Away From Home

Link decided that he didn't really like Tetra about one minute after she opened her mouth and his opinion didn't change for a long time. Not that he had much experience to go on, Outset was only a small Island according to fishermen and the postman and there were only a handful of girls that he knew personally. But he decided that he definitely preferred those who loved and adored him, to the one who was rude and obnoxious. Not that he was a vain boy; but like most, he liked to be welcome in the homes and was friendly to all in the small community.

Link's sister Aryll was the dearest thing to his heart; even more so than his grandmother, who had sole responsibility over the orphaned children and had done for a few years now. They were no bother for the older lady for beyond a propensity for running around the island, it was not as if they could get into much trouble; they knew not to go too far out into the water as neither were the strongest swimmers around. In fact everything was fine until she dropped out of the sky and Link had been pressed to rescue her; not that he felt disinclined to do so, it was just that he had never had a sword in hand before and suddenly his whole world changed.

The sword felt right in his hand and gave him a sense of power that was new; the moves that Orca had taught him were cool and efficient, as he found out by practicing on the grass and shrubs. Then he was off to find out if the girl was badly hurt or if she'd had a softer landing because of all the shrubs in the area. Of course she'd been fine, but completely dismissive of the boy who'd had his first taste of bloodshed trying to reach her; she was an ungrateful pain in the ass as far as Link was concerned. Fighting those creatures had made him feel strange; his life had been in danger and he had found out to his shock that his safe little island was no longer, safe.

Then he had nearly lost it when the bird took Aryll and he'd leapt of the top of the hill after her without a thought, only to be caught and saved a long ignominious drop by the bratty Tetra. Even then she had been so smug and heartless, telling him that his sister was gone; as if Aryll were just some toy that had been stolen away. But he was responsible for his little sister and therefore he had humbled himself to ask for passage aboard the pirate ship so that he could go and try to find Aryll. The pirates had tried to belittle him; but what did they think, that he would leave Aryll to her fate?

The young, stuck up, prissy, know-it-all pirate wannabee telling him to say goodbye to his grandmother as if he didn't know that as well and then having the gall to laugh; suggestingly that a splinter might make him cry. Cheek! He'd had worse splinters from chopping wood for his granny and some of the old people on his Island; not to mention the sharp scales of fish and all their little bones when he worked with the fishermen. He was not some soft weakling to be ridiculed by these wretches; he was the same age as the Hero of Time and he was sure she would never ask him if he'd cry over splinters.

Still her sarcasm did have it's uses he had to admit; after seeing how upset his Grandmother was over Aryll and knowing she had to let Link go to find her, Link had bottled up his feelings. But when he saw everyone waving him goodbye and then the tiny figure of his Granny, he nearly lost it and felt a couple of rogue tears on his cheeks; as he waved back. Tetra's snide comments however dried them in an instant, by making him annoyed and the smirk on her face made him clench his fists; then when he turned back everyone was a mere speck a long way away.

Link had felt very small when all he could see was the ocean, it was his first time away from home and all he knew; besides everyone on board the pirate ship had been so busy that his questions were only met with sharp answers. He was not an idle person and didn't like having nothing to do but think, it made him dwell on all that might lay ahead and just how ill prepared he was for the outside world. As he leant over the rail at the side of the ship looking forward, the salty spray masked the degrading tears he couldn't stop; but before he fell prey to real homesickness, he swallowed the hard lump that was forming in his throat.

Link thought of Aryll and how she must be feeling; his little sister was such a sunny child, as was he most of the time and if he felt bad she must feel awful. He swiped his sleeve across his eyes and took a shuddery breath, before turning round to come face to face with Tetra who was standing right behind him. She made him start and she was smiling that quirky smile; but for once her eyes were not laughing at him, but shone with a kinder light. Tetra had said she couldn't have him up on deck and that there was a pirate below deck who had worked out a training programme for him.

Then she'd laughed again and warned him that sea spray was so salty it was not good to have in the face; it would make his eyes sting and go all red. He could wash his face in the bathroom below deck with some fresh water. Link knew that she hadn't been fooled for one minute, but was grateful for the excuse nonetheless; she patted his back briefly as he left which did make him feel a bit better.

From then on his life changed drastically; during the hunt for his sister he found that he was supposed to be a Hero, one to save the world from the same evil that the original Hero of Time had fought and he'd found more of the creatures that had taken up residence on Outset. Although he evaded the threat where he could, he had learned to fight well with his sword and he learned to kill or be killed. At first it had made him weep and be sick when he was able to rest, taking life was a terrible thing; but these things kept coming and were stopping him reaching Aryll, who was innocent of any wrong doing and who was probably frightened while waiting for him to rescue her.

However as time went by and his skills in stealth and speed improved, he could avoid confrontation a lot more; or just get by with wounding the creatures. He enjoyed finding the treasures secreted about the islands of the sea and could see the draw for the pirates, much to his horrified surprise. He had always considered himself a 'good' boy, but the freedoms away from home and his ever watchful granny were too tempting. This life was exciting and it was great meeting new people; expanding his horizons, although he never forgot the reason he was abroad.

Not that he could, his companion being a talking boat who although annoying sometimes with his advice was a bit like a grandfather, comforting but not condemning; well not most of the time anyway. Besides Link was a sociable person and the life he was living now was very solitary and it was nice to have someone however wierd, to talk to; the open sea was a frightening place with dangers around every corner, especially at night when loneliness sometimes overwhelmed him. Talking to the King of Red Lions made Link able to swallow the by now familiar, huge lump that often threatened to make him howl.

Sometimes it seemed an almost insurmountable problem to retrieve his sister and defeat this 'Ganondorf'. On the whole though it was good to meet the different beings that lived on the various islands and it was great to be welcomed and made to feel important. Especially when he succeeded in his quests to defeat the common enemies and those specific ones, that destroyed the peace and ways of life that had been enjoyed harmlessly by people for centuries.

Since his departure from the pirate ship, caterpulted in a barrel by that crazy, demented female pirate; he had had to rely on himself and was pleased that in the main he was doing alright. He had no money, but it was more fun to find it in pots and hidden away; he didn't care who it belonged to, he had found it and it was stupid of them to hide it where he could find it if they didn't want it to vanish. In fact very soon many of the values that had been carefully instilled into Link as he was growing up, were being eroded rather quickly.

He was going too swiftly from the childish cares of a boy to the concerns and responsibilities of a worldly man, without much loving guidance and the freedom was going to his head as he had no one to answer to. That is until one day the King or Red Lions decided that enough was enough; the boy was becoming wayward and something needed to be done, perhaps a trip home would be good for him. Link had discovered that he really enjoyed using the bombs he'd filched from Tetra, even though once again he knew that she had given him the opportunity to steal them; she had after all seen him spying on them as they 'relieved' the bomb shop owner of his store. He then found that the 'King' had the facility to use them as he had a cannon on board, along with a grappling hook which also was a great piece of equipment.

Guilt though had seeped into his heart when he had popped in to see Granny on Outset, before freeing Jabun from his cave prison. She had been feeling ill and he'd released a fairy to heal her; he'd also been pleased at his skills in releasing the fairy on the island and getting more bombs from her. But Granny had been so proud of him and so pleased to see him, that it was almost too much to take; especially when he considered that she certainly would not be pleased at some of the things he had been doing and it actually made him angry inside. She had no idea of his bigger purpose and he knew she would be disappointed in his attitude as well sometimes; he was no longer the 'little boy' she had known.

He fled the cheerful little house that was full of love for him and his sister, into the cold wet and unwelcoming night; venting his anger on some chu jellies that had set up near the beach. Then he ran to the King of Red Lions and set off for the rear of the island; his blood started to race with excitement as he made out the huge swirling whirlpool, churning outside the sealed entrance to the cave. This was going to be a piece of cake, he was good with the cannon and he had extra bombs just in case; besides he felt angry enough to want to destroy something.

Jabun was such a big fish thing...person...whatever; but it annoyed Link once more when he and the King started to speak in that old language that he didn't understand, especially as it was obvious that it concerned him. Valoo had done it as well; so had the Great Deku Tree, as if Link were less somehow than their Great Hero, it was so rude. So instead of going straight away to place the three gems in their rightful spots as the boat wanted him to do, he decided to go back to Windfall and mess about there instead; perhaps via Beedle's Shop Ship, on which he could try practicing his bombing. It would be fun to see how close he could get without actually sinking the boat; after all, the incessant rain had now stopped and he fancied a bit of doing something less intense than saving everyone else's skins.

That thought caused him to choke again when he remembered that he was supposed to be rescuing Aryll and that it was quite possible that her life was in danger. Despite the fact that she'd seemed well enough when he'd seen her; who knew when that could change, once Ganondorf or whoever it was decided that she had served her purpose. He could still hear her cries when he was picked up in the huge bird's beak and she couldn't know that he was still alive. Link pushed the heels of his hands into his eyes to stop them watering at the thought of her; damned Ganondorf, damned Tetra and damned Red Lion. Why couldn't they all have just left them alone?

When they docked at Windfall, Link was so quickly out of his boat that the 'King' was concerned; the boy was in the mood to look for trouble and sure enough by the end of the day, grumbles could be heard about the boy in green's behaviour from every corner of the island. Link had been hungry and had gone into the cafe for some refreshment and spent all his money; not that that was a problem there was plenty to be had from sea chests, but he didn't want to search for any at the moment so he looked in the pots and grass for some spare rupees to put in his pocket.

Next he went to play the squid game and he had run round the back to the couple of yellow coins that had been dropped; pocketing them, rather than doing what he knew he should, which was to offer them back to the stallholder. Then he had gone spying on people with a pictograph he found; when he meddled with the local justices and released a convicted villain from prison and he'd jumped all over the cafe tables, breaking the crockery and generally acting like a spoilt child. But the final straw came for him when he entered the rich man's house again and rampaged among the fine china vases, smashing them with his sword; the sound of all the china breaking was as thrilling and satisfying as he remembered from the first time he'd done it.

Link knew that there was no money kept in those vases and that it was just mindless vandalism, but he didn't care. However this time when the rich man told him that he would have to make monetary recompense for the vases, Link just smirked; he didn't have a single rupee on him now, so there was no way he could pay for the damage. He ran out of the house laughing and nearly knocked over the cafe owner who was passing and had heard all the noise. The rich man and the cafe lady looked at each other and decided something needed to be done about the boy who was being such a nuisance; he didn't belong to any of the parents around on the island and so they couldn't haul him in front of them and demand that they control their son.

Meanwhile Link had run off towards the top of the island; smashing a few rupee pots as he went and aimed to reach his boat the roundabout way, throwing people off his scent. But Link's luck had run out, as he reached the boat he could see the irate wealthy man and cafe owner closing in on the quay; still what could they do? He jumped aboard and got out the Windwaker to change the direction of the wind. He was not hungry or thirsty anymore and had let off steam, he could afford to leave Windfall for a while and let things cool down; give it a couple of weeks and the incidents would be forgotton.

But as hard as he tried to put up the sail, it wouldn't go; for some reason it appeared to be stuck. 'Flaming nuisance' Link thought, realising he would now have to try to placate an irate man to whom he had also been rude. So he put on his best 'cute' smile and offered to pay for the damages to both the man and the cafe lady. To his slight consternation though, the smile didn't seem to be working and the man who was a lot bigger than Link, made a quick grab for his left arm; effectively stopping the boy from drawing his sword. Not that Link had even considered doing that; he would not draw on an unarmed man purely to get himself out of trouble.

Next Link offered to pay more than the cost of replacement and for the inconvenience; but started to worry when he saw that this too was not going to be accepted. In fact he had no answer to the man when he'd been asked just whose money Link would be using to pay the damages. He started to feel that maybe the prison cell that Tingle had been locked in was going to be his home for a few days and he laughed bleakly to himself, supposing that there was a certain ironic justice to that fate. But then his face fell and the smile vanished, as he realised that he had no idea how long he would be kept in the jail and that it would all be time wasted that he should be using to free Aryll.

It was all the stupid boat's fault, why hadn't the sail gone up and why hadn't he spoken to Link? They could at least have cruised away even if the sail was stuck; he gave the 'King' a glare and he knew that the boat had seen him and understood, even though of course it made no recognition. Link suddenly realised that while he had been thinking in his head, he had missed what the man was saying. Typical that he was the mayor of Windfall and also had jurisdiction over criminals, he gave Link a choice, ten days in the prison, carted off to the schoolroom for a caning or he could be dealt with there and then.

Not much choice then, he couldn't afford ten days; even if he escaped he might have to come back here and risk longer if he was caught again and he was not going to be walked up to the school and risk others seeing him, especially that little gang of snobby boys. That left one option and he didn't like the sound of that either; but as he risked a glance at The Red Lion he could see that the boat's head had actually turned away from him slightly, which made Link feel worse. It was as if he had been deserted by someone who should care and he felt very alone; the traitorous tears felt like they were returning and he swallowed them viciously, he would not show fear or weakness or give the man the wrong idea.

The man conferred with the woman in a low voice and she nodded, then he put his coat over one of the low walls as cushioning and pulled Link over to it and pushed him half over, before taking off his leather slipper and walloping the boy soundly. Link gasped and was unable to keep silent throughout; he'd suffered pain from wounds before but nothing had hurt him like this, he was humiliated and resentful, apart from very sore. It was the cafe lady who called a halt to his punishment saying that she thought he'd suffered enough and truth be told, it could have been a lot worse.

The man helped him up; but Link pulled away, determined not to rub his backside or even acknowledge anything had happened; but the mayor seemed to understand and hid a knowing smile. He told Link that he'd now paid for his 'crimes' and that if he returned to Windfall, 'as long as he behaved, no more need be said'. Link managed a scowl and then the man laughed and left him; the cafe lady asked him if he were O.K. to which Link nodded and she too walked on back up the hill to her shop. When he was sure he was alone, Link reached round to rub his bottom trying to take out some of the scalding sting.

Silently he walked over to The King of Red Lions and got in. He lay down on his stomach in the bottom of the boat and pulled the sail over his head; then resting his head on his arms, he wept bitterly. His tears were not only because of the pain or humiliation of his beating, but they were the catalyst and once he'd started to cry he couldn't stop. Everything that had happened and that he'd been bottling up since he left Outset, poured out of him; all of his anger and frustrations, plus the sadness and worry over his sister and Granny. He did not even realise that he was talking through his sobs and complaining about everything, he just wanted to go home where he was loved and cared for.

Nor did he realise that 'King' had drifted out of the bay and was now gently rocking on the waves; lulling the boy to sleep and offering what comfort he could, now was not the time to talk to him as Link was still far too angry. But soon the warmth of the evening and being safe under the sail mollified the cried out Link, who was beginning to doze with the soft movements of the boat; the sharp edge had gone from his pain, both mental and physical and he went to sleep.

When he came to a few hours later, he found his anger had died right down and he didn't have the painful knot in his chest anymore. In fact he felt shame at how he had been behaving recently and knowing too that his family would feel shame over him, brought more tears; this time of regret. But now The King of Red Lions spoke softly to him asking him if he was still angry. Link didn't reply as he did feel betrayed, so 'King' explained to him why he'd let the mayor of Windfall punish him and not taken him out of reach. Link had been getting out of hand and was becoming unreliable, rejecting advice that was for his own benefit as well as others; he was forgetting his upbringing and becoming a nuisance to the point that soon no one would want to help him.

That would be no good for his sister or his other responsibilities; if Link wished to be treated with respect and to succeed in his endeavours he would have to show he could take his responsibilities seriously, or else he would be taken home and left in the care of his Grandmother until such times as he grew up. 'King' spoke gently, but firmly and knew that Link, although young was perfectly old enough to be able to understand his reasoning. The wise boat knew that his words had been accepted and he encouraged Link to dry his eyes and to not dwell on the past, but to go forward; he added that he would remind the boy should he need it and bring him back to Windfall for further correction if need be.

Link smiled sheepishly and he caught the twinkle in the Lion's eye as he pulled the sail covering off the boy, he felt comforted for the first time as if someone cared about him; then he noticed that they were away from the dock and remembered that he had felt the boat rocking him to sleep. He knew then that he was not being neglected; nor was he all alone and that he could talk about anything that worried him with 'King' and the boat would understand. He wiped his face and winced as he sat up; going onto his knees, as his backside was still too uncomfortable to take his weight.

A wonderful smell suddenly assaulted his nose as it wafted across the water, the scent of sausages and other meat and Link's stomach rumbled appreciatively. 'King' chuckled shaking his head and then gently coasted towards the shore and the small fire. There, in the small bay hidden behind the beach of Windfall was Tetra; who had been roasting meats over the fire, she looked up at Link and smiled before beckoning him over. The girl pretended not to notice the awkward way he got out of the boat, or the stiffened walk over to the side of the fire; neither did she mention the stain of tears that was still visible on his face. Tetra just invited him to sit on some comfy cushions she had put out on a blanket and to join her in her late night meal.

Tetra of course knew what had happened, but she didn't say anything; she had been camping in the cove for a few nights while her men went of carousing on another nearby island. Sometimes it was nice to get away from them, however dear they all were to her. Tetra wasn't always so bad, thought Link; she could be a teasing pain sometimes, but at others she was capable of being a good friend. Sometimes she could be both and this was one of those times; especially when she let a fairy out of a bottle nearby Link, smirking all the time as the fairy healed his remaining bruises.

Still, it could be worse; Link was aware that he had many friends now dotted about the Great Seas and he was confident that with their help he would rescue his sister and return to Outset when Ganondorf was defeated. What he would do then he wasn't sure about; but for now with his head resting in Tetra's lap, everything would work itself out.

THE END