The Greatest Hero Never Known

Slowly, the light of the sun began to creep over the height of the distant mountains, dispelling the darkness of the previous night and birthing shadows all about the confines of the Lon Lon Ranch. In her hiding place, just across from Epona's outdoor stable, a young girl tensed in anticipation. It usually happened at this time of day and for once she was going to be ready!

She perked her ear listening to the multitudes of sounds that were accompanying what was looking to be a bright and beautiful morning and cursed each and every one of them. She damned the orchestra of crickets and cicadas, as well as the musical hymn of the birds, which greeted the sun. How could she hear what she was waiting for with all this noise?

She cupped both hands to her ears and listened as intently as she could. Today would be the day that this little mystery came to an end. But as time dwindled by, her impatience grew. It was when frustration was about to overwhelm her that she heard the soft notes of a melody carried on the breath of the wind.

Adrenaline coursed through her body and her eyes leapt to the stable outside the window. It looked as though Epona as well had heard the refrain as well. The young mare reared back upon her hind legs and with barely a stride, leapt up and over the walls of her pen.

"I'm gonna get you today!" Malon proclaimed, bursting out of the barn atop the fastest horse of the Lon Lon Ranch. She was hot on the heels of the galloping Epona, as she streaked out of the ranch's gates and into the wide-open fields of the Hylian plains.

Prior to today, Malon hadn't been properly prepared to give chase. She had always been in the middle of some chore or some other hindrance when the call came and Epona was an extremely fast horse. So she had allotted today to the pursuit and capture of the song and horse thief.

Malon's smile was threatening to split her face as she tried to keep Epona in sight, while at the same time, not wanting to be seen herself. She didn't want to tip off to whomever it was that had called Epona that she was on to them. She had a couple of hundred questions she wanted to ask that individual, primary of which was how he had come to know Epona's song. As far as she knew, she was the only person who knew it, taught to her by her late mother and cherished by her and the young horse, Epona. Or at least that was what she thought until about a week and a half ago, when someone had used the song to summon Epona and the young horse raced away in answer. The fact that this person had befriended Epona, a horse that seemed to hate everybody but her, just added even more spice to the mystery.

Epona slowed as she reached the quiet and secluded mouth of the fairy wood. Malon did likewise and dismounted when she saw the mare enter the forest. Holding the reins to her own mare behind her, Malon stealthily led it forward. Only a brave or foolish few ventured into the forest of the fairies out of fear of getting cursed, lost forever or invoking the wrath of the Great Deku Tree.

Malon was practically bursting with curiosity now. Had one of the Korkiri stolen Epona? How did they learn Epona's Song? Had it been fairy magic? There was an unearthly glow coming from the entrance. And why would a Korkiri need a horse if they could not leave the wood? As her imagination grew and drew her closer to the entrance, Malon again heard the hypnotic sounds of an ocarina. Now that she was so close to the source she could tell that an ocarina was what she had heard earlier play Epona's Song, but the melody she was hearing now was different. This was a lilting and haunting tune that seemed to reach down into one's very soul. Malon was entranced by it; she had never heard an ocarina played with such emotion. Despite herself she began to hum with the beat and not before long she began to sing, making up nonsense words as she went along.

So captivated was Malon that she failed to notice the music getting louder as the source and the ethereal glow that came from the forest drew closer. Before she could react, she found herself directly in the path of Epona at full gallop. She was paralyzed, but not by the thunder of the hooves or by the terror of being trampled. It was the young boy riding Epona, or more precisely, his eyes that had entranced her. He had the most engaging eyes. Her death was racing towards her and that was her only thought.

With an almost nonchalance, the young Korkiri with his fairy flitting about his brow, maneuvered the reins with one hand and held the ocarina to his lips with the other. Effortlessly, he and Epona leapt over the head of the still unmoving Malon, as if she were just some obstacle in their path, like a rock or errantly placed fence. Without pause or a turn of his head in her direction, the young Korkiri and his fairy rode atop Epona into the fields of Hyrule.

No longer mesmerized by the light of the young boy's eyes, Malon slowly turned around and watched the trail of dust left in Epona's wake dissipate into the morning air. She quickly raced back to her own mount and followed in pursuit. "I'll bet you think you're cool with that move, don't you? Well the days not over yet, FAIRY BOY!" she called out to the eternally young Korkiri, not caring if he could hear her or not.

Cresting a large hill that stood out prominently in the otherwise flat plains, Malon was able to spot "Fairy boy" off in the distance. He and Epona had slowed considerably and were lazily going about their way. Malon was slightly offended.

"Think you've lost me already, do you, Fairy boy? I bet you think you're a better rider too!" She smiled and renewed her pursuit down the hill. Of course, "Fairy boy" had no way of knowing that she was chasing him, but as far as Malon was concerned that was his problem. As a horse thief, he should have known better, cute or not. She had just made it to the bottom of the hill, her horse at full gallop and her target insight when a huge white stallion pulled in front of her.

Malon scrambled to stop in time, pulling back frantically on the reins. The rider of the second horse watched her passively as she did so. As her horse faltered to a halt, Malon looked up viciously at the horseback rider. She was about to lash out verbally when her reflection in the large broad sword strapped to the horse's side gave her pause. Her anger barely restrained, Malon examined the woman atop the horse more closely. She looked to be in her early to mid-twenties with ravened hair and olive colored skin. Her left cheek bore a scar that was at least two inches in length, but instead of detracting it only seemed to add to her exotic allure and it was the only thing that resembled a flaw on her otherwise perfectly toned frame. Over her shapely figure she wore a white tunic with a distractingly low neckline, black leggings, and silvered colored bracers on her forearms and black boots completed the outfit. With one hand on her horse's reins, the other held the hilt of a curved, short, narrow sword-like weapon at her waist. "Child! Tell us where to find the Hero of Time," the strange woman asked with an accent that Malon didn't recognize.

"The who of what?" Malon asked with confusion clear in her voice. That confusion only increased when she finally noticed the long column of horses and carriages that followed in the woman's wake.

"Wasn't that Malon you nearly killed back there?" Navi asked, as she rested on Link's right shoulder. The pair was halfway to their destination of the town of Hyrule.

"Was that who that was?" Link questioned back in an innocent tone, pausing from the tune he had been playing on his ocarina.

"You can't just keep taking Epona without her permission."

"What're you talking about? I already have her permission. Epona's my horse now."

"That was before… in the past… I mean fut… the other time… You know!"

Link did know. Re-meeting all those people he had come across saving Hyrule was almost an impossible chore. He didn't regret the fact that no one remembered him as the hero who saved Hyrule from Gannon, but he did grieve the loss of his friends. He really regretted avoiding Malon and the others and treating them so brusquely, but the risks were too high with Malon. Who knew if Malon would still allow him to keep Epona, one of the few companions he had who did recall all their adventure together. Link really didn't want to take the chance of losing Epona by talking to Malon. After all, who would believe the fanciful tale of a young boy freeing Hyrule all by himself, from an evil that no one remembered existed?

"You like her, don't you? That's why you're scared to talk to her," Navi accused all of a sudden.

Link just ignored her and continued to play his ocarina, but that wasn't enough to deter the boisterous fairy.

"Or is it Ruto you like? Or perhaps it's Zelda? You keep avoiding them too."

"I only like you, Navi," Link paused his playing long enough to say. That always quieted Navi. Indeed, the blushing little fairy said not another word until they reached the outer gates of the town of Hyrule, too embarrassed to talk.

Link's first stop in town was the local orphanage. Ever since learning of the circumstances of his birth and realizing that he was not one of the Korkiri children, the mystery of his true parents both haunted and fascinated him. He wanted to know what his mother looked like. He knew she was brave from the details he was given by the Great Deku Tree, and he imagined her to be beautiful and elegant as well. He wanted to know what kind of man his father was and how he died. Had he been a warrior too? So when the battle with Gannon ended and Zelda sent him back to his own time, and Navi returned from wherever it was she had gone, Link sought out those who might help him discover more about his past. The orphanage seemed like a likely start.

"Hello, Link, Navi, how are you two today?" a tall slender woman asked as Link opened the short picket fence that surrounded the yard of the orphanage and stepped inside.

Link nodded in return, unstrapping his sword and handing it to the woman. She placed it in a large rectangular wooden box that was hidden within the ground near the tree that stood prominently in the middle of the yard. She didn't permit weapons around the children. In fact, it was difficult for her to accept Link walking around with one. There was a lot about this ten-year-old child living alone that bothered her.

"Hello, Mrs. Garish. Navi and me are great."

"You mean 'Navi and I are well'…not 'Navi and me are great'," she corrected.

Ashamed, Link scratched the back of his head. "Navi and I are great," he repeated. Inwardly, he sighed, as he knew what she would say next. Curse his mistake!

"You know, Link, you are a very intelligent young man. You could be even more so if you attended regular schooling. There is very little you couldn't do if you applied yourself a little more to your education," she said in her teacher's voice. They reached the door of the school combination orphanage, but the matron paused before opening it. "Have you thought about my offer?" She asked switching to a more motherly tone.

"I have," Link began cautiously. "I don't believe I have much of a need for school right now." Link had learned most of what he needed to know at the school of hard knocks, course Dungeons 101.

Mrs. Garish sighed and began to open the door to the school. "You're wrong, Link, but I was thinking about the other thing we discussed… your living alone."

"But I'm not alone. I have Navi…"

"That's right," the fairy agreed. "The Great Deku Tree takes care of all the Korkiri."

"…And Saria and all the other Korkiri. There my family," Link said plaintively.

"But you're not a Korkiri," Mrs. Garish countered and opened the door fully.

"Hello, Link and Navi," the children in the room chorused as Mrs. Garish and the Korkiri dressed Hylian entered the room.

Link smiled and waved to them before walking over to talk. Mrs. Garish smiled cryptically and left the room.

"Hi guys, what's up?" Link greeted the other children. It was then that he noticed their rather formal appearance. All of the children were in their best clothes and were neatly groomed. Link started to get a feeling that was usually reserved for when entering unexplored dark dungeons. Before any of the children could answer his query, Link started for the door. He quickly opened it and was about to dash out when he bumped into a middle-aged couple just walking up the steps.

"The Hero of Time… the greatest warrior your realm has produced," the older woman explained further, her arrogance clear. She turned to face several riders who had left the column to join her. "We are wasting our time here," she told the new arrivals and rode off before anyone could respond.

'How rude,' Malon thought, watching the strange woman ride off before she shifted her attention to the four strangers before her. A representative of several of the races of Hyrule were present.

A Goron rolled to a halt and uncurled. He had whitish hair on his head and a medium length beard. He nodded his head to Malon in greeting. "You'll have to forgive our companion for her abruptness."

"Yes, her tribe is not known for their patience," a regally dressed Zora added riding up on a lanky legged horse, also on the back of which was a none too pleased Deku shrub.

"True, I fear if left to her own devices she would set fire to the plains of Hyrule to draw out the legend we seek." The new speaker was of Malon's race. He had green eyes and rusty blond hair. He appeared to be in his mid to late twenties and he too was dressed in the finery of the nobility. Malon thought him extremely handsome and her pursuit of the Kokiri horse thief was momentarily forgotten. "Forgive our rudeness child," the young noble apologized and dismounted from his steed. He approached Malon and knelt down to meet her eyes. My name is Saffran a noble from the land of Termina, a kingdom not far to the east. Or at least I think it was to the east. To speak truthfully, we arrived in a rather strange manner through the woods yonder," he paused, pointing, with a slightly bewildered tone before continuing more confidently. "I am here as a representative of King Pental of Termina and accompanying me are representatives of the other sovereigns of Termina's lands: Prince Sol of the Zoras, Minister Krakken of the Gorons, and Lord Zapheer of the Deku." Each of who bowed when they were introduced.

"Okay," Malon smiled shyly at him. 'Wow, a foreign noble!' She thought romantically.

Lord Saffran smiled as well. "The reason for our journey into the lands of Hyrule is this: King Pental wishes to convey upon the brave Hylian Knight, who saved Termina from certain destruction, his utmost gratitude and a fitting compensation for the hardships he surely endured on the behalf of the people of Termina. He would also like to make an additional request for this man's aid in vanquishing a new threat to the noble lands of Termina. Surely, you most know such a heroic…"

A bubble that intruded between the faces of Malon and Saffran interrupted the conversation. Zapheer, the Deku Shrub, tumbled off the back of the Zora's horse extremely upset about something, but Malon could make nothing of the deku's strange language. All of the Deku's she had dealings with concerning ranch business spoke in the royal language of the kingdom of Hyrule.

The Deku Shrub was not the only person to turn indignant. Both the Goron and the Zora had become angered as well. "The reason we cannot find this man is because you gentlemen refuse to accept the fact that the man we seek is a Zora. His exploits in and around the seas of Termina are already legend. The famous Zora singer, Lulu, herself is willing to testify to his helping her personally. I suggest we head immediately to Lake Hylia, where we are sure to find the hero we seek at the right hand of the Zora king. No doubt he…" A bubble exploded in his face.

"Wrong, wrong, wrong, he wasn't a Hylian or of the Zoras. Even the smallest of Gorons knows this; I don't know how you guys don't. All of the Gorons of Termina will attest to the fact our hero was a brother Goron with the hot blood and fiery passion that goes with it!" The Minister Krakken was about to break out in a joyous dance when several bubbles burst in his face in rapid succession.

The vassal of Termina, the Goron minister and the Zora prince turned heatedly on their irate Deku companion, who was beyond angry and was approaching a conniption. All three shouted at the frothing shrub. "THERE IS NO WAY HE WAS A DEKU SHRUB!"

A heated argument amongst the four followed until the woman who Malon had initially met returned. "Quit your incessant prattle!' She pulled hard on the reins and her horse reared back fiercely. The various nobles became silent, wearing the expression of scolded children. "And you call yourselves men! Pathetic." She again looked down at Malon smugly. "You remember not the name of man who saved your kingdom from a future darkness?"

Malon shook her head. "Hyrule has been at peace for as long as I can remember. The last war was over before I was born," Malon explained with a shrug of her shoulders.

The representatives of the kingdoms of Termina looked bewilderedly at each other, while the woman remained irate.

"These sheep know nothing of him as I said they would not. I will humor this charade of a search for a few days longer, then I will find him in my own way." She again turned from the group, but this time she merely rode a few feet away and waited for their conversation to finish.

"I, for one, never believed her ramblings of time travel and prophecy," Prince Sol said quietly as they watched the woman depart.

"Who is she?" Malon asked. "She's really rude. She can't be royalty too? A Gerudo, maybe?"

Saffran answered, "Her name is Narcissa. She is the representative of a race of warriors, who worship some pagan god, if I recall correctly. Normally, they are too proud…"

"Stuck up, you mean," Prince Sol corrected.

"Ahem, quite," Saffran continued. "…To involve themselves in our pedestrian affairs, as they would put it. However, when word spread of the warrior who saved Termina from the falling moon, her people too, began to search for him. They have also pledged to help our King confront Termina's present crisis."

"I don't trust her," Prince Sol of the Zoras said.

"No matter how fierce a group of fighters her people maybe, they were no match for a falling moon."

"A falling moon?" Malon asked puzzled. Saffran nodded.

"That event humbled us all, I would say. I think they see the need for brotherhood in facing the current danger to Termina. You should all just relax," the Goron noble stated patting Prince Sol forcefully on the back, causing the Zora to stumble forward. "We'll find our Goron brother soon!" He got out before erupting into laughter.

Prince Sol groaned and he helped Zapheer, the Deku representative, who had decided not to speak to anyone (He would have the final laugh when the mighty hero who had saved them was found to be none other than a Deku) on to his horse. The two rode past the woman who was waiting irritably nearby, and rejoined the long train of carriages and horses.

"You can think of no one who has the courage of which we speak?" Saffran asked Malon as he returned to his horse and prepared to leave as well.

"Someone who could stop a moon? Not really…"

"Well, he didn't stop it with his own physical strength. What he did was more complicated than that."

"I guess it could be one of the knights of Castle Hyrule. They are said to be the strongest and bravest fighters in the land, but I don't see how one could stop a moon."

The woman, Narcissa, snorted, apparently hearing Malon's claim. "Out of the mouths of sheep. Enough delay… to this Castle Hyrule! I wish to see what metal of warrior are grown in this docile land. Which way to the castle, child?"

Malon responded angrily, "Isn't it obvious," pointedly looking at the prominent structure of Hyrule Castle that could even be seen from this distance.

The woman smirked, showing Malon an emotion other than contempt for the first time. "Let us go, Saffran. We've wasted enough time."

Saffran nodded to the woman before turning to face Malon. "I thank you for your help," Lord Saffran said with a bow of his head.

Malon blushed and curtsied. "You are very welcome, Sir."

Lord Saffran and Narcissa rejoined the procession of carriages and horses, which turned toward Hyrule castle.

"Strange," Malon said, verbalizing the thought going through her head. She remounted her mare and was about to make her way back to the Lon Lon Ranch, when something returned to her… "FAIRY BOY!"

"Whoa there, young man! Where are you scampering off to?" the man asked grabbing on to Link's arm before he tumbled off the steps. As soon as the man let go, Link tried to make good his escape, but this time the woman blocked his path.

"Why, hello, young man, are you one of the orphans here at Mrs. Garish's school?" She knelt down, placing her hands on his shoulders. "My name is Paige and that man is my husband, Gram. He's a knight at Castle Hyrule," the woman said in a soft voice. "What do you think of that? Do you like knights? What's your name?"

'Knight… whoopee,' Link thought with a roll of his eyes, causing Navi to chuckle. He again attempted to maneuver around the couple without answering any questions.

"Link?" a voice called.

Link froze.

"Welcome, I see you've met Link. He is a very talented and intelligent young man," Mrs. Garish explained with a huge smile, as she stood in the doorway.

"He seems to be very quiet… He isn't troubled?" Paige quietly asked with a note of concern. She wore a contemplative look that made Link nervous.

Mrs. Garish smile grew even further as she walked over to Link and winked at him secretively. Link smiled worriedly back, fully realizing the extent of the mess he was in with Mrs. Garish. She never hid her dissatisfaction with the manner in which Link lived from him, as their earlier conversation indicated and she was not going to miss an opportunity to change that.

"Oh, Link is just a little shy." She stood behind Link and placed a hand firmly on his left shoulder. "Say 'hello' to Mr. and Mrs. Rami, Link."

"Hello," Link said simply, looking anywhere but at the loving faces of the couple.

"Hello," the Rami's chorused. "Umm… is that a fairy?" Paige Rami asked with a tone of concern at the point of light with wings that floated just above Link's head. "Fairies kidnap children and turn them into those silly Kokiri!" She exclaimed and practically hid behind her husband.

Mr. Rami even went so far as to reach around for the sword he carried. "They're conniving tricksters is what they are… mischievous creatures."

Link's eyes narrowed, which did not go unnoticed by Mrs. Garish. "No that's just a butterfly. Shoo! Shoo!" she hissed, swatting at Navi. The little fairy bristled and was about to pronounce her anger more vocally when she met Link's gaze. He motioned with his eyes for her to do as Mrs. Garish wished and she reluctantly did so. He sighed; he was going to get an earful later.

"Why don't we all go inside so we can get to know each other better," Mrs. Garish suggested and motioned the group towards the door. "Sorry about Navi, I meant no disrespect," she whispered into Link's ear while being sure to keep a tight grip on the young elf's shoulder.

Link nodded his acceptance of her apology and went inside. Mrs. Garish turned her attention to the Rami's. "Link's mother was killed shortly after Link was born during the last war. We have no idea of what happened to his father," Mrs. Garish said in confidence to the couple as they entered the main room of the school.

"Goodness," Paige replied. Horrified, she looked at Link as he looked blankly back at her from the back of the room where he stood awkwardly with the other children.

"Yes, it was a terrible time. Many fine Hylians were lost during that war," Gram Rami agreed.

Mrs. Garish could see that she had Paige Rami hooked and by the look on Link's face, so could he. 'He may not like the idea of being adopted now, but he's still a child and children need parents, no matter how independent or resilient they seem,' Mrs. Garish thought to herself looking at Link's dark expression. 'In time… he'll see that I was right.' She turned her gaze back to the Rami's, particularly the husband. He still looked doubtful. "Come on, children," she called to the students in the room. "Why don't you go out and play until lunch is ready." She motioned the children out the room, catching a certain one by the collar. "Not you," she whispered into Link's ear. Caught, Link slinked back in to the room with slumped shoulders.

Paige was beginning to sense that Link would prefer to be anywhere but in the room with her. After hearing of Link's past and his mother's fate, in addition to seeing how removed and detached Link sometimes behaved, she set her heart on being the woman to get him to open up. "Link," she began warmly. "Can I ask how old you are?"

He shrugged his shoulders.

Paige frowned for a moment, but her smile quickly returned. "Hmm… I would… guess nine years old… ten perhaps." Link gave no indication that he cared either way. Having been raised as a Kokiri, who never aged, keeping track of something like birthdays didn't seem so important to him. Not that he knew when it was anyways. Paige was still determined to get through to him.

"Umm… your teacher tells me that you have a number of talents. Do you think you could show me one?"

Link, again, just shrugged his shoulders and looked about the room. He may have been manipulated into this predicament, but he didn't have to help it along. With the growing look of concern and sympathy on Paige's face, Link knew she had already made up her mind. Her husband, Gram, was another matter. He seemed little interested in the happenings in the schoolhouse and instead was looking outside at the boys of the school rough housing. There was Link's out; he just had to get that guy to hate his guts.

"Link can play music! Play a song Link!" one of the girls shouted into the room. Only the boys had gone outside fully to play. A majority of the girls lingered by the doorway to watch the proceedings.

"Really, that's wonderful Link!" Mrs. Rami beamed. "I happen to be a music tutor. I even go to the castle every day to tutor the princess!"

Link raised an eyebrow at that. He knew that Zelda could play both the ocarina and the lyre well.

Paige did not miss the softening of Link's expression. She bent down so she could look Link in the eyes and placed her hands on both of his shoulders. "Maybe we could play a song together?" She reached into the purse she carried at her side and brought out a flute. "What instrument do you play, Link?"

Link opened his mouth to answer, but before doing so looked over into the direction of Mr. Rami. He had a somewhat disgusted look on his face. He muttered something that Link didn't quite hear, but Link surmised he wasn't particularly fond of the idea of Link being musically inclined.

"Link can play any instrument!" one of Link's fan club in the hallway shouted into the room. The gaggle of girls giggled and blushed when Link glared back at them.

Paige stared amazed at Link for a moment, then at Mrs. Garish, who smiled and nodded that the children were correct. "I have yet to find an instrument that Link cannot play well. He seems to prefer the ocarina though. I bet he is even carrying it with him."

Paige smiled at the contemplative look in Link's eyes and placed her flute to her lips. Closing her eyes, she decided to test just how true their words were.

The guards at the gate of the Town of Hyrule had never seen it's like before. In the long train that neared the sole entrance, there were twenty-five carriages, ten wagons full of supplies and at least fifty riders on horseback. Not knowing what to make of such a large caravan nor recognizing some of the crests emblazoned on the carriages and embroidered on the standards, the Captain of the Guard put his men on alert, calling up the reserves from the garrison at the rear of the castle and placing bowmen on the parapets.

The vanguard of knights and other sentries that were at the head of the column rode up ahead, escorting a lone rider.

The archers followed the group as they approached the castle gate, their bows taut. When they were within one hundred yards of the moat and surrounding wall, the guard force stopped, leaving the rider to continue to the gate, unarmed.

The Captain of the Guard was still cautious and left the bridge across the moat raised. He called down from his position atop the guard tower. "Halt! What business have you with such a large force at Castle Hyrule? None of the local kingdoms, nobles or fifes have such banners or guidons.'

The rider dismounted and bowed low. "My name is Lord Saffran and I am liege to King Pental of Termina. We seek audience with King Harkian to honor one of his legendary knights!" Saffran shouted up to the captain, a rolled parchment in his raised hand.

"Termina? And where do these lands of Termina reside? I have never heard of such a kingdom," the captain questioned skeptically back.

"Good Knight, I do admit the journey here was a mysterious one, through the fairy wood to the east, but I guarantee the existence of the Lands of Termina, because it is an existence that it is owed to one of your knights, perhaps someone under your charge! If you would allow me good Knight to present this message of greeting and friendship to your King, all will be explained."

"And why do you require so many knights to deliver a message of greeting?" the captain said pointing to the mass of soldiers and carriages behind Saffran.

Saffran looked back at the long column. They had indeed brought a great many men. "I ride with high ranking representatives of the rulers of all of Termina's kingdoms and escort the most precious treasure King Pental and the Holy Kingdom of Termina have ever bore."

"Very well, Lord Saffran of Termina, you alone may enter. I will put forth your request for audience with the King. Your group may make camp in the Fields of Hyrule near the Lon Lon Ranch to the southwest. Have them pull back there and await your return."

Only the young boys and Mr. Rami remained outside after the start of the impromptu recital. It had started out slow, Paige not quite realizing the depth of Link's talent, before turning into a duel of notes and melodies. It had not taken Paige long to discover that the children had underestimated Link; despite the glowing praise they had given. She had yet to prove or disprove whether or not Link could play any instrument, only having the flute in her purse, but she had discovered that Link could memorize and play any song or melody upon hearing it once. There were even times that she would begin a refrain and Link would finish it.

It was not with rote mechanics that Link played the songs, either. He seemed to find the full breadth of emotion in the music and conveyed it back to the listener, leaving them invigorated or drained, joyous or saddened, depending on the piece

Towards the end, Paige had chosen to put away her flute and sit on the floor next to Mrs. Garnish and the female students of the class and just listen. Listen to the haunting tune of his ocarina as it cried out a hymn of sadness and loss that seemed to cleanse the very soul. When the last note finished, the classroom was completely quiet; the only sound the intrusive noise of the boys and Mr. Rami playing outside.

Paige was emotionally drained after the song. She felt as though she had just spent the last hour crying away all the pain and anguish that had ever plagued her. "That was… it was beautiful. I've never heard that piece before, what was it, Link? It was so…"

Link looked straight into her eyes and Paige was struck with how old his blue eyes seemed. Not the mirthful, mischievous eyes of a ten year old at all; they resembled more the experienced eyes of soldier, someone who had seen things he wished he hadn't. And then without answering her question, Link put his lips to the ocarina a final time and to Paige's renewed amazement, Link's eyes changed.

As bright and exuberant as the notes that danced out of the holes of his ocarina, Link's blue eyes shone with a life that could light the gloomiest of dungeons. His body moved to the fanciful rhythm of the song that caused all others in the room to do the same. The group of girls who had been quiet and withdrawn during the soulful rendition of the previous song, burst from their seats on the floor. They laughed and danced forming a circle around the small musician. Even Mrs. Garish and Paige Rami could not resist the siren like call of the song and they too danced and clapped until the last note played.

Paige's emotions had turned completely around. Her smile threatened to split her face in two. She scooped Link up with a quickness and ferocity that she herself didn't know was there. "Link! That is just a marvelous song! So full of energy!" She hugged him tight and twirled him around. "I've never heard that song either, Link, and I've studied music for many years now. Did you write them yourself?" She looked at him expectantly. She didn't doubt for a minute that it was possible. Link had so much musical talent that she couldn't wait to explore it with him.

Never quite good with such displays of emotion, Link found himself on the defensive. "N… no, I…I didn't write that, my friend, Saria did. It doesn't really have a name or anything. It's just Saria's song. It's a song between friends, so only a handful of people know it."

That had been the most word Paige had heard come out of Link's mouth at one time. She pushed her newfound advantage. "A song between friends, I guess that makes us friends now too." Link turned about in her grasp looking every bit like an embarrassed ten-year-old. "I promise to cherish the song you shared with me, Link," she promised sincerely and released the youth.

Link took a grateful step back and said quietly, "I don't think Saria will mind." Link examined the floor, the ceiling, the little crack in the window, everything but the growing look of love in Paige Rami's face.

"Saria must be a wonderful musician in her own right to create such a magical song. Do you think I could meet her? Does she live nearby?"

'Yes, she lives nearby. She's one of those silly Kokiri,' Link thought by was too polite to say. "Saria lives in Kokiri Forest."

"Oh… I see." Paige quieted for a moment then spoke again. "Link, I'm would like to speak with Mrs. Garish for a while do you think you could play outside. Maybe later we could practice with our instruments again."

Link nodded and gladly left the two women alone in the room as the girls followed Link outside. There he saw Mr. Rami teaching one of the older boys simple sword thrust techniques. Not wanting to interrupt, Link sat down underneath the tree in the middle of the yard where his own sword was hidden. It looked to Link that Mr. Rami was quite experienced with the sword and an excellent teacher. He was very patient with the youth he was instructing and explained the basics well.

"Very good," Mr. Rami praised his spur-of-the-moment student. "You have good form for a beginner! Someday you'll make an excellent knight!"

"Do you really think so, Sir?" the child asked excitedly.

"I do," Mr. Rami replied and knelt down on one knee in front of the boy. "In fact, how would like…"

"Dear? Would you come here a second?" Paige called to her husband, standing in the doorway of the school.

Gram gave his student a pat on the shoulder and walked over to his wife. "Paige, Honey, I think I've found our new son," he enthused and looked back over his shoulder at the young boy he had been instructing. "His name is Kail and he is twelve years old. He's got strong promise as a swordsman and I think with my help, he could be one of the best around."

Paige looked over at the boy her husband had taken so quickly to. He looked like a nice enough boy, but…

Gram noticed the look on his wife face and knew she didn't approve. "Honey, Kail's father was a soldier assigned to Hyrule's eastern garrison. He and his wife were killed in a fire that destroyed their home and all their possessions. Kail made the journey to the castle all by himself with only his wits to provide him food and shelter. That garrison is a good four days travel. He's a remarkable young lad. Why don't you come over and meet him?" he reached for his wife's arm to guide her over to the boy, but Paige didn't budge. Her face bore a frown and her eyes were locked on a different child. Gram followed Paige's gaze to where they rested upon Link. It was Gram's turn to frown.

Link stood with is back to the two adults, his left hand beneath his hat scratching his head. Accidentally, the movement of his hand knocked his hat from its perch, allowing his golden hair to fall down past his shoulders to the mid of his back. Looking at him from the rear as the Rami's were, Link looked every bit like a young prepubescent girl. Quickly picking up his hat, Link stuffed his hair back into its folds. Feeling their stares upon him, Link turned around to see a glowing Paige Rami and a less than enthused Gram Rami looking back at him. Link quickly made his way to the other side of the tree, out of their line of sight.

Paige smiled at the sight of Link's long blonde hair. He was such a beautiful child. She looked expectantly at her husband, her eyes easily telling him her views on whom they should adopt.

"Paige, I… that boy…"

"Gram, Link is musical prodigy! You should have stayed and listened to him play the ocarina. It was the most expressive music I've ever heard…"

Gram's frown deepened. He wasn't averse to music; he just thought young boys should have other pursuits. He knew better than to use that argument against his music teacher wife, however. "Honestly, Paige, I think that boy is troubled. He's very introverted for a boy his age. Look at him off to himself away from the other lads. He has emotional issues and with your work as the castle musical tutor and my own work at the castle, I don't think we could give him the time and help he needs."

Paige turned on her husband. "That boy may be troubled, but his emotions come out in his music. That's how we help him, Gram. We help him develop that gift and he will open himself up to us. I just know it. And he does have friends. He plays music together with a girl named, 'Saria' and the female students of the school seemed quite taken with him," Paige commented with a bemused look and pointed to where most of the girls had surrounded the hapless youth, once more asking him to play for them.

"That's because he practically one of 'em," Gram grumbled to himself.

"What was that?" Paige asked with anger beginning to enter in her voice. She was becoming aware that he was not going to yield easily on this matter, but neither was she.

"Couldn't you at least meet Kail," Gram argued. "I've done as much with that Link boy. You could afford me the same amount of open mindedness."

"Fine," she spat out with a roll of her eyes.

Gram sighed, but he was confident that if she met and talked with Kail she would open up to the idea. She was a very softhearted person and was easily swayed by emotional stories. He searched the yard, but could not find where young Kail had gone off. A large crowd was gathering around the lone tree in the yard, the group of boys intruding on the girls.

The divided couple slowly made their way to the edge of the crowd, while Mrs. Garish looked on from the threshold of the school. She had heard Mr. Rami's preference to adopting the twelve-year-old, Kail. Kail was a very good boy and would be adopted soon enough. Link's adoption was a rare opportunity that she was not going to let slip by. Mrs. Garish knew Link would be uncooperative, but his tactics backfired against Paige Rami. That only left Gram Rami. Unfortunately, he seemed to have formed a negative opinion of Link. No doubt, he was thinking that Link was not the ideal, boisterous preteen boy. True enough, there was little about Link that was typical of most youths his age. However, if he was thinking that Kail was more… for lack of a better word, 'macho' than Link, than Gram Rami was in for a surprise.

At the center of the crowd of children, Link sat on the ground leaning against the tree, blowing an occasional note on his ocarina. The girls still begged him to play, much to the concernment of the boys. Why he garnered their attention so was a mystery to most of them.

Kail pushed his way through the crowd and up to Link. On most occasions, Link got on well with the male students. Today was a rarity on many fronts.

"Hey, did hear ya' what the knight said? He said that I had the potential to be one to!" Whether he was trying to impress the girls present or the Rami's who were standing just on the edge of the crowd, Link didn't know. More forthright, he didn't care.

"I did hear, Kail. If that's what he thinks then good for you. I'm sure you will make it into the ranks of the Hylian knights one day," Link said complaisantly.

"That's right and I'll make knight before you!"

Gram raised an eyebrow in surprise. The Link boy wanted to be a knight? His question was soon answered.

"That won't be too hard. I have no interest in being a castle knight," Link replied calmly before putting his lips back on the mouth of the ocarina.

"Why not, Link?" one of the girls pleaded. "You could become a knight easy and once you become a noble, we could be married and have own land and horses and a beautiful garden…"

A shrill note burst forth from Link's instrument, as he was startled with embarrassment.

"He's not marrying you! He said he would marry me!"

"Wha? When did I say that?" Link asked, stunned, standing up to cutoff this argument before it grew out of hand.

The girls ignored him, but Kail was not ready to yield the spotlight just yet. "You don't want to be a knight, because you know I'm a better swordsman than you."

Link decided that this was a good time to make his exit. Maybe he wouldn't come around here so often in the future. He had learned very little about his parents from the sparse records of the orphanage. He knelt down to the small oblong box hidden in the ground and opened the lid. Reaching inside he took out what looked to be a medium sized pouch and strapped it to his side. "I admit it, Kail. You're the better swordsman." That said Link made his way through the crowd and began walking towards the gate. Link knew his accomplishments even if no one else did. He certainly didn't feel the need to prove them to a twelve year old.

While the adults watched the proceedings quietly from the sidelines, Kail smirked and began to show the other children the sword techniques he had just been taught.

"Link?" Paige saw Link walking towards the schoolyard's gate and turned quickly to Mrs. Garish who had left the school's doorway. "Where is he going? Children aren't allowed to leave the school grounds like that are they?"

Mrs. Garish sighed and watched the retreating youth with the same melancholy expression that Mrs. Rami bore. "Link does not live here. He makes his home in the fairy wood south of town."

Actively listening, but directing his gaze to the group of children, Gram frowned. 'The fairy wood… that was where those enchanted Kokiri lived. This explains the boy's appearance. I'm amazed he hasn't gone mad from the insanity that places is said to instill in anyone foolish enough to enter.'

"The fairy wood? How can that be? The only things in those woods are those silly Kokiri. How could you let a mere child stay in such a place?" Paige exclaimed appalled.

Mrs. Garish understood Paige's concerns. In fact, she shared most of them, but if Paige was going to get anywhere with Link she was going to have to get over her dislike of the Kokiri children. "You may not believe what I'm about to tell you, but as far as I have been able to discern, it is the truth," Mrs. Garish began in a low yet serious voice. "Only until recently, Link believed himself to be one of those silly Kokiri…" Mrs. Garish looked at Paige Rami with a deadpan expression. "I'm not sure what event caused Link to realize that he is Hylian, but I do know that he has spent the large majority of his life since infancy as a Kokiri." Her face grew speculative. "He hasn't mentioned her much, but I believe this Saria he referred to earlier, is the Kokiri who raised him."

"Raised him?"

"Yes, Link told me…"

Before the teacher could fully relate what she knew of Link's tale one of the children's scream interrupted her…