Silent Courage

Extra 3: Midwinter's Eve

Rusl was feeding the Cuccos when he heard a shriek of laughter, he looked up to see Link running in, followed closely behind by Ilia. He couldn't help but chuckle as the six-year-old ran to a tree and hid behind it. Ilia went around it, but Link moved around the trunk before her friend could spot her, making sure to keep the tree in between her and Ilia. Ilia frowned and changed direction and Link, not expecting it, was spotted. Ilia laughed as she grabbed the back of Link's shirt and they were soon tickling each other, giggling and laughing loudly. "Uli is going to have a fit," Rusl muttered to himself as he saw the mud on their clothes and skin. "Come on you two, we should get you cleaned up before Uli finds out you were playing in the mud and puddles again," he crouched down to them as they smiled up at him. Rusl still couldn't get over the fact of how big they had both gotten, and also found it rather amusing that Ilia was taller than Link, despite the age difference. Rusl had a feeling that the blonde wouldn't be very tall when fully grown.

"Okay, Rusl," Ilia said, running out of the Ranch to go home.

"Let's go, Link. You know how Uli gets," he took Link's hand and they walked back to the house. Luckily Uli wasn't back from the forest yet. Ilia and Link had found an injured bird there and Uli had been taking care of it that last little while. Once Link was cleaned from mud and changed into clean clothes, she was sitting at the table, eating some pumpkin tart she had help Uli make. The crust was burnt black and the pumpkin was a little charred, but it tasted fine to Link. She swung her legs as she gazed outside the window, watching the rain that had started falling when she changed. The weather was very cold this year, and the rain was more biting than usual, it had almost flooded the river the other day and everyone was scrambling to put up a makeshift barrier of flour and wheat bags.

Rusl was starting to fix the meal when there was a knock on the door and Link ran to open it. She turned the knob and hid behind the door a bit when she saw the stranger at the door, he was wearing heavy-looking armour with a cloth on the chest that had the same mark that was on her hand. The man lifted the visor of his helmet and looked down at her, looking as if he didn't want to be there at the moment. "Is Rusl home? I got this letter for him," he held it out to Link, but she shrunk behind the door until only half her face was showing. She wasn't used to strangers with armour and a spear appearing in Ordon.

"What is it, Link?" Rusl asked, coming over. He looked at the man and greeted him. "You were asking for me?" Rusl asked, putting an arm around Link.

"Yes, I came to deliver this letter. Apparently that woman at the bar wanted to talk to you," he handed the letter over.

"Thank you," Rusl said and the man walked away, his armour clanking and rattling. The blacksmith closed the door and paced the floor as he broke the seal of the letter with slightly shaky hands. His face furrowed in worry as he read the contents. That wasn't good. Link looked at him curiously and stood on her toes to try and see the words, but Rusl tucked the letter into his belt. "Sorry, Link, but I must get going to Hyrule Castle Town, there's a sort of emergency," he saw the look of excitement on her face. "No, I can't take you with me," she deflated a bit, making Rusl sigh, but he didn't bend. "I know you want to go, but this is very important. I'll take you another time. I must get going, I'll probably pass by Uli on the way. Now be a good girl and help Uli fix dinner tonight," he ruffled her hair as she looked down.

Once packed, Rusl left Ordon on Aly, the current workhorse. It would be faster to ride to Castle Town than walking. He passed Uli on the bridge, explaining what was going on to her before continuing on his was.

Uli sighed. The Resistance was having trouble lately, and Rusl was being called more often than usual. All she could hope for was that he would stay in Ordon for Midwinter's Eve. She entered the house to see Link napping at the table, her head in her arms as she slept. Uli smiled softly and shook Link, making the small girl wake and yawn a bit before looking up. "Hey, Sleepyhead," Uli said, crouching down and being careful of her stomach. "Look who I brought," she held up a nest in her hands and the bird Link and Ilia had saved was in it, sleeping with its head under its wing. It was a strange bird to Link; it was really small, with emerald green feathers on its back, head and wings, a ruby red chest with a white belly, and a long, thin beak. Its small bandaged wing was a little lower than the one its head was under, and Link tilted her head in wonder, smiling at the little bird. "It's called a hummingbird. When it flies, its wings are like a blur and can't be seen while they make a 'humming' sound, which gives off the name. They are said to be good luck, and bring joy, happiness and courage to a person. Would you mind keeping it in your room for the time being? Just until it's healthy enough to fly off," Link nodded enthusiastically, taking the nest carefully and walking upstairs. Uli shook her head fondly.

Link placed the nest on the windowsill beside her bed, making sure that the hummingbird was nice and warm. He/she needed a name, so for the next few minutes she was sitting on her bed, cross-legged and staring at the bird, thinking of a name for him/her. It had to be something that could be a boy's and girl's name, since Link didn't know what the bird was, and it had to be something creative, not 'Hummer', 'Emerald' or 'Ruby'.

She looked at the bird again to find it awake. It was looking around the unfamiliar place with keen grey eyes. Hmm, Rusl mentioned a grey colour before, but what was it again? It wasn't Cloud, or Mist, she knew that much. What was it, what was it? She thought it started with an 'S'…Storm! That was it! Storm grey! Link nodded, liking the name for the hummingbird.

Link smiled at the bird, getting off the bed and tiptoed to the nest. She watched Storm study the place it was in suspiciously and it locked its eyes on her. She waved a little at it, but it just stared at her, as if looking her over. She left the room and ran down the stairs to see Uli fixing up some soup. She snuck passed her and went to the cupboard, taking a bit of oats meant for the chickens, and snuck back to the room to feed Storm.

-Two days later, in Castle Town-

Rusl dismounted Aly and entered the bar, seeing Telma cleaning the counter and a couple of men drunk off their arses sitting around a table, one trying to balance a spoon on their nose. "Good, you're here, I was starting to worry you didn't get the letter," Telma said, putting down to rag.

"So what's this about a prediction you heard? Who did you hear it from?"

"There was some sort of woman who came through here a week ago, she was strange, and defiantly from out of town, if her accent was anything to judge by. She looked like any other traveler, and all I could see from under her hood were her eyes, they were a strange, storm grey. We started talking and she ordered only a small drink of ale, explaining that she's from across the sea and came over here to look for something."

"Did she say what?"

"No, she only said that it was being held by three different people, and she only had to find two of them before her work was done. She also said that the ones who held them had a big role to play in the future events of Hyrule."

Rusl nodded before an idea came to mind. "Do you think the Triforce has come back?"

Silence followed the question, even the drunken men behind them seem to quiet down, even though they were practically roaring with laughter. "The Triforce? That hasn't been heard of for a long time. It could be possible, and if it is, Hyrule will have a dark time ahead before the newest Triforce Holders awaken," Telma said thoughtfully, placing a hand under her chin. "It's good that Auru found that mountain girl a few weeks ago, we might need some help from everyone we can get."

"All we can do is hope we can make the Resistance grow, even if it's a little. We all know the guards are useless for this kingdom, but the King has more to worry about than a few measly guards."

"Yes, since his wife is sick."

"Did this stranger say anything else?"

"Well, she said she was going to go when she froze, stiff as a board, and sat up straight, before whispering in a hoarse voice 'Times will change, forgotten darkness will rise from the depths of the Desert and consume the land, shrouding it in a fearful pledge of everlasting night. But when the kingdom falls, a Hero will rise. From the farthest reaches of the South, in the form of the smallest and most unlikely of people, and they will take their first steps into a world unknown to them. With the help of one from the eternal night, this Hero will travel the land and will take the Sacred Blade that their ancestors wielded. The ruler of the kingdom will sacrifice much, even their life-force, to save the land in which they care for. Lives will be lost, forgotten memories held back by a wall will start to resurface, old enemies will return from the deepest and darkest void, and the three Sacred Triangles will come together once more, only to be broken apart by the Sacred Blade.' Now, I'm not one for prophecies, ominous tales or anything, but this sounds serious. I know what she told was truthful, since when she came back to reality, she looked around, confused, before turning to me and asking what exactly she said. I told her and she had looked away, muttering to herself. All I could catch was 'true', 'in next ten years' and 'go to the South'. Any idea what this could mean?"

Rusl didn't have to think for long. "The Triforce is back in Hyrule, in the veins of two people, the third will be from a place where they were imprisoned, and Hyrule will fall for a time, but a Hero from the South will rise and save Hyrule. The farthest reaches of the South…the only place that far is Ordon, you can't go any further than that, and the smallest and most unlikely. Someone from Ordon will be the one to save us, but who?" Rusl had a terrible hunch, he just hoped he was wrong.

"Do you know who it is?" Telma asked.

"I have a hunch. There's only one person I know who has a strange mark on their hand, and they are small for their age. I really hope it's just coincidence," Rusl said.

"We won't find out for a few years yet. Write to me if you discover who it is, I'll help as much as I can."

"Does Auru know about it?"

"Yes, I told him yesterday when he dropped in. You look exhausted, you can rent a room if you want."

"I think I'll do just that. There's a week until Midwinter's Eve, and I promised Uli I would be there," Rusl paid a yellow Rupee and three green ones. "Telma, I'm worried about Link," he sighed, looking up. "She seems so…sad sometimes. When she looks at me and Uli, it's like she's trying to see any resemblance between us and her, and she grows frustrated when she can't see it. Uli has light blonde hair, my hair is basically brown, and our eyes are not that deep blue of hers."

"She's starting to question whether you are her parents or not. Rusl, if I was you; I would tell Link about her parent's deaths this Midwinter's Eve. She's six, Rusl, wait any longer and she'll find out herself, and she'll be sad and angered that she didn't find out from you. Explain to her that you and Uli aren't her parents, tell her about her parents, say how she looks like them, tell her their names. Do it before she discovers it herself. Kids see things we don't, Rusl. They see through lies, they can see through to a person and know if they're nice or mean, they seem to know more than us, because by the time we've grown, we've developed habits, like not liking certain people, being bias, things like that."

"I know, but how will I tell her?"

"You have plenty of time to think about it. Now, go get some rest, you look asleep on your feet."

-A few days later in Ordon-

It didn't take Link long to learn that Storm was smarter than most birds. When the hummingbird grew used to being fed by the girl the second night, it had made a picture with the seeds, making it look like a woman in a dress, so that told her that the bird was a girl. Storm would watch Link carefully and stay with her, as if waiting for something to happen.

Storm also seemed to act more human than animal, she would look back and forth between Link and Ilia, who had come over one day to help feed her, as if trying to see something in them neither of them could.

Ilia and Link were sitting at the shore of Faron's Spring; playing a memory game by using their hands to slap a part of their body, like their knee or shoulder, and the other had to copy them. Storm watched from a tree branch, a small twinkle was in her eyes as she looked from one girl to the other. The shorter one was copying the brown haired one when her ear suddenly twitched and she looked at the tunnel to the right of the Spring, tripping over her feet since she was distracted. "What is it Link?" the brown haired one asked.

The blonde shrugged and waited, looking at the gate. The brown haired one looked too as all the sounds of the spring seemed to shut off, leaving them in silence. That silence was broken when a large winter bear stepped out of the tunnel, lumbering over to the water's edge. The blonde got to her feet and stood in front of the other girl, not even noticing herself doing it. The bear walked right passed them, so close that the ends of its fur tickled the tip of the blonde's nose, making her face scrunch up as if she was about to sneeze. She held a finger up to her nose and started stepping back with the other girl. Storm blinked slowly, so these two knew what to do around a bear. Good. So many fools tried to run from bears, it was not fun to clean the mess up so that no monsters could get attracted.

Link thought she was over her sneeze, so lowered her arm as she gently led Ilia behind a tree to hide from the bear. But she sneezed loudly before she could hide, and the bear lifted its head from the water and turned its head to her. It walked towards her a few steps before standing up and sniffing the air, pinpointing exactly where she was. It seemed to tower over the trees before it slammed back down onto all fours, making the ground shake a bit under Link's feet. She glanced at Ilia, who was frozen in fear, before slowly walking away from the tree, the bear's head followed her.

Link walked sideways, making sure not to be cornered, as the bear slowly started advancing on her. She was more afraid of what would happen if the bear spotted Ilia than she was for her own safety. The bear stood only half a meter away from her before standing on its hind legs again, making Link's legs shake as the shadow of the bear surrounded her. The bear really looked like a mountain to her just then. She looked at Ilia, the bear's back was to her and the way to Ordon, and Link motioned for Ilia to get out of there. Ilia nodded and started backing up, when she stepped on a stick.

The sound of the breaking stick was the loudest thing in the world at that moment.

The bear turned and Ilia, forgetting how fast bears were, ran. The bear roared and charged after her. Link ran to the Spring, grabbing a stick on the way, and splashed in the water, breaking the stick in her hands and kicking rocks to get the bear's attention off Ilia. Luckily, the bear heard the noise and looked at her, but unluckily, it was now after her. Link jumped into the deeper part of the water as the bear came at her. Sharp claws sliced through the water just by her back, and the tip of one caught her by her shirt, bringing her up and out of the water. She was tossed back, but landed softly in the water, not getting hurt.

The bear turned to her and was about to charge, when Storm flew in front of its eyes, zipping around its head quickly and flew off, as if saying, 'try and get me!' The bear ran after her and Link sat there, waiting for the bear to disappear before standing. Good, she got out of that misadventure unscathed. Just as she thought this, she slipped on a rock and fell forward, face planting into the sand just out of the water.

Link sat up, rubbing her face, there was a small cut on her cheek. Couldn't she get out of anything without getting hurt in one way or another? She stood up and looked around to see Storm hovering in front of her face, was that a twinkle in her eye? Link tilted her head and let out her hand, which had a small bandage since the first time she tried that, she got peaked by Storm. The hummingbird sat in the palm of her hand and Link's face broke into a smile. She rubbed Storm's neck with her left hand and the small bird looked at the back of it before up at Link. She noticed the bird's gaze and tilted her head. Why was Storm so interested? It was just some birthmark, nothing that special.

Storm suddenly flew to the ground and silver light started to surround her. Link shielded her eyes with her arm as she stumbled back, falling onto behind as a warm wind rushed passed her, drying her and warming the air around here, despite it being winter. She lowered her arm when she heard a woman's voice. "So I was right. Interesting," she looked up to find Storm gone, and in the bird's place was a woman, she smiled down at Link with stormy grey eyes and had long brown hair that reached her waste and was tied back into a braid. She crouched down to Link, noting her shock, and laughed lightly, taking Link's left hand and tracing the birthmark. "Do you know what this is?" she asks. Link shook her head, awed by the woman. "This is a very precious relic, and it is a part of you. Protect that part with everything you've got, there are many greedy people who wish to find this relic. Understand?" slowly, Link nodded. "Good. I must get going, thank you for your kindness. Funny, I always turn into an animal that represents a person," she smiled then the warm light came again. The woman turned into a hawk and flew off, leaving a bewildered Link behind her.

Link sat there, blinking and trying to process what just happened, but her mind couldn't get around it. Relic, eh? She looked down at her birthmark/relic. What was it exactly? Was there any significance to it? Or was there more to it, and to her, than she took credit for? She shook her head, she would protect it, even though she didn't fully understand, but it probably wasn't going to be anything important in the future. Before she could ponder this further, she got to her feet, dusted off her breeches, and started walking back to Ordon. She hoped Ilia wouldn't be too shaken up.

She entered the village when she looked up at the tree house near the path. It had been deemed unsafe by Ilia's dad because a part of the floor collapsed, but Link had always wanted to see what was inside. She looked at the gate to the main part of the village, she couldn't possibly get in any more trouble she was already in, she and Ilia weren't allowed to go out of the village unsupervised. She climbed up the ladder and went into the house, feeling comfort fill her. She took in the small house for a few seconds before deciding to wander around.

-A few hours later-

Rusl guided Aly over the bridge towards Ordon, he was still wondering how he would tell Link about her parents. Would she be mad at him for not telling her sooner? She was only six, maybe she wouldn't get angry at all. He never thought he'd be nervous of a six-year-old. He passed by the old tree house when he felt something not right, the door was open a crack and there were footprints leading to the ladder. He dismounted and climbed the ladder, knowing exactly who was in there. He opened the door and spotted a shape in front of an open chest, sitting on the back of their calves. Rusl sighed quietly. "Link," she jumped, standing up and turning. "You know you're not supposed to be here," Rusl said, going over to her carefully. He didn't want the floor to cave in under his feet. He noticed the small cut on her cheek and raised an eyebrow. "What happened to you?" he asked, Link scuffed her foot sheepishly, her hands behind her back. "Come on, let's get that cut cleaned before it gets infected."

When they got back to the house, Link was sitting on the table, scrunching her face as Rusl cleaned it with a towel. Her cheek stung from the red potion Rusl had dipped the towel in, but the stinging soon passed and her cut was healed. "You went out to the forest, didn't you?" she nodded, waiting to be scolded. "Link, you know how dangerous it can get." She shrugged sheepishly. "Alright, got get into dry clothes, you're soaked," he gently pushed her back towards her room. She ran up and when he couldn't hear her, he sighed, sitting in one of the chairs.

Tomorrow was Midwinter's Eve, tomorrow he had to tell Link what happened to her parents, to his knowledge, and tomorrow he would have to be careful how he would say it. It couldn't be out of the blue, it needed to be built up until he could tell her. Perhaps Uli could help him.

With that thought in mind, he went to talk to his wife.

-The Next Morning-

Link woke up early, even before the sun. She couldn't understand why, she could usually sleep in to noon, but something was bothering her. Her stomach had the feeling of butterflies for some reason and the sense that something bad was about to happen made her go to the window. She looked outside, not spotting anything out of ordinary right away. But as her eyes adjusted to the dark world outside, she saw a figure standing by the river, they were staring at the house, as if waiting for something to happen. Wondering who in Hyrule they could be, Link closed the window silently and tiptoed out of her room and down the stairs, careful not to wake Rusl and Uli. She opened the door slowly, peeking half her face out and seeing the figure standing just a few feet from the porch. She could see the figure grin under their hood and they walked up to the door. Link closed it swiftly, but the door was blocked by the person's foot.

"Now now, I'm sorry for coming so late in the night. But I was wondering if you could tell me if there are any Hylians around here?" the person said, signalling them as a man.

Link looked through the small crack of the door, not trusting the man. He gave her a bad feeling. "Come on, I will be out of your hair soon. Is there a Hylian around here?" Link shook her head, she had no idea what a Hylian even was. "Why am I asking a kid this? Can you get your father or mother?" he asked. Link nodded and the man took his foot back to walk in, but Link closed and blocked the door with a chair so the man couldn't get in. With that done, Link went back up the stairs and opened the door to Rusl and Uli's room. She went to Rusl and shook him awake, the bad feeling from the man not leaving her.

"What is it, Link?" Rusl groaned tiredly, sitting up and swinging his legs over the side. She tugged his hand and he followed the kid out the room. She trotted down the stairs quickly and was standing by the door when Rusl came down. He raised an eyebrow when he saw the chair under the doorknob, blocking it. Rusl moved the chair and opened the door to see the cloaked man. "Hello?"

"Good morning, sir. I've been looking over Hyrule for a certain creature known as a Hylian," Rusl's eyes flicked to Link for a split-second.

"And why are you looking for a Hylian?"

"That is confidential." That wasn't suspicious at all.

"Sorry, there are no Hylians in Ordon."

"I see. Well this place is off the checklist. Thank you, sir," the man turned, grumbling to himself. Link heard him mutter something about "Failing again" and "he'll feed my head to the dogs" or something along those lines. Link felt bad for whatever dog had to eat that guy's head, the dog might get a stomach-ache.

"That was strange," Rusl shook his head, closing the door. He looked at Link, wondering what she was doing up so early anyway. "Link, why are you awake? The sun isn't even up yet."

Link shrugged, circling her hand around her stomach and scrunching up her face. "Well, thank you anyway for getting me. I didn't trust that man," Rusl ruffled Link's hair, knowing she was frustrated about him not able to guess what she's thinking. "Alright, since we're up, why don't we go get one of the bigger Cuccos, the Midwinter Festival is tonight, after all," Link nodded enthusiastically, frustration forgotten. They went to the ranch and into the Cucco Pen.

Ordon Village was bustling much more than usual, everyone was helping prepare for the feast they were going to have, even Ilia and Link. The two girls were helping Uli and Sera fix the Cucco. It wasn't long until the meal was set, and the adults talked as the two kids sat on the bridge over the river.

"Link, do you get angry lots?" Ilia asked, kicking her legs. Link nodded slowly. She always got flustered when she tried to tell someone what she was thinking, and they didn't have a clue. The only person to get what she was saying ninety-nine percent of the time was Ilia. Rusl and Uli could only get what she was saying eighty percent of the time, while everyone else had no clue. "Do you wanna make a wish? They say magical things happen on Midwinter's Eve," Ilia said, smiling and trying to brighten Link's mood. It worked a little. Link nodded and they both looked up at the moon peeking out from behind a cloud.

Link was about to wish to be able to talk, but another thought crossed her mind before she could wish for it. She wished…she wished to know why she didn't look like anyone else in the Village, why she didn't look like Uli or Rusl, and why she had pointed ears while everyone else had round ones. She needed to know why she was so different. She didn't think she could stand it much longer not knowing.

Little did she know, her wish was going to be granted.

Later that evening, Link was sitting on the dock, thinking about her wish, when she heard footsteps. She looked over her shoulder to see Rusl walking over and smiled at him tiredly. "Hey there, Link, did you have a good time tonight?" she nodded a bit as he sat beside her. "I heard Ilia talk about the magic of this night, did you make a wish?" Nod. "Link, you're probably wondering what that man was talking about when he said Hylian this morning, aren't you?" Nod again. "I thought so. Hylians are a rare race of people who are the longest lasting race in Hyrule, believe it or not. They can live for a long time and have magical properties that many Hyrulians wish to have. There's only one way to spot a Hylian, their ears give it away. Link, the reason why you don't look like and Ordonian, is because you aren't one. You're a Hylian yourself," she blinked, so she's not an Ordonian after all.

Rusl kept talking, explaining to Link that he wasn't her dad, and Uli wasn't her mom. The words came from his mouth, as if the Goddesses themselves were giving him the words he needed to tell Link about her parents. They were young when they died, and Rusl didn't know how or why they died, or if they were killed or not. He had found a man, burnt and injured, holding Link at his door. The man gave him Link, saying he would die soon because of his injuries. The man had left before Rusl could help him, and he was left with a baby Link to take care of. That man had actually been her father, and he disappeared after that. He had told Rusl his daughter's name and the blacksmith had raised her since.

"I'm sorry for not telling you earlier, but I never knew what to say," Rusl finished telling her. Link was looking at the water, staring at the reflections of herself and Rusl. How come she couldn't see it before? They really didn't look anything alike.

So, her parents were dead for some unknown reason, and she was raised by her dad's friend. All she wanted to know now where the names of her parents, and what they looked like. For once, Rusl seemed to be able to tell what she was thinking. "You're father's name was Joshua, you look a lot like him, you have his eyes and face, but you get your hair from your mother, although her's wasn't as messy as yours, her name was Amethyst, your father usually called her Amy," Rusl explained, putting an arm around Link and giving her a hug. "Are you alright?" he was expecting her to shake her head, but he wasn't expecting her to hug him back. "Good. Let's go get back to the house, you looked pretty worn out," he picked her up and walked back, smiling as she rested her head on his shoulder and fell asleep.

He laid her down in her bed and blew out the candle, closing the door behind him. Uli was still awake, sewing on the bed. She looked up and smiled at him. "Did she take it well?"

"Surprisingly well for a six-year-old," Rusl sighed.

"She's a smart girl, Rusl. Now get some sleep, we'll talk to her in the morning."

That night, Link turned in her sleep, a small smile on her face. In her dreams, she felt smaller and she was being held by a beautiful woman. The woman was singing into her ear softly, her voice like chimes as she sung a lullaby to her. Link smiled up at the woman, feeling safe and warm in her arms. A chuckle was heard and Link looked around to see a man standing next to the woman, he placed a hand on Link's head and she giggled happily. It was the best dream Link had ever had, and she would never forget the wonderful feeling of being with these two people.

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