Link sat at his desk, his candle’s light dancing over the page of the worn book. He knew there must be something in the ancient book that would point him in the right direction, but wherever it was, he was still hunting it down in the deep dark forest of the pages. Not only was the book about two thousand pages long with tiny print, but it was prophecy, and prophecy was incredibly difficult to decipher. Link was never very good at decoding the prophecies when the books were new and plentiful (every time a prophet started coughing up a prophecy, the scribes were on the scene faster than the press to make several copies of the future), and this book was hundreds of years old. To add to that, it was the only one left of its kind.
Link leaned back for a moment to rest his eyes. He had been searching for hours for a clue as to what was behind the strange happenings. He hoped it wasn’t Ganon again. He shuddered as he remembered his encounters with the evil villain in the alternate timeline…
…Covered in blood and burned in several places, he and Zelda finally reached the exit of the collapsing castle. They ran outside into the light. It was actually dark out, but compared to the castle, any light was blinding. They backed up as far as they could as debris flew out in all directions. Link took a chunk of brick to the head at one point and Zelda got a severe burn on one arm. After they finished watching the castle collapsed perfectly into itself, he freed two fairies to revive himself and the Princess. As they celebrated finally defeating the King of Evil, a loud rumble issued from the ruins of the castle. Link had known in his heart that Ganondorf was still there somehow, and he had to (attempt to) finish him off. So he slowly walked into the smoke and rubble, sword drawn and shield up. Suddenly, flames rose around the ruins, separating him and Zelda, who screamed as a lighting storm flared up. Ganondorf burst out of the wreckage and brandished his Triforce symbol. It was then that it dawned on Link that this guy might just be around for a long time. After a transformation, Ganon stood before him, and Link knew that this was what he had been born to do. To his dying day, Link would never forget the battle that raged, in lighting and flames, between himself and the Dark Lord. He never forgot the curse of Ganon as he was sealed away “forever” in the Evil Realm. He never forgot anything from the alternate timeline, anything before Zelda sent him back to live the years that had been stolen from him…
…And then in Holodrum…
…Then, Din and Nayru the Oracles stood before him. He had just beaten Onox, and his arms and legs were screaming for rest. It hadn’t been easy to keep using magic attacks, swatting away Din in her crystal prison, and avoiding that large mace that was easily twice as big as his body. And then he had to battle the dragon form of Onox. Anything after Ganon had been pretty simple, but this one was almost a rival. Link had never run so much in his life. Sadly, he was not used to running in situations, at least not running away. At last, the dragon lay slain and he and Din escaped. Once they were back at the Maku Tree, however, he was informed that Twinrova had kidnapped Zelda and were going to sacrifice her to resurrect Ganon. Link stocked up, especially on magic potion, and bravely entered the Room of Rites. Before he reached Zelda, he was transported to a sort of battle room to kill Twinrova again (He had killed her once in the alternate timeline). Unfortunately, Twinrova herself became the sacrifice that brought Ganon back. Link faced the giant pig for the second time. This time, he had no strength, and he nearly collapsed on the floor (which would have been a mistake because Ganon would have stepped on him). He was down to his last strength, with no more magic potion, and no special rings to help gain back strength. With one more swipe of his sword, Ganon came crashing down before he disappeared to the Evil Realm once more. Link remembered this incident well, especially since Din, Nayru, and Zelda all kissed him for saving all three of them. He also remembered watching the three birds, which he could have sworn were triangles a second before, fly away as he left Labrynna and Holodrum…
Link was startled by the knock on his door. He had been so deep in his memories he had fallen asleep in his chair. Groggily, he stood up, walked to the door, and opened it. “Yes?” he asked.
A servant stood in the hall. “Master Link, the—” he started, but Link cut him off with, “Just ‘Link.’” He started again. “Pardon. Link, the King wishes to see you immediately. He is in his study.”
Link wanted to hit the man, but he slammed his fist (painfully) into the doorframe instead. The servant, a man named Jonathan, understood why Link was stressed. “Sorry, Link. I know he’s been driving you insane for weeks, but it’s only because you are the only one in the world who he feels is capable of some of these tasks. I think—”
“Jonathan, last time he wanted me, it was to see if I thought he should wear a green or a blue tunic to a meeting. I don’t have time for this! I’m supposed to be finding out about these crazy problems, you know, stuff like the Sun’s Song going missing, mysterious deaths of cuccos all over Hyrule…. I know it’s not wolfos, they don’t eat birds, they eat people. And then there’s the weird sound everyone’s been hearing. And the King wants me to look it all up in the old prophecies. Do you want to see the book? It smells like mildew and the print is tiny and smudged. My head is killing me from trying to understand it; I just get a headache from just trying to read the words! I need some sleep, for Goddess sake!” He stopped and panted.
“You done?” inquired Jonathan.
“Yeah, I think so,” breathed Link. “In his study, you say?”
Link made his way down the damp corridors to the King’s study. The torches were high quality, but they still burned as if their souls of flame were in torment, and they cast dancing shadows across the walls. He did not think that there could be another task the King could set for him to complete. His Majesty must have noticed that Link was practically among the living dead due to lack of sleep. Indeed, now it was about 8 o’clock in the morning, and the only sleep Link had gotten was the nap while he remembered the past.
His footsteps made almost no noise on the bricks of the floor as he reached the King’s study. He loved these boots. He had had them when he was a young boy, and they still looked as if he had bought them yesterday. However, what was true outside was not true inside. On the inside, they had been broken in to fit his feet perfectly, and now wearing them was like wearing his own feet. He loved how they made almost no sound. It was too bad that making no sound outside of the study did not save him from having to go in. He had to see the King. He sighed as he pushed the door open.
“Oh, there you are, boy!” said the King, who sat comfortably at his desk. He looked as if he had gotten a good night’s sleep, and his clothes were freshly pressed. He was not an old man, but the lines on his face and the gray at his temples gave away that he was not a young man either. His eyes, however, were sort of proof to the world that he and Zelda were related. They had the exact same eyes, even if they were completely different people. The King was open and friendly. Zelda was secretive and introverted. Link would have sworn that they were not related at all, but the eyes were a dead giveaway. And they were not people to be crossed with. If you betrayed them, you would find yourself in one hell of a lot of trouble.
But Link decided that he would not put up with this any longer. The King may be the King, but Link was the Hero of Time, a law unto himself, and he really wanted to take a nap. The King was making him do ridiculous little tasks, and Link could no longer pretend. If the King doesn’t know what I’m going through, Link thought, then that would ultimately lead to me collapsing from severe exhaustion, and then what kinds of trouble would the kingdom be in? And who did he think he was, calling me “boy?” Am I below him? Grrrrrr….
“Your Majesty, I will not put up with this anymore!” Link cried. “I need sleep, and I’m sick of helping you do useless things! You do not need my help to pick out your clothes, decide on the meals for all of your business parties, or clean out your study! I’m trying to look up stuff in the prophecies and I haven’t gotten any sleep at all for a couple days! If you ask me to wipe your butt, I’m leaving Hyrule for good!” He paused and finished. “And don’t call me ‘boy!’”
The King nodded knowingly and motioned for Link to sit on a chair in front of his desk. Link sat and glared at his monarch. The King sighed and shook his head. He leaned forward on his desk. “Link, this is just as I thought.” Link gave him a look that clearly said that he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “I read in a prophecy that to test the Hero of Time, I had to demean him until he showed me he would not tolerate it. It was a test, and please, I can wipe my own behind.”
Link was stunned. “A test?” he asked incredulously. “Why would you need proof that I’m the Hero of Time? What about Termina, Holodrum, and Labrynna? I’ve proven myself, what more do you want?”
“You did not hear me, Link. Yes, you have proven to me that you are the Legendary Hero, but you had no proof to show that you were also the Hero of Time. No one else seems to remember this alternate timeline except for you. I found a prophecy that said a Legendary Hero would do anything for his ruler, but the Hero of Time would not, for he can travel the rivers of time. He is a law unto himself. So, to prove that you were a law unto yourself, I did just what the prophecy said. I demeaned you.” Link thought for a moment, and felt sick as he remembered thinking those same words earlier in his anger. A law unto himself…
“So now you’ll believe me when I talk about the alternate timeline?”
“Yes,” answered the King. “Now, I need to discuss something with you. Afterwards, take a quick shower and a long nap. You look like the living dead.” He paused and leaned back. “Many men do not marry until they are older than thirty. Important men have to marry sooner, in their late teens or early twenties. I married when I was twenty-two, and Zelda was born when I was twenty-four. She wasn’t born as early as some children, but she was born very early in my marriage by general standards. Do you know the reasons for this?”
Link sighed. “It’s so the line is carried on after death, just like in any other family, but since the person has a better chance of dying before they could marry and have children, they need to do it as soon as possible. Your Majesty could be assassinated, and my job requires me to be in danger at all times. It’s also that our lines are more important than those of the village butcher or the common townsman.”
“You say it like a text would read, Link.”
“It’s almost like a rule to me.” He sighed heavily. “I suppose that you’ve found me a wife, haven’t you?”
The King laughed a little at this. “I would never do that to you, even if I could.” Link, who had been staring at the floor, looked up at this. “The prophecy says that you must find your bride after you’ve proven yourself.”
“So, how am I going to find someone? What am I supposed to do? Parade through the streets, calling, ‘Hey, I need a wife! All you have to do is bear my child or children, and we’re not even required to love each other!’ It’s impossible!”
“We are having a ball.”
“Oh, great!” drawled Link. “That way, I’ll have to dance with and talk to all of the conceited ladies who just want to show me off as a trophy to the rest of the world if they could marry me! I’ll just—“
“Link, stop it!” commanded the King. “You always do this! I hate this! Why don’t you just deal with a ball! What would you have me do to make it more enjoyable for you?”
Link thought for a moment. “Well, I hate how everyone always acts so fake because they’re talking to me. I never get to see the girl behind the mask….Hey! That’s it! A mask! Make it a costume ball!”
“You seem a little too eager,” said the King, suspecting something. “What’s the catch? Tell me, or else no costume ball.”
Link was getting excited. “No, this is better! It’ll be a trick on all of them!”
“What is it, Link?” The King’s face was turning bright red.
“It’ll be a costume ball, and everyone will call people by what they are. Like “Farmer” for a farmer, et cetera. Everyone will wear a mask. Now, I have to talk to Liam about this, but I have a great idea. Everyone says we’d be twins if not for our difference in coloring, and we sound the same, too. So, Liam wears a costume that people would expect me to wear, and I’ll wear a less conspicuous one. That way, when people talk to me, they won’t suspect that they are talking to Link at all, and since Liam will be acting like me, the shallow ones will flock to him. It doesn’t matter if he gets the annoying ones. He’s not the one getting married.”
The King thought for a moment. He leaned back farther in his chair and pulled at his beard a bit. Link finished off by saying, “And I can do it anyways because I’m a law unto myself.”
The King burst out laughing and almost fell out of his chair, which startled Link. “It’s a deal,” he told the Hero. “It’ll be a five night event starting at nine o’clock and ending at two o’clock the first night, and then starting and ending an hour later for each other night.”
“And,” Link added, “when the clock strikes five forty-five on the final night, people can reveal themselves to each other, and then spend the final fifteen minutes knowing the identities of the people they met. The day after, people come back in costume, and we announce who I was and who I’m marrying.”
“Good idea, Link. Now, let’s see. We’ll be inviting all of the single young folk in Holodrum, Racona, and Labrynna as well as the ones in Hyrule.”
“Why invite the guys?”
“Don’t be so stupid! If we only invited ladies, no one would have trouble picking out you. And you can only dance with one girl at a time. Everyone else would have to sit out. Need I explain more?”
“Not really. I get it.” Link yawned a little.
“Now, we have to get you and Liam costumes. We could make Liam a phoenix, because phoenixes are the guardians of the Triforce, so everyone will immediately suspect he’s you, plus it’s easy to pick out crimson in a crowd. Now, I’m not sure what you could be. Hmmm. You definitely should be some sort of animal; otherwise it would be too obvious who you were, especially if you were a knight, because everyone would suspect that, too. What do you think?”
He never got his answer because Link had fallen asleep in his chair.