Chapter 1
 

It was more…

A thought of secrets, hidden and kept safe inside the bearer of a righteous heart. One story. One destiny. And one truth.

A story, fed by human desires. Born for many minds, which long for the magic of another world. Minds which believed in a more purposeful life. A fairytale of course, but yet a unique one, precious to those who wouldn’t only see with their eyes, but have gotten used to life on earth. Alive… only with an untrue face. Forgotten maybe… written down more than once. The story tells about many ending dreams, cruel wars, about lovers, who never were together.

Many incidents were woven into that fate, which many innocents sold their souls to. The only fate, which two beings, not always good, not always pure or hopeful, had accepted as their anchor on the sea of time. A fate which they laid their trust in. A trust that was disappointed by the gods and the knowing, for nothing is accomplished by the vicious circle that infested the world. Nothing but dead desires, disappointments and bitterness. There always was one more battle to be fought in this never ending circle and the wounded, dead and those with broken hearts would never get what such a treacherous fate promised. Rotten ideals for something that didn’t deserve to be called destiny.

It was a truth for that two connected souls gave up their wishes and yearnings. Souls that shattered because of the laws of their world.

This story always was so much more, too much to understand. This battle for something, which is the only truth in many eyes: power.

And yet it was only a thought of one youth, lying on a juicy green meadow, nibbling on a blade of grass, watching the heartless passing-by of white wisps of cloud. A thought of something he missed, longed for and that, so he guessed, would never come true.

Melancholy and gloom lay hidden in deep-blue eyes of a young man, who wished he could stop time, freeze everything, for one moment tread on the edge of reality. It was a wish of a somewhat exceptional teenager who would never find what he desired in this modern, “perfect” world.

His left arm rose, trying pointlessly to trace the shape of the clouds, to form it, understand it. The limitless sky with its wonderful blue color and its thousand faces… What did fate try to conceal, if it granted the horizon all these faces? Was it treason? Hate maybe? Or the inevitable? Thoughts about the key to this world and a memory which deceived him plagued his mind.

Silent doubts on his handsome face faded silently, when the young man jumped to his feet and plodded towards his families house.

If you can no longer trust your destiny… call me!’ it sounded in his thoughts as he handled the locking bar of the gate to the backyard.

‘If the incredible shows itself and you question your senses… call me… Call me!’ it escaped his mind, as he inconspicuously entered his home, located in a town called Destinyskeep, built in the path of Memories.

He entered his room. It was furnished tastefully, yet it was unreal and alien to him. Objects of the new times, all of them would be unimportant, if the world of men showed another face. But still, they were surprisingly real and familiar. The controller for a game, simply an unimportant game, in his hands, the teenager sat down in front of his TV. He felt strangely left alone, a dull memory with no reason.

A game. “The Legend of Zelda”… only a game…

“Link?” Meira Bravery, the mother of the young man stood in the doorway, leaning against the wall with her stern face put on.

“Yep, what’s up?”, he mumbled without letting his mind get distracted from the game in front of him.

“Would you grant me, in all your kindness, permission to ask my seventeen year old son, what he thinks he is doing?” Cheeky and rebellious as he was, he calmly shook his head. Much to his mother’s annoyance.

“Link!” she hissed angrily. “Do you see any point in your life other than this damned game?”

“No”, he answered in a bored way. She waggled her index finger at him, flaring up. She moved in front of him, blocking his view at his beloved game.

“And it’s not a mere game… it’s simply everything!” he added.

“Since days, no, I correct myself, since weeks and months you sit in front of it and forget, that there is a real world as well, which your body happens to exist in.”

“Well?”

She rolled her eyes and growled:” Maybe the young lord with his ponytail - I still think you should cut your hair, by the way – should consider to study for his exam tomorrow, if he finds it worth his precious time.”

“I don’t think so.”

“And your appointment with the careers officer? I hope you found time for that.”

“Nope!”

The look on her face matched her foaming mood and her blushed skin. “Why don’t you take your prudent sister as an example? She is busy AND has enough time for herself. But no, all you do is sit here, play and watch your life pass by!” she yelled, her voice rising with every word.

Link jumped to his feet and fled from his upset mother. He hid playfully behind his chestnut brown couch, glanced cautiously into her grim eyes and presented the most innocent smile he could muster.

His mother still looked stern. “By the way…”

“Yeah?”

“Do you have an idea how you want to continue your boring life after school?”

“Should I? And apart from that, my life isn’t so dull boring.”

Hearing that, she frowned even more. Link feared, she was about to explode in a fury. He could see her whole body tense, her eyes wide and her carotid arteries pulsate. It was a little unfair, but her fits of rage fascinated and amused him. He could keep his cool with ease. He lost his composure very rarely.

“Now listen, and listen carefully. You will soon be eighteen years old, but you’re acting like a stupid little brat. I’m sick of organizing all those appointments, just so you can loaf around and don’t care. Can’t you take that serious?!?”

“I forgot about it, alright?”

“You always say that.”

“Yeah, because you never get it.” he provoked.

Whaaaat???” Her voice turned into a long furious roar. He had her exactly where he wanted her. She could never answer to such impertinence. Shaking her reddened head she left the room, growling unintelligible words while stomping down the stairs. She always had to bear her son’s cool acting, which always managed to get her foaming. She never could be mad at him for long however. He’s always been like this, she thought. A little rebellious, adventurous and looking for new experiences. A part of her knew, but she never actually thought, that her oldest was something special.

Link sat back down in front of his TV grabbed the black controller and resumed playing. This amazing game overwhelmed him. He loved all the melodies, the adventures and also, in a way, the deep darkness of the unique dungeons. As stupid as it sounds, it felt, as if all these things were once reality, as if he had actually fought evil once. It was strange though… Link always knew unconsciously what would happen next. He knew about leaving the great forest, the surreal meeting with princess Zelda, even the final fight with Ganondorf was present in his memory, as if he had been there. Familiarity with something so unreal… yearning for something that this world could never provide.

His deep blue eyes wandered around, their gaze filled with indescribable desire for more, for adventures, hope, maybe even love. He watched the sun sink with a comforting, flaming red, making his room look warm and pleasant, while a choir of unreal voices sang in the background. It was a song which, so he felt, was more than a mere magical tune with the power of manipulating time. A choir, sung here in the Temple of Time. A place filled with sadness, Link thought. A place of memories and pain. He was always deeply moved when the heavy melody of the Song of Time surrounded him, when he listened to the choir of many forgotten voices.

It moved his heart, as if something special was linked to the notes, reminding him of trust, hope and fate.

Melancholically and in sorrow he stepped in front of the bright window, feeling the transition of dying day to concealing night. There it was again! A memory of someone he didn’t know, a memory that couldn’t be true. But sometimes, when the youth looked towards the evening sky, no matter of what color, he would feel a soft hand on his shoulder, that would vanish into thin air the moment he turned around. Sometimes he felt something in his room, as if he was no longer alone, the presence of a pleasant soul…

He shook his head, running his fingers through his blonde hair, trying to ignore these paranoid ideas. He tried to call himself back to the path of reason to fortify his self-confidence and –esteem.

His mother came back and entered. “Link, don’t you want to come and have your dinner? It’s late.”

“No, I don’t want to.” He uttered, again not letting the TV screen out of his sight.

“Link…” she sighed. Someone may understand these youngsters, I certainly don’t, she mumbled. But Link turned weirder by the day. He had always been different. He didn’t have the urge to go out every weekend like the others, or listen to loud music or some such. He often made decisions that made no sense to others. There were generally very few people who understood him. He maybe was what many would call a reckless optimist, even though he carried quite a lot of problems on his back.

However, it was just this attitude and his love for nature and its beauties – for example, he loved wandering around in the forest by himself – that made him very interesting for the girls in his school. Of course, his appealing looks helped quite a bit. Slim, but strong body, deep, blue eyes of fascinating purity, blonde hair and a striking face.

On the other hand, he played, wandered through the Hyrule Field. But he always had a much more absorbing picture of nature and freedom hidden in his thoughts, which could never exist on earth. A magnificent picture of terrible beauty: vast plains, rivers and streams, meandering through the lands, huge mountains…

It was almost midnight and he had to yawn deeply. He decided to end the game for today and said: “Good night, Link.”, not meaning himself but the character that traveled through Hyrule, waking Sages to save the country. It really was funny and somewhat weird, that the hero of this tale had his name. Well, it could be a coincidence. A very stupid coincidence. He remembered precisely his flabbergasted face, when a friend had told him about this game and the name of one of the main characters.

The Legend of Zelda…

A title that sounded like loneliness and a grim fate in his ears.

When his sister and he were rummaging in a game store some months ago, he felt overcome by longing for one game. It was subtitled ‘The Windwaker’. The silly woman behind the counter, after looking into his eyes, wanted him to take another version of the game, a bonus-disc included. She said he would need it. Her looks were very strange to him; he didn’t know whether she was real. And that was not the only extraordinary occurrence he had in his young life.

On another day when he visited said store again, the odd woman was gone and there was no evidence, she had ever existed.

But why be bothered by that now? It didn’t matter! The game was his anyway.

But in all that time that had passed by since then, he had played ‘Ocarina of Time’ again and again, almost as if he was possessed. He had of course faced the adventures on sea more than once, but he found it not nearly as captivating as ‘Ocarina of Time’. Could be the graphics, or his own lack of patience for sailing endlessly over the sea.

Mother antics the third: “Link, go to bed, now! You’ve got lessons tomorrow.”

“Yes, I know, mum.”

“Well then, bedtime, if you please.”

“I’m on my way.” He cast a bored glance at her, which at the same time was filled with thoughtfulness. It made his mother wonder what was troubling her son now.

“Is everything alright?” But he didn’t even listen, turned TV and Gamecube off and walked towards the window again. He was positive that something was waiting out there as he looked at the gloomy mist. He had to find out, what it was, as soon as possible. He felt, as if it was something important he had forgotten. Something more important than everything else. Truth and destiny waited out there, woven around the life of an alien being, which had the face of this youth.

Alien, because sometimes seventeen year old Link felt as if he was not part of this world, felt as if he didn’t know himself at all. He strove for things that could not be.

Suddenly his mother stood behind him and made another try to get through his defense: “What is it?”

“Noth’n! I’m going to bed now.” Casually and a little peeved he shoved his mother out of his room. A quick “good night” was the last thing he threw after her.

He sat down on his far too soft bed – he had often woken up lying spread-eagled on the floor – and sighed. Oh well…

She was right with her constant concerns about him, because to be honest, nothing was really well at all. He often regretted the absence of something, but he could never put his finger on it. And with every second that faded this feeling that troubled his heart grew stronger and it became almost unbearable. More than once he had had the feeling that there was someone he missed, in a way he would miss no-one else. Even if there were no clear memories and even if nobody could prove something like a former life. His heart yearned for someone, but for whom and why... that, assumed Link, would never be answered. A big secret!

A secret he would share with no-one, unless he found said soul…

“Call me… when your heart aches…”

To think of this incomparable aura, he sometimes had the luck to dream about, hurt a little, whispering… calling. Dreams… He dreamed about someone, who had a very special place in his heart.

Link turned with closed eyes on his belly and tried to forget these pipe-dreams. He slowly drifted into the world of dreams. He resisted it. He didn’t want to sleep. If there was one thing that really bothered him, it would be his dreams. Some months ago he dreamt about falling down a cliff, which wouldn’t be that bad, hadn’t strange, orc-like creatures chased him and hadn’t he woken up the following day with an aching, bruised body and a concussion. He was positive however, that he had never left his bed.

For Link dreams became a second reality. They weren’t so pleasantly transitory as with other people. It was mostly because of his these nightly horrors that he had become what he is now: a strange, young man, who wished he could roam around the world with a sword in his hands, experience adventures and fulfill his destiny. Bullshit… pure bullshit, he said to himself.

He saw himself in his dream. Link tramped through dark, dirty water, which still shimmered a little red, in a long rock tunnel. There were innumerable, over dimensional spider webs covering the walls. Old, dried-out plants of a kind he had never seen before, winded across earth and stone. In his left hand he firmly held a richly ornamented sword, which shone softly, even in this darkness. A marvelous weapon, he observed. One that made him feel strong and courageous. In his right hand there was a little oil lamp dangling, its frail light almost useless in the eternal blackness of this dungeon.

His steps were growing weaker. What the hell was he doing here?

Ah, finally! At the end of the long corridor he located a door, the matching key in his pouch. He cautiously pushed it open and entered a giant dome like room with huge columns. With the fire from his lamp he lit a few torches, which were conveniently fixed in the walls. Astounded, he marveled the gorgeousness that was faintly visible in the little light he could create. On the ceiling there were gigantic frescos of fighting goddesses. One of them was holding some kind of scepter, ready to strike down a one eyed demon that had just shot a glistering ball of energy at her. There were other figures and motives, but Link couldn’t investigate those closer. A little boy, clad only in green garments, timidly called his name and pointed towards one of the paintings at the rearward end of the dome. How did this boy get here anyway? He didn’t even notice him up until now. But all of a sudden that little guy had vanished. Link got closer to the painting and saw a ruined landscape, its sky turning blood-red. In a painting? A little unnerved he took another look, but there was nothing unusual. It was just a picture with blue sky.

Link’s time of pondering ended suddenly. A gruesome hissing noise behind him signaled imminent danger. Those without courage or willpower would have instantly panicked upon hearing it. Link however remained unperturbed and stood still, listening intently, following the nearing footsteps. He could hear the rattling breath of the creature standing only a few meters away. A clatter. The dull clinking of a grimy sword, encrusted with blood of Link’s predecessor. Then, suddenly a fierce battle cry.

He realized that it was his own voice that rumbled through the giant hall. He rolled sideways lightning-fast and was now assaulting his enemy with his sharp blade. The monster, which Link identified as a skeleton-knight, couldn’t react nearly as fast. With one heavy blow the young hero severed the creatures sword-arm. The beast howled pathetically. Its last shreds of rotten skin tensed for the last desperate attack. As it lunged forward, Link could feel the deadly cold of this offspring of hell, smelled the stench of decay. He skillfully jumped at it, kicked himself of, turned in mid air above it, and cut the miserable creature clean in half with a vertical drop-attack. The last remainders of the enemy lay at Links feet…

Then he suddenly awoke, drenched in sweat. He jerked upright, not knowing where he was at first. Oh man, what a dream, he thought, finding himself sitting on the floor once again. Sleepily he looked at his watch: Almost five? Link murmured something, telling himself he was a moron. He said aloud: “No matter. Five hours of sleep should be enough.” With a swift jump he was on his feet. He was a little surprised about the somersault he had just performed in his dream. He found that hardly possible... Don’t think about it!

Again he cast his confusing fantasies away, ignored them, and tried to convince himself that many had this kind of dreams.

Link stumbled down the stairs and towards the kitchen. He buttered a slice of white-bread and gulped it down, prepared tea and gulped it down even quicker. He couldn’t help but think about the dream again. He felt, he knew the place… when it suddenly occurred to him. A dark dungeon with strange, giant plants, lianas or whatever, that’s got to be the Forest Temple. It has to be. But in the dream it felt so real, so true… more than it could ever be in a game. Damn, that was simply too much.

Link plodded to the bathroom and had an ice-cold shower, and brushed his teeth. As he returned to the kitchen perfectly refreshed, his little sister already sat at the table – well, she wasn’t that small any more.

“Morning Sara”, greeted Link, yawning once more.

“Morning dear brother. You’ve been up for quite a while already, haven’t you?”

“I don’t know if I even slept at all, actually:” Sara looked a little perplexed, then laughed: “Link, our ever-dreamer!”

“Ha-ha. Unbelievably funny. Wait, what’s funny again? Already forgot.”

Sara went up to him, patted his shoulder, smiled and disappeared out of sight in the corridor to get her schoolbag. When Link, upon seeing this, checked his watch, his heart gave a jolt. “Already that late? Dammit!” Quick like the wind he grabbed his bag and ran outside, the annoying dreams banned from his mind for now.

While he was running down the usual way to his school he noticed the sun was shining brightly. It’s definitely going to be a beautiful day. With a little unintentional smile on his lips, he looked into the blue sky. Only a few white clouds lazily glided over the town. All that encouraged his intention to spend the afternoon in the woods. The woods... a place that gave him comfort, where he felt safe. A place that woke memories…

But no matter how passionate the young man’s love for the silent forest with its old, wise trees, hundreds of creatures and its limitless freedom, was, he still honestly wished he could find the truth. The truth that would tell him why he was here, what his purpose was and with whom he shared his destiny. His affection for a place so quiet and sensual was surpassed somewhat by the feelings for something – or someone? – else.

Suddenly Link felt a faint pressure burying his thoughts, as if something wanted to suffocate them. Like a hand, trying to numb his senses the feeling arrived. His entire body felt strange, stunned, rendered weak. All of a sudden he felt frail and pitiful. Where did this sensation come from? Maybe he just didn’t sleep enough, that could explain it. For now, this weak explanation will suffice. But the truth was, there were other causes for his piteous condition. He felt a little depressed altogether for some time. Very often he was in a bad mood, thought about all these stupid, useless things and felt miserable upon the knowledge that nothing will change.

But Link, even if he was always moping around, possessed more inner strength than he would ever have guessed. Something about him made him different, made him exceptional. He would soon learn about these hidden attributes, slumbering in his heart. Courage, bravery, pride, belief in everything good and hope.

He ran along, lost in his thoughts. There it was . The old, huge building, which served as secondary school. He often dreamed about it, although not filled with humans but evil zombies. Not far from the truth anyway…

He could already hear the bell ring when he was just taking the final stairs. With a sigh he stood in front of the door to his classroom and knocked.

“Come in” it barked from the inside. Link opened the door and stepped in.

“Good morning, Link”, said the skinny woman behind the teacher’s desk.

“Nice of you to be on time for once. Now take a seat if you please.”

“Sorry, I was delayed”, Link said coolly. He wondered. The headmistress I. Shadoa in person was in the room. Did she fill in for their usual teacher? Rats! He didn’t have time to check for the list of substitutes for today. Miss Crookpeck had probably gotten sick again. She taught history, and was missing at least once per month, god knows why; and now the headmistress had to stand in again. Link respected her authority, more than his mother’s anyway. Relaxed she had enthroned herself behind the desk, reddish-brown, controlling eyes peered through thin glasses. She could handle the students better than anyone else.

With her deep voice she spoke to the students. “I will not be a substitute for Miss Crookpeck today. I only came here to let you know about a few dates. After that I will let you work on your home-exercises.” She then informed them about the nearing exams, some excursions and some such. The whole time she gave the impression of being concerned with something different. Link watched her carefully and got curious. He had never seen the headmistress this absent minded. And frankly, it was absolutely unthinkable that she didn’t force any annoying history lesson in the student’s heads. Link whispered to his neighbor: “Did I miss something special?”

“No, you didn’t. Apparently she behaved all day in this weird way.”

“I see…” Now his curiosity was woken completely. Maybe… he could learn something interesting, if he found out what was going on. Of course he would try. This simply was something completely natural to him, wanting to get to the bottom of new or strange things.

Miss Shadoa left the room. Link stood up and nonchalantly walked towards the door. Suddenly someone grabbed his arm. A boy with brown short hair and brown eyes watched him wilily. It was Rick, Links cousin and at the same time his best friend.

“Now, now, what are you trying to do, you ‘Nice-of-you-to-be-on-time-rascal’?”

A little grin forced its way to Links face. “You wanna come too?”

Rick nodded. They opened and stepped out into the corridor. Link looked around swiftly, saw that they were alone and ran towards the stairs. He could hear Miss Shadoa’s shoes clack from down below.

“Pst” he signaled. If they were caught, there would be trouble. Big time… But luckily the headmistress hadn’t heard them and continued on her way down.

Suddenly they heard a door open behind them. After almost suffering a cardiac arrest they quickly hid behind two pillars that flanked the beginning of the stairs. The person who exited the door was Richard Raunald the deputy headmaster and school psychologist. Link had had a discussion with him once, a memory he wasn’t particularly fond of. There was thin little quarrel with a fellow student, this joker Mike Callaghan, who had nothing better to do than provoke him. He had called him a wimp. Well, Link was the stronger one. He hadn’t really hurt him of course, just made his nose bleed a little. But that was quite some time ago.

That guy was strangely in haste. He almost tripped on the stairs because he took them so fast. Dr. Raunald was at least fifty years old, had gray hair and really pointy ears. The moment he was out of earshot, Link and Rick sneaked down the staircase. However, they had apparently lost both Ms. Shadoa and the hasty old man.

“Come. Let’s go back to the classroom, it’s pointless.” Rick suggested.

“Okay, you go back. But I’ve got the feeling there’s something going on that I have to find out.” As if Inez Shadoa could solve those riddles that were plaguing him.

“If you say so.” And with that Rick left. Now Link could finally look for her without being disturbed. The sensation of creeping after someone while trying to remain unseen was somewhat exciting. It felt, as if he had done this before.

The young wannabe agent went further down to the bottom floor, into the creepy darkness of the cellar. He was again reminded of the dream that haunted him this night.

Unexpectedly he heard exactly the voices he had hoped to hear.

“But that can’t be. I mean, how could he…” Her voice almost gave out. Link had never heard the proud headmistress talk like this. Desperation and fear openly lay in her voice. Link slowly got closer and now stood right behind them.

“Inez, I’m sorry.” Raunald uttered, almost as if he could change anything. Link guessed that something bad must have happened, maybe with her family… no, why would she talk to Raunald about it, of all people. Maybe it’s about the school?

“So he was able to free himself. I’d like to know what happened to her. Do you think she still exists, do you believe she is still alive?”

“I hope so.”

Link had no idea who they were talking about, but it seemed to be of great importance. ‘Free himself’? What’s that supposed to mean? Did someone break free from prison or what?

After a few seconds of silence Raunald continued: “I saw him wander around in the streets. Bless the goddesses that he didn’t recognize me. Else I’d probably not be able to stand here, talking.

“From this day onwards we have to act extremely careful. Richard, you’ll excuse me, I of course have to look for her. Maybe she is here as well, who knows what happened. I have got to find her at all cost. She will probably be confused and… she… I am still bound to her.”

“Yes, we know. I shall contact the others immediately.”

“What are we going to do about Li-“ Miss Shadoa jerked heavily as the bell rang. “Already this late. Well, good luck Richard, I pray that everything will turn out alright.

“Okay. See you, I hope.”

The headmistress left the gloomy cellar with fast steps. Link was barely able to hide behind an old wooden cupboard. After that Raunaldo too exited the room. Link stayed, confused and a little absentminded. The words he just heard seemed so catchy and important, as if he was a part of these incidents they talked about. But maybe that were just wishes: Being entangled in curious happenings, playing the leading role, escape this all to common life of his.

Suddenly he heard the lock click. Oh my god! What if he’d been trapped? He rushed to the door, rattled forcefully, but he couldn’t open it. Great, now he was in trouble once again. What now? Wait a sec. There was another door in this giant room, wasn’t it? Wasn’t it??? The little bit of light that came from a lone bulb was turned off from the outside. Just perfect… Now the only thing Link saw was blackness; not even his hands before his eyes were visible. The only glimmer came from his eyes. They seemed to glow even in the absolute dark.

Link knew this kind of darkness quite well. He was somehow used to it from his dreams.

The break will surely be over soon…

“Damn it!” he cursed, trying to find something that would provide light. The minutes passed while he groped his way, touching every object in and on the cupboards and shelves to find out what it was. Finally he found a little, but nevertheless useful flashlight. With the dim shine of light it produced he searched the walls and – a miracle! – there actually was a second door. He ran towards it, slowly gripped the handle and… it opened. Link stepped outside, finding himself on the rear side of the building. He raced through the well kept park that surrounded the school. Back in the lobby he gave a sigh of relieve when he realized, he still had 10 minutes before the next lesson. He walked up to today’s list of substitutes. Well, well, Miss Shadoa seemed to be gone for the next few weeks. It said ‘business strip’ on the list. Nonsense, Link thought. At least he knew the real cause for her absence: She was looking for someone, a she. And it seemed priority one to find said person. It was probably a good idea to keep silent about all this.

The student had a seat in the cafeteria, to catch his breath. This day continued to get even stranger. He wondered what might happen next. Lost in thought he daydreamed a little. He felt a little tired and feeble. He supported his head with his hands. A feeling of all that being too much swept over him. He simply had enough for one day. Sara stood at one of the coffee-vending-machines when she noticed her brother. When she saw him there, slumped down, she worried a little for whatever reason. She approached his table. He was actually about to fall asleep here!

“Link!” she yelled.

“What?” he droned.

“Link, you’ve gotta be out of it. Falling asleep like this… tz, tz.”

“Eh… no, I just acted like dozing off. I only wanted to rest a little and access my memory, really.”

Sara looked puzzled.

“…for… erm, math.” Link added.

“Link, you’re swindling again. What’s really up?”

“Nothing. I just want to be alone!” he roared at her. Everyone in the cafeteria turned towards him.

“I’m sorry…” was everything, he said before he fled from there.

Sara only worried more after that outburst. She loved her sibling dearly. But of late something troubled, but he would always hide it. She wished she could help him. What could be the cause for his strange behavior? Actually, he had always been like this: ignoring problems, hiding fears, concealed what hurt his soul. Even though, Sara strongly suspected something. She often heard him talk in his sleep, knew, he must have evil nightmares… she couldn’t really help him, as much as she wanted to. Link was a lone wolf, an outsider. He would always be different, compared to most people surrounding him. He simply was Link; someone with an extraordinary destiny, with an unique purpose. And his way would be paved of pain, suffering and despair…

Link was on his way back to the classroom, cursing himself for treating his sister so badly. She wanted only his best. Link started to run, closing his eyes. Why did he feel so horrible and why wasn’t he able to be happy for once? Why did he have feelings that others never had, feelings they don’t even know.

He felt guilty… but guilty of what? Of having a heart that is consumed by desire for different times and the longing for achieving something great?!? He stopped to look out of the window; he could still see the sun from here… he had to go in the woods… but why? For some reason he was under the impression that someone called him there – a familiar voice.

He turned away, finally entered the classroom, sat down on his seat. He noticed Rick’s disconcerted eyes watching him.

“Anything new?”

Link declined. At the moment he wasn’t keen on talking to somebody.

The lesson passed, so thought Link, with it’s everyday habit, it’s hair-raising normality. And once more he was bored and deeply in thought, doodling mindlessly on a sheet of paper, acting as if he followed the lesson every now and then. Occasionally he caught himself being at a completely different place for some seconds.

Half an hour had passed when Link abruptly dropped his pencil. Clack. Clack. The writing utensil hit the floor with a very noticeable noise, but he didn’t mind. Petrified he looked straightforward; almost as if he was hypnotized he stared into nothing. His breath took a faster pace and a strange pressure was upon his thoughts, not bothering however. It actually was familiar and comforting. Something was there… someone was calling him!

Everything became unimportant, every single sound seemed to come from the bottom of the ocean. Only low frequencies… they hammered in his head. It imposed itself on him. Someone called…

Link pressed his hands over his ears, heard a heartbeat besides his own. It burned mentally, but Link still concentrated on it, wanted to know what it was… and who…

In combat with the obstacles his destiny will present he would prevail. He wanted to know, feel, see…

A bang, a clang, a whirring, slowly becoming the noise of a violent stream. Link frantically shut his eyes. He hoped… called for this person as well now. He didn’t fully understand what he was doing, but it had to be done. This was destined to happen, no matter if it had a name. The roaring became more intense, yet more comprehensible and calmer. Someone tried to call…

And it happened! One word in all the levels of his mind, a voice, sounding soft, made him open his cramped eyes wide.

“Link”, it called, that voice he somehow knew, or wanted to know.

“Link… Link”

When he heard his name the third time, he stood up at once. Every one of his colleagues turned to look at him dazedly, but he didn’t see any of them. He followed only this voice, heard and felt only it. Almost as if he was remote controlled he escaped the room, didn’t understand the indignant words of his English teacher, couldn’t comprehend the yells of his fellow students, not even Rick’s. He was drawn outside, ran through the main gate of the school. He could hear the voice more clearly now: “Link… help me…”

Then nothing more…

It became quiet and dark in his mind. Calm returned into his heart and it seemed as if he had just awoken from a long trance. Extremely unsettled he lay his palm on his glowing forehead. He wanted answers, wanted knowledge. What the hell happened? Scared of himself and deeply ashamed of getting crazy like this he sank down on the stone steps in the schoolyard.

“I’m going mad!” he murmured. He wished he wasn’t so deluded to think that this voice actually existed. But even though concerned for his sanity, he was positive that it was real. It called him… It was no illusion!

“I couldn’t possibly imagine all that…” he reassured himself. He tried to remember it, a charming voice, crystal clear and delightful. You almost had no choice but to listen intently to it. This voice…

Link stayed there for a little while longer, talked to his teacher later to excuse his behavior, but didn’t say any more words to anyone. He yearned to hear it again, wanted to know, who it belonged and why it moved him so much. It was, as if his heart reacted to every little nuance, as if this voice passed the key to all the answers he wanted in his life.

The hours passed. Link couldn’t follow the lessons very well, he didn’t even listen to the teachers, but fled into wonderful fantasies to flee from reality. He then seemed to stumble out of the building like a ghost, walking past happy faces, looking forward to a free afternoon. Weariness. Unease. Doubt. His head hurt. On his way back home all things that happened today swept over him again. First this nerve-racking dreams, then the sinister words of the headmistress – he was able to free himself, what could that mean? – and finally the voice that had cast a spell on him…

At home his mother waited for him with lunch. Link wasn’t hungry at all, but he still ate a little something to give the impression that everything was perfectly fine – something he didn’t feel like at all.

He took his dark green backpack to his room looked through the window towards the woods. Only few minutes… then he would be amidst old wood creatures, alone with himself and all those tormenting questions, alone with his sorrows. The trees’ whispers already reached his ears, luring him to a world, where he could dream.

Link didn’t ponder long. He ran out of his room and after a quick “See you later!” for his mother he hurried to where his desires lay, where he could think, undisturbed. At a little spring he stopped, had a drink of its cold water and dropped himself onto a soft spot of moss. He stretched his limbs as far as he could, enjoyed the silence, which only was disturbed by the wind’s song. He closed his eyes, tried to smile but it remained a try. It has been long since he had a smile that his heart genuinely felt. At the moment he did feel well enough to leave all these unsettling experiences behind, but… this voice…

This lovely voice, sticking in his mind like a splinter, he couldn’t suppress at all. Such a comforting voice… Link yawned and closed his eyes, noticing little insects crawling on his hand. He ignored them and fell asleep in the dampened light that shone through the leaves.

In late evening Link was torn away from the, for him highly necessary, clutches of sleep. A few warming rays of sunlight still found their way through the treetops. A loud voice made him open his eyes. Rick stood right before him, wondering. His auburn eyes seemed to shine a little. Apparently he was in the mood for joking around.

“Well, awake already, woodboy?” Link held his hand in front of his mouth, which he unintentionally had to open wide to yawn heartily.

“How late is it?”, he asked for a greeting.

“Half past seven. Don’t say you’ve been here the whole afternoon again.” Rick said while sitting down on the ground and pulling a letter out of his pocket.

“Yep, but I seem to have forgotten time, numbed or manipulated… whatever. Well, at least I’m more awake than I ever was these last weeks.” Grinning he lay back down, his hands behind his head.

“Bad dreams again?” Link could only nod, his grin vanishing again. Rick knew of his problems, his unusual dreams, which could leave their marks in reality. Rick knew quite a lot…

“Anyway, I’ve got a letter for you.”

“Not again…”

“Well, yes. And I’m starting to become jealous, you heartthrob!”

Link received the letter, bitter and bored to tears.

“From who?”

“You may guess three times.” Link knew the handwriting only too well, knew the brightly pink colored name of the sender.

“Ilona again… Does she ever give up?” Yes, Ilona…

Link remembered: A stuck-up, conceited goose who was convinced beyond doubt, that if she showed lots of skin, she could get any guy she wanted. A skinny figure, unmatched by a round moon-face with peroxide-blonde colored hair, that didn’t salvage anything. Light-blue contact lenses hid her real eye color, but she was dumb enough to show hint towards them by constantly fumbling around her eyes to check if they were still there. Every one of her characteristics made her more disgusting. She had to find fault in everything and when something did not go perfectly as she wished, she would not be stingy with bad language. She had mastered gossiping about people behind their backs. Of course, if she wanted something of someone, she could be the nicest person on earth. Last time she and Preston, whatever the hell his surname was, were a couple. A perfect match.

One time, Link had agreed to meet her, hoping that if he behaved mean and nasty, she would leave him be in the future. He still couldn’t quite believe things happened the way they did. Every beastliness he had mustered back then, she dismissed as bad humor and many things she probably didn’t even understand. And when Link with barely disguised intention had tipped over a big glass of Cola right on her impossibly tight miniskirt, she simply went to the toilet without a word. The perfect opportunity to make off, which of course he had used promptly. Unfortunately she knew where he lived, so little time later she stood on his doorstep…

Annoyed he tore open the envelope. Already after reading the opening he ripped the whole letter apart several times.

“What’s up?”

“This wretched goat thinks she can endear herself by addressing me in such a cheap way. That does it!” Link had to get up and drink from the spring. Rick searched for the matching pieces and read the title.

“Lovely Hero?”, a flabbergasted Rick stuttered. That wasn’t such a hot idea… He knew exactly what Link thought of being called things like that. It could get dangerous, especially if the title was referring something he didn’t want to be. And Rick was sure about where this very one originated from.

“This false beast has no idea. One more time and I break her neck!” he hissed through clenched teeth. He of course would not lay a finger on her, but he needed a nice imagination to blow off steam.

“Come on, man, don’t get so fired up about that.” Normally Link kept his cool very easily, but the word hero brought his blood to a boil. He hated the word because of the regular comparisons to the game-character.

“Rick, I know you’re right, but it still vexes me that this chick has now discovered my passion for the Zelda-games as well. I certainly didn’t choose this name of mine.”

“I know that. No need to explain that to me. Tell Ilona, though I don’t think that will shut her up.” Link sat back down besides his best friend and watched the sky pensively.

“Tell me, Link…”

“Yeah, what?”

“Would you like it if Ilona was called Zelda?” Rick smiled guileful. Link knew he wanted to provoke him a little. A little perplexed he looked at him, searching for a smart reply.

“If Zelda looked like Ilona, the gods of Hyrule would have to stand in a corner and feel ashamed for such a creation.”

“Oh, I think the gods of this world have made this stupid mistake.”

“An inexcusable mistake…” Link agreed, thinking about Rick’s question. If Ilona was named Zelda… Actually, he thought, no-one could look or be like princess Zelda. He adored her… How childish! Link adored a game-character, dreamt about a virtual girl without thinking about a real one at all. A little disappointed in himself he wondered briefly, if that was the nature of his problems. Was he obsessed with a fabulous princess of a game? Was he in love with her? Head-shaking he rejected these thoughts as stupid youth problems and lay down on his back.

“I don’t think anyone can hold a candle to Princess Zelda.” He murmured, silently remembering some of his dreams. They were quite a burden, but without these nightly pictures he simply wouldn’t be himself. Sometimes he dreamt about a girl he knew… yes, he did… but her name certainly wasn’t Zelda, he tried to convince himself.

“There is also nobody who could hold a candle to Link.” Rick uttered, which earned him a little jab on his right arm.

“Hey, do you really have to annoy me constantly? Nice cousin, you are!”

“Well, I happen to know that you can need little pleasantries for a change.” Link tried to smile, but it didn’t quite work out. The outcome was merely a silly grin.

“Thanks, Rick, changes really don’t hurt.”

“Well then, would you like to spend tomorrow afternoon on Maron’s horse ranch? It’s been quite a long time since we rode together.”

Mmh… go riding. Sounded good.

“Settled!”, he said enthusiastically. Maron was a good friend of Rick’s. She, her parents and her two sisters had quite an enormous stud farm. It really has been a long time since he’s been there.

At about eight o’clock in the evening the two seventeen-year-olds got on their way back home, however taking the longer route, because they wanted to look at the beauty of the woods a little longer. They met an elderly man, Igor, if Link remembered correctly, another soul that was often drawn into the forest.

Rick and Link reached the first gardens and saw families having a grill-party. The weather really was wonderful, the first warm spring day that year. Still… soon storms would arise and a blood-red coat would suffocate the world…

“Link, I just thought of something.”

“Yeah? ‘bout what?” He picked up a little stone, just to throw it in the air and catch it for fun.

“What got into you in school today?” Link dropped the stone and stared blankly at the gardens with all these happy people and frolicking children. Sadly, he had never gotten the chance to fool about like this. As a child of four years he had had a hard time in an orphanage, and now…

In every step of his life there had been an incident, which made him wonder why fate was so cruel to him. After the orphanage things were going better, but then these dreams started to haunt him.

Dreams, that Link had not the insight to explain.

Dreams, so enigmatic like a script that nobody knew how to read.

And these past few days he was accompanied by this voice. Another one of Link’s silent fits, another one of his so called problems.

“I guess it just wasn’t a very good day for me”, he started, telling only half of it, but justified this by telling himself that he had not lied.

“Unfortunately, you have quite a lot of these bad days, I have to say. I don’t want to interfere in your business, but you know I can be as silent as a grave.”

“I know”, Link replied. Sighing he leaned against a tree, still hearing the shrill children’s laughs.

“I am going mad, Rick. That’s the problem.”

“How should I understand that?” Rick went over to him to be able to look at Link’s face.

“I’m starting to get schizophrenic. That’s it!”, he uttered more loudly.

“Because of your dreams?”

“No.”

“Then why?”

Link stared at the sky, observed a buzzard, flying his rounds in the air. He wished he was such an animal, without problems, gliding high above in freedom.

“Link,” Rick tried to break the silence. “Come on. We have always shared everything, haven’t we?”

“Okay, Rick, if you have to know: I’m hearing voices”, he spat. “Yeah, just look aghast. You’re feeling better now, knowing that your best pal is a damn lunatic?”

Rick answered nothing, his brown eyes gazing uncertainly upon the gardens.

“Right in there is this voice”, Link grumbled, tapping on his head with his finger.

“A beautiful voice at that. It’s driving me crazy.”

Rick turned around, so that his friend didn’t have to see his shocked expression.

“A lonely, desperate voice I should know”, he added. “And I know it will keep calling me until I found it.”

“Damn it all!”, he roared after a while, hitting the tree bark hard with his left fist. He then sunk almost stunned down on the ground. “I can’t simply imagine all this, can I?”, he murmured. “She called for me four or five times now… saying my name, asking for help…”, he whispered.

“Who?”, Rick finally managed to stutter.

“I don’t know.”

After a long pause Rick stated: “Well, what can I say to that, Link. You’ve never been a normal person, not even when I got to know you. And I guess you won’t be able to change that, no matter what you do.”

Link got up turbidly and walked to his cousin’s side, looking in the same general direction.

“Maybe I really have to admit that to myself and accept it.” It couldn’t be changed. These things had happened. Link could call himself a madman, call himself sick. But what he had experienced would not be undone.

“You still want to go riding tomorrow?”

The desperate expression on the frustrated young man’s face got a little brighter. “Yes I do.”

“Well then, see you tomorrow in school.”

“See you”, he replied, watching Rick walk quickly back home.

Rick’s words made him ponder. There probably was no point in denying it any longer. Something was not right with Link. But if it was something unusual, if he was sick or if it was only imagination should become clearer very soon.

Shortly before nine o’clock Link arrived at home, where the nerve wrecking hue and cry of his mother awaited him. It was his punishment for neither having made his homework, nor having studied for his exam on the following day. For agitated Meira Bravery the worst thing however was that he hadn’t told anybody where he had gone to. He could have taken his cell-phone with him, but you couldn’t receive calls in the woods anyway.

“Link, if you continue like this, you’ll be grounded.” That baffled him. How could she threaten him with that? She had never…

“Come on, Mum, I’m almost eighteen.” Link answered, feigning the little innocent.

“Well, you’ve never acted like this before.”

“And? What’s wrong with acting how I want to?”

“It’s wrong because in life, things never happen like we want them to be”, she recited with motherly wisdom, which she thought very highly of.

Link knew what she was talking about… it was his whole dilemma that his life would never go as he wanted it to.

“But you can try to change some things”, he retorted, not sure if he believed in his own defiance.

There always was hope and there still is now…

A phrase that occurred to him often although he never knew who had said it once. Even if the world itself was to go down, cursed and dead, he would still be the optimist and if he was the last human alive.

Stubborn as always he trotted up to his room where he cast a few glances into the geography book for the exam tomorrow. Shortly afterwards he morosely threw it into the corner of the room while looking at his Gamecube. He took the little disc out of the console, let it circle between his hands and remembered the dream shattering truth that Hyrule and all its wonders were just a game. A game, not more and no less. It’s a real pity, Link thought, dismissing the pathetic feelings for a world that didn’t exist.

It knocked at his door. Without letting Link say anything, his little sister in her moss-green pajamas entered the room. “Hey bro, can I play Zelda a little?”

“Sure, be my guest. I’m done learning anyway.”

“I’d never have guessed”, she said artfully. “You never had problems with geography anyway. I’d like to know where you got all that knowledge.” Link eyes wandered to the ceiling. Good question, but when it was about maps, countries and their position, rivers and such, Link had almost clairvoyant abilities. He would never get lost anywhere, that’s for sure.

Sara sat down in Links TV-corner and started playing Ocarina of Time. Her brother served himself with some sandwiches his mother had brought him and switched on his computer to check his mails. As usual, there was nothing that remotely interested him. From his desk he peered over to Sara who was about to bring the poor hero of time in extreme peril. She wanted to prevail against Dark-Link, but had no idea how to send him to eternal perdition. She covered him in strokes, which would eventually have an effect on him, but she suddenly pressed ‘Start’ and threw the controller angrily into the corner.

“I can’t believe your patience with playing through this game. Doesn’t it ever get boring even for you?” she questioned, knowing, that Link had played the game at least a hundred times from beginning to end.

“No. With every time I get better, that’s my motivation”, he answered, taking the controller in his hands.

“Do you know your problem when fighting Dark-Link?”

“Nooo…”, she said pouty, “…or I would have done him in long ago.”

Link chuckled. “Yeah, sounds logical.”

He then played with ease and maddening patience.

“You are too hectic and impatient. You don’t think about utilizing what he does not have, because he is only a shadow. In battle it’s not just about speed and slaughtering the enemy quickly. A good player enjoys the fight, he battles with grace and elegance. He robs his adversary’s strength with every blow, instead of flailing the sword around, even if many gamers are convinced of this method.” Sara eyed the screen, slowly understanding her brother’s point. Link used magical attacks, she didn’t even know they existed in this game and fought differently with the game-Link than she did. Strange… it seemed, as if the green capped hero performed different moves with his sword whenever Link controlled him. Baloney, she told herself, that’s impossible. She must have dreamed that right now…

After a few seconds Dark-Link was defeated.

“Here you go. Do you want to go on?”

“Uh, no. You better continue. Apparently you were born to play Zelda.” With a wink she got up and looked at her watch. Ten o’clock already.

“Good night.” Link also wished her sweet dreams and ended the game.

He knew however that he wouldn’t be able to find sleep any time soon. His nap in the woods maybe was a tad too long. A short walk around the house could help. After that was decided he quickly stumbled down the stairs and exited the house for some fresh air.

The short walk soon turned out to be a little stroll towards the inner city. Again he was on his way without anybody knowing where he was, which could only get him into more trouble. Ah, what the heck!

Link loped absentmindedly on the old marketplace. He cast a look into the well as the light of the street-lamps reflected on the calm water. He touched the surface lightly with the tip of his index finger and watched the extending circles on it soon disappear into calmness again.

He suddenly had the feeling of being watched. He scanned the whole marketplace methodically, eying every last dark corner and finally the unlighted side streets. The feeling grew in intensity, became more threatening, more frightening. Somebody drew closer.

Link took a few steps backwards and felt his pulse quicken. As if an old memory was activated anew, emotions of hatred, detestation and horror welled up inside in an instant.

Steps…

Link heard a clatter that originated somewhere deep in the dark. The leaves of the poplars that edged the square rustled. Then, again there were steps.

Links breaths per minute increased rapidly. Again he looked in every direction. He couldn’t define this feeling of fear of this nearing entity, for dread and the helplessness of panic were alien to him. Link had verily never feared anybody or anything. Something that would change very soon. The teenager with the green base-cap tripped all of a sudden. He turned around. The darkness revealed nothing. Silence. Absolute silence. He felt a bit queasy. Without further thoughts he Link jumped to his feet and ran towards a little alley where the buildings on the sides were crowded together. His steps were ever going faster. His heart felt as if it would burst of unrestrained impatience, tension and excitement. He kept hastening through the unlit alleyways. He closed his eyes for a brief moment.

Suddenly he bumped into someone, but was immediately and violently pushed aside. Link flew several meters backwards, then shook his head in stupor. His eyes peered tensely into the darkness. Someone stood right before him. A big person, considerably taller than him. The dark figure kept its silence and remained cloaked. Link had not got the strength to move a single muscle, as if chains of dread bound him. A memory… Ominous hate and nameless woes.

In one of the houses the light was turned on. A glare filled the alley and revealed the figures face, gave it form and contour. The air was chilly, but even if Link started to freeze, a drop of sweat ran down his forehead. Cold. Severe, invincible cold crept around, incasing the unknown being.

A giant, strong stood before him. It had to be a man, Link couldn’t imagine a woman being this tall and sturdy. He wore black clothes, matching his noticeably dark, unearthly skin. Link’s blue eyes wandered from dark brown leather boots up to tight, ugly trousers, which seemed about to be ripped apart by the muscles on his legs. They saw a kind of armor around his muscular chest. Over his back hung a black, heavy cape. Link looked fear-ridden at an arrogant, old face. Severe pain shot through his entire body upon seeing this fierce grimace. Pale lips, a long nose. Link risked a look into the dark pair of eyes, which glared down humiliatingly from their high throne. Unable to turn his head away he continued to stare into these blackness-filled eyes. He felt as if a curse spread throughout his body, as if old wounds reopened in an instant.

Link finally looked away in disgust, didn’t want to remember the color of these frenzied, contemptuous devil-eyes. In the same second the light was turned off again.

“Watch out where you are crawling, little maggot.” The deep, cold voice boomed in the whole street. To the youth’s ears it sounded uncomfortably familiar; mocking and malevolent.

The dark figure ran towards him with big steps. Instantly Link noticed a threatening sparkle in those eyes, an unnatural glow, visible in the surrounding darkness.

“Those who cross my way will perish!”, the guy shouted with unbelievably self-assurance. He wanted to smash Link with his foot, but the young man evaded and rolled skillfully away, so that he now stood behind the aggressor.

This maniac, without bothering to turn around, growled: ”If you ever infest my sight again, I will not show such cordiality, you poor twit!”

With his head vainly risen, the dark figure strutted away.

What a bastard, Link thought the moment he realized what had happened a few seconds ago. His breathes got calmer and his pulse started to slow down. He was confused about this unknown numbing fear he had just experienced. He looked back to where the douchebag had gone off to, but he was not to be seen. He had felt completely defenseless against this guy…

He somehow had a very unsettling feeling upon the thought of encountering this brute again. Who was he anyway? Link lived in a little town where anybody had at least seen anybody once, but this person was completely unknown to him.

Slowly but steadily the strings of destiny are tightening and when the deciding day has begun, there would be no turning back for Link and those close to him.

As the next day began, everything seemed to be perfectly in order again. No voice in Link’s head. No nightmares haunting his mind. Only a few – too few of course – hours of calm sleep. He thought about it and hoped that the last day was gone and of no further consequence. He walked to school with new happiness in his heart, which couldn’t even be dimmed by the exam he would have to sit through. But such a test could hardly be called a challenge, in comparison to hordes of axe-swinging monsters. What trouble could exams cause, when you have voices spooking in your head?

He ignored it, rejected this voice as mere imagination and enjoyed the cool, fresh air that grazed around his ears.

The exam turned out to be a piece of cake, a boring one at that, and the rest of the school day he also managed without any curious occurrences.

On the afternoon the young ‘hero’ ran bouncily to the horse ranch of Maron’s family.

Maron… Link knew her well. She was a pretty girl with long auburn hair, a remarkably cute face and a lot of charm and humor. She too had temporarily adored him, which was why Link had tried to avoid her a little bit. She, of course, was nothing like Ilona, and had considerably more brain than this cheap hussy. And Maron admittedly was quite likeable, but simply not his type. On the other hand, he had no clue what his type of girl actually was…

Rick however seemed to have fallen for her completely, so Link supported him in any way he could.

Rick and Maron already awaited him at the paddock.

“Hey, wood boy! We’re here!” Rick’s voice echoed through the air. Link noticed both of them and toddled up to them. Maron sat on the fence, dangling her legs. She smiled broadly at Link. Dodging her gaze a little he tried to bring a smile on his face as well, but, as always, it remained a try.

“Hi, Link”, she said and jumped handily down from the gate.

“Hi Maron. So, what’s the plan for today?”

She winked and answered: “Well, how about a little round through the forest. We could pass through the little abandoned village near the coin spring.”

“Nice idea.” Rick also gave his OK.

Near Destinykeep existed quite a lot of curious places, each with an old story behind them. For example there was a partly sunken village which was completely vacant, or the fabulous spring, which had many legends woven around it. Casting a coin in it, so the tale tells, would make a fond wish come true.

For Link all of that were just fairy-tales, just as ‘The Legend of Zelda was only a game. Unreal. Not really worth thinking about…

Not after long three horses loped through the woods surrounding Destinykeep, over wild paths and through dense foliage.

“Hey, Link?” Rick started, as Maron was a few meters before them on her Haflinger.

“Mmh?”

“Feeling a little better today?” Link looked questioningly at his friend and nodded slightly.

“I think yesterday was just a stupid day. No need to worry now”, he ensured, avoiding to look in Rick’s eyes. Pigheadedly he continued riding, relishing going through these woods on horseback. He liked the feeling of letting himself be carried away from everything, remembering how essential freedom, liveliness and the feeling of a nearing adventure were to him.

On late afternoon they reached the old village in the middle of the forest. There were a few buildings seeable, slowly collapsing of the weight of time. The three teenagers took a break, relaxed and took pleasure in the blue spring-sky. Link walked around between the cottages absentmindedly. He followed an old cobbled path leading to the mysterious spring.

In the meantime Maron and Rick just sat together on the green meadows.

“Hey, tell me, Rick,” Maron started, wiping one of her strands of hear out of her face.

“What’s up?” he mumbled, opening his eyes halfway. He lay spread-eagled and airily on the grass, apparently not rejecting the thought of a little nap.

“It’s about Link…” Rick sat back up to look into Maron’s thoughtful face. Something in her look made gave her thoughts away. “You are worried about him, am I right?”

“Well, just look at him. Did you ever see a genuine smile on his serious face in the last weeks? I mean, he’s in the best years of his life, of anyone’s life, and he is sometimes scowling as if a whole planet’s fate was resting on his shoulders. He can hardly enjoy anything, rarely be happy altogether.”

Rick was baffled. Well, yeah, he knew Link had his problems, now more than ever with this voice ‘calling’ him. But he hadn’t thought that it was so obvious to others who didn’t know him as well as he did. It made him ponder.

“Link has his secrets, Maron, I’m afraid I can’t tell you more. But the smile thing is sadly true. He never smiles…”, he ascertained discontented.

“Why? I mean, there’s got to be a reason for his mood.”

“Yeah, I’m sure there is…” Maron laid her hand on Rick’s shoulder.

“Do you think we can do anything to help him? We’re his friends after all, Rick.” He shrugged his shoulder a bit.

“The problem is that Link wants to find out what’s troubling him and resolve it on his own. That’s just how he is, I guess.”

“Stubborn idiot!”, Maron muttered aggravated. She blew strands of her hair out of her face, where the wind had blown them previously.

“Oh yeah, he really is tremendously pigheaded and unreasonable. But I don’t have to tell you.”

Maron laughed out loudly. “No. If he’s anything BUT pigheaded and unreasonable, he’s adventurous. That will bring him into precarious situations one day”, she concluded the discussion.

Link was currently standing at the spring, which originated directly from the side of a mountain. He could spot quite a lot of coins in the shallow basin. Since he was such a righteous guy he didn’t even think about taking any.

He bailed a little bit of water with his hands and splashed it into his face. He had almost fallen asleep on his Frisian horse before, had there not been a vicious branch slapping him.

Sleeplessness, he thought. Nothing but sleeplessness, caused by senseless dreams and a strange notion that whispered of something nearing.

Link eyed the shadowy image of himself, which came into view on the water’s surface. He didn’t understand why, but he suddenly had to think about the demonic guy he encountered the day before. Just imagining him made Link feel unpleasant, but he couldn’t help pondering over the bruiser. Something about him made the teenager suspicious; something about him was frighteningly familiar.

Link took a little more of the crystal-clear water in his hands, jumped up and tossed it right into the air. The little drops dropped back into the basin one after another and Link had another look at the blurred contours of his own face.

He couldn’t clearly perceive the image, but it didn’t matter. He let his fingertips graze the water softly. His whole mirror-image blurred.

When he took another look his face reflected perfectly clear all of a sudden. He saw his deep-blue eyes, his nose, the prominent features and a smile. Link however did not smile, only the reflection did.

He sharply hit the surface with his fist, shattered the image, which he didn’t want to have to see, destroyed a smiling young man he never was.

The surface calmed, but again there was his beaming face clearly visible on it. Link bent closer, found this little game was starting to get queer, but he knew he couldn’t escape this wondrous happening. Slowly, another figure showed itself in the water beside his face. A gorgeous girl’s face, which also gave a charming smile. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever laid eyes upon. Completely stunned by this wonderful face he stared at her, before reality pulled him back. Startled, he spun around. There was nobody to be seen. Carefully he eyed the spot again, but the girl, as well as his own reflection was gone. Everything was as normal as before…

“Link?” Maron called from far away. “Where are you?”

He shook his confused head quickly, ignored everything that happened, as always, and answered shouted: “Here, at the spring.”

A few seconds later Maron and Rick came strolling up to him. “Are you coming? We want to continue on our way.”

“Er… yeah… yeah alright.” Link uttered and dismissed the occurrence as just another product of his fantasy.

“Something wrong? You look very scatterbrained.” Rick asked.

“Nothing. It’s nothing”, he replied, quickly walking away from both of his friends. He didn’t say anything, how could he? He felt nothing… but self-doubt.

Around evening the green-capped youth arrived back at his parents’ home, wondering if he would be able to sleep after dinner.

Link opened the door and promptly bumped into Sara who carried a sack of garbage to the dumpster. “Well, bro, already back?”

“Yep. And believe it or not I’m here completely, with heart and soul. Anything new?”

“Not really”, she replied, walking to the trash container.

Just as Link entered the house she quickly ran after him and said: “I almost forgot! Today there was this weird person at our door, asking for you.”

“Huh? What person?”

Sara walked up the stairs behind her brother. “I don’t know, wore a hood. Said you should be extra careful from now on.”

“Was it a man, a tall one with broad shoulders?” Maybe this strange, self-important bloke was stalking him.

“No, more like a woman with red hair.”

“What?”

“You heard correctly. She said you should watch over yourself. I found her a little creepy.

Thoughtfully he opened the door leading to his room and closed the window that was wide open.

“Anything else of note? Where’s mum ‘n dad?”

“Mum’s in the kitchen. Dad’s going to work all night again. He and his stupid insurances. Soon he’ll come up with insurances for insurances”, she pouted.

“Have you anything planned for the rest of the day, bro? It’s Thursday and if I remember correctly school starts one hour later for you tomorrow.”

“Haah, sorry, Sara, but I’m not in the mood for anything. I’m going to play Zelda for a little while and go to bed afterwards.” He got comfortable in his TV-corner.

His sister suddenly stood in front of him, laying her hand on his forehead. Not surprised by her sudden hunch, Link really had a little high temperature.

“What’s that supposed to be?” he grumbled.

“Are you freaking out completely now? It’s only a little past six o’clock.”

“Well, and?”

“If you continue cultivating this pesky mood of yours, you’re going to screw up your life completely.”

“It is still my life, Sara”, he retorted.

“You reject every bit of responsibility for yourself, Link.” She wiggled her index finger in front of his face. “You’re seventeen, but you’re acting like an undead fool who doesn’t know what being alive is about. You weren’t always like this.”

Enraged Link jumped to his feet. “Yes, I was. I’ve always been like that, tough luck you never saw it. D’you think I have a choice concerning all of this? I simply am not normal, okay? That’s why I, contrary to what you foolishly think, do not screw up my life. I am waiting for something and when occurs, you will understand me perfectly.”

Murmuring Sara left the room, hissing a nasty ‘Good night’ at him.

After she was gone, Link, of course, turned on his Gamecube. It simply was an addiction to play, fighting your way through the game.

Only moments later his mother entered his room and said: “Link, I hope you haven’t forgotten that your father and I are going to go on holiday for several days, starting next week.”

“No, I have not. Is there a problem?” He looked at her, his eyes bleary and with dark circles under them. Maybe he was really starting to get a fever.

“No, no, I just want you to take good care of your sister during that time, alright?”

“If she doesn’t take care of me, of course.” Link added. A brief smile crossed his mother’s face.

“I’m going to pay a visit to your aunt Lydia, so it’s probably going to be late.”

“Okay, got it.”

“Can I do something for you? Do you need anything, dear?”

“Thanks mum, but don’t trouble yourself. I’m perfectly happy.” Link tried, emphasis on tried, to bring a smile on his face. “If only I could finish this game.”

“Well then, see you later.” His mother left his room with a cheerful face, his fake grin had done its job well.

At the moment he directed the hero on Hyrule Field towards Lake Hylia. All of a sudden a nameless tiredness crept over him, forcing him to drop the controller. His mind was engulfed by it and an unknown power tore him deeply into the realm of dreams. Link had a last deep breath before consciousness was taken from him.

Where in the world was he? Something smarted on his skin, pain on his chest, crawling up his neck, as if innumerable glowing iron rods were pricking him. He could not see, his eyes were sewn shut. He attempted to scream but his voice was extinct.

Abruptly the fire that agonized him pierced through his skin, crept deeper, reaching his inner organs.

The faint voice called once again, this beautiful, clear voice of a girl, calling his name again and again.

She called for help… but Link could not help; he was fighting his own pain. There was no greater torment thinkable than the wounds the fire caused, that devoured his body, until he felt myriads of tiny, sharp icicles raining down, mauling his body.

Link screamed now on top of his lungs and couldn’t stop. On every inch vicious pain tore him apart; but he could not do anything to help himself, nothing to ease the torture. He anticipated that this was his death struggle… in battle with destiny…

Sara stormed Links room, finding her brother on the floor. His arms flailing around wildly, screaming with all his might. Sara couldn’t believe her eyes. His T-shirt was almost completely burnt away and his skin was studded with nasty wounds. Aghast, she knelt down, holding one hand over her mouth and with the other jolting his shoulder.

“Wake up, Link. For heaven’s sake, what happened… wake up already!” Sara slapped him vigorously. His bloodcurdling scream slowly calmed down, turning into sharp moans until he finally got absolutely quiet. He opened his blue eyes.

“Curse it!” was everything he could utter. He frowned painfully as he realized that his wounds had followed him into reality. Sara knelt beside him and cried. Meanwhile Link tried to sit up. His body shook violently. What in god’s name had happened?

He looked down on his upper body, which was bleeding from many little wounds. There were burnings and spots that suffered from hypothermia right besides each other. He started to get sick because of pain, although the injuries didn’t hurt as much as in the dream at all. Link attempted to get to his feet, his sister helped him, so he could support himself on her shoulder. She dragged him to the bathroom.

 
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