A/N: Forgive me for the inhumane wait. Aside from being a college art student, I'm also somewhat of a procrastinator. :D Anyway, here's the next chapter. Make sure to R&R!
"I claim hero!"
Several moans and shouts of protest erupted from the small circle of children in Kakoriko's city courtyard as the blonde haired boy exclaimed those words. He straightened his back, thrusting out his chest as if compromising for his small, thin frame. "Hey hey! Don't moan! You shoulda called it before I did!"
"But yer always hero, Filo! I wanna be hero this time!"
"You're smaller than me!"
"I wanna be ta hero!"
"You're a girl, Mina. The hero's a boy!" The boy named Filo stuck out his fingers, pointing at each child in the circle. "Okay! You'll be the mobbies, you'll be the gobbies, you can be Agabum, and you can be Ganon!"
The boy Filo picked out as Ganon frowned adjusting his seated position on a wooden porch surrounding a well. He appeared to be the oldest of the entire group, dressed in a simple white shift with a grey tunic over. He shook his dirty blonde hair out of his face, waving a hand. "Why am I Ganon? You just want a reason to beat me up with a stick."
The girl sitting next to 'Ganon' crossed her arms. She was a fair girl with long dark hair and a thin frame covered with a knee-length white dress. "He's twice your size, Filo. I think he'd make the better hero."
Both Filo and 'Ganon' turned alarming glances toward the girl and said, "No way!"
The girl frowned, looking at 'Ganon'. "Why are you saying 'no'?"
Filo cut in before the older boy could answer. "It's because he's bigger that he gotsa be Ganon!" The boy spread his arms up, waving the stick in his hand. "Ganon's twice the size o' the hero! Fits him, I think. You can be Princess Zelda, Marin!"
"What?" The girl sweated as the younger children broke into cries of approval. "I couldn't, I wouldn't do her good!" She was pulled to her feet as the children dubbed as the 'mobbies' pulled on her arms. "I don't look anything like her!"
'Ganon' laughed behind her. "You kidding? Look at Filo! He doesn't look like the hero at all!"
"Shut up, foul pig monster!" Filo spat. He threw a small rock that 'Ganon' dodged easily. "Fight me!"
"This is really stupid," 'Ganon' muttered, hopping off of his perch on the porch. He gripped a good sized stick from a pile of firewood stacked up at the foot of the porch and brought it forward like a sword. He towered a good couple of inches above Filo, who quickly put his own sword between him and his opponent.
Marin took a step back. "This is just play, okay? Don't hurt each other!"
Filo waved his stick at the 'mobbies' and 'gobbies'. "Whatcha waitin' for? Get the princess!"
The remaining kids broke into a cacophony of moans and groans, their impression of what monsters would sound like, and swarmed around Marin. Marin laughed as they pranced around her, waving their arms. "Filo, if you're the hero, why are you telling them to get me?"
"Well, why don't you act more like a princess!?" Filo spat. He looked toward his opponent. "And you! Act more like the greatest evil of Hyrule!"
Marin laughed, waving a hand weakly in the air. "Oh hero!" she cooed, "Saaaave me! Saaaaave me from the evil Ganon!"
"That your impression of a princess, Marin?" 'Ganon' laughed.
The older boy's name was shouted from one of the wooden houses surrounding the courtyard. "Where are you!? What time is it?! Why aren't you ready yet?!"
'Ganon' turned his head at the call, along with the other kids though his face bore one of secret relief. He dropped his stick on the ground, waving his hands. "Well, looks like Ganon needs to get going now! He's going to go and attack Hyrule Castle so you mobbies and gobbies can take care of the hero for me."
The boos followed in the boy's footsteps and he jogged away from them, chuckling. He really had something against playing those kinds of games. He, being the tallest and oldest at 13, was always picked out to be the villain of all the old stories, and frankly, he was tired of being the guy who was always beat up by a little kid. He reached his small house where the shout had come from, ducking into the door and moving toward the bundles and packs already arranged on the floor.
"You know we're heading toward the castle today, how can you just go off and play with the others?" The boy looked over to the well-aged man who was moving frantically about the house, grabbing and shoving items into a sack in his hand. He was known as Sir Gerath to the other townspeople, retired Knight of Hyrule and mayor of Kakoriko's citizens. He was well muscled with tan skin and bright green eyes that were weighted with panic. He was dressed in his finest traveling garments which were unfortunately a part of his winter set. They were layers upon layers of cotton with a silk black tunic over, tied at the waist by a silver embroidered belt. Sweat gleamed on his mostly balding, graying head. "I've only been talking about this trip for the last few weeks and you're going off making fun and games with kids!" His voice escalated into a squeak as he paced around, his hands frantically searching for something that he couldn't find.
The boy gave the man a cross look, tossing him his purse. "It was only because a forgetful master of mine was fussing around in his house the last minute packing." He reached down, pulling up his packs on the floor.
"I didn't forget! I was making other arrangements!"
The boy suddenly straightened, putting a fist into one hand as his lips formed an 'oh' of realization. "I forgot to visit the seer today."
His master looked just about ready to break into tears. "O for Nayru's... Are you trying to wish bad luck on us!?" He stopped with a hand to his forehead, and took a breath to steady himself. His eyes lifted, locking with the boy's. "Okay, okay, okay! Go and meet with the old hag, I'll pack the horses! You have ten minutes to go and get to the gate, got it!?"
The boy was laughing, marveling at the pitch that his master's voice took whenever he was panicky. "You know she'll skin you alive if she heard you call her that."
"Enough! Just go and talk with her!" Gerath shouted, exasperated as the boy handed him his packs and ran out the door. "Ten minutes!!" he called after the boy.
Kakoriko was a flourishing city. Since the events over a hundred years ago, the city had known much prosperity and peace, developing into quite a tourist spot. The Gorons from the north descended from Death Mountain, bringing with them mining skills and trade in metals, making Kakoriko famous for everything from their swords and shields, their trinkets and jewelry, to even their schools and students. There was even a small dojo within Kakoriko teaching all the students the might and bravery of the Hero of Time. All the masters were fussing over which style the Hero used, what his favorite trick was.
He liked to jump over their heads and knock them senseless! or No, no, you dolt, he rolled around them and got them from behind! The hero wouldn't waste unneeded energy like that! Really, he'd heard every sort of 'hero skill' there was to hear from those old men, and all it seemed to amount to was the bickering of men going senile. He was pretty sure those guys weren't even there when the great evil was defeated.
But the dojo wasn't the place that he headed toward. There was winding staircase built into the rock wall surrounding the city that must've been there since the legend began. It circled the city half way, then ended in a single hole in the wall shuttered off by an impressive wooden door decorated with images of Hylian legends. Hanging over the enormous door was a wooden plaque of an open eye, staring out over the city. There was a smaller door outlined within the wooden door that was pushed completely open, cool morning air flowing into the opening. There was the powerful scent of ointment and old people smell coupled with incense that floated from the opening, and a woman's cracked, high-pitched guffaw came from the opening.
Another woman's voice, smoother and more youthful spoke along side the boisterous laughter. "I know, I know! The pretentious wench!" Her voice to broke into laughter, almost the exact same as the other woman's.
The boy peered around the doorsill, looking in. Despite the room being a virtual cave in the side of the mountain, there was a small fireplace built into the back with a cot draped in fabrics to one side and a bookshelf full of volumes on the other. At the center was a vibrant maroon rug trimmed in gold embroidery with a low lying square table on top, a steaming pot of tea and a tray of burning incense sitting on the center of that. On the side of the table closest to the entrance way was the back of one of the housewives, seated with legs folded underneath her. She was slapping her thigh, her other hand pressed against the rug-covered floor to keep herself from falling over. On the other side of the table sat quite possibly the oldest woman on the face of the planet. She was squat with a wide, smiling face and wiry white hair pulled into two thick braids that rested down her shoulders. Her skin was thin and pale and wrinkled, every inch covered with thick fabrics of varying colors that oddly looked pleasing on her. She had one hand on the table, forefinger and thumb lightly touching a mug of steaming tea while her head rocked back and forth on her shoulders, mouth open in a hearty laugh that showed off the empty spaces between teeth.
The housewife slapped the table. "And—and did you know that she went back to that dunce with her apron full of nuts and dirt!" The two woman erupted into more laughter, both almost falling over.
The boy was starting to get impatient, and started to wonder whether or not he could fool his master by just making something up. He could probably just say hi while they were gossiping and slip away with time to spare. "U-Um..."
Though he tried to keep his voice as low as possible in order to avoid being noticed, the old woman nearly leapt out of her skin, her hands flinging wildly about her. "Who is it?! Aah!" She leapt to her feet, the sound of a tea mug clattering to the floor while the fabrics in her lap steamed with clear, green liquid.
The housewife glanced back, her face brightening upon looking at the boy. "Well, one of the little ones, eh? Come to get a well-wishin?"
The boy glanced back the way he came, inching slowly to the side. "W-Well..."
"No!" The boy was cut off as the old woman tried to take a step forward. She bumped her knees on the table, nearly falling over, and felt her way around it, wincing each time her gnarled fingers dipped the puddle of tea on the table. "Don't speak! Let me try to find out who it is!" Her hands fumbled about the room, stretched out in a ridiculous fashion.
The housewife was chuckling now. "To your left Ploo!"
The old woman turned, her fingers wrapping around a walking stick that looked just as gnarled as her, and a look of satisfaction crossed her face. "Yes, yes. Now let's see." She turned toward the table, placing both her hands on top of the walking stick and smiling. "Must be the Goliath, eh? I can always tell when you're around!"
He smiled wryly as the housewife hid a laugh behind her hand. He thought about telling the old woman that she wasn't facing him, but decided that he really didn't care.
"What's your name again? Rene? Ayrif? Weittershun?"
"Link," the boy said, exasperated. Honestly, how many times did he have to remind her? He liked Ploo well enough, but it was both annoying and a bit sad to have to reintroduce himself whenever he met with her.
"Oh! Link, eh? You know that you share the same name as the hero of legends? What a lucky boy you are!" The woman let out a low chuckle as Link wanted to let out a groan of annoyance. How many times had he heard that one? The woman paused,turning her head in one direction than another. "Okay, where are you? I know you're not standing in front of me, I can hear it!"
The housewife stood, eyes laughing and put her hands on Ploo's shoulder, turning her around. "Now, boy! Where's your respect? Don't stand on the other side of the door like a stranger!"
Link bowed his head, and took one step into the room. As his foot came down, the crevice that marked the division between outside and inside glowed with a faint white light, racing from the foot of the door sill to the top where it joined with a tiny bell. There was a sweet jingling directly overhead, a sound that spurned the old woman forward.
In two swift strides, she had come directly up to Link, almost coming to eye level with him. Link felt like he hit a wall of incense and old-person's musk, it took him a second to try and not gag when she was standing so close to him. She spoke in his face, as loudly as if he were standing outside. "Disrespectful! If you have the hero's name, you ought to act like him! Humble and brave! Courteous!"
Link made a face. "There are three other Links in this city alone, Ploo. Everyone names their son Link! One of the Goron's even named Link! I don't see them acting like heroes!"
"See what I mean?" The woman arched her head back, looking to the housewife who had taken her seat again and was watching the spectacle with great amusement on her face. "See what I mean, Tiol?"
Link heaved a sigh. "I'm kinda in a hurry. Gerath has to go to Hyrule Castle today..."
"The mayor?" The housewife sat up with a start. "Oh right! There's an important meeting there—Ploo you'd better give him his fortune now before they're late!"
Ploo grunted. "Boys like you... Fine fine! Sit still, I'll only be a second." She reached forward with her hand, gripping Link's face with her fingers hard enough to make his cheeks bulge and his lips pucker. He stared at her with impatience brimming in his eyes. Her fingers felt like sandpaper to his skin.
The woman was still few a moment before she opened her eyes. Her eyelids slid open with some difficulty, revealing glossed over blue pupils that gazed emptily into the distance. They stared at Link's face intensely, as if studying his features. She 'hmm'ed, tilting her head in one direction, then another.
Link adverted his own blue eyes, staring at the rock jutting from the ceiling. He hated it whenever she did that; it always unnerved him.
Link sweated. What was that supposed to mean?
"You're in a great body of water. In every direction, water stretches into the distance." Ploo grinned, her eyes staring at some distant point. "Are you in Lake Hylia? Is that a girl I see?" She chuckled.
"How would I know?" Link felt stiff having to remain so still while Ploo gripped his face. His cheeks were starting to get sore too. "Is that it?"
He turned his eyes back to Ploo, waiting for a response. Her grin seemed to quiver before she released her grip, her eyes sliding shut once more. "Yes... All I seem to see is water."
Link lifted an eyebrow.
Ploo turned around and tapped her way back toward the table, her head cocked. "Curious. Curious indeed."
The housewife watched her, a look of worry on her face, then turned back to Link. "Okay, boy!" She stepped forward, waving her hands. "Go go! Don't make the good mayor late! And safety on your journey!" she called after him.
Link turned, breaking into a brisk job down the staircase and set off to join his master waiting at the gates of the city.