Ever since I was very young, I was told about the legend of the Picori. How these tiny creatures supposedly help people in secret, and how they gave the ancient hero the Picori Blade which enabled him to banish the monsters from this land. My parents said that they only appeared to good little children, and being as naïve as I was, I believed them. I did my best to behave at all times in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Picori.
I was a fool. It took years of futile searching before I realized that I had been played. The Picori were never real. They were nothing but a fairy tale to get me to behave, and it worked like a charm. I couldn't blame my parents, though, as all the children of Hyrule were told the same tale. Even then, I loved my parents too much to be mad at them.
The three of us lived on a farm southeast of Hyrule Town. My parents, Eenie and Meenie, were famous in town for providing the vegetable salesman, Brocco, with fresh stock. In exchange, we got a cut of his profits, which usually went into buying food, new seeds, and fertilizer. When we had an especially good harvest, we'd be able to get something special. For instance, my parents used the extra money to buy me a baby Cucco for my birthday last year. They had finally considered me old enough and responsible enough to take care of a pet.
I sighed as I pulled weeds from the carrot patch. Time had flown by since then. I was nearly thirteen, and it was getting to be the time for me to think about finding a potential husband. My only chance of doing that was to move to Hyrule Town, but that was impossible at the moment. After the disaster at this year's Picori Festival, I wasn't allowed to leave the farm without an escort. The monsters that now roamed the land made traveling alone much too dangerous.
It had been two months since the festival and it seemed the monsters were here to stay. I missed going to Hyrule Town on my own, but even more so missed being able to talk with people other than my parents more than once every two weeks. If only that Vaati guy hadn't ruined everything. He was a lot more devilish than his appearance suggested. Come to think of it, if he hadn't been evil, I might have tried to convince him to marry me.
The squawking of a Cucco snapped me out of my thoughts. "Come on, Piyoko! I just fed you! What do you want now?"
As I turned towards the noise, I saw Piyoko chasing a green bug around the field. I groaned. That hen's appetite was insatiable, but at least she was getting some exercise. I watched her for a while and was astounded at how well the bug was managing to avoid her beak. Curious, I walked closer to her.
My eyes nearly popped out of my head. Piyoko's target was not a bug at all, but a tiny person. It was a little boy about the size of my thumb, with blond hair and wearing clothes so covered with dirty that I could barely tell they were supposed to be green. I rubbed my eyes, certain I was seeing things, but the boy was still there.
I thought I was going to faint. The Picori were a lie. I had wasted so much of my life hoping to see one, and had come up empty-handed. So why, after all these years, would one appear to me when I was on the cusp of adulthood?
I was brought back to reality when I heard a faint scream. I saw the little boy squirming in Piyoko's beak. Goddesses, the poor thing was about to become a midmorning snack! I sprang into action and dashed over to the pleased bird.
"Piyoko! Put him down!" I ordered. Both the boy and the Cucco stared at me in disbelief. My frown deepened. "Put. Him. Down."
Piyoko and I had a staring contest that lasted for about ten seconds. At last, the Cucco relented and released her prey. "Good girl, Piyoko. I'll find you a nice, juicy caterpillar to make up for it later, okay?" The hen clucked in an annoyed fashion and strutted away, allowing me to return my attention to the tiny boy. He was gasping for breath, no doubt terrified after nearly turning into Cucco feed. I kneeled on the ground so I could observe him better.
"Hey, are you okay?" I asked softly. The boy looked up at me and shakily nodded. I furrowed my brow. Now that I had a closer look at him, this boy looked oddly familiar. I had never met a Picori before, but I knew I had seen that face somewhere. The boy grinned uneasily at my scrutinous expression.
"Uh… Hi, Miney," he said.
My heart froze. Even though I could barely hear his voice, there was no mistaking it.
"Link?!" I cried. "What in the world happened to you? Why are you so tiny?!"
Years ago, Link and I had both attended the Funday School in Hyrule Town. While he was two years younger than I was, everyone in the school knew him because he was best friends with Princess Zelda. I myself often teased him for being so close with the princess. The last time I saw him was at the Picori Festival, and he seemed to be doing well back then. Could this be the work of Vaati, too?
Link sheepishly scratched the back of his head. "It's kind of a long story."
"Tell me everything," I said. "But this isn't a good place to talk, so let's go to my house and get you cleaned up."
I allowed Link to climb into my outstretched palm and carried him back to the house. I could not get over how tiny he was. I wondered how long had he been like this, and hoped there was some way to return him to normal.
My house was a tiny wood cabin, containing just one room. It was just enough to hold the beds for a family of three, a small kitchen, and a table for eating. I placed Link on the table and filled a small basin with water for him. To my surprise, he jumped right in, clothes and all! All he bothered removing were the sword and shield that had been slung across his back as well as a couple pouches attached to his belt. I hadn't noticed them earlier since I was still getting over the shock of Link's current size, but now that they were in front of me, I wondered when and where he had gotten them.
Link climbed out of the bowl a few minutes later, and I gave him a dish towel to dry himself with. I quickly peeked outside to see where my parents were, and to my relief, they were still working in the fields. They would probably not return to the house until lunchtime, giving Link plenty of time to talk.
"All right, what's going on? What happened to you, Link?" I asked.
His story was even more surreal than his size. Link was on a quest to restore the sacred Picori Blade, which Vaati had broken in his bid to take over Hyrule. The sacred blade was the only way to save Princess Zelda, who Vaati had turned to stone. Link claimed the Picori were real, and were the only ones who could fix the broken sword. In his travels, Link met a strange bird/hat creature (I almost laughed at the description) named Ezlo. Ezlo was actually a Picori sage, but like Zelda, had been cursed by Vaati. It was Ezlo's power that enabled Link to change his size and interact with the Picori. The Picori of Mt. Crenel were able to fix the Picori Blade, but now Link needed to infuse it the world's four elements in order for it to become a sacred sword again.
I was silent for several moments after Link finished his tale. Once I finished absorbing all this information, a chilling thought occurred to me. "Link, you said you've been wearing Ezlo as a hat, right? So, where is he now?"
Link's eyes became downcast as he pulled the towel tighter around him. "I don't know."
"What do you mean, you don't know?" I asked. "Wait, are you saying you lost him?"
I instantly regretted my words upon seeing Link's despondent expression. I wanted to hit myself for being so insensitive. After hearing Link's story, I had nearly forgotten that he was still just a ten-year-old kid. Of course he was going to make mistakes. I had no right to criticize him when I was still learning things myself.
I chewed my lip as I considered what to say. I had to cheer Link up somehow, but the situation was pretty bleak. If we didn't find Ezlo, then Link would be stuck being tiny for the rest of his life, Princess Zelda would be a permanent statue, and Vaati would have his way with Hyrule. At the same time though, I had no idea where I could start looking for Ezlo. If I had to guess from Link's current size, Ezlo was probably the size of a pea, and finding a pea-sized hat in a vegetable farm would be harder than finding a needle in a haystack.
My thoughts screeched to a halt. Pea-sized… The peas. The peas!
"THAT'S IT!" I yelled.
The volume of my voice almost knocked Link over. When he recovered, he asked, "What's it?"
"Link, did you happen to be climbing on the pea plants?"
The shrunken boy's mouth fell open. "How did you know?"
"Our pea plants have recently been plagued by caterpillars, so the birds sometimes swoop in for a snack," I explained. "And with you being tiny and green, I'd imagine at least a few would mistake you for a caterpillar."
Link was not amused. I winced, remembering how this whole mess started.
"It's okay. You're right, after all," he said. "I was climbing the pea vines because I spotted some Kinstone pieces hidden under their leaves. Ezlo warned me to stay hidden, but I was so excited that I made a beeline for them. And on the way back down…"
Link pulled the towel tighter around him again. "I didn't see the bird until it was too late. The next thing I knew, I was in its beak. I was so scared because I couldn't reach my sword. I didn't know what to do. It was Ezlo who saved me. He jumped up and pecked that bird's eye! It was enough to get the bird to let me go, but in the process, I got separated from Ezlo."
His head jerked in such a way that I could tell he was sniffling, even though I could not hear it. "It's been three days since then. I've been looking everywhere for Ezlo, but I can't get very far on my own at this size, and on top of that, I don't have the faintest idea where he is. This is all my fault. If only I had listened to Ezlo in the first place, then none of this would have happened!"
My heart just about broke in two. Link looked ready to cry any second. I frowned, realizing that I was back to my earlier problem: cheering Link up. I didn't want to give him false hope, but I had to think of something to say that might get his spirits up.
"Link," I began carefully. "I'm sure Ezlo is still alive. The pea plants are not close to the edge of the farm, and the winds have been very light for the past couple weeks. I doubt he ended up very far from where the two of you fell, and being without legs, I don't think he could have moved far on his own, either. Furthermore, it sounds like he's smart enough to avoid potential predators."
"But what if—"
"Link, as long as some hope still exists, you can't give up," I said. "I know this farm like the back of my hand, plus I can cover ground a lot faster than you can. If we work together, I'm sure we'll find Ezlo."
Link stared at me in surprise. "You really think so?"
"Yeah," I said, nodding. In truth, I wasn't very confident, but I had to be strong for Link's sake. "I have an idea on how we can narrow down our search area, but I need your help. Can you—"
At that moment, the door opened. I whirled around and spotted my father in the doorway. He was still clad in his yellow hat and work clothes, his hands were on his hips, and he did not look pleased.
"D-dad! You're home early!" I cried.
"So this is where you've been hiding, Miney," he said. "Slacking off on your chores again?"
"No, that's not it at all! I was just—" I glanced at the basin behind me, "—washing up!"
"For thirty minutes?" my father asked incredulously. "Miney, you know the rules. If you don't do your chores, then you can't go to Hyrule Town."
I wanted to scream a retort at him, but doing so would only land me in more trouble, as I had learned in the past. I swallowed my argument with great reluctance and mumbled, "Yes, sir. I'll get back to work right away."
Behind my back, I motioned for Link to climb onto my hands. When I felt his slight weight on my palm, I sped out the door. Once I was certain I was out of my father's sight, I brought Link up to my face.
"Sorry you had to hear all that," I said.
"No, I'm sorry," said Link. "You got in trouble because you were trying to help me."
"It's all right, Link. I can take a little scolding," I assured. "In any case, this is ideal. We can look for Ezlo while I work in the fields. But first, I have a couple questions for you. Where did you land when the bird dropped you?"
He thought for a moment. "There were a lot of leaves and small green fruits. And the plants were in cages."
"That's the tomato plot!" I exclaimed. "They're just south of the pea trellises, so it makes sense that you'd drop there. Do you have any idea where Ezlo may have gone?"
"I don't know, but he may have tried to go back to the portal on his own."
"Portal?" I questioned.
"Ezlo needs a portal to use his size-changing power," Link explained. "People don't notice them because they look like ordinary objects. The portal we used last was a tree stump near this farm."
"A tree stump near the farm," I repeated thoughtfully. "I think I know what you're talking about. There's a stump just to the east of the vegetable fields."
"That's the one!" exclaimed Link. "I was trying to get there myself, but I got lost. Ezlo's usually the one figuring out which way to go when I'm small."
"All right, then we'll start our search in the tomato plot and work our way east."
I placed Link in my dress's pocket and made my way towards the shed. The tomatoes needed to be tended, and I didn't want to give Dad another excuse to be cross with me. With a watering can in hand, I drew water from our well and hurried to the tomato plot.
I allowed Link to search for Ezlo on the ground, as he'd be able to spot his partner far easier than I would. I kept a close eye on him while I weeded and watered the plants. It would've been awful if I lost Link after I promised to help him. Before I knew it, it was time for lunch, and I told Link we would have to put off our search for a while. He looked a little discouraged, but I told him that he'd never find Ezlo if he collapsed from hunger first. Once again, Link rode in my pocket while I returned to the house.
I helped my mom prepare the food, and the three of us sat down to eat. Lunch consisted of crusty bread and salad made from some of our vegetables. Mom and Dad were both glaring at me, which made me shrink back a little.
"Miney," Mom began. "I heard from your father that you were trying to get out of working again today."
I groaned. "Yes, and I'm sorry. I'll be going back to work right after lunch, I promise!"
"How many times do we have to go through this?" asked Mom. "Honestly, we―"
Mom proceeded to go into her "As long as you live on this farm, you have to follow our rules" speech. I had to listen to this speech so many times that I had it memorized, so I pretended to pay attention while I slipped a chunk of bread into my pocket for Link.
Ten minutes later, Mom finally spouted the line revealing the end of her lecture. "Do you understand?"
"Yes, Mom," I said, trying my best to keep my annoyance out of my tone.
After we finished eating, it was my duty to wash the dishes. Once that was done, I went straight back into the fields to look for Ezlo. When I pulled Link out of my pocket again, he regarded me with a look of guilt.
"Don't," I said as he opened his mouth to speak. "My problems with my family have nothing to do with you. You don't have to worry about me. I've been scolded like that many times before."
Link didn't look convinced, but to his credit, he stayed silent. I gently placed him on the ground, and the two of us resumed our search. The sun was now high in the sky, and sweat poured down my body as I labored. My short red hair stuck to my sweaty face, and I had to brush it back multiple times. Throughout the afternoon, I made several trips to the well to provide fresh water for myself, Link, and the plants.
Our progress was smooth until I spotted something unusual in the field, and it definitely was not Ezlo. My heart froze for a full second before speeding out of control. It took every ounce of my willpower to resist the urge to sprint back to my house.
"Link," I called, trying to keep my voice steady. "Get over here. Now."
To my relief, he listened, if only so I would be able to hear him. "Huh? What's wrong?"
I slowly raised my arm and pointed at what I had spotted. About twenty feet away, lurking in the pumpkin patch, was a red four-legged creature with a tube-shaped mouth.
"Octorok," I breathed.
It wasn't unusual for monsters to appear in our fields. Whenever one showed up, Mom and I would hide in the house while Dad chased it off with his sickle. This time, however, Dad wasn't nearby, and Link didn't stand a chance against it at his current size. Fortunately, the Octorok had yet not spotted me. If I was quiet enough, I still had a chance to slip away.
Link suddenly stiffened, appearing to sense something I could not. "Ezlo?"
"Link, what are you― Hey!" Before I could stop him, Link was off like a shot. I crawled after him, making sure to stay low to the ground so the plants could cover me from the Octorok's sight. The shrunken boy came to a stop just a few feet away, his gaze fixed on a cucumber leaf. I squinted at the leaf, but I didn't see anything unusual about it.
"It's okay, Ezlo," said Link. "She's a friend."
Several tense seconds passed before something dropped out of the cucumber plant. My mouth fell open at the sight of the tiny creature. Without a doubt, this had to be Ezlo. Link's description had somewhat prepared me, but it was still astonishing to see Ezlo with my own eyes. He looked like a bird crossed with a green nightcap.
"What took you so long, boy?" Ezlo screeched. "I can't count how many close calls I had waiting for you!"
I promptly shut my gaping mouth and leapt to Link's defense. "Hey, don't be so hard on Link! He's spent the last three days trying to find you!"
"Hm? And who might you be?" the hat creature asked.
"My name is Miney. I'm an old acquaintance of Link's, and the daughter of the owners of this farm," I explained. "I saved Link from becoming a snack for my pet Cucco today, and I've been helping him track you down."
Ezlo appeared thoughtful. "Is that so? In that case, I am grateful for your assistance. I apologize for any trouble Link has caused you."
"It was really no trouble at all," I assured.
Link got down on his knees and looked Ezlo in the eye. "Ezlo, I'm sorry. You were right. I should have listened to you when we were climbing those pea vines. If you didn't peck that bird when you did, who knows what would've happened to us. Can you forgive me?"
Ezlo regarded Link with a long, hard stare. My heart pounded in anticipation as I awaited the hat creature's response. At last, Ezlo leapt upward and settled atop Link's head.
"You are such a hopeless child," he sighed. "It seems you still have much to learn. You'd be lost without my help, so I can't give up on you yet."
Link gazed upwards at his partner, his eyes sparkling with happiness. "Thanks, Ezlo."
"I'm happy you two have made up, but we still have a problem on our hands," I interjected. I jabbed my thumb in the direction of the Octorok. "That guy is standing between us and the portal Link told me about."
"Don't worry," said Link. "I can sneak by him, no problem! You just stay safe and hidden, Miney."
"It's okay. I've done this lots of times," Link assured. "You've already helped me a lot, Miney. I don't want you to get hurt because of me."
"Well, okay," I relented. "Just be careful."
Link and Ezlo soon disappeared from sight, leaving me alone in the cucumber patch. I took another glance at the Octorok and saw that it had gotten a lot closer to my hiding spot. My heart was pounding so hard that I could almost hear it. I had to get away as quickly as possible, so I began to crawl away as quickly and quietly as I could. I had only gotten a couple feet when a leaf brushed against my nostrils. My nose twitched crazily, and my hand shot up to my face to contain the coming sneeze, but I was too late.
The Octorok immediately turned to my hiding place and cast its beady eyes on me. With my cover blown, I had no choice but to spring to my feet and run. The Octorok was hot on my tail, and I was forced to zigzag in order to avoid its barrage of rocks.
"Mom! Dad! Somebody, HELP ME!" I screamed.
"HIYAAAAH!" a voice yelled. The Octorok let out an ear-splitting screech before falling silent. I looked over my shoulder and saw Link standing behind me with his sword extended. Wisps of black smoke drifted into the air around where the Octorok had been, and they slowly faded away as they floated higher.
"Are you all right, Miney?" Link asked as he sheathed his sword.
"Y-yeah. Thank you," I said. Just then, I heard my name being called from behind my back. I turned around and saw my parents racing toward me. "Mom! Dad!"
My parents smothered me in a bone-crushing hug the moment they reached me. Mom was on the verge of tears, and Dad kept repeating over and over that he was glad I was safe.
"We heard you screaming and came as fast as we could," said Dad.
"Are you sure you aren't hurt?" asked Mom.
"Mom, Dad, I'm fine," I insisted. "Link defeated the monster before anything bad happened."
"Is this true?" Mom asked Link. He nodded in response, and Mom beamed at him. "Thank you for saving our daughter. We are in your debt."
"No, no, it's fine," Link insisted. "I'm just happy everything ended well!"
"What a noble young lad!" Dad exclaimed. "You'll have to keep an eye on him in a few years!"
I flushed crimson. "DAD!"
"I'm kidding, I'm kidding!"
"In any case, Link, you're welcome to stay with us whenever you'd like," said Mom.
"Thanks for the offer, but I really need to get going," said Link.
"So soon?" asked Mom. "All right, if you insist."
"It was nice meeting ya, Link," said Dad. "I wish you luck on your travels. And don't be afraid to stop by again!"
"Dear, we should get back to work ourselves," said Mom.
"Let's get going, Miney," said Dad.
"Okay, but is it all right if I talk to Link first?" I asked.
"Take all the time you need," said Mom. My parents finally released me, allowing me to approach Link.
"That's weird. I wonder why Mom and Dad haven't said anything about Ezlo," I murmured.
"That's because of Ezlo's magic. Most people see him as a normal hat," Link explained. "His magic is also what keeps him from flying off my head most of the time."
"Really?" I asked. Out of curiosity, I gave Ezlo's brim a quick yank. The hat creature squawked in displeasure, but he remained firmly attached to Link's head. I tugged him a few more times, but he still did not budge. "Huh, you're right."
"Hey! Quit pulling on me, you disrespectful whelp!" yelled Ezlo.
"Sorry, Ezlo," I said. As I backed away from Link, an interesting thought came to me. "Huh, I didn't notice it before, but Ezlo perfectly matches your clothes, Link. What's more, he fits perfectly on your head."
Linked blinked and cocked his head in a confused matter. "Um, yeah. Is there a problem with that?"
"Don't you think that's just the slightest bit odd?" I asked. "From what you told me, Link, Ezlo had been cursed before the two of you met. So don't you think it's strange that he just happens to exactly match your head and clothes?"
"Now that you mention it, that is pretty weird," Link said as he glanced up at Ezlo.
"I hadn't considered it before, but you bring up an excellent point, Miney," the hat creature added.
"I doubt it's a coincidence," I continued. "I'm sure your meeting was due to the will of the goddesses. It sounds like the two of you still have a dangerous journey ahead of you, but I'm sure the goddesses will watch over you."
Link nodded at me, and a determined smile graced his features. "We'll save Princess Zelda for sure!"
He looked so adorable that I couldn't stop myself from giggling. I never would have imagined the boy I used to tease would end up saving me, and yet he still acted so much like a kid that it was hard to see him as a hero.
Link pouted in an adorable fashion. "What's so funny?"
"It's nothing," I assured, although I could not keep the laughter out of my voice. "Well, I guess this is where we part ways."
I smiled brightly. "See ya around, little hero."
"See ya," he said, smiling just as widely.
After Link departed, I went straight back to work. My chores were the same as ever, but something inside me felt a little different. I rolled around ideas in my head for a while before realizing that my little adventure with Link had been the most fun I had in months. I had been so focused on my future that I hadn't been enjoying life as it came.
I nodded firmly to myself, deciding that growing up could wait a little longer. I had years to enjoy adulthood. For now, I would enjoy being a kid. And the very instant that thought occurred to me, I heard a little voice crying out, "Pico!" I looked down at the dirt and saw a tiny creature with green clothes and a red hat looking up at me. I gasped, and then smiled wider than I had in years.
"Thanks, Link," I whispered.
LunaClefairy: I feel like the worst author ever. People have been waiting months for me to update, and when I finally write something, it's a freakin' one-shot. I've been on a massive Zelda binge ever since I graduated, and this spawned from that.
Minish Cap was one of the many Zelda games I've been playing as a result of this binge, and I found myself enjoying it even more than when I was younger. And one day, I happened to have the idea of "What if Link lost Ezlo while Minish-sized?" And this spawned from that. I'm not sure if writing from the perspective of an OC was the best route to take, but it's what my mind settled on.
I hope I wrote Link and Ezlo well. I figured that since the Minish Cap incarnation of Link is young, he'd still show signs of immaturity. As for Ezlo, his figurine says that he really likes Link despite treating him roughly, so I hope I did a decent job showing that.