The giant of a man barreled towards her, sweeping her up in a bone crushing embrace. He did his best to squeeze the life essence out of her, and in her tired state there was little she could do to resist. He set her down back on the rooftop, and she gazed up at his joyous face as he didn't know what to say.
Ilia should have felt elated, overjoyed, bursting with happiness at finally seeing her father alive and well. Instead, she only had one thought going through her head over and over again.
'What do I say?'
"Hello father…" She muttered.
'What do I say?'
"Ilia! W-what are you doing here?" He asked.
'What do I say?'
"Looking for you?" She said.
'What do I say?'
He looked behind him down the staircase, and then back at her. "You, you're wearing Links clothes, and you have his sword."
'What do I say?'
'What do I say?'
"Hey, Bo, we-" She looked past her father to see Rusl coming up the stairs, sword still in hand. "Ilia?"
"Yes?" She said.
"What is it Rusl?" Bo asked.
"The Shadow Beasts are all gone." He told the Mayor. "We won."
"Good. Good then." He said nodding. "Just… just give me a moment, okay?"
She could see Rusl hesitate, the burning questions that were in his eyes, but he followed the Mayors request, and with a simple nod, he returned back inside. Leaving her and her father alone of the roof once more.
"What happened to you Ilia? Where have you been?" He asked.
'Oh crap, what do I say?'
"Um, what happened to you?" She asked.
"We… when those awful creatures attacked, we were brought in some kind of carts." He said. "They were as odd and as foreign as the creatures that attacked us. They separated us from the children, and brought us here. There were others too, some from Hyrule, some from this country here, Termina, some from other countries only the Traders have been to. But we made plans to escape, and when we tricked the guards, we let everyone out and now… you're… here." She could see tears of joy begin to spill from his face as a joyous smile consumed his face. He embraced her once more, and Ilia's mind began to compose itself enough to enjoy the moment, and grab onto her father like she might never see him again.
"It's… it's a long story." She told him.
"So, why didn't you tell everyone the full story?" Ilia asked.
Link sighed, and turned his eyes back to the passing clouds above him. "Well, you know what I'm like." He said. "I don't like being the center of attention."
"But you already are the center of attention." She noted. "You're the town's hero."
"Yeah I guess…" He said. "But, you know, if I gave everyone the full story, it would just complicate things. I mean, do you really think that everyone will believe everything I told you? About turning into a wolf, helping a shadow spirit, and fighting an ancient evil?"
"No." Was her quick response. "But I don't think they'd believe you were lying."
Link chuckled, and relaxed a bit. "But… it'd be a hassle, you know? Everyone asking me all these questions about every little detail of my journey. I guess I just want a normal life…"
"You want to leave all your adventures behind you?" She asked.
"No, not that…" He turned to her. "The adventures I had, and the people I met, I'll probably never forget them, nor do I want to… but I think that chapter of my life is over." He turned back to see the goats grazing in the field. "I think the reason I fought so hard on the journey was because I wanted to come back to these simple days."
"That doesn't really answer my question about why you didn't tell everyone else the full story." Ilia noted.
"Oh?" He turned to look at her to see her with an impish grin on her face. "I guess I just don't want to go through the hassle is all." He admitted. "Maybe it's something that I can't explain."
"Well, why are you telling me then?" She asked. "What makes me different?"
"You're special." He said, with a slight smile on his face. "You're one of the people I trust the most in the world. And I have to tell someone, right?"
"So… yeah, that's the story." Ilia said.
Ilia was in the cafeteria of the prison, where she was being watched intently by all of the adults of her village, each one critically analyzing her near fabricated story. She had told them a heavily edited version of the truth. She told them she took Links equipment to try to search for them, that she had helped with the Princesses army, but got chased by the Shadow Rider into Termina, how she had met some soldiers, lost her horse, and been captured and brought into this prison.
She didn't tell them about the mark on her hand, meeting up with the Bulbins, the Gerudo, and everyone else, retaking Castle Town, meeting the Kokiri, becoming a wolf, meeting up with the Mask Salesman, or her personal antagonization of the Shadow Riders.
Standing in front of them as they digested her story was one of the most worrying thing she had ever been through, despite her experiences with her recent adventures. She almost felt like she would rather still be in her swordfight with the Dark Rider back on the roof.
Her father stood up, and firmly grasped her by the shoulders looking down at her. "NEVER LEAVE MY SIDE AGAIN!" He shouted, giving her another bone crushing embrace, but this time not letting go. "From this point on, you are to never leave my sight!"
"Wait what?" She managed to get out with what little air she had left in her lungs.
"I will not have you gallivanting across the land when there are shadow monsters and the like running around!" He said.
"Um, Bo?" Pete, one of the Ordon Traders said. "You can let go of the girl, she's not going to disappear."
"You don't know that!" He called back.
"Please let me go." She asked.
"Father, I have some idea of what I've been doing." She tried.
"Ilia, it's a dangerous world out there! You lost your memory last time, now it' even worse!"
"My memory's just fine." She said.
"No it's not, you don't remember how bad thing are!"
Ilia sighed, and realized that there was no way for her to win the argument. Her father loved her too damn much.
Pete, the head of the Ordon traders had told her the story. They weren't the first to be brought to the prison, which turned out to be named Red Rock Penitentiary, but they were the ones who still continued to resist. They had been separated from their children, and they knew that they were somewhere out there. And they believed that the darkness would end.
So, together they conspired. They whispered to each other in their cells, figured out where everyone was, and where the guards were posted. The last part was actually rather easy, as in their overabundance of confidence, the Dark Riders only posted two of their own to watch over the prisoners. When one of them, Hanch, managed to smuggle a key in to his cell, he freed the soldiers, and they retook the armory, where rifle upon rifle lay in pristine condition. They overwhelmed the two guards, took the keys, and released everyone, while fighting the conjurations of the Dark Riders presiding over the prison. This was the part Ilia had stumbled into, and had unwittingly put an end to when she defeated Jonathon in armed combat.
Unfortunately, Ilia had come to the realization that her search was only half-over. Only the adults of her village had been taken to this village. The Children, and even those of her own age had been taken somewhere else, and no-one knew were. That meant Link and the other children were missing, not to mention her horse, not to mention the fact that the Shadow Riders still had half of this land under darkness. She sighed as she realized the fullness of the workload before her.
For now, she waited in the chilly halls of the prison outside of the locked room where the heads of the individual groups on the prison were debating on what to do. She sat on a crate, moping, and thinking about her situation, while the two Dark Rider Guardswho had presided over the prison sat in the corner, humbled and tied together, eyeing Ilia as if she was a hungry bear.
"What are you two looking at?" She snapped angrily at them.
"What do we say to her Jacob?"
"I don't know Esau, let's just keep quiet, and feel lucky we're still alive." One of the two muttered.
"Some guards you are." Ilia muttered. "I would've expected you to have more spine."
"I have a spine!" The first said.
"Shut it! Just keep quiet, and hope she doesn't notice us."
"It's kinda hard not to notice you two." She said. "What with the fact you're moving shadows, and those glowing eyes you have." She was no longer afraid of the Dark Riders after her recent encounters with them. They were no longer the unknowable evil they once were. They were men just like anyone else, and she knew firsthand they could be beaten.
"I don't think we can just sit here, and hope she ignores us."
"We're gonna die, and it's gonna be your fault when we do."
"Well, if we are going to die, I'd like to get it over with. Waiting like this is just torture."
"Don't give them any ideas!"
"Is that all you do?" Ilia asked. "Bicker."
"Passes the time." The first said.
"I give up."
"So what's your take on all this?" Ilia asked, bored, and waiting for everyone in the next room to finish.
"We're all gonna die." The second said.
"Well, you're optimistic." Ilia muttered.
"I suppose if we make it through this, our superiors will give us medals for making it out from enemy custody."
"Esau, have I ever told you how much of an idiot you are?"
"You mean recently or…"
"Esau, you are an idiot."
"Well jeez, love you too."
"Why was a pair of idiots like you two sent to guard everyone?" Ilia questioned.
"Our father." The first answered.
"That's right give up information, just like that."
"Quit your whining, it's not like telling her our father wanted us to grab a little glory is going to hurt the war effort."
"Fine then, our father wanted to tell everyone back home that his sons were 'War Hero's'."
"And how is that working out for you?" Ilia asked with a snide smirk.
"Badly." The second one answered. "Now we're tied up and at the light dwellers mercy. You're probably going to cut us up into different pieces and send our entrails across the plains."
"What was that about giving them idea's Jacob?"
"I thought you wanted to die?"
"I said if I was going to die, I wanted to get it over with. We still aren't sure if they're going to kill us or not."
"Yeah, sure, they're still undecided as to how they're going to kill us."
"So how did you two end up tied together?" Ilia asked.
The two ceased their bickering for a moment, and sat in solemn silence.
"You're going to tell her aren't you?"
"Well it's not like there's much else to do." The first reasoned.
"Fine, go ahead."
"Well, we were standing guard over the light dwellers like always, when your soldiers came barging in, armed with swords, and those smoky boomy sticks of theirs. They demanded our keys to each of the cells, and that we lay down."
"And what did you do?" Ilia asked.
"We surrendered." Said the second one.
Ilia's interested actually perked up at this.
"That's it? You didn't summon like a giant spider, or blasted an energy bolt from your hands, or just took out your swords or anything?"
"Yeah, we should have done that. Yep, probably should have done something like that." The first said.
"Yeah, except if we did, we'd be dead for sure, one of them would get lucky and take us out before we could take out all of them."
Ilia smirked at the two. Truly these Dark Riders were only men. Prone to their own fallacies and idiots. For some reason, this seemed to make her feel better about her entire situation.
The door she was waiting in front of burst open, and soldiers in red uniforms filed out, along with peasants armed with rifles, and a handful of Ordon Villagers.
"Ilia." Rusl noted, as others made their way past them.
"What did everyone decide on?" She asked.
"Well… we're staying." He said.
"We are?" She asked.
"Yeah." He sighed, and sat down next to her on her crate. "Most of the villagers from Ordon wanted to leave and search for our children, but the others made a valid point in that we don't know where to begin, and the blighted Darkness is still out there. The other villagers not from this country made a point that we're probably better off here in this prison. It's fully stocked with weapons, and the Soldiers say it'll be just as good keeping things out as it is keeping things in, so it's the safest spot we got. Not to mention, it's winter, and hardly any of us know the land."
"So… what?" Ilia was determined not to sit around and do nothing. She needed a plan of action.
"Well, the Soldiers are hoping to find a town, and get the army over here. Did you know that this country is at war with itself?" Ilia nodded. "Doesn't do to well for our odds if you ask me. But we'll get through this, just like last time. The traders are doing a pretty good job of holding out actually. Anyway the soldiers will hopefully bring back the army and with them some supplies, and if we're lucky, maybe even an idea of where the children are."
"I recognize that look in your eye."
"What?" She asked.
"The look in your eye right now." He said. "It's a determined look. The same one that Link had when he went searching off for you."
"Is it now?" She asked, almost unable to look him in the eye.
"It says to me, you're not going to stop looking either. Even if you're unsure of yourself, even if you don't know what to do, you're going to keep trying. No matter what."
Ilia didn't say anything.
"You know, if a certain someone wanted to leave the company of a certain someone's somewhat overprotective father, well… I don't think there would be anything wrong with that." He said.
"So long as that certain someone leaves with the soldiers, and quickly, so the certain someone's father doesn't notice, and the certain someone manages to find and rescue a bunch of missing children, well no. In fact, I'd say if such a thing were to happen, I'd turn a blind eye to such a thing, and let it happen. I'd even wish the certain someone good luck on their quest."
Ilia turned to the old man and smiled. This almost made up for the time when he interrupted the private time with Link and she almost managed to confess her feelings to him.
Alright, new chapter! I'm happy to have written a new chapter so soon, but I'm worried it might be a bit too short. What do you think? Longer waits for longer chapters, or should I try more for chapters like these?
Anyway, it's good to finally get back on track with the main story. The way the story has played out so far has always been the way it happened in my head, but looking back, I agree that I should've gotten to this point sooner in the story. However, the earlier chapters were important, and we'll see why later in the story.
Anyway, review, etc, etc, and don't forget to have enjoyed the story.