It has been six months since Ganondorf was defeated, the Mirror of Twilight was broken, and Hyrule was saved. Link, the so-called chosen hero, has found comfort with a group of old friends known as The Resistance. Having taken up lodging in the upstairs boarding rooms in Telma's Bar, Link and "the group" live out their day-to-day lives in each other's company.
On the outside, their lives are built off of their shenanigans—they are teenagers, after all, and Link is no exception. He, Ashei, and Shad form a mighty- yet sometimes unorthodox- trio, ready to take on the world. Rusl and Auru are commonly dragged into their lives as the overseers. And as for Telma—well, she's the "mother" of the gang.
Yes, on the outside, they're just a group of friends trying to get along. But on the inside, they're a collection of individuals in pursuit of their own dreams, with underlying secrets and conflicts, and a range of emotions that may or may not have to do with their young age.
They may have travelled from one end of the world to the other, but—as far as their knowledge of society goes—they still have a lot to learn…
Link cast himself upon the carpeted floor of Telma's bar.
"What's the matter, Link?" asked Telma from behind the counter. "Do you need something? It's after closing time."
Link glanced up, and Telma could see a green-gray face beneath the hat. Link looked at her for a moment, and then buried his face back into the crook of his arm.
Ashei followed Link in through the door of the bar and stared at him.
"Good grief," she said.
"What? What happened now?"
Auru and Shad looked up from their game of chess on the other side of the room.
Ashei rolled her eyes. "Link got rejected."
"By Zelda?" said Telma.
"By her, yeah," Ashei answered. "Link was going to ask her to go the café with him, but he asked her to marry him instead."
"It kind of… slipped out," Link muttered from his arm.
"And Zelda said that she couldn't."
"Damn chastity," Link said.
"Aw, I'm sorry, honey," simpered Telma.
"I thought you loved me," accused Shad, narrowing his eyes.
"Link, get off the floor," said Auru.
"I'll never get up. I'll die here!"
Ashei kicked him.
"Come on. Up."
"He's never like this," said Auru.
"I kind of like it," Shad answered. "Checkmate."
"Where's Rusl?" Ashei asked Auru.
"There's a good question," he answered. "Ordon, maybe?"
"Yeah, he's in Ordon," said Link. "With the family."
"Get. Up." Ashei was not pleased.
"GET OFF OF THAT FLOOR, DAMMIT, BEFORE I PULL YOU OFF OF IT!"
Ashei grabbed Link by the arm and tried to pull him up.
"Stop, stop, my shoulder's coming off!"
Ashei pulled Link to his feet. Overcome by dizziness, he leaned on Ashei for support.
"That's progress," said Shad. He turned to Auru. "Another round?"
"No thanks, mate, I'm off to get some shuteye."
"But the sun hasn't even set," Ashei said.
Auru shook his head. "These bones are old. See you all tomorrow."
"All right then. 'Night."
"Goodnight, bones," said Shad.
When Auru had left, Shad turned to Ashei.
"Care for a game of chess?"
"Over my dead body," she said, and turned to Link, who still looked incredibly sick.
"I think I'm going to pass out," he said.
"Calm down, yeah?"
"You know what, honey?" said Telma to Link. "Why don't you marry that Ilia? She's a sweet girl."
"You know what? I'll send Rusl a letter, ask him to bring Ilia up with him when he comes back. How's that sound?"
Ashei began to shake her head rapidly.
"That's what I'll do. You can marry her."
"No, no, no!" said Ashei, getting to her feet.
"Why not?" asked Telma.
"Because she's… she's…"
"There's nothing wrong with her," said Link defensively.
"And she'll sure give Zelda a run for her money," Telma added, giggling.
Ashei bit her lip.
"I'll go write the letter right now!"
Telma bounded away and disappeared.
"And then there were three," said Shad from the other side of the room. "Link, a game of chess? The board awaits."
"No thanks, Shad," he said, sitting down in a different chair. "You know, I'm feeling slightly better."
Ashei rolled her eyes. "You're pathetic, Link. Pathetic."
"Why don't you want Ilia here?" asked Link. "She's nice. And funny."
"And kind of pretty," admitted Shad.
"I just don't think she'd fit in, that's all," said Ashei. She turned her back to the boys and leaned forward against the bar.
"In what way is she an outsider?" asked Shad.
"I don't know, she's… small. Inexperienced," answered Ashei. She turned around. "I mean, she's been living in the Ordonian highlands all her life. To just bring her to the city all of a sudden… it's rude, don't you think? And she wouldn't want to stay here. She doesn't wear shoes, for Din's sake. And it's not like she's ever held a sword in her life."
"I've never held a sword in my life," Shad piped up. "Well, there was that one time, but it flew out of my hand and sliced the tip of Auru's ear off."
"You're lucky you didn't slice off his head," mumbled Ashei.
"You know, Ashei, you're the pathetic one," said Link, unhappy to hear Ashei criticizing his oldest friend. "Just because Ilia can't decipher ancient runes or beat up monsters or tame a wild animal—which, I'll admit, is very cool—doesn't mean she's not worthy. Sure, she's nothing like you, but maybe that's a good thing."
Ashei looked infuriated. "I'm just thinking in her best interest!"
"No you're not!" Link said. "You think you're on top of the world, but guess what! You're not in the mountains anymore! You're not trying to prove yourself to your father anymore, you're not living among yeti anymore, and you're not trying to figure out who your mother is—"
"Everybody, I'm leaving!" announced Shad very loudly. "Just letting you know!" With this statement, he scurried off to his boarding room upstairs.
Ashei and Link stared at each other for a few seconds. Finally, Ashei sighed.
"You know what? I'm sorry. Forgive me," she said slowly, and trudged after Shad. Link sat in silence for a few seconds, nearly jumping out of his skin when Telma's cat gave a loud meow.
Link caught the eye of the cat, who was staring at him intently.
"What do you want?" he asked. With a great deal of inherent feline grace, the cat leapt up onto the table with the chess board and nudged a pawn with her paw. She meowed again.
"You're kidding," Link sighed, but— knowing that Louise was no dummy—pulled his chair up to the board.
"Okay," he said, eyeing the cat. "Your move."
Shad awoke early the next morning.
"Shut up, Link," he ordered, because it was Link who had awoken him. Link and Ashei were having their routine morning argument, which was usually—and inconveniently—scheduled before six o' clock in the morning. Ashei's shouts came from the other side of the wall, as she roomed next door.
"...So next time, watch where you leave it, yeah?"
"Ashei, go back to bed!" Link demanded through the wall. "I don't know why that umbrella ended up where it did, but I swear to Nayru I wasn't behind any of it!"
"Yeah, well you don't want to know where this umbrella's gonna end up next! Up your—"
Shad pulled a pillow over his head just in time for a very profane sentence to escape Ashei. Link's answer was muffled by the pillow, and Shad tried desperately to fall back to sleep.
However, it was to no avail. A few seconds later, Ashei marched in, tore the pillow from Shad's grasp, and started to attack Link with it ferociously. Link threw his arms up in surrender. With a sigh, Ashei's attacks ceased.
"What's the problem now?" Shad asked with a yawn. He reached blindly for his glasses.
"Link left his stupid umbrella in my room a few weeks ago and a colony of mice started living in it!"
"What the hell was your umbrella doing in Ashei's room?" Shad asked.
"We were sparring," Link explained.
"With an umbrella?"
"It's a long story," he continued. "Anyway, I must have forgotten to take it back, because it somehow got left in Ashei's bathtub."
"The worst part," Ashei grunted, "is that he knew it was in there the whole time and never took it out."
"Ashei, I have no idea how that umbrella found its way into your bathtub. Furthermore, I wasn't about to march into your room and invade your privacy."
"Oh-ho-ho, what a gentleman. Hold still so I can kill you, yeah?"
"TELMA!" Shad shouted suddenly. There were a few seconds of silence, and then a door slammed down the hall. Telma appeared in a bathrobe.
"What in Din's name? What's going on?"
"Ashei threatened to kill Link again."
Telma eyed Ashei sternly. "Honey, I thought we'd agreed not make any more death threats."
"You two have been fighting over everything," Telma said suddenly. "I just don't get it. A few weeks ago, you were best friends. Now everything has to turn into an argument." As an afterthought, she added, "You're just like Renado and I when we were young."
"I'm going to stop you right there," Ashei declared, obviously not wanting to hear about anything that might have to do with Telma and Renado's past escapades.
"What you two need is a day out in town. Just the two of you. Stuck with each other. That'll teach you to sort out your differences." Telma turned now to Link. "While you're out there, you can bring the letter I wrote to Rusl to the post office."
"Castle Town doesn't have a post office," Shad pointed out.
"Oh, I know that," Telma said. "There's a street corner not far from Dr. Borville's office where that strange postman lurks sometimes. He'll be happy to take your letter."
Link gave Ashei a hopeful smile. She returned it with a harsh glare.
"All right. We'll do it," Link said. "And don't worry, Telma." He flashed a corny smile. "I'll have the girl back by curfew."
He received a pillow to the head.
"I can't believe I let you talk me into this," Ashei muttered. It was around noontime, now, and Link and Ashei were at the café in the town square, waiting in line to order.
"Oh, hush. I'm paying."
"Yeah, well, you'd better bet. We still have to find that crackpot postman and deliver your stupid letter."
"Telma's stupid letter," Link informed her. They moved a little closer to the counter as the customers in front of them stepped up to order.
"Besides," said Link lightheartedly, "I've talked to that postman before. He's only a little bit of a crackpot."
"Whatever you say, Hylian." Silence.
Link felt an urge to bring up Ilia again. He wanted to know exactly why Ashei didn't want her around—they had only met once or twice, when Ilia had lost her memory and had been staying in Castle Town with Telma—and it seemed strange that Ashei could hold a grudge against somebody they hardly knew.
Ilia must have done something, Link decided, that had upset Ashei.
In fact, Ilia might have done something that she didn't know would annoy Ashei. Pretty much anything could set Ashei off if directed properly. Perhaps she had twirled her hair too much—that annoyed Ashei—or had giggled a lot—that really annoyed Ashei. Or maybe Ilia had committed a cardinal sin in Ashei's book, and had asked her why she was frowning. People always asked Ashei why she was frowning, because she frowned a lot around people she didn't know. Ashei was known to have become violent when asked "why the long face?" too many times in a row.
"Next!" the lady behind the counter called. Link and Ashei stepped up.
"I'll have the fried cucco sandwich," Link decided. The shop owner smiled. Then she turned to Ashei.
"And for you, dearie?"
"What's the largest thing on your menu?"
Once they had taken their seats at a table—and Ashei had taken a large bite out of her Ordonian goat thigh—Link brought up the topic of delivering the letter.
"Telma said we could find the postman on the western thoroughfare, near Dr. Borville's office—"
"The doc's office is on the eastern thoroughfare," Ashei countered. "I swear it is."
"What? No it's not. Have you even been there before?"
"Well, no, but I just know it is."
"Well, I have been there. Several times."
Now Ashei was getting upset. "It's on the eastern thoroughfare!" she insisted. "I've read it a thousand times! Look—I'll show you!" With that, Ashei retrieved her map of Castle Town from her pocket and spread it out on the table. Her eyes scanned the key for the label for the doctor's office, and when she found it, she jabbed her index finger on it.
"Look! There! 'Doctor L. Borville, Physician,' right here on the western thoroughfare! Wait… western thoroughfare? Damn it!"
Ashei tucked the map away haughtily.
"Am I allowed to—"
"Shut up, you," Ashei ordered. She ate the rest of her lunch in a bitter silence.
"Is that the postman?" Link asked dully. Ashei didn't answer. She was still upset over what had happened at lunch, and it was obvious that she didn't want the letter delivered. She trudged after Link dryly, not too keen on involving herself in the upcoming situation.
The skinny figure of the postman was crouched in between two crates, nearly hidden from view. His one perceptible feature was his outrageous red hat, which would make him stand out in any crowd.
Link approached him and cleared his throat. "Um, Mr. Postman?"
The man leapt up in surprise, several letters flying in different directions.
"Oh! Oh, my, excuse me, Mr. Link!" he scrambled to recover the lost documents, shoving them into his satchel in a disorderly fashion. He turned back to Link.
"Can I help you with something?"
"I—I need you to deliver this letter to Mr. Rusl of Ordon Village. You can probably find him somewhere in the southern Faron region or the Ordonian highlands."
"Ah, yes, of course! If you'll just give that to me—um—excuse me—Mr. Link—"
The postman was having trouble taking the letter from Link. Although the old hero had presented the letter before the mailman, his grip on it refused to loosen as he glanced behind his shoulder.
Ashei had disappeared and was walking in the other direction, shaking her head. Link watched her go with a feeling of guilt in his stomach. He reevaluated the situation.
Did he really want Ilia here?
Yes, he did. Ilia was a great friend. He loved Ilia. Telma's suggestion of bringing her to the city was something that had crossed Link's mind many times, although he'd never acted on it. Yes, he wanted Ilia here.
But did he want Ilia here if it meant hurting another great friend, Ashei? He loved Ilia, but Ashei was important to Link as well. He valued his friendship with Ashei, and wasn't quite ready to lose that friendship.
"Mr. Link—if you'll just give me the letter—"
Link retracted his hand and tucked the letter away. "Forget it," he said. "I've changed my mind."
Ilia doesn't need to come here. As much as I want to see her, I don't want to break the already delicate bond between Ashei and I. That's the most important thing right now.
It was evening by the time Link returned to Telma's bar. Ever since Hyrule had been restored, Telma's had become increasingly popular. Link had to wade through the rowdy customers to find Ashei and Auru, who were sitting at the bar together.
"'Ello, Link!" Auru greeted. He grinned. "Want something to drink?"
"Nah," Link answered. He glanced at Ashei.
"Did that postman take your stupid letter?" she asked, refusing to catch his eye and staring instead at a spot just above Link's head.
"Telma's stupid letter," he reminded her yet again. "And no. I brought it back here. It's with Telma."
Now Ashei did catch Link's eye, completely befuddled. "What? Why?"
"Well," answered Link simply. "I didn't want to trouble you with it. I realized it was bothering you, and I figured I can hold out on it a little longer, if that's what it takes."
"But—but I thought you really wanted to see Ilia."
"I did. I do. But…" he took her hand weakly. "I don't want just another reason to fight with you."
And with this statement, Link retired to his room upstairs. Ashei watched him go with a curious gleam in her eye.
…He gave that up… for me?
Link awoke the next morning as Shad entered the room. It was still very early—what was Shad doing up and dressed already?
"Where've you been?" asked Link as Shad shut the door quietly behind him.
"Out in town," Shad answered. "I've been with Ashei."
"Doing what?" asked Link.
"Delivering something. 'Telma's stupid letter,' I believe it was called."
Link's eyes widened and he strained to sit up. "Why on earth were you delivering that?"
"I wasn't. Ashei was. She made me go with her because she needed somebody to force her to do it. Well? Don't look so disorientated. She was doing it for you."
But Link couldn't help being confused. It was all so absurd.
"But Ashei hates Ilia…"
"Yeah, but she really likes you. Link," Shad said, and he appeared quite bemused, "you and I both know that Ashei doesn't want Ilia here. But you do, and I think… I think Ashei's trying to fix things. I know you two have had a rough couple of weeks, what with all the bickering and the… screaming… and the umbrella sparring."
"How curious," was Link's only response. Then, he laughed. "She and I try so hard to be good to one another, but it'll just be something else tomorrow. I don't think Ashei and I will ever get on well for more than a few days at a time."
"Yeah, but you can try."
Link just sighed. "Well, then, I've got a lot of work ahead of me." He got to his feet and went to enter the restroom. He stopped just as his hand was resting on the doorknob.
"Hm?" the scholar answered.
"Ilia… when she was here a few months ago, did she ever do anything to particularly annoy Ashei?"
"Not that I'm aware of," Shad answered simply. "They were quite pleasant to one another."
And that was the most curious thing of all.
Maybe I will continue? Review and tell me what you thought!