Grown to Manhood
While they were resting, Zelda spotted something on the ground nearby.
"What's that?" she asked, pointing at the small, dark object.
Link lifted his head and looked. It appeared to be a scrap of fabric.
"I don't know," he replied.
Zelda got up and cautiously approached it. When she was still several feet away, she used the end of her bow to poke at it. It would have been comical in any other circumstance, but after everything they had been through, there was no such thing as being too paranoid.
"It's a glove," she announced after a moment. Apparently deciding there was no harm in a glove, she picked it up and took it back to Link.
"Let me see," he said, holding out his hand.
She dropped the lone glove in his hand. It was made from a very thin, very soft black leather and it had little metal bits and wires crisscrossing the back and palm of it and even running down to the fingers.
It was a right-hand glove.
"Is there no mate?" Link asked.
Zelda looked around. "I don't see one."
Link jumped a little with surprise—as he always did when Master Gardamon made contact with him out of the blue.
Yes, sir? he replied.
I believe that's a telekinesis glove.
Telekinesis? Isn't that where you make things move without touching them?
Yes. The ancients made all sorts of mechanical marvels, and I have read that they had even figured out how to harness an object's energy. Their telekinesis devices were able to tune into that energy and then act like a magnet to draw the object closer.
Sounds like magic to me.
I don't think there's much difference between that level of technology and magic, to be honest.
Do you know how to use it?
No. You will have to figure that out yourself.
"Link, what's wrong?" Zelda asked, looking at him with concern.
He looked up at her. "I was talking to Master Gardamon."
Her concern melted away. "What did he have to say?" she asked eagerly.
Link held up the glove. "He said this was a telekinesis device—that we can use it to draw things towards us."
"I don't know. We just have to experiment with it."
He pulled the glove on and started to push himself up, but stopped as his over-abused body protested very painfully.
"Help me up," he said through gritted teeth. He couldn't let a little thing like pain stop him from trying out a new wonder.
Zelda took him under the arm and hauled him to his feet, but his adrenaline—or maybe the fairy's magic—or both—was gone, and his body went into open revolt. His knees refused to work at all, and he fell limply against Zelda. She staggered back under his weight, but managed to hold him.
"Link, what's wrong?"
He wanted to tell her that he couldn't stand, but he felt like all his blood had suddenly rushed to his feet and dizziness and weakness overwhelmed him to the point that even talking was too exhausting.
"Link, we can't wait any longer. We need to go to Hols."
He tried to nod, but he couldn't even manage that. His body was beginning to shake uncontrollably from a combination of exhaustion, blood loss, and muscle spasms.
After a moment, Zelda told him, "Hols is going to take us to the fairy."
Link closed his eyes and put all of his concentration into teleporting to Hols.
The next moment, there was a shout of alarm.
Link opened his eyes and saw that he was on the mountain in Shi-Ha, partway up the trail to the fairy's cave. Apparently Hols had started that way as soon as Zelda contacted him.
"Help! He's bleeding again," Zelda said. Her voice sounded far away, even though she was right there, holding him upright.
"Dear gods!" Hols gasped, scooping Link into his arms as if he weighed nothing. "What happened to you?"
He set off up the trail at a jog; Zelda trotted beside him.
"I don't know everything that happened to him because we got separated," Zelda explained. "He mentioned demons—and a tiger—attacking him, but the worst was when we were facing the final demon. It kept shocking him. It hit me once and it was awful—like being struck by lightning. I lost count of how many times it hit Link. He started bleeding after a few times, then it knocked him completely unconscious for several minutes.
"He was doing better after he came around—he was even teasing after he beat the demon—but when he tried to stand up, he just… fell apart."
"The force behind lightning is nothing to play around with," Hols said grimly. "The ancients were able to harness that power to some degree, but warned that it was only useable in very small amounts; anything more was deadly."
Link began to pass in and out of consciousness. He didn't know when they took him into the fairy's cave, but he did hear Hols ask, "What should we do?"
"Throw him in," came Zelda's reply.
"Like this? With his clothes on and everything?"
He felt himself floating free in the air, then he splashed through the surface of the water and found himself floating underneath it.
His shaking stopped and gradually his head cleared up and he regained his senses. The pain in his muscles and numerous cuts began to subside.
Well, let's have a look at you.
Link turned and saw the fairy materialize out of the darkness in front of him. She was smiling.
"You've changed so much since I last saw you."
He laughed. "That's not change; that's just a beating. Once the bruises fade, I'll look the same."
"I wasn't talk about your physical appearance." She reached out and gently touched his face with her hand. "When I last saw you, you were a boy trying very hard to be a man. But now you are a man through and through."
Link felt pleased and a little embarrassed. "I don't know what I've done differently," he replied.
"When I first met you, you had a very firm sense of right and wrong, and of your destiny," she began to explain. "You were very sure about everything."
Link felt confused. "You make that sound like a bad thing."
"It wasn't bad, per se. In fact, it was very mature for someone your age. But inside, you were just a boy with an ideal image of manhood in your mind and the will to force yourself to meet that ideal.
"It wasn't very realistic."
"Are you saying that it's not possible to know right from wrong?"
"No, not at all. I'm saying that living up to an ideal that you set for yourself—an ideal based on theory and imagining, not reality—was what was not realistic.
"Every boy forms an idea of manhood—usually by watching other men. But your father was taken from you early and you had no role models for being a knight. What you learned about knightly behavior, you learned from books and what you imagined knights should do and be; you didn't learn it by watching real knights.
"If you could have, you might have realized that even your heroes have flaws. Real men can't be perfect all the time. But, unfortunately, that's the only side you see of them in stories. And if that's all you have to go on…."
Link considered what she said. "So… are you saying that I'm more realistic now?"
Link hated to point it out, but he didn't really feel much different, and he didn't think that he had changed much at all.
"You faced an existential crisis when you found the Master Sword broken," the fairy continued. "You expected everything—your destiny and your quest—to move forward in a linear, logical progression because you yourself are a linear, logical person; you accomplish one thing, then move onto the next. You see your whole destiny laid out before you like a path, and you walk it one step at a time."
"Normally, that's a sensible plan, but you became too dependent on it. You believed too much in destiny and not enough in yourself. You were doing things because you thought you ought to do them—not because you had truly thought things through for yourself and came to the right conclusion.
"Then, when you were confronted by something that was illogical and which seemed to defy your destiny, it rocked the very foundations of your world view.
"You came close to losing your faith because your faith wasn't in the gods, but in your destiny—which is not the same thing. When that seemed to fail you, everything you believed in collapsed.
"It wasn't until Zelda vowed to go into the desert alone that you put aside your disappointment and stuck to what truly matters: your love and loyalty to her. You learned to keep going, even when it seemed pointless and hopeless, not because it was your destiny to do so, and not because it's what you expected of yourself; you did it for the woman standing next to you.
"People can talk about noble ideals and self-sacrifice all day long, but the only reason why you or anyone else willingly puts their life in danger is for love of someone else—a lover, a child, a family, a friend, a king, neighbors—someone.
"Before, you were trying to be a hero because you thought it was expected of you. Now, you are a hero because you are one—because you risk yourself for the people you love, not for some ideal you are trying to achieve.
"That's the difference between the boy trying to be a man and the actual man. It may not seem like much, but it means a lot. It means that you won't face another crisis of faith . If you have self-doubt, it will be minor compared to what you suffered before. You only have to look to the person standing at your side to see the reason why you do anything.
"You are in charge of your destiny now, not the other way around."
Link felt he understood some of what the fairy was trying to say, but he didn't understand all of it by any means.
"But… if my destiny is already determined, then how can I be in control of it?" he asked.
"The outcome is foretold; how you get there is not."
"Doesn't that amount to the same thing?"
"Oh, did they teach you nothing at the monastery?" she lamented. "Surely you have heard that the journey is more important than the destination?"
"Yes, but…." He stopped to consider her words for a moment. "So… what you're saying is that it matters who I am at the end of this quest. I mean, I may end up a knight either way, but maybe I'll be a better one if I do things this way instead of that way?"
She smiled, then began to fade away, but her voice continued to echo in the darkness. And there are still some things which are not certain—some paths offered to you which are yours to take or not, as you choose, she said. I think now you are prepared to take the correct one.
"Wait," Link said, holding out a hand. "Can I ask you something?"
Yes, the fairy replied, although she did not reappear.
Link hesitated, suddenly feeling awkward. "Um… do you know what happened to me when I was fighting the last demon?"
Yes, I have watched your struggles from the beginning.
"Then… um… the dream I had…."
Yes? She sounded amused.
"Was that real?"
As real as any dream, I think you could say.
"But… I mean…."
You want to know whether my niece really wanted to kiss you, or whether she was trying to get you to wake up.
"Yes," Link said with relief, glad that she understood.
There was a tinkle of laughter. You assume the two are mutually exclusive.
Link was at a loss for words.
If it makes you feel better, she continued, Amyl was trying to get you to wake up; she knew if she made you uncomfortable enough—if she turned your dream into a nightmare—you might wake up.
That was her motivation—and her only motivation. Like the rest of us, she is committed to seeing you and Zelda succeed in your quest. But does she have feelings for you? I would have to say that she does.
Link frowned. "I can't return them."
I know. And she knows, too. But love has no logic; we feel it even if the other person can't reciprocate or doesn't deserve it.
Don't let it bother you, she added. Amyl doesn't hold it against you. In fact, I think she wouldn't like you nearly so well if you were unfaithful to your princess. Your passion for her is enough to make any woman envious.
That made Link think of something he hadn't considered before. Are there any male fairies? he asked. I mean… where do fairies come from?
She laughed again. I think that's a conversation for another day. You have only two more demons left; you need to finish before Nagadii can regroup.
Link felt himself being pushed upwards, towards the surface. But he wasn't satisfied. "You all aren't alone, are you?" He couldn't say why, but it bothered him to think about the green-haired fairy in Hyrule being lonely with no hope at all for happiness.
Link, Amyl and Tristan are sisters—and my nieces. How do you think we came to be a family if not through means like the other races of this world?
Well, that made sense.
With something of a feeling of relief, Link broke the surface of the water.