The Legend of Zelda: The Alternate Link

Chapter 32: Story Time

The street was deserted when they walked into town. From what the guards had told them though, Link had not been anticipating anything less. The double doors shut behind them with a slam, leaving Link with the unwelcome feeling of being trapped.

They walked on, suddenly conscious of the noises their footfalls made. Link left Epona at the stables even though there didn't seem to be anyone there. 'I'll check on her later,' he promised himself as he left his beloved mare and joined Kid and Tetra back on the street.

"Where to?" Kid asked, keeping his voice hushed so as not to call unwanted attention to themselves.

Link removed the Master Sword from its sheath and held it out in front of him. It pulsed strongly. Moving it to the left a little caused the reaction to die down, so he directed it slightly towards the right. The sword glowed brighter, and he could practically feel it buzzing in his grip.

"That way," Link declared nodding in the direction that the sword indicated. The trio hurried over to a side street, their footsteps seeming much too loud on the worn cobblestones. As they drew close to the corner, they stopped. Tetra pressed her back against the wall of a building and inched forward, peering around the bend. Her moves were natural, so automatic in a way that made Link believe she did things like this daily.

For all he knew, she did. Maybe that was why they didn't want to talk about the future. Part of him wanted to know and part of him didn't. He was eager to discover what kind of world his descendant lived in. Yet at the same time, he didn't want to hear how terrible it may be. However, Link was glad to know that he and Kid really were related.

For most of his life he didn't have a family. Rusl told him once that he was taken in by the entire village when he was two. Of course, Link had no memory of this and had, especially when he was younger, interrogated everyone on the identities of his parents and what had happened to them. He never got a direct answer from anyone. Whether they knew or not, he could never figure it out. Eventually he gave up on it, realizing that it was a mystery that would probably never be solved. Sometimes he did wonder what it would have been like, growing up with actual parents instead of the entire village posing as his adoptive family.

Now it was different. While Kid wasn't his sibling, Link was still elated to find out that they had the same blood running through their veins, even if they lived centuries apart. It was sort of weird thinking that Kid was technically his however-many-greats grandson since they were only a few years apart in age now.

Link shook himself out of his thoughts just in time to see Tetra sidle away from the corner and turn to them, holding up two fingers.

'Two guards?' Link wondered silently. Kid looked around the corner, taking a little longer than Tetra had. When he retreated, he had a look of annoyance on his face, which was something Link didn't see much from him.

Deciding to take a look, Link peered around the side of the building. Two guards were at the very end of the street, sitting on crates and…eating what Link supposed to be an early lunch. He raised his eyebrows as if to say, 'Really?' By the looks of it, they had just started. This could take a while. Seeing the food made Link conscious of how hungry he actually was. Inwardly sighing, Link drew back from the corner. Going around the other side was not an option, and walking around wouldn't get them anywhere, except maybe caught by a different patrol.

Turning back to his companions, Link saw that they had sat down, leaning against the building. They were obviously prepared for a wait, however, Link noticed that neither of them completely dropped their guard. Once again, Link's thoughts turned to the future. His curiosity demanded answers to all of his questions. Was the country larger than it currently was? Prosperous? Filled to the brim with new inventions he wouldn't be able to wrap his mind around? Or was it the opposite? War wrought and desolate? He was only sure of one thing about the future. It was nothing like it was now. If it was then Kid and Tetra wouldn't mind sharing.

The more his mind wandered, the more he tried to force it onto another topic. By the way Kid and Tetra acted, he could conclude that the future of Hyrule was most likely bad. How bad exactly, he couldn't decide. Was it mildly bad? End of the world bad?

Link glanced at both children out of the corner of his eye. They acted more mature than he would expect. Most would be fidgeting with boredom by now, wanting to say something to break the silence. However, they remained still, embracing the silence as taking the time to reflect on things just like he was.

Tetra's blank-eyed gaze began to worry him though. She'd had the same look in her eye earlier. He couldn't pin it down as a specific emotion. Her other facial features remained neutral. It was only her eyes that held emotion, and he couldn't decipher what it was. Sure, she'd taken a small hit to the head, but it hadn't even left a mark. The potions took a while to work, and of course they didn't heal everything, but they did a good enough job speeding up the process.

Link began to wonder if they should have rested more. Maybe she wouldn't be so aloof right now if he'd suggested they stay in Hyrule Field a little longer. Yet, he wasn't even sure rest was the problem. She didn't seem to be very tired. Briefly, he wondered if she was scared, but then discarded the notion. What was there for her to possibly be scared of? Okay, so a duo of villains were after her for unknown reasons. That was something to worry about, but he would protect her. He wouldn't let them touch her, or Kid, for that matter.

He tried to think of what else could be the problem. Perhaps Tetra was mad that their secret had been revealed? Link had problems with this theory though. Tetra certainly wasn't the quiet type. If she was mad, he was sure she'd let you know as loudly as possible. Maybe she wasn't exactly mad, but disappointed? Sad that Link and Zelda now knew where they were from? Or sad that she'd have to eventually explain about the future?

Kid tapped Tetra's shoulder, noticing her strange gaze as well. Instead of giving her a concerned look when she jumped a little and turned to him in silent question, Kid simply gave her a reassuring smile. So Kid knew what the issue was? Link suddenly felt left out. Why couldn't he know too? Was it obvious, and Link was blind, or was it a personal thing? Link chose to believe it was the latter, though he couldn't fathom the reason why anything personal would be bothering her now since the Temple of Din had been pretty personal, and she hadn't acted like this then.

Ten uneventful minutes later, Link took another glance around the corner. He watched as the guards stood up and walked out of the side street, turning to the right when they got on the main market road. Silently praising the goddesses, he gestured for Kid and Tetra to get up. Kid did so instantly, but Tetra didn't which caused the young boy to grab his friend by her right arm and pull her to her feet, snapping her out of her daze. Now alert, all three of them stole quietly down the side street with Link in the lead, holding the sword out in front of him as if it were a leash and the other end was fastened to the collar of an invisible dog showing them where to go.

It led them to the last place Link would have guessed. Agitha's house or Castle, as the owner called it.

"Why here?" Kid whispered, staring at the front door of the house in doubt. Link simply shrugged, sliding the Master Sword into its sheath. If it pointed at Agitha's house then who were they to doubt it? Though he had to admit it seemed unlikely that the self-proclaimed Princess of Insects could help them in any way at this point.

Nevertheless, he rapped twice on the door, wincing as the noise seemed to echo around the empty street. Almost immediately the door was flung wide open by the bouncy girl, as if it was a perfectly normal day and the residents of Hyrule Castle Town weren't confined indefinitely to their homes due to monsters prowling beyond the gates.

"Hi, Grasshopper!" Agitha chirped, her face beaming as she sized up the group of people on her doorstep. "Lil Grasshopper, you're here too! And you brought your friend!" The ecstatic girl's voice seemed much too loud for the circumstances, and Link was sure that the entire town could hear her.

"Hi, Agitha. May we come in?" Link quickly greeted her, hoping she'd provide them with safety from the soldiers nearby that no doubt had to have heard her excited cry.

"Oh yes! Of course! Come in!" Agitha exclaimed, ushering them in and closing the door behind them.

"So what brings you here?" Agitha wondered, skipping ahead and whirling around to face them.

'A sword,' Link wanted to say, but knew that that would not be an appropriate answer. He opened his mouth to answer her seriously, but Fi suddenly materialized out of the sword on his back, beating him to it.

"Ooh a butterfly!" came Agitha's elated cry as she clasped her hands together in excitement, gazing up at the sword spirit in awe. Link thought he preferred the eccentric reaction instead of the normal panicked one that any other person would have.

"Master, I detect that the aura I collected was that of the tree in the middle of this abode. I suggest hitting it with a Skyward Strike," Fi reported before disappearing in a flash of light.

"What is a Skyward Strike?" Link asked aloud.

"It's a sword technique," Kid informed him, "She taught me how to do it."

After a brief explanation from Kid about how to execute the move, Link unsheathed the Master Sword and raised it towards the sky. Even though he'd been told to expect it, he was still surprised to see a spark of light appear on the tip of the blade and dance its way down to the hilt. The sword then flashed, becoming encased in a strange glow.

Link lowered the sword. His eyes lingered on the glowing blade for a few seconds before he performed a horizontal slice on the empty air in front of him, directing it towards the tree in the middle of the ostentatious room. The streak of lavender that escaped the blade startled him. It struck the tree's trunk, instantly knocking loose any bugs that were clinging to its bare branches.

Instead of damaging the tree like he'd expected, the light spread like a wild fire, passing over every inch of the giant tree. Link nearly dropped the sword in shock when a face began to form in the thick bark.

Fi didn't give them much time to take in the sight, for she appeared once again and stated, "Master, a message from the goddess has awakened in my memory. It is written in the language of the gods of old. Allow me to translate it for you." With this, the humanoid sword spirit took a step forward in the air.

"Chosen ones, I have guided you here from the edge of time to inform you that both of your homes are in danger of collapsing. I apologize for everything. In fact, I've not the words to express my regret. Even as I record this message for you, I wish that this did not have to be. However, I, as well as my chosen hero have been cursed for eternity. Our souls are bound to a predetermined fate that we can do little to alter. There is no way to break free, so we must fight."

Here Fi paused, leaping across the room and starting to dance as she relayed the message, "My reason for bringing you here is to prevent foreseen disaster. Be warned, it's an attempt, not a promise. Both worlds could collapse, or only one could be unfortunate. My wish is that neither has to suffer a cruel fate, or a crueler fate than it has already been dealt.

While I don't know you personally, I suppose that two of you are me in a way. You have my blood running through your veins. The blood of the goddess. The very soul. Yet, that doesn't give you the memories of being Hylia. You won't remember, but he does. He is the one that poses a threat to your worlds. He is the one that you must destroy for good. We could never do it, my hero and I. He proved much too powerful. His Master was the one that forced him into his dormant form where he'd remained until now, waiting, watching, planning for the day the seal would weaken enough, so he could break out. Now he has, and he has a plan. He may be a sword spirit, but don't underestimate him because of it.

I don't know the details of his plan, but from what I do know about him, I have devised a strategy of my own that will hopefully prove powerful enough to demolish any scheme he creates. That is why I have brought you all together. Before, the spirit of the hero and the blood of the goddess was not enough to defeat him, but I figured that if I doubled it, doubled the courageous spirit, doubled the divine blood, that there would be enough power to defeat him permanently.

Setting up the temples was a way of testing you. Testing your individual abilities as well as your teamwork, which will most certainly be needed if this plan is to succeed. Since you have come this far, I am confident that you shall prevail over the darkness. I have faith in you."

Fi twirled closer to her original position, "Master, after analyzing this new information in conjunction to previous data, I can conclude that the goddess Hylia has arranged this course of events for the purpose of defeating the Demon Lord, Ghirahim." With those words, the sword spirit flipped gracefully into the air and took up residence in the Master Sword once again.

Link's mind was racing. None of it made sense. Alright,some of it made sense. He understood how the temples were a test and that Hyrule was in danger because of some evil sword spirit that suddenly broke free, but he could not understand why the goddess had said "worlds". Kid and Tetra were from the future, but it was technically the same world as it was now no matter what had befallen it.

Kid seemed to feel the same way and asked no one in particular, "What's with the 'two worlds' talk? Aren't we still in the same world, just at a different time?"

His response came from the tree which Link couldn't help but stare at as it gave a hearty laugh. "Ah, child," it spoke, "You are not from this world, but rather from a world that runs parallel to this one."

"Who are you exactly?" Link questioned the tree while Kid mulled over the response he'd received.

"I am the Great Deku Tree," the face protruding from the bark announced, "I imagine I was awakened to provide an explanation to possible misunderstandings, though I did not have prior knowledge of the goddess's plan nor of this meeting."

"What do you mean by 'a world that runs parallel to this one'?" Kid asked, recovering enough to formulate a question.

The Great Deku Tree seemed to contemplate how to best answer the inquiry before speaking, "There is only one way to thoroughly answer your question and that is with the story of the Hero of Time."

"We already know that story," Tetra said indignantly.

"Do you? Amuse me then. Tell it to me, word for word. Don't leave out a single detail," the Great Deku Tree instructed.

Tetra was taken aback by his request but began to speak after a second or two, "Well…there isn't much to tell-" The Great Deku Tree abruptly cut her off with a laugh. Tetra glowered at him. Putting her hands on her hips, she demanded, "What's so funny?"

"Isn't much to tell?" the Great Deku Tree chuckled. "Child, thereis much to tell! The Hero of Time's tale is a long one. So long even I have trouble condensing it! Though I'm curious to hear how the story withstood the sands of time, I feel that it's vital that you know the true story."

"But he was just a boy that traveled through time. A hero, who cast down evil and saved the land," Tetra argued, "What more do we need to know?"

"If you wish to understand how both worlds came to be, then you need to know the details of the hero's tale. Allow me to tell you the full story, for there is much more to it than you think. Sit children, this may take some time to explain," the forest deity ordered them. Link and his companions made themselves comfortable on the floor. Even Agitha sat down. Link was shocked that the girl was so calm and collected! He knew Agitha to be rather eccentric and lost in her own world at times, but this was different. She paid close attention to the talking tree, choosing to remain in respective silence instead of making conversation like she normally did. It was almost as if the bug princess regarded the tree as her king.

"The boy that eventually became the Hero of Time was named Link. He was born at an unfortunate time, during the Hyrulean Civil War. In an attempt to spare him of the violence, his mother fled to Kokiri Forest, which was, at one time, just beyond the Lost Woods. By whatever miracle, she made it into my meadow. Gravely injured as she was, she entrusted the child to me and passed away soon after.

I took the boy in, as was his mother's dying wish, and he was raised as a Kokiri. Are you familiar with this race?" The Great Deku Tree paused in telling the tale to allow them to respond.

"No," Link replied.

"I've heard the name before," Kid admitted, "But I don't know much about what they were. They looked human, I think, right?"

"Yes, they appear to be Hylian children, and yet that is not what they are. They are spirits of the forest and are ageless. Children that never age if you will. Because of this, a Kokiri can be alive for centuries and never look a day past ten years. Each Kokiri also has a guardian fairy for the duration of their lives.

Since Link was raised as a Kokiri, and he was really a Hylian, there were obviously things that set him apart from the rest. He did not have a fairy like the others and believed that he would forever be a child just like those around him.

Sometime in his tenth year, a curse was placed on me by a wicked sorcerer named Ganondorf. I summoned Link by sending a fairy, Navi, to fetch him. Even though I knew my death was certain, I asked him to destroy the curse within me. After he did so, I bestowed upon him the Kokiri Emerald and instructed him to seek out the Princess of Destiny, so they could work together to put a stop to Ganondorf.

I did die, but I was born again as the Deku Tree Sprout, retaining all of my previous memories which is how I am able to recall this even now. The Hero of Time returned to me after his adventures were over and explained to me how he'd collected the other spiritual stones, one of fire, and one of water, and entered the Temple of Time using the Ocarina of Time, an instrument the princess had given him as she was fleeing the castle with her nursemaid. He then told me that he'd pulled the Master Sword out of the pedestal of time and was put into a deep slumber that lasted seven years.

When he awoke, he found himself to have the body of a seventeen year old, but his mind was that of his ten year old self. The Kingdom of Hyrule had been taken over by Ganondorf and his followers while he'd been unconscious. The Hero of Time then set out to awaken all of the sages, guided by a mysterious Sheikah who turned out to be the Princess of Hyrule in disguise. Side by side, the two defeated Ganondorf, and the seven sages sealed away the Gerudo King.

Princess Zelda then took the Ocarina of Time from the hero and sent him back seven years, so he could relive the childhood he'd lost. Though well intentioned, the action caused a rift in time. This rift created two separate versions of the same world. As time cannot stop, or rightfully run backwards, in both worlds time continued to flow.

Think of the timeline as a river. From the beginning of time, to the point where the Hero of Time is born, the river runs a straight path. When the Hero of Time was later forced into a seven year sleep the river continued on its linear trail. However, when the Princess of Hyrule sent him back in time this caused the river to split, creating two separate rivers. The Hero of Time could not split himself into two people, and so he only traveled down one of these rivers.

When the Hero of Time was sent back, his fairy companion, Navi, who I mentioned earlier, left. He went in search of her but never did find her. I knew the reason for this but never told him, knowing that he'd be heart-broken. You see, once a fairy has completed its purpose, it disappears. In a sense, it is a way of dying for the fairies. Navi's purpose was to guide the hero on his adventure, and while they did become friends during that time, friendship is not a factor in the ultimate fate of a fairy. It could not tie her to life. Navi knew this and left, so he did not have to stand the pain of watching her disappear.

This was not the only thing that bothered the Hero of Time, for he remembered every ordeal he'd gone through before. In particular, he recalled the moment when Princess Zelda had sent him back to his childhood. While he was grateful to her for it, he was also wracked with guilt. Soon after he'd returned, he'd realized just what he had done in agreeing to let the princess send him back. He'd created a world separate from his own where Ganondorf was sealed away. A universe where the King of Evil would someday break free, and this time, there would be no one to stop him. In short, he had created a world only to doom it, and its people, to an eternity of darkness."

"What?!" Link exclaimed, "That's terrible! If he was the Hero of Time, couldn't he have just went back there and fixed everything?"

"No," the Great Deku Tree rumbled sadly. "The Temple of Time was sealed off shortly after his return and he could no longer travel in time the way he did before. It mattered little anyway, for the other world was no longer the same as this one. It was a separate timeline altogether and he could not travel into another timeline even with the aid of the Master Sword.

So you see? There was no time travel that occurred, just skipping of timelines. How you managed that is most likely the work of the goddess."

It was silent as everyone took this information in. Link almost couldn't believe the words his ears were hearing. Was the Great Deku Tree correct? Was the other world, Kid's and Tetra's world, really shrouded in darkness, ruled by…Ganondorf? Yet, it couldn't be true. Not completely anyway. If it really was that terrible then why would they wish to return so badly?

As if to confirm Link's last thought, Tetra suddenly blurted out, "So how do we get home?"

"I do not know the answer to that," the Great Deku Tree replied.

Tetra jumped up from her seat on the floor in outrage. "What do you mean you don't know?! You're supposed to know! That's what the riddle said!"

"Riddle? What riddle, child?" the Great Deku Tree asked.

"The one that the goddess left for us," Tetra said, her hands balled into fists at her sides, "The one that says,

'Search for your counterparts; one of courage; one of wisdom,

And reach deep into the light.

Reawaken the servant who dreams,

Then enter the castle within,

And bless an ancient life with light.

A path shall be opened.

Only then may you have the means of returning home.'"

"Wait a minute, that's not the first line," Link objected, standing up also.

Tetra sighed, "Okay, so I might have tweaked the first line a bit, but it means the same thing."

"But what's with the counterpart stuff? That's definitely not talking about your friends," Link pointed out.

"I believe I can provide the answer to that," the Great Deku Tree interrupted them, "Since both worlds exist parallel to each other, time flows the same way. One day here, is one day there."

"So we've really been gone for over a week?!" Kid exclaimed, on his feet now as well.

"Yes," the Great Deku Tree said, "However, let us concentrate on one topic at a time, shall we? Now then, for the sake of eliminating confusion we'll refer to this world as the original and the other one as the alternate world. People in the original world have counterparts in the alternate world. For example, you Link, I assume your name is Link, correct?"

Link nodded in confirmation and the forest deity continued his explanation. "You possess the spirit of the hero according to what I gathered from the goddess's message." Addressing Kid now he said, "I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that your name is Link as well, isn't it?" At Kid's nod, he continued, "You also possess the spirit of the hero. So you see, in essence, you two are exactly the same, but that does not make you the same person. In mind and body, you are both very different. Different life experiences have shaped you both into completely separate people."

"So you're saying that he," Link pointed at Kid, "and I are different versions of the same person?"

"Exactly," the Great Deku Tree confirmed. Link and Kid exchanged an uncertain glance. Link didn't know how to feel about this information. It meant that he and Kid were related, but they weren't family. They were the same person in a way. He supposed it made sense as to why he felt compelled to protect Kid then. Technically, he was protecting himself which, as he reflected on it, seemed selfish. He quickly reminded himself that he was protecting Tetra too, but the reason for this continued to elude him. Could it just be because Tetra was Kid's friend or was there more to it? He felt as if he knew the answer, but he couldn't quite formulate it in his mind at the moment.

"So if Link is the original Link then I guess that makes you the alternate Link," Tetra joked, poking Kid in the side to snap him out of the unannounced staring contest he and Link had been having.

"Hey! That's just an assumption! I could be the original and he's the alternate one!" Kid returned. The two bickered over this for a minute before concluding that it didn't really matter and dropped the topic.

"So does that mean everyone in this world has a counterpart in the other?" Link wondered.

"Though I can't be certain, I would expect that the answer is both yes and no depending on what you consider to be a true counterpart," the Great Deku Tree said, "If a person is born here and is not born in the alternate realm, then that would mean they don't have a counterpart. Yet, if a person is born here and there and one of them happens to die along the way, then yes, that person technically had a counterpart at some point in time. Then there comes your case which seems to be that you do indeed have a counterpart, but you were born at separate times. So yes, you do have a counterpart but for a few years of your life you did not have one."

"So how about my sister, Aryll? Link doesn't have any siblings, so does she not have a counterpart?" Kid spoke up.

"Most likely she does have one, but her counterpart is not directly related to your counterpart. You must understand that your life is not the same as your counterpart's. It is most likely very different. Of course, that is not to say it can't be similar. Take this as an example. A rich man here could be a poor man in your world. However, they could both be equally miserable, for different reasons of course. Understand?"

"Yeah, I guess," Kid responded, staring at the floor in thought before snapping his head up to look at the Great Deku Tree. "But what about you? I know you have a counterpart because I've spoken with him before, but he's much bigger and lives in a wooded area. Why do you live in a house?"

"Ah, interesting. So you've crossed paths with my counterpart," the Great Deku Tree mused. "I suppose there's no harm in answering your question, but first answer one of my own. Do my little children of the forest exist in your world?"

Kid smiled and nodded, "Yes, they do. They're not exactly Kokiri anymore though. They've taken on different forms and are known as Koroks now. They all live with your counterpart at Forest Haven."

"Forest Haven….A nice name for a home,” rumbled the Great Deku Tree, “I would imagine it's as beautiful as the name. Well, thank you. I'm glad to know that my children live on in another life, even if they do so in altered forms.

As for me, I've taken up residence in this house because of a particular event that took place many centuries ago when the Hero of Time was still alive. As I'd mentioned before, he was raised as a Kokiri, and even though he knew he was Hylian, he still regarded the forest as his home. A few years after his return, the princess offered him a job as a knight. He leapt at the opportunity and despite being told he could live in the castle, purchased a house in Castle Town.

Meanwhile, Ganondorf's plans had previously been foiled because the Hero of Time and princess had taken action to reveal his true intentions for the King to see. Upon being found guilty Ganondorf was to be executed by the sages. While he was being held in a prison before his execution, the sages had confiscated his sword, which they had then deemed the Sword of Sages just to mock him. The sages made to impale Ganondorf with his own sword, but when they did so it did not kill him. The Triforce of Power kept him alive, and he took back the sword, killing the Sage of Water. In retaliation, the remaining sages forced Ganondorf into the Twilight Realm.

This enraged Ganondorf's tribe, the Gerudo. They were a tribe of tan, golden-eyed, crimson-haired women. A Gerudo male was born only once every one-hundred years, and so he would always be their King. Ganondorf was their King at that time, and as far as they were concerned, the band of thieves and murderers that they were, he had been unrightfully banished to a foreign realm. Even worse, the feat had occurred in their homeland, the Gerudo Desert. As you can imagine, they were furious.

The Gerudo sought revenge, but they knew that no matter how experienced they were at killing, they were no match for the full wrath of Hyrule's army should they challenge the kingdom of Hyrule. Instead of revenge, they endeavored to seek a way to survive until their next king would be born. To do this, they sought eternal youth and the only eternally youthful beings in Hyrule were the Kokiri.

I used to tell my children that if they leave the forest, they'll die. However, this is not entirely true. Kokiri do have the ability to leave the forest without consequence, but when they do, people have access to them. People who may think that they can somehow reap them of their youth and instill it in themselves. In this way, they wouldn't just die. They'd be tortured. Having the mind of children, I didn't want to confess this truth to them, so I made up a half-truth to scare them into staying within the forest.

All of them abided by it, and the Gerudo knew that the Kokiri never ventured past the last grove of trees in the Lost Woods. They also knew that trying to get through the Lost Woods unaided was impossible, so they laid a trap to capture the Kokiri. They never went very far into the Lost Woods, but they went just far enough and began to chop down trees. This captured the attention of the Kokiri. As children of the forest, they can tell when something is amiss in the woods, especially if a life is being harmed.

One of the Kokiri took this bait and was killed by the master thieves. Every Kokiri felt this death and was struck with fear. The Hero of Time caught wind of this as well and rushed over to Kokiri Forest immediately. It was then decided that no other Kokiri would venture out of Kokiri Forest and into the Lost Woods for any reason.

However, this proved to do little to alter the ultimate outcome. Unbeknownst to everyone, the Gerudo had managed to capture a Kokiri the same day that they'd killed one. It took some time, but they eventually managed to force the child to guide them through the Lost Woods. The warriors stormed the forest, throwing everything into chaos. The attack was obviously planned for the Gerudo blocked off every exit into the woods, and even the path that led to my meadow. At the time that this started to occur the Hero of Time was conversing privately with me, talking about moving me and my Kokiri to a place where he could protect us all.

While we were in discussion, screams rang out from the direction of the village. Before the Hero of Time could run out of my meadow, a little Kokiri girl climbed down from the lofty branches of my previous shell. She was the newest and youngest Kokiri, already notorious for climbing trees and playing alone in my meadow instead of with the other children.

She informed us about what was happening in the village. The Hero of Time was powerless to do anything about it. While he had brought a sword, he knew he stood no chance against the entire Gerudo tribe and most of the Kokiri had already been killed or gravely injured.

Though it was hard for me to do so, I requested that the Hero of Time take me and the last Kokiri away from the forest. I was little more than a sprout at the time, so it was fairly easy for the two of them to uproot me. The three of us then cut through dense trees and into Hyrule Field. The Kokiri girl took a bit of convincing until she stepped out of the forest, but once she did, we continued on to Castle Town where Link planted me in the center of his house.

The remaining Kokiri girl took up residence in the house as well and the Hero of Time went to inform the princess of what had just transpired. In response, the princess ordered him to lead a legion of carefully selected soldiers in two days' time for the Gerudo Fortress.

When he informed us of this mission, I advised him against it. I believed in his abilities but…well, to say the least, I had a bad feeling. Nonetheless, he went anyway, pledging to avenge all those that had died. The Hero of Time never did come back.

The remaining Kokiri and I waited patiently in his house for days, weeks, months, until we finally realized that he would not return. Naturally, I was quite upset. My surviving child of the forest was terribly sad as well. She had enjoyed his company in the two days they spent together before he'd left on the mission. She often-times begged me to create another Kokiri for her to play with, so she wasn't alone. Unfortunately, I could not do so. The magic of the forest, with some prompting from me, was the only way to create new life. Since we were no longer in the forest, I could not create another Kokiri.

Returning to the forest now was out of the question. She couldn't carry me by herself and besides that, she hadn't received her fairy just yet. Now that we were out of the forest, she never would, but because she didn't have a fairy, she'd never traversed the Lost Woods, so finding a way back to what was left of Kokiri Forest was unlikely.

We continued to live in the house, but the girl was extremely curious and friendly besides. Weaving a tale like the last one about leaving the house and dying would not deter her from venturing outside. I wanted to protect my last child, but I also wanted her to be happy, so with the last of the magic from the forest I had in me, I locked away some of her memories and instilled new ones, false ones. I figured that if I made her seem eccentric enough, most people wouldn't give her much more than a passing glance. That isn't to say that I wanted her to shun people. I did not take away her friendliness, but I did redirect it towards other beings, bugs in particular. Of course, after this was finished, I went into a deep sleep, but she had already forgotten about me, the Kokiri, and the Hero of Time, so it mattered not."

"You mean…this house used to belong to the Hero of Time?" Kid wondered.

"Yes," the Great Deku Tree replied, "Though, it didn't look quite like this the last time I saw it."

"So the Kokiri girl…that was…is Agitha?" Link asked, looking to the little girl still on the floor.

"Yup!" Agitha answered him herself, standing up proudly, "I remember all of that now."

"So you knew the Hero of Time?" Kid questioned her.

"Yes, I knew him," Agitha said, looking a bit sad as she said so. "He was really nice and like a big brother to me, even if we were only together for a couple days. He always looked sad though, even when he was smiling. The fact that I know he died that way…feeling guilty for something he couldn't control…well it made me wonder if he was even able to pass on. I hope so. I hope he wasn't tied to the living world by his guilt.

In the two short days we knew each other, he told me about a Kokiri that I'd never met. Her name was Saria, and she was his best friend. Then she became the Sage of Forest and he couldn't see her anymore. It was ironic because he told me that when he died, he hoped that she was there to welcome him to whatever comes after. I wonder if she was."

"Hey, wait. He died in battle right?" Link asked.

"Yes, battle with the Gerudo. I am not surprised that they bested him. After all, he'd lost his Triforce of Courage. He said it shattered in the other world and was scattered around there. Even though he didn't have it, he was still courageous, but he didn't have the protection that he did before. The Gerudo were expert assassins, but just like the Kokiri, their race died out," the Great Deku Tree replied.

"I think I met him before," Link stated, memories of his previous adventure coming back to him.

"What? Really?!" Kid exclaimed in surprise.

"When?" Agitha wanted to know.

"It was about a year ago when I was dispelling the twilight. I stumbled upon a golden wolf with a single red eye quite a lot. It always leapt at me, and then I found myself in some kind of foggy place filled with clouds. The wolf turned into a decomposed warrior in armor. He kind of looked like a Stalfos now that I think about it. Anyway, he taught me sword techniques, hidden skills," Link explained.

"And did you see him ever again after he was finished teaching you all the fancy sword moves?" Agitha asked, leaning forward in anticipation.

"No," Link responded and Agitha's eyes shone with excitement.

"This is great! Not great that he really was tied to the world of the living, but great that he helped his successor and was able to move on because of it!" Agitha cried in elation.

Link suddenly realized what the Great Deku Tree had just said. "Hey…if the Triforce of Courage was scattered in the other world, then how do I have it?"

"How did you obtain it?" the Great Deku Tree answered with a question of his own.

"I was born with it," Link stated. This earned him shocked gasps from Kid and Tetra, though he didn't understand why.

"I have no way of confirming this other than by with what you just told me, but the goddesses most likely couldn't let the ancient relic be incomplete. They also couldn't just create a new piece and scatter it for anyone to find, so when the hero was reborn, they placed the new piece inside him," the Great Deku Tree explained.

"But that's so stupid! He didn't do anything to prove that he deserved it!" Tetra exclaimed in annoyance.

"Excuse me? I'm standing right here, and I'm sure whatever I needed to prove, I've done so already," Link countered. What was her problem anyway? Why should she care?

"Sure, now you have, but that doesn't change the fact that you didn't earn it," Tetra snapped back at him, her eyes practically spitting blue fire at him.

"Tetra, it doesn't matter that much, really," Kid cut in, trying to stop the conversation before it got heated.

"How can you not care, Kid! You went through a lot to get that Triforce piece and your counterpart just got it handed to him!" Tetra shouted, redirecting her anger onto Kid.

"Yeah, but that's not his fault," Kid calmly pointed out. Link slowly began to realize the reason for Tetra's hostility. The Great Deku Tree said that the Triforce of Courage belonging to the Hero of Time was scattered in the alternate world, which meant that for Kid to have the Triforce of Courage, he would have had to collect all the pieces.

"So you've been on an adventure before?" Link asked Kid before Tetra had a chance to say anything to start the argument anew.

"Two actually," was Kid's reply, coupled with a shy smile. Link was stunned into silence. Kid had said that he traveled around before, so Link could understand one adventure, but two?! His counterpart was younger than him but arguably more experienced since he'd apparently been on two adventures before this one. This quest would mark Link's second.

"Two…how did you even get dragged into one?" Link wanted to know.

"That's a long story," Kid sighed, "It actually started on my thirteenth birthday, my coming of age…"

"We don't have times for stories right now," Tetra huffed. Link wished she'd be quiet like she was earlier. Kid was finally going to tell him something about his past, which was something Link had been wanting to hear since he'd met him, and now Tetra was stopping him!

"We'll explain that stuff later. What I want to know is how we get home. Suppose we go along with this plan of the goddess's. Will we be sent home once we do what she intended?" Tetra interrogated the Great Deku Tree.

"I apologize, but I do not know. It is possible, but as I said before, your arrival is the work of the goddess, so most likely only the work of the goddess could possibly take you home."

"Well that's useless! So none of this was an accident? It was all planned?" Tetra concluded.

"It seems that way, yes," the Great Deku Tree replied.

"Wait a minute," Link interrupted them. Something didn't quite add up. His mind was still trying to come to terms with the flood of new information, so he couldn't exactly pinpoint it to one thing, but he knew that something didn't make sense. He was sure it had something to do with the goddess's plan. There was a flaw in it, he was sure, but so much was running around his head at the moment that he couldn't quite catch the idea and hold it there long enough to voice it. As everyone was waiting impatiently for him to say something Link quickly finished with, "Even if it was planned, it doesn't matter. The goddess wouldn't go through all that trouble to create an elaborate scheme like this and strand you guys here. There is a way to get you guys home. We'll find it eventually."

"And if we don't?" Tetra challenged him.

"We will. Don't worry about it," Link tried to reassure her.

"Don't worry about it?! Easy for you to say! You're not stranded in another world like we are!" Tetra shot back vehemently. Link was taken aback by her response. He didn't know why, though. It was fair enough since they were, more or less, trapped at the moment.

"Tetra, it's not his fault. You don't have to yell at him," Kid said, trying to keep the peace even though he knew it was futile.

"Oh? So I suppose it's my fault then?" Tetra glowered, crossing her arms over her chest in her usual bossy manner.

"Wha? No! That's not what I'm implying!" Kid exclaimed, attempting to stop Tetra from running away with the idea and getting upset. It didn't work.

"Yes it is! It is my fault. Everything is!" Tetra argued, "Can't you see that yet?" Link became shocked upon seeing tears pooling in her dark blue eyes. He didn't understand why she was blaming herself for something that was obviously not her fault and why she was getting so upset about it.

"Let's just go," Tetra declared, turning around to face the door. Her voice was somehow steady. How long it would stay that way, Link wasn't sure.

He found himself agreeing with her, "Sure, let's get to the castle." Turning back to the Great Deku Tree and Agitha, Link quickly thanked them and followed Kid and Tetra out of the house and back onto the abandoned street.

"Tetra-" Link began.

She abruptly cut him off, "Shut up!" She was facing away from him, so he couldn't see her face, but he suspected that she was still fighting back tears and didn't want him to see.

"You might want to be quieter yourself. We still need to get to the castle undetected," Link reminded her. Tetra did not respond. She simply started walking down the street towards what, on any normal day, would be a bustling market but was now a ghost town of abandoned stalls cradling goods that would probably spoil before they were sold. Link and Kid were left with little choice but to follow.

To Link's relief, Tetra stopped at the end of the street to wait for them. Once they caught up, the three of them carefully peered into the market street. It seemed to be completely devoid of life aside from a stray dog running around chasing its tail.

Link motioned for Kid and Tetra to remain where they were while he took a few cautious steps out of the relative safety of the side street and into the open. He wanted to make sure that the dog wouldn't bark to alert any nearby guards of their presence. However, the animal hadn't even noticed him. It was too absorbed in its self-asserted mission to pay attention to anything else.

Silently hoping that it would stay that way, he gestured for his companions to follow him. They swiftly complied and the three of them stole down the street. Unfortunately for them, a group of soldiers were marching around the corner at that same moment. Link pulled Tetra and Kid behind the closest stall, hoping he'd been fast enough.

Judging by the rhythmic clanking of the soldiers' armor, the patrol's pace never faltered. Barely breathing, the three of them sat with their backs pressed against the wood of the stall, which was home to bundles of colorful flowers, as they waited for the patrol to pass. As the metallic sounds receded, Link dared to peek over the top of their hiding place. The guards had turned into the side street Link, Kid, and Tetra had just come out of not a minute ago. The little tan colored dog was nowhere to be found.

A quiet giggle made Link refocus his attention on his companions. Happily nestled in Kid's lap was the missing dog, licking the boy's face and making him laugh quietly.

"Don't let it do that! That's gross," Tetra scolded Kid as she watched the stray animal.

"He's not hurting anything, Tetra. Look, he's cute," Kid said, picking the dog up and holding it out to Tetra. Kid held the dog quite close to her face so it came as no surprise when the canine licked her cheek.

"Eww! Stop it, Kid! That's not funny!" Tetra exclaimed, recoiling from the dog's unexpected kiss. Kid laughed anyway, and Link found himself smiling too. He then frowned, remembering that they were supposed to be furtive since they weren't exactly allowed to be wandering around town at the moment.

Link was reluctant to put an end to it though since he so rarely caught them acting their age, but there was nothing for it. They had to get moving before another patrol came along. "Alright, come on. We have to go. Put the dog down, Kid," Link said even though he didn't really mean it. Kid set the dog on the ground and stood up along with Tetra who was scowling. Link preferred this over the non-Tetra-like behavior she'd been exhibiting today.

As they moved back into the open, the tan dog followed them, loyally trotting by Kid's side. Link didn't anticipate the animal to follow them out onto the main street. He'd always known the dogs in castle town to stay in their familiar territories. Never did they emerge into the central square. It was possible that, because not many people were around, the dog didn't have much reason to hang around a certain area so it followed them instead. Whatever the reason, Link didn't mind as long as it kept quiet.

'If we can make it to the north road we'll be safe,'Link thought to himself, keeping his eyes trained ahead. He motioned for his younger companions to pick up the pace. Just as they were passing the fountain, Link's ears picked up the sound of clanking armor. Kid and Tetra had heard it too, for they stopped in their tracks and looked in the direction of the noise. Kid's tan shadow stopped as well, pricking up its ears.

The dog yipped as if it had been struck and ran off in the opposite direction, probably because it had learned to keep its distance from guards over the years. As for Link, Kid and Tetra, they chose to crouch down by the fountain, peeking through the water spurting from the center of the structure to see the wobbly grey shapes of the Hyrulean soldiers coming closer. The three of them were forced to inch around the fountain to prevent themselves from being seen as the guards passed through the central square.

Once the patrol was out of sight, they stood up and quickly made their way to the north road. They soon found themselves approaching the double doors that Link knew led to the castle's courtyard. Zelda had said that she would notify the guards to expect them. Link hoped that she'd done so already upon seeing the two sentries flanking the gate. Normally, there weren't guards stationed there, but he supposed that they were a precaution just like the patrols around town and the sentries placed at each of the gates.

Noticing them, the two soldiers wordlessly stepped towards the double doors. At first Link thought that they were blockading their way, but that was not the case. Each guard took hold of a handle of one of the doors and opened it, nodding to Link, Kid, and Tetra as they passed.

Link and his companions soon found themselves swept into the massive castle. Kid and Tetra were led by one servant to where ever their friends were, and Link was led by another to the princess, who had make it clear that she wanted to speak with him as soon as they returned to the castle.

He was led into a room with a long table where meetings were probably held. The entire room was empty aside from Zelda who sat at the head of the table, dressed in her traditional royal attire.

"So?" the princess prompted him to explain what had happened since she'd left their group once Link was close enough, so she didn't have to raise her voice.

"So…the world's in danger of collapsing, but what else is new?" Link said sarcastically, taking a seat near the princess.

"Start from the beginning," Zelda instructed, completely serious.

With Midna by his side to help explain the situation, Link began to inform the princess, "This is going to sound insane, but it all started with a talking tree…"

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