Chapter 42 - Epilogue
To the Five he did give aid
And time itself was not unmade.
The Ruler, The Stone, The Thief, The Forest Guide, The One From Deep
With each assisted, the world no longer weeps.
The One of Many did hide his face
And with the Knight defended time and space.
With two as one they filled the void
On a tiny fairy were all hopes buoyed.
There was light, sound and movement as Link's eyes shuddered open to be stabbed by painful rays of sunshine.
"Ergh," he groaned, struggling to rise. A pair of hands pushed him down softly.
"No Link, stay still. How do you feel?" he heard a soft voice ask him. He shielded his eyes with his hand and peered through his fingers to see his friends' faces smiling down at him.
"For a second there, I thought you weren't going to make it," Talen chuckled. "Good to have you back." Link coughed and groaned again.
"What happened to me?" he asked.
"After you sealed the void, the Fierce Deity instructed Zelda on how to bring you back," Saria told him.
"You see, the bond you shared enabled her to travel to limbo through the spiritual realm. Once she found you I was able to bring you both back," a deep metallic voice explained. Link craned his neck and saw a tall figure dressed in a white tunic and black hose.
"It's you," Link mumbled. "How?"
"The destruction of Gedinia broke the curse she had imposed upon me. I am once again free to return to the heavens."
"That's good," Link sighed, closing his eyes. He opened them again and looked at all of his friends. "I'm in a whole heap of trouble, aren't I."
"You bet your cute little behind you are," Fura told him cheerfully, kneeling at his side. "But we'll save the scolding for when you're feeling better." Link smiled at her and patted her arm.
"Speaking of trouble," the Fierce Deity said. "I had better be going or else I'm going to have a very unpleasant time."
"Pardon?" Link asked. The Fierce Deity smiled and looked at Link.
"Women can sometimes be so unreasonable. It's not like I spent a few years trapped inside a mask on purpose," he chuckled, drifting slowly into the air.
"Huh?" Link grunted. He looked at Saria, Fura, Zelda and Ruto. "You get no sympathy from me; I've got four of them to give me trouble." The Fierce Deity laughed out loud and pointed to the sky where three glowing figures of green, red and blue waited.
"I have three," he said with a wink, before fading into a shadowy sphere and racing up to meet the figures above. The small gathering watched them spiral away into the stratosphere until they could no longer be seen.
"It sure is a lovely day," Zelda sighed. "It's hard to believe all of that happened last night." Some birds twittered overhead and the grass bent as a small breeze swept across Hyrule Field. The group was in a state of quiet euphoria as they trekked back to the castle, after having followed the battle a fair way from the town. They moved slowly so that Link could keep up, him having refused to be carried by anyone. Florella, as usual, rode atop Talen's shoulders and fiddled idly with his hair. Talen had taken it upon himself to walk next to his friend in case he stumbled, which he did on several occasions. Florella rather haughtily reported that, while he was unconscious, she had finally managed to remove his tail. Her superior expression vanished, however, when Talen informed Link that the Fierce Deity had helped her with the spell.
"Zelda," Link said suddenly. "What was meant by shared a life-force? I mean, isn't it still…?"
"It's all yours again, Link," Zelda smiled. "To bring you back, I had to return the half of the life-force that you gave me. We're no longer connected."
"But don't you need that to…well, live?" Link asked her, slightly alarmed.
"No. You see, while your half sustained me, the part of mine that remained after Kaden's attack was able to repair itself. It was just like it said in the riddle, the part about the missing half being returned to you."
"Well that seems to have worked itself out nicely," Link grinned. "All up I'd say we did a pretty good job."
"You did a fantastic job, all of you," Impa told them. "All that exists in the universe was saved by your efforts."
"Yeah, and if it weren't for Navi, we would have been toast," Link said. His eyes widened. "Where is Navi anyway? Is she okay?"
"I'm fine," came a small voice from one of Saria's pockets. Navi's head popped out and she blinked sleepily before fluttering over to Link. He plucked her out of the air and deposited her on top of his cap, giving her a quick pat on the head with his finger.
"What was it like?" Florella asked Talen suddenly. "I mean, combining with Oni-Link? It must have been some experience." Talen shrugged.
"I wasn't really thinking about it at the time, but it was strange. It wasn't like two minds in one body or anything, it was more like…a shared mind," Talen tried to explain.
"You sure were big though," Ruto said. "And a little scary-looking too. You wrecked a whole bunch of windows too."
"Sorry 'bout that Zelda," Link laughed nervously. Zelda put on an expression of mock-seriousness.
"I don't know…I guess you saving the world could earn you forgiveness, but I'll have to think about it."
"Does you generosity know no bounds?" Impa murmured. Link chuckled and then tripped on a bit of uneven ground. Talen was there, however, and caught him by the back of the tunic.
"Easy there trooper," Talen told him. "We don't want you breaking on us."
"That's right, you've gotta get your strength back so you can come visit me in the desert," Fura told him. Link's eyes suddenly brightened.
"We got any food with us?" he asked. "I just realized that I'm utterly starving."
They arrived at Hyrule Castle Town after about an hour of walking and quickly headed straight for the castle. Due to the fact that the gatehouse was completely demolished, more guards had been posted. When the guards saw them they rushed over and knelt before Zelda.
"Princess Zelda! Your father has been in hysterics ever since word of your return reached him. We feared that you may have been injured or captured in the battle last night," the guard in charge told her. Zelda sighed.
"Run ahead and tell father that I'll be with him shortly," Zelda told him with a flick of her wrist.
"At once!" the guard snapped, saluting smartly. He turned and marched over the drawbridge.
"Wow!" Link exclaimed.
"What? You've seen people tell guards to do things for them before," Zelda told him. "How is that so amazing?"
"No, no! It's just that I felt an amazing bond with that man, as if we both shared an exact same experience…" Link said, scratching his chin and looking up at the sky thoughtfully.
"Well I see your mouth wasn't injured in the battle," Saria noted acidly.
"Of course it wasn't," Florella chuckled. "It worked well enough to bog down that bag of sweets we got at Arbouren."
"I left all of you some!" he protested.
"Link, you put rocks in the bag when you though nobody was looking. You ate the lot," Impa reminded him.
"I needed the energy from the sugar," he said lamely. Ruto shook her head.
"You'll get hypo if you aren't careful," she warned him. Link was quiet for a few seconds as they crossed the drawbridge.
"I see spots."
Zelda told her friends to wait in her room while she and Impa spoke with the king. Saria had a fit, however, and forced the others to help her tidy Zelda's room. Zelda returned a short while later with a resigned look on her face.
"Well, I told him what happened and he took it rather well, especially with Impa to back me up," Zelda told them. "But I'm not leaving the castle for a while."
"Grounded," Impa chuckled.
"But I've arranged an armed escort for Ruto to be taken back to Zora's Domain, and Fura, you're free to travel back to the desert however you want." Fura shrugged.
"A horse will do me just fine. I don't need guards or anything," she told Zelda.
"I don't have to leave right now, do I?" Ruto asked. "I want to spend more time with all of you!"
"Sorry Ruto, but King Zora sent a message here a few weeks ago saying that if you turned up here, you were to be sent home immediately," Zelda told her apologetically.
"This isn't fair!" she wailed.
"I'll go with you Ruto," Link said. "There's nothing I really need to do, so I may as well keep you company on the ride back."
"Talen and I will join you too," Florella piped up. "It'll be nice to see where you live before I take him home."
"You're taking me home?" Talen asked.
"Shush dear," Florella said absently. Fura tapped her fingers against her arm.
"Ah why not? I'll come along for the ride too," she shrugged. Ruto squealed with delight and jumped at Link. Unfortunately for the pair of them, Link was still rather weak and simply collapsed underneath her.
The goodbyes with Zelda and Impa lasted for quite a while. There were, of course, many tears and hugs. Florella was especially bad; crying so much that she was unable to form a coherent sentence. In the end, Talen had to carry her away after receiving a small kiss on the cheek and a quick embrace from Zelda. Fura and Ruto said goodbye at the same time, and something about "friendly rivals" was uttered, but with a few quick hugs it was over. Saria was next, receiving the routine hug and invitation to visit. When the princess got to Link she blushed slightly and then hugged him tightly. Link smiled awkwardly and returned the favour.
"Link, promise me you'll take good care of yourself. I don't think I need to remind you why," she told him firmly.
"No, Zelda," he replied, staring at his boots.
"And Link, don't feel rushed by any of us. Who you want to be with and when is entirely up to you," she assured him. "Oh, and the Fierce Deity told us that he removed your allergy to alcohol, so expect some surprises down the track." Link couldn't tell if she was joking or not. Impa gave each of them a brisk hug and a small gold insignia of the royal family, explaining that should they come to visit all they had to do was flash it to the guards to be let inside.
"Now get going, all of you," Zelda said, her eyes getting watery. "Before I make you stay longer."
The small procession travelled along the banks of Zora's River until midday, when they reached their destination. Ruto opened the entrance to Zora's domain and thanked Zelda's guards for taking them, informing them that their services were no longer needed. Saria, Link, Florella, Fura, Talen and Link all followed the princess through the vast watery cavern towards the throne chamber. When they arrived, Ruto leaped at her father, catching the bloated monarch in a loving embrace.
"Daddy! I'm so glad to be home!" she giggled, kissing the huge Zora's cheek.
"Oh my dear, sweet Ruto! You're back! I was so worried about you!" he rumbled.
"I was fine, daddy! Link looked after me, just like he promised you he would!"
"Ah, brave lad, were you successful in your journey?" King Zora asked.
"We were, your majesty," Link replied. "The threat to the world is over. You and Ruto can live in peace from now on."
"We are forever in your debt, brave lad. And tell me, who are these accompanying you?" Zora asked. Link and Ruto introduced Fura, Talen and Florella to the king, and briefly explained their roles in the struggle against Gedinia. The king thanked them again, and tried to insist that they stay for a while. They politely declined, saying that it was probably time for them to leave. Link received the most affectionate goodbye from Ruto and she hinted broadly about the age bracket around seventeen was usually a good time to get married.
"Just something I thought you should know," she smiled. Talen and Florella received a hug each and an invitation to visit whenever they felt the urge. She paused at Fura for a second, the two girls looking at each other before both grinning and giving each other fierce embraces.
"You were pretty good to have around, fish," Fura told her warmly. "I'm gonna miss you."
"Me too, thief. Look after yourself, Zelda's not aggressive enough to be a really good rival."
They left Zora's Domain after Link received another kiss from Ruto and an order to visit her whenever he had the spare time.
"I don't know why she's telling me that," he sighed as they crossed the river and headed for Kokiri Forest. "I visit her about once a fortnight anyway."
"It wouldn't have been a proper farewell otherwise," Florella sniffed from atop Fura's horse. The girls got to ride all the way, while Link and Talen walked. They boys didn't mind at all, in fact they preferred the freedom of walking to being stuck on horseback.
"There it is!" Saria squealed excitedly as the entrance to the forest loomed in the distance. Talen squinted at it.
"So that's where you live," he said. "What's it like?"
"It's the best place in Hyrule," Link said proudly. "Nothing to do but climb trees and play all day long!"
"Oh it'll be so good to see everyone again!" Saria laughed. "And I've missed my house so much!"
"Oh yes," Fura said, looking at Link. "I've wanted to see what your place looks like, Link. You don't mind if I have a look around?" Link shrugged.
"Feel free to. It's only a treehouse, but you're welcome to poke around."
The small party arrived at the entrance to Kokiri Forest in the middle of the afternoon. Fura tied her horse outside the hollow log entrance before they crossed the threshold of the forest. The afternoon sun filtered down through the thick roof of leaves and branches overhead, casting odd shadows around the bridge that connected the outside world with the forest. They passed through the second log tunnel, emerging in the haven that was Kokiri Forest. Fireflies zipped through the air, birds chirped away in trees and the laughter of many children greeted them. Fura's eyes went wide.
"It's beautiful!" she breathed, her eyes moving from the miniature waterfall to the many quaint little houses that littered the forest floor. A kind of sunny haze permeated the forest, making everything seem friendly and safe.
"Look!" a girlish voice called. "Saria and Link are back, and they've brought visitors!" The forest came alive as Kokiri poured out of houses and clambered down trees, gathering around Link and friends like a swarm. They were slightly wary of Fura and Talen, but went nuts with Florella. They swarmed around her, having never seen a fairy as big as her before. The partner fairies of the Kokiri swarmed around Florella tingling and chattering away to her while she laughed and giggled them. A familiar face suddenly made its way to the head of the group.
"So you're back then," it said gruffly.
"Hello Mido," Link said. "It's been a little while, hasn't it?"
"It's uh…good to see you both back safe and sound," he said gruffly, before turning to Fura and Talen. "Who are these strangers?"
"They're our friends, Mido," Saria said. "Be polite and introduce yourself."
"I'm Mido, big boss of the Kokiri, pleased to meet you," he said, with a slight hint of grudging in his voice. Truth be told, Saria was almost like the mother hen of the Kokiri, and Mido would rather take on a Wolfos that argue with her. Talen and Fura greeted everyone and then Florella, still drunk on all the attention she was receiving, fluttered into the air and surrounded herself with a golden light, declaring herself the Great Fairy of Spring. There were "oohs" and "ahhs" from the Kokiri while Link, Fura and Talen rolled their eyes.
"She can't get enough of it," Talen sighed.
"So this is where you live," Fura said, a kind of quiet wonder in her voice. "It seems strangely fitting, don't you think?" She drifted around the treehouse as Link shed all of his equipment and stowed it safely under his bed.
"How do you mean?" Link asked, half obscured from view.
"I don't really know. It just feels like you, that's all. Tidy, but with a certain childishness about it," Fura shrugged. She sat down on his bed and bounced a few times. "It's hard to believe I'm really here."
"It's as real as anything you've experienced so far," Talen said, tapping his knuckle against the rough wall. "I wouldn't mind living in a place like this, you know. It's kinda cosy."
"Well," Fura said suddenly, jumping up. "I'd better be heading off then."
"Wait," Saria said quickly. "Why don't you stay here for the night, in the forest?"
"Yeah, I mean, it's not like you'd be able to make it back to Gerudo Valley by nightfall, even at full gallop," Link agreed. He turned to Talen and Florella. "You two should stay too, set out fresh in the morning."
"Well I am kinda tired," Fura said. "Okay! I'll stay with you for the night!"
"Great! Fura, Florella, you can sleep at my place and Talen can sleep here," Saria squealed.
"I'll take care of extra bedding!" Florella declared, spiriting up a mattress on the floor of Link's room. "That's for you, Talen, it should be very comfortable. Nothing but the best for my big strong guy!"
"Florella…" Talen groaned. "Pleeease don't talk like that."
Night fell on Kokiri Forest and everyone sat around a raging bonfire eating dinner, much of which Saria and Florella had prepared. The story of their adventure was retold, captivating the Kokiri and their fairies. Then there was much laughing and chattering as the world outside the forest was explained in vivid detail, from high mountains to vast oceans and even great underground caverns. When the tale was finally told, a great cheer went up amongst the Kokiri, and even Mido smiled. Finally, as the fire died down, it was time for bed. Link, Saria, Talen, Florella and Fura said goodnight to everybody before parting to retire for the night, but not before the boys were given kisses goodnight by Fura and Florella. Soon, a very tired Link and Talen crawled into their beds as Navi dimmed her glow and plunked herself down on her partner's pillow.
"You know something?" she said. "This is the first time I've slept in this bed."
"That's right. I never did sleep here while we were off collecting spiritual stones…and I was far too big as an adult," Link mused. "Poor bed, I've neglected you much over the past months."
"Listen to yourself," Talen chuckled from the floor.
"I can't help it; it's just so good to be in my own home and in my own bed again," Link sighed blissfully, grinding his head into his pillow. "There were times when I thought I'd never see this place again, but I'm really glad I'm back."
"Me too. I can't wait to see my father again, he'll be so glad I'm back," Talen agreed.
"By the way," Link said. "Exactly what was that thing given to you at Seavale? You never did tell us."
"Oh! Well, I suppose I can show you…but don't tell anyone else about it," Talen told him. Navi lit up the room as Talen held out his hand. Resting on his palm was a small, lumpy stone, neither gold nor silver in colour, but a mixture of both. Protruding from the top of it was a tiny sparkling blue-green crystal flower.
"It's beautiful!" Navi breathed. "What is it?"
"It's a Frost Petal, you know, the gem that forms on Gorodite?"
"Oh yeah! From that book in Arbouren's library!" Link exclaimed. "But why do you have it?"
"Because I'm going to…make something out of it. It'll take me a while, because it's so hard, but eventually I'll be able to craft it into the finest and most beautiful piece of art ever!" he declared.
"What are you going to make out of it?" Navi asked. Talen blushed and looked at the ring that decorated his finger.
"She needs one too…it wouldn't be right otherwise. And it needs to be special…one of a kind!"
"Oooh! I see!" Link chuckled. "You're making a ring! So you've decided then…to accept her offer?"
"Not much of an offer," Talen chuckled. "She said that I'd marry her whether I'd like it or not. But…after a lot of thought, I realized that, well, Florella's not so bad. And it's kinda nice to have someone that loves me as much as she does."
"That's beautiful," Navi sniffled.
"But I'm not rushing into anything. The making of the ring'll take me years to complete, even with my ability. This stuff's so hard almost nothing can mark it. I'll be a lot older by the time it's finished, so I'll have all the time I need to work and have fun before I settle down."
"So Mister Plan Ahead, where are you going to live once you two are married? At Rockvale, Florella's private little paradise, or somewhere in Windhill?" Link chuckled. Talen fell silent as Navi's light faded.
"Ah, who cares? I'll think about it later," Talen shrugged, flopping back down onto his bed.
"That's the spirit, me hearty!" Link laughed. "You're still a true boy!" The two of them soon drifted off to sleep, safe in the knowledge that everything was at peace.
"Well ladies, we've come a long way haven't we?" Florella sighed fitfully, snuggling into her blankets. "It sure was an experience."
"I'll say," Fura agreed. "And when you think about it, we really should be thanking Gedinia."
"How so?" Saria asked.
"Well think about it. Without her there would have been no Five. None of us would have met. You, Florella, would never have met Talen and I wouldn't have met Link."
"That makes sense," Florella chuckled. "We salute you, Gedinia!" The three of them laughed out loud before calming down.
"So what are you going to do now, Florella?" Saria asked. "You and Talen live a fair way apart."
"I've already solved that problem. While he grows up in Rockvale, I'll grow up in Windhill. I'll be able to visit him whenever I feel the need to, and I can bring him to Windhill if I can't leave for whatever reason."
"Where are you going to live?" Fura asked in an amused tone.
"Now that's something I haven't worked out yet. My duties as Spring Fairy require me to stay at Windhill, whereas Talen grew up at Rockvale. We'll just have to decide on something together when the time is right."
"I wonder how things'll work out between Link, Zelda and me? Those two have the advantage because they live relatively close…but I'm all the way out in the desert."
"I'll keep an eye one him," Saria sighed.
"Thanks Saria!" Fura laughed. The three girls talked for a little while longer before Chat's light dimmed and they drifted off into a peaceful slumber.
Morning eventually came and the five friends allowed themselves to sleep in for a little while. They had to get up, however, when it came time for Fura, Talen and Florella to leave. They gathered near the entrance to the forest with the rest of the Kokiri as Fura climbed onto her horse with Florella.
"Well go with Fura until she reaches Gerudo Valley. It'll take her more than a day to reach there, even on horseback, and I don't want her going alone. I'll be able to whisk Talen and myself home after that," Florella informed them. Talen and Link clasped hands and gave each other a slap to the back.
"I'll be seeing you around, Talen. I'll come visit you in Rockvale and we can find somewhere to go fishing," Link told him.
"I'll hold you to that, friend," Talen grinned. Link moved on to Florella while Saria said goodbye to Talen.
"Well Link, you sure were a tough nut to crack. I was ready to give up on several occasions I have to admit," she chuckled. "But your smart-assed comments would usually infuriate me enough to put me back on track."
"It was all much appreciated, Florella," Link smiled, hugging the fairy. He leaned in and whispered in her ear. "And thanks for that night in Seavale; it was really nice of you." Florella squealed and kissed him on the cheek before leaping at Saria for a hug. Link finally came to Fura.
"Well Fura, you've certainly left your mark on me," he told her with a lopsided grin.
"Just so long as it warrants a visit every now and then. I don't know if you're a better archer than me or not, so you'll have to come to the fortress and test yourself against me," she told him.
"Count on it," Link laughed. "Oh, and show this to Nabooru and tell her everything that happened." He handed her a twisted piece of metal.
"What's that?" she asked, taking it from him.
"All that remains of Gedinia. It's a piece of her armour that I found on the way back to the castle after we beat her." Fura laughed vibrantly and kissed him soundly.
"It'll be a great treasure among the Gerudo!" she told him before hugging Saria. She jumped up onto her horse with Florella and wheeled it around.
"Goodbye you three!" Saria called as they left the forest. "Take care! Visit us soon!"
"Make sure you grow up big and strong!" Fura called back to Link. "Saria, make sure he eats properly!"
"I will!" Saria called, waving madly with the rest of the Kokiri. They disappeared from sight, their calls fading in the breeze. Saria sighed and turned back to the forest with Link and the Kokiri.
"Well, what now?" she asked. Link scratched his chin as everyone walked back to their various activities.
"Well," Link said, pulling his cap off and running his fingers through his hair. "My hair could do with a bit of a brush."
"We should tell the Great Deku Tree that we're back too," Saria smiled. The two children giggled loudly and raced each other to the guardian of the forest, basking in the sun of a brand new day.