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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Legend of Zelda: Hylian Hearts

    A peaceful day in the life of a Hylian Hunter; surrounded by fat trees in front of an ancient and abandoned forest temple, while lazily laying in a meadow clearing with his horse out to graze.  Clad in a traditional Hunter's green Tunic: Three empty bottles tied to his belt and a fourth, with a blue liquid inside.  His bow and Quiver are lain against a small stump, sturdy Hylian Shield face up in the grass beside him; a sudden and unexpected, small but loud voice calls out from the ether, "Link!".
    The Hunter's eyes snap open at the sound as he sits up to locate the direction it came from. "Link! Link, we need your help!" He couldn't see anyone, and Epona seemed entirely unaware of the outburst. 'Am I hearing things?' he wondered silently, lending a hand to his ear and cocking his head. He didn't hear it anywhere but intensely heard it directionless, "Link! The Goddesses beckon us, please hurry to Hyrule castle! I am Zelda, Princess of Hyrule, you must make haste!"
    It felt unreal, but the feel of it; the feel of her words convinced him to listen and to obey... not her but the intense feeling of necessity, like that which one obeys when starving. Grabbing the shield, he hopped to his feet and scooped up the Bow and Quiver in one motion then whistled sharply for Epona. Mounting his horse, he looked back at the stump briefly, equipping the Quiver and stowing his Bow with it, "H'yeah!" before turning and quickly riding off; forgotten memories belonging to parallel consciousness suddenly flooding his mind.
    A flash in his memories causes him to falter, briefly losing balance but correcting himself and riding on.  He closed his eyes and tried to breathe.

    The forest was thin where he had made his day rest area, but quickly thickened as he rode into the shadows of the Lost Woods. "H'yeah!" Faster, hoping he was fast enough! The feel of her words... as if shot in the heart by an arrow. "H'yeah, yah!" Seeping images and memories come flowing out of him like life essence; impacting his heart with oddly misplaced feelings of guilt, confusing his memories of the simple Hunter's life.
   Eternally young children... no, friends...?

   He rode hard and fast, through a giant hollow log, past a curious, masked, Skull-Kid, out of the forest edges, into the vast open fields of Hyrule. A Skullkid?!  Link's eyes blinded white and he nearly fell off his horse as the thought of a memory he'd never had struck hard in his head... tears pouring down his cheeks from an unfelt pain, a never before experienced moment in his youth.

    Eastward for an hour still, to the abandoned ranch before he would go north, toward Hyrule City, where he was being pulled, tugged, coerced, intended, and guided from all the heartfelt necessity he could have ever known. The glint of a memory, an ocarina, an old friend of the forest, a Kokiri girl, the master sword...
    Somewhere between the forest edge and the entrance of Lon Lon Ranch, Link had drifted into wondrous adventures against a giant unheard of Dodongo, trading Eye Drops with a huge sized Goron, and saving the daughter of the king of Zoras... Fighting great evil... Someone he could clearly see from his every nightmare, but never recognized... and then a name he'd never heard, but always felt.
    Pangs of blinding guilt began twisting his memories again as the name caught a thread of recognition. Link spurred his horse with his boot, "H'yeahh-ahh!", half screaming in agony.  The drawbridge was down, and two guards were out lighting the torches an hour before the sun began to reach toward the horizon.
    Link rode past without concern, fast through the archway into the market square.  He did not bother slowing for the citizens, he rode directly toward the castle, nearly colliding with a redheaded maiden on the way.
    More mixed memories of never before experienced lifetimes, a wife and children, a glorious heroic secret stripped of him through time and space. His only companion connecting him gone and disappeared.  His soul bound to physical form for generations, so to teach his own descendant all he had mastered as... as a Hero?

    The pain intensified as he reconnected with himself - a self he'd always felt and never known.  Nearing the castle, as he tried to blink away the tears, an ominous dark cloud spiraling over Death Mountain came into view; coagulating down the hillsides, dispersing past unseen Kakariko over the hills, and then hazed sideways along the cathedral behind him, before pooling straight toward the castle gates: Where dozens of guards were evidently fighting something huge; as they were thrown into the skies and cast aside like dolls.
    As he grabbed his Bow, Link dismounted and drew aim into the crowd of guards, hesitated for such a fraction of a moment, at the intensity his heart suddenly jumped, then unleashed an Arrow, already feeling he was too late in releasing it. Within a split second reaction, as the Arrow drew upon its target, a dark and neon-like black wave shattered the Arrow and fanned out toward Link; the dark wave smashing him in the chest, toppling him to the ground, and knocking the wind out of him had collided with the energy he felt in his heart.  The intensity of this overwhelming sensation was unbearable.  He fell unconscious in his struggle to endure the blow.
    A quiet whinny, whimper, and thud permeated the blackness that surrounded his failing consciousness.

    "Link..." like a soft song note, "Awaken..." Came forth a soft, melodic, caring voice.  Link felt something cool press against his forehead and opened his eyes.  The feint flickering light was dim but still caused him to squint.  A beautiful woman with long rusty-golden hair, smiling down on him, pressing the rag to his head, breathing calm and speaking so soft; he knew right away that she was the Princess. He didn't need to see her elegant dress or intricate Royal Family jewelry and Triforce crests: The voice he heard in the meadow was no different than hers, only more stern then than she spoke now, gently as her hand that held the cool rag.
    Until he opened his eyes.
    The gentleness of her voice was easy to become accustomed to, as he had already, but that comfort shattered when her familiar frightened sternness returned, albeit with naught a trace of the former fear but a seemingly magical courage.
    "Good," She said, almost hurriedly, "you're awake. Please, listen closely... Hyrule's fate may well rest in our hands." she began. "You and I have been chosen by the Goddesses, Nayru and Farore, to protect Hyrule from a tremendous evil, a man who has stolen the Royal Family's greatest treasure, the Triforce!" pausing to wring out the damp rag and return it to Link's forehead, she continued, "Long ago, at the discretion of the Goddess of Time, the three Goddesses, Din, Farore, and Nayru were permitted to create our world and breathe their own unique life into it."
    "They created our world and all of us in it: We Hylians, the Sheikah, the Zoras, the Gorons, Gerudo, Kokiri, Dekus, Wolfos, everything... and when their works were complete, as they ascended back into the heavens, their spent energies following contrails of the presence of the goddesses coalesced, and whereupon they met formed into the Triforce, a single fused set of three brilliant, luminous golden triangles; said to grant the wishes in the hearts of any whom lay claim to it." She continued, "The royal family has forever charged itself with the protection of that sacred treasure..." Her voice began to crack and she became choked up.

    Looking away, as a tear escaped, just in time to be flung aside by the momentum of her head; it spat upon Link's cheek, to his surprise. He sat up, and continued listening intently. Zelda drew a long and steady breath, stepping away to give him room. "Today, I came of age, and learned of part of the legend, never before told to me or my people..." Her voice still cracked, choked, but clearing up. "Whence the three goddesses had completed their works and returned to the goddess of time, They were immediately sent back as punishment for the wrongdoings of their own creations!" She took another breath to calm herself and continued, "They were instructed to forge the weapons that would vanquish all evil wrongdoers in Hyrule. This part of the Legend is taught in the cathedral which was once the Temple of Time and acted as the entrance to the sacred realm where the three golden triangles rested, protected."
    She paused awkwardly, "Link..." She drew an uncertain breath, but could not turn to face him. "Link, I tell you this, because I have never seen you in Hyrule before." A slow pause put Link in an uneasy mood. "I know you are the one who can help us, even if I can't explain it properly, but because Nayru chose me for the Triforce of Wisdom, I now bear its mark, and that's why I know you have the Triforce of Courage." The Triforce of Courage resonated with this truth and began glowing on Link's hand in sync with Zelda's. "Somehow... She came to me even before everything happened... Reminding me of the Royal Family's duty."

    A quiet sob emanated from her throat, as she tried to choke it down and continue, "Nayru explained to me the difference between Hylia and the three, that Hylia gave them Free will and made them her honorary sisters, as long as they agreed to use their powers strictly in the realm of Hyrule and it's associated sacred realm. I didn't understand... and... When i tried to explain it to my father..." She tried to steady her shaky breath and calm herself.  "Sadly we failed to uphold our honor... The Royal Family Council decided it was best to have the previous generation of sages keep the Triforce in our own vaults beneath the castle... And had the former head sage, Rauru, transport the Triforce from the Temple... but never had we considered a Thief from the Desert to become an evil Wizard..." She sighed at herself with disgust. "I fought, as a girl, with my visions of him and his darkness; saw a young boy with a Fairy who would save us all, but he never came..."  Even Link could feel her heart surged, and more tears fell from her eyes.  As she reached up to wipe them away, he couldn't prevent them from falling down his own cheeks.
    She paused, sniffled, then drew a breath and spoke somewhat more confidently, "Yet I now know... Thanks to Nayru, I know him to be you. You are the one from my dream, who is destined to be the Hero of Time!"
    She turned back and looked Link deep in his eyes and almost gasped, noting how wet his eyes were.  She hesitated only for a hiccup, but pressed on, "The Goddesses created the Ocarina of time and the Master sword to give a hero ample power to protect the Triforce, but... there is a third weapon made for dire circumstances! A weapon so powerful and complex that the Goddess of Time herself had to craft it with the help of the other goddesses: An armored Tunic, made by Nayru, with the ability to sheathe the ultimate weapon forged by both Farore and Din, one which negates even the Master Sword: The-" The walls shook, expanded, contracted; seemingly breathing, interrupting Zelda, and the world around them faded away to smoky swirls of dull color which slowly took the form of a grim and terrifying face.

    "Ah, there's my bride...! You will not resist the King of Evil, young wench!" A dark, glowing crystal prison formed around Zelda, instantly inducing a trance upon her and lifting her up several feet. "... and you!" The voice boomed, as bright electrified light began to accumulate around his visage. "I know why she called you to her, and I plan to vanquish you here and now!"
    This declaration seemed to bring Zelda back to life, who immediately summoned a brilliant blue light which shattered the prismatic prison. She landed gracefully and stood indomitably before walking intently forward, toward an intricate panel with 3 hollow slots. "Ganondorf Dragmire! Leave this sacred place!" And with all her power, Zelda sealed herself and Link, several feet behind her, in a dome of brilliant magical light, revealing that they were inside of the Cathedral: The former Temple of Time.  Her magic seemed to blow the charged light and smoky shadows away into swirls of clear air.  "Link, there's no longer enough time! Take this and retrieve the Master Sword!"  She threw the Ocarina of Time at Link, continuing "Ganon will claim me now, but you can still end this! Go back in time and find the other six sages! With them, help us bind him forever!" then extended her magical barrier toward the Pedestal of Time, forcing the monolithic Doors of Time open with her own magic and filling nearly the entire cathedral with Nayru's Love. She was exhausting herself too fast, sweating hard and suffocating; and Link saw it. He dashed for the sword, running with his every last trace of effort and energy.

    Upon unsheathing the sword, radiant red, blue, and green magical energies engulfed him, just as the King of Evil appeared in a dark crimson-black explosion of smoke.  Link swung the Master sword with great might, blasting its energies out as a magical wave upon the intruder.

    Side stepping the blast as it was swallowed by the smoke he'd traveled through, Ganondorf angrily addressed Link, voice booming and causing the ceiling to collapse. "This. Ends. NOW, boy!" As his eyes turned to a dark neon crimson, and neonic purple and black smoky energy emanated from his core.

    Link lunged at him, driving the sword into Ganondorf's heart, but when he stepped away, only a phantom stood in the evil king's place.  Struck from behind, Link was knocked out, as Ganon's booming evil laughter echoed throughout the halls. Like felt one last tug at his heart as the triforce of courage parted from him and all went black. Forever.



    987 years later...  A child is born...

    You and your three companions: A redhead girl with long hair and overalls, a young girl with cropped green hair and a green sundress, and a blue skinned Zora girl from the Lake Hylia slums; are all sitting together upstairs in front of your small TV in your room, watching the introduction theatrics of the Legend of Zelda.  It's a new two part release: A game and a movie; the first ever successful game-to-move or movie-to-game, in your opinion! Since they're both a reflection of each other, they are "appropriate".  You like the game better because you're in control of the action, but still Love the movie, as it is, essentially, a walk-through for the hardest but most rewarding path through the game...
    You're finishing the intro of the game, as Ganon vanquishes Link, when your mother enters, "Oh, you kids! You shouldn't be playing inside on such a nice day like this! Go on, shoo, get some fresh air! I know it's a brand new game and you want to play it all, right away, but you too, Link. C'mon, outside!"

    The green haired girl playfully punches you in the arm. "yeah, 'little hero'." she laughs, "let's go out and take a swim!" The redhead quickly interrupted, "Or ride horses! C'mon Krystal, Horses are way funner than water! Right, Rutostasia?" The Zora girl shied away and turned her head down "i guesso" she muttered. "Geeze, Malon! You're getting to be just as bad as your sister, Marin, used to be! Why have you started to pick on Ruto so much anyways?" Krystal demanded. Rutostasia just quietly said "s'okay." and tried to make herself as small as unapparent as possible, not wanting to stir anything up.
    "Hey, don't blame me for how Marin acted when she ran away!" They began bickering, but you ignore them and unintentionally sneak away, right out the front door.  It didn't take long for your friends to notice and give chase. "Link, wait up!" Ruto called out, and was the first to run down the stairs after you.
    All 4 of you gathered outside the front door and formed a circle around each other. "What do you guys want to do then?" Asked Malon. "I'm down for swimming" Rutostasia said with negligibly more confidence than before. "you would-" Malon accused, to which Krystal slugged her in the shoulder, "What's the matter with you, Malon?! You're never that mean...!"
    Malon choked away a sob and said nothing, putting on a stern face. "It's okay, Krys. I can handle myself." Ruto said, confidently, trying to draw attention away from Malon.  You suddenly fall to the grass on your back, gaining instant attention.  The three girls rushed down to ask if you were okay, but you simply smirk and pat the grass beside yourself.  They giggled and laid down in a cross with you, all four of your heads together.
    The four of you laid about through most the afternoon, talking, giggling, occasionally getting up and playfully sparring or playing tag. The afternoon was hot and uncomfortable, but it was getting closer to sundown when Rutostasia suggested some Parkour, "I ought to head home soon, but I don't want the fun to end right away... Anyone up for some free-running, to my place?" Excited agreements all around, "That's a great idea, Ruto!" Malon exclaims, "Yeah! I'm in! I'll call mom and tell her I'm sleeping over at Link's. She wont know I'm in the slums, so she won't worry..." Krystal replied, taking out her GameGirl and selecting a contact.  You were beaming, lips ear to ear, bearing happy teeth.

    The four of you stretched out on the grass, barefoot. Forward bends, knee dips, horse stance, splits, neck rolls, all of the kids getting pumped up and excited. You were twisting your torso slowly side to side as the girls defined their marks. "C'mon link!" Krystal called from the starting line. "Waiting on you!"
    You took your mark between her and Ruto and bent down along with your friends. "I'll call it." Malon declared. "Ready?" 3 heads nodding, "Three..." she paused absurdly long, "Two..." a fan of suspense, she waited till her friends got impatient and fidgety, "ONE!" she took off first. "Hey, what about go?!" Ruto called, dashing forward; awkwardly as a Zora, yet with unprecedented grace for her people. You and Krystal took off together, inches behind her, intentionally waiting on each other.
    South, along the main street leading out of the downtown Hyrule Metro area. Although you lived in the nearby suburbs, not the city, 'all roads lead to Hyrule'.

    You caught up with Malon, who caught sight of her companions and whistled sharply, "Come on Epona, join us!". She had ridden her horse out to visit and they two were inseparable, like life-mates. Epona galloped right over. "Cheater!" Krystal giggled, "You cant ride in Parkour!" Ruto giggled and veered off the road as it tapered into the undeveloped open fields northeast of the Lake Hylia slums. She knew she'd win if she could reach the shore even halfway behind her friends. No one can out swim a Zora!
    A few moments later, when you caught sight of her deviating from Malon's lead from the corner of your eye, you took off to follow her lead, tapping Krystal's shoulder and nodding in Ruto's direction. She nodded, "Hey, Malon, Ruto is playing to win! Can your horse swim?" She laughed.
    Malon was competitive, but had too many personal problems as of late to answer or focus on the fun; she was flooded with grief that she would not share with anyone but her most trusted friends... and even though they were here with her now, she still hasn't told but one friend. Her eyes involuntarily welled up with tears, but she blinked them away and veered toward the shore and followed from behind, slowing down.
    Krystal was fiercely competitive, but liked you, her friend, too much to try to outpace you... she was struggling with herself beside you, but finally bolted ahead, running past Ruto, reaching the shore first.  She quickly fished out and tossed her GameGirl into the grass, diving right in.  You then look back toward Malon who was walking now, horse following. You slowed, she noticed and shooed you ahead; so you dash on, catching up quickly.
    Ruto looked back when you passed her.  Seeing Malon mount her Horse, she gave up racing and waited for her to catch up, Malon noticed and picked up pace. "Krys dropped her phone, could you ride out to the house and drop it off for us?" She shouted back, Malon smiled and gave an exaggerated nod and waved to make sure Ruto could see her answer clearly. Ruto waved then hobbled ahead quickly, pointing to the cell as she dove into the lake without looking back, trading the hobble for grace.
    Krystal neared the step ladder on the pier behind Ruto's adoptive family's shanty; you were catching up, but Ruto was torpedoing madly toward both of you, then dove deep, disappearing for a moment, and suddenly jumped out of the water a few times, to announce herself.  Krystal was first to the ladder and half way up, looking back at the splashing. Astonished,  "Geeze that's fast!" she observed aloud.  You grabbed the ladder as Krystal exclaimed at Ruto, who dove deep and spiraled down out of sight into the deep blue lake. Krystal hastily reached for the top but her footing slipped and she had to struggle to climb the rest of the way.  You assisted her by offering one hand for a foothold. "Thanks, Link!" Krystal smiled down on you as Ruto splashed out and straight up to her front door and entered. "But it looks like we lost!" She finished off, spontaneously.
    You both grabbed towels Ruto brought out; a strange commodity in a Zora community, but she had uncommon friends for a young Zora in today's world.  You all smiled and laughed as you and Krystal dried off.  "I'm going to have to go back for my GameGirl, you know..." she started, but noticed Ruto's expression change, looking sarcastic, or concerned, or disgusted, or... "What?" Krystal requested. "Malon will bring it, I asked her to grab it and pointed to it as I jumped in the lake."

    The three of you chatted idly, sitting on the dock edge, enjoying the end of the afternoon into the oncoming evening.  You listened as they discussed all kinds of things, and various topics, while waiting for Malon. "... and so they are out of town for a while. I have the shanty all to myself for the foreseeable future!" Ruto had finished explaining, contented. "I've heard this shanty town was built on the remains of an ancient temple..." Krystal said partly out of the blue. Ruto began to respond when the familiar clopping pattern of a friend's horse interrupted her thoughts, "oh, there's your phone..." she said.

    The four of you went inside and Ruto offered some tea she'd prepared when retrieving the towels.  So you sat around her vacant adobe with your friends and listened attentively.  The conversation was mostly quiet and plain...  Local scenes, weather talk, mutual financial woes to look forward to as adults, the new Legend of Zelda release, then the mythology of the hero of time came up but subsided without a whimper or a bang.  Malon was silent most of this time, and Ruto nudged her. "you told me... come on, we all care about you." she whispered.  Malon was too proud to cry, but couldn't hold back the tears anymore.

    She didn't sob or cry, but choked down her grief and breathed deep, ignoring the eye leak she had sprung in spite of this effort.  "It's my mom... She's... She's so very ill..." She paused long and hard, trying to even out her breathing. "What's wrong with Cremia?!" Krystal exclaimed. Their mothers had been great friends before Malon warmed up to Krystal.  Krys all but lived vicariously through her mother and considered Cremia her friend before she did Malon or, her elder sister, Marin.
    Malon had lost her resolve, she'd endured hiding her grief for too long in one day.  She broke down and cried, embarrassingly in front of her friends; the only people, perhaps, whom in front of she could survive the shame of even doing so, between sobs, she explained all she knew. "The doctors say... it's- It's the cold air off the mountain... and told her... to stay warm and in bed, but Dad... and Ingo both think it's a cop-out...  That the doctors don't know any more," She sobbed, gasped for air and slowed her breath. "About- They don't know more about it than we do."
    Her tone became less grief stricken and more enraged as she continued.
    "They say that it will pass, to keep her sipping water and wrapped up in bed, but they don't understand how long its been!" She was getting madder and madder at the thought of her mother's state.  "They don't understand how frail and weak it's making her, she cant stay in bed and do nothing! She needs to be out with the cows and the horses!" She near about screamed that last word: Horses were her life and world, and the whole ranch was her mother's life and world.  Everything up to this moment had been build up and more build up.  The horses reminded her all too much of her love and affection for the ranch and her mother.
    Lon-Lon Romani Ranch, locally known as The LLRR (or "double LR", even "the LR ranch"), was once a great and economic foothold in northeast Hyrule. That is, until her mother struck ill a year ago, as if the two, person and property, had intertwined health.  Ingo was too selfish to do half the work Cremia did, and Malon's father Talon was a lazy man who slept more than he worked.  But lately he was too attentive to his wife for that to be the case...  Malon had never seen her father awake for so many hours in a day, so constantly beside her mother; his wife.  The cows had all but destroyed the last bush on the property, and had already mowed away the grass, leaving the ranch dry, dusty, and brown... An insult and injury from its former glory.

    Everyone had fallen as silent as you; except you, as you sigh heavily and reach to Malon's hands. "Thanks, Link. You're a courageous friend, you know that?" She said smiling, grabbing ahold with one hand and wiping the tears from her eyes with the other.  Krystal moved in to initiate a group hug, and Ruto awkwardly and reluctantly joined in.  The day was over, the friends stayed well into the night, and eventually Krystal's GameGirl chirped a 'secret sound'.  "Mom's asking where we are... Looks like the jig is up! C'mon Link, maybe Malon will give us a ride back to your house?" She said. Malon smiled, but said nothing, just nodded.  She was spent.

    Ruto said she wanted to go to bed, so the remaining of your three companions rode together, slowly, in silence; twilight coming on quickly, the skies having long lost their beautiful red and pink hues in the west.  No one said anything until they were out of the lake, "Do you want us to stay at your place tonight, Malon?" Krystal asked innocently. Malon's heart throbbed and her answer was caught in her throat.  She half turned her head but immediately hesitated.  Krystal leaned in.
    The three looked quite silly sharing a horse, and Malon, becoming self conscious about it and regaining her usual grace, she turned back and smiled.  Krystal leaned back into you, when Malon replied, "That's a pretty good idea, actually."  Her heart too heavy to convey her genuine excitement. Krystal snapped her handheld open and selected a contact.  While she waited she teased you "How come you're the only boy in in Hyrule who doesn't have a GameBoy?" You smile, but say nothing, just shaking your head and shrugging.
    Krystal laughed, "Whatever..."
    She spoke into her mic, "Hi, mom? - yeah, i kn- - yes- - i know. I'm sorry. we're fine. Yes... yeah, i know. We're fine! - okay Ruto was eaten by the lake monster again, and Malon was eaten by her horse." She patronized. You smiled as you admired the silly relationship between Krystal and her mother.  Something about it had a sneaky feel to it and made you wonder at times what was really going on, as if there were more to it than the silliness you saw.  Krystal continued her call, "yeah, I know" she laughed, "Call Link's house, okay? We're staying at Malon's tonight. She needs her friends, and we cant say no." and hung up without a goodbye. "Your mom lets you get away with everything, Krystal!  Mom would've had me cleaning the barn and stables, sun up till sun down for a month if I made demands like that!" she genuinely laughed but felt only guilt as if she SHOULD BE cleaning the stables forever.
    However, her similar admiration for her family's friends lifted her heart. "Link, you want to grab anything from home on the way?" She asked as they approached your house at the settling in of starlight. "Grab the satchel, Link!" Krystal said excitedly. A themed gift she had bought you to go with your newly acquired movie and video game box set.  You're slightly embarrassed, as you thought it was more like a purse; but couldn't deny your friends, and nodded in response.  Krystal nudged Malon "He'll be just like the Link in the movie!"  She giggled.  Malon's expression became serious and concerned, but she said nothing.

    It was nearing twilight before your trio finally arrived at the dilapidated overhang that had two huge L's and two huge R's with tiny fine print in between that was meant to read out as "Lon Lon Romani Ranch" across the unmaintained wood. Malon hated to see her home go to such waste like that, and tried not to look. Link stared at it, incredulous. So much worn away in such a short time.

    No 'c' or 'h', two small "o"s in 'Lon' and 'Romani', and two missing 'n's made the sign look like it said "
L n Lo R ma i Ran ."... It had only been a couple years since you and Malon met, and you only remembered being there once, but it was such a pristine place!  You couldn't help but think this mystery illness had something to do with it, and couldn't shake the clamps you felt gripping your heart at the thought.
    "How come you never invite us to your house, Krystal?" Malon perked, not really even asking, but to clear the silence, however Krystal fell silent and just curled her green bangs with a finger.  You abruptly dismounted and startled the girls, "Whoa!" Malon called, half to her horse, half to you, "A little warning next time okay, hero?" She joked, referring to the satchel with a nod.  You smile and pat the satchel.  You thought it really did make you look like the Hero of Time; just with darker hair, no tunic, and no equipment. Okay so you hardly looked anything like the hero, but you liked to think you did.  Your mother always said you had the blondest hair in the world when you were born, never the less.


    You jog alongside Epona and friends, down the drive to the Ranch House. Ingo was sleeping on the porch, arms folded sternly over his chest, and a seemingly permanent scowl painted his lips. Malon and Krystal dismounted Epona and Malon told you both to wait at the porch while she took her horse to the corral and closed it up. Krystal was being very self conscious ever since Malon's innocent question, and you notice her contemplative eyes. You step to her and broke her focus. Smiling with your eyes, looking into hers, she says, "Oh Link, you always know what to say, don't you?" Then she smiled. This comment was just loud enough, it shocked Ingo out of his sleep and he shouted out "Who's there, thieves?! Brawlers?! Mafioso?! Get off my property!"

    He was still dreaming but didn't know he was awake, and took off after you and Krystal.  You grab her arm, pulling her toward the corral, and take off running for Malon. "Malon! Ingo's gone nuts!" Krystal called out ahead. You look back and can see Ingo veer off toward the stables. Probably getting a horse, you think.  You run ahead faster and clear the gate just as Malon is closing it.  Bolting to the horse, jumping on Epona's back, you turn her around and gallop to the gate. Krystal and Malon traded places with you and Epona, they two hiding behind the corral gate, and you riding off toward Ingo to distract him from the girls.
     "Thief!" he calls out when he sees you riding.

    You lead Ingo around the corral for a few laps before Talon storms out of the house, ranting and spouting, "What in tarnation is goin' awn out here? I had better notta heard someone stealin' my horses!"  He belted, just as you and Ingo are coming around your third lap.  You halt Epona and stop right in front of Talon, who glares furiously at you.  Ingo came around a little too quickly and halted the horse a little too late.  The horse compensated, but Ingo did not and Ingo was flung off the horse's back and directly into Talon's huge belly, knocking the both of them to the ground.

    Inside the ranch house, the three of you, and Talon, sat at the dinner table, while Ingo stood awkwardly in the threshold between the dining and living rooms, thinly hiding his shame behind anger.  Talon's demeanor was reversed; calm, collected.  Happy, as to cater to his daughter's guests, but upset given the circumstances of his wife's health, and the hour.  "I got no qualms puttin' y'all up for the night, but I'd appreciate more warning next time you come home at three o' clock in th'mornin' with friends! Coulda put out some fresh milk for y'all."  Malon recoiled at the thought of giving away free milk while the cows starved, turned to say something, gaping at her father, but couldn't bring herself to fault his generous hospitality and looked down into her lap instead, torn between concern and shame.  Talon yawned big and loud "aaahAAWWWwwwhhh.... Y'all get some sleep. I'll letcha sleep-in, given schools out this summer and yer up so late.  Ya need yar rest." He said as he got up from the dining table, beckoning Ingo toward the porch.

    The kids wandered into the living room, but could hear Talon sternly lecturing Ingo about making hasty decisions and acting recklessly.  Malon and Krystal were totally wiped out and could barely keep an eye open as they took opposite arms of the couch and laid their heads down. You drape the enormous quilt lain across the back of the couch over the two and retreat to the arm chair beside Krystal's head.  You could barely hear Malon murmur something about her mother's knitting as she fell unconscious. "Mom knitted thi- quilt... When Marin was..."

    Everyone had settled in for the night.  The witching hour was on and such a fascinating time for you.  You feel very alive and alert, and can't sleep, just waiting for your friends' breathing to even out so you could quietly make your escape into the night air. Dozing off, briefly, for half an hour or so, you are soon awakened by a faint sound from outside.  Opening your eyes and listening, it sounds like... laughter?  You quietly creep out of the arm chair and sneak toward the front door. There it is again, but it sounded distant.  You hesitate at the doorknob.

   Outside, the crisp air is welcomed with a heavily contented sigh, but the sound of distant cackling leaves you feeling alert but uneasy.  You tiptoe in the direction of the sound and find yourself walking toward the Lost Woods, east of the ranch.  The eerie darkness and moonlit shadows cast a frightening atmosphere upon the forest, but somehow this manages to bring a sense of comfort to you, in spite of the gloom.  You notice the cackling has changed...  It now seems more like celebratory laughter than witchy spellbinding.  You glance back at the house for a sense of familiarity before moving on to follow the sounds of laughter.

    A small light comes to your attention and appears to move of its own accord, behind the tree trunks and through the branches, catching your curiosity, beckoning you to follow.  The light seems to keep pace with you; if you sped up, the light sped up, you'd slow down, and the light would slow down.
    With a sudden rise of courage, you decide to go for broke and dash after it full wind.  It lagged ahead briefly but then, as if spooked, shot ahead at blinding speed!  The laughter also grew clearer and a little louder and you dashed on.  A mix between cackles and celebratory hollers echoed off the fat trunks of old trees. The light had led you deep into the woods and suddenly darted off more directly toward the sounds of laughter.
    You manage to just barely keep up, sliding as you made a sharp turn and lost one foothold, but compensated with the other leg just fine.  The light was way ahead, clearly visible, but stationary. You're running fast, but decide to slow down in hopes of not scaring this enigma away.  You approach the light, maybe ten feet away, the closest you've gotten yet, and as you inch closer, the light suddenly rings out and tings softly then 'jumps' back toward your face just before immediately humming away into the treetops before you could make out what had just happened.  Voices rose up through the laughter and conversation could be faintly distinguished. You hold your breath and creep ever softly closer.

    "Well that fairy did a fine job, helping us scout for a new mushroom patch!" One harsh voice beamed happily, "Indeed, indeed! We can begin making new potions again! Hee-hee!" Came another voice that sounded almost identical. "Who ever would have thought old hags like us could willingly work with a forest fairy?" The first one cackled. The two witches hobbled an awkward dance around an eerie blue flame that glowed as if with shadow rather than light. The flame abruptly went out and two shadows pooled up from it, before darting straight to you!

    Two hands from separate bodies grab you by the shoulders and pin you against a tree. "Aunt Koume, we have a visitor!" one said simultaneously, as the other said rather, "Aunt Kotake". The witches cackled, the air carrying their glee into the sky, and they suddenly materialized broomsticks and hovered swiftly over to inspect you.  The fire pit had turned to normal fire and its light revealed a fat hollowed out tree with a ladder and chimney.  You found yourself admiring this forest house in spite of this situation.  One of the shadow girls notice your gaze and looked at the house too. The twin on the other shoulder saw her sister turn away and so she, too, looked back. They both returned to stare you down and ask in unison, "What?"  Which sounded accusatory.

    Koume and Kotake alternated between one another with their speech. One would begin, the other would finish. "Twila, Midna, bring our guest inside," One started, "We have him a gift that will bring him pride." The other continued. "Special boy this one is." The red witch said "The destiny of Hyrule shall be his!" The blue witch finished.

    Twila and Midna exchanged doubtful glances but withdrew into the ground as shadows and retreated to the tree home. You hadn't realized the two shadow girls were holding you up so high until you fell unexpectedly. Koume and Kotake hovered closer and leaned in, just staring at you, then turned and flew into their chimney calling behind them together "Hurry along now!" Koume said, "We've much to address!" Kotake punctuated.  You get up and brush yourself off, front and back. When you looked up to see if you could find the mystery light, apparently a fairy, you simply see this new place, sans faerie light.

    Inside the witch hut was a large cauldron in the middle of the room, a domed smoke stack hung over it from above, carved out of and supported by the tree itself, a low over hang with beds stacked on one wall, and an L shaped counter right beside the front door, where Midna or Twila stood, the other nowhere to be seen.  Koume stood in front of the cauldron, stirring in mushrooms, and Kotake sat in a rocker beside the bunks, impatiently beckoning.

    You cautiously approach the red witch and sit before her, expecting a story or some such thing.  The witch cackled "You heart is true, boy!" she started, "True like blue! Oi!" Koume joked to finish.  Kotake picked up, "We may not look it, hags as we are, but my sister and I trained the evil king in times long afar." Koume didn't look up from her brew, but kept the conversation going, "You might not believe my sister and I to have lived in ancient Hyrule as the centuries trickled by!" Then leaned in to sample the odor of her potion.

    "Seems impossible that we could so long have stayed alive" Kotake continued on, "But believe it or not, we are fifteen hundred and five!" Koume declared, to which her twin abruptly stood in her rocker, approached the cauldron, and began stirring, "You hag! we're twins! you cant be younger than me!" Kotake approached the cauldron from the opposite, grabbing a spoon, and stirring with her twin. "Don't be so cruel dear sister! We're finally free! I'm only trying to save us some grace!" Koume argued. Kotake shook the spoon at her, "But that's a lie, we're better than that! Know your place!" They continued bickering, "Don't blame me for learning how to survive!" And bickering... "Our student even might still be alive!"

    Midna had been hiding in the shadow of the rocker and silently slipped up to you.  You showed a surprised face as she introduced herself with a sly smile, and Twila magically slipped over behind the witches, through Koume's shadow, to approach your opposite side, "and I'm her twin sister, Twila." They then spoke in unison: "come, meet us outside, our aunts are busy finishing your potion." You laugh to yourself quietly, 'is that what they're doing' you wondered.  You remain in silence as you follow their floor shadows out the door. "Liar!" but not without passing the elderly bickering twins. "Wretch!"

    The eerie blue flame had begun to enshroud the area again, and you hesitantly stepped in.  Inside the shadow, light was reversed, where shone bright appeared shadow, where shadow fled, lurked light.  It took a moment for your eyes to adjust, but you saw Midna and Twila standing together in what appeared to be a trance.  They began to hover off the ground a few inches and the shadowy light dome around them changed and swirled, showing visions and events in a blur.  Armies clashing for treasure, a giant mirror in the desert, a tall dark spire hovering over a pit of lava, and as the visions focused, you saw yourself as a young boy, maybe 2 or 3 years younger than you are now, asleep in a tree, stirring and restless.

    "The first Hero of Time was never the first hero, yet the first to touch the Triforce, so the goddess of time picked you from him."  The twins spoke inseparably, "Your past is not your past, your present is not your present, but the future belongs entirely to you.  This young Link was the first the 3 goddesses spoke to, the first to touch their treasure in his mind... with his heart... ... and the first to save Hyrule from Ganon." The vision continued to change, but focused on this one event.  A fairy entered and began bouncing all about, and the vision swelled and warped into the phantom Link's mind.

    A dream of a young princess riding quickly with her attendant, fleeing Hyrule, followed distantly by Ganondorf, riding his steed out of an ancient Hyrule gate and drawbridge.  A brief exchange of looks as the princess rides past the 'other' Link; Ganondorf, halting before the boy, shouts at him about the white horse. Link draws a weapon, and Ganon is laughing.  He smiles evilly, firing a bolt of dark light into the vision of Link and paralyzes him... The dream hazed away back to the fairy who was shouting at Link, and then the vision fades away again to the eerie inverted light of Midna and Twila's dome.
    They continued their story, "You bear the heart, spirit, and soul of the Hero of Time, whose lives have been ever fraught with peril." This revelation shocks you and you catch a small gasp in your throat, feeling recoiled, and slowly sit down, trying to steady your swirling head.

    "When you first awakened as the hero, Ganondorf had already seized power and sought the Triforce, but you and the princess weren't ready.  While you traveled over vast mountains, under deep blue water, through the realm of the dead, and even across the river of time, in the end, Zelda and the sages sealed the Ganon beast in the void between realms and with the help of the Goddess of Time, Zelda returned you to your original time as a child again, so as to give you your own life back...  But Ganon was not as fully sealed as the sages had thought."

    A vision of Ganon cursing the descendants of the sages, Zelda playing the ocarina of time, and Link returning in the temple.  The fairy that was with him at all times, throughout every moment of that long journey-vision, until the very end, when he was returned to his past, had drifted away through the cathedral window.  "You did not forget your adventures, and you still felt duty bound, but this time you warned the princess of Ganondorf's deceit; you told her your story of having arrived as her prophecy had shown, then did her bidding and opened the temple of time. You explained how her plan worked against seven years of Hyrule's history, so Zelda made no requests of you, but offered a parting gift for your service to the royal family, and as a surefire guarantee that Ganondorf would not open the doors of time: the Ocarina of Time.  Feeling empty, unfulfilled, and alone, you sought your old friend and companion whom had accompanied you on your first journey. Requesting the horse of another young friend, buying a custom shield from Biggoron, and finally requesting a sword from your former childhood community from which you were growing too distant, you set out into the Lost Woods, in hopes of finding your fairy..."

    The vision warped into The Skullkid chasing Link through the lost woods, stealing his horse and transforming him into a Deku Scrub, followed by Termina fields' view of Clock Town, and showed the moon falling and warping back repeatedly. As the twins kept on, the vision remained in a strange loop like this, the moon falling, and reappearing in the sky, then falling again, and again, and again, "The goddess of time saw how powerful you had become by wisely using the Triforce of Courage  and used you to save another world connected by the dreams of Hyruleans.  Upon entering the dream world of Termina, your presence awakened a sleeping evil, the Nightmare Majora, trapped in the Dekuwood of a stolen magical mask; a mask imprisoning Majora in the waking world of Hyrule.  Though you had befriended a Skullkid with your own mask trading and musical talent, he had stolen that evil mask from a traveling salesman, putting all dreams, and thus all of reality, at risk, and for a time became your enemy! The goddess of time guided you backward through time repeatedly, as this old and forgotten evil attempted to destroy the world through dreams, by using your friend like a puppet!  You needed to finish your first adventure... But you did not know how... So... Instead, you found yourself saving another world all together.  Your adventure into the Lost Woods to find a former companion rather found you into rescuing the world from a deadly nightmare!"

    The vision panned in on a Skullkid wearing a strange mask, beckoning a giant and angry Moon overhead and Link playing his Ocarina.

    Then the vision warped into the moon's mouth and revealed an eerie arena where the mask took on its own body and form.

    Link put on a white mask, and the vision faded again...

    The twins were hovering, slowly circling over the dark flame together, "The goddess of time saw you through many adventures throughout the ages, and with the help of her sisters and their Triforce, you vanquished evil at every turn...  Passing between the world of light and shadow, entering the Sacred Realm en Dark World, and even passing through the dreams of the Majestic Wind Fish..." The vision warped through time and exposed the execution of Ganondorf Dragmire for his crimes against the Royal Family, warping around to show Ganon vanquished by Link in his lair in the Black Citadel, warping past to Phantom Ganon in the Forest Temple, twisting light into a vast ocean and exposing a shipwreck, boiling away to a nightmarish battle against Ganon in the form of a Great Beast, before finally warping away to the twins again. "After Zelda originally sent you back in time, the Goddesses witnessed Ganon break free from the void between realms...  While the people prayed for your return, you could not; for you were fully removed from that world and its events!  In order to save everyone from the wrath of Ganon, the goddesses flooded nearly all of Hyrule with the help of the King, and soon your heroism was eventually all but forgotten...  So that a new hero could be reborn, yet again, to face the revived King of Evil in his own deluge.  Ganon, King of Evil met his demise at your hands countless times over countless eons, but never parted with the Triforce of Power until after the events of the Imprisoning War, whereupon he was sealed with the Triforce in the sacred realm and his evil magic twisted it into the Dark World."

    The vision disintegrated and dissolved, revealing another vision underlying. "Using the wizard, Aghanim, Ganon found a way to escape from his Dark World, and nearly succeeded until you were chosen once more to save Hyrule and attacked the Wizard, learning of his darker designs. He kidnapped the Princess and used her and the 6 other descendants of the ancient sages to break their barrier, but fell to your might and lost the Triforce in the end.  You vanquished him and laid claim to the whole Triforce after an epic battle.  Your wish to restore Hyrule touched the Goddesses' hearts..." The vision warping around to show Ganon vanquished by Link in his pyramid lair in the Dark World; Link securing the Triforce in an adjacent chamber; then warping back to the twins and Link. "However, as ever you returned, time and time again, so too did Ganondorf Dragmire; and over time, he had returned to Hyrule yet again to secure the Triforce of Power."

    The vision flooded in again, with images of an older and more mature Link:  Emerging from a cave, carrying a newly acquired sword and embarking upon his journey before the images faded back out - like the tides following the moon.  "You had defeated Ganon once more and Zelda used her power of the Triforce of Wisdom to strip him of the Triforce of Power, thus returning the world to peace."
    Like a rising tide, the vision swells with prosperous celebration before draining back to the inverted darkness of Midna and Twila's domain.  "Yet even as a hero, you walked away to live on in solitude and simplicity:  For she was engaged to a prince unworthy of her hand, whom inadvertently cursed his bride to be with a sleeping spell, cast by an evil magician whom the prince himself had hired...  To secure the Triforce for his own selfish desires!"  The vision swelled back into sight, to detail Link's battles against a shadow copy of himself as the young twins narrated, "Once more, you came to the aid of Hyrule and sought the means to rescue Zelda from disaster.  Your shadow image guarded the Triforce of Courage, needed to awaken the princess who had separated the three golden triangles and sealed them in three separate locations.  A time of great prosperity followed her awakening...  The Triforce became the stuff of legend and was all but forgotten..."

    The twins hovered away from the flame on opposite ends and touched down to the ground. The blue flame dissipated and returned to normal fire, and the twins continued... "Farore, the Goddess of Courage, had grieved for you and wished you your own life, so with the help of the Goddess of Wisdom and the Goddess of Time; Farore helped you and Zelda forget all your deeds as the Hero of Time and Sage of Wisdom after Zelda sent you back from your ordeals as the first Hero of Time."

    The twins became solemn, "You were genuinely returned to your own time, before all the events were ever set in motion.  You did not wait with the Master Sword for seven years to battle Ganon, but were sent back to the moment you awoke from your nightmare.  Zelda did not pursue her visions of Hyrule's demise.  You left the Kokiri Forest in a daze and did not come back again to enter Termina, for you did not remember your fairy companion you never received.  You did not return to the Kokiri village in the Lost Woods either, for your mystic daze guided you to your own Hylian people and reunited you with your mother's sister in Kakariko.  You never became a hero.  You instead grew to manhood, becoming a prosperous Hylian Hunter and introduced the Kokirish attire as huntsman's garb; when you became a man it had been since made the traditional attire for hunting.  However, Ganon could not be parted with his lust for power, even after he was trained as a Wizard by our very aunts, Koume and Kotake!" You recoil, Twila and Midna continue, "He used their very teachings to bind them to his own will for a time and became an evil Warlock.  He seized the Triforce of Power and used it to vanquish you and steal the Triforce of Courage.  With those two parts in place, he forced Zelda to relinquish the Triforce of Wisdom and vanished; all but without a trace, as his minions overran all of Hyrule for five hundred years of pure darkness.  What has happened in the last five hundred, however, are enshrouded in mystery, as his monsters seemed to disappear and civility returned to the lands... ... but the existence of the Moblin police and Stalfos Knights remain testament to his presence even toda-..." Interrupting the twins, Koume and Kotake burst out of the tree hut and began scolding their twin nieces.

    "Twila! Midna! How dare you tell our tale!" Kotake began, "You pests spoiled our surprise and frightened the young boy pale!"  You got up and brushed yourself off again, standing tall, as to show you were fine, not at all traumatized, not the least bit scared.  Koume and Kotake ordered Midna and Twila into the house with no more than a stiff bony finger, each, jutted to their front door, and the two youngers slipped away into the shadows. "Perhaps it's started all over again," Koume said to Kotake, "The hero does reappear now and then." Her sister agreed. They eagerly stared at you with great intent.

    You waited.  The witches waited.  You look them back and forth in their eyes.  The sisters look you in your eyes.  You stood up, awkwardly, waiting.  Koume and Kotake hovered on their broomsticks, awkwardly, almost as if confused.  You scratch the back of your brown head of hair.
    "Oi! That's right!" Kotake burst out, and squirmed and fidgeted like slapstick, retrieving a bottle from her sleeve. "Bring this back to us tomorrow afternoon." She started, "We can help your friend's mother with our potion of blue." Koume finished.

    "Also, you might want these. They aren't worth trade anymore, like in the old days, but you can still find more by cutting down the shrubs you might find... Well if you had a sword... These were for the last bottle of potion we sold, hundreds of years ago, before everything changed."  Kotake spoke, uncharacteristically, plainly.  Koume handed over a purple rupee and a pair of red rupees, and the large bottle.  You stare at the large bottle a moment and take it from the witch with caution, as if it might be cursed.  Kotake cackled, and the two witches disappeared in a puff of smoke.

    You breach the forest edge about a mile behind the Ranch and trudge along, sleepily.  It was dawning, and though no sun was visible, the light poured over the horizon, announcing it was not far from rising.  By the time you make it to the front porch, you spot your two friends rushing about in a panic...  They were looking for you.  Malon caught sight of you and froze.
    "Link!" Was all Malon could really say, and you approached.  The three of you stood on the front porch awkwardly.
    "What were you doing outside so early?" She asked after an awkward silence.  You opened your mouth to answer, but the smell of breakfast overpowered you, and, instead of speaking, your stomach growled loudly.  Tired from lack of sleep, and now so hungry, so much as to feel like you're starving on top of it, you grip your stomach and fall to your knees, prompting Krystal and Malon to your side.  "Link!"  Krystal yelped, worried. Then your stomach growled loudly again cluing the girls in on, at least part of, your predicament.  They laughed together and escorted you to the dining table.  Talon was cheerfully standing at the stove, preparing eggs and bacon and,  "Ho young'un!  I got the flapjacks almost done!"  He greeted you without even looking up.  "Glad you weren't far off.  Early Riser, I could use a man like that on the land! AH-HAW!"
    After breakfast, you passed out in the Living room, watching the early morning Super Mario Super Show cartoons with your friends.
    In your dream, you saw the worlds of Hyrule, all bound and contained together by the Triforce, with yourself standing amidst them all, as if a giant tree, binding the worlds of Hyrule across time and space, standing in the empty center of a gigantic Triforce.
    In one world, red with war, crawling off your right arm, in another, on your forehead, blue and deep with ocean and vast of skies, others showed peaceful melding of people, and some showed pristine nature, green and untouched, growing upward from beneath your left foot.  You were seeing yourself from outside yourself:  The giant Link, towering over his myriad adventures, peered down into a shadowy realm branching out from his heart.
    Black clouds and purple lightning foreshadowing an olive sunset; a weak and sickly looking sunset, its rays not even beaming outward, but shining enough to express the hordes of monsters crowding together in the shadows.  Deep into the darkness, where no monsters stirred, smoky, cloudy wisps of shadow gently tumbled about.

    Emerging from within were the twins, Twila and Midna. "The potion's almost done, wake up sleepyhead!" They said in unison.  As they retreated to the billowing shadows, as you began waking up, as the dreams faded to darkness, you thought you could see yourself peering out of that blackness with glowing red eyes.

    You'd slept through the cartoons, and heard the front door click shut, opened your eyes, and looked around; got up and left the house.  You found Krystal mounting Epona, and Malon standing beside, helping her up, while giving her some riding instructions.  "Hey sleepyhead!" Krystal called to you, waving then losing her balance.  You approached them.  "Krystal was jealous you 'got to' ride Epona last night," she said, slightly offensively, lecturing, "and she conned me into teaching her how to ride..." Then Krystal butted in, "You looked so fabulous and heroic, Link!" causing you to blush.
    Malon explained that she wasn't too happy with you, and didn't like sharing her horse, told you both, in a strong tone, it was a "one time deal" and that you'd have to find your own horses next time. "This might take a while, Link. Why don't you find something to make yourself useful? I'm sure Ingo would be more than happy to dump his responsibilities on you!" Malon half joked, but meant it literally, more as a warning than an opportunity.  So you disappeared for a couple hours while the girls rode and Ingo labored, Talon at his frail wife's side.

    "You're late!" Kotake cackled inoffensively, stirring up a ladle full of blue from within the cauldron.  "You'll have to hurry back, this isn't a proper potion," she continued, "it will turn red when its exposed to warmth or sunlight for more than a minute." Koume explained, "In the forest, the cool damp air will preserve it, but only in the shadows," she continued, followed by her sister, "When you reach the forest edge, don't step into the light," she emphasized, "Run through it!" They said together.
    This may have confused you, this may not have but excited you; perhaps you were simply very eager to finish the task, or perhaps you mistook their unison as an immediate command.  Whatever may the case be, you ran as fast as you could the whole way there cradling the bottle, twice protected, within the satchel you'd mindlessly kept with you since last night.  When you cleared the forest, you ran even faster.  Bolting into the house and up the stairs, you ran back to the room at the very end of the hall and entered Talon and Cremia's room.  Talon got up with a shot, as if electrocuted, and approached you sternly.  You ignored him and produced the bottle from your pack, then stood bedside of Cremia and held the bottled blue potion to her lips.  The smell was inviting; invigorating and aromatic, so immediately she wanted to drink.  A sip at first, then regaining her strength with miraculous speed, drank faster, and then, halfway through, gulped that half of the bottle all at once, leaving not a drop.  She jumped out of bed and stood tall, invigorated, proud, Healthy! Talon was confused and angry about your sudden burst into the privacy of his room and did not know what to do, just awkwardly shouted monotonously "What was that, boy?"

    Cremia had recovered so instantly that suddenly, she was in tears and hugged her husband fiercely. Malon and Krystal had seen your haste outside, while riding, and followed you in cautiously at first; entering to the sight of two crying, happy adults.  Malon was in shock for a moment and moved her lips, yet said nothing.  Krystal looked aside and saw Malon's reaction, then stepped away, beside you.  Malon then burst into tears and cried out "MOM!" And ran over to embrace her parents.

    You and Krystal had quietly left the family, without a word, leaving them to their joyous reunion.  You began the long walk back to your house, and Krystal wanted to ask what happened in there but couldn't find the words.  You walked slowly and silently for almost a whole mile before she broke the silence, "How did you save Cremia? No one knew what was wrong, and you came in and out like nothing happened at all. I've only ever heard of the forest witches having that kind of healing power..." Her mention of the witches shocked you into a recoil.  You turned with a start, your eyes peeled open in surprise, and Krystal recoiled at your own reaction, intuiting what happened. "no..." was all she could say at first.
    You both walked for only a brief silent moment, nearing the river "You went into the forest this morning, didn't you?"  Your expression told all as your jaw dropped in surprise.  Krystal turned aside, partially ashamed.  She didn't know how to explain how SHE knew about the Forest Witches.  Having never told anyone where she lived, Cremia being the only living soul but her own mother to know....  However, she stayed silent and continued walking, leaving you behind to catch up from her stunning revelation.  You slowly began walking again, then picked up the pace to catch up with her, though you still said nothing.

    Walking in silence, following a winding pedestrian path to climb west across the highway bridge, spanning the river between east and west Hyruletropolis, through downtown, past the skate park, and onward toward your house; which still a couple miles away, almost half an hour of silence between you both, with nothing but the sounds of traffic and wind.  You barely cleared the park when the silence was starting to irritate Krystal, but her mind was overly occupied with her home and her past; wanting to talk but not about her thoughts, unable to distract herself she broke off.  "I'm sorry, Link! I've got to go home!" Krystal said, tears subtly welling up in her eyes.  She ran back toward the park and followed the adjacent footbridge, south of the highway, and didn't look back.  You were beside yourself, and also backtracked as far as the skate park, to find a bench to sit on and contemplate.

    You wondered about your friends' recent strange behaviors, the eerie chance encounter with the witches and shadow girls, and Cremia's mysterious illness.  You were so absorbed in thought that you hadn't noticed a homeless Goron has been walking around the perimeter of the park...  Or the black leather jackets coming and going consistently from seemingly random streets.  You did not notice the purple t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts with elegant and intricate "B" emblems on the fronts and/or backs.  Nor had you consciously noticed the garish yellow tuxedo that stepped out of a limousine, or the cyan bandannas and wristbands that huddled together beside sports cars. 
    All that, which marked the local riff-raff, suddenly started standing out after the Goron's umpteenth lap around the skate park.  You had sat there for so long, engorged on thought, as if in shock - and quite rightly so - that the scenery around you had started to turn into a story of self evident lies and mystery.

    The afternoon had slipped right underneath your nose.  But for a moment, of sudden lucidity, you felt like you could see through reality; as if a divine force compelled you to act on, and solve, the many Hyrulean problems you encountered.  Your eyes widened with consciousness as you watched some more, now with intent.
    A Black jacketed thief had picked the Yellow Tuxedo's pocket, whom had come to launder money with a Purple Brawler as part of a reward to his gang for "cleaning up" the Cyan Racers up north in Mafia territory, which had moved in on the Black Thieves' claim and forced them out into the west, outside of town and opened their turf up for the Mafia.
    Even though it took most of the day for these events to transpire, even though you had payed no direct attention to any of the events until now, so caught up in his own recent experience, you were suddenly and mysteriously aware of all of this...  Though you had no genuine proof that what you thought you saw was truly real, you felt it in your Heart to be true...

    ... and then, as if on cue, the Goron took off his perimeter path to approach you, standing directly in front of you, almost menacingly, just waiting for you to look up at him.
    You feel scared for a moment and slowly look up to meet the homeless Goron's eyes.  The fear melted quickly away when you saw friendly eyes and a sly grin, just as the Goron spoke "Hi! My name's Link. You homeless, too, kid?"  You looked around and noticed many derelict Hyruleans approaching the park one by one from all directions and noticed the smell of hotdogs coming from under the bridge behind him.  You shook your head to answer the Goron and looked behind him, where you saw a line forming from under the bridge.

    The Goron's smile beamed; happy to help anyone down on their luck, even if they werent homeless, and saw an opportunity to explain the situation to someone who wasn't up to date.  "Ah, the homeless feed.  Great people, they come out here every evening and cook up some cheap grub for those of us who have no money.  They even accept original Rupees as exchange, not just that fake paper stuff they have now, with the pictures of the royal family on them and stuff.  They seem real grateful for those Rupees."
    You fetched a 5r bill from your pocket, sporting an elegant Princess Zelda on the front.
    "Yeah... They don't care about that stuff, no real value for what they do, feeding people.  They don't reject it though - I'm sure they buy more food with it, but they don't seem to want any funny money.  I suppose they have a better use for the Rupees, you think?" The Goron continued as he sat beside your bench with a thud.
    "You've been sitting out here a real long time for someone who isn't homeless.  You got anywhere to go?  You're sure to be hungry! ... Tell ya what, I'll give you the rundown on how Downtown Hyrule works... ... If you bring us back a couple hotdogs each?"
    You smiled and got up, getting in Line.

    It was a long wait, for so many people had shown up.  You'd had no idea that so many people in Hyrule were homeless or drifters.  Fascinated by the hospitality of the group serving food, you are feeling eager to see them, who they are.  Only a few people left ahead of you before you could make out their faces. 
    A familiar looking young Hylian girl about your own age and an older tattooed woman with stark white hair, who looked Hylian as well, were busy going back and forth between a van with supplies and the tables they had brought along to set up.  Featuring a small propane stove and plain plates and plastic silverware, they'd put out buns and condiments for people to self-serve before they handed out the 'dogs.  You slop mustard, relish, ketchup, onions, and chopped peppers into four buns while the person ahead received hotdogs from the Hylian woman.  Now that you're next, the Hylian woman exchanged places with the younger girl who was coming back from the van with more hotdogs to put into the boiling pot.  You feel that she is incredibly pretty.  So much so, that you forgot you were in line for food, for a moment, and did not understand what she meant when she asked, "Four?"

    You blink a couple times.  "You look like you must be really hungry!  Better make it five!"  She was so kind, and put a fifth bun on your plate, filling all 5 of them with hotdogs.  She smiled at you, even with her eyes, and made you feel so strong and important in that brief moment.
    You beamed at her, smiling back with your eyes too, before getting bumped ahead by the impatient line behind.
    The Goron, Link, was waiting patiently and watching you, the Hylian Link, the whole time, as you just noticed while carrying the 'dogs back to the bench.  "Ooh! Extras from Zelda, huh?  I done saw that!  Lucky kid, you are!  She must like you!" He teased, you blushed a little and grabbed a hotdog. 
    Goron Link left it at that and fulfilled his end of the deal,  "Alright, kid. homeless or not, you got a lot to figure out if yer gonna hang around Downtown for long times like this.  Lucky I'm here protecting this here park!  Else the Purple Brawlers might see fit to make an example of ya and kick you around.  They consider the industrial bloc by the river to be their turf, and have moved into the commercial buildings across the street, recently.  If nothing else, that church right across from us will be safe for you.  No one goes in those places anymore unless they still believe in the Three Golden Goddesses.  Doesn't matter what you believe though, the place is still protected from on high.  No Brawlers, Mafia, Thieves, Racers, or Moblins
 ever go in there if they are not innocent, themselves."  He ate one hotdog, in one bite. "mmf, not bad for being rock-free..."  he grumbled to himself.  "So, first thing's first, kid: Stay well away from the Purple ones with those fancy B's emblazoned on their colors.  They are working with the Mafia, those ones wearing those awful yellow tuxedos.  You might want to keep your distance from them too, but they wont even notice you unless they think you are in possession of something of value to them.  I heard a rumor that they own Hyrule from the underground, manipulate the Moblins and other monsters and that's how they booted the thieves out of northern Hyruletropolis...  But anyone who knows the stories, knows that they would have to belong to Ganon for that to be true!  Ha! haha!" he laughed at the notion that Ganon would use anything but his own monsters, and ate his second hotdog in one bite just like the first.  You were barely half way done with your first.
    "Well! That's that, I guess. Unless..." Goron Link licked his lips and grabbed his tiny belly - so small for a Goron!  "You gonna eat that?" he asked about the fifth hotdog.  You hold up the plate and offer both hotdogs to the Goron, who takes that as payment for more advice.

    "Then you need all the information you can get, huh? Guess the next thing you want to watch out for is the Racers.  They race against the Mafia, who have a few guys in yellow jumpsuits. It's kind of a big deal at the stadium to see them compete, but that's only the side you're 'supposed to' see.  What goes down on the streets is much more dangerous and full of violence.  Street races is how the mafia picks the winners and losers.  All betting at the track is fixed from the start.  The mafia doesn't care about the racers' turf, just the drivers; the ones skilled and stupid enough to get involved at the track in the stadium.  The Cyan Racers, on the other hand, are as mean and tough as the Brawlers.  Both sides fight for territory.  Like I said, the Brawlers recently took some commercial turf near here.  Was Cyan territory last week.  Might be Cyan again next week."  He ate both hotdogs in one bite.  The food didn't seem to be worth his time, like gulping down air.  He looked miserable, disappointed by the food instead of fulfilled by it.
    You remember the rupees you'd put in your satchel with the bottle and pulled out the large purple one.  The Goron's eyes widened as if he'd just witnessed a miracle.

    "REAL FOOD!" he shouted.  "It's no Rock Sirloin, only just better than candy, but I'll tell you anything you want to know if you can keep 'em comin'!" Goron Link hopped up and stomped a happy dance, shaking the ground beneath him, then held out his hands expectantly.  You hand over the rupee, and watch, incredulous, as the Goron eats it.  As if grinding it into a thousand pieces, he gnashes and chews.
    Smaller brown rupee shards sprinkled off as well as one blue rupee and 3 small green rupees.
    "YA-HOO!"  He shouted triumphantly,  "First real food in a week!  No one has brought in any rupees this big for a long time! anything purple or bigger is actually nutritious for a Goron! Used to be, once in a while, folk would give Zelda and Impa some rupees for their service, and they would turn around and feed 'em to me when they turned purple!  A Goron cant survive off of the same food everyone else can!  Which is also why you'll never see a Zora down here at the feed.  I stick around 'cuz I'cn keep the violence out.  I might be starving, but no one but a Goron can beat me!  So as long as I'm here, the homeless feed goes on as scheduled, the Brawlers and Racers leave everyone alone, and since no money is exchanged, the Mafia never cared to begin with.  ... And cuz you fed me a wallop of rock candy today, I'll start you off with a great tip.  The Thieves in black, and they sometimes wear leather jackets, are homeless just like the rest of us.  I told you about the Mafia kicking them out of their old turf, right?  Guess they had something valuable?  Beats me, but they are not as bad as they look.  Rumor has it they're working with the Gerudo clan, out in the desert.  One of 'em, looks like a ninja, comes around here once in a while, but never talks; stays as out of sight as possible, and leaves as invisibly as they come.  Seen 'em see me seein' 'em once, and they disappeared into the traffic.  Guess they don't like bein' seen!  Ninjas...  But i seen this one doin' trade with other thieves, so they must be the same team, huh?"

    Goron Link rubbed his belly some more and smacked his lips. "I don't suppose you know where you can get more of those? I don't care for the green ones, and the brown arent even good tasting.  You can keep most of the crumbs if you want." He said, picking up the blue "crumb" that fell off his purple meal.  "The Moblin police make sure to remove any and all shrubs and stray rocks from the city, leaving me with nothing to scavenge for..." and he chomped the blue rupee. "It'f wheirfd." he said, with his mouth full.  "I don't understand why they'd started doing that, because now I might have to leave and go live in the desert! Getting rid of me can't be their sole purpose!!"

    You pull out the rest of your rupees and handed them over, smiling. Goron Link stomped about and praised, then gobbled them right up, leaving no "crumbs".  You pick up a handfull of brown rupees and the three green rupee "crumbs" left on the ground from his purple 'crumbs', then nodded in departure, and slowly walked home, taking in the environment; keeping watch on the activities around you, eyes open for the first time.

    When you finally get home some time past 22:00 that night, your mother was waiting at the kitchen table, worried sick.  You'd opened the door and tossed your satchel beside it but your mother was in a joyous panic, "Oh, Link! You're home! I was so worried about you! Where have you been all day? I got a call from Cremia saying you'd been a big help at the ranch, but that was all I've heard from you since! That was twelve hours ago!" She ran up and squeezed a worried motherly embrace around you, then sighed with both relief and regret.
    "You're growing up fast...  Too fast for mom to keep up with you anymore...  I guess it's time you got some more freedom, huh?" She said with a heavy heart.  "Your allowance isn't going to be enough for you anymore, and I thought of you when I saw this Olde Hyrulean style wallet.  I was so worried about you, but I thought it through.  I think the wallet helped me come to the conclusion that you're going to be a man some day."  She continued, speaking more for herself than for you.  "I think you'll be better able to learn about growing up with a bigger wallet..."  She said handing it over.  "It's not much, but I'd feel better knowing you had something to stay in touch with your 'mommie'..."
    Inside it was a GameBoy.  You stare at it for a while before pulling it out.  "You can only call home right now, but if you bring it to me later, I'll add your friends' numbers, but you need to only use it in emergencies.  Okay?"  You stare at it a moment longer before looking her in the eye and nodding in affirmation.

    At the dinner table, a cold plate of pasta sat on the table in front of the chair you would have sat in that evening.  "You can still warm it up, it will still be good, I had it covered when you didn't show up for dinner."  She said, as she was ascending the stairs.  "I'm going to bed, and so are you, as soon as you finish eating, washing up and changing into your jammies."  You smile and roll your eyes - both sarcastically amused, and genuinely happy.  Plus, the pasta was great, and just exactly what you needed.

    The next morning, you are abruptly awoken by a familiar game tune coming from an unfamiliar location.  You fumble around the desk and find the new phone.  It was ringing at 6:00 AM.  You open it up and put it to your ear, but it had gone silent and nothing happened.  It made another sound, just a sound, not a tune this time, right in your ear.  You studied it a moment and saw, on the tiny GameBoy screen, "1 new text".  So then you fiddle with it and find the text.
    It read:
    "I forgot to explain it better: You cant actually make any calls except emergency calls - you can text me, and when i add your friends' numbers, you can text them too. but phone calls are limited to me and emergency services only. - going to the store, we're out of eggs and batter. be back soon!

    You groan loudly and roll over back into bed, lay still for a moment, groan some more, and lazily sweep your feet over the edge of the bed and slouch.  You rub your forehead and groan yet again as you begin stretching your arms out behind you and leaning from one side to the other, and groaning, protesting this hope-dashed awakening; having hoped you could have slept in.  Hopping out of bed, you reach for your toes and then arc your back and fall against the bed.  Then you lay awkwardly a while, leaning against the side of the bed a moment before shoving the new phone into your pocket and heading down the stairs.

    There was still cereal and milk in the cupboards, so you make yourself a quick breakfast, but taking time to enjoy it.  You're finishing your food shortly before your mom returned with groceries.  While mom put away, some fruit and bread, you help put the eggs and batter away, and your mom noted the cereal was still out, "Since you've already eaten, no eggs and waffles for you! Put the cereal away, hon."  As you grabbed the cereal, a Moblin siren could be heard approaching, and a squad car coming from downtown sped past the neighborhood, lights flashing, chasing a speeder. 
    You stared out the window, while your mother wrenched her hands together, worried.  "I might know I have to let you go, but a mother never stops worrying for her children, Link."  She approached from behind, "Promise me that even though I'm going to let you make your own decisions..." she put her arms around you,  "Promise you'll stay safe. Promise you'll let me know you're alright every night. Send a text with your new GameBoy at least once a night." She hugged you a long time before you left the house.

    You were walking north, headed for downtown, several blocks from home, maybe a quarter of a mile, when you passed an elderly woman who sat, hunched over, with a torn blanket acting as a shawl over her back, on the curb at a busy intersection.  As you get close, you can see she is holding torn cardboard with bold black letters "Need Food, Anything Helps".  You place a hand in your pocket and grab some money, but hesitate, recalling what the Goron had said about it not having "real value".
   You hesitantly pulled out roughly 13r in paper money and held it out to the old woman.  She snorted and coughed, but said nothing, taking the money.  You could now see she was much older than you had originally thought, as if she was as old as time itself.  You awkwardly open your new wallet and look inside.  The old woman abruptly belted "So what! ...Don't care about ME at all; do ya!"  She was glaring.
    You withdraw the 3 green rupees with a certain tinge of melancholy, and the woman's expression changed, softened.  She watched the rupees intently, her eyes widening as you hand them to her; as if she'd been given mana from heaven.  She smiled a toothless grin and put the rupees away in the folds of her clothes, happily cocking her head side to side, as if retracting her previous venom and forgiving herself.  "I spoke too soon!" she giggled in her raspy voice.  "Today you will have Okay Luck. Watch out for your friends next week!"  She spoke cryptically.  You try to ignore it, but feel good for helping the old woman out.

    Downtown, the skate park is empty this early in the morning, but beginning to attract attention.  The patrolling Goron slept, curled up like a rock, under the bridge.  Traffic was only beginning to pick up in the streets, and you can see your friend, Krystal, walking high above, across the main bridge and on her way down to the main street.  You bolt for the bridge, hurrying to the intersection to meet her.  She sees you and her eyes widen with her smile, "Link!" she called out as she dashed toward you.
    You met up at the intersection and Krystal excitedly spoke while you caught your breath, "What are you doing way out here so early?  I don't think I've ever seen you downtown like this before!"  You grab your GameBoy and open it up to show her the text you'd gotten for a wake up call.  "Oh wow! You finally have a phone too! You have to text me! Here's my number-" she started showing you how to save her number and abruptly noted the message about input lock, "Oh, looks like you cant just text me, gotta confirm it first... and its passworded, so I cant do that for you... Did you do that, or your mom? No sweat, I'll write mine down for ya." She smiled.
    Abruptly after she exchanged her note with you she blurted out, "Hey! Come to the shop with me! Someone dropped off the coolest thing I've ever, ever seen! Just this weekend! You'll want to check it out before someone buys it any day now!"

    You accompany your friend to The Trading Post, a store her mother owned in the mall, which Krystal ran and managed when her mother wasn't there.  Which typically accounted for morning opening time and generally helping with everything after school got out - and during the summer, there were days when Krystal did the whole job alone, from opening till closing.  The two of you had first met there as small children, before Krystal was old enough to help out around the shop, when your mother had brought you in to pick your own birthday gift.  You'd chosen a small tan ocarina, but had to fight with Krystal for it because she felt it rightfully belonged to her.  In the end, she agreed you could have it and "gave it" to you, as a token of your establishing a new friendship, and have shared it ever since...  Currently, Krystal kept it in a glass display by the register and took it out to play once in a while.

    When you arrived, Krystal held up a finger, asking for a moment, and ran through all the opening duties.  She unlocked and turned open the mall gate barring the store, flipped on the light switches, checked the register and safe, did a quick bank inventory, and, finally, sat behind the register, smiling at you.  "This is going to blow your mind. I want you to buy it... if you can.  I've been holding on to it all week, no one's checked it twice but I cant just give it to you, ya know.  But... This one is pretty amazing." She said, pulling out a large glass heart.  "Some old lady brought it in here, asking for a silver rupee! Can you believe that? I thought she meant  100r cash, but she looked at me funny, trying to explain what a rupee was!  I tried not to laugh at her, and then I had to explain that we don't deal in rupees and the best I could do was money.  She seemed real angry, but was happy to take the 100r I offered..." she trailed off intentionally, "Which... is why I can't just give it to you, It's hard to keep the shop open these days, and as much as I want you to have it, I cant keep it on hold for free.  Not that you knew till now... but... If you want it, you'll have to either buy it, or pay the holding fee, 10r per day.  The lady said it was called a 'Heart Container', and was worth more than she was asking, which seems funny since she was so happy to take the money, regardless." 
    You frown and think hard. 
    You knew you still had almost enough to buy it from your allowance, but were short by about 20r.  you pulled out this cash and counted it.  Krystal smiled huge "I'll let you pay it off! that is plenty!" She said, grabbing it out of your hands, mid count, on the spot, without shame.  You recoil offensively, but do nothing - more an act than actual offense.

    "I'll just pull up a tab for you. I know you're trustworthy, so i wont push you for it either." She winked, as she filled out some papers and handed over the Heart Container.  You hold it up and look inside the glass.  The red heart inside immediately glowed gently, and in the center, you could make out the symbol of the Triforce etched into the red material behind the glass slowly light up.
    You focus on studying the pattern of the Triforce and notice one triangle begin to glow solidly and softly, turning from glowing red to gold.
    Krystal saw the dim light and started to ask what it was when it flashed bright and caught her question a squeak in her throat.  The Triforce inside had grown to the full size of the red inner heart, and in the empty center displayed visions of one of your Spirit Link's past adventures; a young girl with cropped green hair sat on a tree stump, playing a wooden ocarina, looked up and met your eyes.  She smiled and waved, and the Heart Container disappeared.  Krystal didn't see anything except a flash, a strong glow, and then - then nothing! The whole thing disappeared entirely! She breathed heavily, trying to form a single word, "Whhh" struggling, but not hesitating for even a moment, "Wh-hha-aht?!" She was staring wide eyed.  She couldn't move or speak, that was all she had left. 
    You are not far from her state of shock either. 
    Had you not woven words with Gerudian witches in the woods, nor awakened to dirtier dealings downtown and discussed the details with a derelict Goron, you'd have been completely freaked out by this too.  So, as such, you were able to find some stability with one hand, oblivious yet calm, and lean against the counter Krystal sat at with the cash register.  You just stare out into space, as if some fixed point light years away had your undivided attention.

    The two of you sat in silence for a long time, unable to comprehend what had just occurred, neither of you having applicable words to speak, and only questions could form briefly in mind before creating more questions that could not even be asked, much less answered, let alone grasped.
    A frustrated customer waited for five minutes before politely clearing her throat, capturing Krystal's attention.  She bought a trinket and left, muttering under her breath about the service.  Krystal's return to reality was alone, and she nudged you to join her.  You blink a few times and stand upright at the counter. 
    "You have no idea what happened?" Krystal finally asked, almost nonchalantly.  You can only shake your head, still dazed.  You notice someone sitting in the mall outside the shop as you shake your head, and slowly return your gaze to an occupied mall bench.  A chill runs down your spine when you notice the purple T-shirt underneath an unzipped black hoodie, but no specific thoughts could form on the matter. 

    Krystal breaks your concentration, "This is going to be a rough day, Link, I think I need to close up and just go home...  I can't even think.  Not...  Not after seeing...  that..." Her thoughts were evolving mid sentence and she looked to the floor and toyed with her toes. "Would you mind...? Can you walk me home?"  Without even thinking, you nod, still too shocked to recall off hand that you have never even seen where she lives, let alone been invited to her home.
    Across the river, a few miles from the ranch, you and Krystal silently stroll beside each other, one caught up in worry, the other in contemplation, yet both of you unaware of being followed.  Krystal tugged on your shirtsleeve when you came up to an intersection and stoplight.  "I've... never brought anyone back to the house with me before..."  She started, unsure of how to finish.  "You... you were..." She struggled, sighed heavily, and looked away, then quickly changed tactics,  "You met the forest witches!  ... Its the only answer.  They trusted you to help Cremia, so I have to...  I can trust you too.  I should expect you think I'm a terrible friend all these years having never truly trusted you, huh?"
    You place a hand on her shoulder.  She turned to meet your eyes, and you gently close them and shake your head.  When you opened your eyes, tears came down Krystal's face and she hugged you.  "I live in the forest, why don't you lead the way?  If you think can find the witches again, that is."  She smiled, and dried her tears on your sleeve - as a prank but also to put herself in a better mood.

    You recoil animatedly, but didn't actually care since you knew she needed to smile, and so played along; and smile she did. 
    The smile kick started the journey as Krystal nudged you into the river park beside the 3-way intersection where you'd taken pause.  "You know the Double LR is roughly east of here, so just keep going northeast till things look familiar. Normally I'd take the trails, but..."  She looked around and then whispered  "i think we're being followed... plus i want to see if Koume and Kotake remember me..."  You abruptly stop and look around. "shhsh!" Krystal whispered, "keep walking...!"  You bent over to adjust your shoes, trying to look as nonchalant as possible, then continued.

    After nearly 2 miles of pathless forest, small unkempt trails started winding and braiding through the forest, and Krystal picked the path to walk.  "We're close to the ranch.  Does any of it look familiar, Link?"  Your response was clearer to you than to Krystal as you picked up the pace and started marching.  You recognize the path the fairy had led you, and began to jog...  Not only retracing the steps, but the pace you took as well.  "Link! Hey!"  Krystal called out from behind, "Wait up!"  She said as she began to chase after.

    As you neared the Witches Hut, Krystal had sudden second thoughts: "wait, maybe I should..." She started to mumble as Midna and Twila emerged from the camouflaged forest home.  "That's not Koume and Kotake...!"  She whispered sternly.  You smile back at her and emerge from the forestry, holding up a hand in a frozen wave for the twins. "Link...!" Krystal "shouted" in a whisper.

    "Who's your friend?"  Midna and Twila asked.  You turn around to face Krystal who hesitantly approached, then with a combination of courage and anger, approached Midna and Twila directly. "Where's Koume and Kotake?  They've lived here all my life.  I've never met you two."  The twins exchanged a glance mixing concern with doubt.  "We've lived here with our aunts all our lives and we've never met you-"

    Kotake emerged on her broomstick from the tree home, half cackling; half scolding, half teasing.  "Enough!  None of you children remember each other because you were too little!" Koume rather used her magic to appear beside her sister with a puff of smoke and a cackle.  Kotake turned to glare at her briefly.  "It's no surprise you'd forget!  Such rivals you were!"  Koume spoke, ignoring her twin's glare.  Both Koume and Kotake looked toward you and greeted you simultaneously, "Hello, Link."

    All of you went inside the tree home, and were greeted with the sweet and pungent smell of brewing potion.  "Cremia is doing well, no?  We must apologize, my sister and I."  Kotake began, followed by Koume, "You see, Cremia is one of very few remaining Hylians who are sensitive enough to be affected by the subtle workings of magic."  Taking turns talking, "We had maintained a long and lasting friendship with her after we showed her how to make her own potions, but as the years went by..."  They swapped, "... The mushrooms ran dry, and we've been searching for them all over the forest, to give to her, without a problem... until three years ago."

    Twila and Midna cut in, "That's when a lot of strange things started happening; here in the forest, in corners and dead ends of Hyruletropolis, around the depths of Lake Hylia and it shores, in the Gerudo Desert Wastes, and even deep within Death Mountain.  Here, the forest denizens have taken to eating up all our mushrooms and uprooting as many bushes as they can find.  In the desert, our family has stopped contacting us; the last thing we heard was they were run out of their home and left to survive in the wastes.  A lot of activity in the last three years has left our dear aunts terrified of the implications."  Their concern for their aunts was both touching and insulting, to which Koume snapped, "Terror nothing! We're not scared, just concerned!"  Which Kotake argued, "Concerned enough to stay locked in our home in the woods and staying well out of sight!"  They began to bicker, hovering on their broomsticks, shaking spoons at each other, heading back to the cauldron. "Witch!" one snapped as they dispatched the brew into separate bottles, followed by "Hag!" from the other.  Twila and Midna both turned to each other and agreed, "Don't ever let me get like that!" simultaneously.

    Back outside, Twila and Midna hovered over the dead and ashen fire pit, Krystal and Link sat across from each other around it, and the four of them chatted about what they were going to do.  No one could come up with any answers, and Krystal remembered she needed to get home.
    "We'll take you."  Said Twila and Midna.  "Thanks, really."  Krystal started, "But we'll be fine. Take care of your aunts.  Link will take me home.  Right, Link?"  She finished, nodding to you:  Nodding to her.  you all waved to each other, the twins retreated into the house, and you and Krystal disappeared on the trails leading back to her home.  "We should hurry.  Lead on."  Krystal announced.

    Deep in the woods, the trail started to become overgrown, and Krystal stopped you.  "Hold on. We're almost there, but this is where it gets tricky.  We have landmarks we have to remember to find the house.  No trails lead there."  Krystal took the lead and beckoned for you to follow her.  You passed a few hollow and creepy-looking trees, wrapped around a boulder, that hid another tree, just off an overgrown path from another nearby park - a fishing hole.
    She wound around the warped trees, then the larger fat tree, which blocked the view of a small slope into an under ground chasm behind it...  Further leading off the beaten path and well beyond sight.  As you descended behind the tree, out of your sight and out of theirs, a Purple Brawler emerged from behind while he lost sight of your path.  He stood around awkwardly, looking for the two kids he'd just lost.  He peeked into bushes and around large boulders, scratched his head, then belted loudly and angrily in defeat before pushing along the trail in hopes of finding his target.

    "What was that?" Krystal said, looking back toward the distant but sharp and angry outburst behind you.  You look back a moment, turn and shrug, then push on.  The tiny chasm was easy to enter from behind that fat tree, but the ceiling began to close up overhead almost immediately.  You were in more of a tunnel than a mere crack in the ground and had to crouch in places.  "If we kept to the trail back there, we'd eventually wrap around back toward the river.  Great fishing spot that way.  There are also Forest Zoras who live near there. They seem to keep to themselves, but are said to be very dangerous if provoked.  No one knows much else about them though, not even Ruto."  The tunnel-chasm began to open up ahead and sunlight poured in, along with shadows of branches.  Tapering into the Earth was a giant rock jutting in like a sheathed dagger, leaving the exit with a steep climb.
    "Careful here, it's easier leaving home than coming back!" Krystal giggled. She veered to the left and used a thick vine to stabilize her climb up the steep rock face, then tossed the vine in your direction when she got to the top, "It's easier on the side, but as long as you keep ahold of the vine, you'll be fine."  She said, gesturing to the left side she'd climbed, then climbed down on the other side.  When you reached the top, Krystal was nowhere in sight, while a large log cabin sat in the middle of a sunny glade, surrounded by thick stone and fat trees, submerged in a deep bowl-shaped depression in the Earth.  One way in, one way out. The front door sat ajar and you suddenly feel an irrational tug of panic in your chest.  You quickly clamber down and run to the front door with haste.

    You bolt through the door and fall over Krystal, rolling into her mother and knocking her to the floor as well.  Krystal fumed, more confused than furious, "Link! What was that all about?! You just knocked my mom to the floor!"  Her mother began laughing.  A rounder curvy woman with long braided green hair and a nearly identical face to her daughter.  Krystal grinned and stood up, offering her hand to her mother so to help her up as well.  You stay on the floor, too embarrassed to get back up.  "Mom; this is my friend, Link. We met-"  Her mother interrupted her with a stiff, upright open palm.  "I remember him when you two were too little to remember.  It's nice to see that you've reconnected and become friends again!"  She smiled.
    "Oh! My name is Saria XI.  The women in our family have all been named after our ancestor, because she had been a Sage of the Forest Temple and I'm the eleventh generation.  Krystal's father named her...  Before I had a chance to explain any of this, so we left it at that..." She trailed off.  Krystal hugged Saria, "It's okay mom, I love my name as much as I love yours!"  Saria smiled halfheartedly then realized Krystal was explaining something important before everyone found themselves on the floor.  "Oh! what was that about closing the shop early, Krys? You've never had trouble with customers befo..."  Krystal interrupted, "It wasn't a customer, exactly...  But...  Something happened to distract me, and without focus, it will be all of the customers.  So I figured it'd be better off if we closed early, rather than have bad service all day."
    Saria was confused and a little upset, "I dont understand.  What could have possibly distracted you all day long?  Was there an electrical short in one of the light switches, or the register get stuck again?"  Saria folded her arms, "You know how to fix the cash register, dear..."  Krystal was getting impatient, "It wasn't anything technical!" and she looked over to you, in hopes you could bail her out.  Her urgent look was enough to do the trick, though for the wrong reasons.  Her mother snickered, "It's okay, I'll let it go.  Just don't make a habit out of it, okay?  Maybe you can teach Link how to run to shop together?"  She winked.  Krystal suddenly realized that her mother was trying to hint at something romantic, and she groaned long and loud, "MOOOO-oooooooo-OOOOMMMM!"  Then pushed her mother into the kitchen, "Link, you know the way? I think you ought to go home..." She vainly fought herself from blushing. 
    You smile and wave at them on their way into the kitchen, leave the cabin, close the door behind you, and take in a deep breath. 
    You stepped off the porch and looked into the trees and skies overhead.  Another sigh of relief, then took off at a steady pace.    

    You backtracked from the cabin to the overgrown path and cautiously peeked around the tree. When you were sure no one was around, you hurried down the path, toward the ranch, running as quietly as possible.  In your haste, you catch up with a furious shady fellow and slow down, trying to keep your distance.  The man stomped and shouted quietly at himself as he trudged along, so you pulled back and waited, giving the man ample distance from you.
    More casually, you take the paths' scenery and atmosphere in as you stroll, enjoying the feel of the woods.  This casual pace made the departure trip thrice as long as your arrival time, and the sun was careening into the west, nearly exhausting the afternoon.  Emerging from the woods close to the ranch, you could see a group of Brawlers gathering by the intersection where you and Krystal had entered the Woods.  Waiting to see what they were doing, you assure yourself they weren't going anywhere threatening only after several of them dispersed into town, and two remained, casually jeering at traffic.    After waiting so long, you finally travel back across the bridge, into downtown.  As you passed the two remaining Brawlers, you hear one of them mutter something about you being "a little green punk."  Up ahead, across the bridge, you could just barely make out a dark figure hopping over the railing and crawling along side the edge of the bridge.  You run ahead to get a better view, then slow down and watch once you are close enough to make out the Ninja wrap.  You watched, fascinated by the grace by which this mysterious person leapt from the bridge into the trees nearby and vanished toward the skate park.  You ran ahead again and followed the bridge down the side path before the intersection until you were blocked by a museum separating the bridge path from the main street.  You hurry to the park, but could make no sign of any mysterious Ninja in the area.  Goron Link on patrol, the familiar blue van under the bridge had just arrived, and several (newly) familiar faces started to show up from around downtown for the free food.  You decide to stick around and people-watch again. You wander over to the other end of the park from the bridge, on the empty end, and get comfy in a quiet corner bench.
    Goron Link stopped to chat with a couple on a stroll, Zelda hurried back and forth under the bridge, no signs of brawlers or mafia, the sun was starting to light the dusk horizon with orange and yellow hues, and no signs of Ninjas either.  You decided to stretch out and stood up in front of the bench.  Doing a few stretches and side twists, and deep breathing.  As the couple departed from Goron Link, he raised his hands in a cheer and let out an audible "yahoooph!" as he gobbled up a small gift.  You smiled to yourself and touch your toes and inhale deep.

    The park breathed and sighed as people came to eat and dispersed slowly into the falling dusk.  You remained mostly by the park bench all evening, and approached the van under the bridge at the end of the feed.  Impa was washing the fold-out tables off and gathering up any napkins, utensils, plates, or other resources left behind as Zelda loaded them into the van.  You walk around one table, toward the van and wait as Zelda loaded a box of canned chili into the back.  She heard your approach and turned around to face you, standing awkwardly beside. 
    You stared at each other for a moment; and Impa noticed, waiting for Zelda to return.  Finally, she approached, and formally introduced herself and Zelda, "Hello, Link.  You've grown a lot since we were all last together.  I am Zelda's attendant, Impa."
    Zelda noticed herself staring at you and interrupted Impa, "I don't suppose you'd remember me either, I barely remember you, when we were so little..."  She trailed off.  "My name is Zelda, we were really little when all our parents last met together at the Double LR.  I remember you, Link, and our friends, Ruto, Krystal, Malon, and the twins, Twila and Midna...  I think Marin is the only one of us old enough to remember anything more than that though."  Impa had resumed the cleanup while Zelda talked.  She mentioned your playing games with each other at the ranch long ago, and expressed enjoying the wonders of meeting horses for the first time.  No more than 2 minutes in, Impa cleared her throat and indicated toward the tables and gas stoves.  Zelda politely excused herself, and you helped by carrying the collapsible tables into the back of the van.
    Impa thanked you for your help and entered the driver's seat, while Zelda lingered to talk.  "Thank you for the help, Link.  I hope you can come help us tomorrow evening, I can give you Impa's cell number so you can stay in touch with me.  You take the number she wrote down and waited awkwardly.  Impa broke the silence and called for Zelda.
    You wave goodbye as Zelda climbed in, and they drove off.  Before you could, or perhaps would, turn around to return home, a cyan racer sped past and followed the van a moment before revving past them and disappearing.  You look back in the direction the car had come and noticed some Cyan Racer jumpsuits walking toward the park from the formerly Brawler shops across the street.  Goron Link had noticed too and approached you under the bridge.  "Relax, kid.  They're just leaving.  You should go home too."

    You headed back toward home while fiddling with your new phone, sent a text to mom with the time and your location, then sent another asking to add Krystal's and Zelda's phone numbers to your contact list.  Along the trip home, you notice the same old lady with the blanket shawl walking out of a small store, near home, and decide to take a look inside.  The shop owner was a kind, stocky man with shiny forehead, lustrous blue hair on the back of his head, and a happy demeanor.  He turned and greeted you right away, revealing a large yellow fox mask. "Hello, lad!" he nearly boomed from behind the mask, perhaps trying to startle the kids who came in or just thinking he needed to compensate more than he did with his voice behind the mask.
    "You have the look of a smart kid, so I'll tell ya a little secret!"  He placed his hand beside his mask, pushing it aside to show his mouth, and leaned in as you approached the counter.  "There's a magical mask salesman coming to town soon, an' he'll be setting up shop in here.  I've got a special deal to promote him by giving away this free mask!"
    You smile and put out your hands, but the shop keep continued on, pulling back and letting the mask fall over his mouth again.  "But there's a small catch, you see.  I need to make a living here, yeah?" he spoke up to compensate for his muffled voice.  "I can't give too many away for free, so it's more like a job...  I'm passing the torch.  You want the mask, you just gotta wear it and try to sell it.  If you come back with the money, I can either let you keep the same mask for free, or give you a new one to try to sell.  How do ya like that?"

    After rolling your head back and forth in thought, you nod and take the mask from the man.  He then introduced himself as Kafei, stroking his newly revealed and strangely blue beard, "and that is the Keaton Mask.  It represents the tricky fox from old stories.  Maybe you remember some of them?"  Then he asked if you were here to buy anything from his shop.  You decided you had to look around some more and see what there was.  You notice small and medium bottles, a wooden sword and shield practice set, a Large Olde Hyrulean Wallet, and a Traditional Hunter's Tunic: Medium and Large Sizes.
    As you started to leave, Kafei asked, "You see anything you like?  There's a special discount for employees, you know?  Sell the mask, alright?"  He said.  Smiling, you nodded and left for home, wearing the Keaton Mask.  You traveled the short trip home, entering the house, when you received your answer to the text about your friends.  It was yes.

    "Oh good, you're ho-WHOAHHHEE! WHAT ARE YOU?"  The mask frightened a sudden response when your mom emerged from the kitchen, so you took it off.  You both sat on the couch and laughed.  It was 'payday' and you received your allowance of 20r.  Your mom took the GameBoy and entered the requested information, then thanked you for giving her a time and location update.  "... and since you're proving you can be responsible..." she said, as she gave you two blue 5r bills, " your allowance just got a 5r raise and bonus."  You two exchanged a hug, and she had asked about the mask before you retired to bed as she was mentioning something about a Keaton story she grew up with where he had tricked a man into becoming a Scrub, and the Deku-man used a circle of bushes and trapped Keaton there.

    The weekend had arrived and the slow weekend mornings in Hyrule meant everyone usually slept in or stayed indoors until lunchtime or later.  You took advantage of the vacant mornings every weekend to practice Parkour, waking up extra early today for some reason.  Probably due to all the excitement about the new Zelda box set, and your own coincidental experiences as of late.
    You were up before the sun had even begun to creep out from behind the horizon, and crept about the house softly, so as not to wake your mother; downstairs to the fridge for some milk, quietly pulling handfuls of cereal out into a bowl, and putting the milk back, ever gently closing the fridge as to make no sounds.  You ate as quickly and quietly as possible before taking off.  Out the front door, on the front step, you held your breath as you slowly close the door, as if taking an hour wasn't quiet enough. You stretched yourself out as you walked, taking extra long strides and walking extra slow, toward downtown for your Weekend Free Run.  You looked forward to each run, but this would be the first time going into the city.  Usually you'd either run laps around your house or just go to Ruto's house and back; or just stay and hang out with your friend.  Perhaps it was just the recent drama and stimulation, but you were feeling extra adventurous and decided to explore downtown beyond the mall and skate park.

    Halfway there, the familiar blanket shawl obscures a misfortunate soul, hiding behind a tree, asleep. You wadded up and left some of that "worthless" money for her, both 5r bills.  You felt a sense of pride when you walked away, and smiled.
    You decided you were close enough to downtown to begin really warming up and started jogging. Your travel time drastically changed the morning for you.  For one thing, you'd have been running from the house from the beginning if you were going to Ruto's, but because you were not as familiar with the downtown maze of streets, you'd need all the energy you could get; at the expense of this morning lull, you realized.  Once the sun started announcing himself you felt pressured to begin your delayed run.  Your increased pace wasn't satisfactory, you wanted to run already!

    Before you were fully 3 quarters of the way there, you take off.  You could see the first parking garage, marking the southern border of downtown and decide you'd start there; up and down the stairs, wending your way around and over parked cars, then back down to the street level to explore.
Your increased running speed frees your spirit and you smile inwardly to yourself, and did a cartwheel without breaking pace.  Smiling outwardly now, feeling accomplished, you were getting better at Parkour and felt like trying some stunts for the first time!
    You run the outer perimeter of the garage and enter, after encircling the whole building; daylight was starting its full swing for the day as the last drop of sun dripped up in the unseen distance outside of downtown.  You begin encircling the inside of the garage, looking for stairs to the top, kicked off the wall of the open stairwell door frame up to the first quarter-flight landing where the stairs cornered off and turned, gracefully grabbing the hand rail to orbit the turn and kept going up without slowing down.

    Clearing two steps at a time, you chug up to the top without any more fancy footwork, but tripped at the top step, caught yourself in time to roll through the fall and kept pace.  Very few cars were parked in the garage, and only one at the top, on the other end of the lot; you dash over and roll across the car, testing yourself some more, then wrapped around and came to the ramp, gaining a little speed and losing your balance.  You had to slow down and felt a little disappointed, but pressed on with peerless enthusiasm.

    You dash ahead of yourself with a graceful, long stride, gliding hop and cleared a dozen paces down the ramp, land, and roll with the momentum, involuntarily jumping again as you clear the roll, clearing eighteen paces down the ramp and landing hard, rolling around and around many paces and stopping flat on your back.  Your wallet bounced away from you and emptied part of its contents: a cellphone and a green rupee you'd missed earlier.  The wallet seemed bigger on the insider somehow...

    You gather the wallet and returned its contents, sit rubbing a knee for a moment, and began stretching again.  You didn't want to really hurt yourself, since you were nowhere near done running this morning!  No, by Din, you were going to get this beloved running in and take the time to explore downtown!
    After stretching thoroughly and walking out of the garage, traffic was starting to creep out as a lone car drove out of downtown when you exited.  Back to jogging until you got to the mall 3 blocks up.  Almost not a one soul around this early, other than the few passers-through, an occasional stray dog or cat, and yourself.

    Jogging done, sprinting now; Parkour, Free Running, straight down the sidewalk, past the mall, turn toward the park, turn again just before, at the church, and running north past the vehicle tune-up, board, blade, and bike shop, dojo, and auditorium/theatre, into less familiar territory...  Time to break off the beaten path.
    You curved around a corner into an alleyway, where downtown mysteriously changed into a labyrinth...  Luckily, you'd run right into a dead end, nothing but some sort of commercial back door, and simply turned around.  However, to your astonishment, you turned around to find yourself on an entirely different street!  You abruptly stop and look around your shoulder.  The dead end had also changed into a T-corner...  You feel a sense of dread creep up your spine and look around to find some landmarks.  You turned around twice, didn't know where you were, except that a Navi's Curio shop was across the street from you and featured a crystal ball on a pole for a store sign.  That stood out enough that enough confidence had returned.  You had the courage needed to finish your run.

    You take a deep breath and hold it for a moment, almost as if expecting something to come running out of the alley behind you...  However, when nothing happened, you turned and exhaled sharply with a burst of speed as you took your first step forward, into the unknown, and dash into the wall where the brick alley split: Left or right..? ... then kicked off the wall with a left hand turn into the alleyways of Hyruletropolis.
    You nearly collide with the parallel wall in the narrow alley and considered for a gleeful moment that you could probably wall kick your way through if you so desired, s you came up to another 3 way T-split.  You take the left hand path again and noticed Navi's Curio pass on your left hand side in an alleyway transfer, almsot stopping you dead in your tracks, as you skid to a stop.  You'd already cleared the corner, and when you turned around to look back out the exit, you saw another sight all together: The Hyrulean museum.  Your jaw dropped, and you stood still, petrified.
    This was, at the very least, a familiar sight, so you were quickly confident again, knowing you'd be able to get home as long as you'd stuck to the streets and stayed well away from the alleys.  You found a little courage and broke the paralysis.

    Now you found an additional surprise once you rounded the alleyway exit, only to bump into Impa and Zelda!  You'd nearly collided with Impa, running so fast; but she had surprisingly lightning fast reflexes for her age and managed to dodge within a hair of a split second of making contact..!  You tried to correct yourself, to compensate for the speed you thought you'd'd halt all at once.  Rather than colliding into Impa, as expected, you wound up losing your balance and tripping over yourself.  You roll forward a pace and stop sideways on your ribs, looking up at Zelda.  Although her reaction seemed as if expectant, Impa was just as surprised to see you as you were to see her and Zelda; however, Impa was much more concerned and composed.  "Did you just come from that alleyway, young man?" She asked, sternly.  You half recoiled but nodded, standing up and brushing yourself off.

    Impa was very solemn, dire concern painted her face, and she tried to explain the danger, "Lad, I wouldn't return there if I were you." She stated, pointing back into the narrow alleyway.  "Downtown Hyruletropolis was built on top of almost half of the Lost Woods this side of the river... ... Where concrete, steel, and asphalt cover the ground, no magic can take hold...  But in the old days of Hyrule, before it became a metropolis and yet after it grew beyond a simple township:  Everything was built with brick, wood, and stone.  The Lost Woods were named for the people who mysteriously disappeared after venturing into them...  Unlike metal, cement and blacktop, stone and wood are alive and channel magic as well as the air and water do...  Brick amplifies it in the direction of its laying.  During the days of old Hyrule, people mysteriously disappeared every day.  Most people returned within the day, sometimes as much as a week later, but the parts of Hyrule built over the lost woods were avoided...  Legends say that those who entered the lost woods would become Stalfos... Everyone who entered... Stalfos..."  She seemed to gaze off into an unseen distance.  "Oh, listen to me, going on about magic, you must think me an incompetent boob..." But fell short when she became self conscious in a sudden awkward moment of uncharacteristic doubt.
    "Pardon the history lesson, I've come with the- young miss, to give her another lesson, it's already strong in mind."  She smiled awkwardly, continuing, "But never the less: Hyruleans continue to get confused and lost, sometimes one or two will even disappear, if they find themselves in the alleyways...  As they had in the old days of Hyrule City...  Just as they had in the ancient Lost Woods...  I hope you don't get lost as well..."  Zelda stamped her foot impatiently, "Well??  Can we invite him in or at least get going already? You said you had something to show me here!"  Zelda childishly scolded Impa, then turned and smiled brightly at you, "Hi Link!" again smiling with her eyes.

    "Have you ever been in the Museum of Hyrule before?" Zelda asked, scooting past Impa.  You nod as Zelda continued without really waiting for a reply, "Impa told me the spires on the corners of the building were moved from the original castle, back in the old days...  when the town...  I guess, and now I learned, it was made of brick."  Smiling again with her eyes, cheerful and bright.  Although her smile faded along with her sentence as she continued, "... and that we were here, today, to learn some important stuff..."  She seemed concerned with its importance.  "Wanna hang out?"  She asked, slowly reaching for your hand.
    You nod your head again and Zelda suddenly grabs your hand and runs up the steps toward the door, leading you in, calling impatiently for Impa behind her, who slowly followed up shaking her head.  Zelda wanted to show you the statue of the King and ran straight to it before relinquishing her grasp.  She stopped and stared up at it a while, silent, and awestruck; You stare at her, confused, then looked up at the statue as well, and Zelda started explaining herself, still staring, gaze fixed.

    "Sorry I ran you in here like that, I hope I wasn't, too, rude..." the pause was a bit long, "Impa told me she needed to explain things to me today...  I was confused at first when she said we had to be at the museum for me to understand."  She took a few steps back, still focused on the King's statue, still staring at his face.
    "But when I thought about the dreams I've had in the last few seasons..."  You walk back with her and stand beside her, listening, "I asked her if it had anything to do with the Royal Family. She seemed surprised, and maybe wasn't supposed to tell me then, maybe not until now, right here."

    Impa had caught up and crossed the threshold into the hall, "Truly, I was not, but your question implied you'd been having dreams and visions." She said, catching both of your attention. "I felt pressed from both sides of my duty, I told you why you were named after The Princess Zelda from ancient Hyrule." Impa turned sternly to face you as she approached.
    "Link, your name has become a thing of rarity amongst Hylians, more common for Humans and Gorons to be named Link in the last hundred years than your own people... It is said to be bad luck for a Hylian. You two are not here, together, today by mere coincidence, and I am worried that you must leave now, Link. Perhaps it will be explained to you better in the future, but, my apologies, you should go. The museum has given me special privileges to open and close its doors, and this is not a public opening."
    You feel abashed, and awkwardly depart from your friends.  Leaving the museum, you stared at the alley for a moment, wondering if you dared betray Impa's warning, your mind wandering to untold travels beyond Hyruletropolis, getting lost in the brick laden corridors; but then you turned to face the river instead, figuringyou 'd pay Ruto a visit today after all - An extra long route now.
    You were pretty tired from the long pause in this run, so you sat on the steps and took a breather then got up after a few minutes and began stretching.  You built your energy up quickly, warming up and then taking off immediately, no jog prep to start.
    You hear a call from behind you a moment later but ignore it, and rounded the corner to run past the skate park.  you do a lap around the park, nodding your head in acknowledgement to Goron Link on the way past him and then head toward the mall where this day really began.
    You arrive at the mall and see Krystal on her way in the doors to open shop. She didn't see you and you didn't slow or say hi.  Rounding the next corner toward the parking garage you slow your pace since traffic was starting to appear and the light ahead was red.  As soon as it was green and the cars were clear, you dash across the intersection and enter the garage again.

    Many more parked cars filled the garage than earlier this morning, so you try your hand at some stunts again, weaving in and out of tight spaces between cars, rolling across roofs and jumping and sliding across hoods.  An abrupt alarm startles you and you stumble, roll, and correct yourself, then exit the garage, all without breaking pace.
    You get back onto the main street where it merges with the one you'd just come out of the garage onto, and find the old lady standing directly in your path on the sidewalk, staring directly at you; as if deliberately blocking you.  You didn't want to be disrespectful or run into her and had to stop or go around into traffic.  So you stop, directly in front of her; she smiled, cackled gleefully, and tells you you'd have incredible luck today, then got out of the way, still laughing.
    You step past, awkwardly, watching her from the corner of your eye.
    You were roughly a quarter of the way home from the garage, from downtown.  Kafei's General Store was near here, and you had your allowance on you.  So you went in, wearing the Keaton mask, and bought an empty small bottle for 20r. "You shoulda sold the mask, kid! that bottle would have been 5r off for you if you had! Shame... Keep trying!" Kafei delighted in encouragment. "You look tired, have some water with that bottle" he finished, filling your bottle for free. "Come back if you need some more." Kafei told you as you left the store.
    You drink down the water and feel instantly refreshed, so you didn't bother stretching and jumped right into sprinting.  Again you thought you'd heard a holler, but again, it wasn't concerning enough to stop after you'd already begun sprinting.
    You ran straight along the sidewalk all the way past home and down toward the lake.  Since there wasn't any real hurry, you didn't cut across the field or swim through the lake, but instead followed the main street until it turned into country road and lead along the river east of it.

    You finally slow to a jog and enjoy the scenery of overgrown, grass and wide open fields at the city's edge.  Your neighborhood was right there on the edge of civilization, between the rural country south of Hyruletropolis and the downtown urban sprawl north of Lake Hylia.  It had been a very exhausting run, from Downtown to your house.  As the lake came into view, you knew your jogging was over, and walked the rest of the way to Ruto's house.

    Across the old covered bridge where the river split the lake into two large bodies: Lake Hylia to the east and "Lake of Ill Omen" to the west of the fork.   True locals, however, never separated the two bodies, and considered them both one large lake.  The impoverished Zoras who lived in coral-and-metal shanties built on top of an island in the west end of the lake all say the same thing: That "Ill Omen" is nothing more than a spiteful insult directed at the homeless Zoras who were kicked out of their own homes generations ago, even while the wealthy Zoras on the East banks continued to demean them and refer to "their side" as "Ill Omen".

    As You exit the other end of the covered bridge, you clearly hear a shout this time "Link!! Wait up!!"  You finally realize Zelda had been following you all the way from the Museum and was calling after you the whole way!  You turn around to the sight of a huffing and exhausted young Zelda, hunched over, trying to catch her breath, halfway across the bridge.  "hhhh...  And I thought Impa's... whew...  training was intense...  hha...wwwhh you're unreal! hhhuh..."  She looked up, eyes heavy from exhaustion "Link, I-"  she started, but hunched over again, breathing hard, still chasing her breath.  You quickly cross the bridge again, back toward her side, and lend a shoulder for her to lean on, smiling for her.  "Thanks, Link. hhhfff...  I think we should find some place...  To Talk..." 
    The way she emphasized 'talk' suggested important matters, but you were still set on visiting Ruto.  You nudge her toward town, looking in the general direction of Ruto's house.  Zelda nodded and you slowly walked together to the young Zora's home in silence.

    You arrive the same moment as Ruto, who was returning with a basket full of fish.  She smiled warmly for you and invited you both in.  "If you don't mind eating fish, you can stay for dinner too."  She said to the both of you.  You help Zelda to a chair and Ruto spoke to her "Zelda, right?  We were all such little babies when we met, at the ranch, huh?"   Zelda smiled, "You remember!  It's nice to meet you again, Ruto!"  They smiled at each other, and Ruto asked if you'd stay for dinner.  "I eat mine raw, of course, but I'll start a fire for you to cook yours."  Zelda thanked her and Ruto got to work chopping up the fish and preparing them for the fire in an adjacent room.
    Zelda became serious, "Link."  She initiated.  You gave her your undivided attention, waiting on her every word.  Zelda fidgeted some before continuing, "Impa said my family are the descendants of the Ancient Royal Family of Hyrule, and that... I am, a rightful princess...!"  Ruto was shocked and poked her head out, staring at Zelda for a moment, unnoticed by the two of you as Zelda continued on, "She told me this morning before we ran into you...  That's what she wasn't supposed to tell me, but it gets worse, Link!"  Ruto darted her head back in and got straight to trying to ignore the story and focus on the fish, flustered and anxious.
    Zelda stood up "Impa's always kept a close watch over me and taught me all kinds of important things and ways of taking care of myself.  I used to think she was insane, with her level of training and teaching and history lessons!  But now I see why she did it all...  She told me things today that I'm not supposed to tell you, not anyone... but... I know in my heart that I must.  The right thing to do...  I wonder if anyone knows... what the right thing is..?  I feel this is right!  You're going to save Hyrule!"  Ruto involuntarily quipped a stifled squeal and caught Zelda's attention, who started to blush.  Zelda opened her mouth to make an excuse, but Ruto held up a fin and spoke on top of her "I-", "It's okay, Zelda...  We have a lot in more common than you'd think.  My parents adopted me when I was very little.  They found me floating down the river not far from downtown.  They waited till I was ten years old to tell me that they found me in a basket and that I was wearing the Zora's Sapphire around my neck..."

    This time it was Zelda who squealed, "Oh! So you are a Princess of the Zora people!!"  She happily exclaimed, "This is too good to be true!  Link, do you know what this means?!"  You stare back with a vacant look.
    "ugh!" Zelda cried out in disgust.  "Boys!"  Ruto covered a laugh.  Zelda tried to concel sarcasm with a semi-serious tone, "Ruto can help you save Hyrule too!"
    You hold up your hands and begin to back away.  "You want to help us, don't you?"  Now you were trapped, between yourself and your heart - You didn't want to betray your friends, let alone all of Hyrule, but were scared that this was too much for one boy to handle!  "Don't worry, Link! You'll always have your friends to count on!"  Ruto encouraged, though you looked worried still.
    "Yeah! We'll be there with you every step of the way helping however we can!"  Zelda finished.
    It was decided, and you could see there was no fighting it.  Finally, you confidently nod with hands on your hips.  Both girls ran up and hugged you, knocking all three of you to the floor.

    After eating the smoked salmon Ruto had prepared, you and Zelda warmly wave goodbye and begin walking back home.  "I live on the north side of the downtown area, do you think you could walk me home?"  Zelda asked as you cleared the covered bridge.  "I managed to lose Impa after I lost you and found you again in the skate park..." She giggled "So I cant expect her to know where I am and show up in the van.  Besides, after taking off on her like that, I don't want to call her and rush into trouble either."  You involuntarily laughed out loud, smiled and nodded, and Zelda held your hand.
    As your suburban community came into view, so too did a cyan racecar; barreling down the road, well over the speed limit.  It barely made it past you and Zelda before the squealing of rubber could be heard as the driver slammed on the brakes.  The car peeled out and swerved around, toward the both of you, halted, then peeled out, spun around one full circle, and sped off.  "That was weird..." Zelda observed, with heavy concern, squeezing your hand while it happened.  You continued silently for an hour, past your neighborhood and into town.  The same car came speeding past from ahead of you a second time and slammed on its brakes again.  Zelda squeezed your hand much more tightly and scooted closer to you, leaning close and speaking quietly into your ear,  "I think we need to run."  She whispered.  The car peeled out again and spun around in front of you.  You kept walking slowly as the driver and passenger opened their doors.  You trudged past the car and the driver called out, "Hey! Where do you think you're going?  You're not gonna walk past us and ignore us like that!"  You kept walking slowly, and the passenger spoke up, "Yeah! See, yer in our territory now!  You were saw walking out in the suburbs.  Like, that's our turf now.  Walkers gotta pay us racers to walk on our race courses!"  He was referring, of course, to the streets themselves.  You had walked just far enough and needed to run now, "HEY! GET BACK HERE!"  The driver yelled, prompting you to tug on Zelda's hand, as if to say 'NOW!' and then bolted.  "HEY!!! Get them!!"  The driver shouted more.
    You both dashed past the parking garage, down toward the mall, turned at the theater and entered a new place, somewhere you had never been before, slowing down, whereupon Zelda instructed, "Follow me!" as she turned the corner ahead.
    You ran hard, the cyan racers not far behind, catching up.  "Hurry! We'll lose them in the alley!"  Zelda called out as they turned the next block behind you.  Navi's Curio was ahead, across the street, and Zelda darted into the alley.  You follow close behind, scared you'd lose her, scared you'd both get lost forever.

   She turned to the right at the T then Left at a 4 way intersection. You both ran through a narrow passage with dumpsters on either wall, which you used for some unorthodox parkour training, jumping onto one, off it to the next and skidding across.  Zelda simply avoided everything and dashed as fast as she could.  She then ran straight past another 4 way intersection, turned left at a T, and then right again.  The alleyway curved to the left for a long and wide arc, which you attempted to run across the wall for half the curve, failing at least twice but paying no real attention to your parkour.  When it straightened out, it blocked off with a Locked door.  You'd run straight into a dead end.  "Oh no!" Zelda cried out.

    You turned around and the Racers, hot on your heels, stopped; withdrawing a crowbar and a chain, threatening the your lives.  You step forward and raise your fists.  The driver couldn't resist it and started cracking up, easing his buddy's poise a little in the process, lowering both their guards.  "guffaw! This kid! hahaha! Guy! You get a load of this kid? thinks he can protect his girlfriend, like, against both of us?! I like you, you got guts, kid!  bwaahahahahaha!"  The passenger raised the crowbar high above his head to strike you. (12)
    The driver dropped the chain and held his hand out, blocking the crowbar. "Wait, this kid could join us, whadda ya say?  Let's give him a chance to prove himself."  Then raised his fists as well "C'mon, Kid, have at it! take your swing!" 
    The passenger dropped the crowbar with a loud clang and you lunge into the Cyan Racer, only to get knocked back suddenly, not even seeing what hit you.  The driver's eyes crossed and he laughed drunkenly, stumbled barely a raised footstep, and fell to the ground in a crumpled and goofy heap beside his partner, who was also subdued. 

    "You know better than to enter the alcoves, princess.  Escort your friend inside, you're both lucky I showed up at home when I did." Impa scolded from the outer perimeter of the alleyway alcove, beyond the threshold she would not cross.  She was carrying a wooden sword and shield, presumably used to knock the cyan racers unconscious.
    "Follow Zelda, she'll instruct you to wait for me.  I've contacted your mother, and you'll be staying with us for a while."  Zelda ran ahead toward her home in this new neighborhood which had replaced the curving alcove.
    You hesitate briefly, but followed...  The Princess.

    Impa halted you momentarily, holding out her hand. "One more thing. Link, These are difficult times.  It's dangerous to go alone! Take this."  You swallow hard, take the sword and shield, bow politely toward Impa, and turn to follow Zelda, jogging to catch up.
    Zelda and Impa lived in a simple home, 2 stories and a basement; anyone could tell it had a basement from the outside if they examined it, because of the ground-level slats-for-windows at the basement ceiling, at the bottom of the building.  Zelda was standing on the bottom step waiting for you to catch up,  "C'mon, Link! I'll show you around."  She ran up and opened up the house, standing inside the threshold.  You casually follow her up, but before you knew it Zelda had your hand and was ushering you through the living room, while pointing out and naming Impa's decorative Sheikah weapons and an impressive Gerudian guard's Scimitar Staff.  She pointed down the hall before entering the kitchen, "Bathroom, bedrooms." she said on the way by, pausing briefly as she described everything you saw, yourself.  "The back door is beside the door to the stairwell. Stairs are on the left, back door is on the right.  Beside the doors is the dining nook we use for breakfast and supper." She said, pointing as she went.  "Upstairs is used for storage, and a small library Impa keeps for me, basement is where you'll be staying..." She abruptly stopped and suddenly turned around "In the dungeon!" She said menacingly as possible, but started to laugh just at the end. 

    Impa came in shortly behind and scolded Zelda, "He'll be staying in the adjacent room beside the Dojo, plenty comfortable young miss.  Go upstairs and research Kaepora Gaebora's notes in the Book of Mudora."  She turned to you once Zelda left.  "You're going to train with me while Zelda is upstairs studying.  I will not allow you to get sucked into her fate without ample preparation.  Today, you will get used to staying here; understanding where everything is, where you'll be sleeping, familiarizing yourself with your new equipment, and learning your limitations.  I expect you to be ready for supper by the afternoon." 
    She had a commanding aura about her and her presence inspired your attention,  "We will be gone in the evenings; this is your only free time to practice alone.  Don't waste it!  I will test you when we return each night."  Impa opened the door on the left and held it for you.  You follow the stairs down and Impa followed close behind, further guiding you as you descended,  "There is a closet full of wooden targets you may use during instruction and free training, as well as spare wooden shields and swords if you happen to break yours, but please, do try not to.  Your room is located at the far end behind the dojo."

    The basement proved to be a wide open and largely empty room with two walls lined with mirrors forming a L-shape of mirrors and an X-shape of reflections.  You couldn't see the closet, let alone the room you'd been assigned.  You walk to the center of the room and stop, look around, then wait.
    Impa approached the center of the dojo, beside you, turned to face the mirrors on one wall, and walked straight forward.  She slid a mirror aside, revealing a modest room: Bed, light switch to the ceiling light, small dresser topped with a TV, Blu-Ray player, consoles and Nintendo games, and enough empty room to stretch in all directions.  You walk toward the room, Impa passes you and returned to the center of the Dojo to wait.  
    After inspecting things briefly, you approach Impa, who spoke again as you neared,  "From the center of the room approach the mirrors, there lies the closet; or your room, depending on the wall you choose."  And pointed to the other mirrored wall.  You took the implied
instruction and walked that direction, to the wall.  There, you find a sliding mirror concealing another hidden space; the closet was found. 
    Two log dummies
gently roll out when you open it.

    Impa approached the supply closet, "Before we begin, allow me to explain how to best utilize your equipment." She said, putting the dummies back and closing the mirrored door. 
    "Young as you are, I cannot expect you to have ample strength enough, to carry everything expected of a hero, so listen closely:  You would have no trouble at all carrying the wooden training sword and shield, but if you were to attempt to take on a full sized sword or shield, you would require both arms to use just one or the other.  Additionally, you have that useful satchel, which can only carry a limited amount of weight, much less space.  The legendary weapons the goddesses crafted will not all fit in such a small space.  If you have to leave anything behind in your journeys, know that monsters will hunt for your weapons and relics to return them to guarded treasure chests and booby-trapped dungeons.  Ganon's minions have grown increasingly vigilant over the centuries, snaring every last relic and mystical weapon." 

    She paused and inspected your newly equipped weapons, making sure you had a firm grip.
    "Which is why I must train you just as vigilantly!"  She shouted as she jumped back and revealed a pair of wooden weapons of her own, as if out of nowhere. 
    "I will not go easy on you, boy.  This is your only example, next I will use it against you.   Hold your sword like so."  She held her sword out in her right hand in a prepared stance. "and your shield like this." Shaking her left arm to prompt the shield's poised position.
    "When you strike, you have four basic attacks:"  She said, exemplifying each one as she explained it,  "Cutting vertically, Slashing Horizontally, Stabbing, and the technique I used to subdue the riffraff in the alley, the hilt strike.  You can also utilize your shield to accomplish the same stunning blow as your hilt.  Now you try."
    You clumsily swing the sword with your right hand and nearly drop it. 
    Setting it down, you trade the shield and pick the sword up with your left hand.  This time, you cut through the air with sturdy precision. 
    Vertical cuts, horizontal slashes, stabs, and blunt strikes.  When you'd showed Impa you could do what she had showed you, without warning she shot at you with her sword out for a quick cut. 
    You barely dodge it by rolling aside, but couldn't resist her follow up from behind while exiting the roll.

    Rather than striking, Impa sheathed her sword,  "You understand the basics well enough to practice alone while Zelda and I tend to the park downtown.  I will show you how to block next."  She rose her shield in front of herself and instructed you to stab at her. 
    You did so, and she blocked it with her shield. 
    "You have a strong strike.  This shield would not withstand... ten of your blows.  Just as your shield would break if it received damage past its threshold, so too will your sword.  The wooden targets are sturdier than your sword and can take more blows than a wooden sword can deliver.  I must prepare dinner for you and Zelda.  I wont usually ask this, but try to break your sword at least once while I am upstairs."
    "So that I know you have endurance enough to last in a fight: Outlast your sword!"  She returned her wooden sword and shield to the closet and retrieved two wooden dolls, bowed politely, then went about, up the stairs.

    You drag three dummies into the middle of the room, one at a time, and proceed to cut and slash them as hard as you could.  You swing and swing, knocked one over then slashed the next.  Swinging harder and harder.  You lunge in for a stab and drop the sword upon impact. 
    A short but intense burst of energy, you sit down for a moment to catch your breath, feeling overwhelmed.  After a few seconds, you pick up the sword, right the fallen wooden dummy, and retreat several paces.  Taking a deep breath, you bowe to the wooden target, and ran at it as Impa had run at you. 
    You slash the target and spun around to cut it, stepped back into the second target and smashing your hilt against it from behind, then turned and slashed the second target, successfully shattering this training sword for the first time.

You feel a strong sense of pride.  Breathing heavily, you wipe your brow and smile to the untouched dummy and yourself...
    Or to yourself, you thought; Zelda smiled as well, silently watching from the bottom of the stairs, out of sight.
    You were short of breath and just stood there, internally admiring your success as she approached quietly behind.  
    "That was quite impressive, Link." She said sincerely; a welcome startle, your shocked eyes and confused smile revealed to her. 
    "Impa doesn't know i'm down here...  I wanted to see if you were as strong as I thought you were...  and to give you this..."  She held out her hands, revealing a small empty pendant made up of a soft golden spiral.  "It's one of three pendants which will help the Hero of Time...    Although I'm not sure how... yet." she said, then whispered,  "just... not yet."  She looked warily behind herself.

    "I better get back upstairs before Impa finds out I'm not buried in an avalanche of books." She said, hesitated a moment, smiling at you, and quickly and silently ran up the stairs.  You return to your sword and shield practice.

    You, Impa, and Zelda all ate supper together in the kitchen dining nook beside the back door; while Impa explained that it would be wisest for you to remain inside and train, but welcome to explore none the less.  She cautioned that if you were to leave the house, it would automatically lock behind you, and you would be unable to re-enter until Zelda and herself had returned.
    Watching them leave in the blue van from the window, you waved and smiled at Zelda, who smiled and waved back.  With such an overwhelming adventure staring you in the face, you feel tiny, dwarfed. 
    You  needed to get some air, but didn't want to be locked out.  Thinking a moment, reflecting on something Impa had cautioned you about earlier, then deciding you should have the equipment closet downstairs inspected if you were to leave. 

    You thought the sword and shield would suffice, and open the mirrored door.  You find a sword & shield and spy some other weapons buried behind wooden targets:  a bag of Deku nuts, and two individually marked bags that said "bullet seeds", one green, the other blue.  You inspect them, but they are empty.  There are 10 Deku Nuts, so you take them and the bag they came in. 
    While you were there, you figure you'd swing the sword around and get familiar with carrying it.   You watch yourself in the mirror, slowly moving the sword around, getting a feel for it.  Vertical, horizontal, stab.  All very slow movements.   Nodding to your reflection, you turned and left.

    Up the stairs, in the kitchen, you fill your small bottle with some water and the large bottle with milk from the fridge, before taking off for this breather you feel you need so much. 
    Since you needed to get familiar with the area and find a quiet place to unwind, your feelings were right on the rupees. 

    You leave the house and hear the lock behind you latch heavily.  Off the front step, you look around briefly, checking out the neighborhood.  This house was one removed from a corner lot.  The direction you'd come from earlier, from the alleyways. 
    You decide to peek at the dead end where the commercial back door was, since there wasn't much in the area but homes and streets.  Around the corner, back the way you'd come.  You stand in front of the alleyway, staring at it a moment. 
    You have no idea how to get back here or where you would wind up if you entered again. Staring longer, you consider deliberately losing yourself in the alleys on an endless journey through...
    whatever lay beyond. 
    But only for a moment before turning and leaving.

  On either side of the alley were shops. 
    One was a grocery market, the other was clothing and accessories.   From the clothing shop came an attractive teenage girl with tan skin and red hair, wearing black shorts and tank top.  She seemed in a hurry, ignoring you, turning down the street, and getting in her car. 
    You watch her drive away, oblivious of your staring at her the whole time.  You think she looked familiar and had hoped you would be recognized, but nothing happened and you let it go. 
    You walk along the sidewalk in the opposite direction for a while, eventually passing a hospital.

    The next neighborhood was mostly homes, with only a few small shops every several blocks, and only on the one street.  Other streets led down dead ends and into cul-de-sacs, and neighborhoods lined with homes.  A couple asphalt paved alleyways give you a chill as they remind you of the brick alcoves. 
    You come to a busy intersection after walking for a long time, where the other side of the street looks more like the downtown area:  Commercial buildings and offices hugging the streets, and subtle shops crowded by the offices and towers.
    You notice a shadowy figure emerge from the alleyway between a tall, fancy office building sporting big bold letters reading  "Gorman Bros.  HYREALTY",  and a small office called "Doutor's" with no indication as to its services.  You back yourself against the corner of a building and watch.
    The figure, staying low and moving quickly, darted from tree to tree, lamp post to traffic signal, traffic sign to mail box; until a fire escape offered a higher vantage point.  This person did not notice you watching them, but showed vigilance, always looking over their shoulder and making pause to scan the area around them.
    Once the coast appeared to be clear, they gracefully ascended the fire escape, as if flying; using it as merely an apparatus between hand and footfalls, before they finally jumped onto the rooftop of a lower adjacent office and vanished around the corner.  You give chase, running across the street and dashing for the next intersection.  By the time you reach the corner, the ninja had vanished.
    Not a sign on rooftops nor in dark corners on street level.  Link sighed and dropped his shoulders, disappointed.  He trudged along a moment before realizing he was being watched.   He felt eyes on his back and turned around, but there was no one there.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

     Impa stood behind Zelda, waiting for her to finish her chapter.  "Very good, your training will begin after we eat.   I must change your routine today to include that you be on the watch out for our guest; your friend.  If you see him, try to guide him back to the house, and test his perceptive abilities.  If he chases you, lead him back, and open the house while both trying to lose him and guide him.  Do not enter home, do not follow him in, but convince him the house has been entered before him..." She seemed to have more to say but cut short,  "Continue your studies. I will call you for dinner." -

    - Impa, Link, and Zelda all ate dinner together in the kitchen dining nook, Impa explained that Link would be wisest to remain inside and train, but welcome to explore none the less.  She cautioned that if he were to leave the house, it would automatically lock behind him, and he would be unable to re-enter until Zelda and herself had returned.
    Watching them leave in the blue van from the window, Link waved and smiled at Zelda, who smiled and waved back.  "Your day begins now, Princess."  Zelda grumbled "Are you going to call me that from now on?  I don't like it."  She said, climbing in back.  "Just change, miss, I'm pulling over around the corner."  Impa said, while smoothly controlling the van along the neighborhood.

    Zelda finished changing her out of her outfit into Ninja Wrap and pulled her mask over her mouth, nodding to Impa as she opened the van door.  She darted out and dashed back toward the previous street and into the shadows of the alley ways.  Once in, she turned around and left, emerging in the run down outskirts of West Hyruletropolis.  She spent no time and jumped back in the alley, avoiding any chance of being seen.  She, again, turned to exit, but paused to catch her breath, her heart pounding, but she ignored it as she emerged between two offices downtown.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Staying low and moving quickly, Zelda darted from tree to tree, lamp post to traffic signal, sign to mail box, until a fire escape offered a higher vantage point.  She looked over her shoulder from this vantage point and scanned for anyone who might see her movements, before she moved on, leaping down to a near by rooftop.  She kept low, approaching the edge, scanning for company.
    She watched Link run past and instinctively knew he was following her, recoiling from sight.  Now she followed him.  After his running all the way from downtown to Lake Hylia, she knew he was going to prove special.  Using techniques learned from Impa's training, Zelda hid in many awkward locations and stealthily stalked him until he sensed her.  He trudged along a moment before realizing he was being watched.   He felt eyes on his back and turned around, but there was no one there.  Zelda prepared herself to attack him, retrieving her throwing needles, waiting for him to turn back around and catch him immediately in his shock.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    You sighed and dropped your shoulders, disappointed, then trudged along a moment before realizing you were being watched.   You felt eyes on your back and turned around, but there was no one there.
    You slowly stiffen, sensing someone behind you, and draw your sword and shield.  You turn swiftly, defiantly, reversing the ninja's plans, and you stare each other down; you breathed heavily a moment, shock caught in your chest, the mysterious ninja gripped the fine needles in their hands, crouching low, concealing their intentions. 

    They blinked, you swallowed hard, and they instantly darted forward and threw a handful of needles. 
    You tried to roll aside but caught one in the leg, and immediately torqued around in pain, but used the momentum to raise your shield and protected yourself from any further damage.

    You pull the needle out then stand up, holding the shield in front of you, blocking a second handful of needles successfully.  You run ahead to strike, but your mysterious target performed a backflip and dodged the swing.  They then rushed forward and struck your core abdomen with open palms.  You double up, wincing, backing up several paces, and coughed as the wind escaped your lungs. 
    Looking up, you watch the ninja turn and run.  You try to sublimate the pain & suffocation and give chase, attempting to catch up.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Zelda lead the way back home, corner after corner, keeping Link close enough to see her, but far enough to keep him running.  They rounded the last corner and she dashed ahead and pulled out her key.  As soon as she made it to the front door, she unlocked it, opening it a hair, then ran around back of the house. 
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    You see the ninja curve down Zelda's street, and dashed ahead faster, putting your sword and shield away so you could run faster; rounding the corner just in time to see some bushes near their house rustle. 
    You run on, toward the front step, and notice the door is ajar, halting and pondering the door.  You curiously approach the door, feeling a slight sense of dread mixed with suspicion, and stopped entirely on that front step.  
    You look around and draw the sword again.  Frowning, you turn to face the street again and scanned the neighborhood.   There were no cars parked anywhere, no people walking on the sidewalks, no blinds open in the windows, and not a sound of car, pet, play, family, or neighborhood. 

    You grip the sword hard and stare down the other end of the street before sheathing it.  The dead end across the next block down seemed less an end and moreover just dead.
    You enter the house and slam the door, then inspect the house before you run downstairs...

    No one appears to have entered, but you knew there was something strange going on; indeed, you just didn't know what, much less what to do about it. 
    Impa said this was time not to be wasted, so if you needed to protect Hyrule, let alone yourself, you should take her advice.
    You begin practicing the sword techniques Impa had shown you, and eventually moved on to the wooden targets.  Zelda had disobeyed Impa and followed you in through the back door, where she had waited while you entered the house.  After she watched you through the door window, she unlocked it quietly, and closed it just as silently behind her. 
    She crouched in the shadows of the stairwell and watched intently.  You seemed to her to be incredibly intent and focused. 
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    He swung his sword vertically, horizontally ""Hut, hyia!" Stabbed, cut, slashed.  He was working up his breath and breathing faster. Cutting and slashing, two of each.  He stabbed, cut, then jumped sideways, slashing diagonally down when he landed, "Hyeah!"  Breathing hard, "Hut! Hyia!" Horizontally, vertically, he thrust the sword in the air and stabbed the it thrice: "Sit sat, siahhhh!" as if vanquishing invisible evil.

    He huffed, quickly caught his breath, walked over to the mirrors, and opened the closet.  Huffed again, this time more like a sigh, wiped sweat from his brow, and entered.  Zelda swiftly snuck across the dojo and entered your room, keeping the door ever so faintly cracked open that she could still watch, closer.
    Link dragged a large wooden dummy out from the closet and propped it up in the middle of the room.  He paced away from it, backwards, staring intently at it.  When he stopped, Zelda held her breath.  He unconsciously held his too.  Staring down the wooden opponent, Link exhaled sharply "Rrhhhhaaaaaaghhh! And leapt into the air and lunged his sword at it, smashing the sword immediately.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Zelda tried to stifle a squeal, and covered her mouth all at once.  She felt certain you would have heard her and dared not peek.  She rolled against the wall and pressed as close as possible, tip toeing.
    You stood motionless together, yet worlds apart...  You were exhausted from chasing and being chased; Zelda stuck in awkward indecision.  She silently exhaled all her breath and unconsciously held it out.  The door slid open and gently came to rest on her shoulder, elbow, arm. She squinted tight for a moment then fiercely shot her eyes open.  Your back was turned to her and you gently rolled your footsteps toward the bed and flopped down diagonally on it.
    Zelda hugged the wall around and out the door as quickly and quietly as possible, then silently ran toward the stairs.  She stopped and turned back, darkness concealed the room Link lay in... Though she peered in anyways, hovering indecisively at an event threshold... Then walked quietly up the stairs to the back door, opened and locked it, then hesitated again.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Impa had silently watched from the shadows the entire time and finally stepped into the illusion as Zelda locked and shut the back door.  "It's getting late, go survey the park.  Link already appears to suspect this is part of the illusions of the Lost Woods, and I will need to hasten his training before we can send him into the forest.  Your training must have been sufficient, princess. Remember:  Dressed as you are, you are the Ninja:  Sheik; be aware, stay alert, I will follow shortly behind after I resecure the house; but, go now..!"  Zelda darted away, feeling partly ashamed of herself, but mostly content that she now had proof that Link's spirit was so strong, willful, and direct as she suspected... Hoped.

    Impa's hands glowed dark and purple, she waved her hand across the sky in an arcing motion and closed her eyes.  The world immediately around herself became shadowy and grew rapidly; trees slowly replaced the majority of the homes around them, rocks and terrain contoured the streets instead of asphalt and concrete, and shrubs and grass covered the ground.  The house transformed from a cookie-cutter residence to a distinguished two story stone-and-log cabin, the copy-paste neighborhood became an artistic masterpiece of nature.  Impa's posture shifted softly through several different positions, as she moved her left hand about with focused intent, allowing her right hand to relax by her side; the left hand emitting shadowy illusions around the house, the right, drawing shadowy energies from the forest around her.  A graceful slow motion dance of supreme posture, had she an audience.
    She opened her eyes, they were covered with shadow, and all was plain, undistinguished, "cookie-cutter" neighborhood again.  She nodded, her eyes shaded, energy drawn away from her hands, blinked, her eyes returned to normal, she turned, and finally made way back to the van - parked around the corner at the end of the block.  As she drew away, at the opposite end of the street where the next block began at this block's end, the forest shadows loomed outward, and from their invisible depths peered two pairs of red eyes.

    Sheik darted away, feeling partly ashamed of herself, but mostly content that Link's spirit was so strong, willful, and direct.  She smiled under her facewrap, convincing herself that she would help Link secure the Triforce and return Hyrule to its natural prosperity, intended by the goddesses.

    She returned to the rooftops by jumping from wall to wall in the narrow alley, entering from the illusory edge of Hyruletropolis, and exiting atop a parking garage across the street from the Temple of Time.  There was little to no cover, so she had to wait for a large vehicle to pass by, heading south.  After several minutes, the perfect opportunity revealed to be a milk truck stopped at the red light.   She jumped down, throwing the momentum of her hips into a flip to ease the landing; triangle jump.  Her success came to please her, satisfying her personal practice - as Impa has eternally directed.

    The low branches of the well aged fir trees of the park made good cover and access for her stealth from the back of the milk-tanker. However, she learned to keep an eye out for the Goron Link, whom has twice nearly caught her changing: Once into her ninja wrap, and once out of it.  She climbed the tree several stories, until she could survey the outlying territories without being seen.

    Racers and Brawlers appeared to be confronting each other south of the park, they were lined up and poised, but nothing was happening, appearing to be a discussion rather than a fight.  One cyan Racer backed off after a moment, and two others rushed to his side. They exchanged looks a few times and turned to leave.  The purple Brawler at the center of attention appeared to taunt the departing Racers.
    As the crowd dispersed, a large group of Brawlers split off twice into downtown, one group heading deeper, the other group lined the street across from the park.    Sheik waited, expecting them to cross, or challenge Goron Link, whom had been observing the same line form across the street from their park.

    Goron Link clenched his fists...  His stomach growled.   He unclenched and gently tugged his stomach. 
    "oohh, I hope they don't want to come over and cause trouble..."  He finished his eternal lap around the park and took pause beside the bridge to watch.  The entire park and street stood between him and the 8 Brawlers lined across it.
    Stomach rumbling.  They did not move, did not speak to each other: Statues with folded arms, in silly purple outfits. 

    The blue van's brakes squealed softly as it parked behind him.  Goron Link's face involuntarily widened with a smile.  He heard the door open and shut, waited for the next door, but instead heard nothing; footsteps following the unexpected emptiness.

    He turned to inspect the feed, and saw Impa approaching him with something large in her hands.   His eyes widened a little as he saw the gray and lumpy object, closer and more detailed, pocked with tiny specks of crystal, possibly...  
    "Stone Turnip?" he uttered, barely audible, then cleared his throat, "Is that a Stone Turnip?!"  He inadvertently shouted with excitement.  "Did you bring me a Stone Turnip???"  Impa nodded, trying not to smile but failing to hide it, and held the lump of stone out to Goron Link.
    He grabbed it jealously, and inspected it closely.  His smile thundered as he laughed and gnashed at the stone.  He gobbled it all down and patted his belly with a huge - DRUMB - that echoed across the street! A brawler recoiled as if struck, impressed.
    His neighbors turned to his shock with scorn, as if scolding.

    Impa nodded to the Goron and returned to the van.
    "Strange..." Goron Link said to himself, "They aren't setting up...?"  He felt invigorated by the ultra-health-food (for Gorons) and intuitively suspected more Brawlers were expected to come by soon.  He turned to stare across the street fiercely, scrutinizing with a fierce glare.  The same brawler recoiled again. The same neighbors stared him down, again. 
    Goron Link glared hard, "What are you up to?" He said to the Brawlers; out loud only to himself.

    Impa started the van and drove away, prompting Goron Link to notice the approaching Brawlers from behind the bridge!

    A sudden click of heels beside him, "what was that?" As he turned to see The Ninja crouched beside him, poised low, wide, and prone.  "We together?" He quietly grumbled, Sheik nodded.

    A husky Brawler with reddish hair and a small beard that covered his mouth, but not his cheeks save for the curly tufts that looked like small swirly whiskers, wore a purple denim vest with the arms deliberately ripped off, flaunting his well toned muscles, came to the forefront of the large group that poured out from under the bridge, his footsteps thudding with a suspicious clank.   His Left eye enveloped by a Triforce tattoo, as if to intimidate and suggest his authority.  "Y'all're gonna leave early today.   The van's gone, and y'know what? Lookit! A lot more of us than you!" He looked around as if he was talking to himself, inspecting his own words.  "This is our turf and you're gonna leave.  Find some place else to eat."  Across the street where the line had formed, more brawlers entered as backups stood in for them, replacing the line.  Goron Link looked down at the ninja, as if to follow his lead.
    The apparent leader scoffed, interrupting Goron Link's train of thought, "You know, you can go, we wont hit you.  Just leave."  Goron Link looked to his apparent ally with uncertainty.  'Ninja Zelda'. Sheik, was motionless, statue like.
    So he grumbled, then laughed "Hha!" looking him in the eye "You want to hit me?"  The brawler didn't seem to care about the implications and only spoke, "That's two, last chance.  The M says y'get three.  You're lucky: The M doesn't give anyone more than one chance."  Goron Link really laughed now.  His belly rumbled the ground beneath him, rocking the ninja beside him.  "That's great, no worries then! We're good!"  The brawler stepped aside and his buddies parted together, forming a path between them, out of the park, under the bridge.

    "Oh, what?  No, you see, we're not going anywhere.  This is our park, you're obviously not in charge, and this, right now, makes four.  Your move, buddy!  What'cha gonna do?"  The 'do' he emphasized thundered into the brawler, literally knocking his balance back.  The three brawlers he fell into caught and righted him, then ran around him and attacked.  The crowd of twenty one brawlers poured out from under the bridge and swarmed Goron Link, and Sheik - who darted into a triangle jump, up and over their heads, and stomped across the heads of several brawlers; out of the crowd, looking in.  (S)he gracefully landed and taunted them. Two fingers beckoning.  Goron Link was surrounded, 21 to one, as additional 'backups' ran in from the line across the street to address his ninja partner.
    He swung a mighty fist, knocking one into three and knocking those four into five more, proving that his one Goron punch was the equivalent of nine brawlers - meanwhile getting climbed upon from behind, by six more!!  "Oh yeah?" He laughed thunderously. "Let's roll!"

    The vigilant Goron lurched forward, preparing to fend them off.  He was feeling his health-treat wearing off, so instead of reaching around and grabbing them, he suddenly rolled up with instantaneous speed, whipping four of the brawlers off his neck and shoulders and using that speed to roll ahead suddenly, very fast, plowing over one grippy Brawler, and launching the other high ahead and into the air.   He curved around, skidding and spinning out, throwing dirt and grass out behind him, then caught traction and rolled through, again, into the remaining six, who immediately scattered.  He only nicked one in the leg and knocked him over, probably breaking it, as everyone scrambled to dodge.  Goron Link immediately unraveled himself with precision and stood defiantly on the man's leg, in the middle of the park.  "Leaving so soon? The food hasn't even arrived yet!" he said, lifting his leg up to allow the fearful brawler's instincts to scurry him away like a tiny broken mouse.

    Sheik had been rushed from both sides by sixteen brawlers by the time Goron Link had begun rolling after his n nine man punch.  Zelda couldn't concentrate, while she prematurely revealed another weapon.  She whipped her elastic chain around, tagging a Brawler behind her and cutting across his back before snapping it downward ahead of herself and stunning another punk facing her off - by slamming his shoulder on the elastic recoil.
    Three more brawlers darted into the middle of the fight while three more drew their slingshots from afar.  Sheik spun downward in place, kicking two of the dashing brawlers - the third hesitating just in time to evade her strikes, accidentally.

    A rock pegged her in the thigh and she fell out of her strike in pain.  Another rock tagged the ground right beside her where she fell, just in front of her knee.  She scrambled ahead, dodging several more shots while four more brawlers distributed additional slingshots to their buddies.
    She was not focused.  She was not yet truly ready to be Sheik - Zelda silently, but briefly, scolded herself, while darting to Goron Link for cover.
    Goron Link rolled up to deflect the rock shots and laughed when he realized they were stone "I can eat these!" Opening his mouth wide and snatching a few - half tucked into himself, half untucked, awkwardly balancing himself on a large forearm.  Several brawlers switched to exploding bombflower seeds and others tried to flank him and get his ally from behind. 
    Several explosive shots annoyed him enough that he fully curled up around the ninja to protect them both from the shots.  

    They were pinned down.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    The blue van's brakes squealed softly as it parked behind him.  Goron Link's face involuntarily widened with a smile.  He heard the door open and shut, waited for the next door, but instead heard nothing, footsteps following the unexpected emptiness.

    He turned to inspect the feed, and saw Impa approaching him with something large in her hands.   His eyes widened a little as he saw the gray and lumpy object, closer and more detailed, pocked with tiny specks of crystal, possibly...   "Stone Turnip?" he uttered, barely audible, then cleared his throat "Is that a Stone Turnip?!" He inadvertently shouted with excitement. "Did you bring me a Stone Turnip???"   Impa nodded, trying not to smile but failing to hide it, and held the lump of stone out to Goron Link.   He grabbed it jealously, and inspected it closely.   His smile thundered as he laughed and gnashed at the stone.  He gobbled it all down and patted his belly with a huge - DRUMB - that echoed across the street!  A brawler recoiled as if struck, impressed. His neighbors turned to his shock with scorn, as if scolding..
    Impa nodded to the Goron and returned to the van.  She watched the line across the street for a moment, then turned to look toward the other side of the bridge.   Seeing a much larger group slowly approaching from deeper within downtown, Impa turned over the ignition and drove away quickly.  She was worried that even the friendly Goron would get hurt today and while she didn't want to risk hurting the children, she saw no choice:  In order to rescue Zelda from the gangs, Link had to face a real challenge now.  She could only hope Link to be as adept as she and Zelda suspect.

    Impa drove over the speed limit the whole 16 blocks back, running at least 2 red lights as she came within the last 5 blocks.   The illusion was weakening, her powers waning...  The Wolfos brothers stepped out of the forestry shadows, soupy and hazy, mixing in with the modern neighborhood illusion, creating a psychedelic optical illusion of solid smoke walls and floating airy water.  Impa halted the car and waited.  The two shadowy Wolfos spirits glared at Impa.  No movement, they all just stared at each other.  Glowing pairs of eyes, meeting the steel gaze.  Finally, the Wolfos retreated into the shadows and, the smoke and water faded, leaving a clear, crisp, satisfactorily realistic-looking modern-neighborhood illusion. 
    Impa jumped out of the van and ran to the house.   Her youthful agility betraying her elderly visage; white hair, liver spots, wrinkles, curved back, and all, jolting and hurtling across the street at a long angle.  She skipped the front door and crashed through the back, shattering your napping quietude.
    Down the basement stairs, and straight into the dojo in a flash; You were barely out of your room, startled, and now frantically looking for the sword you broke, so as to present her your proof that you could break it.  Impa saw this panic and hesitated, briefly worrying about you.  "Get a sturdy sword and shield, boy." She said, folding her arms in attempt to express composure.
    You clamber through the closet and grab the sword and shield. 
    While you did, Impa retreated to the foot of the stairs.  When you emerged she beckoned, then quickly ascended and vacated through the back door, waiting again, arms folded.  You follow her route, and once out of the house, noticed the skies were forest canopy with shady slats of light pouring between Deku branches, while betraying the environment of residential homes and streets.

    You stare, gazing at the sky, but Impa urges you along, "We must get downtown immediately, the park is being attacked. Your friends need your help!"  She said with haste, cringing silently as she said "friends", thinking she may possibly have given away Zelda's Ninja identity.

    Your thoughts vanished, your eyes narrowed and focused, your spirit surged. 
    You would protect your friends; you nodded, and entered the van with solemn intent.  Impa looked over at you, curious. 
    Your demeanor had instantly changed.  She couldn't even see an iota of the former caution and panic you'd displayed in the basement. 
    What had changed? She wondered.

    Impa turned the final corner with the bridges in view, the park just south of there, barely out of view.  Ticking sounds and hollow echos could be heard from the distant weak power of bombflower seeds.  Impa pulled beside the bridge intersection but didn't park, several exploding shots could be heard popping near by.  "Your shield will break!  Be careful, Link!"  She called out after you as you run from the van, past the highway ramp, around toward the first bridge. 
    Another pop and a louder bang, small explosions were crackling and popping, a few seemed bigger and let cry with a loud BANG, each. 
    Just as you round the corner of the concrete ramp under the bridge, you hear an "Ah-Hah!" as a seed gets shot your way.

     *POP!* You rolled aside quickly, that one was right by your foot!  "That's a warning shot, kid!  Private party."  You didn't bother listening to anything more he might have said, you could see the purple sweatshirt, with a slingshot aimed at you, so you dash ahead full speed.
    That wasn't expected and the Brawler fumbled for his next shot, dropping it.  It exploded under foot as he loaded another seed and drew the sling back.  You cleared more than half the 4 yard gap by the time he'd fumbled for the reload.  By the time he fired his successful shot he was already knocked out as you'd already bashed the hilt of your wooden sword into the punk's solar plexus while he missed firing - right over your shoulder. 
    Another loud bang cracks out, startling you into hesitation.

    As you stepped from under the overpass, up the curving pedestrian path to strike the brawler, you exposed yourself to 3 more Brawler guards positioned along the path and bridge to further keep out unwanted interference with their turf grabbing attempt.
    You barely jumped back in time to dodge the next shot fired.  Had you not hesitated when startled, it would have hit without warning, and hurt.  The next two Brawlers up the path came charging. 
    One of them fired an explosive seed near you, the other was unarmed and barreled forward, arm cocked.
    You raise your shield and block the first punch, skidding back with the heavy impact.  You jump to your left, right into the line of fire, and saw a slingshot drawn on you.  Panicking, you crouched, bracing your shield over yourself.

    A heavy BRAMKRAKLE ruptured the air as the seed smashed into your shield, exploding; bringing it within threshold of shattering.  The wood cracked and splintered in several directions, making a web of tiny crags in the wood.  It smoked and singed but remained, barely, intact.
    You bolt around the heavy fisted Brawler and charge the slingshot wielder with your sword, dashing as fast as possible.  You slash at the Brawlers hand, breaking his grip and possibly a finger or two.
   He dropped the broken slingshot, and his arm with broken hand, and looked menacingly at you, tears in his eyes, other hand balled in a fist.  You quickly strike again with the hilt, and knocked the brawler behind him out, as the tearful Brawler ran past, leaving the fight.

    Rather than follow the trail of Brawlers up the path, you dash across the offramp and under the overpass on the other side.  Shots were fired at you from behind as you cleared the gap between highway bridges, where Brawlers armed with slingshots were lining the raised bridge path!
    You used up the rest of your energy to give one last speedy dash ahead, and under the safety of the next bridge, out of sight.  You were running out of breath.
    You dash around the corner, out from under the concrete-and-rebar bridge, finally catching sight of Brawlers launching explosive shots from slings into a....
    Large boulder...?  Your adrenaline rush deflated and you let your arms sag a little.  You huffed impatiently, and tried to catch your breath.
    Bowing your head in confusion, a small surge of adrenaline hit when you realized Goron Link wasn't patrolling!  You look up, searching for the friendly Goron patrol.

    "Hold your fire!  That Goron isn't even phased..."  Another tiny surge, that adrenaline wasn't gone yet; flickering in the spirit wind of your heart.
    "Come on out!  We said we'll let you leave, you know, but you had to stick around.  Why'd ya have to stick around?  You shouldn't have done that."
    Adrenals flared again, however: You stood poised but seemingly motionless.  You inhaled slowly, evenly, eyes narrowed, cross.
    "Tell ya what, Goron.  We just want you.  You can let your friend out. We all promise not to shoot the ninja."  He said, looking around and winking.  "Isn't that right guys?"
    A couple of the Brawlers laughed, a couple cheered, but the tattooed brawler with red hair ignored them and continued, "All you gotta do... is stand up... and let us take you... back to the river with us!" 
    This time it was Goron Link who got the surging rush, and he whispered to his partner, "Hold on tight, this is going to get cramped."  He lifted his head back and peeked out briefly.  The brawlers were all aimed on him, and there was a good chance they'd all shoot if he took that liar for his word!
    That was enough to enrage him and he tucked his head back in then extended a leg behind him, kicked off with that mighty leg and tucked it back in, rolling.
    He was rolling fast, carrying precious cargo.

    "WHAT!? Get them!"  The Brawler called out. 
    You had seen enough and charged in.
    "Yaaaaaaah!!!"  You run in, rushing with your sword straight in front of you, prepared to stab, but foolishly forgetting the brawlers behind you, and charging with an early war cry, thus alerting your opponents, giving up the element of surprise.
    The target muttered, "What's this?" as that husky brawler turned to face you.  He sloppily shifted his weight aside to barely dodge your rushing stab, but effortlessly never the less.  You barely dodge a shot fired from behind, but it was enough to throw your balance as you topple over yourself and skid to a halt on your stomach. 

    Goron Link had rolled around and halted beside you while you brushed yourself off.  As he unrolled, Sheik tumbled out, unconscious.  "He'll be find, kid.  Just too dizzy to handle a Goron roll! Ha, HAH!" Goron Link laughed with pride, following with, "Let's flatten these hoodlums!"
    You  nod deliberately.

    The Brawler "in charge" was panicked and his mind raced for a moment. 
    "Wait, wait! Wait, wait wait-wait..!  Obviously... we cant take you on with our slingshots and bombflowerseeds... maybe we cant even take you on by climbing all over you."  Goron Link rolled his eyes and huffed, "But...!!!" The brawler continued, "I challenge you to an honorable fight.  One on one." 
    Goron Link laughed, "Did I roll over your head by accident or something?  You should leave now before you get hurt."
    The Brawler was adamant but indignant "If you can beat me, we'll take off.  Leave.  Not another word:  Gone.  You wont have to fight all of us, just me.  Think about it.  One one one." 
    You shake your head 'no', but Goron Link considered it the best bet, barely noticing your 'suggestion'.
    "Deal.  You fight me in a traditional Goron Wrestling match.  We'll use the sand box for an arena. Last man standing or still in the sand box, 'ring', wins."

    The Brawler agreed to his terms and smiled, sly and wicked.  He bent over and checked his shoes a moment before entering the "ring".  "What's the matter? Scared you'll trip over your shoe laces?"  Goron Link taunted, scratching one leg with the gnarly toenails of the other foot.
    The Brawler just maintained his wicked grin.  He stared at Goron Link as he entered the ring, locking eyes as he took his position.  They stood face to face, prepared to engage.  Goron Link raised a foot and stomped the ground, knocking the Brawler off his balance, but not down.  The Brawler copied his opponent and stomped with a heavy *CLANK*.
    Zelda stirred and grabbed her head nauseously, while you were watching the match with focus and hidden excitement.  Zelda's perspective was low, and, unlike everyone else, she had a direct perspective of the opponents' feet.  Goron Link's stone-rough, wild, unkempt, and lumpy feet looked like mallets, but the boots his opponent wore were encased with thick iron plates!
    Goron Link stepped forward with a stomp and grappled with his opponent.

    The advantage was sorely in the cheating Brawler's favor but not only because the Brawler wore boots of iron, as Goron Link was not only malnourished, underfed, and underweight; he was also inexperienced in traditional Goron Wrestling!
    Goron Link grappled futilely as the Brawler consistently broke his holds and stepped away from his advances.  In a circle left, two fails.   In a circle right, three fails.
    Left or right? 
    "What's the matter? Am I too Goron for you to handle?"  The Brawler laughed, along with his buddies.  Goron Link's eyes flared open and he made another grapple attempt, this time tucking into an immediate roll, flattening the brawler, outright burying him in to own body's depth of the sand.

    The blow not only knocked the Brawler over, but it knocked him out of his boots!  Goron Link started to laugh, raising his hands together in a clasp to cheer.  He began to whoop, but from the corner of his eye he noticed a giant figure approaching the park from the intersection, and he was following two trident wielding Moblins.
    Goron Link - more or less instinctively - tucked up and rolled under the bridge as fast as he could.

    Zelda sat up and looked around. 
    You approached the boots, but felt a tug on your wrist.  You turn to see the ninja staring in your eyes.  You backed up, drawing your sword, but saw the Moblins and a giant Cyclops behind your might-be adversary; and backed into the fallen Brawler, tripping and falling into another.  You landed on his legs and he got angry, but when he saw the monsters, he ignored you, shouting, "Moblins!"

    Everyone ran except you and the dazed Brawler in the ground.  Zelda/Sheik dashed away in the confusion, around to the van, and changed as fast as she could, once inside.

    You were stunned.  The gigantic monsters approaching left you nearly, but utterly, paralyzed.  Your wooden sword and shield: as though mere toys, were not worth the effort to so much as block a strike...  You feel pathetic and worthless in the face of these monsters.
    They thundered closer, a pair of seven foot tall stacks of fatty muscle and gristly sweat carried huge, three pronged staffs, and ugly frowns, followed by a gargantuan, one eyed, vacant looking, hulking, half naked, nine foot tall monster! 
    Zelda ran to the edge of the park and called out, "Link!!!"  You finally snap out of it! You scramble to your feet, leaving the wooden toys behind, and run over to Zelda as fast as you possibly can, but as soon as you got close, you slow down and look back.

    The Brawler was barely able to sit up and realize what was going on.  He looked around, confused.  The ground was vibrating with each heavy and thudding step of the cyclops.
    "Where'd everyone go?" The Brawler asked out loud, sitting up from his shallow sand indentation.

    He rubbed his head while turning to the nightmarish visage of 3 of Ganon's loyal monsters bearing down on him.
    His eyes widened as he screamed out with terror, "Ooh... NOOOOO!!!! PLEASE! NOOO! DON'T HURT ME!!!!" As the giant reached down and grabbed the pair of boots, and the Moblins pushed forward, toward the south.
    The giant followed them shortly after, none of them bothering to even acknowledge anyone that didn't get in their way, let alone the traumatized Purple Brawler cowering in snot and tears on his knees.
    Zelda tugs urgently on your hand, and you finally leave with her and Impa.


    When Impa was within half a block of the neighborhood, she pulled to the side and parked the car in front of a commercial building.  Her energy was drained, the illusion was wearing off, and there was nothing left she could do but prepare the kids.
    "Zelda, Link." She initiated solemnly.  "I am indebted to a pair of brothers whom have lent me their home for the past 13 years to nurture, raise, guide, train, and prepare the young princess.  There are workings in this world that are directly affecting your lives which you've never known or been prepared to know."  Her voice grim.
    "You can no longer afford not to know, but you are not yet ready to learn, right away, the full extent of your destinies.  So to prepare you, I must reveal the first lie..."  Zelda recoiled, "Lie?? wait... What do you mean, first?"

    Impa sighed heavily "I am much too old to be the last of the Sheikah...  My domain of the shadow has been the only sustenance for my own life...  But during times of darkness, in the world of light, I have had to compromise my own domain, over and over, until now...  Only a fraction of the Lost Woods remains connected to the Shadow Realm...  ... everything else, I have had to......"  She paused and bowed her head.
    "... ... share... with Ganon's minions."  She turned to face you, "For I, alone, am no match for their forces, but there remains much yet for me to leave to this world before I can be free to leave it."
    Zelda gasped and wanted to move in to console her attendant, instructor, teacher, and long time friend, but Impa stepped out of the van before she could move, beckoning the both of you to follow.
    "Young miss, I must ask that you refrain from indulging in sorrow or fear, for these brothers, whom I've owed our home and school, have a habit of getting excited when they think someone is scared.  I assure you, my friends are good and loyal, and will mean you no harm."  Impa explained while you and Zelda left the van after her.
    "Although, Link, your training in the sword is insufficient, and I must oversee your improvements post haste.  When we walk to the house, you will notice the illusions are gone, and the neighborhood was, in fact, false.  The important thing that you children are to be understood:" Impa became very solemn and serious, "This section of the Lost Woods was once connected with underground catacombs which lead throughout the royal townships of Hyrule castle market and Kakariko village, and was also a lost nation of Wolfos tribes' burial grounds, long ago.  The wayward spirits of the Wolfos live on as shadows of their former selves, seeking solace in their descendants, whom are disappearing at an alarming rate.  Their numbers have shrunk from once proud tribal nations to just a few hundred individuals left in the world.  Two brothers had roamed into this section of the Lost Woods many years ago and took up residence here with me.   We've helped each other out for the longest time, hiding this place away and training together... creating this illusion... until..."  Impa stopped abruptly, and eyed you intently.  "Until the Second Lie...  But all in due time, children..." she trailed off nonchalantly, and rounded the corner, into a large haphazard "city block" of forest, right in the middle of Hyruletropolis.

    "No, you cant stop there!!" Zelda persisted as they approached a log cabin which had an eerie similarity to Saria's and Krystal's home... "You've brought out that much, you have to tell us the rest." She said, adamantly.
    Impa ignored her and stopped some thirteen yards from the house.  "I am sorry, Princess, but as I said, all in due time." she said, talking at her, rather than to her, still focused straight ahead of herself.
    Zelda closed her eyes "So that's that, is it?  'Princess' Zelda, huh..?" and a tear started to fall, oblivious to the world as the world, but Zelda, was to it.  As she wiped it away, silently, she whispered to herself, "I don't like it, it's not..." but trailed off.

    You followed behind the group and moved forward to Zelda's side, between her and Impa, wanting to see what Impa was focusing on. Zelda cautiously touched her fingers to yours, and you took her hand.

    The foggy 'neighborhood' was now made up of trees lining several trails and a small stream, the cabin was amidst it all, in the middle of a clearing, surrounded by the cover of tall Deku trees and their canopy shade.  A "window" of light beamed down on the front door and face wall: one of the structure's windows was visible on the face wall around the corner of the door, two more windows each on either side of the corners by the door.
    Impa simply waited, staring just past the cabin.  You start to walk forward, but as you took the first step, Impa cautioned, "Stay back, we wait for them to come to us.  Stand still." She gently held her arm out to indicate a barrier against your progress, but held it firmly in place, should you test to pass further.
    So everyone waited.

    It wasn't long, once everyone settled down, before their scent caught the attention of a pair of Wolfos Hunters.  Their eyes gleamed in the fog as they came around the corner of the cabin, hunched low on their hind legs.  One, sniffing the air back and forth, eying Impa once in a while, then sniffing toward the children, set down and continued about on all fours; the other simply following behind on hind legs without showing interest.

    Impa remained motionless, "Let them inspect us.  We'll be no threat if we allow them to.  Just, don't move."  A shadowy Black Wolfos darted out from the fog and sniffed Impa, staring her in the eye.   Behind it, a stark white fur coat contrasted this 'sniffer'.  The White Wolfos encircled the group nonchalantly while the black one took a more personal approach by nose.
    On all fours, the black shadow of fur twisted in and out, between the children and sniffed close, curious and invasive, he succeeded in breaking their linked hands.
    He continued around their torsos, then their feet and Impa's legs.  He sniffed Zelda's neck, she cringed, he then sniffed your neck and the hairs on his back pricked up.  He froze for a moment, tail straight up.
    Quietly, a very soft and low growl, he bore his teeth, then darted to the front door.

    When the black Wolfos darted to the front door and sat down beside it, the white Wolfos moved in, growling, hunched low on hind feet, reaching to a small pouch on his belt.  Your stomach clenched and your face contorted in a grim scowl as your spirit surged and you became fortified in your position, as though stone.
    The White Wolfos snarled and huffed, staring you down.  Impa backed up a pace, clenched Zelda's hand and stepped away gently, toward the house, bringing Zelda with her.  The white Wolfos barked and growled "*Just wait!*" then pulled his hand out from the pocket, clenching something small enough to be concealed by his fist.  The white Wolfos' voice is menacing as he snarls at you "*You're scared!*"
    Eyes narrowing, he barks without context. Then he growls again, "*But you have courage to stay here before me.*"  Panting and smiling a moment before barking and snarling, "*Eat the girls!*"
    You belt out a holler and rush into the White Wolfos, even unarmed, raising a fist.  The Wolfos dropped a Deku Nut and evaded your empty strike.
    The black Wolfos remained motionless by the door, and now you feel confused.
    The White Wolfos could be heard panting and huffing...  maybe... laughing?

    You turn around and see the hunched over Wolfos with his tongue hanging out, huffing and cackling in a dry wheeze, then raise his head back and laugh into the air, gasping for more.
    "*HAW! This kid needs a sword!*"  He laughed then looked directly in your eyes, bearing a ferocious fanged grin, "*There's no doubt about it, Impa! You need to train him.*"  Evidently a friendly exchange, but the fiendish voice of this wolf never sounded friendly.

    "*Kid, you're to begin training immediately.  Once you can best me, you're ready to visit the temple, but not a moment before.  It will take more than a sword and shield to fight my kinThis is another training weapon you might want to learn.  Get moving.*" The white Wolfos declared, handing you a wooden Boomerang. 
    Impa escorted you and Zelda inside.  The black Wolfos sat, remaining perched beside the door, and the white Wolfos seemed to disappear all together - nowhere in sight.

    You find that the interior of the cabin was identical to the city house illusion with the exception of tribal decor, building materials, color scheme, and atmosphere; and so, you easily returned to the basement to train. 
    You and Impa worked hard for three days, honing your skills and perfecting your strikes.  On the night of the third day, when you had finally learned how to wield the boomerang, after you had completed the day's workload, and Impa had departed, the Black Wolfos entered the basement.
    The lights flickered and faded out, then flashed on, dimmed to a gentle glow, and maintained this low, gloomy atmosphere.  The dark fur of the Wolfos made it impossible to see his body.  His red eyes gave him a greater menacing aura than already lent his bristly fur and glistening fangs.
    "Let's see how far you've come, boy"  He said, and without pause or hesitation leapt into you - claws first.

    The Lights flicker again but remain dim.  A tight row of pikes shoots up at the base of the stairs, forming an impassible barricade from the basement.
    Trapped in the fight! 
    Your insides churn as you evaded the initial attack by jumping to your left, toward the mirrored walls.  The dark beast's fur was nice and smooth along the face, arms, and legs, but bristled fiercely along his back and tail, which was briefly exposed to you before the Wolfos almost immediately backed away by flipping, twice, away from the mirrors.
    Unseen to you from behind, his reflection did not reflect away from yours, but ran along with the Wolfos, and charged you from behind while you watched the dark fur of your opponent dissolve, as if smoke, into a shadowy image that pooled away from sight; just as you were struck from behind by the Shadow Black Wolfos. 
    You gasp and winced in pain, "Ahhuhng!"
    The Wolfos barked, "Some of us, like myself, have powers uncommon to the rest of us.  I have patiently honed these rare powers, shared by my kin."  He wasnt attacking for the moment, but remained poised and ready to strike.  "... Since our people hunt in packs, I will use my magic to train you against a pack raid; but know that if you were to fight me for real, you would not stand even this long!  This is your only warning! I hope you are prepared!" Then he again lunged, you again dodged, this time to the right, and ran around to try to strike back, but just missed, as the Wolfos also jumped to the side to dodge.


    You faced each other down. 
    The Black Wolfos began to run around to try to get behind you.  You followed your opponent, trying to stay facing off, and also began to run around; almost chasing, or almost being chased.  The Wolfos wasn't fooled, and turned around to catch you off guard, striking swiftly. 
    You were barely able to raise your shield in time and thrown off balance, staggering back several paces.  Before you knew what had happened, the Black Wolfos was in the shadows again, and nowhere to be seen. 
    You turn around just in time to catch the Wolfos in mid transition between mirror and reality.

    You raise your shield in time to deflect the blow and hold your ground, giving you a chance to strike back, yet when the sword made contact, it didn't phase him. The sword bounced off his shoulder and the Wolfos shrugged it off, like nothing.
    "That won't do..."  He taunted. 
    You glowered at the Shadow Black Wolfos, brow furrowed, lips drawn down in frown with your chin jutting out and up defiantly. 
    You lunged, but gave yourself away too soon, and the Wolfos back flipped several times, putting good distance between you, before attempting to run behind again.  You leaped to the side several times, dodging quickly to force the Wolfos to face you directly. 
    It worked, he moved in for a strike.  You prepared to receive and block the attack, then strike back.  But as the Black Wolfos moved in range, he started running aside again!

    You looked ahead of him, the wall would stop him from moving around so why...? 
    You'd looked away too long!
    The Wolfos was not standing beside the wall in his path, nor running away from you, running into the wall, or coming at you!  You attempt to turn and scan the room but were struck from behind once more, this time without blocking it.  Taking the blow, you were hurt, and staggered forward.  You became angry and confused; angry because you could not make sense of what had just happened, which was making you confused. 
    You raise your shield and run around the Wolfos, who ran around you.  You were both attempting to get behind the other, but the Wolfos was again first to break cadence and strike first.  You, again, deflected it and again struck back, again with no effect.

    "The pack trains to hunt by attacking from behind, making us predators; we're not prey while facing each other..." And he faded away into pools of shadowy fog. 
    You couldn't see him in the room, but the distinct reflection of his movements caught your attention.  The reflected image of the otherwise absent Black Wolfos walked into the corner of the room where the mirrored walls met, and stepped into the reflection of the other wall mirror....   two reflections, but no Wolfos to reflect...  The two reflections then stepped into yet the other empty wall mirror and there were then four reflections! 
    You stagger back several paces away from the mirrors, astonished and somewhat frightened, as the four Wolfos entered the room together, leaving four Black Wolfos in the room yet no reflections in the mirrors but your own.

    Your stomach churned in place and nauseated you.  You swallowed hard to hold back the fear, and to keep your stomach down, then faced down this pack with what confidence you had.  Remembering what the Wolfos said before disappearing into 4 copies, Your courage increased significantly, and you waited for an opportunity to strike one of them on the back.
    They tried to surround you, but you kept moving, jumping left, jumping backwards, running around right, rolling ahead, and dodging swipes. 
    One Wolfos swiped late and missed by a mile as you rolled right past.  Now you had a chance.  The slowly twisting torso of the Wolfos gradually bristled from the smooth front side around to the bristled violent looking back side - You lunged. 

   You successfully struck the backside of one of the illusions, and it disappeared without complaint or concern, into the shadows.  Another three to go, one already moving in for a lunge!!  You narrowly roll aside and hop around to face him off, sliding in an arc with the momentum.  You were both locked head on to one another: Strafe right, strafe left. Strafe right, and roll back...   Too much distance, another one moved in... Then the other, two on one. 
    You doubled back, but the two pursued.  You evaded left, they followed.  You tried to face them both, but one got around behind you.  You faced the other off, who started trying to loop around as well. 
    They tricked you! Two of them were behind you! 
    You swung your sword hard and early, spinning into it...
    **moving in for a lunge, Link narrowly rolled aside and hopped around to face him off.  They locked head on to one another: Strafe right, strafe left.  Strafe right, and roll back...   Too much distance, another one moved in... Then the other, two on one.  Link doubled back, but the two pursued.**
    The disengaged Wolfos mirrored Link's movements for a moment and stayed behind him, but near.  He moved left and right, held close, moving forward, and took the opposite side his partner moved in on.  they were both behind him, backing up gently, giving him room to maneuver against the one, while silently coiling for a double lunge.  The face off started to guide Link around too early, and they lunged!!!
    You swung your sword while facing away from them, but spun into it hard, and carried the momentum of the sword around with you, striking the pair in mid-lunge.  Though you were unable to hurt them, you successfully blocked their attack with this strike.  You jumped left twice then backwards until you were able to see all three Wolfos at once. 
    Maybe one of them was real, you thought to yourself, hoping one might stand out from the rest, and that you would not have to fight the illusions. 
    They snarled in unison, as if taunting the thought.

    You run in.  The nearest Wolfos swiped at you, you rolled under it then immediately started running.  The other two were still beside each other after the failed lunge, and you skidded to a stop just outside their range of attack.  You feinted a slash, but jumped in that direction instead, and rolled through, to the right, behind the two.  As the one on your left began to swing, your roll to the right, prompting them to follow, exposed one's back to the other's claw! 

    You'd used one to defeat the other, and turned to raise your shield just in case.  The attack was not close enough to make contact with the shield, so you sliced futilely at the hand and backed away, keeping the Wolfos at bay. 
    The Wolfos pair exchanged glances, then faded away.

    You lower your guard a moment, slouching slightly and giving in to the weight of the light wooden sword, allowing it to dangle in your grasp.  The hazy shadow fog lingered while the distorted forms of two Wolfos faded into it. 
    Nothing seemed to happen.  You regain suspicion and take guard once more, inspecting the haze from where you stood before slowly approaching it.
    Once you are within feet of the haze, it takes form of one Wolfos and slowly solidifies, revealing an intricate dark armor covered in tribal etchings burnt into leather padding, worn and aged, yet still firm but pliable. The armor seemed to materialize around the shadows, rather than a body or being.  The form revealed twin red eyes, and from behind his back protruded a fairly large and hilted boomerang.
    While his whole face, boomerang, and armor had solidified, his fur appeared to be mere shadowy wisps fading away into the wind like liquid smoke where his body should have been.
    His demeanor was relaxed and nonthreatening.  His tongue hung out lazily, as he panted softly.  He even appeared to be grinning.

    "We Wolfos kind have come from many generations of pack hunters and tribesmen who once faced greater beasts with skull crushing might!  Our skulls and bones have to be able to withstand the might of even a Goron punch!  Our survival relies on using our bodies' adaptations.  All monsters in this world have something they are weak against.  I will train you to use the boomerang, but you must find my weak point some other way.  There will come a time when I will have to test you again!"

    The pike barricade retracted, the lights brightened, and the Shadow Wolfos faded away.
    "When you wish to speak with me again, come down here with the lights out."
Just before the place of the Wolfos, as the lights came on, a wooden chest magically appeared to fade in with them.  The chest was curiously open, but empty.
    The pike barricade then retracted loudly.

   Procrastinating with every step, drowned in contemplation, you delayed ascending to the dining nook; you, unconscious of time and your mind a whole world or even universe away, suddenly found yourself sitting down at dinner, smiling at Zelda, "listening" to her talking to you, oblivious of anything that was going on up until you caught yourself in the moment...
    "Link...! Are you even paying attention?  Do you want me to go over that again?"

    Zelda didn't wait for a response, your blank stare infuriated her and she huffed.  "Pay attention this time, Link! It's important for your safety, if you're going to venture into the Temple, to know what you're up against!"  Your awareness had fully returned to you, then  younodded intently.
    Zelda sighed. "Okay."
    She eyed you suspiciously.
    "The Forest Temple is hidden deep in the Lost Woods and cannot be found without following a very specific path.  The trails and pathways are all loopy and reconnect with other places they shouldn't, so it's easy to get lost and turned around." She paused, making sure you were still listening, "When you actually reach the Lost Woods, you'll be in an area that is Hyrule's world, but the Lost Woods itself is, in fact, an entire world of its own...  When you step between the worlds connected by the Lost Woods, it is seamless, and you cannot tell when it's happened until you've already stepped through and looked behind you...  Just like in the alley-"
    Impa cut in, serving a dessert, "Link has many other obligations, princess. He will use them to buy time for preparing himself.   The temple will still be there." She said calmly.
    "Like what?" Zelda asked, almost shocked, but more like whining. 
    "Like his mother, who called this morning and asked me to have him home this evening."

    Zelda was so caught up with her own agenda that she'd forgotten your own family, an turned her head away slightly, feeling embarrassed and selfish.  "That's right..."  She said almost soundlessly.
    She internally recoiled, and caught herself not breathing after a moment, then gently inhaled.   Slowly she filled her lungs and said, "We've got a few weeks before school starts again." She started.
    "Two months."  You corrected her, nonchalantly, spooning yourself some sundae.
    She stared at you, incredulous, and blinked a couple times.

    "Uh, er..."  Her breath was caught in her throat, and she huffed, "Yeah, just a little under that." She reminded you.
    "I'm sure we'll get what we need done by then.  Just be sure to train every day." She finished, half lecturing you for correcting her, but half sincerely reminding you.

    Impa sat down and urged everyone to enjoy their sundaes finishing with, "Link will be heading home tomorrow morning, I will drop him off.   You two have had... plenty of fun... and we needn't worry the boy's mother.  I've explained to her that you two have taken up self defense classes together." She then removed what looked like a decorative sword from the window behind the nook.  "This special training sword and its display rack can go home with you, Link."  She said as she handed over the ornamental wooden sword and intricate rack.

    You all sat around the dining nook, the shadowy moonlight pouring through its elegant windows.  The house otherwise seemed to have had no electricity at any time, and firelight flickered off the table from the candle at its center.  The kitchen floor was gently glowing with faded moonlight shadows, and the room itself was cast with a silvery blue-grey. 
    Everything about it was anything but modern.  No electricity meant no technology. No technology meant no phone; this realization put you into deep thought once more, trying to decide if you could trust Impa.

    You were last to finish your ice cream sundae, and everyone said good night to each other, departing to their rooms while you finished your last few bites.  You return to your small room for the last time of this visit, taking in the atmosphere of this passage into another time as you descend the stairs leading to the dungeon.

    Its feel had become very much like a dungeon now; a muskier accent in the air and damp walls of cobblestone made the basement much more imposing.
    Zelda may have been joking about it at the time, or maybe she genuinely knew about it in advance, in spite of her surprise, but you decided it had to be more of a dungeon than a basement, after seeing illusions, as believable as they were, transpire before your eyes.  And the magically materializing chest, still in the middle of the room.
    Though you had no way of knowing it, you were certain you'd be back here soon, finding the secrets this dungeon held.
    But for now, you kept the lights on. 
    You inspect yourself in the mirror briefly, trying to see if you might have a shadowy doppelganger in your reflection, then returned the shield to the closet that you had left laying out after the fight with the Wolfos, and brought the elegant wooden sword and rack with you into the bedroom.
    Maybe really a tomb.

    It was decorated no differently, no less comfortable, not much less modern. The wooden, boxed in, modernized room was identical in all regards expect the style of the wood in the dresser and bed, the nightstand, and hard wood floor...  Which now appeared to be more like giant tree stump.
    After putting the rack in your satchel and laying your sword against the bed, you test the electricity.
    The lights turned on and off.  You turned on the TV, cartoons came on.
    You ponder for a moment while watching Kirby inhale more than he could chew, but save the day anyway.  Then reached for the Nintendo and turned it on.  You watched The Legend of Zelda opening sequence play over; hunter in the woods, hero vanquished, then started a new adventure through a modern world - this sent a chill down your spine, and you shut the game off by the time you were free running to Lake Hylia with digital friends.  The uncanny similarity, nay, identical experience, left you uprooted.
    Staring at the idling game as the parkour match ended with you treading water in the lake, you feel as if your own life is not your own. Like maybe somewhere in the unknowable reality beyond your perceptions, someone held the controller that made YOU move...

    Shuddering at the very thought, you quickly shut off the game and TV, then plop on the bed and try to sleep.
    Tossed yourself about, turned around, lay upside down, on your head, feet in the air. 
    You couldn't find comfort so you sat up, against the wall, feet out, and stretched for your toes.  Sat up again, and stared on, pondering how all this came to take place...   But no thoughts could form and for an unknown time, you sat blankly, unaware of yourself, your breath, reality, or thought.
    Blinking out of it, you feel like an unknowable eternity had just passed.  You decide that you would find no answers in thinking about matters, but spent the time anyway.  After maybe fifteen minutes, you autonomously curled up, and passed out.
    The morning was hurried through cold cereal and juice then right out the door.
    In the van, you and Zelda were in the back, Impa at the helm.  As she drove the back roads en route to your home, well away from the downtown street racers and brawling punk commotion, you and Zelda watched out the windows quietly, intently, taking in the scenery. 
    You left the forest by a different route and instead of turning left, toward downtown, you turned right. 
    You passed the hospital on the way toward another disjointed highway that lead west, traveled over a bridge past a slum, and snaked on until the road curved south and split off into several other roads or carried out into the desert.

    Impa pulled south on one of the smaller roads, speeding up and checking her mirrors.  Zelda wasn't used to her driving this fast and began to ask what she was going so fast for, but looked out the front windshield and saw nothing on the road ahead but empty mildly worn pavement. 
    She said nothing and admired the country side.  Some patchy forestry in places, mostly farmland or empty grassland, she'd never been this far out of town before and felt an unfamiliar sense of pace, sighing contentedly to herself.
    You were scared at first, coming onto the unfamiliar highway, but quickly content to observe the scenery and take in this side of Hyrule which you have not yet seen.  The forest park was across from the fringe edges of the downtown heart, and petered off into a slum under the highway as it bridged over a set of fenced off rails, dirty streets, and worn asphalt alleys.  The lush green atmosphere was not only contrasted by the concrete gray across from it, but faded into a dusty brown and tan as the desert of the west dried everything out on the borders of the slums.  A fairly quick transition that seemed to be punctuated by the slum, which seemed even familiar somehow, but you mentally shrug it off.

    The drive was half barren half concrete for a moment, before the desert seemed to come in like a tsunami wave and swallow the landscape as you drove on, west.  Curving south, more fertile land could be seen down the way and in moments, everything was green again. 
    Impa pulled you down the country road and things began looking more familiar.  As you rode on, the farms and patchy forests could be seen and a familiar neighborhood far down the road awaited.
    You  heard Zelda sigh and turned to look.  She seemed really happy right now, and comfortably gazed out her window.  You watched her observe everything around her, almost like she were fascinated by everything, maybe even absorbed by it all.  Her hair seemed to be pure gold in the sunlight that reflected in from his window, across to her.  A moment of fright crossed your heart, and you looked away, uncertain; returning your gaze to the now familiar township south of Hyruletropolis.

    It was a back road that lead down the opposite end of your neighborhood's street, and you sigh a subconscious breath of relief when you recognized the turn. 
    Zelda looked toward you and saw a relieved friend, and smiled to herself, turning away before she allowed the smile to reach her lips.  The car stopped, and Impa parked by the curb.
    "This is the house I was given directions for..."  Impa said, hesitantly.  "I thought you'd have pointed it out for me, to be honest..."  You didn't catch her drift, and she ignored it without further thought, opening her door. 
    You all got out. 
    Your mother appeared in the threshold of the front door, waiting.  Zelda stood in front of you, trying to decide what to say.  You stood in front of her, as if listening anyways, intent on her next words regardless. 
    "I... had fun, actually...  Link." She stole your breath with a gentle 'ha' as you smiled, and you both smiled wide, and with your eyes; Zelda giggled. 
    Impa cut into your parting awkwardness, "We'll be leaving now, go on home and I will send you a message when I feel you'll do well to check in with us if you haven't already..." 
    "Stay in touch..."  She added the last three words, hesitantly.

    Everyone waved goodbye as Impa and Zelda returned to the front seats of the van, as you and your mom stood at the front door.  You waved, Impa drove down the road, and the day was over.  The door was closed behind both of you, securely.
    She'd been worried ever since you ran off with your friends without so much as a text from the mother of a friend she'd had to call.  She wanted more than anything to run up and hug you the moment you'd stepped out of the van, and silently wrung her hands to the bone in her mind while waiting calmly on the outside, just waiting for you to walk back home to her, and finally, when inside, she wanted to smother you but knew she shouldn't. 
    She couldn't smother you.
    She knelt down and seized you fiercely anyways.

    "Oh Link...   I don't know what I would ever do... if I'd lost you..."  She cried out.  She did not sob, did not cry out further, but cried, still, quietly on the inside, but remained calm and dry-cheeked. 
    Gentle tears forming stubbornly in her eyes never the less. 
    You protested sarcastically "Mom..."  and she gasped gently but sharply, smiling.  "You're right-" she stopped abruptly, and stood up, clearing her throat and wiping her unfallen tears.  "You should have texted me more often!" she scolded, suddenly firm and cross, but still gentle enough somehow.  Her eyes showing only joy and relief.

    You open your mouth to apologize, but were interrupted as she continued on, saying "Because your friend Krystal came over asking about you and seemed very cross when I told her you were staying at another girl's house..." She said coyly as she poked playfully, shifting from concerned mother, to lecturing parent, and finally playful friend, attempting to pull at your heart strings. 
    "I woulda told you that if you'd texted me, ya know..." and winked. 
    You groan and run upstairs as fast as you could to get away from the awkwardness.

    You remembered something Impa had said over dessert about this practice sword and set up the small wooden pedestal in your room on top of the low dresser, beside your consoles, to display it.  You placed the training sword there and admired it for a moment, proud of how much you had accomplished in just three short days.
    Since there wasn't any more training going on today, you decided you needed to text Krystal.
    >back home, was training with swords<  and sent.

    Moments later a six note forest tune piped up.
    <WAT R U DOIN AT A GIRLS HOUSE?!?1>  You stared at the message a moment, fairly shocked, incredulous even, and entirely uncertain how to respond.

    You were unfamiliar with how these things worked and almost thought your friend was an idiot for a moment, but double checked her name and, sure enough, a picture of her too.  Her song played again.  <swords, sure.  why dont you come visit me now that you're free?>  She might be jealous.

    >when can i come over?< you sent back.  It didnt take long and you heard the song again <whenever you want> 
    She is clearly jealous, you thought.

    >i will ask if i c->  
    You were half way through this message when your mom called up, "What's this about spending the night at another friend's house?  You're sleeping with a lot of girls this summer, Link!"  She teased.  You got up and, trying not to slam it outright, closed the door loudly. 
    Apparently Krystal had already planned something out behind your back.

    You exchange a few texts with Krystal and look out your window for a moment, thinking of how to ask with minimum embarrassment.  You open your door and head downstairs.  As you reached the last step before the bottom landing, your mom came around the corner on her way up; you nearly bumped into each other.
    "Ho!" she said just before colliding, "I suppose you want to go to your friend's house now, dontcha?"  She asked, concealing her concern.  "It's fine by me, as long as you stay safe...   I'll call Saria and let her know that you have my permission."  You step off the last step and your mom 'caught' you and gave you a hug.
    "Try calling or at least texting me a bit more this time, huh?  Mothers worry about their sons, even when they're coming along as fine men..."  You hugged her back but rolled your eyes and groaned softly when she said that; prompting her to let go, reluctantly.
    "I'll call now, you can go ahead and pack some things...  Take clean underwear this time!"  You hurry upstairs and throw a few things together into your satchel, including the wooden sword, which proved too big.  Hesitantly, you return it to the display rack, but paused. 
    You feel strangely vulnerable without it, and remember your mom did ask to be safe, so you grabbed it off the rack and carried it in your hands on your way out.

    Carrying the satchel strapped around your shoulder and the sword in your left hand, you descended the stairs again, and again almost ran into your mother at the bottom.  She was just closing her GameGirl and announced that you had permission, "Saria says you should go to the shop at the mall to meet up.  You can wait with Krystal until she closes up and accompany her home from there.  Sound good?" She finished.
    You nodd an exaggerated 'yes' with your head.
    "I can drop you off, if you'd like, but first-" she said coolly, but then with extra exaggeration, "Yer gonna have lunch with mah-me!" and smiled.  You roll your eyes, but smile genuinely.

    She drove you downtown in relative silence, found a small deli and decided lunch would be quick enough - sandwiches, and a chit-chat about your training.  You entered together and waited in line behind a tall, young, tan girl dressed in black, with long red hair.  She got her sandwich and sat in the corner booth in the back of the small dining area.
    "What'll it be, kiddo?"  Your mom asked.  You look at the displayed sandwich ingredients behind a sneeze guard and asked for roast beef, with cheddar cheese, cucumber, tomato, and pepperoncinis, on focaccia bread, and your mom ordered a Swiss-cheese and mushroom club sandwich. 
    She ordered two sodas and followed you to a seat.

    The girl in the corner seemed to be watching you, but you try to ignore her as you sit down facing away from her, several booths away. 
    As she sat down across from you, your mom engaged before sitting all the way down, "So!  I bet you don't even remember Impa and Zelda, do you?  After almost all your life, I'm shocked that you've run into that girl again.  It seems like a lifetime ago we were all celebrating at the ranch...!"  She stopped abruptly, expression suddenly ashen, and took a bite of her sandwich and chewed it up before regaining composure. 
    You shrug.

    After swallowing, she pestered you some, "What do you mean?  If you remembered them, I know I'd be surprised but nevermind that...!   I want to know all about your training!  I see you brought along your training sword...   you must really enjoy it.  I bet you're eager to show off to your girlfriends arent you?" 
    You choked and gagged a little on your sandwich, embarrassed and frustrated.
    You coughed, she told you to chew your food better, as if she wasn't teasing at all.
    "So spill the beans already, kiddo!  What have you been doing with Impa's training?  I'm shocked she'd even elect to train you at all!"  She said, unable to veil either her elation for your experience or her concern for what the implications could be. 
    "well..." You started, feeling for your sword for reassurance.

    The girl in the corner got up and made a move for the restroom.  Passing right by you on the way, she seemed to deliberately bump into you, but acted like nothing happened or she didn't notice.  How rude, you thought. 
    You pulled your hand away from the hilt laying against the booth and continued, "She keeps the training equipment in a closet with a mirrored door, on a wall full of mirrors..."  You said, thinking more about the Shadow Wolfos than the training Impa imparted on you. 
    You didn't realize you'd trailed off and started focusing on your thoughts, absentmindedly.
    "Mirrors.  That's interesting," Your mom broke your daze several seconds later, "probably to better assist you with coordination, huh?"  You try to stay focused on the conversation, but "Yeah." was all you could accomplish. 
    Your mother smiled at you generously.
    "Impa showed me how to hold and swing the sword without hurting my hand..." You explained without enthusiasm.  Your mom held up a hand, wiping her mouth with a napkin, "Hold that thought, I'll be in and out of the ladies' room in no time." 
    You were somewhat glad for the interruption, as she'd just given you a chance to plan your words better. 
    As she got up, you quietly sighed with relief for the pause, reaching down for the hilt again.

    As she entered the restroom, the teenage girl exited.  You watch the doors while thinking about the fight with the Shadow Wolfos and what NOT to say about it.  You planned your conversation around that, since it was the most exciting, but mentally edited the details to make it sound less supernatural and more like a sparring match with Impa.
    The redhead walked casually past the tables toward you, staring at you.  You feel unnerved, but let it go.  She stares directly into your eyes and seemed to trip and stumble as she passes your booth, then got up and ran out the deli.

    As promised, her bathroom break was swift and brief, but you watched the girl run out, through the deli window, and notice she is holding...  Some kind of...  Wooden... Sword?! 
    You feel for your hilt and find it missing, jump out of your seat, and chase after her! 
    "Link what's going on???" Your mom called out, but you were fretting the loss of your weapon - perhaps more than you needed to, not thinking you'd get it easily replaced from Impa's collection. 
    Somehow, you felt for sure, this one was special.

    "Link!!!"  But it was too late, you were on the street, tailing the long haired tan girl who nabbed your sword.  She ran fast, but you seemed to be able to keep up with her, so you just followed, a quarter of a block behind her at all times.  She turned right at the corner, you followed before she was halfway to the next block.  She turned left at the next, you tailed her.
    You maintained this pace of chase for five or six erratic blocks before she made a left and ran straight past 3 blocks.  She was heading straight for the skate park. 
    Maybe this is that ninja I'd seen before? You silently wondered to yourself, as you try to pick up the pace.  But even as you did, she seemed to have the same idea, and picked up her speed and began outrunning you, now half a block ahead and gaining distance!

    You were both across from the park, running parallel to it, and she cut across the sparse traffic, into the park.  Goron Link was on the opposite end and seemed to instinctively notice everything, right now, as his attention shifted to this chase.  He saw you tailing a well known thief but remained nonchalant, and continued his patrol. 
    You try to wave him down, but he didn't seem to notice you at all.  The girl curved back a little and ran toward the bridge, you shouted 'hey!' and 'aah!' as well as other wordless protests, and Goron Link's attention finally came into your plight. 
    Goron Link turned around and rolled, amazingly fast, right to her, beside her, in front of her, blocking her path.

    Too far from them yet to hear, you can see they exchanged words and faced off a moment, then she became increasingly indignant as you got closer. 
    "Hey! what's your problem, Link?!" as you were finally closing in on her.  You were shocked to hear your name, forgetting the Goron had the same. 
    "We had a deal!  You leave me alone as long as I bring you rupees!  Once I pawn this sword off, I'll have everything you want!  Get out of my way!!" 
    Goron Link grumbled, "I don't think I like you stealing from my friends, though." 
    Her eyes and nostrils flared, "Him?!" Then she turned to you, "You little punk!"  And charged, prepared to strike you with your own sword!
    You flinch. 
    She lunged.  Leaping high overhead and flipping acrobatically behind you, you hear her land and take off again before unflinching.  Goron Link grumbled in a shout, even as his hand came down heavy on your shoulder, "Go get her, Kid!", suggesting you don't move in spite of his words.

    The thief appeared to dash ahead faster at Goron Link's 'encouragement', while the Goron explained this situation in eloquence.  "Don't worry kid." he said.
    "She only has a couple hiding places, I'll help you get yer sword backNabooru won't try hocking your sword if she thinks you might catch her in the act, so let ol' Link help you out."  You listen and nod. 
    "So!  If you show up at one of her hidey holes and she's there, she's sure to catch you and take off.  She's quick, kid, tricky and stealthy too!  She can get in and out of her safehouses without making a sound or ever being seen.  But I know her tricks."  He winked, "Its part of our deal, I dont mess with her, I let her steal things, and generally leave her alone, as long as she keeps me informed of the workings of her clan, and how she pulls it all off...    AND rupees.  That's the important thing, in my case.  ... But this time, it seems you benefit from the info I can give you.  I DO pride myself in keeping current with all the info.  I've sold her some news for rupees before too, kid."

    Goron Link explains that this thief girl has 3 spots near downtown that she would be right now.  He says you only had a day, two if you're lucky, before she'd come out and find the nearest shop to pawn off the sword. 
    "But how does she get the rupees?" You asked, knowing that no shops exchanged anything but paper money. 
    Goron Link laughed heartily.
    "Those yellow tuxedos are cunning types, they are." Goron Link explained, "They'll sell rupees to the right buyers, and that Nabooru girl sure knows how to milk 'em!  If they knew she was feeding them to me, however, they'd probably take her head to a pike!"
    He laughed some more.

    The first spot, the closest hideout to the grassy skate park, was just across the river.  Goron Link claimed she wouldnt be there on account of the fact he saw her take off in the other direction, but encouraged you to check it out anyways, if you thought you could get across town before the day's end. 
    The best bet, Goron Link claimed, was that she'd be in the slums northwest of here.  It was a bit longer of a walk, but still much closer than the one Goron Link said was all the way up in the north end of town, outside the upper class apartments and condos where the Yellow Tuxedo Mafia operated.

    You turned to take off on your retrieval mission when you were suddenly scared that you'd have no chance of getting the sword back without a weapon.  You took no more than 2 steps and froze. 
    Goron Link sensed this uneasiness and stepped up beside you. 
    "Kid...  don't sweat it.  Ya can't go alone, I guess I'm an old softie, or too hungry to think straight, but there's also somethin' about you that compels me to help ya out..." He then smiled, followed by, "If that's alright with you?"

    You smile and nod, "Yeah."  Quietly answering.  Goron Link smiled wider and introduced his potential, "Well then!  You ought to know what I can do!  I've got more strength than any Hylian around, and can lift up very heavy objects for you if it ever comes in handy that I do so.  In a pinch, I can throw a heavy punch as well!  As far as speed is concerned, however, unless I'm rolling around, I'll have to keep up with you somehow - I just ask that you don't go taking off on me and leaving me in your dust...  Even though I'm sure I can roll faster than you can run...  heh..."  He laughs quietly at the thought.  "I'm not too partial to any weapons, but I know how to use Bombflowers and bombs, and any generally heavy weaponry like Biggoron's knife or the Legendary Goron Hero's Hammer.  Otherwise, if you can't help me to anything else, my fists will do just fine.  I don't generally carry much, so don't expect me to haul your gear either!  If I had a backpack, I wouldn't complain, but my people have disappeared some time ago - I don't know where you'd find me one anyways, but now I'm rambling...!   You need to catch up with Nabooru!  Let me take the lead, and I'll show you straight there...   and..."  He started off without regard.  "I apologize, I lied, I know she's in the mafia territory safe house - its her safest hideout, and she probably thinks I'm out to get her now...  I just wanted you to get familiar with her hangouts, for your own sake.  This will save you...  Will save us, time, if we just go straight to her."

    You give him a sarcastic look but nod and allow him to lead the way, following him uptown past the library and beyond some high class condominiums.  The walk was incredibly slow. He could probably run as fast as you crawl!  The day was bleeding out faster than your travel time, and while you worried she might take off with your gear, you were confident that Goron Link was correct and she would wait till tomorrow.
    Around the corner, hanging a right, and walking ever slowly down the curvy street, you both encounter a much-less urbanized neighborhood, tucked away in Hyrule's northeastern corner.
    More forestry, less buildings, and a man-made river parallel to the street on the right, the sun nearly starting to come into contact with the horizon.  The two of you pass the last house on the end of a curved neighborhood before forestry hillside made construction too expensive, and the man made river left no room on the opposite side of the street for structures.  The road felt isolated and secluded as it would around the hill for a quarter mile before winding the other direction.
    At a dirt clearing in the wooded scenery on your left, at about the apex of the last curve, before transitioning to the next, Goron Link sits down and curls up like a rock.  You approach and hear his deep and muffled voice, but barely make out 'I'm tired' out of some 6 more words than that.  So you lean against him and take rest as well, but not a moment after you settle down do you spy an outcropping of large rocks. 
    You try to lift one but fail to do more than roll it aside.  So you go ahead and roll it right up to your companion and reach down to tap his barely exposed shoulder.

    He sounded weary, but friendly never the less. "I said I need a rest from that long walk, kid...  I haven't been eating right, you know?  What do you need?" He says, peeking his head out enough to be heard better.
    You point to the rock you rolled up beside him, and his expression became much more joyous.  "There's rocks out here??  HAH! I shoulda known Nabooru'd have had a stash somewhere!  Her hideout is just down a concealed path 'round here after all...  Was this all, or...?"  He looked around and spotted the outcropping of six other rocks and a boulder.  "Yee-haw!!  Nevermind rest! I'll get all the energy I need from that one boulder!!"  He immediately approached and punched it into smaller bite-sized fragments and began eating them, sending fragments of pebbles and a couple rupees out in all directions.

    No more than a few to five minutes later and he was pumping his arms and squatting happily.  "That'll do, kid.  Go ahead and keep those crumbs!  Go ahead and take the candy! Hah!" He was enthusiastic "I get so much more energy from the stone than I ever could from even those golden rupees!  Let's go.  But I'll have to warn you, she has traps lain out near her hideout.  It's inside a huge and hollowed out tree stump.  She's dug under it and made a cozy home for herself here and my bet is the sword will be down there, even if she's not.  But if she's around, we wont see that sword if she sees us first.  That means: Don't set off any traps!"

    You nod and follow the Goron past a couple trees on a well trodden path, and then lose sight of him almost instantly, as he takes a step off the beaten path and through some loosely hanging vines.  "This way." He says, as he steps through.  You follow to the same spot and find the vines easily enough.
   As you step through, he starts up again, "There are definitely some tripwires around here.  I only know that she's dug some pits and set up a few ankle traps, but she's crafty, there could be anything.  I can't possibly step over all of them, I'm much too cumbersome and I'll probably just hinder your progress or give you away all together.  I'll wait here at the entrance to her trail.  If you set off any traps, she will have to run past me to get out.  I'll try to stop her, but I've never been able to catch her before, so don't get your hopes up.  All I've got is the element of surprise, but I expect she'd expect me to be here too if she finds that you are."  He hunkered back down.  "Just try not to set off traps.  If we have to follow her to her next hideout, it will take all day to walk there, and I don't think you could keep up with my rolling."

    He points down the path and you follow the way, keeping your eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary.
    You don't make it far before you spot something suspicious along the path.  You make extra precautions to step over the vine-fashioned trip wire, and stop just past it when you see that the path is littered with them.

    You stop and build up courage, this looks like an obstacle course of trip-vines, but knowing Goron Link's warning, you wouldn't dare treat it as such a course for fear of opening up a pit, catching an upside down ride into a tree by ankle, or triggering any sort of spike or projectile automation!

    The urge to run through passes quickly and you begin gently tip-toeing over and around the vines for the best part of a quarter mile into the forest.  At several points, the path split off one direction or another, and there were several small and one large tempting clearings to explore, but you remain focused on the paths riddled with traps.  At the end of the trap littered path, you come to a suspicious clearing which doesn't inspire the relief you were expecting.  The trip wires are all gone, but a strange statue stands solitary beside a huge and tall tree trunk.

    This device, as it turns out, is made of a strange combination of wood and tarnished metal, with the vague appearance of an armored soldier.  It appears to be made of metal bones and wooden armor, but leaves you uncertain of approach with the gentle white glow around its eyes.
    You decide it best to find another way past.  Its back is to the tree stump and there is enough room to get around, but a frontal approach, your gut tells you, will trigger some kind of defense.  You can only assume the worst, and look for any other side paths leading into this clearing.  You can see on the opposite end, behind the stump and wooden warrior, two other openings that show trails into the woods beyond, and hope to find your way to them by backtracking.

    After clearing the tripwire vines again, you find your way back to the large tempting clearing and find that it is riddled with side paths as well.   None of these appear to be trapped upon your first glance, but after you walk a few paces into each, you find the last one, in fact, is marked with the tripwire vines.  You decide this is the certain path to lead around back of the stump and follow it.
    It's a long and enduring path with at least three times as many vine tripwires, and to your genuine relief the few you did trip over were nothing more than naturally occurring vines, but finally after the better part of the evening, you make your way behind the tree stump.  The solitary wood and metal machination appears to have moved to the opposite side of the stump, but otherwise remains facing away from you.
    Your nerves surge for a moment.
    You take a deep breath and silently tiptoe toward the statue.  Standing right behind it, you slink around the tree stump and make your way in.  The wooden warrior does not move.  Relieved, you descend a flight of stairs into darkness.

    As you make your way down, you see a faint dim glow ahead, around a corner, at the end of this pitch black narrow corridor, and hasten to it.  Snoring alerts you as you round the corner, and you freeze.  Almost immediately, you can see your sword down this hall and across the room on the opposite wall.
    But resting between you and it, is the thief girl you've come to recognize s Nabooru.
    You can only see her shoulder and long red hair falling over it, her face turned toward the wall.  Her bed in a small corner niche in the small corridor-like room.  Her stash, including your training sword, is heaped up against the wall at the far end of the corridor.

    You take a slow and quiet deep breath, tip toe up to the entrance of the room and get a clear view of her bed directly on your right, and a small deeper alcove on the left that sports a kitchenette complete with grill and mini-fridge. 
    For a fleeting moment, you wonder where she gets her electricity.
    She stirs loudly and violently, and your heart stops a moment while observing her kitchen.  All but completely frozen, you peer over your back and see she remains asleep, her head still turned away from you and her kitchen.
    You almost sigh with relief, but immediately consider the noisy consequences, and simply draw a slow and deep breath then, slowly and silently, exhale. 

    You notice a barred door between the kitchen and a couch that sections off the room between you and her stash, but pass it without curiosity, focusing only on retrieving your sword.
    She seems to have collected several other weapons, but the elegant wooden training is all you're taking.  As you reach down and grab it, you spot something intimately familiar and immediately pat yourself down.
    Your Gameboy was also missing!  When did she take that??  How?!  You grab it without considering any answers and turn around after safely returning it to your satchel.
    Nabooru is still lying in bed, she's stirred again and is facing toward the exit now.

    You take another deep and slow breath, and as quickly as you can, tiptoe out.  You ponder some more about the electricity source as you pass the humming fridge backed up against the wall beside the corridor's end and near-about have a heart attack when a loud 'secret sound' plays from within your satchel!
    "HUH?! WHAT?!"  Nabooru shouts.
    You freeze for a split second, then decide to make a getaway and run out as fast as you can.  You hear Nabooru behind you mumbling something about a stupid girl then start to snore again.  You slow down to take a peek.
    She is sitting on her bed, upright, but her head bowed, evidently still asleep, and you waste no time in taking your leave, tripping on the first step up in the darkness.

    You finally exit the tree stump, and feel like you've moved to another dimension, as the dimming sunlight from the evening twilight extinguishes completely to reveal starry darkness, all in the short time you were inside Nabooru's hideout.  The stars are bright this far from the city lights, and the distraction proves to cost you.  No longer alert on your exit, you failed to notice the patrolling wooden warrior coming straight at you!

    Its eyes are still glowing the same until it appears to notice you.  It nears you as the eyes then turn yellow and you hear a faint, annoying, buzzing sound coming from deep within the tree stump, clearly much louder in there, sure to have alerted Nabooru.  You try to move around the machine, but it precisely follows you, just watching and blocking your path.  Shortly into your attempts to sidestep it, the eyes turn red, and it retrieves a large mallet from behind its back. 
    You struggle, but quickly loosen your sword from its scabbard just in time to hear Nabooru from behind calling ironically out at you.
    "Thief!  Give me back my stash and I'll call off my Bronze Knuckle!"
    She is clearly still waking up as she stumbles out and rubs her eyes groggily.  You try again to make it around the machination, however you are just as foiled as at first, but this time it swings it's huge mallet at you, narrowly missing as you roll aside, and strikes the ground with a heavy reverberating thud.
    "You!!  How'd you find this place?!  That Goron!  Link and I are going to have a falling out over this!!!"  She leaps up top her tree stump and seems to fiddle with a device while the Bronze Knuckle pursues you and raises the mallet for another strike.
    You dodge it again, this time rolling around behind it, then make a snap decision between flight or fight and strike with your sword into the back of the mediocre machine.  It shakes about and clanks at the strike, but shows no signs of damage.  Slowly, it turns around to face you for another strike, this time swinging the mallet horizontally and landing clean on your unprotected back.

    "OWUGH!" You cry out as you roll with the impact back to your feet.  You sorely regret not taking a shield with you from Impa's arsenal.
    You have managed to come completely around back to the tree stump.  "I'll give you one last chance you little punk.  Nobody steals from Nabooru!  No one!  You give back that nice and fancy looking wooden sword and I'll let you go back and tell Link that our deal is as good as dead."  She calls down from behind you.  You turn to look up at her and see that she is still holding what looks like a control pad.
    A swift cunning idea causes you to nod your head almost unconsciously.  She hops down, as if it was just as simply down 3 steps, from atop her tall tree stump and approaches you.  You jump into action and cut at the remote in her hands, breaking it on the ground.
    "TWERP!"  She rages, and proves that she is not unarmed, producing 2 real sabres from behind.  "You don't know what you've done!"  She takes a ferocious guarded stance.

    You brace yourself, prepared for her to attack you.
    The Bronze Knuckle chirps and whines, then sounds 2 incredibly loud alarm blasts, before shedding its wooden armor.  "I'll deal with you later. Dont run, I'll find you even if you do!"  She says then rushes at the machine, swords first.
    It's traded the mallet from both hands to one hand and seems to have gained speed.  Nabooru struggles to stay behind it as she blocks and deflects blows from the mallet.  You hesitate, but decide it would be best to assist her with deactivating her malfunctioning security machine.  You run up beside her and face it off.  She looks quizzically at you for a brief moment, then ducks around behind the machine as it struggles to pick a target.
    She is almost successful before it decides to follow her, and just as she reaches up for its back it turns and lowers its elbow, catching her arm in a pinch between elbow and torso.  You run into action and strike at it's backside again.  You notice with its armor gone that there is a small lever on its back and try to reach for it as it spins back around, letting go of Nabooru, and crashing into you.
    You bounce off of it, luckily unharmed.

    "There's no way to stop it unless we can flip that switch.  That was quick thinking, kid, but even if you do that, don't think I'm about to forgive you!!"  She calls out, immediately making her third attempt at it.  The machine proves to be a lot better maintained without its armor than you thought it was before, and it spins around incredibly fast, back and forth between you and Nabooru, stepping away from both of you all the while.
    Nabooru moves in first, and you dare not hesitate to fall behind, so you take the machine's left side while she assaults it from the right.  It swings its hammer from her to you, she ducks under, and you jump aside.  You've put a little too much distance between you and it, but it doesn't seem to matter as it spins completely around its torso back to Nabooru and you again.  She has no choice but to retreat from it, and you are both approximately the same distance from it.

    The Bronze Knuckle again backs from you both and tries to pick a target.
    "Its automation is real buggy, but I know it's good for 2 targets.  It always picks the first to move or attack, but there's a catch, it's designed to make every attack an attempt at all available targets, so unless you're fast as lightning, this thing is going to be a pain to shut off alone, even with someone to help."
    You nod, and wait for it to move, but get orders instead, "We need to stay directly across from each other and keep it in the middle.  We're not going to make much ground, but we've got to get in close, little by little, until we're so close that it's attacking.  It will spin and spin, and that's where it gets hard.  If I can jam its torso with a sword, we will be able to get to the switch easily.  GOT IT?"  You nod again then run around it until Nabooru is directly across from you, and the Bronze Knuckle is in between.

    She steps in, you follow her lead.  Every step she takes, you take one too.  You both make it 3 paces in before the torso starts twitching back and forth, half way between each of you.  three more steps, and it swings at her, then follows through at you, maintaining a constant spin-attack, but you are both just outside of its range.  She stops advancing, you stop as well, and the machine keeps attacking and spinning.
    You catch her gaze and she nods at you with intent.  Showtime.  She rushes in, swords first, as the next attack misses her and follows through toward you.  The mallet swings past you and you rush in as well, just as she jabs her sabres into the thighs of the machine.

    But instead of halting it entirely like she expected, she only got one sword in.  It was able to cut its mobility in half, but it reverses course and swings back toward you, instead, clocking you in the head and knocking you to the ground.  You're slightly dazed but not out of the fight.  You're hurt badly, but you get up anyways, huffing and wheezing at the ground.
    "Look out kid!!!" She calls at you.
    The machine raises the mallet high and you barely step aside in time to dodge the strike.  The ground shakes at your feet, the mallet mere inches from you, and you slowly hurry away, stumbling and gripping your back with your equipped left hand and your head with your empty right.

    You go hide behind the tree stump and lean against it, confused and in pain.
    "Hey, kid!  If you're going to chicken out back there, gimme back that sword!"  You hear Nabooru call out.  You hear a gruff and familiar voice respond unintelligibly, or maybe your head is more damaged than you thought.
    While you're clearing your head, you hear what sounds like an argument and then you realize Goron Link has entered the clearing.  He must have figured you had set off a trap when the Bronze Knuckle sounded off its alarm.  There's a loud crashing sound, and you start making out a change in the argument from concern to anger.

    "I was going to just shut that thing off, Link!!!  You didn't have to trash it!!  You've ruined me tonight!  You've ruined me!!!  How dare you?!"  Goron Link started to grumble a response, but she cut him off and just kept yelling at him.  You round the stump to catch sight of the argument. 
    "And that punk kid!  What the heck?!  Why would you even care if I acquired something off him??  What's it matter to you?  You would have gotten your rupees, but now, it's off.  No deal!!  What are you going to do without me now, huh??"  She was furious and pulled her sword out from the robot's hip and turned to wave it in Goron Link's face. "What gives you the right to interfere?!"
    "You know I won't let you steal from our friends-"  he started, but she interrupted him, "OUR?!?  I don't even KNOW this kid!!" He gave her a moment, to be sure she was done yelling before replying, "I have only known the little guy for a week or so myself, and I would have told you the next time we met up, but you stole his sword before I could say anything.  I can make it up to you, you know..."
    Her expression grew more fierce and she scoffed, "HOW?!?  All you're good for is protecting the park and eavesdropping!"  Goron Link grinned.  "Well..."  He started, looking over to you, and winking, "You know how you're always wanting new recruits?"  She immediately cut in, "Oh, just stop right there!  I am NOT training some kid I don't even know!  He isn't even old enough to join the Thieves Guild anyways!  NOT going to happen!!"

    Goron Link's grin only grew, "But I know something about this kid that makes him much more valuable than you can guess.  If you've ever trusted me before, now is the time to test that trust!  Forgive him and let him have his sword.  Forgive me and I'll let you in on what Impa sees in him."

    The tan redheaded Nabooru went pale in that moment and her eyes sparkled with excited anticipation, yet she looked as if she had just met her death.  "I don't believe you."  She said, shakily.  Goron Link closed his eyes knowingly, "That's where he got the sword.  You'd never steal from Impa, would you?  Taking this sword from him is the same as taking it from her.  I'll keep quiet about this if you maintain our deal.  Impa doesn't have to know."
    She grunted with frustration, groaned and moaned angrily, then looked over at you.  her hard gaze softened affectionately,  "Maybe if he were a bit older..."  She mumbled.  Caught herself, she forced herself to be cross again.  "UGH! Fine!  I can't take the sword knowing it came from her...  What's his association with her, then?"
    Goron Link shrugged, "Kind of the same as yours, except the little girl is somehow involved.  To be completely honest, that is all I know:  She's training the boy."  Nabooru laughed spitefully "Ha! what a trick, Link! I get nothing from this!" She growled and went on, addressing you.  "Well kid, if you ever get as good as me, that'll be the day I consider you for the Guild!  Until then, I EXPECT you to help me rebuild my Bronze Knuckle."  She yanked her other sword out and pointed it at you accusingly.  "IN FACT, after what our friend has done to it, I expect you both to help me UPGRADE it to at least an Iron Knuckle or better!  Now get out of here you punk!" She turned to Goron Link, "I'll bring you a list of parts for a Steel Knuckle, Link.  Now... Tell me the kid's name before I change my mind about forgiving you."

    Goron Link laughed deep and heavily.  "His name is also Link."
    Nabooru looked dizzy and then sat down in the grass.  She stared at you, disbelieving, as she spoke to Goron Link, "But he looks Hylian..."
    "Yup."  Goron Link rumbled joyously.s
    She shakes her head and slowly braces herself to stand up.

    As you and Goron Link start to leave, Nabooru grabs your shoulder firmly.  Startled, you turn to catch her grinning down at you.  "I know more than you would think...  You're a really perceptive kid, you know that?  You were the only one out of everyone, including the adults, who even saw me stealing Cuccos...  But that was almost ten years ago, so I wouldn't expect you to recall... Except, it seems you've only gotten keener since then."  She looked to the sky for a moment then continued, slowly returning her eyes upon you as she spoke, "By the way, you should apologize to your girlfriend and explain to her why you're not showing up tonight."  She winked, then added, "I'm glad you got that annoying Gameboy back, she wouldn't stop texting you!"

    You flipped it open and checked your messages.   8 from Krystal, and 3 from mom.  You're in trouble now!

    "Come on, kid.  Let's get back out to the park.  It's getting late, and ol' Link needs to get some rest.  You got anywhere to go?"  Goron Link asks you, as he turns to leave the glade.  You check your messages from mom and respond to the newest one,
    >on the way home, someone stole my phone and training sword, just got them back<
then turn and nod at Goron Link's back as he's already down the path.
    You take a step as a hand on your shoulder grabs your attention once more, "Go on, kid.  I'll find out more about you later, and here, a copy of the list of parts for my upgraded Knuckle unit.  I expect you two will get to work at fixing this mess you've both made."  Nabooru doesnt even look at you, just holds the list against your shoulder and watches Goron Link depart.  You look up at her and half nod, not sure if she even noticed.
    You notice how much taller she is than you, however.

    Goron Link moves slowly enough that you catch up to him less than a quarter of the way back to the street.  You walk silently beside him and he seems to ignore you for the majority of the short path back.  As the exit comes into view, he stops and sits beside the remains of his rocks from earlier.
    He grabs a larger stone, but before he bites into it he stares at you.
    "You're a profound Hylian, do you know that?" He says and takes a bite.  Muffled, mouth full, he continues, "You're quiet as a stone, but you clearly notice things that most others don't." He swallows loudly, "You're already involved with Impa and you're still a kid!  She must be preparing you for something big." And takes another bite, talking again without waiting to swallow, "Just like the girl, you're an important piece of the puzzle she's been sorting out for so many years now.  She thinks that I will be an important assistant to this equation as well, but only hinted at my involvement.  Says I'll find my family by helping the lost hero."

    As luck should have it, or maybe divine providence willed it so, Goron Link's social network came through this night to save your legs the agony of walking 5 miles home.  The moment you stepped onto the street from the woods, a car pulled up beside the trailhead.  Stepping out of the driver's door was the beautiful, elegant, self-reliant, redheaded, graceful Marin.
    Evidently it was luck or providence because she did not realize anyone would be here, and her shock was tripled by familiar faces.
    "Link?!?" She stared at you as if you were unreal.  The passenger door closed, alerting you to the presence of another girl.  Goron Link stepped out of the forest as the younger girl rounded the car.
    Marin did a double take, "Link?!?" She said again, this time at the Goron.  Goron Link was just as surprised and made low noises, but no words.  Marin just stared, unable to speak when the little girl grabbed her hand, training her consciousness back to the moment.  "You know them, lady?"

    Marin's jean overalls were well worn and had faded spots where holes wanted to open.  One strap was loose and dangled freely, the chest was dark and oily, but the legs were only partially stained with motor oil.  Her face looked recently cleaned, but the tips of her red hair were blackened with grease.  Her hair was long and in a high pony tail, draped over her shoulder.

    She shook her head and laughed quietly. "Yeah, i know them both.  The kid is my little sister's friend, and the Goron is supposed to be at the park!" she said to the little girl, but loud enough for all to hear, then directed her words to Goron Link, "Link, what are you doing away from the park, the racers could jump in at any time!  Roll back right away, will you?!"  Her concern pouring out of her voice suggested something, but you couldn't sense what.  Only that it had less to do with the park feed and more to do with the racers.  The little girl tugged at her hand again, "does this mean we're not gonna buy anything?"
    Marin smiled softly down at the child, "Nabooru will help us any time. It can wait if it must."
    "So you're here to do business? I wasn't aware you knew Nabooru.  What is your involvement here?" Goron Link inquired.
    Before she could answer, the little girl became agitated,  "Marin, Marin! can you introduce me?"

    Goron Link initiated the girl's request for her, "Well hello little girl, what's your name?".  She grew shy and hid behind Marin.
    She looked to be your age but a little younger, had short blond hair, and luminous green eyes.  She wore a dirty white sundress with opaque black, albeit dirt stained, stockings and cute tan sandals. Her cheeks were ever so slightly rouge as her blushing faded.

    Marin took the cue, "It's okay Ilia, you don't need to be shy. These are my friends, the Goron and Hylian named Link." She said, comforting the girl, then looked up at Goron Link, "Link, Link, this is Ilia.  I just met her this afternoon while closing up the shop.  She has lost her parents and does not know where they are."
    Ilia peeked out and looked you in the eye. she smiled and shyly said 'hi' quietly, before hiding her face behind Marin again.  

    "She and her friend have been living outside for a month now.  She told me that a crazy homeless scientist with his baby have fed them and cared for them, but he has it rough enough as it is, taking care of that baby.  Long story short, I am putting Ilia up tonight... and tomorrow, I am going to find her friend Agatha, and the professor.  They're gonna stay in my garage, not the street!!"  She spoke with dignity and authority.  She was very much like her sister and mother.  Proud, confident, determined, capable.

    "But you need to get out of here Link. Go back to the park and protect it!  I can take Link home from here...  Just tell me one thing..."  Marin pressed, "What is this kid doing all the way out here at this hour?  He isn't homeless, this isn't a joke.  You can't just go off like this, with a kid who has a mother and a place to stay!"  She was very stern, but her demeanor was never angry or firm, but gentle and relaxed.
    Goron Link shrugged "Kid's sword was stolen.  Take a look at it and tell me you don't recognize it."
    Ilia got excited "Sword???" and peeked out.  She watched you draw it, and her excitement grew more and more as the wooden blade was revealed.  You hold the sword up for Marin to inspect, and she takes a close look at it, turning it over from side to side, inspecting the tip, and then as if it just came to her and she'd merely forgotten, she looked at the base of the hilt.
    You hadn't even noticed the triforce carving there, but she seemed to know what to look for.  It was such a subtle indentation and emboss that it would be easily overlooked if you didnt know it was there.
    She handed you the sword back, "I havent seen this thing in over ten years! Impa's training him now, huh? Wait, stolen?! Nabooru might be a thief, but she is not dishonorable!"
    Goron Link shook his head and closed his eyes "Nabooru didn't even know what she had.  She wasn't part of that meeting, remember?  It wasn't until after she'd reported to me about what she learned there that she got involved.  Impa trained her with a different sword though, so she couldn't have known."

    Marin laughed "Impa's training." and shook her head, "Normal people can't handle that. I remember when she tried to train me... I think I hurt myself with that sword more than I ever hurt any targets!"  She sighed, "I was headstrong and thought I could help save the world, but I learned to recognize my place quickly. Sometimes the world just isn't enough. Sometimes, you gotta do what you feel is right for you, and ignore the rest of the world..."
    Ilia yawned big and long.
    "Come on, Link, I'll drive you to home..."

    Your GameBoy played the 'secret sound' and you checked it for a message from mom.
    <where r you?? r u ok? COME HOME RIGHT NOW!>
    >Marin's giving me a ride, on my way<  You type...
    ... and sent.

    Ilia climbs in the back seat behind Marin, and you approach the passenger's door.  "Do you still live down on the outskirts on the way to the Lake?" She asked you.  You got in and nodded to her, closing your eyes, suddenly aware of how exhausted you are.

    When you opened them again, Marin was opening your door and reaching in to shake you awake. As he hand rests upon you, you turn to look her in the eye, "Oh, good, you're awake. We're here.  Hope your 10 minute nap was enough to carry yourself in the house!  I'd love to stay and chat, but I've got a lot on my plate since this afternoon..."
    Your mom was rushing to the car before Marin was back into the driver's seat.  You closed the passenger's door and accepted the rushing worried embrace that your mother was bringing.
    She grasped you fiercely, and sank down to your level, kneeling and holding you tight.  "You're grounded." she said with a sob, as Marin's car drove off.

Dedicated to:
King of Hyrule Williams

Awaiting inspiration for Saria's disappointment!

Next up:

Sleepover with a kidnapping!

First Dungeon Run!!!

Forest Temple Ruins - Dungeon 2 -  }(O){

Hyrulean Hystoria

Dungeon Training 0.250

Dungeon 3

<3 Random Acts of Kindness <3

Growing Up: Teenager Link; harder game... In Dungeon 4 (13)

Reputation Training 0.375

more to come...



Zelda, Ganondorf Dragmire, Link, The Triforce, and all applicable names, people, places, and things belong to their respective owners at Nintendo.
All artwork, pictures, and photographs were found on the internet, and i can claim no ownership or credit for them.  they're just there to make the page look nicer, and i hope they are well appreciated by both the audience and their creators and/or owners.

Mind, wisdom, intelligence, Spirit.

All I'm doing is telling the greatest Hylian story never told. 

Heart, courage, emotion, soul.
This is just... a piece of my heart.

Body, power, control, will.
Come back every week, I might have written something more!