Outside of the guest room, Midna's advisors stand together alternating worried looks between themselves and the door. It has been some time since they've heard anything, but they're not sure if that's good or bad. Finally, the door glows and rolls open, and Princess Midna steps out carefully. A few hairs are perhaps out of place and her eyes look somewhat tired, but her appearance can't be described as disheveled. Link comes out after her in much the same fashion, and the two look around in the apparent hope that nobody is around.
Naturally, Midna's eyes soon come upon her advisors, who greet her with concerned and suspicious looks. Her first reaction is a bit sheepish, but she quickly tries to pretend that everything is normal.
"What? I just had some things to discuss with Link."
Several of the advisors exchange skeptical looks while Myo explains why they're not buying it.
"Um, Princess? You were drowning out the protesters sometimes." Mercifully they had dispersed at some point, but still. Ranai is the next to chime in.
"And I'm pretty sure I heard some sort of strange animal noises."
She is followed closely by Mheride.
"We didn't know if you were alright."
Midna and Link exchange embarrassed looks, as neither realized they were being that loud. Maybe they shouldn't have done some of what they did in retrospect, but those things happen. Midna refuses to give in, and continues unconvincingly offering the "real" explanation for what happened.
"I'm fine. We were just discussing Link's return to the Light World, and after much debate, I will be going with him."
The displeasure turns to incredulity, as audible gasps are heard and the advisors murmur a few words amongst themselves. Midna quickly continues before any of them can interrupt her.
"We both decided that it might be good for me to get away from this situation, and besides," Midna looks quickly at Link before turning back to the advisors, "there's plenty of work to do in both worlds if there's ever going to be a reunion." She takes a breath as her expression becomes quite serious.
"I may not be coming back, so I'm leaving Sokara in charge." Midna turns to look the stunned advisor in the eye. "You'll have to start a new royal line if I don't return."
The advisors gasp again and look at each other in shock at the announcement. Treating the royal office like this is abominable, and Midna certainly can't go naming a successor like that. A couple of "what"s escape the advisors lips as they turn to face Sokara, who steps up to look at Midna with her mouth open a bit. The princess can only roll her eyes and shake her head slightly as she turns to walk away from them down the hall.
"You guys really need to lighten up once in a while."
Her footsteps echo as Link is left with the advisors. He raises his eyebrows, nods, and gestures in agreement before starting down the hall after Midna. Once again, the advisors have only themselves to regard.
The serene beauty of Faron Spring rivals any of the other similar locations in Hyrule, especially on such a quiet morning. A small gust of wind rustles some of the leaves on the trees, while a couple of birds tweet their songs at periodic intervals. The calm sound of the waterfall provides the foundation for this soundtrack by smoothing over any unnecessary noises. Even if it makes the volume louder compared to the other places close by, the relaxing effect more than makes up for it.
Which is good when an unnecessary noise presently intrudes into this setting. A dark, flat, short hum precedes a long materialization sound, but the calm returns after this disruption. Link stands up next to Midna, and surveys the situation from just in front of the portal. He looks around to find that the area is mostly empty, which prompts a concerned look on his face. With a raise of his eyebrows, he reaches into his back pocket to pull something out.
The horseshoe-shaped charm is lightly colored with holes drilled on the side of it and a brown strap on top. Link puts the charm to his mouth and gives it a long blow. Instead of one note, a three-note motive comes out instead. This tune consists of the top three notes of the pentatonic scale, which echoes throughout the countryside as it's played twice. Once the echoes die away, Link replaces the charm into his pocket and looks around expectantly. He checks both directions on the path, but it soon becomes obvious that nothing is going to happen. Link's brow wrinkles at the lack of action.
"That usually works. She was right here when I left."
"There's always another beast we can ride if your horse isn't coming."
Midna smiles slyly at Link, but he doesn't come close to returning the expression. It's true that he had little choice but to run around Hyrule as a wolf when it was covered in twilight, and Midna was only too happy to tag along for the ride. Even though Link was extremely athletic, it was quite the task to do this, and it had been years since he had to. His look is stern and a slight bit horrified.
"I am not wolfing it throughout Hyrule again."
This response only makes Midna smile wider, and she steps as close to Link as she can. Now right in front of him, Midna puts her hand on Link's arm and bends her head so that it is close to his ear.
"I hope you didn't forget that you promised you'd do anything I say."
The memory quickly pops up in Link's head. It wasn't really a promise, but more of a condition. Midna wasn't quite herself when she rescued Link from his cell shortly after he entered twilit Hyrule for the first time. In retrospect, losing her kingdom almost cost Midna her sanity as well, which explains the manic giggling of their early encounter. Her subsequent revelation of being a princess explained the request, as no doubt Midna was not used to doing everything by herself. Considering Link's state and that he had no idea what was going on at the time, he had little choice but to acquiesce. It was so long ago now that Link figured they had both forgotten about the "promise", but apparently this wasn't the case.
Thankfully, Link's procurement of the Master Sword meant he didn't have to worry about being turned into a wolf whenever he entered twilight. Of course, the dark magic charm that Zant stuck in him nullified this safeguard, but Midna was able to take control of it once the Master Sword pushed it back out of his body. Link knew Midna still had the charm with her, and as long as it didn't touch him, he wouldn't be turned into a wolf. Clearly he would have to make sure this didn't happen.
Link takes a few steps back from Midna, and pauses for a few seconds in apparent thought. Then suddenly, he takes off running down the path toward Ordon. Midna offers a smirk as she watches him sprint away from her, since he's now running throughout Hyrule anyway. After a few seconds, she starts walking down the path in pursuit.
Ordon Spring might be sectioned off and less impressive-looking than its counterpart in Faron Province, but that doesn't mean it's actually any smaller. The waterfall is shorter and only has one level, but the wading pond in front makes up for it. Unlike the others in Hyrule, Ordon Spring has a gate, although it is usually left open.
Which is the case now, as Link slows to a walk and turns into the spring's entrance. After a few steps, he sees that his horse has indeed come to this spring, as she is standing near the waterfall. It is unlikely that she would have chosen galloping around Hyrule to returning home, so Ordon was the most probable location for where she went. While Link is relieved to find her again, he quickly stops after a few more steps. There is someone standing next to the horse who is quietly bathing her. It is Ilia.
Midna steps up just behind Link to see the current situation. Both of them watch without moving much as Ilia tends to the horse. After a moment, Ilia looks up to see Link, but she quickly returns to what she was doing. Link stares forward while slightly shaking his head, being apparently lost in thought. With a breath, he starts walking over to Ilia and his horse, while Midna follows behind him. He stops a few steps away from them, but Ilia doesn't seem to notice this. After a moment, she finally does speak to Link, but without looking up from her work.
"She was just standing outside alone. It's a good thing I came along."
Ilia stops her work and looks at Link.
"This has been a kind of habit for you, hasn't it? Just leave Epona standing wherever while you're off questing?"
"Uh, that was my fault, actually."
Midna steps up next to Link to address Ilia, who seems quite confused at this unknown person speaking to her.
"I kind of grabbed him away before he could bring his horse back."
Ilia takes a step away from Epona and toward the stranger.
"I'm sorry, I don't think we've met."
"We have, actually. Well, I saw you but you never saw me."
This makes sense from Midna's point of view, and Link knew why it did, but the physics didn't match anything seen on a normal day in the Light World. Link can see Ilia isn't understanding what is going on, and tries to diffuse the situation.
"It's kind of a long story…"
As Link trails off, Midna decides it might be better to press on after all. They weren't here to hide from everyone and not pretend their cultures were different.
"No, not really. You see, I'm from the Twilight Realm, and before when I was here I couldn't survive in your world, so I hid in Link's shadow instead. You couldn't see me, but I was there with Link."
Unfortunately, this explanation raises more questions than it answers for Ilia, whose perplexed look has yet to leave her face.
"You're from the Twilight?"
Midna quickly understands why this would surprise her.
"Yes. Those hideous shadow beasts were entirely Zant's creation. Most of us look a lot like me."
Although Midna absolutely doesn't resemble those big, black, ugly, and bent over creatures that stalked the streets of Kakariko and elsewhere, something still doesn't seem quite right to Ilia.
"I thought you need the Twilight to survive here."
"Well I actually don't anymore. Zelda gave me the ability to live here after I almost died on our adventure. I've never forgotten her kindness toward me."
The mechanics of what happens to humans and Twili in each other's dimensions is the subject for a lengthy book that hopefully exists in the Palace Of Twilight library. Zelda did apparently use her power from the goddesses to save Midna after Zant exposed her to the light. However, Midna didn't lose the ability to exist in the Light World after she returned the power later on. With Zant able to appear wherever he wanted, Link turning into an animal with and without the Master Sword, Midna becoming a shadow in the Light World and able to keep this power in either dimension, the people of Hyrule becoming spirits, and Zelda not turning into anything, there was a lot that Midna didn't know for sure about the effects that both dimensions had on its inhabitants.
Needless to say, Ilia is completely hopeless in being able to understand any of this, although there's another reason she's still confused.
"Zelda?...I'm sorry, I thought we were preparing for another invasion by the Twili"
Link heard this perfectly well, but he isn't able to hide his disgust and gives an unenthusiastic and sarcastic response.
"Rusl told us that the Twili had returned, and that we had to prepare for another attack. Everyone was worried when we couldn't find you for a few days."
While Link shakes his head at the work he has ahead of him now, Midna takes a step forward and gives a strong response.
"As the leader of the Twili, I can assure you there is no invasion. I only want peace, for both of our peoples."
Ilia studies Midna and considers everything she's seen. Clearly this much taller woman isn't from around here, but she doesn't seem all that malevolent either. When Ilia was attacked in the spring three years ago, they just charged in and took her, and it was weeks before she even got her memory back. Now this regal-looking foreigner is actually trying to be friendly to her, and there were no vicious Bulblins around nor was there any unwanted spread of twilight. From the looks of things, Midna was actually telling the truth. Ilia turns to Link and speaks to him calmly.
"I figured you were just out saving us again, and so you were. You really have done so much for all of us."
"Actually, that's why we were looking for Epona, since we have to meet with Princess Zelda."
This may not sound convincing coming out of Link's mouth, but it's not really a lie. Even if it was, Epona didn't actually belong to Ilia, so she knew she was going to have to give the horse back eventually. Link may not feel the same way about Epona as Ilia does, but he wasn't a bad guy either. Under the circumstances, it wasn't really right for her to withhold Epona any longer.
"Of course. I don't want to stand in the way of your duties to everyone, but try not to forget that everybody else has feelings too." Ilia strokes Epona's mane and looks at the horse for a moment before turning back to Link. "Epona's not a tool to help you, but an actual living breathing creature. Please remember that."
Link takes this in for a bit and then nods. Ilia is probably right that he hadn't been that considerate of Epona throughout the years, but there were a lot of places that she just couldn't go, and she never seemed to have any trouble taking care of herself for a little bit. Perhaps he should think of her a bit more at least.
Ilia takes a few steps back from Epona as Link and Midna approach the horse. With a hand, Link helps Midna step up onto the stirrup, and she slides her leg over and comes to rest on the back of the saddle. Link lifts himself up via the stirrup as well, and jumps on in front of Midna. She puts her hands around his waist as he kicks Epona into action.
With a neigh, Epona takes off, bringing her two riders out of the spring and onto the path leading away from town. Midna turns to see Ilia watching them as they exit the spring, and thinks for a moment after she is out of sight. Facing ahead again, Midna leans forward to be closer to Link's ear when she speaks.
"What's with her and horses?"
Link turns back to look at Midna, but can only roll his eyes and shake his head.