The question could’ve been considered offensive, but the girl smiled with a soft chuckle and said, "Are you so eager to know my name? Very well, then. My name’s Malon. And what might your name be?"
Out of his initial surprise, Link took the time to examine the girl called Malon. She was about his height, more or less, although she looked a little bit better built physically. She was dressed in a single piece of white cloth that ran down her body and opened like a flower at her feet, a piece of attire that Link had never seen before in the Kokiri Forest. The one thing that stood out on this girl was her red hair, which ran wildly yet neatly down the back of her neck to her shoulders.
But there was one other thing that Link couldn’t overlook. Malon’s skin, facial features and even physical build seemed to resemble his as if they were somehow related yet also completely separated. Why did Link get the eerie feeling that something somehow connected him to this girl?
"Hey, are you okay?" Malon’s voice suddenly cooed, interrupting his thoughts. "You just suddenly drifted away. Something the matter?"
Link blushed slightly, realizing how rude he was being, and uttered, "Sorry. Nothing’s wrong, really. Anyway, my name’s Link. And this is Navi."
Malon’s eyes widened with interest as they looked around before turning back to Link. "Navi? Who’s Navi? Is she an invisible friend of yours or something?"
"Oh, sorry. Wait a moment. Navi, come out! Navi!"
When the fairy didn’t heed his call, Link grabbed his hat and began shaking it gently until he felt furious flapping underneath. He opened the hat’s rim a little to allow an annoyed Navi to flutter into view.
"What’s the big idea," she demanded, her pink light radiating in quick spurts, "waking me up like that? How would you like to be woken up like that sometime…?"
"Oh, a fairy!" Malon suddenly cried, forcing the fay to turn and face the girl. "So this is Navi? That’s pretty interesting. A boy with a fairy as a friend. You’re a regular Fairy Boy, aren’t you? Hey, maybe that’s what I should call you: Fairy Boy. You don’t mind, do you?"
"And who might you be?" Navi asked, whose temper hadn’t dropped yet.
"Navi," Link said, trying to calm her down, "this is Malon. She’s…uh, we just met."
"I see," Navi growled as she glared at the young girl. "It’s a pleasure to meet you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s something I must attend to." The fairy then turned to face Link. "If you ever do that to me again, I’m going to turn your head so many times you won’t be able to see straight for…"
"Okay, okay, I’m sorry," Link cried, trying to calm the fairy down. "I won’t do that again. Just please don’t get so angry."
"Angry?" Navi demanded. "Angry? You think I’m angry? You’ve never seen me angry! Just try that one more time and you’ll see just how angry I can get…!"
"Excuse me," Malon’s voice suddenly yet slowly uttered. "Is it possible for you to continue this conversation later?"
Navi remained heated, but Link immediately apologized. "Sorry. I guess I’m not used to talking to someone in this place. I’ve only just arrived, you see, and this is the first time I’ve been here…"
"It is?" Malon interrupted with a smile. "That’s wonderful. I prefer the country myself, but you have to visit Hyrule Castle New City at least once in your lifetime. Where are your parents?"
Link gave Malon a confused expression. "Parents? What are parents?"
"You know, your mother and father, mom and dad, the two grownups that always hang around you. Don’t you have any, Fairy Boy?"
"I guess I don’t," Link answered quietly. "I’ve never heard of grownups from where I come from…"
"Where’s that?" Malon asked quickly.
"The Lost Woods…" Link began before Malon again cut him off.
"The Lost Woods? Now I see everything. You’re one of those children that inhabit that village. My dad always tells me that it’s nothing but a story, but you’re obviously living proof that that’s not true. So that means you don’t even know what the city has to offer, is that right?"
Link tried to hear everything she said, but he only managed to catch pieces here and there. He did, however, hear her question. "I guess so…"
"Then I’ll show you around!" Malon suddenly declared. "You’ll enjoy the city! Come this way, Fairy Boy, I know of a good place to start."
Before Link could object, Malon reached out, grabbed his arm, and pulled him in the direction of the center of town. Navi had tried to speak during the conversation, but Malon had left no opportunity for the fairy to do so. Now she was forced to watch Link being dragged away. Her pink light flashing furiously, Navi zoomed to catch up with her charge…
The black horse screeched to a thundering halt as its rider stopped in front of the castle’s stables. It tried to rear several times before the rider dismounted, but the rider knew how to handle his steed. The wild stallion always without fail tried to break from its bondage to its master, but the master always in the end broke the stallion, making sure its spirit was shattered for a while to come.
Two stable boys appeared from the stable and offered to take charge of putting the horse away. The rider glared down at the two boys – they really were boys, no more than fifteen years – before he smirked and licked his lips.
"Sure," he answered in a gruff voice. "Go right ahead."
The rider dismounted his horse quickly, keeping his hand on the back of the horse’s neck, and allowed the two boys to take a hold of the steed’s reins. The rider waited until the boys appeared comfortable with the horse before he finally removed his hand from the horse’s neck.
Almost immediately, the horse reared wildly, surprising the two boys. They tried to bring the horse under control, but the black stallion refused to cooperate, growing wilder with each passing moment. Several other stable boys appeared to aid their comrades with the savage beast, but they could do little themselves when the horse started lashing out and even biting several of the boys.
"Enjoy," the rider whispered to himself as he calmly walked away from the scene. He knew that Darkstorm would continue to resist and even attack the foolish stable boys until it tired out, and that would be a long time from now. It had to have a lot of strength, after all, if it had to be his horse.
He shook the amusing thought from his mind as he thought of his earlier sweep of the city. The castle may be supposedly secure, but the city walls didn’t live up to that reputation. It would be easy to slip in a good number of his guards that the King of Hyrule wasn’t expecting. The new problem was entering the castle itself, but he felt confident that he would find a way inside just as easily.
He then remembered his close encounter with that young girl. He smirked sinisterly at the thought of running over her. Oh, how he wished she hadn’t been that quick. How he wished he could’ve flattened her smaller than a Rupee. Of course, the word would’ve spread how the King of Thieves had killed a young girl in Market Square, but the incident could’ve and would’ve been shrugged off as a mere accident. Even without meeting him, he knew the King of Hyrule was that gullible…
Ganondorf snickered loudly when he heard a loud scream of pain from one of the stable boys, undoubtedly because of a bite. If Darkstorm had been faithful, he would’ve bitten straight down to the bone. If he hadn’t, Ganondorf would have to discipline that horse once more…
Despite Navi’s constant bickering about how they were wasting time, Link managed to actually notice the sights that Malon showed him.
The first thing Malon showed him was Market Square, the enormous "center" of Hyrule Castle New City where the main flow of traffic and activity ran. Link, not used to such large crowds, was forced to adapt when Malon dragged him into the currents. Navi, whose fear of how people would react to seeing her had long vanished, had to weave excessively between moving people just to catch up to the two that wouldn’t listen to a word she said.
When she felt "Fairy Boy" had experienced enough of Market Square’s rush hour, Malon took Link to the outskirts of the Square, where several booths were set up next to each other.
"These are shopping booths, Fairy Boy," Malon explained when Link managed to regain his sense of direction. "They’re where people can buy various things they want. Of course, if you don’t have Rupees, you can’t buy anything. That’s why Master Bilton back at the inn was a little harsh with you. You don’t know about Rupees, do you? What did you use for money back in the forest?"
When Malon gave Link a chance to speak, he explained that in the forest he didn’t even know what money was. For the Kokiri, anything and everything belonged to everyone else. There was no such thing as ownership except for very trivial things.
Such as Saria’s Fairy Ocarina, which was now in his possession…and which he neglected to tell Malon about…
Malon, for all her energy, listened to Link’s explanation calmly and politely. Of course, she immediately started up again when Link had finished. "That’s interesting. I never realized you lived like that. But I guess I’ve never met someone from the forest before. But enough about that. Why don’t you look around here for a while? See what they have to offer?"
Link complied and gazed at the merchandise of the closest stalls. The first stall housed what appeared to be swords, just like his own blade but much larger. The larger people Link that saw in Market Square obviously used them. There were several smaller blades that resembled his own, but he realized that those weapons were mere toys in the hands of larger people.
One other stall did catch Link’s interest. It was a small clothing stall, and one of the items he noticed was a garment that resembled the attire Malon was wearing at the moment. This one, however, appeared far more sophisticated and refined. It was also a very pleasant shade of green.
"That’s a nice piece of clothing," Link said to Malon, pointing at it. He decided to guess that only girls wore that kind of attire. "I think it would look good on you."
He guessed right. Unfortunately. "What?" Malon declared. "What are you talking about? How could that thing look good on me?"
"I just thought…" Link began to explain himself when Navi abruptly appeared.
"There you are! What’s up with you, leaving me to zigzag as if my life depended on it…and it did! How can a Kokiri leave his fairy behind like that? Okay, now that that’s finished, let’s go! We’ve wasted enough time! We’ve got to…"
"Hey!" Malon suddenly inserted, forcing both Link and Navi to turn back to her. "How about I buy you some lunch? You look like you could use some nourishment."
"Well, I…" Link started when he felt his stomach growl. He then realized how hungry he was. He had eaten all the food Saria had packed for him on the journey and hadn’t had a bite since…last night. "I guess I could use something to eat."
"Great!" Malon cried before grabbing Link’s arm again and dragging him towards the crowd. "The restaurant area’s this way. Just come this way."
"Do I have a choice…?" Link attempted to ask before a quick yank silenced him. Navi, her light flickering furiously with determination not to lose him again, followed closely behind.
Kaepora Gaebora surveyed the mighty crescent of Death Mountain closely, looking for any signs of what he was searching for. It had been a while – a long while back, in fact, when he wasn’t an Owl – since he had observed the fiery crown surrounding the colossal mountain up close, since he had felt the fervent sulfur burning within his scent.
So finding the home of the Faria Garuia turned out to be quite a trivial task.
"Why does she make her home way up here, anyway?" Kaepora asked himself for the hundredth time as he caught an updraft with his wingspan open wide, allowing it to lift him higher. He knew the answer to his own question before he even asked it. The Faria Garuia preferred Death Mountain because it was here where she could live in peace, away from all whom sought to possess her power.
But Kaepora knew that he had to convince her to teach her power to the young boy. Her skills would be invaluable on the long road ahead. He didn’t know why, but he felt that the path of destiny was longer than even he anticipated. He wished that he could travel up Time’s stream farther than he usually could these days, but all he could see were pieces here and there that sometimes didn’t even make sense.
The one thing he could figure out was that the Child of Destiny had to learn magic.
And the Faria Garuia was the only one alive today that could teach him.
"If I can find her…" he grumbled as he scanned the mountain’s surface for any signs of her home…
"What is it?"
Ordinarily, the question would’ve felt quite rude, but Link felt comfortable asking such questions around Malon. She seemed to actually enjoy them. The "it" that Link was referring to this time was a small bowl of what appeared to be sliced vegetables floating in a peculiar liquid that smelled hot. And appetizing.
Malon, who had two of these bowls, smiled as she placed one in front of Link on the table they had chosen at the restaurant area. "It’s vegetable soup," Malon answered as she sat down. "I didn’t think you ate this kind of stuff in the forest, so I decided…well, just try it and see."
Link nodded as he picked up the utensil inside the bowl – a spoon, Malon has called it – and lifted it, bringing a portion of the soup with it. He then gently placed the steaming liquid in his mouth, allowed it to fall onto his tongue…and immediately coughed a large portion of it back into the bowl.
As he struggled to swallow and cough at the same time, Malon giggled slightly. "What’s wrong, Fairy Boy? Is it too city-like for your tastes?"
"No…it’s deli…icous," Link explained as he started fanning his open mouth with his hand. "It’s just very…hot…!"
"Ah," Malon laughed. "Guess I should have warned you about that. Sorry."
When Link had managed to learn to stand the soup’s warmth, he discovered that the food was, indeed, exquisite. He had tasted vegetables before, but they were always raw and crunchy. These vegetables, however, mixed with the broth, were soft and surprisingly soothing. He told this to Malon, who smiled at the comparison.
"Knew you’d enjoy it," she said as she sipped some of her own. "Maybe you can teach some of your forest friends how to make this stuff when you go back."
Go back. Malon’s words seemed to echo inside his head, prying loose memories from the lining of his mind. He remembered the reluctant and somewhat painful goodbye that Link shared with Saria before he left the Lost Woods. Saria had told him that she always felt he would leave one day.
She didn’t say whether or not he would return…
Without thinking, Link reached for his pouch and took out the Fairy Ocarina Saria had given him. The wrapping it was packaged in was surprisingly in tact, so Link felt compelled to remove the wrapping slowly so as to preserve its nostalgic value.
He was surprised when he saw markings scribbled on the inside of the paper. "What’s this?" he asked himself quietly as he lifted it to get a better look. A quick examination revealed what they were: musical notes, arranged in a neat yet hurried manner into a short simple melody. He considered playing them on the ocarina when Malon’s voice interrupted his thoughts.
"What you got there, Fairy Boy?" She leaned forward to see. "Ah, it’s an ocarina. You can play one of those things? Can you play me something? I’d love to hear what you forest folk play."
Link smiled faintly at Malon’s request before shaking his head. "Sorry, I can’t play that well. This is just a gift from a friend of mine. Hopefully, I’ll be able to play it someday…"
"I see," Malon said before taking another sip of her soup. "Hope you manage it. The ocarina’s a difficult instrument, you know. I’ve always wanted to learn it, but my dad’s too busy to teach me. Speaking of my dad, he’s the owner of Lon Lon Ranch. You ever heard of it?"
Link admitted he didn’t.
"You haven’t? That’s a shame. Lon Lon Ranch is the best horse farm in all of Hyrule. We also have the best milk ever produced in the land. I don’t mean to brag, but that’s the praise the ranch has received all over the country. In fact, even Hyrule Castle prefers our milk to any other second rate produce. Moreover, my dad’s delivering a package of milk at this very moment!"
Link’s eyes widened at what he heard. "Your father can get into the palace?"
"Yes, he has special permission. He…"
"Great," declared Link. It was his turn to interrupt. "Can he take me there? It’s very important that I see the Princess of Destiny."
Malon fell silent for a moment before giggling suddenly. " ‘Princess of Destiny?’ Is that what you fairy people call Princess Zelda? Well, I don’t know if my dad can get you to see her, but I’ll ask if he can take you in. Who knows, you may be lucky!"
"Thank, Malon," Link acknowledged, "I really appreciate it."
"Don’t mention it," Malon pleaded. "Say, why don’t you finish your soup before it gets cold?"
Link nodded and reached for his spoon to finish the broth. As he did, Navi, who had been quietly yet impatiently hovering over his shoulder the entire time, whispered into his ear, "It’s about time!"
Link merely smiled in response.
"Princess Zelda, what are you doing with that chair?"
Zelda turned at the sound of the voice of Impa, her trusted guardian and servant. She stared at the woman for a brief moment before turning back to the chair in her hands and placing it back on the ground. Trying to look dignified, Zelda then returned her gaze to Impa and explained:
"I’m preparing myself for the alliance assembly tomorrow with the King of the Gerudo."
"But your father strictly banned you from participating in that event," Impa declared, crossing her arms across her breasts.
"I know he did," Zelda replied with a crafty smile. "However, he didn’t state that I couldn’t witness the event. I am merely moving my chair to the window in my private garden that’s adjacent to the throne room."
Impa’s face betrayed her obvious disapproval of Zelda’s plan. Impa was a tall woman for her age, yet she hardly looked weak and vulnerable. In fact, her well-built physique and menacing appearance was the reason she was hired as Zelda’s servant and bodyguard. Of all the Sheikah, she was also the most honorable and trustworthy. Underneath her hard exterior lay a heart of gold and a will of iron. She would put her own life before the princess’s in any situation.
Even so, that didn’t mean she had to agree with everything the princess did.
"I should tell your father about what you are doing," she warned with a stern look. "I don’t know what you’re planning, but I’m sure he wouldn’t approve of it."
"He won’t not approve of it," Zelda said with a somewhat pleading tone, "if you don’t tell him about it."
Impa’s expression didn’t change, as if accusing the princess of a fruitless act. "And what makes you think I would do such a thing?"
Zelda up till now had remained calm and stoic. Now she changed her tactic to a more serious voice. "Impa, do you believe in prophecies?"
This caught the guardian off guard, but not completely. "Of course! The Sheikah are the People of Prophecy! Why ask such a question?"
Zelda’s eyes met Impa’s at the word question, and that was enough to make Impa listen.
"I believe I have experienced one," Zelda explained. "It has come to me in a dream, a dream that reoccurs night after night after night, showing me the same vision each time. I tried considering it a normal dream, but after a time I cannot believe such a statement. It has to be a prophecy, and it deals with Hyrule’s fate."
Impa was paying attention now. "Does your…"
"I’ve already told him," Zelda interrupted. "He doesn’t believe me. But that’s not the point. The point is that I believe the dream deals with the King of Thieves and how he plans to take Hyrule."
"Princess!" Impa exclaimed with surprise. "How can you say such a thing? Hyrule is the most secure nation in the world! The Three Goddesses have blessed this land with…"
"…nothing that can stand up to Ganondorf, apparently," Zelda inserted calmly yet angrily, "or whatever my dream symbolizes, although I’m pretty sure it’s him. There is one thing that I think can stop him, although I don’t know who or where he is."
"He?" Impa asked, her arms still across her chest yet now much looser.
"I’ll explain later. For now, this I something I must do. Don’t tell my father, Impa. Just please believe me. I don’t know what to do at the moment, but I must do something! If I don’t, Hyrule will witness one of its darker moments of history ever."
The silence that followed was deafening, and this was a signal to Zelda that Impa had finished with her objections. Turning around again, Zelda grabbed the chair she had been carrying and lifted it off the ground. She hadn’t taken it far, however, before Impa spoke yet again.
"Here, let me help you with that…"