Chapter 81: A New Song

The sound of the Great Sea was her favorite thing in the world.

Ren hardly listened to her father's warning that lunch would be in an hour. Her chores were over, so she was going outside. The little girl closed the front door behind her, bare feet padding across the wooden porch. The thatched rooftop stretched over to shelter her from sun, but the smell of salt and sand could not be stopped. Ren gripped the railing, smiling at the vast, blue ocean that went on forever.

Except not forever, she knew. The little girl hoped to go to Windfall Island someday, as word spread quickly that it was becoming a center of trade for all the world. When her mother had last visited, Windfall was a pile of rocks with a few tents. I hope it keeps growing. Just like her Outset Island was. The world is only going to keep getting bigger, Ren, her mother had told her. One day, when you have grandchildren, who knows what the world will be like.

The little girl smiled. Ren brushed her long, blonde hair over her shoulder, running down the wooden staircase to grass. She took a moment to look behind her, at the other wooden houses and the distant mountain. The peak was on their half of the island, though the other side had finally been bridged after years of hopping over stones. Ren looked up to the sky; it was as blue as the sea. She could hardly stifle her laughter. Everything feels so alive today.

Ren jumped into the sand, allowing it to heat her toes and feet as she left the grass. The waves stretched out before her forever, going on and on. They rocked back and forth under the breeze that was carried all the way to her, soft and gentle against her skin. The sound of the water and the seagulls, the taste of the salt and the water; all of it meant the world to her. No matter which island she visited, or where she journeyed in the world, the ocean was always in view. It's perfect.

Of course, her mother had told her the world hadn't always been that way. The fabled legend of Hyrule was once a great kingdom of land, though it had vanished years ago. Sometimes Ren wondered if it was just a story. It was always hard to tell with her mom. If she could be believed, the ancient hero from that time had been best friends with her great grandmother. Anju? she struggled to remember. The hero was real enough, and Anju had been, too. But maybe Hryule is just a story.

She supposed it didn't matter. The beautiful sun, the rocks, the sand, the ocean, the watchtower, the seagulls, a boat pulling in from far away; those were the things that mattered now. Every time a trader came to town, it was only with good news. Whether Windfall had thrown up a new shop, or Greatfish Isle had discovered a new, life-changing potion, nothing seemed to dull the sun that constantly bore down on them.

Ren sat in the sand, flattening out her dress but not caring as it got dirty. The pier was her companion as she watched the boat approach. The little girl could make out the large men turning the sail, who slowed their ship as they neared the port. Ren dug her toes in the beach, savoring the feeling as sunbaked warmth pushed between her feet. The water stretched outward, only barely missing her as it darkened the shore.

"Ren!" someone called behind her. The little girl turned to find Orca. The young boy's hair was short and dark. He swung a stick out in front of him as he walked to join her, fending off imaginary enemies. He paused when he reached her, smiling. "Guess what?"

"What?" she asked.

"I'm taking the boat out today! Dad's going to let me!"

"No way!" Ren said. "Really?"

"Yeah, right after we help unload this shipment of... whatever their bringing today." He shrugged that detail away. "Want to come out with us?"

"After lunch," Ren said. "Dad's making chuchu soup."

"Yum. You better bring some with you!" Orca scampered off, swinging his stick to and fro as he battled imaginary foes. His father was exiting their house further inland, though, so Ren knew his playtime would be over soon.

The shipment came closer to the pier. Ren watched the boat near them and the waves rock against the posts underneath. She thought she saw something washed up at its base. Ren rose an eyebrow curiously, getting to her feet. The ship hadn't quite reached the dock yet, and Orca was now talking with his dad. That meant she could keep this discovery to herself.

Ren ran quickly to where the pier met land, ignoring the sea-foam lashing her dress. The girl ducked into the darkness of the dock's underside, lifting the object from the shore. It was sucked inward by brown muck and coated in dry sand, too. She rubbed the land from its surface as she stepped back, allowing the pier to keep hiding her from the approaching shipment and the men from Windfall. The girl looked at the instrument curiously, as the waves rocked before her.

It's an ocarina, Ren realized. It hardly appeared damaged by its time in the ocean; its surface was starkly blue. Only the sea threatened to rival its color, but even then, her eyes were wide as she took in its smooth surface. The little girl ran her hand along the instrument, smiling. I'll have to learn how to play it, she thought, turning over the clay in her hands.

However, Ren soon found one faded spot on the clay. She squinted at the bright patch, which spread to reach the mouthpiece. It seemed as if a dark mark once scarred its surface, etched deep within the ocarina.

It must have washed away.

October 26, 2010 – January 1, 2015