Chapter Twenty-Two "To All Good Things…"

   "Several months ago, a madman declared war on our land," Queen Zelda spoke out to the crowd.  She was standing on a newly constructed pedestal outside of the Temple of Time, as the citizens of Hyrule crowded in to hear her speak.  "His name was Ganon.  He sought to divide us, weaken our resolve, and ultimately destroy our way of life.  He and his half-brothers, Rolondrof and Skorn, kept us in a constant state of fear and uncertainty, terrorizing and massacring anything and everything that stood in their way.

   "But we fought back.  We met that fear with courage and strength.  And now, because of that strength, their evil has been vanquished from Hyrule forever, and peace has been restored.  However we must not forget that evil still exists, and that it will always try to unbalance the good; I know within my heart that there will always be battle to be fought.  But I am not afraid.  I have seen your courage and your strength, and I know that together, we can overcome any obstacle.  Think not of our country as being separated by boundaries of race or creed, for together we are all the chosen of the goddesses, and together we can accomplish anything.  Hylian, Goron, Zora, and Gerudo warriors all gave their lives so that we may live to carry on, and to do anything else would be a dishonor to their memory.  I mourn for them, and thank them for the freedom they have won us.  I would ask you all to join with me in a moment of silence to pay one final respect to those who laid down their lives so that we may live."  With that she bowed her head in silence, followed somberly by everyone else.

   After several minutes she raised her head and continued.  "And now, I would like to honor those still with us.  The hundreds of soldiers who survived the war, and also these few here with me, who sacrificed so much to bring us hope."  She turned and gestured to those gathered on the podium behind her.  They each stepped forward as they were called.  "General Alfonso Gustan, whose bravery and loyalty to Hyrule helped lead our forces to victory, despite the fact that no war had been waged in nearly twenty years."  The dark skinned general, resplendent in his shining armor bowed to first the queen and then the crowd.

   "Nabooru, leader of the Gerudo.  Though Ganon came of her land, and despite division among her own people, she brought aid out of the west to wage war against her kinsmen for our sake." The powerfully built woman, though limping slightly, stepped up and clasped Zelda's arm in a firm handshake.

   "Darunia, chief of the Gorons.  Twice now he has waged war for the sake of Hyrule, once with my father in the War of Unification and now with me.  Both times he has shown that the fire and loyalty of the Goron people will never wan, and that they will always stand by us, as family."  Darunia stepped up and gently embraced Zelda in his massive arms, then spread them wide to the loud cheers from the Gorons in the audience.

   "Queen Ruto of the Zoras.  Though young as a queen, her wisdom and fierce will to survive was an inspiration to not only the Zoras, but to us all.  If I am half the queen she is, I will consider myself lucky."  Like Darunia, Ruto embraced Zelda, whispering words of thanks into her ear.

   "Many of you will not have heard of these next people—indeed, many of you will scarcely believe they exist.  But I assure you, that legends do indeed walk among us, and we owe them more than can ever be repaid.  Though he may seem nothing more than an owl, believe me when I say that Rauru has been watching over our world longer than can possibly be imagined, and continues to do so, even to this day.  And Navi the Fairy of Good and Bazillo the sprite, both denizens of the Sacred Realm, both of whom traveled to our realm so that we might have a chance to succeed.  And Saria of the Kokiri, who is so much more than her appearance would lead us to believe, whose unshakable faith is matched only by her love for all life."  She bent down to embrace Saria, as Navi floated overhead, glowing brightly, and Bazillo cupped his hands together and waved them above his head in triumph, greeted by cheers from the adults and good-natured laughter from the children.

   "Which leads me to these next warriors," Zelda went on.  "Known as the Chosen, they represent the best of all the races, and the proved it a hundred times over, through adventures within the Sacred Realm itself to the fields of battle.  Sent into the Sacred Realm to seek out the Triforce, they traveled through unknown lands into unknown dangers, facing and defeating enemies from our ancient past so that we may have a future.  Against all odds they succeeded, and for that they will live on in legend for all time.  They are Numaru of the Gerudo, sister to Nabooru.  Mattalla of the Gorons, brother to Darunia.  King Zakro of the Zoras.  Shrike, heir to the Sheikah legacy and apprentice to my faithful companion Impa.  And their leader, Malon Lon, who many of you know better for her expertise with horses than in battle, though that may now change.  I give you the Chosen!"  The five warriors stepped forward to tumultuous applause, the loudest yet.

   When it had died down, Zelda looked back at the final person behind her, and a grin split across her face as he winked at her.  "And last, but definitely not least, we come to this man.  This man…has done more for Hyrule than I can even list, though many of you have never seen him before today.  He has battled evils that nightmares are made of, and few that are worse.  He has traveled across time, into unknown worlds, and he has done so for our sakes.  You all felt it as he was torn away from us, though you did not recognize it at the time, but he returned from the dead to save us all.  But perhaps even greater than these accomplishments are the little things he has done for us all.  Some of you remember when the fire in Lupin several years ago.  This man was there to rebuild.  Or perhaps when that child went missing in these very streets this past summer.  This man was the one who found him and brought him home.  All this and more he has done, and never has he asked for thanks or even recognition.  He has been my friend through good and bad, and just recently I discovered what I should have known all along: he is my brother.  But though he is my brother in blood, he is your brother in spirit.  He is a part of all of us, the part of us that is good, the part that cares for everyone and everything, the part that teaches us that hope and peace are always possible, if only we have the courage to fight for it.  He is an inspiration to us all.  He is a hero, a brother, and more importantly a friend.  He is Link."

   The crowd exploded, the noise and applause deafening in its intensity.  Link smiled sheepishly as he stepped forward, hair trimmed and his face clean-shaven.  He looked stunningly handsome in his borrowed formal attire, Master Sword strapped to his back, if just a tad uncomfortable; his own clothes were still at his house in the Forest.  He looked over at the Chosen and the Sages, and they were all cheering as well.  He approached Zelda and held her close, reunited with the family he had never known existed before the outset of the war.  He let her go, and when she smiled and nodded towards the crowd, he realized he was expected to say something.  They gradually quieted down as the waited to hear him speak.

   Link took one look at all their hopeful faces.  Then, with a laugh and a shrug he said, "No problem."

                                    *                                  *                                  *

   Several hours later, once the crowds had dispersed, Link stood in the Chamber of Time before the Pedestal of Time, preparing to say goodbye.

   "I'm getting a weird case of déjà vu," Navi said from her perch on his shoulder.  He could tell that she was desperately trying to keep from crying, but failing miserably.

   "Yeah," he agreed.  "We finally get a moment of peace, and we always have to split up.  Doesn't seem quite fair."

   Bazillo nodded beside him.  "Hmm, indeed that is true, my good friend Link, one of those things that must always stink."

   Link smiled.  "I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to talk more, Bazillo.  You were a true friend to the others, and I count myself lucky to say that I know you."

   The little sprite sighed melodramatically.  "Hmm, such is the curse and such is the harm, to be blessed with such staggeringly incredible charm."

   The three stood there in silence for a few moments.  Finally, Link spoke up.  "Is there anyway you two would be able to stay?  Y'know, stay here in Hyrule?"

   "I'm afraid not," Navi replied.  "I'm the Fairy of Good now, and I belong in the Sacred Realm.  And Bazillo's a sprite, who was never meant to leave there.  It is our home, and we belong there, just as you belong here."

   Link sighed.  "I figured as much.  Doesn't make it any easier, though."

   "No, it doesn't." Navi floated up to his face and pressed herself against his cheek.  "I'm proud of you, Link.  I always have been, and I always will be.  And I'm proud to have been your partner.  From the day we met when you killed Gohma, I knew that you were something special.  Now everybody else does too."

   Fighting back his tears, Link replied, "If it wasn't for you I wouldn't be here today Navi.  You helped keep my sane and alive eight years ago, and thinking of you has helped me do that ever since.  I just wish…"

   "I know, Link.  But don't think of this as goodbye.  Think of it as 'so long'.  We'll see each other again."

   "Yeah," Link sniffed.  Regaining his composure, he drew the Master Sword from its sheath and stepped up to the Pedestal.  He looked at it one last time, inherently knowing that he would never have to draw it again.  He was sad and relieved at the same time.  Somehow he thought the sword felt the same way. 

   Inverting it, he raised the blade and plunged it back into its resting place.  A bright pillar of light encased it, rising up from the floor and reaching high into the sky.

   Bazillo reached up to shake Link's hand.  "So long, Hero of Time," he said without rhyme.

   "So long, Bazillo.  Try to keep out of trouble."

   The little sprite looked up at him and laughed.  "Hmm, keep out of trouble?  Little old me?  Now how much fun do you think that'd be?"  With that, he walked into the light and disappeared.

   Now it was just Link and Navi, just as it had been eight years before.  And just like before, they didn't know what to say.  So instead they repeated the same words they had used then.

   "This is the right thing to do, Link.  And we'll see each other again.  I love you."

   "I love you too, Navi.  Take care of yourself, until we meet again."

   With that, Navi floated away, into the light.  With one final flash, the light was gone, Navi with it.

   Alone once again, Link turned to leave.  "Until we meet again."

                                    *                                  *                                  *

   "Well, I have to admit that that all turned out rather well," Nayru said to her sisters as they waited in Navi's fountain for her and Bazillo's return.  The three of them sat in the air around the pool, floating comfortably in the slight breeze.

   "I suppose so," Din replied with a sight.

   Farore laughed good-naturedly at her sister.  "Oh, you're just upset because your Chosen One turned out to be evil again."

   "Of course!  Why is it that Power always goes to the least deserving of the Three?"

   "Just lucky, I guess."

   With that, a flash of light lit up the room, and Navi and Bazillo appeared, the fairy now back to her enlarged size.  When they saw the goddesses, they instantly went to their knees.  "My ladies!" Navi exclaimed.

   "Welcome back, Sacred Fairy of Good," Nayru greeted.  "We've been waiting for you.  And you, Bazillo."

   The sprite groaned quietly.  "Hmm, told you I did, on that fateful day, that when we returned we'd have much hell to pay."

   Farore smiled at them.  "You're referring, I'm assuming the rules of non-interference placed on those denizens of Sacred Realm.  The ones stating that we are not to directly influence the outcome of any person's fate."

   Din nodded in agreement, though also smiling.  "Normally you'd be correct in assuming that you would be punished, though we know you had the very best of intentions, but I think we can afford to be a little lenient in the ruling."

   Navi looked up, a confused expression on her face.  "What?  I don't understand…"

   "Well," Farore started to explain.  "Considering how it was Ganon and Necron's meddling with Link's destiny that prompted you to interfere in the first place, we figure that the two offenses mostly balance each other out."

   Nayru held up a hand.  "However, they are both dead, enjoying their punishment in the Dead Realm.  And it would be bad policy if we tried to explain away indiscretions the likes of which you two committed.  So we have decided to punish you in accordance to the laws we set down when the Realms were created."

   Navi nodded and lowered her gaze, awaiting their sentence.  After a few moments, Farore laughed.  "Your punishment is that you will someday have to interfere again."

   Both Navi's and Bazillo's heads shot up.  "What?" the sprite asked, completely dumbfounded.

   "The next generation in Hyrule will face their own trials, in some ways even more difficult than those of this generation," Din explained.  "The children of Courage and Wisdom will have need of your aid, and you must be ready to give it to them.  Do not thank us for this 'punishment' however; the consequences may be more than you are willing to bear."

   Navi nodded solemnly in response.  "We will be ready, goddesses, to do what is needed."

   "We knew you would, Navi and Bazillo.  And despite what we may say, we are proud of you."

   "Hmm, one quick question I wish to know, and some illumination on my query I hope you will bestow," said Bazillo.  "Link and Malon will give birth, I am to assume…but if Zelda's the wife, then who is the groom?"

   Nayru laughed.  "My dear Bazillo.  The answer should be clear!  And besides, sometimes the surprise is more gratifying than the immediate answer."

                                    *                                  *                                  *

   The next day, Link and Zelda said their goodbyes to someone else:

   Their father.

   There would be a public ceremony to mourn the passing of the king, of course, but Zelda had wanted his actual burial to be private.  And so, his body had been moved during the night by Impa and Darunia into the Royal Crypt beneath the Kakariko graveyard and buried away from prying eyes.  Link and Zelda now stood before his grave, located next to that of their mother's.  They were both dressed in black, and Link now wore Stonecutter, his father's sword, strapped to his back, his inheritance.

   "It's ironic," Link said after a long silence.  "It was in this very spot that I discovered that he was my father."

   Zelda nodded.  "What's ironic is that in all the years you'd known each other none of us even had the slightest clue.  It should have been so obvious!"

   "I suppose.  But then again, I never really considered the fact that I had any family to begin with.  And maybe it's for the best that we didn't know.  Who can say how things would have changed?"

   "True enough," she agreed.  "But to have met each other as father and son…I know that's what he wanted.  And I know you would have wanted it too."

   Link nodded, and again they stood in silence.  After a while he reached out and squeezed her hand.  "Are you going to be ok?  I mean, the war gave you an excuse to keep busy and ignore the pain…"

   "But now how do I deal with the loss of my father?"  Zelda sighed in exasperation.  "I wish I knew exactly.  I…I miss him more than anything, and I don't want to have to imagine a world where he won't be there to give his advice, to joke and laugh, to tell me he loves me." Tears began to pour from her eyes.  "To hold me when I'm scared…to tell me that everything will be alright…"

   Link wrapped his arms around her and held her tight, letting her cry into his strong shoulder.  He gently steered her towards the tomb.  Keep an arm around her shoulder, he looked up at the engraving on the headstone.  "I know…we never got a chance to get to know each other as well as we should have, what with me being a orphan from the Forest and you being the King of Hyrule and all.  But the days we did have together, while I lived and the castle and every time since then…I knew that you were a good man, and that if I ever grew up to be anything like you I'd consider myself lucky.  I know you were always grateful to me for being Zelda's friend, and I'd like to think that know that when you discovered the truth that I would have made you proud, as a son should.  I guess what I'm trying to say is…I'm grateful for the days we had together, even if we never did know the truth.  I'll miss you…father."

   Zelda then stepped up to stone, and, kissing her fingertips, placed them on the engraving in silent farewell.  With that, they turned to leave, slowly making their way out of the crypt.  "So," she asked after a while, "What will you do now?"

   "I think I'll go back to the Forest, to start with anyway," Link answered.  "The Kokiri Village needs to be rebuilt before the winter, and I promised I'd go back and help.  Saria's going to stay with you for a while, to help you get things in Hyrule back to normal."

   Zelda nodded.  "Will you come with me to the ranch, to say goodbye to the others?  They're all there already."

   "That was the plan.  It's the midpoint for everywhere we need to go, so it's a convenient place to say our goodbyes."

   "Yes it is.  But where will you live after that?  The Forest still, or will you come stay in the castle?  After what you did, it's unlikely you'll be able to find any solitude anywhere else."

   "Yeah, I guess my anonymity is pretty much non-existent now."

   Zelda laughed.  "You'll be recognized everywhere you go from now on.  They're already telling stories about you.  'The Kokiri who became a Hylian.  The Hylian who became a Hero.  The Hero who became a Legend.'  The Legend of Link.  It's quite a tale."

   Link shrugged, then returned her smile.  "I don't know…I always thought 'The Legend of Zelda' had a nicer ring to it."

   Again, silence.  Link broke it with a question.  "How do you think people will react to us now?  The power and magic we displayed…will they be afraid of us, do you think?"

   Zelda considered this.  "A few will, I'm certain.  Not many, but some people won't be sure whether or not they should trust us.  And I'm entirely certain that I trust myself.  Already I feel the power I drew on in the battle begin to wan, my powers returning to their normal levels."

   "The Great Fairy in Termina told me that the Magic is our heritage, but that it can only be called upon in our greatest need.  And you're right; I don't feel the same connection I felt to the Magic as when I was fighting.  But I think it's for the best.  I mean, the fact that we don't feel it can only mean that we don't need it, and I like to think of that as a good thing.  Besides, I'll take 'normal' over 'insanely powerful' any day.  Less to worry about."

   They walked in silence a little ways further, then Zelda asked, "Have you talked to Malon yet?"

   Link sighed.  "No.  She left almost right after the ceremony.  Shrike said that she was going home to let her father know that she was all right.  She's…she's avoiding me for some reason.  I just can't figure out why."

   "She'll come to you when she's ready.  Trust me."

   "You're starting to sound like Shrike."  Her hesitation gave Link pause, yet he tactfully let the matter drop, though a knowing smile played across his lips.

   "I was wondering," Zelda said.  "I know it isn't important, but I couldn't help but wonder…did Navi ever tell you which one of us was older?"

   "Hey, you get the legend named after you, I should at least get the seniority."

                                    *                                  *                                  *

   Link sat in his room at Lon Lon Ranch, staring at his reflection from his sword.  The eyes that stared back at him were different, he thought.  They had seen more, much more than anyone his age should have had to have seen.  But that thought didn't bother him.  Not anymore, anyway.  At the outset of his journey he had told Saria that he had hated the things he had been forced to do in his life, the weapon that his experiences had forged him into.  But now…now he was content.  Now he realized that everything that had happened had formed him into the man he was.  A good man.  A lucky man.  He supposed that everything was about as perfect as it could be.  Well, almost perfect.

   He was also a man who was pointedly being ignored by the woman he loved.

   Malon still hadn't come to talk with him yet, and every time he sought her out, she conveniently disappeared.  He had asked Shrike about it, but he cryptically explained that she was working something out, frustrating him even further.

   Someone knocked at the door, pulling from his misery.  He thought for a moment that Ingo had forgotten something; the ranch-hand had willingly—if a bout moodily—given up his room to Link and moved into the attic for the night.  So, dressed only in his pants and boots, he went and answered the door, expecting to see the grumpy Ingo.

   Instead, he found Malon.

   She wore her housecoat over her nightclothes, and her long red hair hung loose about her face.  She looked up at him, her expression torn somewhere between happiness and uncertainty.  "Is it all right if I come in for a moment?"

   It took a second for Link to gather his thoughts, then he moved aside and let her in, quietly shutting the door behind her.  They stood in awkward silence for a long while, Malon staring out the window, her back to him, staring out into the night sky.  Finally, he asked, "So…how are you?"

   "I'm not sure," she replied, still not facing him.  "My father and Ingo are all right.  The war is over, everything is back to normal.  You're alive.  I should be happy.  But I can't help but feel guilty and ashamed.  That's why I've been avoiding you.  I haven't been able to find any way to apologize."

   Link hadn't been expecting that.  "What do you mean?  From what the others are telling me you did fantastically!  Even Zakro speaks highly of you without pretending he doesn't care, and that's not easy.  You have nothing to be ashamed of."

   "Don't I?" This time she did look at him, but only for a second.  "Link, you almost died because of me.  The others almost died because of me.  If I hadn't forced you to sacrifice yourself to save my life, we would have found the Triforce sooner than we did, and would have saved Hyrule sooner than we did."

   "You can't know that…"

   "And you can't know that isn't right!" she retorted.  "Farore told me that courage brought me to the Triforce.  But it wasn't.  You have courage.  Zelda has courage.  Shrike, Mattalla, Zakro, and Numaru have courage.  I just went along for the ride, and I nearly cost us everything."  She laughed bitterly, without humor.  "It's funny, but I never even considered any of this before you came back.  Now I can't believe that I didn't see it earlier."

   "Malon," Link said gently, taking a step towards her.  "That has to be the most foolish thing I have ever heard in my entire life."  Another step.  "If we're going to place blame, it should be on me.  By your argument, if I hadn't been born then none of this would have happened.  Ganon would never have touched the Triforce in the first place, and would have had no reason to seek revenge on me and Zelda, meaning that this war would have never happened."

   "You know that's not what I mean…"

   "Jabu-Jabu would still be alive, the Gorons would never have been struck by that illness, the Kokiri Village wouldn't have been burnt down…"

   "Enough!" Malon cried.  "Those people would have been dead a hundred times over if it weren't for you!"

   "Just like everyone in Hyrule would be dead if it weren't for you." Link took her by the shoulders and turned her around to face him.  He took her left hand in his left, displaying the mark of the Triforce, then brought up his own for her to see.  "This mark is on my hand because it was destined to be there, just like yours.  You were always meant to find the Triforce; everything that happened before that was just filler.  But that doesn't mean it doesn't mean anything.  I took those arrows in the Sacred Realm because I love you, because to me you were worth saving.  And everyone in Hyrule is glad that I did.  No one else could have found the Triforce and made the wish that you did.  Not me, not Zelda, not any of the Chosen.  Your wish saved Hyrule.  And it brought me back.  I'd still be dead if it weren't for you, Malon.  Your love is what gave me the strength to go on.  And if what you say is actually true, that it was all thanks to me that the war is over, then I guess there's only one person we can thank for it."

   She tried to argue, her mouth forming words, but no sound came out.  Instead, she smirked and looked away.  "How is it that everyone seems to be able to twist my words around like that?"

   "Trust me," he smiled, "Blaming yourself for the problems of the world is highly overrated.  The only place it gets you is dead."  With that, he raised her chin with his hand and kissed her.  And she returned it.  The kiss was soft at first, then gradually became more intense, more passionate, as they held each other close.

   "Now," Link thought.  "NOW everything's perfect…"

                                    *                                  *                                  *

   Zelda sat on the roof of the farmhouse, staring into the autumn sky, counting the stars.  Saria had told her of Mastador, the sword constellation, and how it had disappeared one night, just before Link was torn from the Sacred Realm.  She was relieved to find that it had returned, and shining brighter than ever.

   "This roof have room for one more?"

   She looked over and watched as Shrike poked his head up over the edge.  She smiled and patted the spot beside her with her hand.  "Always."

   He obediently pulled himself up and sat down next her, following her gaze skyward.  "It's odd," he said after a while.  "But having spent so many weeks looking at the different stars in the Sacred Realm, it feels strange to see these familiar ones.  Not nostalgic, but…strange…"

   "Hmm.  A lot of things are like that."  She hadn't meant for those words to come out, but they, like a lot of things concerning Shrike since his return, made little sense.  She both hated the loss of control and liked it at the same time.  "Is there something you wanted to talk about?"

   "Actually…yes," The uncertainty in his voice gave her pause, and she looked over at him.  He was staring at her as well.  "On the field, just before the battle, I think we were about to discuss something very important, and I…well, as Malon might say, I goofed it.  I…I have…feelings for you, Zelda.  I know that it is improper, as I am your bodyguard, but…I look at Link and Malon, and Zakro and Ruto, and I feel…I know…that these feelings are right.  The journey into the Sacred Realm opened my eyes to a lot of things…things that I should have known on my own, and I…"

   "Shrike," she cut him off.  "Believe me, I know a thing or two about repressing my feelings.  I know what you're trying to say; yours aren't the only eyes that were opened by this.  I have feelings for you as well, and I would like to…'follow up on them' is the expression, I think."

   "Nothing would make me happier," Shrike grinned.

   Zelda returned the smile, and reached out to squeeze his hand.  "I feel obliged to warn you though; if Link and my father's experiences are any indication, my family's courtships tend to be a little unconventional."

                                    *                                  *                                  *

   Link strapped his sword in place and threw his cloak over his shoulders.  Sunrise was still several minutes away, and everyone was still asleep, which suited Link just fine.  He had never liked long goodbyes.  He turned and looked down at Malon, still sleeping.  Lovingly brushing a strand of hair from her face, he bent down and kissed her softly on the forehead.  He left the note he had written her on the bedside table and quietly shut the door behind him.

   As he tiptoed through the hall, he stopped on when he came to the closed doors and slipped notes under them as well.  He knew that his friends wouldn't be offended by his sudden departure, but he wouldn't feel right with himself if he didn't explain it.  Finally, he made his way down the stairs and through the front door, and no one was the wiser.  He closed the door behind him, and when he turned he almost ran straight into Epona's flank.  The roan looked at him once then snorted in reprimand.

   Link couldn't help but smile.  "You know me too well, huh?  But don't worry…I was actually hoping I could talk you in to coming with me, at least until I get back to the Forest."  If horses could have talked, Link would have sworn Epona would be saying "Do you really need to ask?"  He laughed and took her by the bridle and led her away.

   He was almost at the hill that we lead out the gates and into the open field when he heard, "Did you really think it would be that easy?"

   Link sighed and turned around to face Malon, who was giving him an amused and reprimanding look.  "Yeah, well…y'know, long goodbyes have never been my thing.  Just ask Saria!  When I thought I was exiled from the Forest for good, I barely even said two words…"

   "I'm not judging you," she giggled.  "But I thought you'd give me a little more credit.  I spent the last couple months sleeping with one eye open, just in case Necron's men snuck up and attacked us.  A pin drop could wake me up." 

   They stood there in silence, just staring at each other, and Link once again marveled at how beautiful she was, and how much he loved her.  "The Kokiri need my help," he explained.  "It should only take me a couple of days, and then I'll be back."

   "I know.  And don't worry about it.  But you can't go back to the Forest looking like that."  Confused, he gave himself a quick once-over.  True, he was still wearing borrowed clothes, but he didn't see how that would change anything.  Seeing his confusion, she laughed and stepped up to him, pressing something into his hands.  He looked down at what she had given him, and grinned.  In his hands, was a long, green cap.  "I figured you'd be missing it.  That's another reason I was avoiding you."

   Link placed the cap over his blonde hair, feeling as if he was finally one whole person once again.  He leaned down to kiss Malon.  "I'll come back," he promised.

   "I know.  Just make sure it's soon." With that she turned and headed back into the farmhouse.  Still smiling, Link steered Epona down through the gates.

                                    *                                  *                                  *

   The sunrise started over the Forest, then slowly made its way across the Hylian Plains.  Link closed his eyes as its warmth touched his face.  Looking at Epona, he said, "Well girl, it's a day's ride to the Kokiri Village.  How many adventures do you think we can get into in that time?"  With that he got astride and began his ride to the east.

   He had not gone far when he heard Rauru's voice above him.  "Hoo hoot!  Good journey Link!"

   Looking up, Link saw the wise old owl flying above him, circling over him in farewell.  A moment later Link heard a two loud Goron voices, and turning back to look at the ranch he saw them.  Darunia, Mattalla, Ruto, Zakro, Nabooru, Numaru, Impa, Shrike, Saria, Malon, and Zelda.  They were gathered together, waving goodbye, and Link felt supremely blessed to have them all in his life.  Memories of them all flashed through his mind, as well as dreams of memories waiting to be made, and they brought a smile to his face.  "I'll come back," he quietly swore.  "I'll always come back."  Epona reared back, and Link returned the wave.  He spurred Epona on, towards the east, towards his home.

   Link's future was now in his own hands.  His destiny had ended.

   But the legend would always live on.

The Legend of Zelda: End of Destiny

The End