Do Not Anger the Bug Princess
Nothing outside distinguished Agitha's place from the rest of the buildings in Hyrule Castle Town, but Link knew better. The inside more than made up for whatever architectural design or code restrictions had prevented the façade from standing out.
He stepped inside to what he always thought of as a forest, even though it only contained one tree. Sunlight filtered down through stain glass windows, reminding him of the way it did deep in Faron Woods. The aforementioned singular tree rose up in a gnarled dance from the ground in the center of the living area. Something always tugged at the edges of his mind when he looked at that tree, always made him think of one much larger, deep in the woods. But he had never seen anything like it, much less a larger version, much less one even slightly close to this one encircled by a few minor plants and a short, white picket garden fence.
Link glanced at the walls, half expecting to find them covered with ivy or moss. Instead, they were actually covered by glass cases with different bugs mounted in each. Each case was hand-decorated with swirls and whirls and labeled in a flourishing script: Butterflies, Dung Beetles, Cockroaches, Praying Mantises, and so on, all around the room in between the beautifully decorated windows.
He looked around as he stomped off the dirt from the blue webbed covers which currently covered his knee-high leather boots on the fraying entrance rug. Mental picture aside, he always felt he should stop and make sure his shoes were clean before tracking any dirt on the immaculate wooden floor. Directly left of the door were two large bookshelves, each a little taller and four times wider than him and each containing two shelves stuffed full. Both had tops shaped like triangles and were placed one behind the other, looking like houses in a neighborhood but not seeming very practical. Large blue and green jars covered the top shelves of each. He glanced at the titles of the books on the bottom shelf, noticing one which read "Aquatic Insects and Their Care." He glanced once more at the jars, seeing the tiny insects swimming around. In one, titled Sea Monkeys, there was actually a castle and a community of creatures swimming around.
Movement out of the corner of his eye had him looking at the other side of the house, where he could partially see the sitting area in which he usually found the resident of this mystical place. The movement, he saw now, was the golden bugs he had collected so far, flitting around the giant tree. He was completely alone in the house, it seemed. Well, except for the bugs- he could hear their constant hum all throughout the house- and Midna, his companion hiding in his shadow. This house was too well-lit for her liking so she wasn't coming out and looking around.
He walked further back, eyeing the smaller bookcase in the back right corner and watching his step so he wouldn't step on any of the colorful jars stacked around it. Like the other two at the entrance, it had two shelves which were overflowing with jars and books. But unlike the entrance, this one was shorter and the jars were of a variety of liquids. He didn't see anything moving in any of these. Next to it was an orange reading lamp with a green and yellow line around the bottom, currently turned off. The pink love seat next to it sat on a pink rug and had a single book between the red pillow and the green pillow. It was titled Golden Bugs with the author designated as Agitha, Princess of Bugs, as well as a wicker basket and closed white parasol.
He remembered the first time he had seen Abigail, she had been carrying that parasol and wicker basket around outside Hyrule Castle Town. She had been wearing what she always seemed to be wearing: a blue dress with pink butterflies sewn up the middle and on the back, her hair in pigtails and set off by a brown headscarf which matched her long brown, silk gloves.
She had, oddly enough, mistaken him for a grasshopper.
In the far right corner, a curved staircase led up to a slightly raised platform and a ladder which went straight up into an upper floor he had never seen more of than the balcony railing. Chirping and other bug noises could be heard coming from that general direction, so he had an idea of what was up there. He heard footsteps as well, going over his head and toward the ladder.
"My wonderful friends tell me we have a guest!" a young female voice announced, just barely coming into view at the top of the ladder. She was wearing the same dress as before, but he was dressed different.
She gasped, clasping her hands to her chest and examining him up and down as she talked. "…Oh, boy! I thought you were a giant jewel beetle! But you're not a bug, you're my wonderful bug collector!" She giggled. "I like this outfit more than the grasshopper one." In fact, she usually called him Grasshopper, no matter how many times he said his name was Link.
Link glanced down at his green and blue armor the Zora's had given him to help him swim like a Zora. The green scales on his breast plate shimmered in the light, kind of like a jewel and the rest of the armor was blue, just like a beetle. He wondered if she would start calling him a new nickname for each outfit he wore.
He looked back up and Abigail was right in front of him. He yelped and took a step back.
The young girl leaned forward, clasping her hands to her breast, closing her eyes, and inhaling deeply. "I sense it! The distinct pheromone of golden bugs on you!" She straightened and her eyes fluttered open, as if waking from some strange dream. Link never quite got used to that part of their transactions. Sometimes he even fousnd himself missing Malo's snark, even if his intelligence was unsettling for a five-year-old.
Honestly, he had two, but Agitha preferred he give her one at a time. So she could give each of them their own unique welcome to the ball, or something like that. He carefully reached into one of the bags tied to his belt and gently cupped his hand around one of the creatures inside, praying it wouldn't sting him. He pulled out a golden stag beetle and held it out to her. Link had found this little gal in the field north of Hyrule Castle Town among the rocks. At least he thought it was a girl. Agitha seemed to know which gender each insect was, even if he never was certain.
"Oh, oh, oh boy! Who's your friend?" she cried, cupping her face in her hands. "You're a li'l stag beetle! Aren't you, you li'l cutie?!"
She leaned back, clasping her hands to her chest once more and swaying forward and back as she singsonged, "Li'l stag beetle, li'l stag beetle, your spiky pinchers are so sharp. They must feel so good…" Link glanced at her arms, which were mostly covered with long brown leather gloves, and wondered what he would've seen if she had taken them off. Didn't she have parents or something who were supposed to be paying attention to that kind of thing? Had she mentioned parents…?
She curtsied and smiled broadly. "Oh boy, thank you so much! I'm so happy! Allow me to share this happiness with you." The first time he had given her a bug, she had "shared her happiness" by giving him a larger wallet, which he had appreciated much more the second time he had given her a bug and she had repaid him with fifty rupees. Whenever he completed a pair she gave him double that. He was thrilled that this time, he had both in his back. He was about to get 150 rupees.
She handed him the purple rupee and took the female stage beetle from him, crooning at it in her palm. Link pulled out the aforementioned bag and placed the recently obtained riches inside… right on top. He pulled the drawstrings to shut it and was just barely able to get it to close all the way and tie it. There as no way around it, he didn't have room in the Big Wallet for another single rupee. He briefly considered trading in the other stag beetle and using his pockets to hold the rest of the rupees… but no the neighborhood kids had already picked his pockets for fun once before. No point losing that many rupees to the rapscallions.
"You are going to just adore the noble lord I have arranged as your date for the ball- whenever he gets here that is," Agitha cooed at the golden stag beetle cupped in her left palm. She scrunched up her button nose and raised her voice an octave or so, as if talking to a dog, "Yes you will!"
Link's eyebrows rose and he pursed his lips shut so as not to make any strange noises. And to think he thought Malo was the strangest kid he would ever meet. Agitha turned her purple gaze away from her prize long enough to give Link an appreciative smile before turning around to find "the perfect place for this beautiful little lady."
She walked toward the tree and started examining each of the limbs, as if one was more perfect than the other for her to put the female stag beetle one, as if the beetle wouldn't move to a different branch as soon as she placed it.
Link headed toward the door, examining the golden bugs crawling and flying around it as he went. When he reached the door he noticed something odd. Silence. He felt, more than saw, a dark, ominous presence behind him. Not Midna.
Link felt the hairs on his neck stand and swore he could feel something crawling under his shirt. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed movement from another display case. This one read "Praying Mantises." The bugs inside, held there by pins, were twitching now. He could hear the bugs again. More than there had been before. The jars started plinking as their insects banged up against the glass. He put his hand on the doorknob.
His eyes widened and he ducked his head as a deep, voice spoke, "I know you have bugs."
Midna whispered in her babbled speech he could somehow understand, "I've never seen so many bugs before."
He could feel the buzzing and plinking and presence coming closer… closer… closer…
He threw the front door open so hard it banged into the wall and darted outside. He grabbed the door and slammed it closed behind him, taking note of the gangly, odd man curled in the fetal position under the right window.
Link looked at the window and his eyes widened. Agitha stood there. Staring, . Bugs flew all around her.
Link backed away slowly, his hands in a placating gesture. Agitha's eyes tightened. A cockroach crawled across the window, followed by beetles, ants, and others he barely recognized. His heart thudded in his chest.
Link reached into his bag and pulled out the stag beetle. Too hard, it bit him. He winced but resisted the urge to squash the insect. He felt sweat build underneath his hat. He set the male stag beetle gently down on the doorstep without ever taking his eyes off of Agitha. It glinted in the sunlight.
The bugs receded from the window. The door opened a crack. The golden male stag beetle scurried inside. An orange rupee came flying out. It hit Link in the cheek and plinked to the ground. It stung, so he reached up and found blood. He looked at Agitha. She was smiling.
He leaned down and picked up the orange rupee, also now glinting in the sunlight. He looked up and Agitha was gone. Link walked away, walking in shadows for Midna's sake.
"I bonded with the boy who turns into a wolf instead of the girl who controls insects?" Midna quipped. "What a mistake."
Link veered into the sunlight, whistling over Mdina's complaints. One thing was sure, though, he would never, ever forgot to empty his bag at the bank before coming to Agitha's house ever, ever again.