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"The Awakening"


That night, as Link slept in his treehouse, the first night he’d slept there since his awful ordeal, he began to have disturbing visions in his dreams. Three images appeared before him, one red, one green, and one blue. They introduced themselves as the goddesses and ancient creators of Hyrule; Nayru, Din, and Farore. They told him of an evil foreshadowing of terrible things to come, that Hyrule would soon be in serious danger, and fierce battles would be fought. He would be the one called upon to save his country from the one who would seek to destroy all the peace that Zelda’s family had worked so long and hard to keep. But when he asked how, they simply disappeared. He immediately awoke and sat up in his bed, rubbing his eyes, trying somehow to comprehend it all. Save Hyrule? Singlehandedly? A young man from the forest, wielding his heavy blade…

That was a laugh, he thought. About the closest he ever came to serving Hyrule in any way, shape or form, was in fun with Zelda today in the forest.

Why then should he be the chosen one? When there were knights at King Harkinian’s castle far more versed in battle tactics and weaponry than he…

He dropped his face into his hands, the pain and sorrow from the recent events trying so hard to resurface, but he couldn’t give in. He just couldn’t. Rolling back onto the bed, he lay against the crook of his arm, trying to go back to sleep, to catch his much needed rest before the day would be calling to him…

He would not have to wait long for his answer. A few hours later, when he awoke at the sound of the birds outside in the early morning dawn, and opened his eyes, he jumped back in his bed, quite startled at what he saw before him. There was a man dressed in a red robe, his hands clasped in front of him. He appeared to be much older, and wiser, than the young Link.

"What the…am I dreaming again?" Link asked.

" not be afraid," the man said. "My name is Rauru, and I am the Sage of Light. I have come to you from the Chamber of the Sages. What the goddesses of Hyrule told you in your dream is correct, young Link. Hyrule seems at peace for now, but that will change…when HE comes"…

"He? Who’s "he?" Link asked. Rauru’s eyes held grave seriousness in them, and the way he said the name gave chills up and down Link’s spine.


The young warrior sat up on the edge of his bed, shaking his head. "Zelda spoke of him once to me."

His eyes met Rauru’s. "Who is he?"

"He comes from the land of the Gerudo. There is only one male born there every hundred years, and he is that male. He has an evil heart, and only one with a pure and just heart can destroy him. He wants the Triforce, the very thing that holds this country together, keeping it in perfect balance. And there is only one blade that will destroy him forever"…

"And which blade is that?" Link asked. Rauru looked at Link with a calm expression on his face, as if he’d found long-lost serenity in the young man. He began to walk toward him, the sunlight bathing him in an eerie glow. "It is the Master Sword, Link," the wise old man said. "You must pull the Master Sword from the pedestal of time and deliver the death blow to Ganondorf. Only then will Hyrule be at peace again." Link was confused. "But why do you tell me of things that have not yet come to pass?"

"Because we Sages know all, but we cannot defeat Ganondorf with the Master Sword. That task must fall to the…chosen one…to you, Link."

"Wait a minute," Link said, holding his hand up and shaking his head. "I think you must have mistaken me for somebody else, I’m no hero…I’m just an ordinary man who has lost the woman he loved."

"You have the heart of a true hero, Link," Rauru insisted. "You may not believe that now, but you do. It is time for you to realize your destiny. I have seen you fight, you are truly magnificent with a sword. Your honor and bravery have already been proven to me, and so it will be proven to Hyrule, and to the royal family." Link studied the pudgy man with fierce intensity. So these Sages knew of what happened on Koholint, and they still wanted him to do this daunting task? He paced the floor a little, his arms folded, his mouth resting on his extended thumb. Suddenly he whirled around.

"What about Zelda and her father?" he inquired. "What will happen to them?"

"That is why you must accept this challenge. Their lives will be in great danger soon. Accomplish this, and the rewards shall be endless."

"But I don’t want any rewards!" Link shouted, clenching an angry fist. "I just want"…

His voice faded and he looked away at the floor. Rauru extended his hand out and placed it on Link’s shoulder. "I know your heart suffers, I know you feel lost and that life seems hopeless right now, but"…

He breathed in a heavy sigh. "Your life can have meaning again. I swear it on the crown of the King."

Link looked the wise old man in the eyes, and gripped his arm in a manly way. What else could there possibly be for him to do if he stayed here, and didn’t take this risk? Maybe he could save Hyrule…

"Okay," Link said in a hushed whisper. "I’ll do it."

Rauru patted his shoulder. "That’s it. Bear up, lad. You’ll see that what I’ve told you is indeed true"…

"I just have one question," Link asked. "Just how is it that I get to this Temple of Time?"

Rauru cleared his throat.

"First, you must pass the test of Dampe the ghost. He lives in the graveyard behind Kakariko Village. You must pull back the first tombstone up on the hill to your left as you enter the graveyard. Go visit him…he will have something nice to give you…if you pass his challenge. There will be many things you will learn on this journey, Link, but most of all you will learn how to use….this"….

He laid a finger to his temple, indicating wit.

"Then, you will learn to properly use….this"….

His hand grasped Link’s sword on the table beside him, holding it up, as the light fell against it, flickering down its’ steel edge. Link’s eyes were fixed on his blade, thinking to himself, but I already know how to use that….

"Many weapons you will acquire, learn to use them wisely, and you shall emerge…victorious, for honor and bravery cannot be bought by brawn alone."

Link nodded his head.

"You will face evil in a forest, in a temple of fire, underneath a lake, in the bowels of fear, and in the truest form of spirit. Each test will become more difficult, making your survival imperative. Fail us, and Hyrule will be lost forever. Fail us not…and you shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine. Some things will seem real, when they are not. You will be told things that are not true, in an effort to deceive you. You must learn to recognize the difference. I now entrust this guardian fairy to you, Link. Her name is Navi. She will guide you along your way. Please listen to whatever she has to tell you, for she is a messenger of the Sages."

Then in a whirl of light, he was gone, leaving Link alone with Navi.

"Hello, Link," Navi said. "I’m pleased to meet you. As Rauru said, I am a messenger of the Sages, and I will help you as much as I can."

Link held up his finger and the dainty fairy sat upon it, eyeing him carefully.

"I can sense you are quite a troubled young man," she noted, in a concerned tone of voice.

"But you are the voice of Hyrule! You shall bring peace once again to this land!" She made a tiny fist, and struck her other hand with it.

"Navi," Link said, "There is peace. I really don’t understand all of this. Who is Ganondorf? Have you seen him?"

"Oh, no," she replied. "But he is an evil man, and he wants to rule Hyrule, and take the kingdom away from King Harkinian." She sat up straighter in excitement. "Our own Princess Zelda has seen him, though"…

"Oh?" Link asked again, with a strange look on his face. "When was that?"

"I believe," she said with some hesitance, "that it was while you were away. He visited her and her father, and made threats on their lives if they should ever rise up against him."

Link’s eyes held surprise in them, and he looked away from her. "Why would she not tell me of this?"

"I suppose out of the goodness of her heart not to trouble you with such things," she replied. "She knew you would return, and she did plan on telling you then, but"…

"But what?" Then it dawned on him. He’d been near death, and she’d saved his life, but hadn’t even told him about the threat on hers!

"Well, this is something I shall have to remedy"….he whispered. "Zelda is my friend, and I will not let any threat on her life go unpunished!"

He didn’t waste any time getting to the graveyard behind Kakariko village, after he’d talked to a few locals that gave him some useful information. They all wanted to know what he was doing there, but he couldn’t tell them he was on the Sages’ business. No, there was no way they’d believe him.

So he entered the graveyard discreetly after nightfall and immediately it turned cold and began to rain. Looking behind him, he could see that it was not raining. This was very strange, he thought as he shivered and sneezed. Looking to his left, he saw the very tombstone Rauru had mentioned. When he walked to the fence, climbed over it, then tried to grab the heavy slab, something bright appeared before him, carrying a lantern of some sort. It swung it at him in violent circles, and spoke to him in an odd ethereal voice. "You’re not welcome here. Go back from whence you came."

Immediately, Link drew his sword and struck it with vigilance. It froze, blinking its eyes, stunned. "Don’t mess with me," Link said. "I’ve had a bad day as it is."

He sheathed his sword back behind him, then proceeded to pull back the massive stone. It moved, and revealed a hole. An awful stench rose up from it immediately, nearly knocking him to the ground. He grimaced. If this was the first of tests he must face, then it surely couldn’t get any worse! He thought he would vomit any moment from the smell of death that lingered around him. Leaning to the side, breathing fresher air, he decided he’d better do this, and get it over with, if he even succeeded in getting through Dampe’s test.

"Navi, you stay here," he ordered. "I need to do this on my own."

"Oh come on," she begged. "Please let me come with you."


Looked like the only way to enter was down into that awful hole, and so grabbing his nose, he flung himself down into the pitch blackness…

He found himself in a large dark room, surrounded by strange light. When he turned around, there was an image of a ghost before him. Funny, somehow, the smell wasn’t so bad now. Jeez, this guy sure didn’t win any beauty contests when he was alive….

"Welcome, Link, I’ve been expecting you," the ghost said.

"You must be Dampe," Link replied in a less than enthusiastic tone.

"Yes, I am, and I have a test for you. Are you quick on your feet?"

Link nodded.

"Then I must challenge you to a race. Beat me, and you shall receive a very handy weapon, one you will not survive without. Ready? Set…


Dampe took off ahead of Link, curving around the dark passageways. Link was right on his, er, um, heel, and the two raced against the clock. Then Dampe threw a flame down on the floor, which Link quickly dodged. Then another….then another…

A door loomed in front of him, and as Dampe passed through it, he laughed. "Oh come on now, you can do better than that!"

Link rolled forward through the doorway before it could close on him. Whew. Another set of passageways, another set of flames, and he was at the second door. It almost caught Link’s tunic as he rolled underneath it, and Dampe taunted him yet again. "And you are the one the Sages have chosen to save Hyrule"…

Link was beginning to get angry at this annoying apparition. If he’d only known what kind of turmoil he’d been through. His anger urged him onward, dodging more flames, one landing dangerously close to his feet, until he found himself at a dead end. Oh, damn, what was this? A sleeping zombie? It began to raise up, and Link suddenly knew this was the wrong place to be.

"Uh oh," he muttered. Darting quickly around the corner, he rolled through the third door just in time…but where was Dampe? Link followed the flames as they began to flicker away, and he climbed up onto a huge concrete slab. Running down another corridor he saw another set of flames, then….

He stopped just in time, waving his arms to balance himself, as he looked down into a yawning cavern. Dampe was just about to make it through the fourth door, and Link ran as fast as his legs could possibly carry him up the hill, around the cavern, and through the door, just as it slammed shut behind him.

"Well?" Link asked. "Do I pass your test?" he asked in a terse voice.

Dampe took out his pocket watch and eyed it carefully. "You could have done better…your time was 1:06, but….the answer is yes, you did pass my test. Here is your reward"….

And he lifted up something with a razor sharp edge at the end of it. "This was my hookshot, and you will need it more than me now. When you fire it at a target, it will stick, and pull the weight of your body along with it. But be careful, it will only extend so far."

Link took it from him. "Thanks, Dampe."

"You’re welcome, Link. Oh by the way, the Sages wanted me to also give you this, it should prove more sturdy than the shield you carry now"…

and he handed him a shiny new shield, one that bore the crest of Hyrule upon it.

"This looks like the ones that the King’s guards carry," he said, his eyes wide, admiring the beautiful handiwork.

"Yes, and speaking of the King," Dampe continued, "you should go see him right now. Don’t waste another moment, the exit’s right behind you, but be carrrefulllll"….

He disappeared, and when Link tried to exit, several flying bats appeared out of nowhere…..

"HA HA HA"….Dampe’s voice echoed.

Link waved his shield at them, and sliced his sword through the air, then they were gone.

Shaking his head, he sheathed his sword behind him. "Damn you, Dampe," he muttered. He went out the exit, then found himself inside the windmill. He grabbed the piece of heart on the sill next to him, and headed out the door. He must have had a surprised look on his face, because just then, a village woman passed by and eyed him strangely.

He bowed his head to her, trying to throw the attention away from what had just happened. "Good evening"….

When she was gone, he hightailed it out of the village and towards the castle. Even though it was nightfall, he knew he would have to demand an audience with the King, no matter what the late hour. He would settle matters with Zelda later for not telling him what she knew of Ganondorf. When he reached the gates, he was told to go away.

"You must let me see the King! It is a matter of most urgent business!"

The guard held his hand up. "Sorry, lad, no business with the King"…

Someone was shaking the bars of the gate nearby, interrupting their conversation. It was a good thing, because Link was starting to get very mad. He squinted his eyes to see who it was. It was Zelda. What on earth was she doing?

"Zelda! What are you doing out here at such a late hour?" he asked, surprised.

"Open the gate, guard, and let him in," she ordered. Even though Princess Zelda had a very sweet voice, when she ordered someone to do something, she meant it, and no one dared ever cross her.

Fumbling with his keys, the guard opened the gate for Link, muttering something under his breath.

Link grabbed the end of the gate and swung through to the other side, not even giving the guard the chance to get it fully open.

Zelda took his hand and began to run towards the entrance to the castle. "Hurry, Link, my father needs to hear this from you"…

"Hear what?" he asked. Zelda didn’t answer, she just kept on running, pulling him along with her. He stopped suddenly, his massive strength yanking her to a stop also.

"Zelda, what!" He’d never yelled at her, but he had a right to know what was going on.

"I just got done visiting some ghost in the village who raced me for this hookshot," he said, pointing over his back, "and he tells me to come see the King. When I get here, your guards won’t let me in!"

He then pointed through the gate at them. "Now you’re here, telling me I have to tell the King something, now just what is it I’m supposed to tell him?"

Her eyes softened. "I’m…sorry, Link. I guess I should have prepared you"…

"Prepared me for what?" he asked, placing his hands on his hips.

"Well, I tried to tell him that you were the chosen one, the one that the Sages have instructed to pull the Master Sword from its pedestal in the Temple of Time, but…he didn’t believe me. He says I’m living in my girlish dream world again"…

Her eyes looked away from Link, and his heart sank.

He took a deep breath, sighed, and kicked some stubborn dirt around him.

"How do you know of that?" he asked.

"I’ve been having dreams about it, and my father won’t listen to me."

"And you want me to tell him, so he can hear it from my ears? Everything that Rauru said? Am I right?" he quizzed.

Zelda nodded her head. "Please, Link"…

Navi fluttered around him incessantly. Link introduced her to Zelda.

"If you bring her with you, it will only provide more proof to him"…she said excitedly.

"Okay, Zelda, okay. But I am not done with you yet. There are some other things you and I need to discuss."

He let her lead him to the Throne Room, where King Harkinian sat, waiting for them.

"I got out of my fine bed at this late hour to see this?" he roared, firing up from his throne. "This…forest boy you keep speaking of?"

"Please, father, hear him out, for he has some very important things to say."

Harkinian held onto his knees, sighed deeply, and slowly sat back down. "Come sit beside me, Zelda.

"This had better be good, daughter"….

Zelda took her seat beside her father’s throne as he ordered.

"Let’s hear it boy," Harkinian said as he leaned on one elbow, facing Link. "Enlighten me"…

Link stepped forward and told Zelda’s father of everything that was told to him by the Old Sage. Harkinian listened to every word, and when Link was done, he sat back in his throne, a strange look in his eyes, and folded his hands across him.

Link and Zelda’s eyes met, and Link’s body was perfectly still…rigid….

One could hear a pin drop in this room. Zelda’s heart beat uncontrollably, for she did not want to reveal the secrets to her father, or to Link, about what Ganondorf had said and done to her while Link was away at Koholint. She only gripped the arms of her chair so hard her knuckles turned white.

"You are not part of any army, not even my own, and yet you waltz in here and tell me that you are the "Chosen One?" he said mockingly. "Zelda," he roared, as he turned to face her, "You have disgraced me for the last time!"

Zelda’s eyes filled with tears as she sat watching Link, and suddenly she threw her head to the side, looking away from both Link and her father. It was no use. Ganondorf would certainly make good on his threat to her now. She continued to grip the sides of her chair, trying hard not to cry.

"Young Link, I do not hold you at fault. This is a game my daughter has obviously cooked up, and I’m sorry she has made you a part of it. I’m sure you are a brave lad, and I will ask no apologies from you."

He turned to look at Zelda, and she could feel his eyes burning through her. "It is my daughter who needs to apologize." Suddenly the weight of the shield, sword and hookshot on his back felt too heavy for Link to carry out of here. He watched Zelda as she shook in her chair. Something was wrong, very wrong. She didn’t ever clam up like this. Zelda used every bit of willpower left in her to wrench herself from that chair and ran out of the room, passing Link, and not looking at him nor at her father.

"Zelda," Link asked softly, holding his hand out to her, but she refused it. She continued to run away, and up to her bedroom, the one place where she could go to drown out her sorrows.

Link turned back to face the King.

"It’s best you go now, son. My factor will call upon you tomorrow to settle your troubles."

Link looked at him strangely. "What troubles?"

"Your inconvenience caused by my daughter, of course. Don’t worry, I am a generous King. You just name your price, and you shall have it."

Link stood back from his King, his chest rising from the welling anger inside of him. How dare this King belittle his daughter this way!

"Your Majesty, I value your daughter as a treasured friend. I would never accept money from you as payment for anything she has done, or done wrong in your eyes. What I have spoken to you is the truth, and my word is good. Now, your Majesty, do with that what you will. But what I have told you, every word, every sentence, it is every bit true. I cannot be bought with gold."

Navi continued fluttering about, keeping her mouth shut, for she knew better than to come between a warrior and a King.

Link turned from the King to walk toward the double doors.

"Halt!" Harkinian ordered. "I did not dismiss you!"

Link stopped, whirled around on his heel and faced Harkinian, with a look of steel in his eyes.

Harkinian did not know what to make of this young man, who refused payment of any kind. Nobody of his class ever refused money! Link was obviously different. Even foolish, perhaps….

"Very well, then," the King said, giving in to him. "You may go. But you had better not come back here boasting of these tall tales, or you shall be banned from Hyrule Town!"

Link bowed to him, then exited the double doors.

As he walked across the drawbridge, he stopped, turned, and looked up at Zelda’s window. It was dark. He shook his head, for he knew she must be up there crying herself to sleep. If only he could have somehow convinced her father who he really was….


Link decided to take Epona out for a ride around Hyrule Field. He needed some air really bad after everything that had happened today, and tonight. He watched the moon rise above his land as he let Epona drink from the creek close to the village. He pondered over this looming quest to route out the evil in the five temples he would soon visit. Each one would present new challenges, new adventures. And new dangers. He would have to prepare himself. The silent peace he witnessed now would soon be covered by shadows of evil. Shadows he alone would have to face. He had promised Rauru that he would defend his King’s crown, even if it meant his life, and even if the King did not wish to acknowledge him as "the chosen one." He pondered many things during this last "free" time alone, before his journey would begin.


He didn’t remember falling asleep by the creek, but when he felt a foot nudging him in the side, and heard female laughter, he awoke slowly, and looked into the eyes above him. He felt warm sunshine against his face. "What the"… he muttered.

"You fell asleep, Link," the girl said, still giggling. "Just like my father"…

Link sighed in relief when he recognized who it was. "Malon, thanks for waking me up, I can’t believe I fell asleep out here!"

She held her hand out to him and he stood up, brushing the grass off his legs. "So why were you out here?" Malon asked. "I thought you lived in the forest"…

"Oh, I brought Epona out here to get some air last night, and I guess I just fell asleep, listening to the crickets," he said, hoping it didn’t sound like the obvious lie that it was.

"Well, how’s Epona doing? She’s looking quite well"…Malon reached over and patted Epona’s fine coat. "Say, I saw you out here the other day riding with Princess Zelda. When do you think you can take me riding?" she asked innocently, but there was a flirtatiousness in her voice that told Link otherwise. He cleared his throat. "Well, I suppose I could take you home, I know it’s not much of a ride, but it’s all I can do for right now. Is that alright?"

"Oh, it’s more than alright," she said, allowing Link to help her onto Epona’s back. Link got on behind her, and handed her the reins. "Here, you take her," Link said, "I know you know her like the back of your hand."

She smiled and squeezed Epona into a quick trot across Hyrule Field, in the direction of Lon Lon Ranch. She took her time though, because this was her dream, to ride on horseback with this handsome young man from the forest she’d only begun to know, and she wasn’t about to let this moment end too quickly. When they reached the hill to the ranch, Epona took long strides up it, effortlessly carrying the pair to Malon’s door. Link took the reins from Malon and slowed Epona down. "Well, Link, thank you for bringing me home," she said as he dismounted and helped her off his horse.

"You’re quite welcome, Malon."

"Will you stay and have some iced tea with my father and I?"

"No, I’m sorry, I must go. I need to go back to the forest."

"Will I ever see you around here again?" she asked flirtingly.

"Perhaps," Link said. She obviously didn’t know of what happened at Koholint, and Link didn’t feel like telling her. Another redhead trying to get close to him was more than he could handle. He pulled back from her, mounted Epona, and started to ride away.

"Thank you for waking me up, I really do appreciate it," he said.

"You’re welcome," Malon replied sweetly. He took off toward the forest, leaving her alone by her door. She watched Link as he galloped away on that beautiful horse, wondering why he was acting so mysterious.

Link wondered how Zelda was getting along today, especially after that scene with her father last night. He could see that she’d been upset by something terrible, and it wasn’t just that her father hadn’t believed her dreams, or Rauru’s messages. No, it was something more…

He decided to go to the Sacred Meadow. It was always serene and calm there. Zelda would come to him when she was ready, he figured. No sense in pressing the issue. When he got there, he tied Epona to a nearby tree and sat on a nearby log. All was quiet. Then he heard something whistling through the air and….whack!

He looked up to see an arrow stuck in the tree right next to him, the end of it quivering. He quickly unsheathed his sword and hid, watching…waiting…

Whack! Another arrow. Then another. They were hitting the same tree, so it couldn’t be that he was being hunted. He slowly made the circle around the tree to see who it was. He recognized the blond hair immediately. Obviously she came here to practice, alone. Suddenly he felt like he was intruding. But he found himself carefully stepping out toward her…

"Zelda!" He whispered.

Zelda immediately turned to face him, with a ready arrow…

Link held his hands up in surprise. "Whoa! It’s me! Don’t shoot!"

She lowered her bow. "Oh, Link I’m sorry. But you scared me half to death"…

"I didn’t mean to, honest." He began to walk toward her. "What are you doing out here?"

"I came to clear my head," she said, aiming toward the tree again, squinting her eye at her target, then letting the arrow fly with swift strength as it lodged itself neatly into the bark.

"I hope I don’t act that way when I’m Queen," she muttered. "If I do, please put me out of my misery," and she readied another bow.

Link watched her. She was definitely better at this than swordfighting, although she was getting good at that, too.

"I sure wouldn’t want to be that tree, Zelda," he joked.

"You want to try? Here," she said, holding her bow out for him.

"Sure, but you’ll have to show me. It’s been awhile since I’ve used one of these."

She shook her long hair behind her. "There’s nothing to it. Okay, first, keep your body stiff. Keep your energy focused on your target."

Link placed one foot in front of him a little awkwardly, remembering a little from his earlier usage, but still not confident. "Ummm…like this?"

"Well, not exactly," she began, "Try bringing your chest out. Like, if you were throwing a ball or something similar."

He did as she said, and made his stance stronger, more confident. "That’s it, now just aim"…

He raised the bow; readied the arrow. But he fired it too quickly, and it sailed past the tree.

"Hmm," he muttered. "Need more practice. I could never be as good as you, Zelda."

"Nonsense," she reassured him. "Here… let me help you"…

She got behind him so she could see the target, lifted her hands to his arms, and gently moved them into position. Her gentle persuasion caught Link off guard for a moment. She was very good at teaching him things, and as she slid her fingertips underneath his right arm to his elbow, something changed within him at that moment. He wondered why she spent most of her time alone, or with him. Surely she must have a heavy burden to bear. She lifted his right arm higher, then pulled his left arm back. Somehow he felt he could let her teach him these lessons all day, and he would never get tired of it. He felt so safe with her, he trusted her, he knew she was leading him down the right path…

"Do you feel that? Do you see how you should hold your body? That is key, Link. Now"…

she moved around to his left side, and laid her hand against his shoulder. "You’re ready."

She leaned in a little closer to his ear. "Aim"…she whispered. "Now release it." Her hand traveled lower, curling tighter around his bicep. Explode"…

Her breath caressed his cheek, making him lose his concentration.

When he let the arrow fly, it landed a far cry from Zelda’s arrows. "Not fair," he joked. "You need to stop teasing me."

She held onto him and he turned his head to face her. Their eyes locked. Now they were almost a breath’s distance away from a kiss…and if Link had been bold enough….

"What happened with Ganondorf?" he asked in a soft voice instead, not taking his eyes from hers. "Why did you run away last night?"

She pulled away from him, letting her hands fall away. "I can’t talk about it Link. Please don’t ask me to."

"But you are troubled, and you are my friend, Zelda. I don’t like to see you in pain."

Zelda knew that if she told him what Ganondorf had said and done to her, his visions of fulfilling his quest would be tainted, and she just couldn’t have that.

"Someday, Link, maybe I will tell you. But right now it is more important that you get ready for your quest. My father is having a ball tonight, and I would very much like to invite you. If you come, it will help me more than you will ever know. I need a familiar face around me this evening. Will you come?"

"Of course," he replied. "But you know I have nothing to wear, Zelda."

"Oh don’t worry about that," she said, fanning her hand away as if it were the most trivial thing in the world. "I’ll send a tailor over for you in a few hours. You’re a pretty standard size, I’m sure something can be put together for you"…

Her face broke into a smile, and Link smiled with her. He wouldn’t push the Ganondorf issue any longer. As long as she was happy…

"Well, I should go," she said, standing up. "The ball will be in a few hours. I’ll send for you about eight, alright?"

"Sure," Link replied. He stood up also, and patted her back.

"Let’s make tonight fun," she said. "It will do me good. Oh, by the way, this isn’t like a "date" or anything, okay?"

"Oh, sure, I understand. No, it definitely isn’t a date."

Zelda did as she promised, and sent a tailor to Link’s treehouse later that day. He was outfitted in a new blue tunic with the Hylian crest, black pants, black boots, and white shirt. His hair was combed neatly back, showing off more of his handsome face. When he looked into the mirror, he was quite pleased with his new appearance. He would pass at least for upper crust, and be invited into Hyrule’s inner circles. Well, he didn’t really care about that. What mattered most was making Zelda happy, and to have a little fun at the same time. He didn’t really know how to dance, but he figured Zelda would show him, just like she showed him how to use that bow and arrow today…

For a moment he still felt her fingers gliding up his arm, in gentle persuasion. She certainly would make her Prince, whomever he may be, a very happy man someday. Something suddenly left him feeling empty. Was it that she was not really here at this moment, or was it that she would someday marry a Prince, ending all of their wonderful adventures? He knew not, but waved it away as he looked to his side, admiring his profile. Blue was Zelda’s favorite color. Had she hand picked his clothing for some reason?

At promptly eight pm Link arrived at Hyrule Castle, looking quite dashing and handsome as he dismounted the carriage sent for him. Nobody recognized him as he entered the Grand Ballroom at the Castle, but he immediately discovered that he was on the receiving end of some very suggestive glances from the unmarried female guests. He paid them no attention; his eyes were searching the crowds for Zelda. He was stopped suddenly by a brunette, her bosom nearly busting out of the gold lame gown she was wearing.

"Hello there," she purred in a seductive voice. "I didn’t see you come in here with anyone"…

She batted her eyes at him. "I’m Reina, one of Zelda’s distant cousins. You must be, wait a minute….that handsome young man from the forest I saw out riding with her. Tell me"…she whispered as she moved in closer, her fingers stroking the crest on his tunic, "What’s your interest in my cousin Zelda? Wouldn’t you rather spend your time with a woman who knows a thing or two about young warriors?"

Her hands quickly closed around his manhood, giving it a light squeeze, giggling softly. Link jerked back suddenly, his face growing red. He so hoped nobody had seen that. He straightened his tunic, clearing his throat, trying to look very casual and nonchalant. Zelda had seen Reina talking with Link, and she pushed through the crowd of gathering women, and faced her directly, taking Link’s hand.

"Excuse me, Reina," Zelda said coldly, shooting her a hateful glance. "Go find your own." She pulled Link out of the web of spiders about ready to make him their next meal, as they heard loud boos behind them.

"Thanks, Zelda…whew"…Link said, smiling. "I wasn’t quite sure what she might do next."

"Reina’s a bit…on the wild side, Link. She looks at a man and she immediately wants…well you know."

"I understand," he replied, chuckling. "Don’t worry. I’m not…looking for"…

He was so embarrassed by what happened he hadn’t even noticed Zelda. She was absolutely beautiful in the pink strapless sheath gown she was wearing, with white elbow gloves, and diamonds dripping from her neck and ears. Her hair was piled high on her head, showing off her delicate neck.

"You look…lovely, Zelda," he said, changing the subject, his voice hoarse, then he coughed to get it to return to normal.

"Why thank you, Link," she purred. "It took me a while to get myself to look like this"….

This was the first time Zelda had seen Link with his hair combed back. He was striking, she had to admit. His eyes were what captivated her immediately, but she did not let it show. He was not wearing his Kokiri cap, which ordinarily gave him such a youthful, innocent look. Tonight, he looked like…like an older man, like a Prince from a faraway land that could steal her heart at any moment…

Maybe he already had, and she just didn’t want to admit it.

She led him to a long table, with a bountiful feast laid out for them. Link’s mouth dropped open at the sight of all that food.

"My goodness, Zelda, I’ve never seen so much food in all my life!"

"Well, sit down, and eat all you want."

She leaned over to him, and placed the backside of her left hand against her mouth.

"Actually, I am famished," she whispered. "Haven’t been able to eat anything all day, and my stomach is about to gnaw a hole into my back."

Link laughed and pulled her chair out for her, then took his seat beside her. Zelda introduced him to all of the occupants at the table, lords and ladies from faraway lands. They had no idea he was only a peasant, just that he was a mysterious friend of Zelda’s from her childhood, that had returned to Hyrule on holiday.

The meal began, and a handful of musicians strolled about the ballroom, playing etudes of this and overtures of that as the guests ate. Link suddenly felt something thump against his chest. He looked to his left, and saw that Zelda was cutting her meat, acting very ladylike. He looked up at the ceiling, staring at it for a moment, then resumed eating. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her take a grape and flick it in his direction, thumping him in the chest again. What a sneak! She didn’t know he’d seen her however. He picked up his napkin, wiped his mouth, and nonchalantly flicked a grape back at her. She was in the middle of chewing her food when she felt the grape go down her dress. She froze, and looked over at Link, who was trying to keep from laughing.

Their snickers caught the attention of the other guests, but only for a moment, as the King stood up at the far end of the table, and clinked his glass.

"Let the dancing begin!" he shouted merrily as the entire orchestra entered the room.

Zelda leaned forward and fished the grape out of her dress, away from her guests’ view.

"Are you okay?" Link asked, sitting back in his chair, quite pleased with what he’d accomplished.

"You just wait," she said. "Your payback is coming"….

"Zelda," he whispered, leaning over to her, "Would you like to dance? I’ve…never learned…will you teach me?"

"Of course I will, let’s wait for everybody else, though, I don’t want you to feel embarrassed," she said, in a very sweet and understanding voice.

Just then a young man, near Link’s age, approached Zelda, holding out his hand, completely ignoring the fact that Link was sitting beside her.

"Your highness, may I have this dance?" he asked in a calm voice, bowing courteously. He wore all black, with brass buttons along his shoulders. Obviously someone of military rank, but from where? His jet black hair, and intruding green eyes stood out. There was something in this young man’s gaze that Link wasn’t comfortable with.

He sat back upright in his chair, the happy mood suddenly leaving him. Who was this man?

Zelda looked at Link, and the expression in her eyes told her everything he needed to know. She couldn’t refuse this dance; it would anger her father.

"I’ll be right back," she mouthed with her words, for his eyes alone, her tender hand on his shoulder...

That was a little comforting, but still….

As the young man pulled Zelda close to him on the dance floor, and held the small of her back, and she placed her hand with hesitance into his….

Link clenched his teeth, kept his eyes on them, and if he dared do anything…

The music started, and the pair circled the floor, the stranger holding Zelda’s dainty hand smugly in his, looking down at her with hungry eyes…

The grasp around her became tighter and tighter, and his gaze became even more hungry…

Link finally couldn’t stand it anymore. He waited until more guests entered the dance floor, and then he made his move. He tossed his napkin onto his plate, got up from his chair, scraping it annoyingly across the marble floor. His broad shoulders were rising with his mounting anger…his hand ready to draw his sword at any moment should this man think twice about doing something foolish…

Link tapped the man firmly on his shoulder. He whirled Zelda around and faced him.

"I’m cutting in," Link said in an angry but calm tone. "Stand aside."

"Wait your turn…loverboy. Take a number. I’m not finished with her yet."

He began to whirl Zelda in the opposite direction. She looked at Link with big worried eyes as she was being pulled away….

Link marched to the man and demanded again, "I said…stand aside."

The man laughed at Link. "Well I don’t see your name on her anywhere, so as far as I’m concerned, she’s fair"--

Before he could even finish his sentence, Link had grabbed his shoulder, and shoved the point of his hidden dagger against the man’s heart, hidden from view.

"Sir, you have no honorable intentions here. I saw it the moment you laid your eyes upon her. Now say your goodbyes and go find somebody else to dance with"…

The man, wanting to avoid any confrontation, backed away and straightened his collar.

"Zelda," he said as he kept his angry eyes on Link, tucking his shirt back in, "I suggest that you get your attack dog to back off of me. Or else I shall have to challenge him"…

"Oh, that can be arranged," Link said angrily, getting right in this man’s face, his eyes seething. He would love to take this brute outside, and settle this with a duel of clashing swords, but as he felt the hand of his Princess curl around his arm, he began to soften.

"Link," she said. "No. No swords tonight." That’s all it took. He relaxed, his eyes softening.

"Ahhhh," the man said, looking at the pair disgustingly, pushing Link out of his way. They had attracted the attention of a few others, but mostly all was well.

"That man bothers me," Link said. "I didn’t like the way he was looking at you."

Zelda watched him walk towards the group of women that had almost pounced on Link earlier. He appeared to be heading toward Reina. Well, it was just as well…

She turned to Link, then took his hand. "His name is Raven, and he is the son of a man my father knew long ago. He isn’t what you would say, very well-mannered."

"No he isn’t," Link said. "He’d just better watch himself when he is in my presence." She could see that he was still angry. She clutched his arm lovingly.

"Let’s dance, Link," she murmured. "I’d much rather dance with you anyway."

He turned to her, smiled, and placed one hand on her hips. He took her other hand in his, and held it away from his body. "Is this the way to do it?" he asked nervously.

"Yes," she replied, thinking how cute this was. They began to move with the music. "One, two, three, one, two, three," Zelda counted under her breath. "Just follow the music, Link. You’re doing fine."

It was either the nervousness of his first real dance or the fact that Zelda was in his arms that made his hand turn sweaty. He was becoming self-conscious about it, but she didn’t seem to notice.

He fumbled, and stepped on her foot.

"I’m sorry," he said, laughing. "I just"—

"Link…it’s okay," she whispered, giggling a little. "Just…hold on to me."

"Hold on to me, and never let go," was what she really wanted to say.

The music brightened, getting faster, and the pair whirled happily around the dance floor, until…


The female scream came from across the room, and the music suddenly stopped…

Standing in the doorway, was a figure clad in black, his eyes yellow, his fists clenched, and his sword ready…

"Harkinian!" He yelled. "I have waited for your answer, and you have not given it!"

The crowd began to move out of the way as the evil man walked toward the King. Harkinian’s guards immediately surrounded him.

"Ganondorf, what are you doing here?" He shouted. "As you can see I am entertaining guests"….

Zelda quickly pulled Link into a dark corner, her body shaking, almost hyperventilating. She was terrified!

"Zelda, is that him?" he asked.

She nodded her head, her face as white as a sheet.

"What does he want?"

"You know why I’m here," Ganondorf retorted. "To claim what is rightfully mine"…

"You’ll never have the Triforce"…the King said. "Now go back to your Haunted Wasteland, you are not welcome here."

The king’s guards shoved the tips of their blades at Ganondorf’s throat, ready to take him down…

Zelda’s hands clutched Link’s tunic tighter as she watched, in helplessness, as Ganondorf held his hand against his belt, laughing.

"You won’t even live to regret those words"…and a crossbow bolt immediately shot out from Ganondorf’s waist, piercing Harkinian in the chest.

He cried out in dreadful pain, slumping back into his chair. Link and Zelda stood, horrified, at what they’d just witnessed. Link tried to tug Zelda toward her dying father, but she pulled away.

"No, Link. I can’t!" she blurted out in a terrified whisper, trying to pull him back.

"Why, Zelda?" he asked. "What’s the"---

She backed away from him, shaking her head…her face pale, all the blood draining away…she must be going into shock…

"Oh daddy"…

When Link reached for her, she quickly disappeared into the darkness.

"Zelda! Zelda!" he cried out. Dashing through the dark hallways, he saw no sign of her. Now his King was dead, Zelda had disappeared, and he knew not what he should do.

Ganondorf had released a gigantic earthquake punch, the shocks from it billowing out across the dance floor, knocking the guests, and the guards, flat on their backs.

Link managed to grab hold of a large column nearby to steady his balance. Ganondorf fled immediately, escaping the murder scene unscathed...

Link saw a bright flash of light, then suddenly found himself floating in blackness. He touched the air all around him. It was cold…almost unfeeling…then he heard a voice. The voice of Rauru.

"Link, you must now pull the Master Sword from the pedestal of Time. You must hurry in order to complete the test of the five temples. We will be waiting for you…here…each time you return. Please take this Light Medallion, and add my power to yours."

Something round, shiny and yellow floated down into Link’s hands. He felt energized by its’ presence.

"You must also take this….it is the Ocarina of Time, owned by the royal family. You must use it to gain entry into each of the temples."

He handed Link the blue instrument, and he took it. It was rather odd-shaped, with a few holes in its’ side. After looking at it for a moment, Link raised his head. He remembered Zelda speaking of this. His gaze shot back at Rauru, the alarm present on his face.

"Where’s Zelda? What has happened to her?" he demanded.

"Fear not your destiny," Rauru said. "In time the truth shall be revealed to you. Remember…the fate of Hyrule lies within your hands"…

Then he vanished. Link started to run toward the fading light. "Hey wait a minute, where are you go"—

He was suddenly cut off by a mysterious ethereal sound, coming from behind. He turned around, and saw the majestic purple hilt of the Master Sword calling to him. It glowed so brightly that Link had to cover his eyes. The steel of the blade was magnificent, untouched by Hylian hands until now…

Walking toward it, he was still trying to comprehend everything Rauru and the goddesses had said, of evil overtaking Hyrule, of battles being fought over peace, and of Zelda being in danger….

Now the King was dead, and his blood ran cold. He felt lightheaded from all of this. But he could not afford to think anymore…

Link grasped hold of the noble sword, planted his feet firmly against the cold marble floor, and with both hands, pulled to set it free from the its’ surly bond.

It easily slid into his grasp.

A bright light flashed, and he was whisked away yet again…

But now he was at the special place in the forest he used to visit as a child. What was he doing here? It was calm, and peaceful. No sign of evil. He looked up to see a huge tree branch dangling in front of what looked like a massive fortress high up in the trees. He’d never seen that before. His hand locked on the handle of his hookshot, ready to aim…

Then the sound of someone dropping from the trees startled him, and instead of reaching for the hookshot, his hand found the hilt of his blade, bringing it before him…

"Do not fear me, Link, for I am a friend," the mysterious person said. He was wearing purple clothing, and a white turban to cover his face. Blond hair poked out from around the bottom of it.

Link lowered his blade. "Who are you?" he asked. "Do I know you?"

"I am Sheik, of the Sheikahs," the youth said. "We are an almost extinct band of warriors, evolved from long ago in this land. I have come to help you, Link. You need a way to enter the Forest Temple above, and a way to return here quickly, should you need to do so. Please listen to the Minuet of Forest, and memorize this song."

He then produced a small harp, and played the song Link needed to learn. Raising the ocarina to his lips, Link did his best to mimic the beautiful instrument. After a few tries, he got it down.

"Very good, Link," Sheik said, his mysterious eyes glancing up above. "Now….go fulfill your destiny"….

He crouched down, and with the loud crack of a Deku Nut, he was gone…

Link was left alone again, with nothing but the sounds of frogs, crickets, and owls hooting nearby. He wasn’t sure if the sadness he felt was from merely being left alone, or if it was from being lonely. Trying not to think of Zelda, and fixing his concentration on the tree branch above him, he slowly reached for his hookshot, aimed it at the tree, and fired…