Five years.

            Had it really been that long?  Elia found it hard to tell now.  The days slipped into each other, the seasons passing without her noticing much.  Sure, she acted as though everything were normal, and on the outside it was.  But inside she was slowly dying, even as her body went meticulously through the motions of everyday life.

            Three years.

            That was how long it was supposed to have been.  Elia was supposed to have been a ripe eighteen, eagerly awaiting his arrival.  She would be outside, perhaps tending the garden, when he would ride up on his horse.  He would take her into his big, strong arms and carry her away.  They would be wed.  They would take a nice trip somewhere, see the world.  He would know all about the best sights, and take her to them.  And then they would come home to Kakariko to settle down.  She would give him children.  She thought four or five might not be too much, perhaps even six.  Anything to make him happy.

            Yes, for years now she had seen that dream grow and build in her mind.  The happy expectation of reuniting with her love.  And then her eighteenth year had passed.  And then her nineteenth.  And now, here she was, in the middle of her twentieth year, and still no Link.

            She had fulfilled her promise.  She had waited.  She had grown up.  Her long brown hair gained more waves.  Her hips and bust expanded, but she remained slender.  She didn't grow more than an inch taller, though, leaving her at barely over five feet.  Link would still tower over her.  That she wouldn't mind.  She wished that Link were simply there to tower over her.

            Elia sighed.  How much of the past five years had she spent in her dream world?  Was it childish to be like that?  Was she still condemned to a lifetime of childhood, like the fabled Kokiri?  Would Link never return?


            She still had her old job at Dain's Tavern.  She liked it there.  Dain was a good friend, her only friend.  Elia didn't really get interested in finding other friends.  Most of the girls her age were busy starting families, and the other women in town were either old and cranky or too engrossed in gossip.  She avoided men; young and old ones were after her.

            The only people she liked to talk to would be adventurers coming through Kakariko.  Many were on important missions for Queen Zelda, and if they weren't, they claimed to be.  They had fascinating tales to tell of terrifying monsters and lovely damsels in distress.  When she had the time, Elia would sit and listen for an hour or two.  She cared little if the stories were, in reality, more fiction than fact.  They were at least a distraction.

            Elia picked up the jug of beer next to her and glided over to the man who had called her.  When she had been a child, Elia had had very clumsy tendencies.  Maturing had given her grace and stealth.

            "You're a pretty one," said the man with a big grin, watching with greedy eyes as the woman poured him a fresh drink.  Less could be said about the man's appearance.  He was probably at least fifty, with graying hair and wrinkles.  He was also a bit pudgy, seeming well fed for the rags he wore.

             "Thank you," Elia told him politely, secretly wishing to leave the man's company.  She forced a smile and said, "How are you this afternoon, sir?"

            "It's been a long time since anyone called me 'sir'," he chuckled, more to himself than to Elia.  "Missy, could you be bothered to have a talk with an old, lonely man?"

            Elia looked around.  The tavern was virtually empty, since it was the middle of the afternoon.  Most of the men, even the drunkards, had to be out to help with the autumn's harvest.  Elia sighed quietly to herself and obliged him, sitting down with a small glass of beer for herself.

            Dain could be seen from the kitchen.  She was discreet, but Elia knew that the older woman was watching her to make sure no trouble aroused.  Dain had a keen eye for trouble, but she also knew that it was Elia's duty to appease the customers.

            "Where are you from, sir?" Elia asked, again forcing the fake smile.  She thought him too old to try and woo her with tales of dragons and princesses, and wouldn't be surprised to find out if he was a farmer from another village ducking out on his responsibilities.

            "I," he started, taking a big sip of his drink, "am a traveling merchant."

            That didn't sound too unbelievable.  Elia blinked suddenly, thinking about her father.  Was he in another tavern somewhere, having the same conversation with another serving wench?

            "What's the matter, missy?" asked the man, noticing her slightly panicked expression.

            Elia shook her head.  "Nothing, I was just thinking about my father."  She pushed back a long strand of wavy brown hair that had managed to escape the white hood she wore.  "Do not worry about it."

            He nodded.  "Well, I have a tale for you from the city I was just visiting, Pwyre."

            "Pwyre?" she repeated, the word terribly unfamiliar to her.  "Where in Hyrule is that?"

            The man chuckled.  "'Tis not in Hyrule, but in a land far to the west."  He got a distant look in his eyes.  "Yes, a land far, far away.  It is Hyrule's forgotten brother nation, Diola."

            She'd never heard of it before.  Perhaps he was just spinning tales.  "I'm afraid I'm not acquainted with the idea of this 'Diola'," she said, the skepticism creeping into her voice.

            "I said it was 'forgotten'.  Yes, many years ago, Diola soldiers fought bravely alongside Hylians.  A magical seal was placed in front of the land by a misguided emperor, who thought he was protecting his people.  However, he only succeeded in lengthening the war for the other peoples who were fighting.  He thought his people safe, but really they just grew angry and overthrew the government system.  The land has been in turmoil since.

            "Meanwhile, the Hylian King was working on unifying the peoples and lands here.  'Peace' came, and his brother, the Emperor of Diola, had long since fallen.  He faded from existence, just as easily as the Hylians forgot about their brothers.  For you see, Hylians were truly descendants of Ancient Diola."

            The man took a big swig of his beer, some dribbling down his double chin.  Eager to hear more, Elia poured him more of the smelly drink.  He wiped his face with the back of his tattered sleeve and continued.

            "Where was I?  Ah, yes.  You see, Diola is a land of magic.  The people there were once content to relish in the gifts the Goddesses had given them.  But some of them, later to be Hylians, wanted to get closer to the gods.  Because of their long ears," he said, pointing to his own, "they could hear the gods.  They grew greedy, and soon began pilgrimages to find the spot of the Triforce, a relic rumored to possess immense powers.

            "They were lead by a hot-headed general, a man of surprisingly great nobility, courage, and wisdom.  He was actually the one to touch the Triforce and change Hyrule into what it is today--did you know that?  Ah well, that is another tale.

            "There was a group of holy priests traveling on the same pilgrimage as the general.  They saw it's power and foresaw great tragedies if they left it how it was.  So, they erected the Temple of Time to protect it.  The general became the first King of Hyrule, situating his castle close to the sacred Temple of Time.  The relic sealed away, the pilgrims lost their greed and soon wanted to settle down.  And so Hyrule was born, growing from the spot of ultimate holiness.  It expanded to touch and join the lands of the Sheikah, Kokiri, Zoras, Gorons, and, most dangerously, the Gerudo."

            "So they were all here before Hylians--I mean the Diola people?" Elia asked, gazing at him intently.

            He nodded.  "'Tis the same, I suppose.  The Hylians soon forgot their roots, believing themselves destined protectors of the Temple of Time.  They thought that they had always been in Hyrule!"  He scoffed, sipping his beer yet again.  "Thank you," he said when Elia poured him some more.

            "But you said that Diola fought with Hyrule during the war."

            "Well, the Hylians conveniently remembered their long lost homeland in times of desperation.  The Diolans were resentful, but the Hylian rulers--at that time Hyrule was commanded by a pair of liars, the ones who started the war in the first place--promised to mend the ties and reunite with them, after the fighting was through."  The man chuckled.  "Of course, that was a war of a hundred years ago.  There were a great many wars in the past few hundred years, which explains Hyrule's sparse population.

            "The Diolans didn't trust Hyrule again until the last war, the great war that split Hyrule's lands into an infinite number of pieces.  They did not join in until the King of Hyrule, Zelda's father, personally addressed the Emperor of Diola.  With Diola backing it up, Hyrule's victory seemed sure--until the old emperor died and his foolish son took over."

            "He was the one who made the barrier?"

            "Yes.  He might have been a fool, this Manlyn (that was his name), but he was a powerful sorcerer.  And so he summoned his soldiers back to the palace, and made a barrier between Diola and Hyrule."

            "What became of the barrier, then?  And of Emperor Manlyn?"

            "Who knows what became of Manlyn!" the old man said disdainfully.  "With rumors of mutiny, Manlyn disappeared.  The barrier faded away a short while ago--I would say three years or so.

            "And that brings me to what I was talking about in the first place," he said finally.  "I was recently traveling in Diola.  I stopped in the city of Pwyre and I heard of a man, a Hylian hero who was trapped in a tower--"

            Elia gasped.  "It wasn't Link, was it?  Link, the Hero of Time?"

            Dain cleared her throat from the counter.

            Elia looked up to see a group of men walking in.  She excused herself and got up to attend to the new customers.  Then she returned to the table, very interested in talking to the man she had seen before.

            All she found were a few rupees next to the empty beer mug.