash. Usually, they talked and laughed but Matilda noticed that Marin was unusually quiet today. She watched her carefully, floating on her back with her head down a few inches in the water, blocking out all sound. Her dress flared out around her legs, making it look as though she were floating on a bright green cloud instead of in the water.
"Marin," she called after awhile. Of course, Marin couldn’t hear her. She continued to drift along in the water, seemingly undisturbed by the splashing of the others.
Tracy glanced over at Matilda then followed her eyes to Marin. She giggled and picked up a small flat stone, casually throwing it into the water, inches from Marin's head.
Marin shrieked, losing her buoyancy and dropping into the water. She came up for air, spitting water out of her mouth, her orange hair plastered to her forehead. "What was that for?" she demanded.
"You were in a world of your own," Tracy snickered. “Again.”
"That was mean," Valerie muttered from a few feet away, wringing water out of her long yellow hair.
"What do you want?" Marin groaned as she climbed out of the pond, her dress dripping all over the grassy forest floor.
"What's with you?" Matilda asked, "You've been so quiet today."
"Nothing," Marin replied absently.
"Puh-lease," Tracy said, rolling her eyes. “I know you Marin. I’ve known you your entire life and you are never quiet for this long without a good reason.”
"It's nothing," Marin insisted, "I just had a weird dream and I'm trying to sort it out."
"Tell us about it," Matilda offered.
"Not, it's not that important."
"Why don't you go to the Dream Shrine?" Valerie suggested. "And sort things out."
"Maybe," Marin sighed.
Matilda shuttered. “I hate the Dream Shrine,” she said.
“How can you hate it?” Tracy asked. “I’ve never once seen you go near it, let alone into it.”
“The whole idea gives me the creeps,” she mumbled dismissively. “A mysterious building where you got specifically with the purpose of hallucinating? Whose idea was that?”
“It’s not hallucinating,” Valerie shot back, “it’s dreaming, there’s a difference.”
“It’s a fine line.”
Tracy clapped her hands together loudly. "Well, I have a lot of work to do today," she said, changing the subject.
"Oh really?" Valerie asked, "What?"
"After I collect what I need for business, I have to cook; it's my turn to make dinner."
"Note to self, miss dinner. Tracy is cooking," Matilda chided.
"Well, I have to hunt today," Marin said, picking up her bow and arrows she had kept nearby, "I'll see you later." She ran off leaving a trail of water behind her.
"I'm worried about her," Tracy said in sotto, "I've never seen her so upset."
“Are you sure she should be hunting while so distracted? She could hit someone,” Matilda muttered.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Tracy sighed. “Marin does have the best aim with a bow of anyone on the island. And think about it this way, if she is distracted enough to miss, maybe she’ll hit Richard and do us all a favor.” Valerie and Matilda laughed graciously, Tracy looking quite pleased with herself.
"Must have been some dream," Matilda commented, "Maybe about her mother?"
"I don't think so," Valerie said.
"She never knew her mother anyway," Tracy said, dismissing the notion with a wave of her wet hand.
"Ezri!" They heard a voice cry off in the distance.
“Guess who’s coming,” Tracy groaned.
Matilda grinned. “He made friends with Mr. X right away.”
“It’s not hard for Carry to make friends,” Valerie said. “After all, once you get past how he looks, he’s really quite friendly.”
"Carry!" Tracy called out, "come over here for a moment!" They heard heavy footsteps come closer to them. Soon, Cary peeked his head around the trunk of a tree, offering them a fanged smile.
"You want to buy a map?" he asked Tracy.
"Maybe later," Tracy said. She patted an empty patch of grass next to her. Carry obediently came and sat down beside her, letting his bare feet dangle in the cool pond water.
"Carry, where's Ezri?" Valerie asked noticing that the much beloved owl was missing.
"Don't know," Carry sighed, "he just suddenly flew away."
"I'm sure he'll turn up," Tracy said hurriedly, "but for now, let's talk about the outsider."
"Tell us about him," Matilda urged Carry, standing behind him and resting her elbows on his broad shoulders, "you must know something."
"Not much," Carry replied, looking up at her.
"Anything?" Tracy probed.
"He found a sword on the beach. Says it was his, real nice sword too. Silver inscribed blade with a blue-gemmed handle."
"I wonder what the inscription said," Matilda thought aloud. “Did you get a chance to read it?”
Carry shook his head, causing his mane of bright red hair to fly out in all directions. "Probably the legend of the sword," he said, "every sword like that has to have a legend."
"A new story," Matilda said excitedly, "wouldn't that be great? A new story from the outside!"
"Those waterlogged books in the library were getting pretty old," Tracy admitted.
"I’ll bet Mr. X can tell us lots of stories," Matilda said dreamily.
"About the outside?" Carry asked.
"Absolutely," she replied.
Valerie rolled her eyes. “Will you three listen to yourselves? Mr. X has been shipwrecked on our island. He is our guest. The last thing he wants from you right now is to be pestered about his homeland. Especially since he knows right now that he’ll never see it again.”
“I really can’t believe you’re not even remotely curious Valerie,” Matilda said evenly.
“Well I’m full of surprises.”
Link pushed aside a bush that was blocking his way. This forest had more bushes and shrubs than trees. It reminded him a bit of the forest back in Hyrule, but he pushed that thought aside. No use dwelling on a place so very far out of reach. Besides, it was unfair to form an opinion of a new place based on a comparison. He tried to remember which of the wise men had taught him that, but found that he couldn’t.
Everything was still, peaceful. Link almost regretted having taken his sword with him, though in truth it had become something of a security blanket for him. He felt that, as long as he had it with him, he was still connected to his calling. Anyway, stillness made him uncomfortable; he needed all the comfort he could create. The trees were all tall and green, casting cool pools of shade that overlapped each other over the grassy ground. There was a crisp, clean smell that refreshed Link's tired senses. Little insects buzzed and chirped unseen in the green. Everything was so still, so peaceful that it was driving him insane.
The morning so far had gone by in a blur. Link had been heralded around the island by various villagers, introducing him to every blade of grass and every flower. After a hurried breakfast in a small house by the bay, the entire population of the Mabe Village and the Animal Village, a good seventy people, splintered, everyone going about their daily business. Link found himself feeling more alienated than ever, in part, due to the fact that he had no daily business to go about. Inside, he wondered which would be worse, spending the rest of his life apart from the village life, or assimilating into it, thereby losing every last semblance of his Hylianity.
Link heard a low whistle suddenly fly past his head, and the next thing he knew, an arrow had struck the tree behind him. He looked at it. “What the…?” The bushes in front of him rustled and he turned to them. Marin appeared from behind the brush, a quiver strapped to her back, a wooden bow clutched tightly in her hand. When she saw where her arrow had hit, she raised her hand to her mouth to suppress a giggle. "That's not funny," Link scolded her. "You could have killed me."
"I'm so sorry," Marin laughed. "I thought you were a boar."
“A boar huh?” She had walked over to him, so he reached out, grabbing the bow with one hand. “Do you even know how to work this thing?”
Marin yanked the bow back, wrenching it out of his hand. “Exceedingly well,” she replied coolly.
“You missed the ‘boar,’” he said.
“Lucky for you. Don’t tell me you’ve never missed with that sword of yours.” She pointed to the hilt of the Master Sword, just peeking over Link’s shoulder.
"You know, where I come from we consider it cruel to hunt animals like that," Link said, quickly changing the subject.
She stared at him for a moment, her brow furrowed in thought. "Well, where I come from we have a little saying: You don't hunt it, you don't eat it."
"Does your father every hear you talk like this?" Link asked, turning around to pull the arrow out of the tree.
"My father raised me," Marin said indignantly.
"That raises another question," Link said. "Why do you call him Tarin?"
Marin gave him a funny look. "That's his name.”
"Why don't you call him Dad, or Father or something?"
"You hardly should be one to lecture about names, especially since you won’t even tell me yours. Anyway, you're asking an awful lot of questions," Marin snapped, snatching the arrow out of his hands. "You sound like Richard."
"Ah, the charming fellow I met last night," Link deadpanned. “Is he always like that? Because I sort of felt the need to do him bodily harm.”
"Well, get used to him," Marin sighed as she began to walk away.
"Why, may I ask?" Link questioned, running after her.
"Because he isn't going to leave you alone until he digs up some dirty secret, or thinks he has." She began to walk faster.
Link sped up, matching her pace. "Well, what if I don't have any secrets?" he asked.
"Everybody does," she cried, looking over her shoulder and laughing to see him trailing behind her. She started to walk faster.
"What's yours?" Link yelled after her, but she was now at a full scale run. He tried to follow and catch up to her, but before he knew it, she had disappeared in the green. Slowing to a stop, Link watched the spot where she had disappeared. A strange sense of déjà vu crept up on him. Something was familiar about this. He reenacted the scene in his mind’s eye. Marin almost shot him in the head with an arrow. They talked. She moved away from him. He ran after her but he couldn’t catch up and she disappeared.
Shrugging the strange sensation off as stress, Link turned back and started to walk in the opposite direction, up north. There was something about Marin that made him feel extremely childish. In time, he thought, it might be pleasant to explore some of the possibilities. She was, after all, an amazingly attractive girl, and from what he had heard Valerie saying, in many ways she might be just as alienated from the island as he felt.
Matilda was walking the beach, running her eyes across the sand. She spotted a flailing fish, flopping on the shore and immediately went over to it. Picking it up by the slimy back tail, she held it up, measuring it quickly before tossing it back into the water. In the distance, she could see Carry skulking through some of the old sea caverns down the way. For a moment, she considered walking over to him, but her will was somewhat lax. The water was warm today, she noted, so was the sand. She should have worn shoes.
She sat down in the sand, allowing the waves to hit her feet. Sighing, she fell back and looked up at the sky. It was a pretty blue with puffy little clouds. Matilda wondered what it would be like to look down from those clouds. What a funny thought, flying. A small grin appeared on her face and for awhile, she let her mind go blank. She was lost in that sky. Was this what Marin thought about when she was lost in one of her daydreams?
"Matilda!" Carry called her out of her lull.
Groaning quietly, Matilda sat up, brushing the sand out of her hair. "What is?" she asked loudly, turning in Carry’s direction. Instead of crawling through the caves which were way too small for him, Carry was standing in the middle of the back beach, leaning over something that Matilda couldn’t see, his hands resting on his knees.
"Come over here," he shouted.
Rolling her eyes, Matilda began to walk over to Carry. This had better be important, she thought, Carry was very excitable. Who knew whether this would be relevant or not? "What is it?" she asked again.
"Look," he replied pointing to the sand. Matilda followed his claws to discover the source of his excitement. Half buried in the yellow grains was the most magnificent shield Matilda had ever seen. It was big and made out of some alien blue metal. On the back, was a handle made of the same metal. On the front was a large red bird accompanying three golden triangles which formed a pyramid.
"Do you suppose this belongs to the outsider?" Matilda muttered, unable to take her eyes off it.
"Maybe,” Carry replied, kneeling down to brush the sand off of it. “It matches the sword.”
Matilda reached over and picked it up, slipping her fingers into the seamless handle. It was surprisingly cool in the warm sun. "There's no name on it," she said scanning both sides.
Carry pointed his claw to an inscription directly on the tip of the handle. "Right here,” he said.
She narrowed her eyes, trying to make out the writing. "Link," she read. "That can't be a name. A link is a piece of chain. Or sausage.”
"Are you sure?"
"The sword said link, too," Carry admitted.
"What should we do with it?" Matilda sighed.
Carry shrugged his broad shoulders. "Give to the guy?"
"Sell it to me," a voice said suddenly. Matilda and Carry looked up to the ridge above the back of the beach. Standing on top of it, one leg propped on a rock, was Richard, decked out in his heavy navy cape that he reserved only for the most important of strolls through the Mabe Village.
"I beg your pardon?" Matilda said, raising an eyebrow.
"Sell me the shield," Richard said, kicking the rock out from under his foot and jumping down onto the sand.
"Have you been watching us?" Carry asked.
"You're quick," Richard mumbled sarcastically, "but really, I'll pay you a Rupee each for it." He walked over to Matilda and grabbed a corner of the shield from her, pulling it close to let his greedy little eyes pour over it.
"Two Rupees for this?" Matilda repeated, yanking the shield free of Richard’s hands. "I don't think so."
“Have it your way,” Richard replied nonchalantly, turning around to stroll away from them. They watched him start to leave, but he suddenly turned around. "Ten, ten Rupees."
Matilda smirked. "Do I look stupid?"
"A hundred Rupees, each!" Richard begged.
"Now we're getting somewhere."
Valerie walked briskly through the Ukuku Prairie, cradling an empty basket in her arms. Without really thinking about it, she let her feet guide her along the all too familiar path, towards a rather deserted field where she knew wild herbs grew. The daily routine had grown so tedious over the years that Valerie barely gave a moment’s thought to what she was doing. After gathering the herbs, she knew she would return back to her small hut to grind some of them into paste, mix others with various liquids, and allow others to ripen on her windowsill. Monotonous though it was, she still appreciated what she was doing. After all, no one else on the island had as vast a knowledge of the healing powers of herbs. Someone had to be there to fix scraped knees and piranha bites.
She quickly ran past Richard's house, afraid he would come out and bother her. He was so annoying. Valerie held firm to the belief of always trying to find the best in a person, but Richard left her stumped. What it was making him tick, she would never know, not that she really cared that much. In truth, Richard was nothing more than a minor annoyance. In the long run, what difference did it make if he knew her secrets or fabricated them himself? He was only a delusional man. She pondered it for a moment. Here was a man who was convinced he was royalty, living in a field of wild weeds. It was just so ridiculous.
Sighing, she settled down in a large patch of green and yellow grass. She put the basket to one side and ran her hands through the soft tuff. The grass smoothed out beneath her hands like feathery down. In her mind, she was still troubled by something Matilda had said to her yesterday, about how Koholint was a ‘crummy island.’ It seemed perfectly pleasant to Valerie. True, she knew there were things beyond Human comprehension lurking in the shadows, but if one avoided the shadows, there was nothing wrong at all.
Shaking her head, she began parting the grass, searching. Almost at once, she found a bright red herb, lying hidden in the golden blades. She plucked it up and tossed it in the basket. Quickly, she found another and held it up to examine it. The bright crimson peel reflected the light. It was a perfect specimen, big and plump and heart-shaped. People always chided Valerie for her confidence in herbs. These days, everyone was more convinced that Crazy Tracy’s scientific approach to illness was the answer. Nevertheless, Valerie clung steadfast to her belief in natural healing.
Suddenly, Valerie’s astute sense of hearing picked up a sound. It was remarkably soft, almost undetectable, were it not for the mid-afternoon silence, combined with Valerie’s ears. Quite clearly, she made out the sound of strangled sobs, coming from somewhere just beyond the long row of trees blocking her vision. She gently placed the herb in her basket and stood up. Slowly she began to follow the sound, trying to be quiet, though the noise of the thick grass doubtlessly announced her presence to whoever was there.
She quietly peeked around a large tree, keeping as much of her body hidden behind the great trunk as possible. Sitting below its branches she could see Link, quickly wiping a few stray tears away from his eyes. With a sharp jerk backwards, Valerie withdrew from the scene, hoping against hope that Link had not seen her there. Taking pains to make a quiet escape, she backed up through the field and turned around only when she was a good distance away. Instinct told her that now was not the time to speak with Link. The time would present itself soon; she just had to wait patiently for the proper signs.
"My mother's hair is crimson silk, glowing in the sun. Her skin is ivory and coral with pearls for eyes," Marin quietly sang to herself as she dunked another bed sheet into the water. "Her lips are rose and violets are her sweet perfume," she had written the song herself. "A velvet cloak, beaded with stars, the golden sun a comb for her hair." Funny, the song didn't really make her think of her mother. More, it made her think of a mermaid, and not the one in Martha's Bay. She envisioned a siren of the seas, the distant seas.
She leaned over and peered into the water. A mermaid smiled back at her; no, not a mermaid, her reflection. For a moment, she watched her face rippling in the water, churned gently by the distant waterfalls. In her mind’s eye, she envisioned herself as a mermaid, swimming beneath the falls. What a fantasy life she led! Slowly, she brought herself back to the reality at hand, laundry. She never washed her only dress because she so often swam in it, but Tarin was a different story. His clothes constantly needed to be washed, along with the bed sheets and the drapery for the house.
As she started to wring the water out of the quilt she had given their house guest last night, her mind wandered again, this time, all her thoughts consumed by the mysterious young boy. She had been thrilled when she saw him, washed up on the shore. He was an outsider, a sort of message. Tarin had often told her that there was nothing out there beyond the shores of Koholint, but now everyone knew for sure that it wasn't true.
Marin remembered the conversation she had had with Tarin many times over. He would sit in his chair, picking spores out of mushrooms and she would sit on the window sill, sharpening some arrows. "How is it possible that we're the only living things anywhere?" she would ask him. "Have you ever seen someone not from Koholint?" Tarin would ask her. "Well, what about all the things that wash up on the shores? That we gather?" "Gifts from the gods, I'm sure." "Then what's the meaning of our existence?" she would always persist, "and why are we penned up on this island?" "Marin you ask me too many questions that I can't answer. Just accept what you are in life and be the best person you can be." He would end the conversation there. Either he'd get up and make himself busy, or he'd refuse to answer any more questions.
Shaking her head she dropped the quilt back into the water. It was excellent patchwork. She let her fingers stray across the small patch of peach silk on top of the water's surface. That was her favorite piece. It was from an old dress she had had as a child.
"Hello, Marin," a voice crooned from somewhere behind her.
"What do you want Richard?" Marin sighed, not bothering to look up from her work.
Richard chuckled. "How did you know it was me?" he asked kneeling down beside her.
"The familiar stench," she replied coolly.
"Ha ha ha, very funny," Richard deadpanned.
"I wasn't joking."
"But really, must I always have a reason to stop by and visit my dear friend Marin?"
She rolled her eyes. "What do you want?"
"What do you know about the outsider?"
"What!" Marin cried, turning to look at him.
"Tell me everything. You and Tarin have had more contact with him than anyone else. What's his name?"
"I don't know."
"Would ten Rupees jostle your memory?"
"Richard," Marin sighed. "One, I cannot be bought. Two, I really don't know. Three," she was deadly quiet; "if you bother or interrogate Tarin I will rip your eyes out of your thick skull."
Richard’s eyebrows shot up. "My, we are violent, aren't we?"
"Yes, we are, especially when someone messes with our lives."
"Marin, you know there's no privacy on this island."
"Let me guess, you're going secret hunting," Marin said. She took the quilt out of the water, purposely flinging water at Richard as she transferred it into the basket of clean laundry.
"As a matter of fact, I am. Although right now his biggest secret is his name." Marin laughed and Richard gave her a bemused, though slightly irritated, expression. "Need I remind you I could go after you for a secret too?" he asked, delicately wiping the water off of his face.
"I'm sure," Marin said as she began to gather up her laundry.
"You have a serious attitude Marin. You should show some respect."
She stood up. "I respect my elders. That's respect enough."
"I am your elder,” he said, rising beside her. “I’m almost ten years your elder. And what about respecting your royalty?"
"You're not a prince, Richard."
"That's getting to be a tiring refrain," Richard whined.
"Really? And you’ve only been hearing it for what? Nine, ten years? Well try this one on for size." She picked up her laundry basket and with a great swing, nailed Richard in the gut. He let out a strange gasping noise as he toppled over and fell into the water. Marin laughed loudly, dropping the laundry basket to cover her face, smothering her giggles.
"You wicked woman!" Richard hissed spitting out some water in a fine mist.
"Aw," Marin cooed, bending over him at the waist, hands on her knees, "are we all wet?"
"Yes we are."
"Good, you needed a bath."
"What happened here?" a voice asked from the woods. Turning around, Marin saw Tarin walking out of a gathering of trees, tugging a little wagon filled with mushrooms behind him.
"Well Richard decided to take a swim," Marin said innocently, clasping her hands in front of her chest.
"That's fine, I guess," Tarin muttered absently, "here let me help you with that laundry." He bent over, grunting loudly, and picked up the basket, putting it on top of the mushroom pile. “Come back home for a little while, this sun will eat the skin off of your shoulders.” With that, he wheeled around and started heading back toward the Mabe Village.
Marin took off after him but sopped and looked back at Richard. "Enjoy your swim," she mouthed to him with a sly look.
Link felt sick. He had once been told, by one of the wise men, that impending death came in three stages; denial, realization, and acceptance. He wasn't quite sure where he was exactly, but every moment on this island was like a little death. The fact that he would never see home, Hyrule, again, was killing him. Something had triggered off the sadness that he had been trying so hard to hide, what it was though, he couldn’t tell. It didn’t matter anyway. What mattered was that something had opened the floodgates and he couldn’t close them again.
Sitting in the grass with his back against a tree, he thought about Amanda for a moment. In the years Link had spent living in North Castle, the two of them had grown to be such close friends. Grown, was the operative word. At first, she had been very hostile to him, mostly because many of the people saw him as more important than she. All that had changed. Now, though, he would never get to see her crowned queen. And Tress, his best friend in the world, the Hero of Destiny, she too was lost. They had planned to take so many adventures together, to travel the realm seeking out excitement and fighting the good fight. Overnight, those plans had turned to ashes.
He buried his head in his hands for a moment, squeezing his eyes shut and gritting his teeth. There was so much to think about. He had to prepare to start a whole new life for himself. But what could he do? Farming was too mundane and there were already plenty of shops, not that he had experience in either field. What was he good for? Where would he live? The question suddenly crossed his mind. He couldn't stay with Marin and Tarin forever. He sighed a great heavy sigh, trying to ignore the bombardment of questions that came flying at him.
Reaching into the side of his left gauntlet, he pulled out the map that Carry had given him. Not much of a business, Link mused, mapmaking on an island without visitors. He unfolded it carefully and smoothed it out on the grass before him. Let's see, there's a wild grass field by the Town Tool Shop...What was the point? No house could ever make this place home. He quietly folded the map up again. Tears stung his eyes, threatening to spill out and he jammed fists in his eyes to keep them at bay.
“I tried Higgins, really I did,” he whispered. Somehow or other, he sensed a shadow falling over him. He pulled his hands away from his face and looked up to be greeted by Carry’s warm granite eyes, looking down at him.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Nothing," Link lied. Without so much as twitching a facial muscle, Carry gave him an incredulous look. "It's really nothing, just a little homesickness."
"I don't understand," Carry said, ducking his head down with a questioning scowl on his face.
"Homesickness," Link repeated to a blank stare, "who can explain this concept?"
"It has to do with missing one's home. But you probably wouldn't understand since you've never left your home." Link frowned. He didn’t mean to sound so superior and immediately, he felt guilty for saying such a haughty thing to Carry. The strange creature had, after all, shown him nothing but kindness.
Carry didn’t seem insulted. "I'm not at home now," he said simply, his expression still confused.
"No, I don't mean your house. Your homeland; like Koholint for you and Hyrule for me. There’s a difference between a house and a home.”
"Whatever you say," Carry said, shrugging his broad shoulders. He began to walk away. Suddenly though, he turned around. “Link?” he asked.
“Will Koholint ever be your home?”
Link’s shoulders fell slightly. “I don’t see how it can ever be.”
“Because I don’t belong here Carry. I’m different.”
“Everyone is different,” Carry replied wisely.
For a full ten seconds, Carry stood still, silently examining Link. “Well,” he said slowly, beginning to walk away, “I hope you do find home.”
"Where are you off to?" Link asked.
"Looking for Ezri, have you seen him?"
"Nope, but I'll keep my eyes open."
"That's good," Carry said, "Otherwise you would bump into a tree."
A dull orange light was streaming into the little hut, making all the wooden furniture glow with a glossy shine facing the shuttered windows. Sitting on the windowsill, Marin absently placed her hand into a small shaft of light, feeling her skin warm. She listened to the rhythmic, gentle sound of Tarin’s rocking chair as it creaked back and forth, causing the floorboards to groan in slight protest.
"You were tossing and turning a lot last night," Tarin muttered as he pulled a threaded needle through the seam he was mending.
"What?" Marin asked, snapping to attention.
"I said you were tossing and turning last night."
"Something on your mind?"
"I had a nightmare."
"Folks generally experience something during the day that causes a nightmare. Perhaps you were thinking about something upsetting just as you were about to fall asleep?"
She shook her head. "Nothing happened."
"Our house guest was tossing and turning too."
"Oh,” Marin murmured, frowning slightly.
Tarin smiled. "It seems both of you had a rough night. It's understandable, though. Yesterday was quite an exciting day. Do you want to tell me about your dream?"
"It was nothing."
"I'd hardly call the sounds you made nothing."
Marin blinked in surprise. "What?"
"You were crying out some of the strangest things in your sleep."
"Oh, I don't remember, it was late. The boy was yelling things, too: Girls' names. I'll wager our little friend must have been a real ladies' man back wherever he came from."
"Oh." Marin turned her head back toward the slatted blinds making up the shutters. With one finger, she lifted the first flap and glanced out, the light falling on her face.
Tarin put down his work on his lap. "Sweetheart, what's wrong?"
"Nothing,” Marin insisted.
"Don’t tell me ‘nothing.’ Ever since your seventeenth birthday, you've been acting real quiet and all."
"Aye, you have."
She sighed, dropping her hand from the shutters. "I don't mean to," she said earnestly.
"It is because no boys have been courting you?" Tarin asked. "I know that most of your friends have boys of their own..."
She looked at him, her eyes turning deadly cold. “What about Kurt?” she asked in a very quiet, very even tone.
Tarin sighed heavily. He stopped rocking at once and swiveled in his chair, facing Marin. “I thought this might come up,” he said hoarsely.
Marin held both her hands up defensively. “No, no, no,” she said firmly, “I don’t want to go into this again.”
“Nor do I,” Tarin replied. “But it always seems to find a way of coming up. Marin, you're the prettiest girl on this whole island. There will be a boy for you, an appropriate boy; one that deserves you."
“One that you’ll approve of,” Marin whispered.
“One we both approve of,” Tarin said.
Marin shook her head. "Tarin, I'm in no hurry for a boy and I don't care about my friends' boys."
"Then what is it that’s troubling you? Won’t you tell me?"
"Marin, I'm concerned about you."
Marin jumped down from the sill and walked over to Tarin. She knelt down and looked him in the eyes, plastering a big phony smile on her face and resting her hands on his knees. "I'm all right," she said, "please believe me."
"You wouldn't lie to your old dad now, would you?" Tarin asked, lifting his bushy black eyebrows.
"Not on your life," she swore
"Marin," Tarin said, petting her red hair, "you are my pride and joy."
She smiled a genuine smile this time, allowing a faint little giggle to escape from her lips. "Tarin," she said, tilting her head to one side.
“Nothing in this world is more important to me than your happiness Marin. I could buy you jewels and pearls and treasures, but I can’t buy you love. I can only promise you that someday, someday soon, you’ll have what you’re searching for, whatever it is.”
“What makes you think I’m searching for something?” Marin asked.
“You’ve always been searching,” Tarin explained tenderly. “Ever since you were a little girl, you’ve always been looking for something that I could never give you. Who knows? Maybe the someone who can is with us now. I only hope you find it.”
Marin frowned faintly. “So do I,” she whispered.
He heard her coming before he saw her. The loud crackling of the dry grass left no one unannounced. Link was tensed, ready to draw his sword, but before he could, he saw Valerie appear before him. Quickly, he dropped his arm.
"Hello," she said cheerfully, seeming oblivious to his actions.
Link stood up from where he had been resting, beneath the large tree. "Hi," he said, eyeing her. She was carrying a lumpy white sack.
"Oh," she noticed that he was looking, "you missed lunch. I thought I'd bring you something to eat." She sat down in the shade of the tree, placing the sack between them. Not knowing what else to do, Link knelt down beside her in the grass. She gestured for him to open the sack, a very smug smile on her face. Carefully, Link pulled off the tie around the top of the sack and unwrapped the food. There was an odd purple fruit, some bread and cheese, a few cookies and...He had reached the bottom of the bag and found himself staring at three golden triangles sewn in the white fabric with shiny thread, arranged in the shape of a pyramid. There was a flash of lightening before Link’s eyes. He remembered the final moments on the ship, staring up at the Hylian flag.
“Where did you get this?” he asked softly, looking up at Valerie.
She regarded him with sad, sympathetic eyes. "On the beach. I thought you might like it," she replied quietly.
"Thank you." He almost whispered it, letting his fingers tenderly graze over the stitching.
"What does it mean?" Valerie asked after a moment.
"It's a symbol, the flag of my home."
"But what do the triangles mean?" she persisted, nibbling delicately on one of the cookies.
He glanced up at her again. "It's called the Triforce.” His eyes poured over the symbol. “An ancient artifact from an old legend."
"From your home?"
"Yes." She looked at him, her eyes filled with questions, as though she expected more. Link closed his eyes, trying as hard as he could to remember the legend of the Triforce, as told to him by Higgins so many years ago. His mind was full of useless legends, stories, poems, and verses, so it was difficult at first, but soon he found himself conjuring up the words. “The Triforce...the sacred triangle...it is a balance that weighs the three forces: Power, Wisdom and Courage. If the heart of the one who holds the sacred triangle has all three forces in balance, that one will gain the True Force to govern all. But, if that one's heart is not in balance, the Triforce will separate into three parts: Power, Wisdom, and Courage.”
“Is that the legend?”
Link nodded. “I think so. It goes on to talk about three people receiving a part of the Triforce or something like that, I don’t remember. My homeland has many such legends. It’s hard keeping track of them all.”
"Tell me about it," Valerie prompted him.
"Is that where you're from?"
"Well, tell me about Hyrule."
"Where do you start?" Link wondered aloud. "Hyrule is such a wonderful place, give or take a power hungry Gerudo or two. It's the kind of place where there’s always something new to learn, someplace to explore, someone to meet."
"Did you have many friends?"
"A few. Those that I did call friends were certainly, to put it lightly, interesting characters.”
Valerie smiled slightly. “Anyone in particular?”
“Well…” Link mused. “My best friend in the whole world was named Tress. And there were the people who raised me and Amanda of course.”
"Your special girl?"
Link laughed. "Oh no. She was, is the crown princess of Hyrule. I couldn't really have a chance with her. I'd make an awful king. No, she’s married to the king of Catalan, an ally kingdom."
"Do you have a special girl?"
"Once. I had one once," Link said, avoiding eye contact with Valerie.
"And?" she asked, trying to catch his eyes again.
"Well, once and never again. She was in a shipwreck. I thought I would meet the same fate as she, but I landed here. I guess I was lucky."
"I'm so sorry," Valerie whispered, softly, touching the back of his hand with her fingertips.
"I've lost all my friends," Link said to himself sadly. “I’ll never see any of them again.”
"Well, I'd like to consider you a friend,” Valerie replied. “But..."
He looked up at her. "But?"
"I can't be friends with a stranger," Valerie said in a matter-of-fact manner.
"A stranger? I guess that’s what I’m going to be for the rest of my life. A stranger.”
“Not necessarily,” she clucked.
“How can I change that? How will I ever bee anything besides a stranger?”
She grinned. "I don't know your name."
Link blinked his eyes in confusion. "Oh," he said slowly, looking her in the eyes again.
Valerie sat straight up, smoothing out her dress. "I need a formal introduction."
Link smiled. "All right, my name is Link." He extended his hand in her direction.
"Link,” she repeated, shaking his hand. “I'm Valerie. Good to know you Link."
"Good to know you Valerie."
Marin watched the farce playing out before her. It probably wouldn't have been so funny if she'd been involved, but that didn't cross her mind. Instead, she found herself caught in the grip of amusement, listening to Marnie’s shrill voice, answered calmly by Tracy, back and forth like a tennis match. Of course, she was careful to stand clear of either woman, lingering in a corner of the small hut, her basket resting on her hip. It was a good thing she was patient, Marin decided, otherwise she’d be missing the scene completely.
"Why should I have to give you ten Rupees?" Marnie asked loudly, for the tenth time.
"You need this, I made it, you pay to buy it," Tracy said in a monotone. “That’s the glory of capitalism. Supply and demand.”
"It's a medical expense. My son Philip has the flu."
"It may be a medical expense, but I made it. Who will pay for my labor?"
"Don't you have some special for illness?"
"I don't take insurance. Now, either pay or leave my shop."
"This is robbery," Marnie muttered, shelling out the money. Tracy handed her a glass bottle, filled with bright yellow liquid. With a loud “hmmph!” Marnie turned around, her chin length brown hair slapping her tight cheek as she stormed out of the little hut.
Tracy turned to Marin with a small, mischievous smile on her face. The two of them stood in silence until Marnie’s footsteps could no longer be heard outside then they burst out laughing hysterically. “Can you believe her?” Tracy exclaimed. “The woman spends more money on shoes than the rest of us do in a year on flour and she won’t spend a measly ten Rupees on cough syrup.”
Marin shrugged. “That’s our Marnie.”
"What can I do for you?"
"I came to see if you had a sleeping potion," Marin said.
"Not at the moment. I can mix one up for you in about an hour.”
“I can come back.”
“Having trouble sleeping?”
"I told you, I had a nightmare last night. I want to sleep peacefully through the night tonight."
"Still thinking about that bad dream, huh?”
Marin frowned. “Yeah.”
“Maybe you should consider the Dream Shrine.”
“I know, I know. I’d just rather have that as a last ditch effort, you know? It’s pretty drastic.”
“What harm can it do? At the very least, it’s a good way to waste an hour or two.”
Marin smiled slightly. “I suppose.”
The door to the shop flung open, hitting the wall and causing the various bottles on the shelves to shake and vibrate. Richard stormed in, his face bright pink. His dark hair, which was usually high and styled, lay flat against his head, giving him the appearance of a slick sea creature. "Where's Valerie?" he growled to Tracy.
"Richard," Marin cooed, "you look good after a bath."
"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that," he said, glaring at her briefly before returning to Tracy. "Crazy Tracy, where's Valerie?"
"How should I know?" Tracy snapped, planting her hands on her hips.
"Someone said you saw her. The little angel ran off with an item I intended to purchase for an obscene amount of Rupees."
"Yes, the flag," Richard returned sarcastically.
"What flag?" Marin asked.
"Oh, Richard wanted some flag that Matilda found," Tracy explained, "And Valerie asked to borrow it a little while ago."
"She stole it!" Richard bellowed.
"For crying out loud Richard!” Tracy exclaimed. “Keep your voice down, you’re scaring away decent people.”
"Watch it, Crazy Tracy," Richard warned, "or I'll be forced to share out little secret." Tracy stared at him for a moment, pure hatred screaming out of her eyes. She clamped her mouth shut.
"Well, Richard," Marin sighed, "As you can see, no one here knows where Valerie is."
"So kindly get out," Tracy finished.
"Marin,” Richard said slowly, keeping his eyes intently focused on Tracy. “You may be excused."
"Excuse me?" Marin asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I just did," Richard replied, "now get out."
"I'll be okay Marin," Tracy said, staring daggers at Richard. Marin slowly backed out the door, keeping a suspicious eye on Richard until it slammed shut with a groan and a squeak.
Richard clapped his hands together, sitting down on Tracy’s bed, propping a boot up on the bed frame. "I'm so glad she's gone. She really is a shrew.”
Tracy sighed heavily. "What do you want?" she asked, slumping dejectedly down in a chair.
"I need you to do me a favor," he said slyly, as he picked up a nearby bottle. He lifted the glass cap, sniffed the contents and then quickly replaced it.
"You don't even know what it is yet."
"Whatever it is; no."
"You're very disagreeable, Crazy Tracy," Richard said.
"I've learned from my past mistakes," Tracy replied icily.
"Well all I need is some information." he told her reassuringly. “Right now, nothing elaborate.”
"I'm not going to tell you anything about my potions. You'd put me out of business."
"Oh, do be reasonable. Why would I even care about your two cent magic?" Richard groaned. "I need a different kind of information."
"What? Pray tell."
"Tell me about Valerie."
"Richard! I told you already I don't know where she is!"
"Spare me. You are so one-tracked," Richard replied dryly.
"Then what do you want to know?"
"Tell me about her. What does she like? What does she dislike? And why the hell would she want my flag? Does she like that kind of thing?"
"The only things she dislikes are liars, cheaters, and cold, empty-hearted people: Namely, you."
"Tracy, if I had wanted to be insulted, I would have talked to Marin."
"Why do you want this information anyway?"
Richard shook his head, a little water flinging about. "Oh, Tracy, Tracy, Tracy," he said as he stood to stroll the room. "Why do you people think I'm so empty and shallow?"
"Well, for one thing, you never answer a question."
"Do I not have a soul?"
"No," Tracy muttered.
"Do I not have blood coursing through my veins, blue as it might be?" he rambled on, oblivious to Tracy.
"If you insult me, do I not cry?"
"Don't I have feelings?"
Tracy stared at him, a sudden revelation dawning on her. "You've fallen for Valerie, haven't you?" she said slowly, her jaw hanging open ever so slightly after she had finished speaking.
Richard faltered in his ramblings. He turned to Tracy with a surprised expression, blinking once or twice as though he hadn’t heard her correctly. "No."
"You can't lie to me, Richard. You could anyone else, but not me," Tracy warned. Richard's shoulders sagged, and Tracy knew she was right. “It’s only fair,” Tracy reasoned after a moment. “You know my secrets, now I know yours.”
“Words cannot describe how much I loath that logic,” Richard replied dryly. With that, he stood up and walked out of the hut, slamming the door shut behind him again.
Find Ezri, find Ezri. The simple chant ran through Carry's mind over and over again. It was agony. Not the chant itself, but rather not being able to find Ezri. Nobody seemed to realize how important that owl was to him. Then again, there were very few things they understood at all. Not that they weren't smart. Carry was consistently awed by the cleverness of the people of the Mabe Village, but they just didn't understand. And what people didn’t understand, they had a tendency not to trust. Of course, there was probably very little trust left on Koholint since Richard. Carry couldn't help but wonder what the deal with secrets was, anyway. The island would be a better place if there were no secrets.
He ducked his head under the low entrance to a small rock cave, just beyond the borders of the forest. There was very little light coming in from the mouth of the cavern, so Carry had to squint his eyes, stepping carefully over the frail gravel flooring until he managed to adjust to the dark. This was a great annoyance for Carry. Though his vision was spectacular, particularly regarding long distances, it took his eyes forever to adjust to changes in light.
"Ezri!" he called out, cupping his claws around his mouth.
"Ezri, Ezri, Ezri," the echo answered back.
A small smile formed on his lips. "Ezri!" he called out again, more to hear the echo again than anything else.
"Ezri, Ezri, Ezri," replied the faithful echo in the magic number three. Carry remembered all those books he used to read in the library about magic. They were children's books, truthfully the reason behind his fascination with owls. He recalled his favorite book, called "The Owl of Wisdom." It had been hard to read because the pages were old and some of the writing had long ago been virtually erased by the sea. But it had still been his favorite. It repeatedly mentioned three as the magic number and it spoke of talking owls.
Carry wished Ezri could talk. He could just hear Ezri's voice too. It would be soft and low, but slightly musical, just as Carry spoke when he was alone with his beloved owl. Oh, the things they could say to each other.
It was silly of course. Carry knew that magic wasn’t something meant for trifles, such as being able to carry on a conversation with a pet. Still, he had never been able to stop wondering at magic. His curiosity had gotten the better of him far too often. With a shudder, he recalled some of his more impetuous endeavors from long ago. Greedy to taste the thrill of magic, he remembered delving into the insidious entrances of the island dungeons, eagerly clutching a scroll of parchment and an inkwell, itching to map out every corner of the mysterious buildings.
He had been very foolish, he realized now, and very lucky. With age, his reading improved and he read the ancient legends about the creatures of the dungeons. Knowing what went bump in the night made him only more grateful that he had long ago given up on his explorations. Still, he had those few shining memories to cling to, and a token keepsake, Ezri.
Ezri was Carry’s confidant, the being he could whisper all his secrets to when no one else was around to listen. Once or twice, Carry had considered telling Matilda about his long forgotten adventures, but he knew her heart too well. She’d either refuse to believe him, and therefore want to see for herself, or she’d blabber about it to the rest of the island. No, he decided, better to have a silent partner in crime, one who couldn’t share their stories and get more people in trouble. Carry wanted no one to make the mistakes that he had made.
Carry stooped under a low pass into another chamber of the cave. Long, glistening stalactites dangled down from the ceiling above, forcing him to hunch over as he walked. There was no sunlight now. Whatever source of light there was, it was unfamiliar to Carry and he didn’t care to question it. In the distance, coming from someplace beyond the forest, he could hear faint marimba music.
"Ezri!" he called out again, desperate to find his trusted friend, now more than ever.
"Ezri, Ezri, Ezri..."
After finishing lunch, Link decided he wanted to take a walk up to Tal Tal heights. Valerie said she would go with him and though he wasn't sure whether he really wanted the company, but he didn't say anything. Valerie seemed to understand and she walked along, quietly, at his side, not saying much of anything. Link found himself somewhat pleasantly surprised by her perceptive nature. She always seemed to be reading his mind.
As they neared the foothills, Link turned to her and murmured, "What do you do?"
"What?" she asked, slightly baffled by such a spontaneous question.
"What do you do? Do you have a job or something?"
"I’m a healer,” she said slowly. “Not a very good one. I collect herbs from the prairie and use them to make balms. I do essentially the same thing Tracy does, though my work is a little more organic, not meant for hacking colds or headaches. Why do you ask?”
"Well, if I'm going to live here, I'll need something to do," Link explained in a mumble.
"What did you do in Hyrule?" Valerie asked.
He frowned. "Well, I'm not sure."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, it was like I was being trained."
"Something. They taught me to fight, to read and write, to run, but I never knew what it was all for.”
“You never knew,” she repeated, emphasizing the past tense. “Do you know now?”
Link shook his head. “There were moments, when I was absolutely sure I knew exactly what I was destined for, but every time I got to those moments, two seconds later, something amazing would happen that would devastate all my previous notions. Am I making any sense?”
“More than you realize,” Valerie replied.
Link kicked a few small stones out of his way. The incline had increased sharply in the past few paces. The foothills loomed ahead of them now, large gray boulders jutting out of the green hillside like open wounds. Link watched the hills grow larger with their approach. “I feel,” he said slowly, struggling for words, “like there’s always something bigger. Whenever I complete one task, there’s only going to be an even more difficult one in the immediate future.”
“Sounds awfully futile.”
“It does, doesn’t it?” Link smirked slightly, glancing to one side at Valerie.
He frowned. “No,” he replied.
“No, because every task only seems more important too, you know? If it were just difficult, I wouldn’t bother trying, but the fact that it’s important makes all the difference in the world.”
“Completing an important task sounds worthwhile.”
“It always feels that way, until the next quest rolls along. Then I just have to rise to a new challenge.”
“Do you always rise to the challenge?”
Link smiled. “Yeah, I do.”
“That makes you quite a hero.”
“The Hero of Time,” Link sighed. “That’s what they called me. The ‘chosen hero.’ Or was it ‘destined?’ I can never remember. We’ll just say ‘chosen hero’ and leave it at that.”
"'Chosen hero,'" Valerie repeated, "sounds almost musical, like a lullaby."
"Koholintites don’t have many luxuries. Music is one of the few joys that we have. It’s a beast that we can master. Marin is particularly skilled in that department. She writes her own songs and then sings them in the Animal Village, been doing it for years.”
“Or up here in the mountains where no one can appreciate them,” Link added dryly.
Valerie pursed her lips. “Songs can be personal as well as performance. Marin knows the difference.”
“Sounds like you really admire her,” Link commented.
“I do, not that I would ever care to admit it.”
Link laughed. “Your secret is safe with me.”
“Music,” she said wisely, “is the language of the soul.”
"I don't have very many musical skills," Link admitted, "I can play a little, but not much."
"What do you play?"
"A woodwind instrument from Hyrule called an ocarina. I never took any lessons though. In my less than abundant spare time, I would just pick it up and start playing. Needless to say, the results were not pretty."
“What sorts of things did you try to play?”
He shrugged. “Hylian folksongs. Definitely not the religious hymns from the temples, but the kind of songs you would hear at a county fair.”
"There's a lullaby that everyone knows on the island. Tarin wrote the words years ago. Only a many years later was it put to music."
“By me actually.”
"You must be very musical."
"Everyone is, in their own way. Most people just don't know it."
“How old are you?”
She blinked. “What?”
“You talk with the wisdom of ages, like you’ve seen it all.”
“How old do I look?”
“I don’t know. How old are you?”
“Young,” she replied.
By this time, they had reached the foothills of Tal Tal Heights. Link sat down on one of the awkwardly protruding boulders to rest for a moment. Valerie found and adjacent one nearby and sat across from Link, looking at him with a placid, unblinking expression. She had beautiful blue eyes, reminding Link very much of a thousand Hylian faces.
"Will you sing it for me?" Link asked her.
"Perhaps you should ask Marin. She sings better than I."
"She's not here right now."
"All right, but would you mind if I spoke it instead? I’ve just gotten to know you and I don’t want to scare you away yet."
"That's fine," Link agreed, chuckling.
Valerie closed her eyes. When she spoke, it was almost magical. "To the finder...the isle of Koholint is but an illusion...human, monster, sea, sky...a scene on the lid of a sleeper's eye...awake the dreamer, and Koholint will vanish much like a bubble on a needle...castaway you should know the truth!"
"I told you Richard, I don't know anything about him," Tarin said, for at least the fifth time already.
"Well he is living with you," Richard said, sauntering around the room. Tarin sighed wearily, eyeing Richard as he roamed the place. He acted as if he owned it! Now he stopped at Marin's bed was frisking the sheets like he thought he'd find something. When he didn't, he moved on to Tarin's bed and did the same thing. "You and Marin have had the most contact with him," Richard insisted.
"Have you been bothering Marin?" Tarin asked him warningly. "If you've bothered her, I swear, I'll break every bone in your miserable body."
"Marin proved most uncooperative."
Tarin’s eyebrows shot up. "Uncooperative?"
"She threw me into the water."
"That's my girl!" he beamed.
Richard folded his arms, wheeling around on Tarin. He stood over the rocking chair, looking down at him with cold blue eyes. "She's not normal Tarin. Between you and me, she's not normal."
"You're on thin ice Richard," Tarin growled, grasping the arms of his chair.
"The girl is just strange. When she's not working, she's off in a half-trance state down on the beach or up in the hills. It’s impossible to drown out the racket she makes up there. You can hear everything from my villa."
"What makes you an expert on what's normal for girls?" Tarin asked. He could feel his fingernails digging into the chair.
"I watch them. The older women gossip and younger ones have their own routines. Marin doesn't fit into either classification."
“Oh, then by all means!” Tarin exclaimed. “Your keen powers of observation must make you an expert on women!”
“Don’t mock me,” Richard said evenly.
"Tell me, would you call Elinor a normal girl?"
"No," Richard admitted, "not with that mutt of hers."
"What about Valerie?"
"A bit too happy and she spends too much time with those creatures in the Animal Village."
"Okay, Matilda or Marnie?"
"No and no."
"How dare you, then," Tarin shouted, shooting up from his chair, "how dare you say my daughter isn't normal when there isn't a single girl on this entire island who you would classify as normal!"
“I didn’t come here to discuss girls with you Tarin,” Richard said calmly, staring straight into Tarin’s eyes without any sign of fear. “I came here to talk about the stranger.”
“He’s a good lad,” Tarin replied evenly. “Much better than the company you keep.”
“Don’t displace your hatred of Kurt onto me. Kurt’s my friend, he’s not me. It’s not my fault that he fell in love with Marin.”
“You encouraged him to make her disobey me.”
“I had nothing to do with those follies.”
“I thank the gods every day that he left the Mabe Village for Tal Tal Heights,” Tarin grumbled.
“I’m curious,” Richard said. “How do you know when Marin is up there at dusk she’s not visiting with him?”
He would have hit him, then and there. He would have hit him and he would have done it without any regret. But he didn't. There was a knock at the door, the knock that saved Richard's nose.
"Aren't you going to answer it?" Richard inquired, eyeing Tarin as though he could read his mind.
"Come in," Tarin barked, not taking his eyes off of Richard for a second. He heard the door open, then close, but he didn't even spare a corner of his eye to the person who walked in: His daughter's honor at stake.
"Come back later?" the visitor questioned meekly. It was Carry.
"Carry," Richard cried, turning away from Tarin. "Just the m... person I wanted to see!"
Tarin hid a small smile of satisfaction. Richard had turned away first, giving the older man the victory in the staring contest. "What do you need, Carry?" he asked, in less than his usual cheery voice, watching Richard slink away into a corner of the room.
When Carry spoke, he sounded very much like a child who had last his favorite toy. "Have you seen Ezri?"
"No, I'm sorry, Carry," Tarin admitted, tearing his eyes from Richard to address Carry, "but I haven't." With that, he sank down into his rocking chair, groaning slightly as his stiff joints popped.
"Still looking for the owl?" Richard asked slyly from over in the corner. Maybe Tarin should have hit him.
"Yes," Carry said.
"Suppose someone saw him. Why would they bother to tell you?"
Tarin gave him a harsh look. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"You've offered no reward for your precious owl's safe return," Richard continued, ignoring Tarin's question.
Carry looked at Richard, into Richard, with his ice cold blue eyes. He focused on what Richard had just said. After blinking his granite eyes a few times, he approached him, stopping inches away. At once, his hands snapped out and took a hold of the large collar on Richard's red shirt. With more than human strength, he lifted Richard clean off the floor.
"Put me down, you over-grown bear!" Richard shrieked, his face contorting in discomfort while his cheeks turned pink.
Carry walked with Richard, still suspended, to a wall, where he slammed Richard against it. "Where's Ezri?" he growled, showing his gleaming fangs.
"You're assuming I know!" Richard said quickly, squirming in Carry's iron-wrought grasp.
"I think you do," Tarin said, folding his arms and leaning back in his chair to watch the display.
"Where's Ezri?" Carry roared again, slamming Richard’s back against the wall again.
"Put me down," Richard choked. He tried to pry Carry's big hands away from him, but he was pinned. He then felt Carry's fingers begin to creep upward toward his neck. "Okay, okay! I know where the owl is!" he screamed.
"Where?" Carry demanded.
"Put me down first," Richard squealed.
"You're in no position to be making demands," Tarin pointed out, grinning mischievously.
"Where?" Carry growled again. His fangs were just inches away from Richard's face.
"I have him!" Richard blurted out.
Carry released Richard, allowing him to drop to the ground, landing on his behind. Richard, cowardly tried to crawl away from Carry. He backed right into Tarin's feet, guarding his escape route.
"Why?" Carry asked, his temper receding.
"Well, I had every intention of returning him to you," Richard said, standing up and brushing the dust off his brown pants to no avail.
"For a reward." Carry muttered.
"More like for a ransom, if you ask me," Tarin put in.
"Nobody asked you!” Richard snapped. He turned back to Carry, who had folded his meaty arms across his chest and was glaring at Richard silently. “No, just for information," he said.
"Wait, let me guess," Tarin blurted out gleefully. "You wanted information on the outsider."
Richard didn’t even spare him a glance this time. "To put it plainly; yes."
"Bring me to Ezri," Carry growled.
"Information first," Richard insisted.
"Now!" Carry shouted. The cups and bowls on the table in the room rattled violently.
"Right this way," Richard squeaked meekly. He led Carry out the door, but kept glancing back at him over his shoulder. Tarin laughed.
Valerie and Link had somehow, in their wanderings, ended up in the Mabe Village. Though they had been gone for less than two hours, it seemed like a lifetime ago to Valerie who had observed a change in Link's physicality. He was not walking with his head down or avoiding eye contact with her. She could tell that the more he heard about Koholint, the more he hated the fact that he would have to be there for the rest of his life, but that he was grateful to have a friend by his side.
They made their way through a berry patch, just beyond the fishing pond, enjoying companionable silence. "We get lovely blooms," she murmured absent-mindedly.
"What?" Link asked, jarred from his thoughts.
"In the spring, we get lovely blossoms," she said gesturing to the bushes, dotted with purple and red berries.
She frowned. Despite her patient nature, something about the silence was beginning to irritate her. "Hey, you should check out the Town Tool Shop. They sell some really great, high quality stuff." Link had wandered over to a pecan tree. He walked around it, inspecting the fat trunk. Valerie heard the crushing of fallen pecans under Link's heavy brown boots. "Why don't you pick some pecans for us to eat?" Valerie suggested.
Link drew his sword. For a moment, Valerie was afraid he'd just cut a branch full of pecans, but he didn't. He gently hit a branch with the flat part of his sword, causing a large cluster to fall into his waiting hand. A small smirk appeared for a fleeting moment on his face, but it died quickly.
"Impressive," Valerie murmured as she watched him crack the shells.
Link shrugged and handed her the meat of the nuts. "At least I won't have to worry about starving here," he said.
“We have plenty of food.” Valerie eyed his sword thoughtfully as she ate. "Family heirloom?" she inquired curiously.
"This?” He held up the Master Sword. “No, it's actually a Hylian artifact," he told her, "from the golden age of Hyrule."
“What’s the golden age of Hyrule?”
“A time that few remember. Hylians are long lived, but not that long. They say there’s only one person alive who was around during those days, the royal nursemaid, Impa.”
“What happened then?”
“Something called the Imprisoning War. The original sire of my line, that is to say, the original Hero of Time, wielded this weapon to defeat a monster.”
Valerie eyed the blade. "It's very nice. Part of your mysterious destiny of Hyrule?"
"I guess. I received it on my seventeenth after completing a sort of quest. Which one was that again? The pendants?" He turned the blade toward himself and handed Valerie the handle.
She took it and groaned as Link let go. Slowly, the tip drooped and it dropped to the ground. She grit her teeth, trying to pick it up, but she couldn't. "Maybe you should take it," she laughed. "I’ll stick to garden shears." Link took it from her, but she put her hand on it. "What's this?" she asked, pointing to the inscribed legend.
"The inscription? It's the legend of the sword I guess."
Valerie touched each word as she read, "‘The Hero's triumph on cataclysm's eve, wins three symbols of virtue. The Master Sword he will then retrieve, keeping the knight's line true.’"
"I never understood it," Link said after a moment.
"It's pretty," Valerie replied.
"I know, like a lullaby."
“I suppose if you want to sing to your child about cataclysm."
"True," he laughed.
"Was there a cataclysm in Hyrule?" Valerie asked, "At the time the sword was made?"
"There almost was,” Link muttered. “But that Imprisoning War stopped that before it could come to term.”
“It’s ironic that a war should prevent a cataclysm. Wars usually cause them.”
“This was a special circumstance.”
“I assumed as much.”
Link returned his sword to its sheath and sat down under the tree. Valerie wandered back over to the berry bushes and scooped up a handful of red berries. She returned to Link and offered him some. He declined, but Valerie took his wrist and forced some into his hand so he ate them slowly, looking around to take in the scenery. The berries were sweet, the juice running sloppily down Link’s chin. Distractedly, he wiped it away with the back of his hand, his interest stolen by something else.
In the distance, he saw the girl, Marin. He smiled slightly, remembering their encounter in the forest. She looked very delicate from a distance, swaying from side to side as she walked, looking out at the clouds and the way the branches of trees swayed in the wind. Ahead of her was a small, brown brick hut, the entrance of which was encircled by several large boulders. Undaunted, she began to scale the rocks, climbing over and jumping down on the other side, only to disappear into the dark doorway of the hut.
"What's that building?" he asked Valerie, who had, by this time, taken a seat next to him.
"That's the Dream Shrine," she said matter-of-factly.
"What's in the Dream Shrine?"
“Not much: A bed, some candles, and a door.”
“What’s it for?”
"You go there to meditate, to have a vision," she explained. “To dream.”
"A vision of what?"
"Different things, it all depends on what’s on your mind, or in your subconscious. The Dream Shrine is a tool for finding answers, finding the truth.”
“Who came up with that idea?”
Valerie shrugged. “It’s always been there,” she replied.
"Why is Marin going?"
"She had some horrifying nightmare last night that she's trying to understand it. People always go there when they're vexed. It's a public place."
"Do you go there often?"
She shook her head. "Never. I've never gone there once."
"Why not?" Link.
"I guess I've just always tried to live by the truth. I don't run from it."
"Although to be perfectly honest, I'm surprised Marin going in. She hardly ever does."
"I guess she doesn't always want to accept the truth of life and existence. There’s a difference between running from the truth and hiding from it."
Link stared at Valerie for a long time, watching her delicately chew the berries, spitting out the seeds. For the life of him, he couldn’t understand what she meant by that. Who was hiding?
Marin closed the door to the Dream Shrine behind her. It was dark except for the four torches that flamed in the corners of the tiny room. In the center of the chamber was a large hard bed. Not really a bed so much as a slab of stone, carved into a smooth, flat surface, but details didn’t really matter. She approached the bed, running her hand over it, feeling the cold rock beneath her palm. It was there that she was supposed to lie down and see the truth.
But what was truth, she wondered, as so many cynics had. Was it the secret of life? Or something hidden in very person's soul, different for each person? She hated the Dream Shrine. In part, it was because she hated asking these questions. Philosophy was something she longed to push out of her mind completely, but it had long ago been ingrained by her, how, she could never know for certain. The Dream Shrine was always a last ditch effort for her. Normally, she wouldn’t have cared so much about a silly dream, but this on in particular had been plaguing her, echoing in her brain like no dream before. Marin had to know why.
She reached under the bed and pulled out a small leather bag. Carefully untying the strings around the top, she reached in and pulled out a pinch of the powder that was inside, carefully sprinkling it onto the bed. It was a shiny white with green and pink hues that glittered in the dancing lights. Long ago, all had forgotten the purpose of the powder in the Dream Shrine ceremony. In truth, everything regarding the ceremony had been lost, except for the actual act. No one knew why things happened in the Dream Shrine, no one knew how they worked. What happened just happened.
Grunting softly, Marin lay upon the bed, allowing one hand to hang over the edge a bit. She closed her eyes and in the black void, waited. Though she felt rather foolish, she tried to force her mind to stop racing. Once or twice, she clenched her fist, attempting to force concentration, but she eventually gave up on that and settled for waiting until her brain wore itself out.
Like a slow fog, a light began to creep in. Marin found herself standing on a pure white plane. There was nothing around her. As she walked over the white air, the echo of her sandals bounced off of invisible walls. Where was she going? She was both aware of herself and unaware at the same time. Looking down, she could see her own feet, her own hands, her own fingers, but she couldn’t establish herself. She was both falling and standing still at the same time.
An envelope of pure light didn’t help either. The white limbo was quite disorienting. A soft echo, the only sound in the place, was becoming deafening. Marin reasoned that enough time in this place would bring on madness, an eternity of make-believe as it were. She wanted to leave, but how? She could try to wake up, but one never woke up by force. It had to come naturally, at the end of the term. So she decided to look for another way out of the limbo, a door or tunnel.
She walked, and walked, and walked, and walked. She had no idea in which direction she was going. For all she knew, she was walking in circles, there were no landmarks to tell her. Nor was there any end in sight. “Am I mad?” she asked herself. An instinct told her to be afraid, but there was nothing she could see that could possibly induce fear. The space was empty. Did it represent her soul? Was she really empty? Or was that the fear?
She must have been there for what felt like days when she finally came upon something new, a break in the scenery. It was a little pond, about three arm's length wide. The water was a dull blue, almost white, like everything else in the space. In truth, she might have passed it by completely, had she not been so intent on finding a crack in the whiteness. She glanced in the water and was surprised when she didn't see her reflection looking back.
A sound erupted from out of nowhere, the first aside from the echo of her feet. It was like the caw of a bird so, upon hearing it, Marin's head snapped up. There was nothing, of course, nothing but the endless white. She resumed her walk through nothingness. After walking for a while she heard the caw again. The last time, it had been distant and serene; now it was much closer, and, almost angry. Another sound came to Marin, the sound of her heart thumping in her chest.
Why should it scare her? “This isn’t real,” Marin hissed to herself. She continued on her way, but the sound kept coming, each time it was louder and meaner and closer. The intervals between grew shorter. Marin grew more and more afraid. Her stomach was full of butterflies that were doing flips. The pounding of her heart was so loud it was almost deafening, yet the angry caw kept coming.
Marin was running now, sprinting, trying to get away from an invisible adversary. With each step, it became more and more physical, more real. She felt the chill its invisible shadow cast upon her, yet, it wasn't invisible she could see it looming overhead. A silent shriek escaped her lips as it swooped down upon her. It was a bird. No, no, it was too large to be a bird. An owl?
She dropped down to her knees and tried as hard as she could to swat it away, but it proved nothing if not persistent. It took hold of her hair and pulled her to her feet as it tugged. Marin screamed as it ripped at her scalp. It began to drag her backwards. It pulled her hair harder, allowing her ears to be exposed to the air. They burned. She tried to fan the sensation away but her ears continued to burn, as if on fire. She let out a scream that wasn't audible over the racing pulse of her heart. Tears were streaming down her flushed face. She felt blood trickling down her neck from her sore scalp. As she was pulled back, she left a trail of blood staining the emptiness.
Then, there was nothing. Marin's eyes snapped open; above her only the homely ceiling of the Dream Shrine. All was quiet, all was still: Except for Marin's heart. It was racing.
Link and Valerie sat, talking under the big pecan tree, exchanging stories. Link was becoming more at ease with Valerie and Valerie could only hope that he would eventually ease up with the other inhabitants of the isle. She enjoyed listening to him and found him easy to speak plainly with. At the moment, Link was talking about the wise men who had raised him. "They taught me all about the time before the golden age, when the Hylians lived in peace with everybody else."
"Oh," Valerie said, nodding her head listlessly. "Link, what defines a Hylian exactly?"
"What defines a Hylian? Well, they are the people that live in and sit on throne in Hyrule."
"Well, what makes you the Hylian and me not? Besides the fact that I've never even seen Hyrule?"
"Well, there is one thing." Link reached up and pulled his blond hair away from the right side of his head. He revealed a pointed ear. Valerie gasped. "All Hylians have pointed ears," he explained, allowing his hand and his hair to drop back.
"Oh my," Valerie breathed.
“There are actually five different classifications of Hylians. There are ones that look like me, then aquatic ones called Zoras, forest dwelling ones called Korikis, mountain dwelling ones called Gorons, and desert dwelling ones called Gerudo.”
“And what type of dwelling does your kind prefer?”
“Towns,” he said with a smile.
Valerie laughed. “I see.”
"Also, we can use magic arts."
"What are the magic arts?" Valerie asked.
"Kind of traits that have been passed down over the generations," Link explained. "Unfortunately, much of the lore has been lost. There was a time when it was said that a Hylian could light something on fire just by looking at it. They called it Din’s Fire. And some Hylians used to be able to teleport themselves. I think they called that Farore’s Wind or something. There’s also a lot of mind power, the ability to speak telepathically, to move things telekinetically, even to control the minds of others."
"How romantic," Valerie giggled. Link didn't understand what was so funny, but he smiled graciously.
"Hey look," he said, "There's Carry." Sure enough, Carry was walking by the Dream Shrine. Valerie got up and trotted off to greet him with Link following close behind.
"Hello, Carry," Valerie said approaching him.
"Hello, Valerie," Carry said brightly, giving her one of his trademark fanged smiles. "Hello to you, too," he added when he saw Link. His granite eyes twinkled with excitement.
"What's the clown face for?" Valerie asked. Carry brought two fingers to his lips and whistled. From out of nowhere, Ezri majestically flew to his shoulder, alighting with wings fully stretched.
Link and Valerie clapped at the lovely performance. "I'm glad to see you found Ezri," Link told him. Carry seemed pleased by Link’s major attitude adjustment from the last time they had spoken. He continued grinning.
"Where was he, Carry?" Valerie asked, patting Ezri on the head.
"Richard had him."
"What did Richard want with an owl?"
"Information," Carry said bluntly.
“About you,” he said, addressing Link.
“That’s Richard,” Valerie sighed dismissively.
The door to the Dream Shrine burst open with a loud smash that caused all three to look in that direction and a pale Marin ran out. Her blue eyes were looking everywhere but forward and she crashed right into Carry's broad side. Carry leaned over to help her up. She looked like she was about to thank him when she saw Ezri. A look of horror froze on her face and she let out an ear-piercing scream. She turned and fled, disappearing behind some trees.
"What's wrong, Little Marin?" Carry called after her.
"Ezri spooked her," Link said, blinking in surprise.
"If you gentlemen will excuse me," Valerie called as she ran off after Marin.
"What was that?" Carry muttered.
"What was that indeed," Link agreed. "You know, Carry, for a moment it was almost like I could read her thoughts."
"Read whose thoughts?" someone asked. Matilda appeared, directly in Valerie’s path. The two women crashed into each other, Matilda falling down on her back in the middle of the road, Valerie bouncing into a tree.
"Marin's," Link said, running over to offer Valerie a hand.
Carry was already helping Matilda up. She frowned, glancing over her shoulder. "You know, I just saw her run into her house looking terrified. What was she thinking, that made her so scared?"
"She was thinking about some demon that was chasing her."
"How do you know?" Carry asked.
"I'm not sure."
Valerie gave Link a grateful smile then ran in the direction of Marin and Tarin’s hut. The door was closed, but she merely pushed it open, walking inside. Marin was sitting on her bed, hugging her knees to her chest as she sobbed. Her face was bright pink and damp with sweat and tears. Valerie calmly walked over to her and sat down next to her on the bed. She waited there, letting Marin cry all she wanted. After a while, she took up a brush from the nightstand and began to gently brush out Marin's orange locks.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Valerie asked.
"No," Marin said, wiping her eyes dry with the back of her hand. She looked out her window. The sun was beginning to set, welcoming the dusk. "I was in the Dream Shrine," she muttered, still looking out the window.
"I know," Valerie said tenderly.
"It was horrible."
"What was horrible?"
"What did you see?"
"I was trapped in a white limbo. I couldn't get out. The only thing there was a small shallow lake, little more than a puddle."
Valerie ran her hand gently over Marin’s hair. "That's not enough to make you cry," she said.
"No, it's not," Marin agreed. "You see, Ezri was there and he attacked me."
"Ezri? Carry's tame Ezri? Are you really sure?"
"Well, it was some kind of owl," Marin said as she began to sob again. "It pulled my hair and made me bleed and burn."
Valerie pulled Marin’s head against her shoulder, resting her chin on the top of her head. "Burn?"
Marin’s reply was muffled. "Burn."
"Well the Dream Shrine is all just symbolism anyway. It all means something different."
"Do you want to tell me what it means? I think you know."
"No," Marin sobbed, "I can't tell you."
“It's my secret."
"That's the problem with secrets," Valerie said wisely. "Secrets eventually have to be told."
Marin pushed away from Valerie’s shoulder, staring her straight in the eyes. "Not mine," she said rising, "not this one, not this secret.” She ran from the bed to an old trunk next to the door. Savagely, she ripped the lid off of it and began digging through it toward the bottom, throwing things out of her way. Finally, she removed something, something too small for Valerie to see, and stood up, slamming the trunk shut. “I'll take mine to a watery grave before I ever let it be told." She stared at Valerie for a moment, a half crazed, and half sober expression in her eyes. All at once, she turned around, racing out of the hut, the door swinging open behind her.
"Marin!" Matilda called. "Marin!"
"Where are you, Marin?" Tarin cried out, "Where are you?"
"Please come back, Little Marin!" Carry yelled mournfully.
Everybody was searching for Marin. As the sun had set, bringing no sign of the girl, the old superstition had set in. Had the monsters gotten to her? Link watched as the citizens of both the Mabe Village and the Animal Village searched. He noticed they didn't dare enter the forest, nor did they go any further east then the Animal Village. How did they expect to find her?
Lantern lights danced across the darkness of the Mabe Village. Seeing faces were few and far between. Link was about to go in and go to sleep when he saw Valerie. She looked frail and frightened in the firelight. Something about her made Link feel guilty about thinking of sleep at a time like this.
He sighed and began to walk. He might as well at least pretend to look for her. For no particular reason at all, he chose to head south, walking toward the roar of the waves hitting the shore. The image he had seen from Marin's mind flashed across his mind for a moment. The demon had no physical form; it was more like a concept, an idea. How strange a form for a demon. Again, immense guilt hit him. “You’re supposed to be a Hero, moron,” he muttered to himself, “how could you even think about sleeping?”
Link arrived on the beach. As opposed to earlier, the waves were now harsh and loud and the colors were dark. Suddenly, a spider web of lightening illuminated the sky, the crackle of thunder temporarily drowning out the sound of the tempest. In that moment, Link saw Marin, far away.
"Marin!" he yelled out, but his voice was lost beneath roaring thunder. Cupping his hands around his mouth, he shouted again, “Marin!” Then, the rain came, as if suddenly someone had pulled a lever. Huge, fat raindrops pelted down on Link's arms and shoulders painfully. Shielding his face with his forearm, Link dashed to where he had last seen the girl. He was slowed by the wet sand which tried to keep him in one place. When he got to where he had seen Marin last, he saw her again. She was wading through the water. Already, it had risen to her waist and it splashed even higher.
"What are you doing?" he cried to her.
"I want the outside world," she yelled without looking back, "I've wanted it for as long as I can remember. And now, I'll get it!" Lightening flashed, illuminating her face, red from being struck by the hard water.
"Are you crazy?"
Without even thinking, Link threw off his sword and shield and went splashing through the water. It was deadly cold, so cold that it burned Link’s skin where it hit him. Ignoring the unpleasant pain, he raced after the girl, sinking his teeth deep into his lower lip to keep them from chattering. He caught Marin's shoulder and held her firmly. She tried to pry him away, but he held her fast. Suddenly, she took a swing at him and he ducked, being caught by a backhanded slap from her other hand.
He tightened his grip on her and began to pull her back to the shore. His cheek was stinging from where she had struck him. She struggled against him, gritting her teeth dropping something in the process. He didn't stop; he dragged her to the shore and let her collapse in a heap on the safe sand.
She started sobbing, using her hem to dry her tears. Link watched her for a moment then went to retrieve what she had dropped. “I must be crazy too,” he muttered, wondering why, in the name of all the goddesses in Hyrule, he was returning for a second trip into the chill. Instinct, he assumed, instinct. He saw something glitter in the water. That was it.
He reached over, water splashing into this gauntlet and freezing his fingers, and pulled it out of the water. Grasping whatever it was in his hand, he started to walk back to the shore. Lightening flashed again and he took advantage of the momentary illumination to see what it was he was holding. His breath caught in his chest. It was a necklace. Silver chain with a silver teardrop shaped pendant, holding a single purple stone.
Link looked back at Marin, who was still crying in a heap. He slowly approached her, but she was quick. She was on her feet in a flash, holding a fist at her side and giving Link a very angry look. Although he held his hands peacefully in front of him, she took a swing at him. He ducked, this time staying down to avoid a backhand.
"Where did you get this?" he asked, handing the necklace to her. She took it and threw it fiercely into the sand. She lunged forward, ready to gouge Link's eyes out with her fingernails. He caught her wrists and held them tight. "Where did you get it?" he insisted.
She spat at him and growled fiercely, trying to break free. Much to his dismay, she was surprisingly strong. Luckily, Link was stronger. He just held tight, looking at her, blue eyes to blue eyes. Changing tactics, she started to pull back, attempting to yank her hands free. Link too a step forward to ground himself and pulled in the opposite direction, bringing the upper part of her body towards him. Though she stubbornly continued to fight him, he gave a good tug and her feet stumbled forward, causing her to crash into Link’s chest.
The wind whirled up, tossing the rain in a hard westward direction. Marin's hair flew up, looking like a dancing orange flame on a candle. As the gale died, so did Marin's will. She fell down to her knees, howling in frustration. Link knelt, facing her. Gently, he released her wrists, slipping two fingers under her chin to bring her eyes up to his again.
"Why did you have to come here?" she asked, her voice lost somewhere between annoyance and anger.
"I'm just figuring that out now," he said to her. Blankly, she looked at him, oblivious to his meaning. He tenderly reached his hand toward her cheek. Gently, he touched her hair and she let out a weak protest, but allowed him to push her damp locks back, revealing a delicately pointed ear. He slowly pulled his hand back and reached to his own ear, showing her his Hylian features.
It was her turn to inhale sharply. She reached out and ran her fingers across the arch of his ear. There weren’t words to describe the turmoil of emotions, competing within her to come to the surface. One single word managed to form on her lips. “Link…”
“Yeah,” he said, his voice wavering, “it’s me.” His arms trembling, he enfolded her shoulders, pulling her into a tight embrace.
"I'm so sorry I couldn't find a way to you," she whispered.
"I'm sorry I couldn't fine you sooner," he told her. He bit his lips together, trying to think of something clever to say. Or anything at all. There had been nine years of silence already. “I don't understand is why they all call you Marin," was the best he could come up with.
"I am Marin now. You're not the only one learned the magic arts."
He put his hands on her arms and separated from her, looking at her in the dull light. Foolishly, he realized that he should have recognized it before: The blue eyes, the red hair; all the trademarks of a Harkin Princess. "Did you try to forget?" he asked painfully.
She looked at him, her eyes both incredulous and sad at the same time. "How could I ever try to forget you?" Link picked up the necklace and put it around her neck. Time had been kind to her. It fit her perfectly.