Whole New World
It had been a while since he had been able to travel through the wood without having to draw his blade. His long, green hat whipped behind him as he and his beaut of a horse galloped through the lush trees.
The chestnut horse gradually came to a stop as the vegetation thinned out and opened to a small village. Link gave a sigh, a smile spreading across his face. Home, he was finally home. He flicked a bang of dirty blond hair out his eyes and slipped off Epona. He ran his gloved hand up her neck and gave a final pat before taking her reins and leading her into the village of Ordon.
"Sure is good to be home, isn't it, Epona?" Link murmured as he came to his old home. Epona neighed quietly and nodded her head in a way that seemed to indicate an agreement. Link looked around with a frown. He knew it was a little before dawn but the village was oddly silent. It was almost eerie. "Where is everybody?" He shrugged it off, perhaps they were still asleep or having breakfast. Link turned his attention to Epona, "Well, let's make you comfortable." He proceeded to unload all of his gear and set it by the ladder of his house. Epona had been slightly injured during their journey, though it was nothing more serious than some scratches and scrapes here and there, the risk of infection was still present. "There, better?" Link asked as he finished unloading the remaining items off the horse's back. He looked again the village still seemed empty. He decided that leaving his stuff by his house wouldn't be too much of a problem; besides what were the people of Ordon do with bombs and arrows? Link patted Epona's neck and took her reins in his hand. "Okay, let's go to the spring and get you all cleaned up." He told her and started to lead her down the familiar path to the spring.
The walk there was peaceful, familiar and most of all, normal. There was nothing lunging at him and trying to slit his throat, nothing at all just peace and quiet. Nevertheless, Link was agitated. He was not used to it, even though the peace was earnest, Link could not help feeling suspicious. He shrugged it off when they came to the spring. He blinked, the sun was starting to shine now and the light was somewhat blinding. When his eyes adjusted, he saw a figure sitting on the grass by the lake. It was obviously a girl, if not a woman, and she looked awfully familiar. There was a pause from the hero, than a surprised call. "Ilia?"
Epona whinnied joyously and trotted up to said person. Ilia looked up, startled, "E-Epona?" She got up and reached to touch Epona's muzzle. The horse snorted and rubbed her nose into the girl's palm. Ilia smiled, turquoise eyes glittering happily. "If you're here than…" She turned and looked at Link. "Link!"
Link grinned as he strode towards Ilia; he pulled her into a hug and messed up her hair. Pulling away, he said, "Ilia! Long time no see! You're good, I hope?"
Ilia's face was tinged a light red as she replied with a nod. "Yes. Things have been good. Everybody misses you, especially Colin. You know how he looks up to you."
Link laughed, "Yeah. I know. It's good to hear that everything's okay." His laughter gradually stopped as he went up to his mare. "Epona's not in the best condition," He started than paused. When nothing happened, Link turned to look at Ilia confused. Wasn't he going to attack him or something? Instead, Ilia patiently waited for Link to finish his sentence. He frowned. Link wasn't sure if he preferred this new, mature Ilia or the hotheaded one he knew not half a year ago. " "So I'm going to get her all washed up in the spring. That's why I came, if that answered a question."
Ilia nodded and followed them into the cool water. Link started to scrub Epona down, using a soft bristled scrub and the water from the spring. After a rather awkward silence, Ilia finally spoke up. "So what happened?"
Link looked over Epona's back and at Ilia. It was only than that he took notice of how much taller he had gotten. Before he left, Link could barely look over the mare's back. "What do you mean, 'what happened'?" He asked, than returned his attention to Epona, his blue eyes suddenly serious. "A lot of things happened."
Ilia huffed to herself, "I know a lot happened, but what exactly?" She asked, her voice hinting irritation.
Link sighed; he had sworn secrecy to Princess Zelda. Details were not to be told to anybody, regardless of who they were. "Not much," He replied, crouching down to examine Epona's wounds. "Killed some monsters. Save some people. Got rid of Ganondorf. Met Princess Zelda. Not much." It obviously wasn't a small situation, in fact it was the total opposite and Link knew this as he waited for Ilia's insistence for more detail.
And he predicted right. A frown tugged at the edges of her lip. "How can that not be much? That's a lot! Beating that Dark Lord, meeting the Princess – Link, can't you tell me more?"
Link let out a sigh as he got up with a small grunt. He proceeded to brush Epona's mane. "I can't tell you." He said bluntly. "Sworn to secrecy." Ilia waited, as if Link was going to continue talking. When the hero stayed silent, she let out an irritated groan.
"All this secrecy and confusion! Can't you at least clear something up? I'm tired of being left in the dark, Link! Everybody is!" Ilia said haughtily, throwing her hands up and than letting them fall to her sides. "Please, Link? Please?"
"What's there to be confused about?" Link snapped keeping his eyes focused on Epona. "I told you. Ganondorf is dead, killed by me. Hyrule and the rest of the world are safe because he's dead. What else do you need to know?"
Ilia went silent for a while. Link had never lost his temper like that, not even a little bit. "W-Well, what happened to all the monsters?"
"They disappeared when Ganondorf died." Or most of them anyway, there's still some around, but not as much.
"So there's no more left in the forest than?" Ilia asked, "None. Zero. Completely, 100% free of monsters?"
"There's…some." Link answered quietly, it wasn't details right? It was merely a…warning. "Not all of them left. There are still some of the…local ones." There was a silence and Link finished up with Epona. "There. That's all I can say. I hope you're satisfied because you're not going to get anymore." Link looked up and met Ilia's steady gaze.
They had a small glaring contest, which ended with Illia sighing tiredly. "Fine," She grumbled, "We should head back home – to tell everybody that you're back and such."
Link nodded with agreement. He gave Epona one last splash down than led her onto shore with Illia not far behind. The walk back to the village was different from the one before. The silence hung heavy and awkward between the two former best friends. Link was still processing the fact that Ilia had gone through a drastic change. Not just in shape but also in personality. She wasn't as impatient as before, not as hotheaded, more calm and collected, protected almost. Link figured that the war had caused it. After the war, everything would probably never be the same again. Than again, he himself had changed as well and Link knew it. He didn't feel eighteen anymore, or he didn't feel like a typical young adult anyway. He felt older, both physically and mentally, Link had seen too much, know too much and killed too much to ever be the same. He had pushed his body to the absolute limits but he could not help but admit that he was rather pleased with the outcome. He had been lanky before the journey, with decent amounts of muscle but never something to take notice of. After the journey, he had grown a good foot or so. His body was well built and sturdy, the confidence and pride in his stride was quite obvious if one would sit and look.
"LINK!" A deep, familiar voice called out and snapped the hero out of his thoughts. Link turned to the voice, than grinned widely. A familiar figure stood a few feet away. He was big and burly but with that kind face that Link grew up to.
"Mayor Bo!" Link grinned as the two men came to a firm handshake, which was followed by a one armed hug. Mayor Bo gave Link a few sturdy pats to the back. This made the hero splutter slightly as air was knocked out of him. "How's it been?" He asked once they parted.
"It's been great, Link, but never mind us, what about you? I'm sure you have a grand story to tell at tonight's feast!" Mayor Bo exclaimed with a hearty laugh. "I can't wait! Our Link, a hero!"
Link frowned, "But how did you know I was here? But I got here earlier, nobody was awake...?"
"Your stuff was by her ladder, remember? It was filled with the stuff that only a warrior would need so we knew it was you." The burly man explained as he led the trio into the center of the village. On the way Link was greeted by many of his old friends and neighbors, not only did they greet him but also he was always pestered with questions he could not answer. Thankfully the village wasn't too big and it didn't take more than a few minutes to reach his house. Mayor Bo turned to him, instantly noticing the hero's irritation. He smiled, "Don't be mad at them. There's just a lot of confusion, that's all. I'm sure you'll clear it all up during the feast tonight. But meanwhile, get some rest. You look absolutely beat." Turning around, Mayor Bo quickly announced to the crowd of people to leave Link alone and continue on their daily business. With some murmuring, the crowd gradually receded, leaving only Link, Epona and Ilia.
"I guess I better go too." Ilia said after some silence between the two. "I'll leave you to settling in than." She bid him good-bye and left.
Link shook his head after the girl left; he turned to his gear at the bottom of the ladder and started to pick them up. "What should I tell them tonight, Epona? There's no way I can answer their questions." Link asked as he started up the ladder. The horse did nothing but watch as he climbed up the ladder and onto the platform of his home.
Link pushed open the old wooden door; it gave a loud creak, as it slowly swung open. Link wrinkled his nose as he stepped into his old home. Nothing had moved since he left the place half a year ago, it was all the same save for the thick layer of dust. Setting his gear by the treasure chest, Link opened the heavy lid and peered inside. There was nothing in there but some wooden swordsticks and a poorly crafted shield. A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he recalled the days where he and Rusl would practice swordsmanship, he remembered how much he hated it. Rusl would make him practice over and over again on this old straw dummy. The old man would not be satisfied until the dummy was beaten to bits and that usually left Link exhausted and dirty. He hadn't thought that the skills and stamina he learned would actually come in handy until the war started. Taking out the wooden stick and shield, Link placed them aside before he started filling the chest with actual weapons. Bombs, arrows, shields, clawshot…it didn't take much before the chest was completely stuffed and filled with his spare weaponry. The last thing to go in was his old wooden sword and shield. Link stood up with a quick sigh, he was surprised that all those things had been able to fit into one measly little chest. Maybe he had underestimated the old chest after all. Shrugging, Link was too tired to do anything else. He yawned and climbed up the ladder to his bed, to his surprise it was neat and tidy. He didn't recall coming in to make his bed…but being too tired to care, Link flopped down and was asleep in seconds.
Only the Goddesses knew for how long he was asleep. All that Link knew was that it felt like he had just fallen asleep when somebody shook him awake.
"Link! Link, you sleepy butt! Get up! It's time to attend the – your – celebration!" The voice, which probably belonged Ilia, called impatiently. Link groaned in response, was he wrong to say that she had grown more patient since he left? He cracked open one eye, than the other. He swatted away Ilia's hand, grumbling something along the lines of 'Shut up and give me a break.'.
Of course that wasn't going to happen. It seemed like Ilia had came prepared, for when Link heard nothing and was about to drift back into slumber, something wet and extremely cold came down onto his face. Spluttering, the poor hero bolted upright and wiped the water from his face. "Ilia! You didn't have to do that! Look, you made everything wet!" Link complained, pulling off his green cap and squeezing it dry of water into the bucket that the girl had brought with her. He felt around his bed, at least that was still dry.
Ilia giggled, "Same as always, Link. You still sleep like a pig, no matter how much you changed." She grabbed the bucket and hopped off from platform to platform than to the floor. "Anyway, the celebration's about to start. Uli told me to wake you up."
Link grumbled, "Can't I just sleep? I'm so tiiiredd…" He felt worse compared to before he took his nap. It felt like the long nap had drained more energy out of him rather than replenishing it. Rolling his shoulders and cracking his neck, Link jumped off the platform and landed gracefully on the floor.
"Oh quite whining, Link. Just get washed up and get out. You stink." Ilia told him with a roll of her eyes before leaving him.
Link went to his washbowl and was surprised to see that it was filled with steamy water, with a bar of soap on the side. The hero quickly gave himself a wash down and when he felt that the wretched odor of sweat and blood was gone, he dried himself and tugged on his cap. Making sure his green outfit looked presentable, he walked out of his home and jumped down onto the ground. Epona, as always, was waiting patiently for him at the bottom of the ladder. She snorted her greeting to the hero; Link smiled and patted her muzzle. "Sorry, Epona. I don't think you can come to this ceremony. I'll see you when I get back." The horse snorted once again and turned to trot off somewhere to graze.
Taking a breath, Link walked towards where he saw the long tables and glowing bonfire was. The tables were arranged into a 'U' shape, with three long wooden tables that was filled with food. A cheery fire stood in the middle, keeping everybody warm as well as providing light in the dim evening. Most of the villagers was already at the table, Link recognized Rusl, Uli and Colins as well as the new baby girl. Mayor Bo and Ilia was sitting at the table that was in the middle of the other two. There were only three chairs; those were usually reserved for the special guest, the mayor and his daughter. Link guessed that the empty one between the two was for him. Ilia looked up and noticed him; she waved him over before tugging on Mayor Bo's shirt and notifying him. The Mayor turned and looked as well, he got up. "Link! You're here! Come on boy, hurry up." Mayor Bo gestured for him to come and pulled out the chair beside him.
Link smiled, "I'm coming, I'm coming." He went up to Mayor Bo, got engulfed in yet another giant hug and a gentler one from Ilia before sitting down on the chair. Everybody around the table chattered excitedly as Link got settled in.
"Come! Let's eat! After this, Link can tell us all about hiss adventure!" Mayor Bo announced happily. Everybody cheered and dug into their food, including Ilia and Mayor Bo.
Link, however, felt as if a rock had dropped to the bottom of his stomach. He had lost his appetite to eat; the fact that he was sworn to secrecy still rang clear in his memory. It was Princess Zelda's personal request and Link could not bring himself to break the promise – even to his own family. Suddenly, there was something touching his right arm. Startled, Link looked up from his plate. It was Ilia. She had a knowing look in her eye, "Don't worry about it Link. I'm sure they'd understand, so stop looking so gloomy and enjoy the atmosphere!" She smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes.
Link nodded, grateful for the comfort Ilia gave him. The both of them turned back to their food, Link ate slowly. Even though Ilia's words made him feel somewhat better, it didn't completely lift his mood. The rich, delicious food felt like a lump in his gut but Link didn't say anything – only wash it down with water and hope for the best. The atmosphere was light and joyous, something the village of Ordon hadn't felt since before the war. It was a relief for a lot of the villagers, the return of Link probably meant to them less monsters, less dangers, less evil and a lot of good to come. It was true, but it also meant a wondrous story that the village could boast about. Link was, after all, raised in this town since he was a baby. He was like the village's trophy, except better.
Link forced himself to push away those thoughts and focus on what Mayor Bo was saying. "Now, now. I'm sure there are a lot of questions you want to ask Link, but please refrain from causing a ruckus. We will take turns, going individually." The mayor turned to Link, "Stand up, Link. I hope you don't mind clearing up the questions here?" Yes, In fact, I do mind, very much actually.
Link got up obediently; he had an idea, maybe if he told them before hand that they would understand? Before the first question was asked, Link raised a hand for silence. There was a pause and he continued on. "Um…I'm sure that you all have a lot to ask but I cannot answer those questions." He paused and sure enough there was a loud gasp and a stunned silence from the crowd. "I have sworn secrecy to the crown – Princess Zelda and her father, the King of Hyrule. So, all I can tell you is that the world is safe from Ganondorf. There are no more Twili monsters on the run, however there are still monsters that belong to our world. The Princess is safe and…" He paused, hesitating. "She has requested that I return to Hyrule for a little more longer, for reasons I do not know." Link licked his chapped lips, "That is it. I apologize for being unable to explain everything." After a stunned silence, the crowd erupted into murmurings and disappointed faces.
Mayor Bo stood up after a moment's pause. He held up his hand and waited for the crowd to hush, when this was fulfilled and the crowd settled down and looked up at him seriously, the burly man spoke. "I can tell that you are all disappointed," He was interrupted by the crowd again but spoke anyway, glancing down at Link whose ears were burning red. "However, this is a very serious matter and I'd like to apologize to Link for thinking it for something any less. If the Crown is involved and has made Link swear to secrecy, than I suggest that we do not burden the young fellow and leave it as it is."
Ilia nodded, "Link's been through a lot, we should just leave it alone and support him as much as possible! He did, after all, save us from that evil thing – Ganondorf!" She turned and smiled at Link.
Link returned the smile, though his ears were still burning. "Thank you." He mouthed. Ilia nodded and turned back to the crowd.
Most of the people were still skeptical but Rusl stood up and voice his agreement followed by a few of Link's close friends. Eventually the skeptics sighed and nodded. It was already late in the night, the moon shone, full and bright in the sky. The party was breaking apart; families bided their thanks and farewell before retreating into their homes.
Mayor Bo rested a hand on Link's shoulder. "You should probably head back too, Link. I deeply apologize for pushing you to tell us your story." Ilia stood by her father's side, nodding and looking sleepy.
"It's alright, Mayor. Thanks for standing up for me though. And, I'll see you guys in the morning." Link nodded, trying to suppress a yawn himself.
"Will you be here in the morning?" Ilia asked, frowning. "You said you were leaving after all…"
Link looked at Ilia, than smiled somewhat sadly. "Yeah, I'm leaving tomorrow noon. I told the Princess that I'd be there as soon as possible."
Ilia gave him a strange look but nodded. "Okay than. Good night."
"Good night, Link." Mayor Bo said before leading his daughter to their home.
Link watched them leave before turning and climbing up the ladder to his own home. When he got in, Link took off his cap, boots and tunic. This left him with only his white pants on. He gave a yawn, stretching. It felt good to be out of the tunic, it had been a long time since he was able to sleep like normal. Climbing into his bed, he laid down and stared up at the ceiling with both arms crossed under his head.
Link sighed; he really didn't want to go back to Hyrule. He just wanted to ease back into his herding days and spend time doing fun things. Maybe settle down with a family. He didn't know, but the last thing he wanted was to hold his sword and shield in hand once more. No more blood, no more fighting, just peace and quiet. He closed his eyes and sighed, the Princess had summoned him after all so he could not delay any longer. Link turned to look down at the treasure chest, somewhere in there was the stone that would turn him into a wolf. He wondered if it would be easier to stay a wolf forever? Shaking the thought out of his mind, he turned away, pulling the blankets up to his neck. He thought back to Ilia's face when he said that he was leaving at noon. Link wondered why she had made that kind of…sad face? He didn't say anything wrong, just stating a fact. He yawned, he'd ask her tomorrow but for now he just wanted to sleep.
Hello there! Thank you for taking the time to read this! It really means a lot. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If there is anything that bothers you, please notify me via review. It will be greatly appreciated.
Though this may be out of topic, I'd just like to congratulate my best friend for getting in the 33% in the Polar Expressions writing competition. Her work is getting published! This is for you – Cindy! :D