AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is based on a BotW comic I came across on Pinterest. The original is in Japanese, and I have no idea what the dialogue is, but I got the gist of the plot and wrote my own version. So credit for this work goes mostly to whomever created that comic as well as the Zelda team at Nintendo. BTW, if you are interested, I posted a screenshot of one of the pages on my Twitter sailorsong3.
Originally, this was supposed to be a one shot. I was soooo proud of myself for not writing a multi-part story and then BAM, trilogy. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If you've read my story It All Must Start With Us, I tried to be as canon-compliant as possible with the pre-Calamity timeline; therefore, I used the memories as jumping off points and tried to logically connect the story from one to another. In this trilogy I break free, but it's not in too much of a divergence from the overall plot we know. Basically, nothing in my story prevents Link from ultimately having to go into the Shrine of Resurrection.
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Series title: The Shrinking Trilogy
Part 1: Hyrule, I've Shrunk the Hero!
Author: Sailor Song
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"I said something awful to him today... My research was going nowhere. I was feeling depressed, and I had told him repeatedly not to accompany me. But he did anyway, as he always does, and so I yelled at him without restraint. He seemed confused by my anger. I feel terribly guilty...and that guilt only makes me more agitated than I was before."
The pen jumped up from the journal when I tried to set it down a little too aggressively, and I noticed it left an inkblot stain on the page. Oh well, I am the only one who will ever read this. However, I know that not to be true. If we are living in "such uncertain times as these" as Father is so apt to say, then any of my writings and personal effects will someday be preserved for posterity. I will just have to take care to filter out my personal thoughts before I hand anything over to the royal historians.
That is, assuming we even survive the devastation that has been foretold.
I had been trying to do everything I could to help. Under Father's watchful eye, I feel so oppressed, and now that his champion follows me everywhere I go, I cannot escape. I know I am being judged: by Father, by the people, by the priests, but the worst is when it's coming from *HIM*. He is ever-present as I fail time and time again to unlock my powers. Behind my back, I can almost guarantee he laughs with his comrades about the broken princess he has been forced to protect.
Reaching the peak of my rage and exhaustion, I threw myself upon my bed and screamed in a most unladylike way into a pillow. At some point during my fit, I must have fallen asleep, for I awoke to find the chambermaid bustling about, making my room ready for the evening. She directed me to a covered platter - apparently I had missed yet another meal. On top was a note:
Purah has requested a meeting with us tomorrow morning at the Ancient Tech Lab. I will arrive at 0900 to escort you.
By the goddesses, did he not listen to a single word I said today? Was he nothing more than an empty vessel, a little tin soldier who had no heart? I wondered if he'd always been this way, but quickly decided that I really did not care.
After eating only enough to satisfy my maid, I dressed for bed and tried to distract myself with my secret upcoming plans to escape to the Gerudo Desert. No one knew I would soon be within the safe haven of that female only town, not even my dear Urbosa expected my arrival, and I wanted to keep it that way.
… … …
Dressed in my freshly pressed traveling clothes, I made a half-hearted attempt to leave before my appointed knight could arrive, but he was already there, waiting for me the second I left my chambers. Little did he know that I was packed and ready to run away the moment I could give him the slip. Silent as always, he followed me as we walked through the castle corridors, down to the stables, and then as we rode our horses to the overlook which housed the Ancient Tech Lab.
As much as I desired to be alone, it often did not matter if he was present on such occasions. Purah and Robbie were both so engaging, and my own fascination with the ancient machinery often meant that a whole day could pass before I might even realize that *he* was still there.
"Princess Zelda, what a privilege to see you today." I was greeted not by Purah, but another member of the Sheikah tribe in similar garb whose name escaped me. As I tried to hide my disappointment, I caught a glimpse of Link. He was watching, but his expression was unreadable. That in and of itself was not unusual, but his interest in what was currently happening made me curious. He rarely seemed to care about anything I did, but, rather, seemed more focused on keeping an eye out for potential security threats. "I have been working on a new melody that I look forward to playing on the occasion of your birthday. It may be months away, but I wanted to make sure it is perfect for Her Highness."
His - goddesses, what was his name? - flattery was very kind, but I was all too grateful when Purah jumped in and pulled me away.
"Not now, Brio." Ah, yes, that was his name. Once we were out of earshot of everyone, except for you-know-who-hero, she vented, "He's been asking me all sorts of questions about you lately. I think someone's developing a little crush."
"He's very sweet," I said. As Hyrule's princess, I am used to flattery. It's not like I have much of a choice in whom I get to marry, so the attention is merely a harmless distraction, especially when it comes from an ally. "You had something to show me?"
"Yes! I thought you'd be interested in the progress I've made with the Shrine of Resurrection." My ears perked. The shrine was only just discovered, and it fascinated me greatly. It seemed to be a safetynet that the wise Sheikah designed 10,000 years ago, and whatever its intent, there was a sense of peace that came from knowing one of our soldiers or citizens might be saved from an otherwise fatal wound.
"Snap! Where did I…?" She began looking around. "Robbie, have you seen that..." and then she was gone. My eye was drawn to a new rune lit up on her Sheikah slate. Assuming it was related to this new research, I selected it, hoping to dive right in myself. Suddenly, the nearby pedestal began to glow blue, and it seemed to be powering up. I was frozen. A million thoughts seized my mind, seizing me in my tracks. The second I saw a bolt of energy expelled from the contraption, I braced myself for impact.
It never came.
Link had put himself in harm's way, positioning himself between me and the blast of light, and had absorbed it all. I waited breathlessly for him to move, to give a sign that he was okay. He turned to me with those blue eyes - had they always been that blue? - and asked, "Did it touch you?"
"No," I whispered, suddenly grateful for the first time that he was there. Starting to get a little nervous under his gaze, I looked around for Purah to tell her what had happened. When I looked back, I could see the top of Link's head. Strange, I thought. I had not moved. Had he? No, we were both standing…
Then, suddenly, the top of his head reached no higher than my chest.
"Purah!" I cried out. Oh the goddesses, what had I done?
By the time she had returned to our location, Link was the size of a six-year-old child who appeared to be swallowed in the blue of his Champion's tunic.
"How did a little boy... OH NO! ROBBIE, GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW!"
At the sound of her screaming, the child began to cry. Out of worry or panic or I don't know what, I rushed to him and pulled him into my arms. "It's okay," I comforted, all the while trying to not cry myself.
"Hurts," he muttered, and I pulled away, worried I was crushing him. I quickly realized that was not the case as he shifted his shoulders and pointed to his back.
"What hurts?" I asked. He grabbed at a strap that pulled across his chest, so I helped him remove it. Only as it clanged on the wooden floor did I realize that the strap had been what bound the Hero to his legendary sword. A weapon he could no longer use.
Purah quickly realized what had happened and grabbed her slate. "Not the anti-aging rune! I was only experimenting for fun."
"I didn't know, I didn't mean to… Can you reverse it?"
"I'm trying, but this program was only a prototype."
Goddesses help me, if she is able to undo this, I swear I will never touch a piece of ancient technology for the rest of my life.
I watched anxiously as she pushed buttons, unplugged and plugged the machine, and tried turning it off and on, but to no avail.
For his part, the little boy was fascinated by everything happening. Once the sword had been removed from him, he had stopped crying at once and had started to explore the room. Deciding we didn't need another accident to occur, I began to follow him around to keep him away from everything.
"Who are you?" he asked, exasperated when I stopped him from trying to climb up a bookcase for the tenth time.
"I'm Princess Zelda. I am your-" His what? We weren't friends. We weren't anything. "I know your parents," I said finally. It was mostly true. His father had been a knight in the Royal Guard for many years, and his mother a maid in the castle. Both had been granted early retirement and were provided a comfortable living in the country once their son's destiny had been announced to the kingdom.
He continued trying to touch everything, so Purah suggested I take him outside so he could run around and burn off some energy. Once Robbie had changed him into age appropriate clothing, the pair of us walked out into the fresh air.
There is nothing so freeing like watching a child run around, shriek and play at all of the small wonders of the world. Unless, that is, when the child who is supposed to save the world from impending doom is, instead, slathering himself with mud. Excitedly he came running over to me to show me a frog he had caught. I turned to set the poor creature free, but when I looked up, the boy was gone. I panicked as I ran to his last location, wondering were all children this wild?
I found him eating an apple with several already spent cores surrounding him. "You'll ruin your lunch," I scolded, and wondered idly why it mattered. It wasn't like I could escort him back to the castle like this. Before I could even begin to contemplate what that would mean, Purah called us back to the lab.
"Unfortunately, I am going to need some time to figure this out, Princess," she said as we stared at the sparks coming from the pedestal. "As you can see, my attempts to reverse this were… inconclusive."
"What do I do?" I asked, trying to keep him from climbing up the bookshelves once again. "I cannot return with him to the castle. Not when he's like this. The people would lose hope, and my father-"
"We know," Purah interrupted, "but there's no telling how long this might take. Don't worry. I had an idea that might work to fix this problem sooner."
… … …
That is how I found myself outside of Zora's Domain a couple of nights later watching as the Zora princess held her healing hands over the child.
"I have done this for him many times," Mipha spoke at last in her soft voice. "Especially when he was a boy this age. This is something different than before; something I cannot heal."
I released the breath I hadn't realized I had been holding. "That is most unfortunate," I said finally. This had been a longshot, but it served the second purpose of giving us a place to hide him away until we could either fix the problem or figure out how to explain it to my father.
"Zelda, you said you wanted to keep him from the people's eyes. I can assure you, if you leave him with us, he will be well cared for. He grew up here, afterall, and I, many of us I mean, would love to spend time with him."
Her offer was reasonable, rational. He would be hidden if he stayed here, and since Hylians did not often make the long trek to the Zora capital, no one might ever find out about this misfortune turn of events.
I looked to the boy, and his bright blue eyes stared back at me. "No," I said, surprising even myself by declining the offer. "The Hero… Link should remain with me." I don't know why I turned her down. It would have been the easiest solution, and one that would have no one at the castle questioning. But still, something told me to keep him close.
"If you believe that is best," Mipha said with a slight bow, "I trust your judgement."
… … …
As we traveled along the winding road, the little boy riding in the saddle with me tilted his head back to look up at me. "You don't like Mipha, do you?"
"What? Oh no, what makes you think that? I find her very agreeable. She is a Champion just like-" Just like you is what I had wanted to say, but was that even true now? "Just like Revali and Daruk and Urbosa," I finished a bit lamely. "Why do you ask?"
He squirmed a little as he turned around to ride sidesaddle. I worried he was about to jump off, but he seemed to just want to talk. "You made a face." He reached up his hands and started to squash my face. "It looked like this. No, this."
"Okay, okay," I said with a laugh as I gently pushed his hands away. "I like Mipha, I respect her, but we aren't really friends."
"I could tell," he said, seemingly very proud of himself.
He shrugged and turned back around. "I can just tell. You made the same face before we left when that Sheikah music guy tried to join us."
I began to worry about what expression I might have made when my horse suddenly startled and began to veer off course. I dug in my heels, which only caused Storm to reer up slightly and take off. Between trying to get my horse under control and keeping myself and Link in the saddle, I was having a tough time. The reins were suddenly pulled from my grasp, and I grabbed the boy, preparing myself for impact, when the horse came to a complete stop.
When I opened my eyes, I saw Link holding both reins and patting Storm's neck. "Good horsey," he soothed. After a moment or two, he said, "He'll be okay now. Where are we going, Zelda?"
"Faron Wo…" I almost fell from the horse again when I realized what he said. "You, you just called me Zelda?"
He looked back confused. "Isn't that your name?"
"Yes, but-" No one ever calls me that. Not even him...you.
The snapping of the reins brought me crashing back to reality. "Let's go, Zelda!"
I only had seconds to grab hold of some combination of him, the reins, and Storm's mane before we took off, quickly leaving our Sheikah guards in the dust.
A feeling of panic started to rise in me until the unmistakable sound of a child's laugh began to ring through the air.
The Sheikah only managed to catch up with us after we crossed the bridge over Lake Hylia when we reached the boundary to Faron Woods. After we endured a light scolding, in which both Link and I blamed Storm's wild nature for our sudden departure, he and I laughed silently together as they accepted the excuse.
"You're good at handling him," I said as the boy expertly navigated the winding forest path.
He patted the horse's sleek neck. "You just have to soothe them. They know if you are happy or sad."
"Is that so?"
"Animals are smarter than everyone thinks," he continued. "And kinder. I usually prefer their company over people." I soothed his stray hairs and he seemed to like the sensation. "I like being with you though."
"I like being around you too," I replied, but what surprised me most was just how much I meant it. How far we had come in only a short few days. Had this never happened, this time today I would have been nearing Gerudo Town in order to get away from him. Now, I couldn't begin to recall why I had thought running away was necessary.
After some persuading, I was able to convince the Sheikah that he and I would be fine going into the Spring of Courage alone. It was in such a remote part of the woods, and with one true way in and out, we would be safe if they guarded the entrance.
"Do you remember coming here?" I asked. Link and I had only journeyed here once together, but I had heard rumors that he had spent a fair amount of time at the spring of his patron goddess once he had pulled the sword.
He shook his head.
"That's okay," I assured him, giving him a pat on the head. It was a long shot anyway. "I am going to pray while we are here." The trip to the sacred springs had been the cover story for our sudden departure from the castle.
I had changed and entered the water, trying to meditate and empty my mind before offering up my prayers, when I felt a presence beside me. He was swimming. Splashing. Playing! In the sacred waters!
There was nothing I could do but giggle as I directed him towards the side. "Wait here," I said.
"What am I supposed to do?"
"I don't know." What does Link normally do? "Stand guard?"
His face became very serious as he nodded and left to rejoin the Sheikah. I shook my head and smiled before turning back to the statue of the Goddess.
Before I could lose myself in meditations, a metallic noise echoed from down the corridor. Only hearing it once, I shrugged it off as only a clumsy guard who dropped his sword and began my prayers. Cold steel scraping down my arm sent shivers up my spine.
"Your goddess isn't listening, princess," a voice in the darkness taunted. "Your faith has gone unrewarded and your Hero has deserted you."
I did not get to see my attacker. He grabbed me from behind, his red gloved hand pressed over my mouth so I could not cry out for help.
As he led me out of the water to a grassy shore, he bent down, so close that I could feel the warmth of his breath even through the Yiga mask. "Don't bother fighting me. The last thing you will see in this life is our master's return and the destruction of Hyrule."
A yell pierced the silence, startling the assailant into briefly loosening his grasp on me, but it was enough to allow me to break free as a small figure came swinging in from up above. The Yiga faltered some, but quickly recovered to pull his vicious sickle on the boy. Link was ready. He had at some point acquired a sword, and easily blocked attack after attack. He drew the assailant away, giving me a chance to hide a safe distance from the frey.
By the goddesses, he truly was a prodigy. I had heard stories of him fighting whole squadrons of guards when he was a child, but I always thought it was part of the mythos behind him. I'd assumed his talent came from the sword, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Watching him fight the Yiga, the way he seemed to predict each blow so he could dodge and parry, was almost inhuman. And it was easy to see it was not a challenge for him. He was playing with the Yiga the way a cat toys with its prey.
"Have you had enough?" Link asked with a laugh.
By contrast, the Yiga soldier raged and rushed towards the boy, raising his sickle in order to land a deadly blow.
With a splash, the Yiga landed face first in the water. When he stood, he growled, feeling around in the water for his weapon.
"Go away," Link said to the foe as he leaned casually on his sword. "You lose."
The next moment, everything seemed to slow to a crawl. The Yiga turned from the boy, his gaze falling instead on me. With his sickle raised again, he charged towards me. There was not a doubt in my mind that his intent was to kill, yet I could not move out of the way. I was about to die.
There was a flash of yellow hair and then everything in my vision was red. Blood had been spilled in the sacred Spring of Courage. But whose?
Please, Goddess, not…
There was a splash as the Yiga's lifeless body dropped into the holy waters.
The Sheikah came running and secured the area. They tried to pull me away from the corpse, but I wouldn't leave until Link joined me. I was finally able to take his tiny hand in mine and led him away. He looked back the entire time.
It was eerily quiet as we readied ourselves for bed. The Sheikah offered to take the watch, leaving Link and me to try to sleep after all of the excitement.
He pulled his bedroll up beside me. I'm not sure if he was wanting to protect me or if he wanted me to comfort him, but I figured both could be accomplished with us sleeping next to each other. In the quiet, with only the sounds of the jungle insects, I could hear a soft noise from the figure beside me.
"Come here," I whispered, pulling him into my arms.
"I've never…" He stopped and sniffled.
"Never what?" I asked, but he could not reply. All at once, it hit me. "Have you never taken a life before?"
I felt him shake as he gave a pitiful, "No." I tried to soothe him, but I wasn't sure it was helping. "I've killed monsters before but not...not…"
I wanted to assure him they were the enemy, but who was I to tell him he was wrong to be upset. The Yiga were former Shiekah. What they were doing was wrong, but they weren't mindless beasts. They were people. Not knowing what else to do, I pulled him tighter and let him cry it out.
A thought occurred to me. Had Link, the Link who wielded the darkness sealing sword, had he ever killed? I knew nothing about him personally. Other than the gossip I overheard from my lady's maids, I had done everything possible to avoid him and anything about him. I was starting to think I judged him too quickly and far too harshly.
The next morning he was full of energy. Everything from the previous day seemed forgotten, but there was something changed in his bright blue eyes, subtle and undefined, that I could swear I saw behind the child-like enthusiasm.
… … …
We returned to the Ancient Tech Lab, and within seconds, we were greeted by a very enthusiastic Purah.
"I think we've got it fixed!"
Think? "Purah, are you certain?" I looked down at the boy. "We can't risk his life to chance."
"Trust me, princess."
With a nod, I knelt down. "You're going to be okay," I told him, giving him a soft kiss on the forehead. He threw his arms around me with the force of someone who didn't know his own strength, nearly knocking us both to the floor. I wrapped my own arms around him and could feel his heart beating rapidly.
"Come on, Linky!" Purah called like she was summoning a pet. He gave me one last look for reassurance before standing where Purah pointed. After a few BEEPS and BOOPS, a blue light began to charge on the machine. The full force blasted out, slamming into the boy. Every bit of it was absorbed into him, but he took every bit of it bravely.
After it was all finished, I rushed over to him. "How do you feel?" He looked exactly the same.
"Hungry," he replied, and his stomach backed him up with a loud growl.
"It didn't wo-" I started to say when with a loud POP and the sound of ripping, the little boy was instantly replaced with the teenage hero wearing the torn rags of child-size Sheikah clothing. I covered my eyes and turned away in surprise, but managed to catch sight of Robbie throwing a blanket over him.
There was a flurry of activity as Link was rushed to a medical examination, and after an all clear, his clothing was returned and he was directed to a side room change. Once he had rejoined them, he was subjected to more questions, a few pokes and prods, and finally the biggest test of them all: he had to pick up the Sword that Seals the Darkness.
"We couldn't touch it," Robbie explained as it pointed to the sword, still laying where it had fallen when I had removed it from him. "It wouldn't let us. Everyone kept getting shocked."
The few gathered in the room watched as Link reached out, without a second of hesitation, picked up the sword without issue. As he strapped it to his back, I could swear I heard a collective sigh of relief echo throughout the room.
"It looks like everything is fine now," Purah said, a hint of relief in her voice. "Linky, do you remember anything that happened to you during that time?"
He looked around the room at all of the eyes upon him. "No." His remark was short, simple, monotone. The childlike energy I had come accustomed to, the life and excitement, had vanished. It was not unlike him, but suddenly I was overwhelmed by emotions. He remembered nothing. The little boy I had grown so close to was gone.
As the realization hit me, I clasped my hand over my mouth and fled as my eyes filled with tears. I only knew I had made it outside because I was blinded by the sudden brightness, but I continued running anyway. Why was I so upset? Isn't this what we wanted? Wasn't the fate of Hyrule dependent on the Champion with the sealing sword returned to normal?
I collapsed to my knees beneath a tree and let out a gasp as I wrapped my arms around myself. Why did this hurt so bad?
No. Not him. Not right now. "Get away from me."
Stop it. Call me Zelda again. "I just need a minute. Would you please go away."
"I will, but may I please tell you something first?"
This is the most he had ever spoken, and perhaps the first time he ever defied a command. Out of pure shock and slight curiosity, I nodded as I wiped my cheek.
He shuffled a little. "I… um… I do remember some of what happened."
My jaw must have dropped a little, either because of what he had just revealed or because Mr. Perfect actually told a lie. Whatever the reason, I was speechless, so he continued.
"When I first pulled the sword, a lot of memories that aren't mine mixed in with my own. Something similar happened when I touched it again just now." He shifted, readjusting the weight of the weapon on his back. "I still don't fully understand everything, but I just… thought you should know."
He gave a bow and started to walk away.
"Why tell me?" I asked him, stopping him in his tracks.
"I'm not sure," he replied. "But in the time that I've been stationed in your service, I don't think I've ever seen you smile, yet in almost all of these new memories, that's the vision that stuck in my mind most." He was silent as he turned and took a step forward. "I hope to earn the chance to see it for myself someday."
I pursed my lips together. "Once we have beaten the Calamity, there will be plenty of time to rejoice."
He bowed again. "Until that day, Your Highness."
"No, wait." For some reason, right now, it was the most important thing in the world that he stay nearby. Grasping, I finally thought of a question. "Link, were you always so energetic as a child?"
"Yes, Your Highness. That's what I've been told."
"You seem so different now. I mean…" What was I getting at? "I liked spending time with you...er, I mean, getting to know your younger self." What am I saying? "This is coming out all wrong. Nevermind."
He didn't leave this time. "When I was younger I was a showoff, reckless and wild. Everything changed when I pulled the sword. After that, after I began to understand the destiny I held, I started to notice how people looked at me, with a mixture of hope and fear. I receded into myself to cope with the demand, pain, and loneliness." He paused. "As a member of the Royal Guard, I could see that you carried that burden too. It's just that you and I have different ways of dealing with it." He paused again. "It's one of the reasons I was happy when the king assigned me to your protection detail. If I could help you with your burden, maybe you could, in turn, help me as well."
All at once, I saw him as something different. He was no longer the Hero or my rival or my aspiration. He was my partner, who had bared his vulnerability in a way I suspected he never had with anyone else. I stood and walked over to him, placing a soft kiss on his cheek. Although I could no longer reach his forehead, it was at first meant to be the same simple gesture I had bestowed on him as a child, but now, suddenly, it seemed different. How or why, I did not know, but goddesses willing, I hoped to have the opportunity to find out.