Chapter Eight: The Vinculum
"That was a waste of time," said Zelda cynically as they reached the end of the road without finding any sign of an orphanage.
"Well, maybe Solo found it on the other side of town," suggested Link. This street had a couple government buildings and many residential complexes. They turned and started to walk back the way they had come, looking to make sure they didn't miss anything.
"Maybe. Then again, maybe she didn't. We could've gone through all this trouble for nothing."
"I don't think we did," said Link, paying close attention to the signs on the buildings. "I have an idea." He pointed to an ornate stone edifice that was adorned with decorative pillars. A seal above the door identified it as the mayor's office. "I bet they'll know where everything in the town is." They had both noticed the mayor's office the first time around, but wanted to search for themselves before they asked anyone.
"I guess we can go there," agreed Zelda, dragging Link behind her as she ran towards the office.
When they had climbed the front steps, Link slowly opened the door and walked inside. There was a desk in the front and a few offices in the back. Link and Zelda walked up to the front desk. They looked around and didn't see anyone. Link saw a small bell on the desk, and rang it. No response. He rang the bell again with the same results. Link continued ringing the bell, shouting, "Hello? Is anyone here?"
Finally, a man came out from one of the back rooms. The man walked up to the desk and took the bell away from Link, who was still ringing it. "Yes, yes. Thank you for making sure the bell works," said the man in a sarcastic tone. "How can I help you?"
"We're looking for the orphanage in this town," Link replied. "Can you tell us where it is?"
The man looked at Link with a disbelieving glance. "You're looking for the orphanage?" the man asked in a mocking tone. "What's wrong, you little kids lost your parents and you want to go there?" he laughed. He turned his head and shouted into the back room. "Hey Miko, there's some kids here looking for the orphanage!" he shouted in a cynical tone.
"Hah!" came the response. The man at the front desk looked back at Link with a joking smile. The man frowned when he saw the angry, dead-serious look on Link's face.
"Oh, I'm sorry," the man apologized, finally acting normally. "You're serious."
"What do you mean 'I'm serious'?" asked Link. He hated it when people treated him like a stupid child.
"Listen, kid. I don't know if I should be the one telling you this, but there is no orphanage any more. It burned down eight years ago." Link's demeanor suddenly turned grim.
"It did?" Link said in disbelief. "Well, then where did all the children go? Were they sent somewhere else where I could go find them? There's someone I need to..."
The man walked out from behind the desk and stood face-to-face with Link. The man's face turned from light-hearted to solemn. "No, you don't understand. I'm sorry to have to tell you this," the man said in a solemn voice. "But no children were sent to other orphanages. Everyone died in the fire. There were forty-seven children and fifteen staff members. It's the worst tragedy this town has ever seen."
A tear came to Link's eyes. "Everyone...?" he mumbled.
"Yes. Everyone died, there weren't any survivors. The remains of the building are all the way at the opposite end of the main street. After the townspeople removed the bodies, they decided not to clean up the ruins. They built a graveyard next to the orphanage and buried all the children there. Now there's a tent over the burned-down orphanage to protect it. The townspeople decided to keep it there as a reminder of the loss of life. I'm really sorry. You can go down there and pay your respects if you like."
"Oh...okay," said Link, almost unable to speak. He was moved almost to tears and walked quietly out of the building. Zelda followed Link, feeling the pain he was in. They both walked slowly down the street, towards the direction the man had pointed to. "I can't believe it. After all that searching...and hoping. I find this." Zelda put her arm around Link, trying to make him feel better. She had never heard him sound so depressed. Link was not only sad about not finding what he was looking for, he felt sad for the innocent children that died. He couldn't begin to imagine the horror that they had gone through.
Link walked silently as they crossed through the center of town and down the second half of the main street. They both wondered if Solo was done looking or not. If they caught up with her, they would have to tell her that their search was in vain. Link felt a tear roll down his cheek as he remembered the words from his mother's diary. Now he would never find out who was taken to the orphanage in Batarael.
They grew ever closer to the orphanage, the large tent was visible in the distance. When they came within a hundred feet, Link and Zelda noticed a lone figure sitting in front of the orphanage's ruins. Link saw the unmistakable green color of his clothes. It was Solo who was sitting there. Nearly forgetting why he had come there in the first place, Link began to run towards Solo.
Link scuffed to a halt in front of Solo while Zelda ran to catch up with him. Solo was curled up in a tight ball, her face buried on her knees. She was sobbing loudly, and shivering violently. Link knelt beside her and gently lifted up her head. Solo continued sobbing and wailing, not noticing anything around her. The only thing she saw was the fire and the bodies of her dead brothers and sisters. "What's wrong?" asked Link frantically. Solo was so upset, she could barely breathe. The terrible memories paralyzed her as she remember ever minute detail of that death-filled night. "Please, talk to me," begged Link in as soft and soothing a tone as he could muster.
Solo sobbed and gagged, trying to choke out just a few words. No matter how hard she cried, she felt like she couldn't speak. Zelda came and sat next to Solo, trying to give her some kind of comfort. "I...I..." stuttered Solo. "Re...mem...ber...this...place..." Solo sobbed again, failing another attempt at regaining her composure. "They...all...died."
"Where?" asked Link. "Here? At the orphanage?" Solo tried to answer, but instead nodded. "Yes, that's what the man at the mayor's office told us. He said that it burned down eight years ago."
"I know." sobbed Solo. "My brothers...and sisters...burned to death...all of them."
"That's right, the man said that all the children and adults there died," said Zelda sadly. "There weren't any survivors."
"There was one," said Solo, the memories flooding her mind relentlessly.
"Who?" asked Link, knowing already what the answer would probably be.
Solo sniffled. "Me," she replied. "I...was there. I remember it...and the dreams." She tried to silence the roar of the flames in her head. "I woke up...and there was the fire. Everyone was...dead." Her voice took on an eerie tone, as if she were in a trance revealing the details of that night. "I tried to wake them up, but they didn't move. Then the floor fell and I hit the ground. I finally crawled out of the house. I looked back...and saw the fire shoot into the sky. Everyone I loved...was gone. I wish I'd died with them...so I wouldn't have to remember it. I didn't want...to remember. I ran...I ran away from the fire. And I ran away from my past. I couldn't...wouldn't...think about it. So I ran from it...for my whole life. And now I'm back...and I...remember it." She fell into another fit of crying, crushing the relative calm she had gained just a moment ago.
"It's okay," said Link. "You're with us now. It can't hurt you anymore. There was nothing you could do to help them, you have to understand that."
"I know." Solo did understand what Link was talking about. She knew that she wasn't responsible for the other children's deaths. She knew that there was nothing she could have done. But the memories of that night, the pain and the horror, made her feel guilty that she survived. Solo felt that she should have died with the other children, that she wasn't worthy to have survived. "I...shouldn't have lived. They died for nothing and I didn't do anything to deserve to live instead of them."
"Don't talk like that," said Link. "What happened was an accident; it wasn't your fault that they died. And you survived just out of luck. You should be grateful that you lived. You survived for a reason, and I think I might know what that reason is." Link wondered if this was the time to tell her his feelings and suspicions, but decided against it.
"I want to go home." Home. It felt so good to say that. She had a home to go to. She didn't have to go live in an alley, alone.
"Yes, that's fine. We can go home," said Link. He wanted to do whatever he could to make Solo feel better. "Zelda, why don't you go get Impa and tell her to come over here and get us?"
"Okay," agreed Zelda. she gave Solo a comforting pat on the shoulder and ran off to get Impa.
"Don't worry, everything will be fine," said Link, holding Solo in his arms. He and Solo sat in silence, waiting for Zelda and Impa to return.
Link thought about everything that he had found, and what he was going to find out. He wondered if his suspicions were true, or if they were merely wishful thinking. He sat back, feeling more confused than ever. The thoughts were sending chills down his spine. He felt cold, and his skin tingled all over as if he were being prodded with a thousand tiny needles. Link gently massaged his temples, his head was starting to hurt. The last thing he needed was a headache. He noticed that Solo had stopped sobbing, and was sitting peacefully in front of him, half-asleep.
Now Link felt tired, too. His eyelids grew heavy; he wanted to sleep, but knew he had to stay awake. He watched the people rushing past him, their bodies turning from distinct persons to a fuzzy blur. The noise of the town seemed to become lower, as if he were listening from behind a wall. Now the whole world was spinning. It was like the whole world was underwater and he was watching from above the surface. The pain and the tingling grew unbearable as the world slowly faded into indiscriminate blur.
The world was gone now, its noisy streets and pedestrians replaced with nothingness. Link felt at ease in this nothingness. But he realized that it was not nothing, there was something here. He could feel the presence of a person, or maybe more than one person. Link realized that the pain was gone, replaced with a feeling of bliss. For a split-second, he wondered if he was dead.
No, you're not dead, said a voice. It came from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. He could hear the voice with his ears and feel it in his mind. It was a kind, loving voice; a voice that made him feel comfortable. You're far from dead; you're truly living now.
"Who's there?" said Link, his voice echoing in the seemingly empty space. This experience seemed familiar to him. It reminded him of his previous visions: the goddesses, and the confrontation with his own dark side. But this was different, it was something new.
You always did ask too many questions, said the voice, light-heartedly. The foggy figure of a person appeared in the distance. It slowly approached Link, and gradually faded into visibility. The person stopped in front of Link and smiled. It was a kind-looking woman, not much taller than he was. She had long, platinum-blonde hair, and deep blue eyes that seemed to look directly into his soul. He knew who this person was. "I'm sure this will be more to your liking," said the woman, smiling. "This is what I used to look like, but no longer. In this place, there are no bodies or people. There are only thoughts, emotions, and ideas."
"Where am I?" asked Link.
"You're in a place that you, and others you know, will learn to know well. It is a place where we come to share our thoughts and feelings. We call it the Vinculum."
"Yes," replied the woman with an almost-chuckle. "It's a word that means 'something that binds, or ties things together.' We Oracles thought that it was an appropriate name for this place."
"Who are the Oracles?" asked Link. He remembered seeing that word in his mother's diary entry.
"You'll find out in good time. First, there are things I must explain to you in order for you to understand it. You know who I am, yes?"
"I think I do. You're my mother...Araia." Link hoped that he was assuming correctly, it felt like the right answer.
The woman smiled. "You're a very perceptive person. Yes, I am. I trust that you found my diary in the old house?"
"Yeah, I did, but..."
"It was burned up, I know. Link, you have reached a point in your life when you are on the verge of a monumental change. Now I'm not talking about adolescence and being a teenager, it's something more. You will see things that you never saw before, hear things you have never heard, and thinks ideas that you never thought were possible.
"I know what you've been going through the last few years. You've been having nightmares, nightmares that turn out to be predictions of the future. That's how it begins. I had those same dreams when I was your age. What stared out as dreams, will turn into something you could never even comprehend before. You will become an Oracle."
"You never answered my question," said Link, nearly annoyed. "What is an Oracle?"
"So impatient," sighed Araia. "Just like your father. The Oracles are a group of special people with certain extra-sensory abilities. We possess a consciousness more evolved than normal people, we see things differently. In time, so will you see things differently."
Link gave a frustrated look, she was still avoiding his question. "Haven't you ever heard 'good things come to those who wait'?" asked Araia.
"Yeah, but I never liked waiting."
"Okay, fine. I was trying to be a little mysterious to create a better atmosphere to tell you this, but you just want the facts. You remind me of me." She chuckled. "The Oracles are just as the name suggests: we see the future. We can sense people's emotions and intentions, I'm sure you've noticed that about yourself by now. The first Oracles appeared after the True Triforce was discovered many millennia ago. Yes, we know the truth about the Triforce. All of the Guardians are also Oracles. Anyways, we kept to ourselves for many years. Most Oracles didn't know there were any other people of their kind, they felt alone in the world.
"Some time ago, we're not sure when or by whom, someone created the Vinculum. The Oracles first realized that there were others like them. They started to share their ideas and emotions. Our powers grew greater as we gradually discovered what we could do. By combining our thoughts, we discovered new things. Who do you think created new technology? Only with our ideas could the world advance. Gradually, we grew more accepted. Although people didn't know the extent of our powers, they knew that we were special. They used us as prophets and as advisors. Do you know who the king's top advisor is?" Link shook his head. "It's not his foreign minister, or his vizier, or his minister of war. It is the Prime Oracle."
"Prime Oracle?" repeated Link.
"Yes. We decide which of us would be best to serve the particular ruler. The rulers know there are many of us, but they don't know the details; they don't want to know. After we pick the candidate, the king approves him, and that person becomes the Prime Oracle."
"So, the Prime Oracle uses his powers to assist the king or queen? Like predicting the future and stuff like that?"
"You're very bright. But that's what we do. That's what I did. You see, I was once the Prime Oracle. I gave the king advice, but his pride got in the way of his better judgment. When I and his military leaders told him about the impending war, he chose to disregard our advice. Instead of preparing to defend ourselves, he wanted to try an offensive. Needless to say, the offensive didn't work. By the time he realized his mistake, it was too late to evacuate the castle village. I foresaw the attack on the village. I also foresaw my own death. I wish that there had been more that I could've done, but even my powers are limited. All of the Oracles eventually foresee their own demise, and they told me it would happen to me. It's unnerving to say the least. I knew that there was nothing I could do to save myself. However, I had the opportunity to save you. That is why I took you to the Kokiri Forest, to save you. Any mother would've done the same.
"Link, you must realize that you are destined for great things. Kasuto told you that, everyone you've lost has told you that. Even Zelda told you that."
"Zelda?" said Link. "When did Zelda say that?" He'd know Zelda for quite some time, and he could never remember her saying something akin to that.
"Do you remember the future? You experienced a completely different version of Hyrule, about five years from now. You see, Zelda, like you, was also an Oracle. On that timeline, during those seven years you were locked away, she realized the extent of her powers. She knew that you would eventually emerge to become the savior of Hyrule. And, of course, that happened. But do you know why she sent you back?"
"She said it was so I could relive my childhood, the childhood I never had."
"That's part of it," continued Araia. "But it's not the whole story. She sent you back so you could create a future where Ganondorf's reign never occurred, a future of peace."
"Then what happened to everyone who stayed in the future?" asked Link. "Did they all disappear?"
"That gets complicated. Things are never clear-cut when it comes to time travel. When you were sent back, the world of your childhood and the world of your adulthood split into two separate realities. The future you saw still exists and will continue along its own path. This new future that you will create will also continue along its own independent path."
"You mean the two times will still exist? Independently? I don't understand."
"Maybe this will help," said Araia. She waved her hand and the whiteness around them was replaced with a sandy beach. A long stick appeared in Araia's hand and she began to draw in the sand. She drew a line in the sand, and drew two X's at each endpoint of the line. "This was your childhood," she said, pointing to the X at the beginning of the line. "This is where you began your journey. The future you created was directly connected with the future you saw. This is the future you saw." She pointed to the X at the other end of the line. "Before Zelda sent you back, whatever you did in the past directly affected the future. That is how time normally works. However, when Zelda sent you back, she created an alternate timeline."
Araia brushed away the line with her foot, leaving the two X's behind. Under the first X she drew a vertical line, stopped, and continued the line horizontally, creating an elongated "L" shape. From the second X, she drew a horizontal line that extended to the right of the X. "This is the new timeline."
"It's two lines," pointed out Link.
"Yes. Before Zelda sent you back, the past and future were directly connected, they were linear. Whatever you did as a child had consequences in the future. But now, the connection between your past and that future has been severed. What you do now cannot affect the future that you saw. From the second you closed the Door of Time, you created this new timeline that you live in now. But the alternate future continues to exist in parallel to this time." She extended the two lines to emphasize that they were parallel. "These two times are essentially independent and cannot affect each other. Whatever you do now will affect this new future, and will not affect the alternate future. But that's not the whole story."
"There's more to it?" complained Link. Just when he was beginning to understand what she was saying, she had to make it more complicated.
"Of course there's more," said Araia with a sly grin. "It's a mother's job to confuse her son. You see that these timelines seem to be parallel right now, but they really aren't. They only appear to be parallel." She used the stick to extend the lines by a few yards, drawing them ever closer to each other as they extended into the distance. "At the moment, these two timelines appear to be parallel. But at a point in the distant future, they will converge and become one again. So they aren't as independent as you might think. They won't affect each other directly until they intersect at a point in the far future."
"How far in the future?"
"We're not sure. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. Although the Oracles can predict the future, we can only see so far. It's like this." The sandy beach disappeared and was replaced with a mountain range. They were standing at the summit of a mountain that extended into the clouds. He looked out ahead of him and saw the world spread out in the most beautiful display he had ever seen. The blue dome of the sky and the world below him was so crystal-clear that it seemed unreal. Never had he seen something in so much detail. "This is how we see the past. It is crystal-clear, and definite. We can see everything that happened in the past with absolute clarity. There is no ambiguity. However, seeing the future is quite different. Turn around."
Link turned around and looked in the opposite direction. The world below him was no longer crystal clear. A thick haze covered everything, leaving most of his view fuzzy and indistinct. The only things he could see clearly were those which were only a short distance ahead of him. "This is how we see the future," explained Araia. "The farther we try to look, the fuzzier our vision becomes. If we look far enough, we can't see anything at all. What is in the near future, we can see relatively clearly. However, it is like being in a fog. We can make out general shapes and events, but specific details are unclear. This means that we can only make general statements about what will happen in the future."
"I see," said Link. He now understood what Araia had explained to him. "You can see the future, but it's fuzzy. You can only make out a few things. It was like the dreams I've had."
"Exactly. Now that you understand the concept of time, I'll tell you why Zelda sent you back. I told you that she did it to create a new future where peace reigned. That is one reason why. But she did it also for a more important reason, for you two. You and Zelda are destined to be together, you are beginning to realize that now, and she knew that in the future. She sent you back so you could start the relationship that you two never had. But she also made a great sacrifice in doing so. By using her power to send you back, she sealed her own fate. What you don't know is that Zelda also traveled back to the past with you. She used her power to enable you to retain the memories of that future, but by doing that she eliminated all possibility of her remembering the future. Zelda knew that only one of you would be able to remember, and she chose you."
"So she came back with me?" said Link, surprised with this new revelation.
"Yes. As a result, Zelda doesn't exist in that parallel future, just as you don't. However, her memories aren't completely gone. They still exist here, in the Vinculum. Her memories are within the minds of all the Oracles, within our collective consciousness. Just as you, her powers are beginning to develop now. When she is ready, she too can join us in the Vinculum. It will take time before she can significantly develop her powers so she can willingly come here."
"How did I get here?" asked Link. He knew that he hadn't come here by his own actions.
"That was my doing. I used my power to draw you here, but you ultimately chose to be taken here."
"How does the Vinculum work? Are the Oracles here all the time? Because I don't like the idea of people knowing my thoughts."
"That's not how it works. The Vinculum is a place where we share our thoughts, but only the thoughts we want to share. Nobody can read what you're thinking if you don't want them to. The Vinculum merely acts as a conduit for us talk to each other. It is what connects us. People come and go when they please. Some choose to stay for long periods, others only come by every now and then to catch up on the news."
"What about you? Why are you here? Aren't you...dead?"
"Yes, I am dead. At least, my body is. When an Oracle dies, their soul goes to the afterlife where every other person's soul goes. However, the person can choose to go here instead. The only drawback is that the decision is final. I chose to come here, so I cannot go back to Heaven where the other souls are. My soul will live here for all eternity. It was a great sacrifice for me, because I could not spend the afterlife with Batai. He was not an Oracle, so he could not come here."
"But aren't the goddesses all powerful? Can't they enable you two to be together? After all, they created the Universe, so they can do anything."
"Let's not get into a religious debate," said Araia. "The fact is that the goddesses can do anything. You have spoken to them, they told you that. But you have to realize that, save for a few important instances, they do not get involved with their creation. They sit back and watch. Because if they began influencing the course of the world, it would take away our free will. So they don't do anything. Believe me, it's a good thing that they don't get involved and take sides.
"But we're getting off the subject. What you need to know-why I brought you here-is that you and Zelda are both Oracles. That is why you've both had those dreams in the past. Over the next few years, you will both discover abilities you could never have dreamed of."
"Like what?" asked Link.
"You need to find out that for yourselves. Now that I have explained everything to you, I am going to tell you the reason you are here today. In the dream you had, I told you to find what you have lost. Do you know what that is?"
"I'm not sure."
"I think you know in your heart what you are missing. For your whole life, you have had an empty feeling inside of you. You felt alone, like there was a void in your soul. I know you thought that Zelda had finally filled that void, but she wasn't enough. There was something else missing. You have always had a feeling in the back of your mind that you were missing something important. From this day forward, that emptiness will disappear. You and Solo had that dream for a reason. I enabled you to finally meet each other because you are destined to be together."
"But I love Zelda. I don't want anyone else. I want her."
"That's not what I mean. Solo will fill that void in your soul. And you will fill the void in her soul. It wasn't a coincidence that you two met. You didn't simply take her off the streets and into your home because of pity. I am going to tell you something that will change your life forever. Solo has come into your life in order to complete your soul. I think you already know what I am about to say. Link, Solo is your sister."
"She's...my...sister? Are you sure?" He couldn't believe what he had just heard. Was Solo really his sister? Was that even possible? He wasn't sure if he could believe that. But somehow, it had to be true. He could feel it.
"Of course I'm sure. I would know my own children. She's your twin sister."
"That's why your diary said children instead of child."
"Yes. Before the invaders came, Batai and I realized that we would have to get you two out of the castle before the soldiers came and killed everyone. We decided that it would be best to separate you, in order to ensure that at least one of you would survive. Batai took Solo to the orphanage in Batarael. Then the soldiers came and killed Batai and tried to kill me and you. I was finally able to take you to the Kokiri Forest where you would be safe."
"Why did Solo go to the orphanage? Why did all those children have to die, and why did she have to live on the streets for so long? Why couldn't it have been me on the streets? I didn't want her to go through that. I could've handled living like that. Why did she have to suffer?"
"Don't feel guilty. It wasn't your fault. That was just an accident. None of us had any control over that. Unfortunately, I couldn't foresee that aspect of her life. I didn't know that she would end up living in a box and eating garbage. Don't you think I would've given her to the Deku Tree like I did you if I had know what she was going to go through? I pains me everyday to know the suffering that she experienced. But the suffering has only made her stronger. It doesn't matter, though. She is with you now, and you will protect her. Now it's time for you to leave. You have to go back to the world and figure this stuff out on your own. As much as I'd like to stand behind you, telling you what to do, you have to discover your powers by yourself. There is one more thing you need to know: Solo is also an Oracle. She is beginning to realize that now. You, Solo, and Zelda will discover your powers together. You all have a lot of learning to do."
"Can I come back here, and see you again?" asked Link. He was sad, he didn't want to leave. He was talking to the mother he had never known. He wanted to stay here and get to know her.
"Of course you can, honey. In a few years, you will all be able to join the other Oracles in the Vinculum. It will take much time and practice, but you can do it. But you must be patient. The abilities with develop themselves as you grow. I just want you to know that I love you and Solo more than anything else in the entire Universe. I gave my life for you two, and I would gladly do it again. Until she can come here on her own, I want you to tell her that I love her. And I want you to tell Solo that you love her. I know you do, and she needs to know that. She has never had anyone in her life, and she needs to be loved. Solo needs to know that there are people who care about her. Make sure you tell Zelda that Solo is your sister, because women tend to get jealous when men start hanging around other women. Zelda needs to know that you love Solo because she is your sister."
"I'll tell her that. Can I ask you one more thing?"
"Sure, son. What is it?"
"What is Solo's real name? What's the name you gave her when she was born?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," replied Araia.
"Solo chose that particular name for herself because she couldn't remember her true name. As far as she knows, Solo is her true name. But if you want to know her given name, it's..." Araia paused to emphasize her point. This only annoyed Link. "Her name is Zelda."
"Are you serious?" asked Link, wondering if his mother was trying to tease him.
"Yes I am. When you two were born, we decided to name you Link and to name your sister Zelda. Trust me, it has nothing to do with the princess. It was just a coincidence. But I think she'll will want to keep the name Solo, because calling her Zelda would be a little confusing."
"I can't believe it," said Link. "Solo is my sister, and her name is really Zelda. And I'm in love with Princess Zelda who is not related to me. So...I love Zelda the princess...and Zelda is also my sister, the Zelda who calls herself Solo."
"That's so confusing," said Link. "I think maybe we'll still call her Solo. Calling her Zelda would create too many misunderstandings. Why did you have to go and name her that? Just to confuse me later in life?"
"No I didn't. Batai and I picked names that we thought were good. Zelda happened to be a very popular girl's name back then. I didn't know that it would happen to be the name of the Princess of Hyrule, she hadn't even been born yet. You can deal with that problem when you go back. It's time for you to leave. I love you son, and I love your sister. I will see you again."
"Link? Link?" said a concerned voice. Link tried to make out who it was, it sounded familiar. The place he had just been in had disappeared. He was beginning to regain the sensations that belonged to the physical world. He was no longer in the Vinculum, he could tell that he had returned to the real world. Link opened his eyes, everything was an indistinct blur. He tried to focus, but it hurt to see.
"Link? Are you okay?" asked the voice. Link couldn't see who it was, he tried to nod that he was okay. "Solo, Saria, he's awake."
Solo walked up to Link and watched him try to sit up. Link opened his eyes again, this time he was able to see more clearly. He saw that it was Zelda who had been sitting next to him. He sat up and looked at the three concerned girls. He rubbed his temples with his hand, he had quite a headache. That whole experience had left him feeling weak and tired. But the knowledge he had gained far outweighed this minor discomfort. He was surprised to notice that he was in his house, in his own bed. He didn't remember going back to his home.
"Are you okay, Link?" asked Zelda, her voice full of concern. Link looked at her and smiled.
"I'm fine," he replied, perfectly calm and in a state of near-bliss.
"What happened to you?" asked Solo.
"That will take quite a bit of explaining. First, you tell me: what happened to me? How'd I get back here?"
"After I went to get Impa," began Zelda, "we came back and saw you laying on the ground, totally unconscious. Solo had stopped crying and was trying to wake you up. We finally just took you back here and put you in your bed to try and see when you would wake up. That was five hours ago. You were out for quite a while."
"Yes, we were worried about you," added Solo.
"Solo, are you feeling better?" asked Link, remembering how upset she had been in front of the burned-down orphanage.
"Yes, I'm fine now. Zelda and I talked about it for a while. All the memories I had kept inside of me were finally let out. I feel like a huge weight has been taken off my chest. What happened to you? You just passed out all of a sudden."
"It's very complicated," replied Link. "I had...I guess you could call it an 'out-of-body experience.' I was in a place...where I saw my mother. And I learned a lot of things." Link looked at Solo. "Solo, I need to tell you something. We had those dreams for a reason. From the moment I first saw you, I knew that there was something special about you. And I'm sure that you felt the same way about me. Now, I've found out what the reason is."
"What would that be?" asked Solo.
"Yes, tell us," urged Saria.
Link took a deep breath to calm his nerves. "Solo, you are my twin sister." The expressions on the girls' faces turned to astonishment, and Solo's jaw nearly dropped to the floor.
"Are you...serious?" mumbled Solo, trying to think if she had misunderstood what Link said.
"Yes, I am," said Link.
"I knew it!" exclaimed Saria. "I just knew that they had to be related. You two look so alike that it couldn't be a coincidence."
"How do you know that for sure?" asked Zelda. Somehow, she knew in her heart that what Link said was true. She felt relieved that she no longer had to worry about Solo, and no longer had to feel jealous. She knew that the jealousy had been unfounded, but she felt like that anyways.
"That story will take quite a while to tell. You should all sit down for it. I learned some very important things in my vision." Link began to recall the entire account of his experience, the girls listening intently. He told them about the Vinculum and the Oracles. He told them about his mother and what she had done. When Zelda and Solo found out that they too would become Oracles, they were in disbelief, yet they accepted it. Somehow they knew that it was true. It explained all the feelings they'd had in their lives. When Link had finished the story, all three girls sat in stunned silence. They could hardly believe what Link had told them. It was so amazing that he'd had such an important vision. Zelda knew that something like this would happen to Link eventually. Zelda and Solo both began to wonder about their own psychic experiences. Zelda knew that she might have some kind of power, but she never had any real evidence until now. She was looking forward to exploring this new facet of her existence.
"That's absolutely amazing," said Solo finally. She now understood why she'd always had that empty feeling inside her. She didn't know quite how to react to this new revelation. It wasn't everyday that she met someone for the first time and found out that he was her brother. She had found it hard enough trying to get to know the strange boy who rescued her. Now she had to get to know this boy as a brother. What should she do first? It would take a long time before she could know him, but somehow she felt like she already did.
"It's going to take a lot of work for you two to get to know each other better," said Saria.
"I still can't believe it," said Zelda. "She's your sister? I never thought that our little search would end up like this. And to tell you the truth, I thought it was a wild goose chase to begin with."
Link glared. "Well, this just proves that you should always take me seriously. I knew that I had special powers, maybe I can read people's minds," said Link in a purposely chilling voice.
"About that," said Zelda. "How do we know when we're having one of those visions? The idea of being psychic seems a little frightening to me. Our lives are confusing enough, and this just adds to it."
"Well, my mother said that it would develop over time," responded Link. "I'm assuming that it would just be another part of growing up. We'll just have one more thing to deal with. I think it'll be interesting. Aside from simply growing up, we'll have something more develop within us. It'll be nothing less than exhilarating. Now I have another purpose in life: to get to know my sister."
"Oh, that's so sweet," commented Zelda. "Of course, you know what's going to happen now."
"What?" asked Link.
"You and Solo are going to hate each other. Brothers and sisters always fight, so now you two can't be friends anymore." Zelda said all this in a joking manner, but knew that that was sometimes true.
"Oh come on," said Link. "You know that's not gonna happen. Just because we're siblings doesn't mean we can't get along."
"I think this'll be a wonderful experience," said Solo. "For so many years, I always wished that I could have a family. I saw children playing in the streets, having a good time. I saw brothers and sisters, and mothers and fathers. I always wanted to have that, or at least to have someone who cared about me. Then when I met you, I finally had someone who cared about me. My only wish was to have someone who cared about me, and now I've got that. But now that I've found out I have a brother, both of my wishes have come true. I have someone who cares about me and he's also my family. I couldn't ask for anything more. I...love you...brother." Solo opened her arms and gave Link a loving embrace.
"Oh, that's so cute!" commented Saria. "Group hug!" Upon hearing that, the three girls ganged up on Link and squeezed him as hard as they could. It was so much fun seeing him squirm in their bear-hug.
"I can't breathe!" shouted Link. They girls released him from their vise-like grip and giggled relentlessly. Link took a deep breath and coughed a few times.
"We just wanted you to know that we all love you," said Zelda.
"There's one more thing I want to know," said Solo. "You told us all about how your-our-mother took me to the orphanage and all that other stuff. She told you all about the things she did back then. But, did she tell you what my real name was? 'Cause I really can't remember...and I'd like to know."
"Oh...that," said Link. "That'll probably be harder to believe than anything else I've told you. It's probably better that you don't remember it, because it would be a little confusing. Your name is Zelda."
"No, really," said Solo. "What's my real name?" She didn't believe what Link said, he had to be trying to play a joke on them. Zelda had an equally frustrated look of disbelief on her face.
"I'm totally serious," responded Link. "That's your name. Our parents must've decided to name you that just like any other parents would. How were they supposed to know that I would meet someone in my life who had the same name?"
"Now I know what you meant when you said that it would be confusing," commented the princess. "But I've never met anyone with the same name as me."
"Yeah, it'll be a little confusing having two Zelda's around," said Saria. "I don't think I can get used to that."
"You know, I think I'll stick with the name I already have," said Solo. "It's good to know what my real name is, but it's actually kind of foreign to me. I mean, that's not the name I grew up with. I've called myself Solo for as long as I can remember, and it would be weird going by anything else. I wouldn't be myself if everyone called me Zelda. I'll stick with Solo."
"Well, that'll do away with some confusion," said Link. "Now we just have to figure out what to do next. Since you'll be living here, you're going to need a place to sleep. I can build a bed for you." Link rubbed his hands together with anticipation. "That means I get to use saws and hammers and all sorts of sharp and dangerous tools."
"Link really gets a kick out of playing with all his hammers and saws," explained Saria to Solo.
"Is he any good at building things?" asked Solo. She didn't want to sleep in a bed that Link built if he was a lousy engineer.
"Yeah, he's great when he gets it right," said Saria. "Most of the times he's really good at building things. Of course, he wasn't always that good with his hands. It took him a while before he got the hang of it. You should see the projects he botched."
"Hey, I never botched anything," Link said defensively. "Those things were just for practice."
"Whatever you say," said Saria in a sarcastic tone. "You know, such a wonderful thing has happened today. It's not everyday that two strangers meet each other and find out that they're brother and sister. I think we should celebrate."
"What? You mean, like a party?" asked Link.
"Not necessarily a party," replied Saria. "Just something for the four of us. Why don't we go over to my house? I can make cookies for all of us!"
"Ooh, I like cookies," said Link, licking his lips.
"I've never had cookies before," said Solo.
"Well, you'll like the ones I make," said Saria. "Come on, let's go. I've got everything we need at my house." Saria, Solo, and Zelda stood up to leave, but Link held Zelda's hand, causing her to stop. Zelda looked at Link, wondering what he wanted. Saria stopped at the door and urged Link to get up. "Are you coming or not?"
"Why don't you two go ahead of us?" said Link. "I want to talk to Zelda alone for a minute. We'll meet you guys there in a few minutes." Saria nodded her assent and left Link's house, followed by Solo. Zelda sat down next to Link and gave him an inquisitive look.
"What is it you wanted to talk to me about?" she asked.
Link took a deep breath and wondered how he was going to word his what he was going to say. "Zelda, I just wanted to talk to you about what's happened."
"Well , their isn't that much to say. I think it's wonderful that you have a sister. It's mind-boggling that you could just stumble upon her by chance."
"It wasn't by chance," said Link. "It was supposed to happen that way. We didn't meet by chance. I would've like to have know her all my life, but I guess it wasn't supposed to happen that way."
"Yeah you're right," agreed Zelda. "I just think it's amazing about the whole thing with the Oracles. It'll be a lot of fun figuring out what we can do. But tell me, what is it you really wanted to talk to me about?"
Link sighed, Zelda always wanted to get to the point. "It's about me and you. When I first met Solo, I was worried that I might be falling in love with her instead of you. I felt that there was something about her that was different from you. Now I know why I felt that way, and I'm relieved that everything turned out okay."
"I was worried for a while, too," said Zelda. "I thought that maybe...that maybe you didn't love me anymore."
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about. I want you to know that I would never stop loving you for any reason. People have told me that I'm too young to be deciding who I love and who I want to be with. They tell me that I should wait till I'm an adult, and wait till I'm mature. But I've been an adult, and that wasn't any clearer than it is now. In fact, I more sure of this now than I've ever been in my whole life. This isn't some puppy-love between to immature children. I know that this is the way it's supposed to be. I'm not sure why yet, but I know for a fact that we are supposed to be together. Of all the crazy things that are going on in my life, you are the one thing that I can count on. Zelda, you are the most perfect person I've ever met. You're the one person I feel this connection with, the one person I'm supposed to be with. I want you to know that I love you more than anything in this world, and nothing will ever change that. I would do anything for you, and I would die for you." Link took a breath and awaited Zelda's reaction. He had finally said it. The both knew they loved each other, and Link had told her that before. But he had never said it all in one definitive statement.
Zelda was amazed at what he'd said. She never knew that Link could be so wonderful and insightful. She had felt the same way, but had never had the courage to say it all. "I feel the same way about you," said Zelda, wiping a tear from her cheek. She leaned over and gave Link a loving embrace, also kissing him on the cheek. This time, she didn't hug and kiss him to embarrass him or see him blush, this hug was the most sincere thing she'd ever done. She didn't want to ever let go. "I never thought you could be so insightful. You summed all of my feelings too."
After what seemed like forever, Zelda finally let go of Link. They both looked deep into each other's eyes, into their very souls. Zelda grasped Link's hand and made him stand up along with her. "Come, on," she urged. "Let's go get some of those cookies."
"Sounds good to me," replied Link, following Zelda out the door. As he walked the short distance to Saria's house, Link thought of everything he had done in the last few days. He had made the most important discovery of his life, and rediscovered his feelings for Zelda. He now realized what had caused that empty feeling in his soul, the feeling that had haunted him on all those lonely nights. For the first time in his life, he finally didn't feel that void. The void inside his being had been finally filled. He had finally found the sister he always knew he had. Somewhere deep inside him, he had always known. Link walked inside Saria's house, where she and Solo were already beginning to prepare the cookies. Zelda walked over to the other girls and began to assist them in their cooking. The only thing Link could do right now was look at the three girls. They were his family: his best friend, his sister, and his one true love. They were the only people he ever needed. The void in his soul was gone, now replaced with love and friendship. The predator that stalked him for all those years was gone. Link sat down at the table and smiled to himself; he had found what he was looking for.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: The idea of giving a character a long-lost sibling is not a new one. This was just my take on it. I though Link deserved some kind of blood ties, so I created a sister for him. Also, this story gave me the reason to include a favorite joke of mine. I've read many fanfics and Zelda fan theories about Zelda being Link's long-lost sister, so I decided to make Solo's real name Zelda. I mean no offense by this, it was just poking fun at the idea of Princess Zelda being Link's sister. Also, some people from the Gundam Wing fandom might find the name Solo familiar, and notice that the story of Solo's life seems a lot like the history of Duo Maxwell's life. This is not a coincidence. I liked the idea of Link's sister being a poor orphan on the street, so I took that idea and ran with it. This was just another of the many references I like to make to others stories and genres that I enjoy. The next story after this one is called Love Will Leave You Crying.