As the Eye of Din slowly rose above the distant horizon, it touched the lands with its gentle rays, issuing its well-known herald that daylight had finally broke and would remain until it departed yet again. Warmth slowly emerged where there once was cold and brightness where there was once darkness. All life adjusted accordingly to the regular rhythm.
In short, another day was about to begin.
The ones who experienced this transition better than anyone in the neighboring lands were the denizens of Hylia, the Hylians. As they slowly awoke to assume their daily chores and tasks, the realm of Hylia slowly awoke with them. Hylia was indeed the most industrious within the surrounding realms, and was also the most revered.
Hylia moreover had a diverse landscape that surrounded its borders. To the north stood Death Mountain, an active volcano that breathed the living handiwork of the Three Goddesses. To the west lay the Haunted Wasteland, a vast desert known as the graveyard of the world. South possessed Lake Hylia, an enormous lake, the supposed home of a mystical race of nymphs. And in the east existed the Lost Woods, woodland famous for its forbidden beauty as well as its deadliness.
The Lost Woods, furthermore, is the centerpiece of many a tale surrounding its pestilent forbiddance. Many travelers have dared to pass beyond its enticing borders; none have returned. No one knows the true reason for these disappearances, but a few stories attempt to shed some light. Some say that travelers are killed and devoured by terrible beasts that jealously guard their domains. Others suggest that the forest’s beauty is so captivating that voyagers forget all their worldly concerns and eventually shrivel away from hunger.
One tale that doesn’t concern itself with these mysteries, however, stands out from the others. This story concerns the existence of a village somewhere within the heart of the Lost Woods, a village isolated from the rest of the world. While this tale in itself isn’t extraordinary, it possesses one element that makes it incredible: the inhabitants of the village are children!
No matter what version is told, no matter what book it is read from, the tale always maintains the fact that children and only children dwell within this village in the Lost Woods. Other factors of the story, however, differ tremendously, such as a colossal giant with all the powers of the Three Goddesses. But most – if not all – Hylians believe this story to be nothing more than that, with no shred of truth, and give no further thought to it.
But there is some shred of truth within every tale, no matter how twisted it may be, and the tale of the village is no exception.
Deep within the Lost Woods, far beyond the outskirts, lies a section known to a select few as the Kokiri Forest. The select few who know of its being are the dwellers of this small "forest," the Kokiri. And, just like in the tale, they are all children who live in a single village called Kokiri Village.
But these children by no means act like children – for the most part, at least. They work and make and living just like everyone outside the Lost Woods. They socialize, fall in and out of love, and hold annual events celebrating different occasions. They even have a patron deity, the Great Deku Tree – the colossal guardian mentioned in the tale.
The Deku Tree, while not a giant, was a giant tree, so large that he demanded his own clearing almost the size of the village. And while he didn’t possess the powers of the Three Goddesses, he did have power of the forests. He was believed to create everything within the woodlands: the trees, the animals, the fairies, and even the Kokiri themselves.
But because the Kokiri were the most unpredictable and detached of his creations, the Deku Tree created a system of where each Kokiri will have a fairy as a guardian and as a direct link to him. Fairies were the most magical of his creations and therefore were the best creature to use as links. Over time, this bond had become so established that Kokiri were hardly ever thought of without a fairy to watch over them.
There was one boy, however, that did not have a fairy…
The loud and shrill sound echoed throughout the room and even seemed to reverberate outside into the meadow-like gardens of Kokiri Village. A frown growing on his face, Link withdrew the ocarina from his lips and sighed as he dropped his eyes to look away from Saria. He expected to hear a similar sigh of disappointment from her, but didn’t. This only discouraged him further.
Saria, who was sitting directly across from him, bit her lip for a moment before saying, "I know you’re only a beginner, Link, but even a beginner should be able to play the C-scale by now. You’ve been playing for, what, a month?"
"More or less," Link answered, dropping his eyes further. Saria’s tone hadn’t been one or scorn or anger, but the message itself lingered in his mind. "I’m sorry, Saria, but I just don’t think I can play the ocarina. I appreciate you trying to teach me, but it’s just not working."
He then took the ocarina in his hand and outstretched it to Saria so she could take it back.
This time Saria sighed, and it was of disappointment. Link was somewhat surprised by her timing. He was even more surprised when Saria moved closer to Link, wrapped both her hands around Link’s hand and the ocarina, and pushed it back in his direction. This action forced Link to look up.
He found Saria’s eyes staring back at him, and Link froze. Saria had always been his best friend, and she was also one of the smartest and comeliest people he knew. Anyone could tell that her favorite color was green by the fact that she wore green everything; she had even dyed her hair with forest juices to make it green. But her real beauty lay in her personality, which was kind and warmhearted.
Link somehow always saw this beauty in her bright green eyes, and it somehow always made him restrain whatever he was doing.
"Link," Saria said with her gentle voice. "Please don’t let me hear you say that again. I don’t want you to give up something just because it’s difficult or because you can’t do it right away. I know you can do this. You just have to find it in yourself to bring it out into the open." Her eyes seemed to widen with plead. "Trust me, Link. You can do this. Trust me."
She then let go of the ocarina and Link’s hand and sat back in her chair. Link, amazed at Saria’s determination, looked down at he ocarina. Was Saria right? Could he really play it? The ocarina was a difficult instrument, not only because of its structure but also because the skill to play it differed from ocarina to ocarina. A master of one ocarina may have difficulty with simple scales on another. Each ocarina was unique and usually required a unique player.
"Do you really think so?" Link asked, looking back up.
"Yes," Saria answered. The two then remained quiet for about a minute before Saria continued, "Link, do you want to hear a secret about the ocarina?"
"Sure," Link replied, not knowing what quite to expect.
Saria leaned closer again – although not as close as last time – and said, "The ocarina is alive."
Link wasn’t too surprised, but he wasn’t completely listless either. "Alive? What do you mean by that?"
"Exactly what I said," Saria uttered, "alive. This may sound crazy, but I believe all ocarinas posses a life of their own. This life isn’t like the life the Great Deku Tree gave his creations, but a rare life that can be tapped by a player. If a player learns to feel out the life within an ocarina, he could become one with the instrument and play it without worry or trouble."
Link’s face stretched into a curious and puzzled expression. He wanted to say that the idea really was crazy, but he took another look at the ocarina. He stared at it hard, trying to picture what Saria had told him. Could an instrument really be alive? His best friend said so, so there could be some truth to it…
…but then again, Saria claimed to have seen Skullkids in the Lost Woods, so…
"Link," Saria exclaimed suddenly, interrupting Link’s thought, "the lesson’s over for today. Just practice that scale as best you can. And if you want to, try to think about what I said about it being alive."
"Okay, Saria," Link said as he put the ocarina in a pouch around his belt. "I’m going home to take a quick snooze. You want to go pick some berries later?"
"Sure thing," Saria said with a smile. "I’ll see you then."
Link smiled back as he stood up, gave a last good-bye, and walked out of the room, which also happened to be Saria’s house. While Link walked into the sunlight and out of view, Saria continued to watch him.
As she did, Katl, her fairy, fluttered closer to her ear and said, "What was the idea of convincing him that he could play that thing? Even I could play the ocarina better, and I’m a fairy!"
Saria glared at Katl as she remarked, "He can and will play the ocarina, Katl, and don’t you forget it!"
"Okay, okay, no need to get so hostile. But why move in on him and give him that speech and all?"
"It was something I had to do," Saria answered, looking back in Link’s direction. "I don’t know why, but I just had to say that. Maybe it’s because he’s different."
"Of course he’s different. He doesn’t have a fairy…"
"No, not like that. There’s something else about him, something else…"
Link made his way quietly and quickly though Kokiri village to his house. He didn’t feel like talking to anyone at the moment. All he wanted to do was get some rest before he spent the rest of the afternoon with Saria.
He also moved quickly because he didn’t want to come across Mido, the self-proclaimed chief of the Kokiri. Despite the fact that the other Kokiri had accepted Link, Mido still refused to do so. He was probably the most childish of the Kokiri and was certainly the most egotistical. He loved to brag about his strength, his bravery and all his other superior traits to the others, and he had decided to affirm his boasting by bullying everyone. Link was undoubtedly his favorite target.
When Link reached his house, he quickly scaled the ladder that led to his house. While most Kokiri homes were the bases of hollowed-out trees, Link’s house had been hollowed out higher up. Mido had played a crucial role in this decision, because for all his bragging, Mido was afraid of heights.
After scaling the ladder and stepping on the balcony of his house, Link walked into his one-room home and smiled when he found his bed. He removed his boots and his cap and placed them on a dead tree stump he used as a table. He then lay down on the piece of softwood he used as a bed and began to curl up…
…when he realized he still had the ocarina in his pouch. He took the instrument out of the pouch and looked at it again, trying to decide whether Saria’s words were true. However, he discovered he was too tired to think at the moment, so he placed the ocarina on his table and returned to his bed.
He was asleep within a few minutes…