Well. That’s that. Thanks for reading!
This story clocked in at 129,360 words, or at least that’s how many words I wrote on it since July 2, easily making it the longest thing I’ve ever written, certainly the longest thing I’ve written in one month to this date. Although this epilogue could have been longer, but I ran out of ‘feeling like doing dialogue’ halfway through, even though the dialogue at the beginning was okay. : P Maybe I’ll go rewrite that part later.
Now to do some other projects… to list them, I have:
– 6 pianos arrangements
– A collaborative writing project with Rose, Jenna, Yllamse, and Gaby
– Drawing! Especially art for the games I’m making, and learning how to draw humans in proper perspective, and fanart of whatever I feel like (ZELDAZELDAZELDA)
– Using RPG Maker to make a Fire Emblem game
– Possibly working on my two remaining Fire Emblem 7 novels
– NOT making plans to write a story about the Hero who fought the Shadow Tribe and broke the Fused Shadow at the cost of his own life… darnit…
Link walked into Telma’s bar, Navi at his shoulder, looking around for Shad. The scholar had asked him to come by, as he had a question and a proposition for him. Link wondered if he was finally ready to go on the expeditions he had been talking about for all of twelve months.
Shad wasn’t there yet. But he could see Rauru and Auru off in a corner, arguing about something over their beer. Link stopped by them. “Hello, what’s new?”
“This blasted nuisance won’t admit that there’s more to life than training new knights for the Kingdom,” Rauru complained.
“That’s not what I said!” Auru rejoined. “I said that there’s more to life than meditating all day!”
Link smiled. “There’s more to life than either of those things, although they’re both beneficial.”
“You’ve done much meditating?” Rauru asked doubtfully.
“No,” Navi said.
“Maybe not in the traditional sense. My meditation is sparring, really. But to each his own, right?”
“See, he agrees with me,” Auru said triumphantly. “But speaking of sparring, what did you think of the latest batch of recruits?”
“Some of them show definite potential,” Link said. “But mostly it’s showing me that there are corners in Hyrule that I haven’t visited yet. Maybe we should make it part of screening that they have to bring a picture of their hometown.”
“Look at you, the Captain of the Royal Guard, and already abusing your power,” Navi teased.
Auru smiled, and then humphed. “I still don’t think you should make your tunic ensemble into the official uniform.”
Link shrugged. “I have it on good authority that it’s an older Knight’s uniform than Hyrule itself, and it’s comfortable. But maybe once they rank up to full Knight, we can let the soldiers decide if they’d rather wear full armour. I don’t have anything against it.”
“You’re too agreeable,” Rauru told him. “What does Princess Zelda think?”
“She’s… a bit distracted right now,” Link said, and grinned. “Oh, there’s Shad. I’ll talk to you two later.”
Shad had arrived with Ashei. “Ah! Link! Good to see you. Glad you’re here.”
“Shad! Ashei!” Navi cried in greeting, and Ashei waved at her.
“Sorry we’re late,” Ashei said. “He couldn’t find one of his silly papers.”
“It’s not silly! Ah, can we get a table?”
They sat down at one of Telma’s round cafe tables, and Telma came to coo over them and take their drink order. When she had gone, Link turned to them. “So, what did you want to speak to me about?”
“One moment,” Shad said, digging in his satchel. “I need to organize a few things.”
Ashei turned to him, leaning on her elbows. “Well, I can give you my news while he’s getting ready. Although I thought he did this before he came. Anyway, I was up Snowpeak again last week. The mountain is quite mild. The glacier is cold, but not unseasonably so…”
“How are Yeto and Yeta?” Link asked. “Are they ready for Rana and me to visit?”
“They’re good! Yeto’s been pulling down trees in the valley and turning them into planks, ready for you. It’s very nice of you to go up and help repair their house on your summer break from the castle. You could go anywhere in Hyrule.”
“Well, I… felt bad for all the destruction that I wrought there last year, and there hasn’t really been time to go up and put it right until now, what with everything happening all at once.”
“Is Rana excited?”
“She’s very excited. She thinks they’re the most adorable people. Although she does think a lot of people are adorable.” Link leaned forward and told Ashei in a stage whisper: “She even thinks you two are adorable!”
Ashei turned bright red. “W-what? I don’t know anything about that. As if!”
Link laughed as Shad came up from his bag, pushing his glasses up his nose. “What?” asked the scholar. “Did something happen?”
Link was still grinning. “No, nothing. Don’t worry about it. Ashei is just easy to tease, is all.”
Shad frowned. “I don’t find it easy to tease her. I’m not sure what you mean. But anyway… here is what I have. I’ve been looking at the Skycannon for the last six months, as you know, and the cannon experts agree that it’s permanently damaged. There’s no way for us to fix it without further knowledge, probably forgotten magic. So there will be no visits to the Sky’s Loft any time soon.”
“That’s too bad,” Navi said. “It was pretty up there.”
“However, I have decided that an appropriate alternative study at this time is the Temple of Time. You gave me the Dominion Rod, and I am curious about the sealed portion of the Temple. …I was wondering if you would take me there, some weekend?”
“The weekend coming up is the long weekend,” Link said. “How long are you planning to stay there?”
“I’ll be guarding him,” Ashei said. “So you don’t have to stick around when you have work to do. But we’ve never been to that part of the Forest, so we’d need your help to get there.”
“Well… sure. I have to seal the Master Sword, anyway.”
“You’re going to seal it?” Shad asked, his eyes wide. “But what if you need it again?”
“Then I know where it is. But the Temple of Time is a sacred place. Evil can’t come within the actual walls of the temple, no matter how crumbled they may be. At least, that’s what Zelda told me. So it’s safer there than with me, in general. I’ve borne it overly long, this time.”
Ashei’s eyes moved back and forth in incomprehension, but Shad nodded. “If that is the case, I’m happy to provide you with an extra excuse to go back there. So shall we meet at the castle in three days?”
“Sure. Let’s plan our route from there.”
But before he could say anything, a heavy hand fell on his shoulder, and he jumped.
“You jumped?” Nabooru demanded from behind him. “You’re losing your touch, Hero.”
He smirked up at her. “Well excuse me for not watching my back in a bar full of friends.”
“That’s when you have to watch it the most,” Nabooru told him. “How are you?”
“I’m doing well. Everything is going well. Still busy, working hard…”
“Keeping up with your martial skills, I hope?”
Link rolled his eyes. “That’s about all I do these days. After Zelda put me on the recruitment posters, now everyone and their girlfriend…”
“Especially their girlfriend,” Navi put in.
“…wants to join the Hyrule Army. We don’t need that many soldiers, just enough to have a decent corps. So I’ve been evaluating recruits for the last two months, and training the ones who joined up since last year.”
“I saw one of those posters,” Nabooru said. “It captures your hotness very well.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Is that what they call it.”
Navi snickered. “You are on fire, Hero of Time.”
“Anyway, yes, if you’re in town for the next couple of days, come to the castle and challenge me to a duel. It’ll be good for the recruits to see me fight someone other than Auru and Rana all the time.”
“Will do,” Nabooru said. “I’m just popping in to see how my ambassadors are doing.”
“How are your people?”
“It’s not been a terrible summer,” she admitted. “Lost two horses in a sandstorm a week back, but… it could be a lot worse. So there’s that. The girls seem generally content with this lifestyle, and the ones who aren’t… well, they can always go live with a Hyrulean man, so it’s all the same to me. Anyway, I’d better go say hello to Telma, or she’ll kick my butt. See you around, Hero.”
Link raised his glass to her.
A couple days later, he walked through the castle gate, nodding cheerfully to the guards there, and heading around back to the barracks, where the recruits would be waiting for him to drill them. It was strange, having students. He wasn’t sure if he was tough enough on them. But then, Auru was there to be tough on them. They had a decent partnership going on. Auru whipped them into some semblance of shape and scolded them for getting it wrong, and he fine-tuned everything and praised them for getting it right. The funny thing was, the recruits seemed to love them both equally.
Except this morning, there was a Zora waiting at the entrance to the parade ground.
“Hey, Shoza!” Navi squeaked.
“What brings you here?” Link asked.
Shoza ducked his head. “I have, uh, a wedding invitation for you. And Rana. And for Zelda, but I came here first ’cause I know you better.”
Link smiled as he took it. “You’re finally getting married?”
“Yup! It’s awesome!”
“Congratulations! Now tell me, who proposed, you or Ruto?”
“Of course. …That’s why…” He tapped the Zora’s Sapphire, hanging at his throat.
“Oh, I didn’t even notice,” Link said. “I’m blind today.”
“Is that so?” Auru asked. “Then you won’t mind me…”
“No,” Link said, reaching up and grabbing the wooden practice sword that Auru was going to swing at him, without looking. “I’ll just be a minute, Auru.”
“You go on with your friend,” Auru said. “I’ll deal with the soldiers today.”
“Go on! Go have lunch with the Princess, or whatever it is you do when a Zora prince comes to visit.”
Shoza’s black eyes widened. “Oh yeah. I’m going to be a prince!”
“You didn’t think about that?” Navi’s wings halted momentarily, incredulously.
“Er… no! No, man! I forgot all about that. Kind of because sometimes I forget Ruto is a princess.”
“She can have that effect,” Link teased, leading them back towards the castle.
“No, dude, I mean, she’s… she’s a woman. A wonderful, strong woman.”
“I know, I’m just teasing. Do you want to go give Zelda’s to her?”
“Yeah, do you know where she’s at?”
“I have a pretty good idea.”
Link led them in one of the side doors of the castle, up two flights of stairs, and ended up in a hall that was mostly curtains and doors. There was only one guard around, and he pointed to one of the rooms. Link nodded to him, took a deep breath, and shouted “Zelda!”
“Busy!” he heard from one of the rooms. It sounded strangely muffled
“You’re always busy!” he called back. He beckoned to Shoza. “Come on, let’s surprise her.”
He tiptoed into the room the guard had indicated, and saw something moving behind one of the curtains. He took three quick strides forward and tackled it.
There were two startled noises, and Franz appeared first from behind the curtain, red-faced and dishevelled. Zelda emerged after him, smoothing down her bodice and her hair hurriedly. Navi began giggling, and wouldn’t stop.
Link crossed his arms. “Okay, you two.”
“Oh, shut up,” Zelda said, moving over to the desk by the window. “Like we never caught you and Rana doing that, Captain.”
Link grinned incorrigibly. “Well, in this case, I have an official responsibility.” He waved Shoza forward.
Franz had gone to the door. “Jakob, you’re supposed to warn us when people are coming!”
“Sir Link gets special dispensation,” Jakob said calmly from the hallway. The Prince and his guard had stayed in Hyrule, both as Labrynna’s ambassadors, and also because Franz was completely smitten with Zelda. In the months that followed, she began to return his affections. No official word had come from Labrynna yet, but that was mostly because Franz hadn’t sent any sort of official word. Yet.
Shoza handed Zelda her invitation. “Ruto and I are getting married in two months, and it would be an honour to have you and Prince Franz attend.”
She looked up at him, and then began searching through her paperwork for her personal calendar. “It would be our pleasure! Congratulations! Franz, we’ll be going to Ruto and Shoza’s wedding, all right?”
“Yes, dearest,” said Franz, perching on the edge of the desk. “Um… what should I wear for that?”
“Normal human dress clothes,” Zelda told him. “Zoras are not big on ceremony, and they certainly aren’t going to force humans to wear Zora ceremonial clothing. Although…” She stared at Franz thoughtfully, getting a pink tinge on her cheeks.
Franz blushed. “I’m not going naked!”
“Not naked!” Shoza was quick to say. “I know we are most of the time, by your standards, but we dress up at least to the waist for ceremonies.”
“Oh, oh good.”
There was a tap on the window, and Zelda turned and opened it, letting Rana and Naeri slip inside. “I guess it’s a good thing you interrupted after all, Link.”
“Huh?” Rana looked around at them, confused. “What did I miss?”
“Nothing important with these two,” Link said, jerking his thumb at Franz and Zelda, and putting an arm around Rana. “Shoza’s getting married!”
“No wayyy! Actually, I was expecting that. But hey! Congratulations!” Rana gave Shoza a big hug. “And hey, at least you’ll be able to actually have babies with her.”
Rana turned to him. “We’re going, right?”
“We are so going,” Navi told her.
“We’re all going,” Link said, taking in the whole group. “Hey, Rana, are you free tomorrow?”
“Shad wants to go see the Temple of Time, so I’m taking him and Ashei down there tomorrow. Did you want to come with?”
“Sure, we can see Saria on the way. And maybe you can see your Ordon friends after!”
“May we come?” Zelda asked. “We can delegate our duties for one weekend. I’d like to see the Temple, too.”
“Sure,” Link said. “I’m sure Shad will love the opportunity to talk all your ears off.”
“All right. I’ll let Ilia know.”
Ilia had moved to the castle a couple months after all the excitement the previous year, and Zelda had taken it upon herself to train her as Ordon’s representative at court. Bo had been so proud he cried, when he first saw Ilia in her new silk gown. At first she had been extremely shy and out of her depth, but her good sense and her spunk soon won through, and she could hold her own in most debates. A couple of the nobles disliked her, but as she was officially Zelda’s secretary, there wasn’t much they could do about it.
Link didn’t like those nobles either. Sometimes it was very hard to not rub in their powdered faces that he was the Captain of the Royal Knights and the Hero of Time and so he could do whatever he wanted without regard to them.
“Hey, Shoza,” Navi spoke up. “Have you really seen the castle?”
“Link, Rana, you should take him on a tour of the castle. Since Zelda is ‘busy’ and all, and it wouldn’t be proper for the future Prince of the Zoras to be wandering around alone.”
Rana bounced on her toes. “You wanna do that, Shoza?”
The next day, eight humans and two fairies set out on horseback from the castle. Link and Shad were in front, followed by Rana and Ashei. Zelda and Franz trailed slightly behind, and Jakob and Impa brought up the rear. Shoza had gone with them part of the way on foot, but then turned east to visit Kakariko. He was inviting Renado and Luda, and Darunia and Goron Link, in gratitude for their help. He had also asked Ilia and Telma while he was in the capital.
Darbus was still chieftain of the Gorons, from the last Link had heard, and Darunia was free to devote his time to raising his son. Link wondered how long it took Gorons to grow to adulthood.
The group made good time across Hyrule Field, and only briefly paused at Lon Lon Ranch to greet Malon and her family. She had a tiny red-headed daughter, only a month old, which meant she couldn’t fuss over the travelers to the extent she normally did. Alan smiled quietly in the background and wished them well. Talon and Ingo were actually working hard, although all Talon wanted to talk about was his perfect little granddaughter, of course.
Evening was drawing on as they came to Ordon Village. Rana went to give Bo greetings from his daughter, and the rest of them managed to find places to sleep around the village.
In the morning, they were swarmed with children – children far taller than before, children even more energetic and playful. Beth was wearing a dress that Ilia had sent her, a properly girly dress of the kind she had always wanted. She worked in her parents’ store, but still scolded Talo for his improprieties whenever she could.
Talo – whenever he wasn’t helping in his mother’s garden – was dressing up in green and waving sticks at Colin, who was not dressing up in green, but actively waving sticks back. But Colin, they were told, also liked fishing, and was a capable baby-sitter for his little sister, who was toddling around everywhere she could.
Malo was managing his store in Kakariko long-distance, and was still entertaining hopes of opening a branch in Hyrule Castle Town. He was almost there, and was properly flabbergasted when Zelda promptly gave him a donation that made it possible.
Rusl was still the town warrior, and Fado was still the goatherd. Uli patiently supported her husband and son, and watched over her daughter with a care that put a strange look in Rana’s eye.
They only stayed an hour to see everyone before they were off, riding to the Kokiri Forest, where Saria joined them. She sat with Rana on Falone, chattering away.
Link considered Epona. Although he could no longer talk to his horse, she still seemed more sympathetic and responsive than before, and he was making more of an effort to listen to her unspoken messages.
Midna had taken the Wolf Stone with her when she left, at least, he thought she did. He hoped it was a good souvenir. He still missed the Twili Princess, and although they never really talked about her, he knew the others did too. He hoped she was doing well.
Saria told them that Demon had been staying with the Kokiri for a while, but he had vanished again, and Tatl and Tael with them. She found him hard to read, and he creeped out the other children, but she thought he wasn’t bad. Which was encouraging. Although Link regretted he hadn’t visited Kokiri Forest more in the last few months, as he might have seen Demon more often.
When they arrived at the Temple, Zelda and Shad expressed shock. They still remembered how it had stood proudly to one side of the Castle Town square, back before the world had been changed. But Shad’s dismay quickly turned to enthusiasm, even more so when Zelda played the Song of Time on the Ocarina of Time and revealed the entrance to the sealed chambers from the past.
Link and the others watched Shad, for a while. Ashei stayed glued to his side, obviously tense and expecting trouble. But Shad, oblivious, gradually won her over by the sheer blind enthusiasm he displayed for every little thing he discovered.
They spent the night at the Temple, and in the morning, the others began to head back.
Link waited until he was alone, the last one left – besides Shad and Ashei, who were deep in the sealed chambers – and took the Master Sword in his hand. He went to the back room of the Temple, looking around at the trees that had grown through the walls, the sunlight filtering down into the room, and stood at the little plinth that the Master Sword rested in. Taking the sword in both hands, he gently placed it back in its slot on the top of the plinth.
There was a gleam, a brief flash of light – and then the Master Sword was back home, exactly where he had taken from it a year before. It was sealed away again, and no evil would touch it, not until some invader threatened all of Hyrule, and some new Hero would venture there and take it in hand to fight for all that was peaceful and right.
The others had made it to the edge of the forest by the time he caught up with them again. He looked out at Hyrule Field, feeling his heart rise. There was something in him that was always restless, always thirsting for adventure. He loved the Castle, he loved the Forest, but his heart was always on the move, and he knew he would be that way for the rest of his life.
He didn’t mind.
“I’ll race you home,” Rana said, and together they sped out across Hyrule Field, the others trailing behind them and their fairies laughing in their wake.