"Hey Epona," I said softly, feeding the hungry pony an apple. Epona had seemed restless since that Fairy Boy had left. He had stayed for a while the first time he visited. After teaching him the song that calms Epona, he had taken a liking to the horse and to the ranch. He enjoyed spending time with the horses and helping out around the ranch. Despite my insistence that he was a guest and didn't need to do what I considered my chores, Fairy Boy just gave me a smile and told me not to worry about it.
When we weren't working, we liked to play games together. Being 10 meant that we didn't need anything fancy to entertain ourselves; we just used our imaginations. I knew Fairy Boy liked to be a hero, so we often played games where he and I would team up to beat the bad guys. He originally asked if I wanted to play the princess and he play the hero who would save me, and I made it clear that I was not going to be some damsel in distress that needed saving. How I made it clear…ahem, well that's not important. The point is that eventually Fairy Boy treated me like an equal in our games. He would fight the monsters with his sword and I would pretend to have a bow and arrow. I begged him to let me try out his sling shot, but he said he was afraid I would break it. That earned him a punch in the shoulder that day, but he still refused. Ah well, I'll show him, I'll get a slingshot someday and prove that I won't break it.
Fairy Boy was very vague on why exactly he had a sword and what he was doing all the way out here at Lon Lon Ranch. He said he was a Kokiri, who I guess live in a forest a ways away from here. I asked him if he was on some kind of adventure, like the ones we liked to play. He had carefully nodded his head and said "Something like that". When I asked for more details, he just shrugged off my questions and said he wasn't really allowed to tell anyone what he was up to. Something I did find was a shiny emerald jewel when I was searching for his sling shot to secretly practice with. I mean, where would he get something like that? Is it special? Did he get it from some lady? I never asked him about it because I didn't want him to know I was searching through his bag, but I'm dying to know what it was.
Unfortunately Fairy Boy left suddenly one day. He said he needed to leave and continue on his journey. All I could do was try not to cry as he awkwardly gave me a hug and promised to come back someday. He had left me a pretty rock he had found in Hyrule field on his way to the ranch, which I absentmindedly held in my hand at the moment. He'd only been gone a few weeks, but it felt like so much longer! I also don't have anyone to talk to about this. Dad is always sleeping or off delivering milk to the Market, and Ingo just isn't someone I can relate to. He seems kind of…odd. I just try to stay out of his way and be polite when we have to be around each other. Coincidentally both of them were gone for a couple days, out doing various errands in Castletown.
I walked over to the fence surrounding the ranch, Epona trotting gracefully behind me. Even though I couldn't see over the walls, I looked up at the sky. "Fairy Boy, where are you?"
I sighed and walked Epona back toward the stalls. It was getting late, and Epona needed to be brushed down before the somewhat unruly pony went to sleep for the night. As I was nearing the door, I heard something near the entrance to the ranch. There are squirrels and other harmless animals that frequent the ranch, but the sound was louder. I turned and started walking that way, wondering what it was. It almost sounded like…someone was running? I ran back to the door, opening it and closing it quickly. I wanted to hide, just in case it was a stranger coming to cause trouble. The running came closer, and I peeked out the window, still out of sight. My eyes widened when I saw the boy I had just been thinking about. Abandoning my hiding spot, I wrenched the door open and ran over to him.
"Fairy Boy! You're back!" I gave him a tight hug. I had missed him. There was no one to play with when he was gone, and I just liked talking to him about whatever was on my mind.
"Malon, I can't breathe!" Link said. I gasped and pulled away. "I'm sorry Fairy Boy! I didn't mean to hurt you".
Link leaned over, his hands on his knees as he breathed heavily. "It's ok Malon…just be more careful next time". I could see a small smile on his face, so I knew he wasn't mad at me.
But when he looked up, I couldn't help but softly gasp. His eyes….they looked so different. The last time I had seen him, he was so carefree, as a kid should be. What I was seeing now…there was so much pain in his eyes. They almost looked haunted, like he had seen something really scary. I took a step back and saw he had some fading cuts on his arms and legs, and a new scar on his cheek.
Link's smile faded. "Malon, what's wrong?"
"Fairy Boy, you look…different. What happened to you?"
Again, that haunted look entered his eyes. "A lot of things happened Malon".
"What kinds of things?" I replied, a concerned look on my face.
Link sighed, shaking his head. "It doesn't matter. I'm just here to get some of your milk. I've been a little…um, tired lately, and I could really use something to make me feel a little better".
"Oh…you just came here for milk," I said, suddenly feeling sad. I guess he didn't come to see me because he missed me.
Link looked flustered. "I mean, not just the milk, I wanted to see you and your dad too. I've missed you since I've been gone, and the ranch is a place where I feel safe".
Although I wondered what he meant by the ranch making him "feel safe", I shrugged it off. "Oh, well, I've missed you too Fairy Boy". I smiled and grabbed his hand. "Let's go get you some milk and some food!"
I happily dragged him along, into the kitchen, and had him sit down while I ran around making him something to eat. He looked pretty hungry. The first thing I did was pour him a tall glass of milk. "Here you go Fairy Boy! Drink up!"
He smiled and guzzled it down quickly. "Thanks Malon!"
"You're welcome Fairy Boy. Now here's some bread and butter, and a couple apples that I found in the cupboard. I will have some Cuckoo eggs ready for you in a bit! Oh! I also have some sweet rolls I made the other day; I hope you like them!"
Link nodded and dug in. I continued to cook, realizing that I was trying to help Fairy Boy and distract myself from thinking about the look in his eyes. I decided I would ask him about it tomorrow, after he had gotten a good night's sleep.
After Link was done eating, he sleepily climbed up the ladder into the loft without a word. It was our guest room of sorts, not that we had many guests that stayed overnight. He had slept there when he stayed here last time, so I just let him go, even though I hadn't had the time to wash his blankets or make it look nice. Oh well, all he needed was some rest, and I doubt he cared if it looked nice up there or not.
"Goodnight Fairy Boy," I said softly. His response was the soft, even breathing of a sleeping boy, who had probably fallen asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. "Sleep well".
The next morning, I woke up bright and early, ready to eat a quick breakfast and start my chores. I was shocked to see Fairy Boy awake and walking around. In fact, he had started doing my chores, like he used to. "Fairy Boy, what are you doing? You should be resting!"
Link turned around, a playful grin on his face. "Hey, you should be thanking me for doing your chores, you lazy bum!"
"Hey! I'm not a lazy bum! I do tons of work around here! Why are you doing my chores! Haven't we been over this already?" I said, trying to be affronted but failing. I couldn't help the giggle that escaped from my lips.
"I know you do Malon, but I owe you one for making me food and letting me sleep in your loft," he said, smiling gratefully.
"Oh, it was nothing, I was just trying to make sure you were ok". My grin faded into a small smile. I walked over to him and gently pulled him down to the hay bale I had just sat down on. "You're my best friend you know, well, besides Epona of course".
"Thanks Malon, that's really nice of you. You're one of my best friends too" he said, returning her smile.
After a short pause, I turned to face him. "I was just wondering…well, as a friend, I was wondering if you wanted to talk at all".
Link's brow furrowed. "Talk about what?"
I sighed. "About…you know, what you've been up to since you left".
"Malon…you wouldn't understand". I immediately could see that he was closing himself off.
"Well, try me, I might just surprise you" I replied.
"It's not that easy to explain, I don't even know if I'm supposed to tell you anything about it", Link said, sounding frustrated, whether at me or at the situation, I didn't know.
"Why not? Link, you can trust me. I'm your best friend, right? And best friends don't keep secrets from each other. Maybe I can help, somehow".
Link's brow furrowed. "You called me Link…why did you do that?"
"Because this is serious, and I only use your real name when I'm really serious". I really was serious, and I wanted him to know how important this conversation was and how much I wanted to help him.
There was a long pause. I was waiting for him to say something, anything about what was going on. When he stayed quiet, I gave him a searching look and said, "Well?"
Link sighed again. "Malon….I don't know how to explain this. You probably won't even believe me…sometimes I don't even believe it myself". He suddenly looked sad.
I put my hand on his shoulder. "Hey, it's ok, just tell me. You can count on me to believe what you're saying, I promise".
After another pause, Link turned to me. "When I came here last time, I was on a mission. A mission to collect three stones…jewels I guess. There was one in the forest, which I already had when I came here, one inside Death Mountain, which is the big volcano you can see from Hyrule Field, and one from Lake Hylia, which is all the way across the field going the other way". I nodded my understanding, and he continued.
"Princess Zelda sent me on this mission". I couldn't help but gaze wide-eyed at him in wonderment. "The Princess sent you on a mission! You've met her? Wow, that's so amazing! I've always wanted to meet her! What's she like?"
"Oh, um, she's…really nice, and really cares about Hyrule. That's why she sent me on this mission. Now here's where it gets a little confusing". Link looked down at his hands for a moment, taking a deep breath, and then continuing. "Have you heard the legend about the Triforce?"
My brow furrowed as I wracked my brain. "Oh, yes of course! Isn't it the one where the Three Goddesses created something that had three parts that made up the Triforce? One part was made by each Goddess, each symbolizing what the Goddess stood for? And they left it behind after creating the world?" Link nodded.
"It's a little more complicated than that, but you have a good start. The three parts are Power, Wisdom, and Courage. They all came together to make up one Triforce. Now, many people searched far and wide, trying to find it. The person who has all three parts of the Triforce is able to control the fate of our world. If a person with a good, honest heart were to find the Triforce, peace would settle over Hyrule and we would live without fear of any evil. However, if a bad person who is evil and wants to take over the world to do bad things gets all three pieces, he can spread evil all over and make it a scary place to live. If someone like this were to find the Triforce, it would split into its three parts because only someone pure of heart is able to have the entire Triforce when they first touch it. Still following me?" I nodded, trying to absorb what he was telling me but still able to keep up.
"Ok, good. Someone tried to take the Triforce, but he is an evil man, so the Triforce split into its three pieces. He got the one piece that fit him the most, which is the Triforce of Power. The other two pieces went to the two people in Hyrule who fit those pieces the best".
"Who did those pieces go to? Do you know?" I asked, very curious. If this really happened, I wanted to know who the other people were, and if they were bad people or not.
Link looked down at his right hand. "Yeah, I know who they are. The Triforce of Wisdom went to Princess Zelda, and the Triforce of Courage…well…that went to me". I gasped as he took off his glove and showed me the symbol on his hand. "It surprised me too Malon. But I understand why now".
"Why?" I asked, nearly jumping out of my seat anxiously.
"I'm getting to that, so just hold on a second." Link took a deep breath and started talking again. "The person who got the Triforce of Power is named Ganondorf. Have you ever heard of him?" I thought for a moment. Had I heard the name before? It sounded vaguely familiar. "Maybe, I'm not sure though".
"That's ok, he's not someone you really want to know about if you don't have to. Anyway, he's trying to find me and Zelda so he can take our Triforce pieces and put them back together. Then he can turn the entire world into a bad, evil place, because that's what he wants to do. Malon, I'm trying to stop that."
I shook my head, "How are you supposed to do that? You're only 10, just like me!"
He looked into my eyes, and I saw a weariness there that worried me. "Sometimes things aren't what they seem".
"What is that supposed to mean?" I asked, confused.
"Once I got all of the stones, I was going to bring them to Princess Zelda. She wanted to stop Ganondorf from getting the Triforce, and she wanted to use the stones to do just that. Unfortunately that didn't work out so well".
I was now shaking my head, confused. "I don't understand, how were you able to do all of this in only a few weeks? It sounds like you've been doing a lot of traveling and exploring".
Link put his head in his hands, looking like he was trying to figure out how to phrase his words. "Malon, there is something called the Temple of Time just outside the Market. Do you know exactly what it's used for?" I shook my head, "Not really, no one really seems to know".
"Malon, this is going to sound absolutely crazy, but you have to believe me, ok?" I nodded cautiously. "I promised you I would, didn't I?" Link cracked a small smile and continued. "The Temple of Time is the place where someone can travel through time, to the future or to the past. The way that a person can do that is to draw or put back something called the Master Sword". He cautiously looked over at me.
I tried not to look at him in disbelief, I really did. But how was I supposed to react? I've never heard of someone being able to travel through time! I promised him I would believe what he told me, but it seemed really difficult. "O-okay, um, yeah, I-I don't know what to say". I said lamely.
Link stood up and started pacing. "I knew this would be too hard to believe". I stood up too and grabbed his arm, "Link, hold on a second. I, I believe you, I just don't completely understand it. So…so you know the future then? You know what happens to the world, in the future?" He nodded, looking exhausted and burdened. "You can't tell me what happens, can you?"
Link shook his head, "That's the problem Malon, I can't tell you. I can't help you understand because I'm not allowed to give anything away." He suddenly looked desperate. "I so much wish I could though! I wish I had someone to talk to about this, someone who was allowed to know what was going on, someone who was "in" on all of this".
"Well, what about Princess Zelda? Isn't she the one who sent you on the mission?" I asked.
"This Princess Zelda doesn't know what happened yet, because the things that happen from here on out haven't happened yet".
"What do you mean by "this Princess Zelda"? Is there another Zelda?"
"Well, it's the same Zelda, but she's in the future, not right here. Besides, she's not even really around anyway".
"She's not? Where did she go?" My head was starting to spin a little.
Link seemed to realize he had slipped up and given something away, "I-I'm sorry Malon, I can't tell you that. I wasn't even supposed to tell you about finding the stones". He sighed again. "Basically all I can say is that I've gone through a ton of stuff, both in the past, and in the future, and that's why you're looking at me like I'm so messed up".
I shook my head, "No Link, you're not messed up, you've just probably done a lot of scary, difficult stuff, right? I don't blame you for being tired or scared or anything."
"I wish I could tell you. But you know as well as I do that it would be a bad thing if I did".
I honestly wish I could say that I totally understood and was completely fine with him not telling me anything more. I really wish I could. But I'm too curious for that, and that usually gets me into trouble. "Oh come on, Link, please tell me! Let me help you! I promise I won't mess anything up! It would probably really help!"
Link, who had started pacing again, turned around to look at me, a hint of anger in his eyes. "Malon, I told you, I can't tell you. It's like, illegal or something. It might actually change the future if I tell you. I know that might not make sense, especially since you think that you knowing won't affect anything, but I just can't risk it".
"Link, I thought you could trust me! I thought we were best friends!" I knew deep down that I was being childish, but I didn't really care at the moment. 10-year-olds are allowed to be childish, right?
He now looked angry. "Stop fighting with me Malon! I told you what I can, isn't that enough?"
"Have you seen me?" I asked angrily. Link looked startled by the question. I repeated it again. "Link, have you seen me, in the future?"
"You know I can't tell you that Malon".
"This involves me too, right? Please, just tell me if you've met me, talked to me, seen me…just tell me that".
Link kicked a rock angrily, and I watched it fly across the ground and hit the wall. He looked conflicted. I knew he desperately wanted to tell me everything, and that it was killing him to hold back. After a long pause, he looked at me, and nodded in response to my question.
"So, you have seen me then".
"Yes", he said simply. This stirred up a million burning questions that I had, and I could barely contain myself.
"That's all you've got to say? Yes?" I asked, frustrated.
"Malon, please…I can't tell you any more information. Please stop pushing, I don't want to get angrier than I already am and say something I might regret", he said softly, his eyes full of desperation. Wow, he sounded a lot older than 10 when he talked…maybe it had something to do with being older in the future. He really wanted me to drop the subject, but it was easier said than done. Link knew the future! How could I not want to know what happened? Something deep inside of me told me that Link was right and that he couldn't tell me what happened.
I sighed and took his hand. "Ok Fairy Boy, I'll stop asking you all of these questions. All I can say is that I wish you could tell me everything…but I guess I understand why you can't. I just wish I could help you…" My eyes suddenly brightened. I knew exactly what to do! "Can't I come with you? To the future? I could help you fight off the bad guys, like we used to do when you were here".
Link looked at me like I was crazy, "Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea what kind of stuff is out there? There are monsters that want to hurt anyone that gets in their way. Malon, they could kill you…it's too dangerous. Plus, you don't know how to fight at all".
"Well…I…I could help somehow" I said lamely. I knew Link was right, but I wished he wasn't. "I bet I'm not even allowed to travel through time like you, right?"
Link nodded. "That's right. I'm the only one who has that power". He put his hand on my shoulder. "Malon, I know you want to help, but coming with me isn't the answer." He smiled. "Just being here with you has helped me loads, more than you know".
I looked into his eyes again and saw determination and strength there, which had crowded out the haunted and troubled expression that had been there before. "I feel like you're getting ready to leave now…aren't you?"
He nodded, and looked a little sad. "Yeah, I gotta go. There's more I need to do in order to save Hyrule. I want to get rid of the evil that's in the world right now so things can get better for all of us". I wondered when he would return here next. He said he had seen me in the future, but who knows when that is? It could be years from now!
As if he could read my mind, he said "It might be a long time before I see you again Malon. Just know that I'm thinking of you and the best thing you can do for me is pray that the Goddesses keep me safe on my journey".
I walked him to the entrance of the ranch. He gave me a tight hug, and this time I let my tears run freely. "I'll miss you Fairy Boy" I choked out. Link pulled back and I could see the unshed tears in his eyes. "I'll miss you too Malon".
Just as Link turned to leave, a huge whooshing sound broke through the silence of the late morning. A huge, red thing flew over the ranch…did it have…spikes?
"Link…wh-wh-what is that?"
Link cursed and pulled out his sword. My eyes widened. He was going to go after that? I prayed it wouldn't start descending into the corral, but my hopes were dashed when it began to lower itself. The horses screamed and came storming out of the corral and into the stables. Link took off after it sword out and shield up. "Link! Wait! You'll get hurt!" I yelled.
"Stay back Malon!" he screamed, just before he approached the red monster with the spikes swirling around and around. I was sure it was going to kill him. Those spikes were huge! How was he going to survive this?
I watched in horror and fascination as he started to slash at it. Navi had flown out from under Link's hat and was circling it, trying to distract it and offering Link some advice on how to defeat it. It looked like he was trying to get at the underside of it, but I could tell it could be difficult. I screamed when Link was thrown back after a spike side-swiped him. Miraculously he got back up quickly, throwing up his shield as another spike threatened to impale him. I'm not exactly sure how a wooden shield could protect him from very sharp, metal-looking spikes, but for some reason it was able to protect Link and block the spikes. Maybe it wasn't simply just plain wood.
"Link, slash the root! You're almost underneath it!" Navi yelled over the whirring of the spikes. The next moment, Link was underneath it and slashing at the stem fiercely. Did I just see fire appear on his sword? Is that even possible? Somehow he managed to stay under the monster even as it was trying to get away from his sword. After what seemed like forever, Link gave it one last stab and the monster collapsed to the ground, then mysteriously disappeared into thin air…? I stood frozen, watching Link wipe his brow and sheathe his sword.
Now I understood why I couldn't come with him on his journey. I would never be able to handle something like this.
Once I had broken out of my trance, I sprinted over to Link and threw myself into his arms. "Are you ok? You could've died! I was so scared!"
Link slowly put his arms around me in response, patting my back gently. "Malon, I'm fine. I'm ok, I promise."
I pulled back from him, and Link was startled at the fear he saw in my eyes, even after the fight was over. "I'm fine, the fight is over and this evil peahat is dead. Has one of these ever come to the ranch before?"
I shook my head mutely.
"I wonder why it came here then…". Suddenly his facial expression changed, and I could tell he had figured out why. "It's probably because I'm here". He now looked guilty.
"Link, how can you blame yourself for this? It's not your fault that monsters are following you around. Who knows, maybe it was just a coincidence…" but I had a feeling it wasn't.
"No Malon, that must be why. Which means I need to leave. Now".
I surprised myself by suddenly bursting into tears. "Fairy Boy, what if more of those come after you?"
"Then I'll just have to defeat them like I did this one".
I again threw myself into his arms…maybe I shouldn't do that so often, I might hurt him or something. Anyway, I couldn't stop crying. I think it was more out of fear for his life than just missing him, but I guess I'm not really sure. "Please be careful. Please."
I felt him nod against my shoulder, and then he pulled away and looked straight into my eyes. "I will".
And without another word, he took off towards the entrance and raced out of sight. I sunk to the ground and pulled my knees to my chest. I felt Epona walk up behind me and kneel down next to me. I put my head next to hers and continued crying.
After all my tears were dry, I sat up, pet Epona one more time, and looked up at the sky. "Please Goddesses, if you are listening, please protect my Fairy Boy. Keep him safe and help him do whatever he needs to do. Give him strength and remind him that I'll always be here for him". I then looked out towards the entrance to the ranch, whispering "Please come back soon".