The Legend of Zelda: The Circle of Destiny

Homecoming

Link sat on the shore, staring out at the sunlight sparkling on the relatively calm waves, thinking about nothing. He was too exhausted to think.

He had worked hard all his life. When he hadn't been studying in school, he had been learning to fight and survive in the wilds. When he had worked in the castle as a page, he had run all over and up and down all the stairs numerous times every day. As a guard, he had to spend long hours standing, and a couple of times a week he also had training in swordplay and things like marching in formation. When he wasn't on-duty, he was studying, practicing archery, or doing additional sword practice.

Then, of course, came their quest: little food, little sleep (and sometimes no sleep at all), lots of walking or riding or flying every single day, plus all the work that went into survival: hunting, making or putting up a shelter, building a fire, and so forth. Then there had been the actual battles, which tested the limits of their physical and mental endurance.

But no previous teacher, employer, or demon-lord had been as hard on him as his own mother. From the time he got up, until he collapsed in bed at night, she worked him like a rented mule. Her to-do list was a mile long and she seemed to be adding to it everyday.

But there was no room for complaint because she never took a break, either. And Uncle Alfon was a one-man force of nature all by himself. He put his factory back together mostly by himself, then he managed to get some barrels on credit and, as soon as Tatiana had some salt for him, he began gutting and packing fish. He'd work from dawn until well past sunset for several days, processing an entire week's haul by himself, then he and Link would load it all in a wagon—that he had also gotten on loan—and take it to Castle Town to sell. He'd get back just in time to start over again with the next haul.

But every week they got a little further ahead. First, Alfon was able to pay for the barrels he had used and buy some more outright. It took a couple more weeks, but he was soon able to pay for the wagon and old nag pulling it. Then he began to rehire his employees one at a time.

Part of the reason why Link and Tatiana were having to work so hard—even though the fishing boat only came in once a week—was because her salt pits—so necessary to the success of Alfon's business—were so far from where they were living. Once she finally decided to stay in the manor permanently, they had to begin the monumental task of moving the pits farther up the coast one at a time—all while keeping the remainder in both locations operational.

Together, Link and his mother would dig out a new pit, then walk a mile and a half down the coast with a borrowed wheelbarrow. They would pull up the ceramic tiles lining a pit—filling up the wheelbarrow—then they would take turns pushing it back up the coast. At the new pit, Tatiana would begin putting in the tiles while Link went back for another load.

The first night after they started the relocation project, Link was sore. But when he got up the next morning, he was so sore and stiff, he couldn't even put on his tunic. His mother had to make a salve and massage it into his shoulders and arms for nearly an hour before he was able to function again.

"I'm a little sore this morning," she said as she worked on him, "but I'm nowhere near as sore as this."

"So what you're saying is I need to toughen up," he said with a wry grin.

"No, I'm not saying that at all. I can feel how strong you are," she said, giving his arm a squeeze. "I just don't understand why you'd hurt so much when you're so obviously strong and conditioned to work."

"It probably has a lot to do with all the abuse I've suffered." He rubbed the arrow scar on his left shoulder. "Fairy tears or not, this shoulder will never be right again. The monk that worked with me to get it functional again warned that it would always have a tendency to freeze up on me if I didn't work it at least some every day. I didn't have to worry about that when we were still on our quest, but I guess I've gone soft living in the castle and it started to degrade without me knowing it."

"I'm sorry you suffered so much," his mother said quietly. "It's not a path I would have ever willingly chosen for you."

"The bigger the sacrifice, the bigger the reward. And I'll be getting my reward before long."

"You really love her, don't you?"

"With every fiber of my being."

Tatiana smiled a little. "You remind me of your father. He always had a way of… of making me feel like a princess. We never had much—certainly nothing as fine as this house and certainly no title—but what we had always felt like enough. Our home was our castle."

It didn't take long for Link to figure out a better way to move the tile; as he had once told Zelda, pain was a wonderful teacher. He used the telekinesis glove to pull up the tiles—that saved him from having to bend over and wear out his back—then, when the wheelbarrow was full, he flew halfway down the coast, transformed, and used the glove to move the wheelbarrow. One more time got the load of tile to his mother.

He was able to move the tile twice as fast with half the amount of work—or less. Then he figured out that he didn't even have to be close enough to see the wheelbarrow; he could go all the way down the beach, to the new pits, but still call it to him. It seemed the only thing that mattered was that he knew what he wanted so he could have the intention to draw it towards him.

He laid the last load of tile of the day himself while his mother collected mussels and shrimp and seaweed from the tidal pools for their dinner.

"I'm glad we're not farmers," she said as she worked.

"Why's that?"

"Because if you don't have food going into the winter, you don't eat. The sea, on the other hand, always provides, no matter what the season."

"True. But no one drowns in their field. Storms don't sweep farmers away, never to be seen again."

"I hadn't thought about it like that," she conceded. "There's a price to pay for the bounty."

After his mother left, and Link finished laying the tiles, he sat down with his back against the wheelbarrow, staring out at the sea. Even with his easier method for moving the tile, he was still exhausted. For one thing, he hadn't yet figured out how to use his mechanical marvels to dig a pit; that still had to be done manually.

The sun set in a ray of glorious colors—gold and orange and pink fading into purple, indigo, and the black of night.

What are you up to? Link said, reaching out to Zelda.

I'm about to sit down for dinner. You?

I'm sitting on the beach, watching the sun set. It's so beautiful, it made me think of you.

I wish I could be there with you, she said with an unhappy sigh.

No you don't; Mother's a slave driver. She's half-crippled me, he said with a laugh.

Tell her not to break you; that's my job.

He laughed even harder. Go eat your dinner, he said. I need to get up and go home to mine, too.

Goodnight.

Goodnight, sweetheart.

But instead of getting up—which seemed to be an awful lot of work—Link stayed where he was, watching as the colors slowly faded from the sky.

He began to think up fanciful ideas—like, could he fish using the telekinesis glove?

Not one to leave a good theory untested, he stretched out his hand and tried to call a fish to him.

Nothing happened.

Then he noticed that a little farther out there were fish jumping out of the water. He shifted his concentration in their direction and as soon as one jumped up, he tried to pull it towards him.

That worked; within seconds, he was holding a wriggling fish in his hands. Apparently, wanting something random—like a fish—didn't count; you had to want a specific fish. It didn't matter if you couldn't see it, but you did have to know it was there.

He got up and tossed the fish back into the surf; they had fish enough to eat at the moment.

Then, suddenly, he had a much bigger idea. Much, much, bigger.

Could he bring his father from across the sea?

It was a very long distance—several hundred miles. He had never tested the glove's power over more than a mile and a half. But, he did know where his father was; he could concentrate on him specifically.

With nervous excitement, he stretched his hand out towards the sea and put all of his concentration and desire into bringing his father to him.

Nothing happened.

The sky darkened before him as the minutes stretched by. One by one, stars began to twinkle in the darkness.

It wasn't going to work; he was too far away. Maybe the curvature of the world was a problem, too; maybe it only worked if the item being moved was on a more or less straight line.

But if he could take his mother's ship out to near where the band of storms guarded the western lands, would he be close enough to then to get his father?

Come to think of it, he had never tried using the glove on people before; it might be that it wouldn't pull people at all. And going to the edge of the squall line—without getting into it—was a lot of risk to the only remaining ship in Kakariko—not to mention that it would take it out of production for a couple of weeks. At the very least, he'd have to wait until they got a ship to spare.

He was wallowing in his disappointment so much, he failed to notice the dark shape flying over the surface of the water. It was only when he heard something that sounded like a scream that he looked up.

A moment later, the dark shape hurtled into him, slamming him back into the wheelbarrow. Link, the wheelbarrow, and the shape all tumbled together across the sand rather painfully.

"OW!" Link said, coming to rest with his back on the sand and his legs on the overturned wheelbarrow.

The figure face down beside him pushed up, spitting out sand. "What in the name of all the gods?!"

Link rubbed a painful spot on his head and looked at the person. It took a moment for reality to sink in.

"Father!"

He jumped to his feet and pulled the older man up, crushing him in a hug.

"L-Link?" Mars asked hesitantly, still looking around him in confusion.

Link pulled back. "I didn't think it was going to work; I had given up! But it did work! It just took a little while to bring you such a long distance!" He hugged his father tightly again.

"I must be dead," Mars told himself.

Link pulled away again. "You're not dead. You're in Kakariko again."

"I flew over the ocean that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead."

"No you didn't." Link turned his father around and pointed to the last of the pale purple light on the horizon. "Look, that's the west. That's where you were—in the western lands on the other side of the Endless Ocean. But I used the Telekinesis Glove to pull you across the ocean," he explained, showing his father the glove that he was wearing. "That's why you felt like you were flying—the glove was pulling you to me."

"I still don't understand."

"It's a long story, but I'll tell it to you." He put his arm around his father's shoulders. "We have all the time in the world."

Mars still looked confused and disoriented. Link could hardly blame him. He was probably preparing for the end of the day—maybe getting his own supper ready—when a strange force jerked him up and sent him hurtling over the ocean.

It was enough to make any man think he had died and gone to a strange Other World.

A moment later, a woman's voice called in the distance. "Linnnnnnk! Supper!"

Mars turned around abruptly. "That sounds like…. Know that voice anywhere…" he muttered to himself.

"Yes, that's Mother," Link said. Then he took his father by the hand. "Come, I'll take you home. She certainly won't expect to see you for dinner!"

Link led his father across the shore and up the gentle slope to the woods.

"This is not where we used to live," Mars said, looking around.

"No, that house was burned. Nagadii—the evil man I told you about—destroyed it. But Mother and Uncle Alfon are living in the Count's old manor. They're both Viscounts now. Mother is the Viscountess of Western Kakariko and Uncle Alfon is the Viscount of Eastern Kakariko. Zelda divided it up for them."

Mars looked at Link as if he was babbling nonsense and didn't reply.

Link led him through the woods on a well-marked trail. Ten minutes' later, they emerged in the clearing where the manor was located.

Tatiana was standing on top of the stairs, peering into the darkness. "There you two are! What were you doing? Supper's getting cold."

A moment later, Alfon came walking up the road from the village. "Sorry, I'm late, Tati."

Tatiana did a double-take—looking first at Alfon, then glancing at the similar-looking man beside Link. "Link, who is that with you?" she asked, confused.

"It's Father!" he said, no longer able to contain his excitement. "I used my telekinesis glove to bring him across the water."

Tatiana and Alfon didn't move; they stared in open-mouthed disbelief.

Link felt a bit deflated. "Am I the only one who is excited about this? I bring my long-lost father home and everyone just acts like it's nothing."

"Don't tease," Tatiana said breathlessly.

"Mother, do you think I'd tease you about something like this?" He pushed his father forward. "This is the man who saved me after my shipwreck. He said he was my father, and I believed him. But you're the ultimate arbiter of whether he is or not."

Mars took a few hesitant steps forward. "Tatiana?"

"This can't be," she whispered.

"I don't understand it either. I don't even know where I am. But if you're here, that's all I need; the rest doesn't matter."

And then she was flying down the stairs, running towards him with her arms open wide. He met her halfway across the lawn and caught her up in his arms, twirling her around.

They kissed and cried and kissed again—both of them trying to speak at the same time, but neither forming coherent sentences.

Link and Alfon hung back, letting them have their moment, but eventually Mars gestured to both of them to come join the reunion.

"Am I really home?" Mars asked, starting to sound more like himself.

"Yes, you are," Alfon said, hugging his younger brother. "Although I don't understand how."

"I'll explain everything over dinner," Link said.

Mars looked around. "Where are the other children—Meghan and Alons?"

"They're in the city—them and Ceily, too," Tatiana explained. "They wanted to stay and serve at court."

"They're lords and ladies, now," Alfon added. "They're moving up in the world." He slapped Link on the back, nearly making him cry out; Alfon seemed to have a prescient ability to find Link's worse bruise and hit it. "Link here's doing better than anyone, though," Alfon boasted. "He's a Knight of Hyrule and the Lord High Chancellor of the entire kingdom. And he'll be king before too long."

"I don't know that," Link hurried to say; "Zelda doesn't have to make me king. And, remember, our engagement isn't supposed to be public knowledge yet."

"What are you on about?" Mars asked, looking between them. "You're speaking in riddles."

"Come in and we'll get you caught up," Link said.

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