Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chapter 21: Link's Vacation

“It’s beautiful up here.”

“Yes, it is. I’m glad you think so.”

Link sighed as he took in the breathtaking scenery of Kakariko Village and the surrounding countryside as the morning sun peeked over the horizon. Malon followed suit moments later. They were sitting atop a small ledge affixed to the exterior of the windmill – the tall building with spinning slats Link had wondered about earlier – just below the spinning fan above their heads. The ledge, Malon had explained, was actually a leftover from the windmill’s construction. The builders had used it to help attach the fan blades and had left it where it was in case one of the blades fell off for any reason.

Malon just used it as a place to pass the time.

“Whenever I’m in Kakariko Village, I always come up here to watch the sunrise. The sunrise is never the same twice, and it’s also a place for me to forget all my worries if only for a little while.”

“I can see why,” Link said as he focused on a distant field of wildflowers swaying gently in the wind. “I guess I was lucky to run into you last night, otherwise I would’ve never found this spot.”

Link had indeed been lucky to run into Malon…or for Malon to run into him. Either way, he had found a place where he could spend the night. With hundreds of questions flowing from her mouth, Malon had taken Link and Navi to the house she and her father Talon were staying at. Talon had been surprised to see again the young lad who had woken him back at Hyrule Castle, but he had gladly agreed to help Link and had paid the home’s renter the required fee for a third person. Malon had wanted some questions answered then, but it was then that she had noticed his bandaged arm and had proceeded to help him, even force him, to rest for the night.

But, being Malon, she always had a catch. Early the next morning she had woken Link and Navi and had almost dragged them both to the windmill, where they watched the morning’s sunrise. And now that she had caught them off guard, Malon continued where she had left off last night.

“Speaking of last night,” Malon said, turning to Link, “how about telling me what you’re doing in Kakariko Village and how you got your arm all strapped up like that? And what about back at Hyrule Castle New City? Did you get to meet Princess Zelda like you wanted? And how about explaining how you found my dad? He doesn’t want to talk about that for some reason…”

“She’s the same as ever,” Link thought with a smile before speaking. “Whoa! Whoa! One at a time! Give me some room to talk. I guess I’ll start at the beginning, from where I left you…”

Talk about timing! As Link spoke, his eyes drifted towards her neckline, where he saw something he hadn’t seen there before: a necklace. The necklace wasn’t an eye-opener compared to the ones he had seen at the Market Square; it was simply a flimsy golden band that was thinner than some small flower stems. But it did have one thing that caught Link’s attention: the small red jewel hanging from the golden band in a common hook.

It was the jewel from his sword that Link had placed in Malon’s hand just before he had left her.

This probably answered a nagging question that had entered Link’s mind ever since he encountered Malon last night: why wasn’t she angry with me leaving her?

All of a sudden Link realized something: he couldn’t tell just Malon everything that had happened to him! Oh, sure, he hadn’t promised anyone he wouldn’t tell anyone else, but Link was smart enough to think long-term. Who knows how Malon would react if he told her about his quest given by Princess Zelda, his journey to Death Mountain, his affiliation with the Gorons, and his slaying of King Dodongo? It was the same reason he hadn’t told her about Gohma during his first meeting with Malon, and now he had to apply the same principles before Malon reacted in some unasked for manner …

“What’s wrong, Fairy Boy?” Malon asked as she lowered her head to look at Link’s eyes, which were now affixed downward and staring at the ground. “Are you sick? Is that hand of yours giving you trouble?”

“No,” Link answered, still keeping his eyes to the ground. “I just…don’t feel like talking about that right now. I’m sorry if that offends you, but I’m going to have to keep that stuff from you for now.”

That was when Link turned his head to meet Malon’s gaze. The farm girl’s eyes blue were wide and filled with tiny ripples from the sunlight, like a set of two small pools. Link at first thought she was about to cry, but he soon realized there were no tears in her eyes, just the dawn’s tricks of light. The two’s gazes remained affixed for a long, silent moment before Malon finally spoke.

“Okay, I understand. If that’s what you wish, then that’s fine. I’ll just wait until your ready, that’s all.”

She then turned away from Link and looked up at the red-orange sky. Although she hadn’t said anything stating it, Link felt he had hurt her feelings in some way or another. He quickly came up with a compromise.

“But I can tell you why I’m here in Kakariko Village. I’m getting some rest for a while so my hand can heal properly…and Kakariko Village is the closest place we knew of where I could get some rest.”

Malon again turned to face Link, this time with a curious look on her face. “We…? Oh, yes, you and Navi. I see, so you’re getting some rest. I don’t know how you could get such a severe burn that requires rest, but I’ll wait until you’re ready to tell me before I ask. And I guess you made a good choice with Kakariko Village…although there are better places one can choose to relax, like…”

Suddenly, Malon’s face lit up with a smile and she stood up, rocking the rickety ledge below them. “Say, I have an idea! Why don’t you come to Lon Lon Ranch with me?”

Link nearly slipped and fell of the ledge. “What…?”

“I was going to tell you later, but I guess now’s a good time as any. My dad and me are leaving for home this afternoon, which is another reason I got you up so early. But if you need to rest, why not come to Lon Lon Ranch? It’s a very peaceful place in the middle of the countryside, and there are only a handful of people there. You won’t have any trouble getting relaxed. And besides, I want to be around when you’re ready to tell me everything. So what do you say?”

Leave Kakariko Village? Without Kaepora Gaebora’s consent? What would the Owl say when he returns three days from now and finds him and Navi gone? He would probably be furious and have some sharp words when he found them. On the other hand, however, Kaepora did want them to relax, despite his better judgment. And when Malon left, there would be no place for him to sleep unless he asked Talon for rupees, and he couldn’t do such a rude thing to a kind man.

And besides, it would be a rare opportunity to be with someone his own size and age…if age mattered to a Kokiri, that is.

With a deep sigh, Link gave his reply. “Sure, I’ll come with you.”

“Splendid!” Malon cried happily before sitting down again. “This is fabulous! I’ll have someone my own age to play with for a long time! I’d better go tell dad you’re coming so he can prepare for the journey. You can stay here as long as you want, just be careful coming down.”

Malon then reached for the ladder the two had used to climb onto the ledge when she stopped and leaned her face a little closer to Link’s cheek. “By the way,” she uttered softly as she gently grabbed with two of her fingers the red jewel on her necklace, “I never did thank you for this beautiful trinket. You have no idea how much it means to me, how much comfort it gave me when you left me for whatever reasons you have. Even then, I knew you cared about me…and I thank you for that. Thank you…”

Malon then gently placed a kiss on Link’s cheek before completing her sentence, “…Link.”

Malon smiled before she disappeared down the ladder to find her father. She didn’t notice that a stunned Link’s face had grown redder than the first light sky above. Link was very lucky that Navi, who was underneath his cap, was fast asleep at that moment, or else she would’ve made his face turn an even deeper scarlet…

“Great! Just great! Of all the things that could’ve made the situation even worse, this had to be the one that happened.”

Kaepora ruffled his wing feathers slightly and shook his head violently as a way of showing his frustration. He may be an Owl now, but he could still show emotion, and right now he felt like striking his fist against something. But since he didn’t have a fist, all he could use was what his natural instincts taught him.

How else could he react after learning that Link was gone?

He had been searching for any information on the third Spiritual Stone for roughly three days and had come up empty on anything useful. In fact, the only piece of information he had was what Link had told him during the trip from Death Mountain to Kakariko Village.

That the Spiritual Stone lay underneath the “tears of the heavens.”

That could mean practically anything, of course, and it took Kaepora a day and two and a half days to figure that out. Because he was an Owl, he was forced to resort to eavesdropping and some old forms of mind reading, but nothing useful about the Stone surfaced. And his visions didn’t yield anything other than the usual.

Then, on the third day of searching, he learned about them!

Through what information he could gather, rumors were spreading about how a large Gerudo force was camped somewhere near Hyrule Castle New City. Some dismissed it as the visiting King of Thieves’ traveling guard, but others believed it was part of an invasion force. Also no one at Hyrule Castle was apparently concerned about this, and that bit of information had made Kaepora uneasy.

If the rumors were true, then Ganondorf might try to take Hyrule Castle any time now. After half a day of thinking, the Owl had decided to return to the palace with Link, where the young boy might’ve persuade Princess Zelda to convince the King of Hyrule about the possible intentions of the Gerudo. And there might’ve also be the chance that Zelda had discovered the hiding place of the third Spiritual Stone.

But upon his return to Kakariko Village, Kaepora’s plans were dashed. Link and Navi were gone, and they hadn’t left any clue as to where they were headed. To top it all off, Kaepora didn’t talk to Link about him being a Mage-Bound, which was probably the Owl’s biggest mistake.

“How could I leave a Mage-Bound run free like this? Why didn’t I at least mention it to him? But now he’s running around free with the powers of the gods! Unless I find him quickly, he might hurt himself or those around him. I can only pray his abilities haven’t fully awoken yet…”

As usual, right when he needed them, his visions failed to yield the information he needed.

“Why does my power have to be so unpredictable?” the Owl grumbled through his beak as he took off to the skies.


“Rise and shine, Fairy Boy! It’s time to get some fresh morning air!”

Link barely stirred from the bed. He just shifted slightly under the covers, causing the young farm girl standing over him to place her hands on her hips and tap her foot impatiently.

“Come on, come one!” Malon persisted with a stern face. “We’ve got a lot of things to do today, and…”

“I thought I was supposed to relax…” Link managed to mumble from under the bedcovers.

“This is relaxing!” Malon cried, throwing her arms into the air. “Relaxing is getting some exercise, taking in the beauty of nature, and doing some fun stuff. Lying in bed all day makes only a small part of relaxing!”

“But this is so…comfortable…” Link pleaded. He still hadn’t even lifted his face from under the sheets, but he did reach out with his right hand to hug the pillow his head was resting upon. “I haven’t felt anything this comfortable in my entire life…”

Malon reached out with her hand and roughly scrubbed Link’s blond hair across his scalp. “Sometimes comfort has to be sacrificed for the better scheme of things. A wise friend of mine told me that.”

“And who was that?”

Malon stopped scrubbing Link’s head and thought for a moment with her eyes turned up before answering, “I don’t know…but that’s not the point! Just get up before I drag you out myself!”

“But…” Link began when Navi drifted from Link’s cap lying on a nearby table and hovered above the comfortable Kokiri.

“Just do what she wants, Link,” Navi uttered with a yawn. “If you don’t, she’ll continue to talk and I won’t get any peace while I sleep.”

“Huh!” Link grumbled. “So I can’t sleep longer but you can…”

“Hey, you were the one who wanted to come here, not me!”

“But that doesn’t mean…”

“Excuse me,” Malon suddenly blurted in an eerily kind voice. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I didn’t bring you here so you can just sleep and argue. If you don’t get up by the time I cross this room and get your clothes, I will make you feel pain far greater than your burnt hand! How does that sound?”

The deafening silence that filled the room lasted for a very long moment before Link finally spoke.

“You’re bluffing.”

Malon stamped her foot. “It was a good try, though. Come on, please? I’m not asking for much! Just please get up! Please?”

Although his face was hidden under the covers, Link could feel the piercing gaze of eyes that were pleading the Kokiri to get up. He had come across such eyes with Saria many times, and they weren’t something a girl usually resorted to unless she was desperate. And when shed used those kinds of eyes, a boy couldn’t help but do whatever she wanted.

In other words, Link had no choice.

“All right, all right, I’ll get up.”

Malon’s face brightened with a smile. “Thanks, Fairy Boy. You’re so sweet!”

“That’s my biggest problem, isn’t it?” Link thought to himself as he struggled to lift the sheets off his head. When they were finally off, he sat up and yawned, allowing Malon and Navi to see what he looked like after his first sleep in a bed with comfortable accessories.

His hair was a mess, like a dry bush that had been beaten severely. His face was twisted into the form of a grouch, and he couldn’t stop scratching the side of his head for some reason. Navi was a little surprised by his appearance, but Malon gave him her warm smile, anyway.

“So, I can definitely see you enjoyed your little sleep,” the farm girl giggled. “But now that that’s over, why don’t we…?”

“Malon, could you please turn around for a moment?”

Link’s request caught Malon off guard and she was about to ask why when she remembered that Link was naked under his sheets. Even now, some of the Kokiri’s bare chest was protruding from underneath the sheets…not too much, but enough to make a young girl blush.

Which is exactly what Malon did, and her attempt to hide it was unsuccessful.

“S…s…sure,” Malon stuttered as she turned around. “Your clothes are over there.” She then pointed to a chair with his clothing and items draped over the back.

Had Malon been facing Link, she would’ve seen him give her a faint smile. But all she got was the soft and gentle word, “Thanks.”

Malon blushed even more and again tried to hide it from Link, but to no avail. The Kokiri smirked as he thought, “Eye for an eye…or should I say a blush for a blush?”

Before Link had arrived at Lon Lon Ranch yesterday, he had realized he didn’t know what a ranch was. Malon had merely only mentioned that her father Talon was the owner and that it produced the best milk in the land. Other than that, Link had had no idea of what awaited him when he and Navi reached the ranch.

When the small troupe consisting of Link, Navi, Malon, and Talon had arrived at the ranch, the first thing that had blown away Link’s mind was that they were already on the ranch! Malon had giggled at Link’s confusion and explained that her father owned a good deal of surrounding countryside so he could have plenty of rich grass for his cows and horses. The mention of “horses” had been the second thing that caught Link’s attention; after all, he had seen them only on rare occasions, and the fact that Lon Lon Ranch had a lot wasn’t something he wanted to miss.

Unfortunately, when the troupe had arrived at the farmhouse, the core of the entire farm, the sun was already beginning to set, and Talon wanted his daughter and guests to get a good night sleep. Malon, of course, had complained that she wanted to show Link some things before bedtime, but Talon’s strictness had eventually forced Malon to comply.

While Malon had gone into the house to set up a bed for Link, Link had thought about Talon’s relationship with Malon. Being a Kokiri, he had never had anything like a “father,” so he found Talon odd to say the least. Meeting “adults” had been strange enough, but understanding the relationships they had with “children” might take an eternity for him to understand.

But Link hadn’t had too much time to think about this concept after Malon’s disappearance when Talon had turned to Link and said, “I never thought I’d see you again, but I’m glad in a way. I never thanked you properly for what you did for me…waking me up back at Hyrule Castle, I mean. I never thought I’d get so drunk that I’d fall asleep and forget about my own daughter. But you coming along…it practically saved me from getting too stern a lashing from Malon’s tonge. And believe me, it can lash out with enough force to tame a tormented spirit.”

Talon had smiled at those words, but his eyes had betrayed a sort of emotion that found his own words anything but comical. But he then had added,

“I hear you’re the one who gave her that jewel that now hangs around her neck. She always did want to find a trinket for her mother’s old necklace, and now that she’s found one she watches over it like a hawk. Are you responsible for the dress as well?”

“Dress?” Link had asked.

“Then it wasn’t you? The day before we left Hyrule Castle New Town, Malon dragged me to a store in Market Square and showed me a green dress that she wanted. I asked her why, and she said a friend said it looked nice. I was a little reluctant to buy her a new dress just like that, but Malon refused to leave the city without it. Girls can be strange, can’t they?”

“I’ll say,” Link had thought without saying anything to Talon. “I thought she hated that dress! She nearly chewed me up for merely suggesting she would look good in it! Or maybe it was a different dress…but why don’t I believe that?”

That was when Malon had emerged from the house and announced that everything was ready. She had then led Link to the guestroom, where Link had discovered the most comfortable bed in the world. And for some reason, his hand no longer hurt as much as it usually did.

Maybe he had made a good decision to come here, after all…

“Okay, I’m ready.”

Malon turned around just in time to watch Link tighten his belt around his waist. Her blush hadn’t faded completely yet, but it was definitely a shallower red than before. But Malon could care less about the color of her cheeks, because Link was finally ready to go. She smoothed out the wrinkles of her white slip dress, strolled up to the Kokiri just as he let go of the belt, and surprised Link when she grabbed his right hand. Link’s face immediately grew warm.

“Okay, Fairy Boy,” Malon smiled, “it’s time to show you around my home. Why don’t we get started before my dad finds something for me to do?”

“I guess,” Link replied with a soft smile before turning to Navi, who was lying on a flower bud on the windowsill. “Navi, can you watch the…my stuff while I’m gone? Just make sure no one steals it…?”

“Whatever…” the obviously sleepy fairy answered before Malon interrupted.

“Don’t worry, no one’s going to steal your stuff. What’s so important about it, anyway? Something valuable or something? Or is it part of what you’re not ready to talk to me about yet? In any case, you don’t have to worry about it, so let’s get going.”

Deciding he had better not argue, Link nodded before allowing Malon to drag him out of the room with an eager strength. Navi merely watched the pair disappear from view before falling back asleep. For some reason, this was the most comfortable flower she had ever slept on…

“What’s wrong, Fairy Boy? Are you scared?”

“No, it’s not that…it’s just that…well, I’ve never been this close to one before…”

“Oh, is that it? You forest folk are indeed strange. Don’t worry; it won’t bite. Just reach out and touch it. It won’t hurt you. Come on…that’s it…”

With Malon’s coaching to guide him, Link’s right hand slowly made its way forward and, in a slow yet defining moment, touched the face of the large brown horse in front of him. The animal shifted slightly when Link touched its hairy face, but it remained calm and still enough for Link not to jerk his hand away. When he realized that the creature wasn’t going to hurt him, Link started to stroke the horse, going down the animals nose and then up again.

The horse snorted at this, but in bliss, not disgust.

Malon also showed bliss, although she did so with a smile. “See? Galto wasn’t going to hurt you. He may look big and tough, but he’s really just a baby at heart. Here, try feeding him a carrot. He’ll be your best friend if you give him one.”

With that, Malon handed Link one of the bright orange vegetables. Link had seen carrots before back home, but never ones this healthy. As he took the vegetable with his right hand, he asked Malon why it looked the way it did.

“We grow our own carrots,” Malon answered. “I guess we just want to keep our horses as healthy as possible. It may not look it now, but later on this year Lon Lon Ranch will be packed with people. It’s the farm’s biggest business - other than our milk, that is – and we want our horses to look as good as possible for the visitors.”

She then giggled. “But that’s not important. You’d better give Galto that carrot before he tries to snatch it away from you…along with your hand!”

When Malon saw Link’s eyes widen in surprise, she quickly added, “I’m kidding, I’m kidding!”

With a quiet sigh of relief, Link turned his attention back to Galto. The brown horse was obviously eyeing the carrot Link had and was snorting loudly and impatiently for it. Smiling, Link gently held the carrot out…

…and felt something sting his hand as a powerful blow knocked the carrot from his hand and into a nearby haystack. Link wanted to use his left hand to cover his throbbing right hand, but since he couldn’t move his left hand past the sling the task was impossible. But he soon turned around to see what had struck him; Malon did the same.

Standing behind and towering over the two children was a man. Link at first thought it was Talon, but he quickly noticed the man was too thin to be Talon, although he did have somewhat of a potbelly. He was dressed in a dirty pink shirt and slacks that indicated he did hard labor for a living. In one hand he carried a strange tool with a long handle, while his other hand – the one that had probably been used to hit Link – hovered over a bucket on the ground.

Link’s eyes immediately grasped the aura of the man’s face. It was an aura of disgust and displeasure, and the man’s facial features were bringing this aura to its full potential. The thick moustache that slithered across the man’s upper lip complemented his bushy eyebrows, which were twisted into a disgruntled curve. His nose stuck out like a fat finger pointing accusingly, and his eyes were two dark pools filled with hidden and unknown sentiment.

“What are you doing, you little brat?” the man bellowed in a scratchy voice towards Link. “Who gave your authority to feed the horses?”

Link didn’t know what to say, but luckily Malon did. “Ingo, stop it! Stop being rude to my guest!”

The man named Ingo turned sharply to face Malon. “And don’t think you’re off the hook either, Malon. You know better than to feed the horses like that! Wait ‘til your father hears about this…”

“My father,” Malon interrupted with a stern face, “has had about enough of your complaining, Ingo. He told me that he’s getting sick of you always grumbling when you should be working. He said that if he hears one more unjustifiable complaint from you, you would be looking for another job.”

This bit of news startled Ingo for a moment, but he recovered quickly. “A fine thing for that fat, lazy idiot to say. All he ever does is train his stupid Cucoos and then do real work for a little bit before taking all the credit for himself.”

“Hey, remember that my father pays your salary!” Malon protested fiercely. “And he would never do such a thing like that! Don’t you ever say something like that in my face again, or you will live to regret it!”

Ingo snarled before reached to pick up the bucket on the ground. “Say what you want. But quit stuffing these horses like that! They don’t need to grow fat because of your pathetic sympathies. Now get lost before I throw you out of the stables myself…and that goes for your ‘guest’ as well. Get out!”

Malon glared angrily at Ingo for a moment longer before turning to Link and saying, “Come on, Fairy Boy, let’s go. I’ve got someone I want you to meet, anyway.”

With Ingo staring them down, Malon and Link headed for the door of the stable, stumbled through it, and closed it firmly behind them. That was when Link found the courage to speak.

“Who was that guy?” he asked, despite already knowing his name.

“Ingo, one of our farm’s hired workers,” Malon answered as she proceeded to pull Link away from the stables and towards the other side of the farm. “He’s been working here ever since I was five, and I still haven’t grown used to him. He’s very short-tempered and doesn’t like being talked back to. My dad and he get into so many arguments that sometimes I wonder why he hasn’t been fired already.”

As the two turned a corner around a storage hut, Link stuttered, “Well, at least he takes good care of the horses…”

Malon came to a screeching halt and turned her gaze to Link. Her glare was almost as heated as the one she had given Ingo. “Don’t ever say that again! Ingo doesn’t take care of the horses. He takes care of them about as much as he does his own temper!”

“But…that bit with the carrot…he was worried about the horse getting fat…”

Malon’s gaze cooled slightly when she learned the reason behind his statement. “Maybe, but that doesn’t mean he’s taking care of them. Ingo is taking care of the horses as belongings, not as creatures. He uses a strict plan that he always adheres to no matter what, mainly so he doesn’t have to alternate depending upon the horses’ needs.

“Horses aren’t just commodities; they need love and comfort and the occasional word that tells them they are appreciated. Ingo doesn’t care about the horses the right way; he cares about them his own way. Do you see?”

Link never thought he’d hear such conviction in Malon’s voice. He nodded slowly and said, “Yes, I do.”

As if on cue, Malon’s face suddenly brightened. “Then let’s get going! I want you to meet my friend before lunchtime.”

Without a choice in the matter, Link could only attempt to keep pace as Malon dragged him along faster than before…

“What do you mean Saria doesn’t want to see me?”

Mido reached out with his hands and grabbed the shirt of the Kokiri boy in front of him before drawing the small guard closer to his heated gaze. “Repeat what you just said to me, and give me a good explanation why!”

The Kokiri that Mido was threatening – his name was Bori – shuddered violently, unable to speak at first. After all, he was in the grasp of Mido, the self-proclaimed leader of the Kokiri, and he didn’t want to say anything that might offend the red-haired bully.

“S…S…Saria doesn’t want…to see…anyone…Mido,” Bori managed before finding a more stable voice. “Not just you. She says she wants to be alone until she does something important…”

“Important? What’s so important that she doesn’t want to see me?” Mido demanded.

“How would I know?” Bori answered, shaking his head slightly. “She didn’t tell me. She just asked me not to let anyone disturb her…”

“And that’s all you’re doing?” Mido uttered with a snarl. “Just standing guard here for her, like a forest spirit that has nothing else to do? What fool do you take me for?”

“Hey,” Bori tried to protest, “Standing guard here isn’t all I’m doing. I practicing my ocarina…at least I was until you appeared…” Bori suddenly stopped speaking, realizing he had just said something potentially wrong.

Mido’s snarl slowly turned into a sneer. “You’re lying. This is just a ploy to make sure I never get near Saria. I’m smarter than you, so I can see through your lies. I’ll give you credit for acting, but that’s not all I’m going to give you.”

“Mido…” Bori pleaded, beginning to sweat profusely. “It’s the truth! I swear, Saria told me…”

“I’ll deal with you later,” Mido suddenly blurted angrily before throwing Bori to the ground in front of him. The poor Kokiri landed on his back with a soft thud upon the grass. He didn’t move for a brief moment before staring up at the sneering Mido, who continued, “But first, I’m going to see Saria. And don’t even think about stopping me, because you can’t!”

Before Bori had a chance to even move, Mido dashed in the direction of Saria’s house. It wasn’t too far a walk to the house – he and Bori had been within a stone’s throw away from it – so Mido reached within a matter of moments. He didn’t even take the time to knock on the side of the doorway before entering and speaking.

“Hey, Saria, it’s me, Mido. I’m here to see you…Saria?”

Despite the fact that it was almost noon outside, Saria’s house appeared dark and forbidden. There was little movement within, and Mido immediately found that strange. Usually Saria would greet anyone that came to her door, no matter who it might be. So her not even bothering to greet him was indeed peculiar.

He took a step inside the gloomy home…and immediately spotted Saria, sitting upon her knees on her bed, staring out the window. She remained absolutely still, not even bothering to turn around and look at her “guest.”

Wondering what was going on, Mido took a few more steps inside and uttered, “Hey, Saria, what’s the matter? Aren’t you even going to greet me…?”

“Please go away.”

Those three words that came from Saria were short, yet they were enough to freeze Mido where he stood. A sudden chill crept down his back, despite the fact it was hot inside the house. The hair across his body stood up on end like millions of soldiers prepared for the worst circumstances…and Mido couldn’t help but think he was about to face such circumstances.

“Saria…” he began, but he stopped when Saria’s head slowly turned around to face him.

The young Kokiri girl, who once had an air of mystique and charm, now appeared foreboding and baleful. All the cheery emotion that had one been found in her eyes were gone, leaving two pools of emptiness staring straight at Mido. Her lips were twisted into an indifferent frown, and the shadows that stretched across her face seemed to give out a silent yet apparent warning.

“I said,” Saria uttered in a flat yet frightening tone, “go away. Now.”

Without thinking, Mido turned around and left the house faster than he thought he thought he ever could. He ran past a shaken Bori, who was just getting up from the ground, and forgot about him the moment Bori left his sight. He had only one thought, and that was to get as far away from Saria as possible.

He didn’t know why he wanted to get away from her, but he couldn’t help himself.

He ran until he reached his own house, which wasn’t too far from Saria’s, and collapsed against the wall. As he panted and gasped heavily, more from fright than from exhaustion, he looked back in the direction of Saria’s house, wondering what had happened to the Kokiri he loved.

Meanwhile, Saria turned her head back to face the window, where she looked up at the blue sky above. As she did, her eyes were once again filled with emotion and sentiment, and the coldness and firmness in her face melted like ice in the sunlight.

As she stared at a small series of clouds in the distance, a single tear rolled down her cheek. “I’m sorry, Mido…” she whispered, allowing the tear to trickle into her mouth and onto her tongue. The droplet’s salty taste couldn’t compare to the bitterness Saria had felt after telling Mido to go away. “I’m sorry, but I have to be alone. I have to…Link, please. Wherever you are, call me. Connect with me again. I want to make sure you’re still you. Please, Link, please…wherever you are, play your ocarina one more time…please…”

She was just glad that Katl – as well as all the other fairies of the Lost Woods – had gone to hold a second ceremony in memory of the late Deku Tree. If he had been with her at that moment, he would’ve asked her to stop crying.

Unfortunately, at that moment, nothing could stop her from doing just that.

“Link…” she managed through her sobs. “Where are you…?”


“There she is, right in the middle of the pen!”

Link squinted hard to get a good glimpse of the “friend” at which Malon was frantically pointing. It didn’t take long for him to find her, and he could see her clearly, despite the distance between him and her.

She was smaller than the ones he had seen – a term people outside the Lost Woods would use was “younger” – and yet she seemed the most energetic. While the others were colored dark browns or pale blacks, she wore a coat of a passionate red that seemed to entice all to look at her. She didn’t do much despite her vigorous aura; she just stood still and nibbled at the grass beneath her, allowing the wind to boast her beautiful mane.

As he looked at the young horse, Link couldn’t help but feel a strange sense of delight. “She’s beautiful. What’s her name?” he asked as he leaned against the fence of the enormous pen. It was more like a field than a pen, actually.

“Epona,” Malon answered. “She’s probably my best friend in the entire world. I have other great friends, of course, but Epona’s always there for me. She’s different from other horses, somehow, like she’s almost human. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s like having a really, really close relationship with someone who will never let you down and will always be there for you. Have you ever had a friend like that before?”

Link gave Malon a brief glance before answering, “Yes. She was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. She was always there when I needed her, to comfort me when I was sad, to smile with me when I was happy. I don’t know what I would’ve done without her. I guess I never took the time to really appreciate what she’s done for me. And now that she’s not here…I don’t know. I really don’t know.”

Malon eyed Link with her curious eyes, making no attempt to sound demanding or excited. “I see. She must’ve been really special. Can you tell me her name?”

“Saria…” But that was as far as Link got before he fell silent. Now that he thought about it, he really missed Saria. What was she doing right now? Was she thinking about him? Or had she forgotten about him already? He really wanted to see her again, but until he found the third Spiritual Stone, that was impossible…

“Hey, Fairy Boy,” Malon suddenly uttered. “What are you thinking about?”

“It’s nothing,” Link answered, although he knew it was anything but nothing.

“Okay. If it’s nothing, how about I introduce you to Epona?”

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