Harp and Flute
Over the next several weeks, Master Ryu taught Link how to use the mental connection between them to communicate. On the nights that Link and Zelda were able to sneak out of the castle, Link passed on what he had learned to the Princess.
"You told me 'blue,'" Zelda replied, as they sat under the old oak tree and practiced. "Let me do it."
"'Grass,'" Link replied.
"Let me try something more complicated," she said, enjoying the new game.
The moon is white in the blue sky.
"'The moon is white in the blue sky,'" Link repeated.
"Can you read my thoughts?" she asked.
"No. I can only hear what you project, and visa versa. Master Ryu said projecting was like talking aloud; what you don't project is like having private thoughts."
"It's rather amazing, isn't it? Imagine back when everyone was a Hylian; people could talk without ever saying a word. You'd never have to worry about being overheard."
"It will certainly make sneaking out easier," Link pointed out. "You and I can coordinate our plans without anyone being the wiser."
"You're right!" Zelda said with surprise. Then she giggled.
Link leaned back against the tree and looked up at the stars through the leaves. "I wonder what else Hylians could do?"
Zelda pressed her lips together, then finally decided to tell Link her secret. They had shared so many other secrets, she didn't feel right not telling him about her biggest one. Besides, she was dying to know if he could do it, too.
"I… I think… they could… turn into animals," she said hesitantly.
He looked at her. "What?"
"I think they could turn into animals."
"What makes you say that?"
"Can you not do it?" she asked, already feeling disappointed.
"No." Then he looked confused. "Can you?"
"Yes." She hung her head. "If you can't do it, then maybe it's not a Hylian thing at all; maybe I'm just weird."
Link sat up straighter. "You're not weird. Tell me, what do you turn into? Or can you take any shape?"
"No… at least, I don't think so," Zelda said, surprising herself. It never occurred to her to try to be anything else.
"Then what do you become?"
Link stared at her for a long moment. "Show me," he said.
Zelda stood up and walked a short distance away. Then she turned back to look at him. She willed herself to be a horse and a tingling energy flowed out of her center and down into her extremities, changing her shape as it went. In less than a second, she was standing as a horse.
Link's mouth was actually open in shock, and if she hadn't been so worried about what he might think of her, she might have felt proud that she caught him by surprise.
He slowly stood up and walked over to her. He cautiously reached out his hand, then touched her neck. "Can you understand what I say?" he whispered.
She tossed her head.
"Can you think the same? I mean are you still a person on the inside?"
She tossed her head again.
"Can you speak?"
She whinnied, trying to make a sound like "no."
Can you hear me if I talk to you like this?
Zelda practically jumped with surprise. She nodded her head eagerly.
"How do you do it?" he asked. "How do you transform?"
I don't know.
She pulled the energy up, taking it back into her center. Once again, she was standing in front of him as a person. But, despite paying attention to the process while it was happening, she was still no closer to describing it. "I'm sorry," she said helplessly, "but I don't know how I do it. I just… want to do it, so it happens. It's like… me trying to tell you how to balance on two feet and walk."
"How did you do it the first time?"
"The first time I came out here—out to this tree—I ran across the field and I felt so free, I wished I could run farther and faster, like a horse. And then, I was galloping. It scared me at first, but as soon as I didn't want to be a horse anymore, I wasn't one. I was too scared to try anything again that night, but later I became curious about it, so I came back out and tried to replicate what I had been doing at the time, and it worked. Eventually, I figured out it wasn't the running that was necessary, but the wanting to be a horse."
"But you think it's a Hylian trait?"
"I don't know; I was hoping you could do it, too."
Link shook his head. "Not that I've ever tried."
"You should try."
Link tried, but even when he ran across the field at Zelda's suggestion, he did not turn into a horse.
"I guess it's just me," Zelda said, disappointed.
"Don't sound so upset, Your Highness. Having a unique skill is something to be proud of."
"What sort of skill is turning into a horse?"
"I don't know, but it could be useful. Imagine if you had to run away; you would be much faster as a horse. Or, if you had to make a long journey, you could travel a lot farther and take less time."
"I suppose," she said, feeling moderately better.
Zelda was still thinking about their conversation the next morning when she was at her harp lesson. She was starting to think that Link's way of looking at the situation was probably a good one when her teacher clapped his hands impatiently.
"Your Highness, pay attention!"
She startled, shaking off her daydream and coming back to the matter at hand. She had been playing her harp automatically and even she could recognize she wasn't doing very well.
She took a deep breath, then began her song again, concentrating.
Her harp teacher tapped out the tempo with his cane, calling out instructions randomly, telling her to not to get behind, not to get too fast, to use a lighter finger, to use a heavier touch.
She dutifully tried to do everything he said, although he seemed to be contradicting himself much of the time; when she made a correction that he asked for, the next moment he was wanting her to play it as she had before she corrected it.
That was one of the reasons why she hated her harp lessons. She tried to hold on to the fact that Link thought she was better than her teacher and he was just hard on her because he was jealous. But it was hard to feel confident when Master Jehan was around.
Zelda began to hear something in the distance some time before her brain—concentrating deeply on her piece and Master Jehan's steady stream of critiques—comprehended that she was hearing someone playing the same song.
At first the sound was soft and indistinct, but it slowly grew louder, until Zelda recognized it was a flute.
She glanced out the open window and spotted a green-clad figure sitting on the rampart across the courtyard from her window. He was sitting casually on the edge of the stonework, his legs dangling over.
She smiled, then threw herself into her piece with more enthusiasm than Master Jehan had ever managed to elicit from her. She liked the idea of playing with Link. The sound of his flute floated through her open window and it was almost like he was there with her, encouraging her.
Then Master Jehan finally shut up long enough to hear the sound over the noise of his own voice. "What's that?" he said irritably.
Zelda didn't say anything; she only continued to play, wanting to send her music back out to Link for him to enjoy, as she was enjoying his.
"Gods, what an awful racket!" Master Jehan complained, getting to his feet. "It sounds like a bird being eaten by a cat."
Zelda didn't think it sounded like any such thing; she thought the music was quite nice.
Master Jehan limped stiffly to the window and looked out. "Hey, you there! Boy!"
Link didn't stop playing.
"Boy! Stop that this instant! You are disturbing the Princess's lesson with that horrible noise."
Link still didn't stop playing, and neither did Zelda. She finished the song, but immediately switched into something else—something more upbeat and fun. There was barely a pause before Link began to play the same song, his flute trilling gaily.
"You over there!" Master Jehan called out louder. "Stop that at once."
Link's only response was some quick, flashy fingerwork.
"Ugh!" Master Jehan said, pulling his head back inside the window. "He can't hear me over the squeak of that tinker's toy." He pulled the window shut with a snap.
Then he rounded on Zelda. "What on earth are you playing? I've heard two-year-olds who managed to improvise something more elegant than that. It sounds like music out of the lowest of pubs."
Zelda sighed and switched to a quieter, more boring piece.
Master Jehan was in an irritable mood the rest of the lesson and was worse than usual. When Zelda was able to steal a glance at the window, she saw that Link was gone. She hoped that he wouldn't be mad at her; she enjoyed his playing, even if her tutor didn't.