The Hyrulian Valhalla Saga
by Queenie Z

A Toast To Us

(Please note that this will be the FINAL HVS story before the series goes into a hiatus! Please read the updated FAQ at the beginning of this story for more details.)

The first day of winter in the afterlife was always a time of joy and excitement. Not only was the winter weather rarely harsh, providing just the right amount of snow and ice for one's comfortable enjoyment, but it also marked the beginning of the Almsgiving season, a time when Hyrulians and others would share food, drinks, and special treats with their friends, family, and neighbors. Naturally, this special holiday did not die with the people who celebrated it, and as their little brotherhood steadily grew over the centuries, our Heroes of Legend found brand new ways that they could partake in these traditions together.

One element that had become a staple of the Links' festivities was a timeless winter drink - Light's special mulled apple cider, made from a recipe created by his mother and perfected by his uncle in life. It was a sweet and delicious treat, made with only the best apples and a rich medley of spices, sugar, and honey, and every year without fail Light would make gallons upon gallons of the drink for his fellow Heroes. For his first batch of the season, he would typically invite everyone over to his house to socialize as they waited for the cider to finish brewing and serve them personally, and this year was no exception.

After washing and drying his hands, Light turned his attention to the ten large mugs that sat waiting to be filled with apple-spice goodness. Then, he dipped his finger into a small dish of water before wetting the rim of one of the mugs with it. Finally, he reached into another dish for a pinch of brown sugar and began applying it evenly to the rim.

From his place at the wash bin, Duo stopped washing his utensils and peered over at Light. "What's that you're doing?" he asked.

"Oh, this?" Light lifted the newly garnished mug and showed it off with a grin. "Just lining the mugs with a little brown sugar, that's all. You guys liked it when I did it last year, so I thought I'd do it again!"

Duo beamed brightly. "Oh, right, I remember! That was a great idea - you really are a great host, Light!"

"Haha, well, gee, thanks," replied Light bashfully as he sat the mug down to begin work on another one. However, just as he was about to reach the water dish once more, the two were startled by an explosion of laughter coming from the other room. As it began to die down, Light dried off his fingers and turned to Duo.

"Looks like they're having fun without us, Duo," he said. "Let's go see what they're up to, eh?"

Duo nodded cheerfully, and they both walked over the edge of the kitchen, peering out into the living room where the other Heroes had gathered. There, they saw Green being the center of attention, puffing his chest out in an exaggerated fashion and speaking with a very poor impersonation of an Ordonian drawl.

"Well spank my pumpkins and call me Daddy," he bellowed, "it sure is a lovely day on this here ranch, ain't it, pardner?"

This caused the other Links to break into another round of chortling - including Twilight, who, in spite of his best efforts, was unable to hide the smirk of amusement at Green's very obvious attempt to impersonate him.

"Yes-sir-ee, time to head on out to the pasture and shovel some goat turds before comin' home to a house fulla cats!" Green pointed a thumb at himself for emphasis. "All in a day's work fer the Hero of Twilight!"

"H-Hey, now," said Twilight between chuckles, "that wasn't all I did at the ranch!"

"Yeah," said Mini cheekily, "you had to shovel horse turds, too!"

This ignited a third explosion of laughter, which only died down when Engie stepped forward to take Green's place.

"Okay, okay, my turn now - guess who I am!"

The others watched closely as Engie's face darkened into a scowl. Then, he turned towards Brown, taking a firm hold of his collar and causing him to yelp in surprise.

"H-Hey!" he said, "What are you — "

"Did I just catch you breathing within ten feet of my sister!?" he said, giving Brown a gentle shake. "I buried my sword in the skull of a man four times my size - just think of what I could do to you…!"

Amidst the resulting laughter, Duo's voice cried out. "Oh! I know! You're Wind, right?" he said, raising his hand energetically.

Everyone turned to the two Heroes at the doorway, and Engie broke into a broad grin. "Good job, Duo!" he said, letting go of Brown's shirt, "Though it really ought to have been obvious."

"Oh, come on, Engie, you know I'm not that bad!" said Wind with a slight roll of his eyes.

"I don't know, Wind," said Time with a smirk, "I thought he captured your overzealous devotion to your family pretty perfectly."

"Yeah, well," said Wind, jumping out of his seat indignantly, "how about this?" He then covered his right eye with one hand and began gesticulating melodramatically with his other. "Oh, no, woe is me, the poor Hero of Time! My life is so tragic, and everything bad that's ever happened to Hyrule is all my fault! Oh, the shame! Oh, the regret!"

Time's smirk turned into an irate frown. "Oh, haha, very funny," he said.

"Whoa, hey, Wind," said Sky with a hint of concern in his voice, "let's not turn this into something mean-spirited, all right?"

"It ain't mean-spirited if it's accurate!" guffawed Twilight, who was probably laughing the hardest at Wind's impression.

After shooting a glare at his descendent, Time scoffed and waved his hand. "It's fine, it's fine," he said, "I can take a few jabs at my expense here and there."

"Oh, oh, guys, can I go?" said Brown as he stepped forward to take his turn. He shot Light a very conspicuous look of mischief. "Watch this." He then held his hands over his head to resemble animal ears and began hopping around in a circle.

At that, everyone began roaring with laughter once again - except Light, who turned bright red and gritted his teeth, marching back into the kitchen and returning with a leftover apple in his hand. Then, he marched into the living room, tossing the apple so that it hit him squarely on the rear. The younger Hero screeched and stumbled; then, while rubbing at the spot where he was hit, he gave Light an angry look.

"What was that for!?" he asked. "Can't you take a joke?"

"Can't you learn to respect your elders!?" huffed Light as he returned to the kitchen. "None of you are going to get any of this cider if you keep making fun of me like this!"

"Oh, come on, Light!" protested Mini, "We were just having fun!"

"Yeah," said Engie. "We were making fun of everybody, not just you!"

"Maybe you should apologize anyway," said Duo, who, true to form, was trying to dispel the negativity that was brewing in the house. "He gets really embarrassed about the whole bunny thing, remember?"

Brown sulked. "…All right, fine," he said. He yelled towards the kitchen. "Hey, Light, I didn't mean to embarrass you!"

There was no response from the kitchen, however. After a short pause, Brown spoke up again.

"Come on, are you really that mad at us?" he asked. "I'm sorry, okay!? Geez…!"

At that, Light poked his head out of the kitchen again, his earlier scowl replaced with a big grin.

"Nah, I'm not really that mad," he said, "I just wanted to teach you a lesson." He then reentered the living room with a tray of five steaming mugs of cider, each garnished with a delectable lining of brown sugar. "Now who wants some cider?"

The entire room broke into chipper cries of "Me!" and "I do!", and Light began passing out the drinks, beginning with Sky and going clockwise around the room. Once he'd run out of drinks on his try, he asked Duo to help him garnish and serve the remaining mugs. Finally, after everyone else had been served, they took the last of the drinks for themselves, blowing on them before each taking a sip.

"Mmmm!" said Duo happily, "This has to be the best batch yet!"

"Yeah," said Green, "but I still think it'd be better with some brandy in it or something."

Light gave the younger Hero a look. "After what you and Twilight did out in the snow last year while drunk? Forget it."

Sky laughed heartily at the exchange. "You guys…" He took another sip of cider. "You know, I always love it when we get together like this, just laughing and carrying on - it's really special, you know?"

With a smile, Wind nodded. "Yeah," he said, "I've always considered you guys family, but that feeling's even stronger when we do something fun together."

"It's really a blessing, don't you think?" added Mini. "After all the hardship and suffering we had to go through as Heroes, after everything is all said and done in our lives… it's nice to be able to come together like this in peace."

"A brotherhood of Heroes who share the same name, the same destiny…" Time shut his eyes and smiled warmly. "When I was alive, I thought I was alone in being chosen, that nobody else would ever know what it was like…"

"Me too," said Brown with a small laugh. "I never would have dreamed of meeting you guys when I died - and yet here you are!"

Twilight couldn't help but laugh as well. "What, has Time's sappiness rubbed off onto the rest of you all of the sudden?" He looked towards Sky. "…But I guess while we're in the mood, Sky here oughta lead us in a toast. Don't you think so, Sky?"

"Good idea, Twilight." Sky sat up straight and looked around the room. "All right, then, what should we toast to this year?"

"To courage!" Suggested Green with a glint in his eye.

"No, we've done that too many times already," said Engie. "How about to wisdom?"

"Or maybe power?" added Light, "We haven't toasted to that virtue in a while."

"To friendship!" said Duo cheerfully; however, he quickly sulked a little in self-doubt. "…Or is that one too corny?"

Suddenly, Sky's face lit up as he got an idea. "How about this year," he said, "we simply toast ourselves?"

The other Links pondered this for a short moment, then nodded, making various noises of affirmation and looking towards Sky expectantly.

"All right, then," said Sky, lifting his mug high. "To us!"

"To us!" repeated the others in unison. Then, together, they drank heartily from their mugs, relishing the sweet taste of the cider and the loving warmth of their Heroic family.