As the days passed, Hilda and Ravio started seeing less of one another. Not on their own will, necessarily, but the princess began getting busier and busier with her newly rising regal duties. Meetings to be attend, plans to make, papers to sign. Hilda wasn't exactly used to the typical lifestyle of a sovereign, to say the least, but she was doing well to learn her new-found duties in a punctual manner. It was a new weight on her shoulders, yes, but Hilda was happy to take on the responsibilities she'd been waiting for in all her years of living.
And what was Ravio doing?
"Man, this is the life." Enjoying the peaceful existence he'd never had the pleasure of knowing, either, Ravio laid back in the soft, blooming lawn just outside his house. Sheerow was curled up at his side, snoozing peacefully. "Don'cha think so, Buddy?" he asked. Agreeably, the tiny creature chirped sleepily.
With closed eyes, the young boy rested his arms behind his head. It was a beautiful day—blue skies, no longer fading from orange to gray. The once-dying grass beneath him was now patchy and green. Lorule really did feel like an entirely different world, from the last time he was here. With hardly anything else to do, Ravio turned on his side, then poking Sheerow with his pointer finger. The tiny creature twitched in annoyance, Ravio just giggled.
Anyone else might found his new life to be dull and unfulfilled—but Ravio was nothing less than entirely satisfied with his "retirement." Giving a contented sigh, he rested back once more—this time, with his ear to the ground. He heard nothing but the wind blowing through the trees and the sound of his own beating heart.
Ravio had always believed himself to be a tiny part of a world that was so much larger than he could ever image—and now, despite everything, he felt smaller than he ever had. Learning Lorule was just one half of another world, finding his own other-half in said world—Ravio thought of himself as nothing more than a little Maiamai, forever stuck on the under-side of a rock. But—in spite of everything, he'd come to learn, that really wasn't so bad. Even the smallest speck was still part of the world, and that little speck could help change its fate, should it really try, however unconventionally.
A certain dear friend of Ravio's was the one who helped him fully realize that.
"I wonder how Mr. Hero's doin'?" the boy ask aloud. "Bet he's happy ta have his place back to himself, y'know, with a bed ta sleep on a what not," he laughed. Again laying on his back, he said, "Well, wait. What am I talkin' about? He's probably livin' it up in the castle by now. Prolly a full-fledged knight or somethin' like that, y'know?" Ravio gave a sly sort of grin. "Bet Princess Zelda really has it in for him now—she prolly got him wrapped around her finger. But I mean, who wouldn't be? She sure was pretty—almost as pretty as Her Grace!" Ravio laughed, "He's probably just fine with that, though."
He paused for a moment. "I wonder if he's as head-over-heels for her, as I am for Hilda? Hm. Well, if he isn't now, then he's sure gonna be. Maybe I shoulda' gave him a warning or something?" He laughed, soon feeling a light sort of somberness. Ravio gave a weak smile. "Sure hope he gets his chance I never will." Ravio was quite for a moment before sitting up, gazing to the light-blue sky. Feeling a very fine mix of jealous, admiration, and optimism, he spoke softly, "The best of luck to you there, my good friend."
After staring at the clear, blue sky for a few moments longer, Ravio felt himself determined not to be melancholic on such a wonderful day. He stood; Sheerow did the same, rising from his sleepy state. Dusting himself off, Ravio gazed over his shoulder, past the top of his purple crystal house, he saw the familiar skyline of Lorule Castle. He gave a weak smile. "Sure wish we could go see Hilda today though!" he said, Sheerow cheeped in agreement.
But then, so very unexpecting, Ravio jumped and yelped slightly as he felt a firm hand on his shoulder. "Probably better ya' didn't there," said the person behind him. "Heard she's a pretty busy gal lately." Pivoting on his heel, Ravio was greeted with a familiar figure. One he'd certainly been dreading, yes, but was still overjoyed to see, none-the-less.
"Master Smith!" He gave a bright grin. Peeping cheerfully, Sheerow flailed in greeting as well.
"Ravio," he smiled.
Then realizing the situation, why the Master Smith must've been there at all, Ravio laughed uncomfortably. "It's, uh… it's been a while!"
"I'd say so," he replied, sounding almost scolding. To be fair, Ravio hadn't seen the blacksmith since before he left for Hyrule. He did consider visiting him and his wife, though, of course! But given a few very certain details, he was hesitant and unsuccessful to do so. "Back from your journey and you didn't even come check in with us?" The blacksmith said, giving a sigh, "Should've expected as much from an air-headed kid like you."
Ravio laughed uncomfortably, though a bit befuddled with the fact that he cared at all, but the Master Smith usually took whatever chance he had to scold him. Even if it wasn't meant to be, however—Ravio always thought the fact to be a loving gesture. He rubbed the back of his head. "Ah—yeah. Sorry 'bout that. I've actually been back for a while now," he admitted. He gave a weak smile, feeling like just as much of a burden to the Master Smith as he always had.
Ravio'd been acquainted with the Master Smith and his wife from a very young age. They were, more or less, the only family he knew—albeit not in blood relation. Ravio's parents were killed when he was still just a newborn baby, and while the blacksmith and his wife were less than wanting to take in a child, they were just about the only people left who were willing. The Master Smith had only taken him in under the impression that he might end up being a valuable apprentice one day, though, that never turned out to the be case. All his life, Ravio'd felt like a burden to them. Regardless, there was hardly anyone else he felt more grateful towards. He'd never find it in his heart not to love them as his family, even if they never felt the same.
"Well, no matter. You're here now, safe and sound," the Master Smith said in reply, patting the younger boy's shoulder as he did.
Ravio smiled wide, happy his lecture was cut short. Cheerfully, he pumped his fist up in the air. "Right!" he complied. Wow, the Master Smith sure seemed to be in a good mood today! Did that mean he was off the hook from, well, anything else immoral he might've done, too? But then, without removing his hand, the blacksmith gave a coy sort of smile.
"And did you happen to bring back all those items that I know you stole from my shop?"
To which Ravio's heart nearly stopped. There was a long, drawn out pause. A drop of sweat slid down the side of his now-pallid face. He dared not to show his fear—only grinning yet.
"Ha ha, I bet we sure have lots of catchin' up to do! How's the wife? How's the business? Make lots of weapons lately? Please don't strangle me—wow, bet you're thirsty! Let's go inside I'll get'cha somethin' ta drink!" He rambled. "Gee, it's great to see you!" Rushing past the older man, Ravio bolted inside with Sheerow in pursuit.
Ravio and the blacksmith sat at the boy's conveniently placed dining table in his otherwise train-wreck of a home. The younger sat quietly, entertaining an almost shameful look on his face. He dared not to speak, feeling his own demise approaching regardless. However, the blacksmith seemed nothing less than amused. Perhaps Ravio didn't notice in his fear, but the older man was even smiling.
"You know how rare some of those items were. You know how long it took me to get my hands on some of them," the blacksmith finally spoke, as Ravio had nothing to say for himself. The younger boy only nodded in guilt, knowing full-well the seriousness of the situation. "Are you going to tell me why you took them without my permission?" the blacksmith continued, to which Ravio winced, only able to shake his head "no." The blacksmith raised an eyebrow in return. "Then are you going to tell me where they are?" Again, Ravio shook his head; the blacksmith sighed, "Can you at least tell me where you went, Ravio?" he finally asked, looking to him with crossed arms.
Ravio paused for a moment, again, shaking his head. He doubted the Master Smith would even believe him, should he tell the truth. The older man gazed at the younger with a judging stare. It wasn't but a moment before the Master Smith gave a long, drawn out sigh. He just nodded, much to Ravio's surprise. "Well, I'm sure you have your reasons," he said, sounding nothing less than understanding, "I know you wouldn't've done it otherwise."
Ravio blinked twice, nothing less than entirely bewildered. "You… you do?" he said in disbelief.
The Master Smith nodded again. "I won't pester you about it. If you want to tell me, you can. If not—I understand."
Blinking again, Ravio raised an eyebrow skeptically. That was it? No shouting? No punishment? Goddesses, what happened to the blacksmith while he was gone? It was rare, to say the least, for the Master Smith to be so understanding, but he almost seemed like an entirely different person. That, more than anything, only mad Ravio feel that much worse about the ordeal.
"I'm… I'm sorry," Ravio finally said; softly, earnestly. He looked down at his lap, zoning out. He closed his eyes, seeming entirely apologetic. "It was wrong of me, Master Smith."
Seeing the guilt Ravio still held, the older man put on a bright smile. "Then you can make it up to us by comin' back and visiting my wife and I again though! We were almost startin' to worry about ya'."
Ravio paused for a long moment, before swallowing hard. "A-actually, Master Smith…" he started, "I… I can pay you back in full." Ravio looked to he sack of Rupees across the room wanting to cry at the very thought of giving up the profit he'd made. He'd yet to decide where his proceeds would go—but he was hoping to help with other causes.
"No, no." The blacksmith shook his head. "There's no need. Keep whatever you have, you need it more than we do. "
He was surprised by the blacksmith's notion, but less-than inclined to argue over it. He blinked rather vacantly. "Are… Are you sure?" he asked, to which the Master Smith nodded, and then even smiled. While Ravio was caught incredibly off guard by the blacksmith's hospitality and abnormally uncharacteristic mood, he returned the expression. "If you say so," he agreed.
"I do," he laughed. "I didn't come here today ta' take your money," he reiterated, "or to scold you."
While that was becoming increasingly apparent, Ravio could not help but feel the slightest twinge of surprise and anxiousness. "Then, why are you here?"
Reaching in his rucksack, the Master Smith told him, "I have a delivery."
He was surprised. "Huh?" Ravio tilted his head to the side. Releiving the younger boy of his curiosity, however, the blacksmith then took out what looked like a folded purple garment. He placed it on the table, in front of Ravio. "Uh," eyeing it, yet confused, he could only ask, "you brought me clothes?"
"It's a uniform," he explained, "and…" Then unfastening the harness strapped across his torso, the Master Smith grabbed the sword and sheath that he once carried on his back, placing the weapon in front of Ravio, too, "I brought this is for you, as well."
"H-huh?!" Ravio blurted once more, caught substantially more off-guard. Growing alarmed, he quickly asked, "W-what are these for?!"
Simply, the blacksmith replied, "The Princess Hilda sent a letter to my wife and I, asking us ta' make 'em for you."
Making Ravio's heart skip yet another beat. Distressed at the very mention of Hilda's involvement, he immediately asked, "Wait—for what?!"
"She didn't mention," the blacksmith said—shrugging a little too casually.
"W-wait!" Ravio said hastily, "Wait, wait, wait! There's gotta be a reason!" The Master Smith only laughed, entertained with Ravio's frantic behavior. He frowned in frustration, however, less than amused on the contrary. This was no laughing matter! Regardless, he was given some relief as the Master Smith took out one more item. It was a letter adorning a purple seal that went easily recognized by Ravio. It was the symbol of Lorule's Royal family. Snatching it from the older man's hands in less than a second—Ravio tore it open, reading it at the speed of light.
I apologize for being unable to deliver these packages to you personally. My time has been scarce lately, as you know. I hope you'll find them to your liking regardless.
However, I'm sure you have many questions as to why these items are now in your possession. Please come to the castle tomorrow afternoon and I'll have your answers. Bring your new sword and wear the uniform the blacksmith's wife so kindly made for you. I'll be waiting for you in the south courtyard.
I look forward to seeing you again.
Love, Princess Hilda
Ravio put a hand to his forehead, resting his elbow on the table. "Oh Goddesses," he exhaled, practically hyperventilating at this point. What crazy ideas had she gotten into her head now—sending him uniform and sword? Praying to the Goddesses he was connecting all the wrong dots, Ravio eyed the letter once more. His heart skipped a beat as he reread one particular line.
His new sword.
Ravio paused for a moment. Looking down at his gifts once more, really observing them for the first time, the boy was hit with a certain realization. "Wait," he said, "You made this… for me?" He pointed to himself; the older man nodded. Suddenly feeling an immense sort-of gratitude overwhelm him, Ravio paused. "Master Smith… I," he looked back up to the other, "I don't know what to say." He bowed his head a bit. Despite everything else he felt, Ravio could only smile in the most earnest gratitude. "Thank you…" he said, "thank you so much."
Noticing Ravio's behavior, the Master Smith was suddenly alert. Not about to let Ravio go thinking he'd gone soft, the older man cleared his throat. "W-Well—ah. It's not like I wanted to, real. But I couldn't just ignore a request from the princess or anything. Besides, if you should be thanking anyone, it's my wife. She was up all night finishing that tunic for you." Ravio glanced back down, seeing the garment. Taking it in hand, he held it up. It was fuchsia in color, much like his current robe. It came with a matching, pointed hat and black under-armor. All around, it seemed very familiar—and suddenly, Ravio realized why. It looked nearly identical to the one that Link wore.
Ravio was quite for a moment before, still gazing away. Suddenly, he started to realize why the blacksmith was acting so different, why he had such an immense change of heart. Ravio understood why him and his wife'd made him such wonderful gifts. "A few weeks ago," he started, giving a coy sort-of smile, "you guys met another boy who wore somethin' like this—didn't you?"
With a laugh, he replied, "How did'ja know?"
"Ah—he's," Ravio paused, thinking on his time with Link. Though it was only for a short while, they were happy, warm, and fond memories. "He's a good buddy of mine."
"Really? You're a lucky fellow then," said the blacksmith, "He's quite the guy!"
With a very fine mix of jealousy and admiration stirring in himself once more, Ravio looked down at the purple garments and paused. "Yeah," he replied, sounding almost sad, "he really is."
"Y'know," the blacksmith smiled at the boy from across the table, "doesn't really surprise me him and you'd get along," he said. "He kinda reminded us of you."
Ravio perked up a bit, then laughing uncomfortably. "Y'think so?" he scratched the side of his cheek with his pointer finger, "Yeah, we uh… we kinda look alike, don't we?"
"Well, yer near identical I'd say!" the blacksmith laughed once more. Shaking his head, he added, "But that wasn't why."
Ravio raised an eyebrow. "Huh?" he said once again.
The Master Smith paused. Then sounding more sincere than Ravio might have ever heard him, he explained, "I made him a sword, ya see. The best sword I've ever made, I gotta say." He gave a warm smile. "Really helped me remember how much I love smithin', y'know?" He was quite for another moment. "Helped reminded me a the good in myself… helped remind us a' the good in everyone," and then, as Ravio was so very unexpecting yet, he placed a hand on the younger boy's shoulder, "kinda like you."
Ravio blinked, feeling almost bewildered as he caught his meaning. The Master Smith really thought that about him? Despite all the trouble—all the inconvenience he'd ever caused him and his wife, he really thought that he was like Link, in that sense? He thought was worth-while?
After a moment, the fact sunk in. Again, Ravio looked to the Master Smith with a beyond-grateful smile. His compliment had meant more to Ravio than he'd ever explain, as he never in his life thought someone would actually think he and Link we're alike. "Thank you, Master Smith," he said once again. "I hope… I hope that'll always be the case."
"Eh, knowin' you," he winked at the younger boy, "I don't think it ever couldn't be." Ravio laughed bashfully at the comment, again rubbing the back of his head. With that, the blacksmith gave a kind smile and stood. "Anyway, it's gettin' late," he said, "I better be headin' back."
"Ah, tell your wife I said thanks for the tunic," Ravio said graciously.
"Come tell her yourself, one day soon," he replied.
"Ah, right," he laughed a bit, then pausing, "and—" looking to the weapon he'd otherwise dread, Ravio added, "thank you for the sword, Master Smith." He gave a kind smile. "I'll take good care of it."
The blacksmith laughed. "Yeah yeah," he replied, "just put it to good use with whatever silly scheme that princess has up her sleeve tomorrow." To which Ravio laughed awkwardly and nodded. Then turning away and waving, the Master Smith ever-so-casually added, "And tell her you're in love with her already, while you're at it!" To which Ravio, quiet literally, fell out of his chair.
Regardless, picking himself up off the floor to the sound of the Master Smith's hardy, fading laughter, Ravio could only smile. He knew Link had a way of bringing out the best in people, but this was nothing less than a surprise, regardless. Probably the most wonderful surprise of his life, in fact, 'cause, y'know—he wasn't dead now or anything. That visit'd gone better than he ever could've even dreamed.
But then looking back to the items he dreaded so much, his happy expression faded slightly—to that of curiosity, to that of anxiety. Remembering the letter he'd read moments before, he groaned, daring to eye it over once again.
He hadn't seen Hilda for weeks, now she was just summoning him out of no where and sending him "gifts" at her own pleasure. He took the soft purple tunic in hand, only daring to gaze upon the sheathed sword. He then paused, looking down at his faded mark of the Triforce.
He gave a deep, inaudible sigh. With a small frown, and despite knowing full-well the answer, he asked, "What do you want from me, Princess Hilda?"