The children had crowded at the window of the sanctuary, peering in with excited curiosity after the news that Ilia had recovered her memory had spread like wild-fire through Kakariko Village.
Sensing the need of a private moment between Link and Ilia, Renado, Chief Darbus and Gor Ebizo had shuffled out quietly, leaving the two youths alone.
Talo had been the last to linger at the window, feeling a sense of shock and deep revulsion, before he was jerked roughly away with a rare stern glance from Renado.
"Leave them be, young one," the shaman had reproached gently, placing a hand on the boy's shoulder.
Talo shrugged, trying to tell him he was going back up to the look-out, but found it difficult competing over the din of Beth's giggles. After Renado's attention was averted, Talo shot her a dirty look and made sure she received it before turning away, muttering curses under his breath.
Crossly, he thought about how ridiculous Beth was. Just like a girl she was always blabbing on and on about silly things like love and romance, and seeming to have a crush on every boy she met (except him…and his brother, of course) – why she'd even started to like Colin a little after he'd stopped being such a loser for once and saved her! And now she was interested in the Zora boy, Prince Ralis!
And of course, he thought bitterly, she'd always been obsessed with Link.
Link - who he had always admired for his skills in swordplay and marksmanship. Link – who he had always looked up to because of his bravery and loyalty. Link – who he had idolized, wanted to be just like when he grew up…until a few moments ago.
Now, the thought of Link irritated him, repulsed him.
It was always 'Link this' and 'Link that'. 'Link the Brave', 'Link the Hero', 'Link the Saviour'. Perfect, pretty-boy Link! Link, Link, Link, Link, Link…
Talo felt rage building up inside of him as he thought of how she had looked at him.
He had always thought that Ilia was different from the others. Kind and gentle, she had eyes the same deep shade of green as the forest, and an earthy, enchanting beauty about her. It had been his deepest secret that one day, when he was older, he hoped that he would marry her.
But she wouldn't now, he thought miserably, because she'd never see him as anything other than a little boy.
Talo kicked at the dust at the top of the hill, ignoring the Goron who offered to shoot him to halfway up the look-out, just as he had avoided the other a little lower down.
Clenching his teeth, he firmly resolved to climb all the way up to the top by himself for the first time, proving Link wasn't the only one able to do it.
Hoisting himself up onto the ladder, he worked ferociously at the rungs, pulling himself upward at an excruciating rate.
Not having paused to catch his breath, his lungs were heaving with exhaustion by the time he was halfway up the second ladder. Determined, he pressed himself to go on, leaving no room for failure.
By the time he'd reached the top he was staggering, urging himself to keep moving until he reached the edge where he collapsed in a heap, his arms and head dangling over the side limply.
When he saw Link passing by down below, however, he straightened himself up abruptly, trying to preserve his dignity.
Looking upwards in his direction, Link gave him a friendly wave.
"How's it going up there, Talo?" he called loudly.
Talo resisted the urge to yell back something cheeky, and instead replied, "Just fine. But I can't talk now. I've got a very important job to do, you know!"
Link chuckled quietly to himself. Like his brother, Talo could be such a serious kid at times, always jumping at the chance to take on extra responsibility.
"Okay, I'll leave you to it then!"
As Link started to walk away Talo felt himself grab a stone that he had been playing with earlier. Talo threw it violently at him.
It missed of course. However, Link turned around as he heard it had hit the ground, his eyes searching with suspicion, his mind and body alert.
It had seemed to come from above, and at the speed it hit the ground, it was as if somebody had deliberately thrown it.
The only person he could see up there though was Talo.
'And he'd never do a thing like that,' he thought to himself.
Slightly puzzled, Link soon forgot about it, passing it off in his mind as just a loose rock that had fallen.
Talo felt a sense of relief as he watched Link's form move into the distance. Part of him regretted throwing the stone – after all, Link had come to his rescue many times, and even had the decency not to tell his father all of what he had gotten up to. But the other part of him wished that he had been a better aim. He would've loved to see the look of shock in Link's eyes after he realized what had happened.
Talo suddenly jumped as somebody called his name from behind. Startled, he found himself almost falling over the edge.
"Don't sneak up on me like that!" he snarled, turning around to find Beth.
"What's your problem today?" she asked, clearly still annoyed from the nasty look he had given her earlier on.
"What's it to you?" he said rudely, turning his back on her.
"Oh, I get it now," Beth drawled, "you're jealous of Link because Ilia likes him better than you!"
"Shut up!" Talo shouted, feeling his cheeks go red with embarrassment.
"Oooh, you're blushing!" she teased, poking him playfully.
"Don't think I won't hit you just 'cause you're a girl!"
Beth rolled her eyes, but stopped prodding him nevertheless.
"So, who are you going to marry now?" she asked after a while.
"What!?" cried Talo, feeling the heat rush to his cheeks again.
"Don't play dumb with me. Everybody knows about your little fantasy! It's written all over your face every time you talk to her!"
Talo bit his lip resentfully.
"Why, even Ilia knows! …And she thinks it's cute!"
Suddenly the large drop below them started to look inviting. Talo briefly considered jumping, before turning around and knocking Beth roughly to the ground.
"Hey!" she screeched as he began to pull her hair.
They struggled for a moment before Beth cried, "Get off me, you little rat!" and shoved him onto the ground beside her.
The two lay catching their breath and staring at the sky.
"Was it really that obvious?" he asked shamefully.
Beth turned to him and nodded.
"Very," she said. There was no longer any trace of malice in her voice.
Talo sighed a second time.
"It was stupid of me to think that, I guess. What a baby I must've looked like."
Beth sat up, shrugging.
"Well, I used to think that one day when I was older Link would marry me."
"How can you like that jerk?" Talo shot at her, "he's so perfect - it's sickening!"
"I guess," Beth answered, yawning a little and lying back down beside him.
"There's nothing wrong with him, so in a way, he's boring to be around," she continued, "…He's just so cute though!"
She sighed and Talo frowned.
"But you," Beth began, "even though you're a little younger than me…well - you're kind of cute too."
This time it was her turn to blush. Talo watched her speechlessly, noticing for the first time how pretty she looked when she smiled.
"And even though you've got plenty of things wrong with you," Talo's hopes deflated momentarily, but rose again as she finished, "you're not boring at all."
Beth leant forward and kissed him softly on the lips, watching his reaction curiously.
Talo's eyes opened widely and his whole face, this time, turned a vibrant shade of red.
"I'd best be letting you get back to your work," Beth said, picking herself up and starting heading back to the ladder, "Bye, Talo."
For a while Talo lay still, taking in what had happened.
Finally he got up again, resuming his position as look-out.
With an odd feeling in his stomach, he both dreaded and looked forward to going to dinner that night.