Disclaimer: I don´t own any characters or locations mentioned in this story.
"Hylian" I think, is the name of Link´s race. Since they are basically humans with pointed ears, you can read "hylian" in this story easily as meaning "human".
I snarl. I bare my teeth. The boar is now only a few metres away, the goblin sitting astride on it oblivious to my presence. I can smell the sweat, sense that both of them must be exhausted from a long day of riding. Perfect.
My muscles tense, in a fraction of a second my paws have left the ground and I´m flying towards the pair, jaws gaping.
As soon as it has begun, the fight is over. My fangs close over the goblin´s neck, crushing it immediately. His body goes limp and he keels over. The boar looks around in confusion, not realizing what´s happening. Only when he sees his former rider on the ground, he understands.
I growl and take a step towards him, emboldened by the fear that radiates from the massive animal. As the boar turns tail and runs, I let out a triumphant howl that can be heard across the entire desert. Now my snout is nearly dripping with saliva and I turn towards my meal, muscles and sinews ripping as I tear the flesh from the bones.
Earlier I would have found that revolting.
Now, I feel completely in my element.
Earlier…I can barely remember now. I still recall how awful I had felt when I was transformed for the first time. Paws blindly, uselessly groping at door handles designed for fingers, the feeling of helplessness when there´s no sword but only your teeth…I loathed it.
body was what I wanted, what I needed and nothing, not my hearing, my
sense of smell or my incredibly increased awareness of my environment
could console me.
I was able to talk to animals, to see ghosts and to run twice as fast, but I did not appreciate any of it.
What a fool I was.
I don´t know when my attitude changed. I think it might have been when I was visiting those icy mountains, when the cold and the snow made my hylian body shiver almost uncontrollably and I was close to dying of hypothermia. As a last resort I changed and immediately my thick fur protected me against the storm and the winds.
It was like being born again. I chased after the snow wolves, learned from them how to hunt and eat the ice bats flapping in the forests. I navigated my way across thin, slippery slopes easily, my four paws and claws giving me secure footing where my hylian feet would have failed me. I stayed in this form for days, not changing back until I had finally reached that hut I had set out to search as a human. When I got there, I reverted to my original from again, but inside, I had changed.
I saved Hyrule eventually, but when I did that I used my teeth, not my sword. Now Midna has left, but I can still transform at will.
Not that I wanted to.
I am trotting through a forest that seems (or rather, smells) vaguely familiar. Where am I?
Suddenly, I hear a horse and jerk around. Horses mean trouble. They mean riders, usually with bows and arrows. I could change and explain to them that I am not an animal to chase and kill, but somehow…it seems wrong now.
I don´t know how long it has been since I last stood on two feet, walked in boots or sat at a table. Or talked to Hylians. It feels awkward now. Even when I grew up, I had felt closer to animals than people and preferred to be silent rather than to speak out. Working as a cowboy had suited my needs perfectly.
Suddenly, another scent catches my attention. That´s no ordinary horse. It´s Epona!
She was the closest friend I had when I was still a Hylian and even as wolf that has not changed. I let out an excited yip and wait for her to arrive. She rushes towards me in full gallop. Earlier, I would have been on her back, urging her on, holding the reins. Now I want to race with her, both of us rushing through the forest at full speed. But she stops. For the first time I notice there´s someone on her back. I cautiously move closer, trying to get a clear look at the rider. It´s a girl, I know her, it´s…Ilia.
Somehow just seeing her, smelling her makes my heart ache, awakens emotions that I can barely understand anymore. A vague feeling of longing, loss and something else overcomes me. A wolf doesn´t understand these things, can´t express them. In my confusion I react in the only way possible for me. I crouch, ready to jump and let out a low, menacing growl, trying to conceal my fear of those strange feelings. The girl…(Ilia, I mean, names are difficult to remember now, since animals don´t use them), gets down. She is scared and stares at me with these huge, sad eyes.
Link? That was my name, once…I can´t recall what it means anymore. In my world, the smell and the attitude of one is everything you need to know. Names are meaningless.
She takes another step towards me. "Link…"
If names are meaningless, why does hearing it suddenly hurt so much?
My muscles tense even more.
"Link, please…turn back. Everyone is missing you. Nobody believes me when in say that that´s still you in there, but I know it is!" Her face is starting to get wet. Is she…crying?
"After all, those are still your eyes…right?"
I see everything through a red haze. I am confused, something I don´t understand is hurting me and…Ilia, the girl, seems to be the cause of it all. Her speech blurs slightly in my ears even though she still speaks clearly and I have trouble understanding it. What is she saying?
"You saved Hyrule, I know you did, so you can become a Hylian again…right? Right?"
Something is coming through. Me? Turning back? I try to think, to concentrate. Something doesn´t work. Contemplating anything has become harder over the last few weeks. Somehow my instincts that the wolf form brings with it, are distracting me. I haven´t thought much when I was hunting or eating or running and there wasn´t much else in my life.
Her voice jerks me back to the present. Somehow she seems stranger now. I have to change or to run away, nothing else could get me out of this. I am torn. When I look at her, there is still this strange sense of loss, yet I couldn´t say what it is that I lost. A…feeling?
I look up in her eyes and for a moment I seem to be hylian again.
But when I open my mouth to say something, the moment is lost. Suddenly, every thought is tumbling away from me and something else is coming forth instead. Instinct. A Hylian. Flee!
I tear away, the ground flying away underneath my paws. I feel free again. Life is simple when the air is rushing past you and your lungs suck it in with deep breaths, fueling those powerful muscles underneath your sleek fur. Her voice still shouts something, it is meaningless to me now. Is it a name? What name? I have none.Ilia´s knees buckled underneath her and sent the fragile body crushing to the ground. For a while nothing but her sobs could be heard as she silently covered her face with her fingers. She didn´t understand it. Her trembling hand slowly went up Epona´s leg for support, the presence of the beautiful horse soothing her a little bit.
"Why?" She whispered. "What happened that you never changed back when you had finished your quest?"
Slowly, she got up and sat on Epona again, her form slumped in the saddle like a marionette with cut strings.
They say that mind defines form. They´re wrong. A human mind, pressed into the shape of a wolf has two choices: To adapt or to die. Hylians, like humans, are great at adapting.
And when instinct is fighting against the rational mind, the battleground decides who wins. For humans, it is a close shave, but eventually, hands that use tools and a mouth that speaks a language will ensure a victory. In a wolf, a human mind has to compete against fangs that cut through skin and a nose that can smell a victim a mile off. And while Link was strong, it hadn´t been quite enough. When you are competing with the beast in you, what happens if you are one?
Ilia turned back one last time, looking at the space between two trees where the boy she thought she knew so well had vanished.
"Oh Link…don´t you love me anymore?"
A solitary howl from the darkness behind the leafs was the only answer.
Allright, my first one-shot (and first zelda-thingy ever) is done:) I got the idea when I found myself playing as a wolf even when it wasn´t necessary, sometimes even just because he seemed to fit into the scenery (like the mountain range) way better than Link ever could. Suddenly I wondered: Could Link feel the same way, actually preferring to be a wolf than a human? Pretty strange thought to have when it comes to a video game character, but hey, it was three in the morning and I had overdosed on diet coke. Well, this is what came out of it. I think it might be possible, why not:)
As for Midna leaving and Link´s relationship with Ilia...I have to confess that I haven´t finished the game yet, (I´ll actually start with the ice temple right after posting this) so I have no idea what might happen afterwards. I don´t even know what the heck Ilia is anyway. His friend? His girlfriend? His sister/cousin/female clone? But please, no spoilers!
Also, English is not my first language so if there are any mistakes or something sounds stupid, please tell me.
Please read and review!