Part Two: The Sword
Link softly entered the parlor of his son's chambers. He was sitting in the window seat that looked out over the forest and river. "Lin, your mother's worried about you."
"So what else is new?" Bitterness filled the young voice. "Mom stays worried about me."
"Do you want to talk?"
"What is there to talk about? I fell in love with a dead girl." Lin glared out the window.
Link sighed and sat on the opposite side of the window seat. "I'm not good at this. I can't come right out and give advice or help you sort out your feelings. I have enough trouble trying to explain mine. But I'll tell you who to go to."
"I'm not going to Aunt Lissa."
Link grabbed Lin's shoulders and gave him a hard shake. "Don't be an idiot. She isn't a mere mortal, and she doesn't play by the same rules we do. If she outright defies the Immortal Council's ruling, she'll risk destroying Hyrule forever. That's why you have to help her trick her into giving you the information you need." Link stood up, "And if you're any son of mine, you'll do it."
"Aunt Lissa, I don't know why you're so upset. I'm not asking about Elaine."
"But Ganon has no power over the dead!" Lissa turned away from her table of magical artifacts in her laboratory.
Lin leaned against the bare wall near the doorway, trying to disguise his anger under a nonchalant air. "I know that. But if I can't have Elaine, I'll settle for revenge."
Lissa gazed into his tormented green eyes. So much like Link, and yet his destiny was so different. She sighed. "Ganon can be destroyed--mortal body and immortal soul. I tell you this at a risk, so that's all I will tell you. Go talk to your father."
"But he told me to come talk to you!"
"Ask him about the events leading up to his and Zelda's separation."
"Mom and Dad separated--like divorced each other!" His mouth fell open.
"Before you were born." Lin fell onto the semi-repaired couch and stuffing spilt out of the holes. Lissa winced at the expression on his face. By the Triforce, she hated having to hurt him like this. His world view was rapidly shifting and crashing. Could he put it back together in the new order?
His expression grew hardened and determined. He stood and hug her close. Eighteen and already a head taller than his aunt, she noticed sadly. He stepped away and left the laboratory. Lissa followed him. Lyle was playing with a set of blocks on the landing outside the laboratory door. He levitated three pyramids and presented them to Lin. "You go away?"
"I'll be back, Lyle."
Lyle let the blocks crash to the floor. "Lin no be back."
Lin found Link in the library. He shut the door before asking his question. "Dad, why did you and Mom," he gulped, "separate?"
Link whirled sharply and faced his son. His face relaxed and he sank slowly into a chair. "Why did Lissa tell you about that?"
"She said Ganon could be destroyed, both body and soul. But she couldn't tell me anything else. So she told me to ask you about your separation." Link didn't say anything. "Dad, why? I thought you loved Mom."
"I love her, and I did then. I left her because of love." Lin frowned with confusion. Link sighed. "It was before you were born. Ganon kidnapped Zelda and through a series of my blunders, a crystal protector trapped your mother inside itself. Lissa found a way to release her, but we needed Ganon's permission. Of course, he wouldn't give it, so I challenged Ganon's right to rule the Dark Realm. During the fight, the crystal released Zelda and I gave up the challenge. But I thought Ganon threatened her because he wanted to hurt me. I left, having no idea that Zelda was pregnant with you. But fate threw us together again, trying to find the antidote when Ganon poisoned you. When I saw her, I couldn't leave again." Link swallowed hard and concluded huskily, "I never stopped loving her. I doubt I ever will."
That relieved Lin's mind of a vague fear. But the clue Aunt Lissa wanted him to grasp eluded him, taunting his thoughts. "How did you challenge Ganon?"
"Told him. The Gensiarians oversaw it. I chose the weapons; he chose the battle ground. If you kill Ganon, you take his place, but he could kill you. Something else Lissa warned me about but I can't remember."
"It's not important, Dad. But I'm glad." Link looked up at his son. "I'm glad you and Mom didn't stay separated."
Link watched the boy/man so much like himself leave with a slight sad look in his brown eyes. "So am I," he said softly.
Lin opened the door of his chambers. Kevin and Kelamane sat on the sofa, swinging their heels in synch. Hunin, Kevin's raven, was perched on the coat rack. Lorrid, Kelamane's cougar, stretched out beside the sofa. Lin closed the door. "Okay, what do you troublemakers want?"
"To help." Kevin hopped up off the sofa. "Lyle said you would need some."
"And you believe a baby?"
"As long as that baby is Lyle, we'll believe him." Kelamane frowned at her older brother. "Now do you want our help?"
Lin sank into a chair. "What do you have?"
"You need a better weapon," Kevin said.
"What's wrong with my sword?"
"Nothing, except that it hasn't stood up to Ganon and probably can't. Have you ever heard of the Master Sword?" Lin wordlessly shook his head at Kevin's question. "It is the most powerful weapon in Hyrule. It reflects magic, instead of making its own. It's the sword of the Unnamed Hero."
Lin yanked himself out of the chair. "You mean to tell me that your Master Sword was the sword used by the Unnamed Hero to bring the Triforce to Hyrule! How can I use a sword like that?"
"Because you have to." Kelamane drew her legs underneath her as she adjusted her seat on the sofa. "Look, I've read a lot about the Unnamed Hero."
"Why? I thought your specialty was monsters, not heroes."
"Because I needed to know about Ganon." She turned to Kevin. "You know, I think the Unnamed Hero wanted everyone to forget who he was. It must have been a powerful spell to make everyone in Hyrule forget and strike his name from all written records."
"You're losing the point, Kela," Kevin reminded her.
"Anyway, he used the Master Sword because he had to, just like you," she finished.
"But, you have to find the three Pendants of Virtue so you can use the Sword." Kevin drew out a glowing green pendent out of his pouch. Lin cupped it in his palms. Spherically, light and heavy, bright then dark; Lin pulled his gaze away, so he could hear his little brother. "That's the Pendent of Wisdom, the only one left in the Palace. You need all three--Wisdom, Courage, and Power--before you can get the Master Sword."
Kelamane jumped off the bench, tossing her long blonde hair off her shoulders. "We've got to go, Kev."
Kevin nodded as he left the Pendent in Lin's hands and followed his twin to the door. Lin jerked up his head. "Thanks Kevin, and thank Lyle and Aunt Lissa for me."
Kevin whirled around, his brown eyes wide with surprise. "How did you know?"
"It runs in the family."
Lin started the next morning. He rode east from the Palace, reaching a large cottage in a few minutes. He dismounted Niklar and tethered him outside the building. The front door led into a book-filled room. A white-haired man seated at the table jerked his head out of a book. "Prince Lin! Welcome, welcome." He struggled to rise.
"Don't stand up." Lin dropped into a chair on the opposite side of the table. "I just need some information, Cassonn."
Cassonn laughed, deep and golden. "That's what I'm here for, thanks to your mother. If not for her help, many subjects found here would be lost to time." He set his book aside, careful not to close the pages on his long, white beard.
"What do you know about the Pendants of Virtue?"
Cassonn gazed up sharply. "Why do you ask this, Prince Lin?" For an answer, Lin pulled the Pendent of Wisdom out from under his jerkin. "Ah, the quest begins. Oh, were I young again to follow you and record it for history!"
"I'll come back and tell you about it."
Cassonn laughed again. "And tell it honestly? No one can tell their exploits accurately. And no one wants to tell a tale accurately about a hero." He waved his hand around the room. "Many of these documents, as old as they may be, were never written when the events occurred. Usually, they were written after generations of handing them down by word of mouth. Many fine stories we have lost because of that. I have tried to record your father and mother's exploits as best I could, but I fear they are very distorted."
Lin chuckled. "Don't worry about it, Cassonn. People like distortion. It makes heroes seem less real."
"I daresay you're right, but that's not what you want to know." Cassonn pulled a giant volume toward him. Muttering to himself, he flipped through the index. "Ah. Wait here." He shuffled into another room and shuffled back carrying a thick scroll. He unrolled it and passed it to Lin.
At the top, the picture leaped to his eye. The three Pendants were arranged in the positions of their corresponding Triforces: green on the top, red to the left, and gold to the right. In the center, an unsheathed sword was drawn. The story that began under the picture sounded like a continuation of a longer one.
"After the defeat of Ganon, the Unnamed Hero brought the Power of Gold to Hyrule and returned Princess Zelda to her people. Her Highness, after her coronation as Queen, restored his family knighthood, making him Captain over all the knights. He returned the Master Sword to its hiding place, and placed the three Pendants of Virtue in separate locations, to prevent their use against the Queen. Long Live the Queen!" Lin looked up. "But it doesn't say where the other two are."
Cassonn took the scroll and read it. "This picture is older than the writing. Someone added that at a latter date, possibly because the writer ran out of paper."
"Then the picture is the clue and not the story." Lin stood in front of the giant map of Hyrule that adorned one wall. "Here's the North Palace."
Cassonn joined him. "If the Pendent of Wisdom was there, then the other Pendants are probably equidistant from it."
Lin measured the distances. "That can't be right! It puts the other Pendants in the ocean."
Cassonn sat heavily in his chair, taking the document in his hands. Lin glared at the map while he recalculated his calculations. Cassonn laughed, "I should have known. This took place in ancient Hyrule--before the North Palace was even built."
"The Royal Family moved into the North Palace when the Hyrule Castle was uninhabitable," Lin snapped his fingers, "bringing the Pendent of Wisdom with them!"
Cassonn shuffled out and back in with a glass box. Muttering to himself, he looked up and consulted the modern map. "I think that the other two are in the Tantari Desert and Mido-town."
"Are you sure?" Lin asked as he found the locations on the map.
"That's the general areas. As you get closer to each, your Pendent will help you pinpoint its location."
Lin tucked the Pendent of Wisdom under his jerkin. "Thanks, Cassonn. I wish there were some way to repay you."
Cassonn shrugged it away. "The only thing I really need is an assistant, but that's not important." Lin nodded and placed his hand on the doorknob. Remembering suddenly, he whirled around. "I know, I never saw you. I'm not even talking to you now." The old man grinned.
Lin grinned back. "Thanks again, Cassonn."
"It's not fair!" Lissa turned from her desk when she heard those words exploded from the laboratory doorway. Zoe marched in and flung herself on the couch, helping spill more stuffing out, the picture of despair and discontentment. "Why does Lin get to go on a quest--and it is a quest, don't tell me any different, Aunt Lissa--and I have to stay here?" She pulled her knees to her chest and sulked. "It's not fair."
Lissa sat beside her. "Lin's only doing what he feels is right."
"You've always protected him, Aunt Lissa. I'm not claiming favoritism, but you've tried to prepare him for something. Something big. And this is it."
Lissa examined the accusing face of the teenage girl before her. "What do you want, a confirmation? I can't give you one. The future has a definite shape, but it can still change."
Zoe sighed, picked herself up and walking to the shelf, running her fingers over the spines of the books. "I want to know if my turn is ever going to come."
"Zoe, being a hero isn't all fame and glory; it can hurt. Just ask your father."
"I know, I know. But I don't want to stay here, live life safely, marry a prince, and spend the rest of life wondering if." She turned violently toward her aunt. The braids framing her face slapped her nose before returning to the rest of her hair. "Do you understand?"
"I understand that you have too much of you mother and father's adventurous spirit to be content living in their shadows." Lissa appraised her niece. When she was a child, she favored Link even more than her brother, and refused to be the little princess her mother wanted. But now, their personalities were set to crash. Zelda's stubborn refusal not to have her children risking their necks like Link, and Zoe's stubborn refusal to act in a manner untrue to herself were going to cause an equal amount of heartache.
"So will it happen? My turn, I mean."
"The future has a course to follow. But we are in control of our actions."
Lin sank to the sandy ground with his back to the towering stone. Protected by its shadow, he opened his canteen and poured some water down his throat. "Good thing, I convinced Niklar to stay out of the desert. It's hard enough for me to survive."
Vultures and geldmen, the desert servants of Ganon, plagued him since he set foot in the Tantari. But now, it seemed he had gained momentary relief from them.
He took the Pendent of Wisdom in his hands, trying not to lose himself in its radiating depths. "Okay, Pendent of Wisdom, what do I do now?"
North. Lin jerked his head up in the direction. Nothing was there, yet the thought persisted annoyingly. He looked at the Pendent. "Nothing's there." His gaze traveled back to the north. With a heavy sigh, Lin stood to his feet and brushed the gritty sand off his hands. Resolutely, he started north.
The sharp, hot slap in the face drove hard particles of sand into Lin's face. He cocked his arm and brought it up to shield his eyes. As he trudged to the top of a dune, the breeze died. Lin shook the sand out of his shoulder-length, brown hair and tied it back in a ponytail. As he replaced his white turban, the treacherous sands shifted under his feet.
Abruptly, a mound of sand shot up out of the dune less than a foot away. Two arms grew out of the mound of sand and the face that formed in the sand gazed down at Lin. Lin lost his footing and tumbled down the dune. The geldman roared and followed the fallen lad, determined to use his sand wave body to drown him.
Lin managed to turn on his back, so now he slid down the dune, but backwards--headfirst--and gazing up at the geldman. Almost automatically, his hand pulled his sword out of its scabbard. He brought it before him, hilt to his chest and both hands on it. The geldman stopped, but not in enough time to dodge the magic blow.
Lin whooped, startling the inspiring stillness of the Tantari Desert, and unaware of the jutting rock that stopped his downward slide.
Lin was at the refugees' party again. Elaine danced alone in front of the bonfire. And with her every move, the flames rose higher and brighter. And the higher they rose, the faster Elaine danced. Her black hair sprayed away from her head and her silver dress rose and flew away, uncovering her long twirling legs and hiding them again. Faster and faster, until a giant claw shot out of the bonfire. Ganon was the fire, glowing and rising. His claw grasped the dancing Elaine. He brought her up, screaming, to his sneering pig face. Then, with diabolical slowness, Ganon contracted his fist. "Lin!" Elaine screamed, "Lin, help me!"
Then Ganon opened his fist, and she fell from the heights like a shooting star. She landed in her coffin, looking calm and serene.
Lin stared at her face, trying to reach it, to stroke her pale cheek. Her blue-grey eyes flew open. "Don't give up, Lin. You will find me again where you least expect to." A drifting tide pulled him away. "You can cross the gulf that separates us. Don't give up."
The throbbing pain in the side of his stomach was the first thing Lin noticed when he awoke. He sat up slowly, sliding a little further downhill. Gazing about, his eyes landed on the triangular rock. "That's what I hit." But the rock was a bit too triangular. Lin grasped it with both hands and pulled.
The rock would not, could not budge. In a frenzied disgust, Lin swept the sand away from it--only to have more sand heaped upon him for his troubles. But he succeeded in pushing away enough sand to see that the rock he held onto with one hand was not a rock at all--but the corner of a building!
Lin sat back on his heels, dumbfounded. "Well. Well." He leaned forward again to sweep away more sand, and laid his hand flat against the exposed roof of the building. It swung away and Lin--with a half ton of sand--fell into the cavernous hole.
He spat out gritty sand and lifted himself out of the pile of it with a groan. Everything ached thanks to the semi-cushioned fall. Gingerly, he moved and realized gratefully that nothing had broken.
He peered upward. His eyes were unable to penetrate the recess of darkness that remained even after he lighted a torch.
The steady stride carried Lin away from the sand pile and further into the dark tunnel. "I wonder when I'll know when I found it." Lin said aloud cheerfully, to break the monotonous gloomy silence. His efforts only increased the dark and reminded him of how alone he was.
He gazed down at the Pendent of Wisdom. "How will you tell me?" The blinding green flash stopped Lin in his tracks, red and blue lights dancing in front of his vision. Gradually it cleared and his jaw dropped at the sight below his feet, hardly an inch away.
The floor had stopped, below in all directions was empty space. Lin steeled himself to ignore the cold feeling that came over him. The darkness devoured the cavern's ceiling and Lin's puny cave entrance was halfway between the floor and the darkness.
Overshadowed was a familiar emotion to Lin--with his parents you got used to it--but this place inspired a feeling he would never feel again. He shook his head, waking himself, and stared down, feeling the effects of vertigo. But it wasn't the effects that kept his eyes riveted.
A triangular altar glowed with a reddish tint radiating from a red pendent hanging around its vertex, the Pendent of Power. Lin stopped looking for a way down and stared harder at the altar. Eight red tentacles wrapped tighter around it pulling the dome-shaped body with stone-like skin of the octorok closer. Two bloodshot red eyes and a large beak completed the face hung on the dome-shaped body.
Lin sighed and started climbing down from the ledge. "Isn't anything easy anymore?" Groping for hand and footholds in the red tinged darkness, progress slowed considerably. After what seemed an eternity, Lin dropped to the level floor.
The octorok's tentacle slapped him across his body, banging him against the uneven wall and driving the wind out of his lungs. The bloodshot red eyes in the stone-like, dome-shaped head watched Lin warily as it slowly picked him up with the tentacle, then squeezed him experimentally.
Lin forced himself to breathe as the spots returned to dance around the room. His free left hand groped under the tentacle for anything to aid his survival. It fell on his sword hilt and with a desperate attempt, yanked it out of the scabbard and up across the tentacle.
With a screech of pain, the octorok threw Lin away. He landed on his back and rolled himself into a sheltered crevice, squatting inside and taking deep and jagged breaths. The octorok hugged itself closer to the altar as it turned to look around the cavern for the insect that interrupted its existence.
The fire rock shattered against the outcropping that protected Lin. The octorok's beak under its red eyes opened again and another burning rock flew out. Lin grappled with his shield and pulled it in front of his face just in time. Before the octorok could fire again, he wiggled out of the crevice and ran out of range. Falling behind a boulder, Lin tried to grasp his searing chest with his broad, browned hands.
The octorok moved slowly, carefully seeking out its enemy. A large specimen, even for octoroks, which equaled the strength of a darknut prime (according to Kelamane). Why did these evil creatures attach themselves to objects needed to defeat evil?
The fire rock exploded the boulder, shaking Lin out of his reprieve. The octorok had decided where his hiding place was and now bombarded it with fire rocks. Lin huddled behind his shield against the wall. "Boy, do your manners need improving! Didn't Mommy Octorok ever teach you not to spit on a guest?"
The bombardments increased. "Okay, okay. Enough already!" A fire rock, the size of a grapefruit hit the shield, denting it beyond repair. "Hey! Do you know how much this cost?!" Lin flung the shield aside, took his stance and held his sword with both hands in the manner of the strange game Uncle Josh had taught him. "Batter up!"
The octorok obliging hurled another fire rock. Lin sent the rock flying back with a power swing that would have made any stadium cheer with glee. The octorok's expression was the most astonished that Lin had ever seen. Its beak dropped away and the fire rock slid down its throat. Strangely enough, Lin would swear that the octorok clung more closely to the alter as it passed with a red flash of light into oblivion.
Lin slumped against the wall with a dizzy head, aching chest, and pounding heart. He could think again after a few minutes of deep breathing. And the red, pulsating light called out to him.
Walking up to the alter in a daze, he reached out and cupped the warm stone in his hands. "Two down; one to go." He hung it around his neck, resting it just below the Pendent of Wisdom. Lin gazed into both their depths. "I'm coming, Elaine."
He saw his sword hilt pointing out of a group of stones. Eagerly he grabbed it up, only to look in dismay at the blade broken in half. He found the second half a few feet away. He slid both pieces his scabbard. That sword had been his eighteenth birthday present from his father. Not Link's famous sword, but a good weapon nonetheless. Losing it hurt more than Lin liked to admit.
With the stress of the battle over, Lin realized exactly how fatigued he was. His mind wanted to drift away--and kept trying to--and his body numbly responded to prodding. He stumbled into a room, not sure and not caring if it was the right way to go.
He collapsed beside the sparkling oasis bubbling out of the rock, breathing hard.
"What is that?" Lin sat up, shocked into alertness by the words. Gazing about the room, his eyes finally came to rest on a silver-haired woman about three inches tall with delicate wings. The faerie took off from the small ledge she was sitting on and hovered in front of his face. "A human!" Her entire three-inch-tall body shook with suppressed excitement. "Who are you?"
"My name is Lin. Do you mind if I have a drink?"
"Refresh yourself." Lin bent his head and drank deeply from the spring pool water he brought up in his hands. The water was cold and delicious, bringing rest to his body and quieting the buzz of his mind. "I am Tantari."
Lin lifted his head, satisfied. "Named after the desert or the desert after you?"
Her tiny face grew hard and dark. "Careful, Lin. Questions like that could get you in trouble."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean anything disrespectful."
"Apology accepted. What are you doing here, in the middle of no where?"
"Actually, I'm on a quest."
"A quest! I have been out for a while. I had a feeling humans did not do old-fashioned things like quests anymore." Tantari fluttered about him, gasped, reached out, and gingerly stroked the Pendent of Wisdom. "Two of the Three Pendants of Virtue." She gazed into his green eyes with her silver ones. "This must be the Quest."
Lin shook his head in an aggravated gesture, causing his hair to fly out of his ponytail. "Why does everyone know more about my quest than me?"
"Because it is your destiny." Tantari laid her petite hand on the sleeve of his jerkin. "Can I do anything to help?"
Tantari's face grew dark but not at him. "Ganon used a faerie queen for his own purposes by promising her the power to help her unite her people. But by not keeping that promise, Ganon united all faeries in the sole hope that we could help bring about his downfall."
Lin pulled the two halves of his sword out of the scabbard."Can you fix this?"
Tantari examined it with a professional eye. "That's a fine sword; how did you break it?"
"Playing baseball with an octorok over the Pendent of Power."
"Baseball? You humans do become more strange." Tantari shrugged. "Throw it into the pool." Lin failed to grasp how this would fix it, but didn't hesitate. "Nice throw, Lin." She flew over the pool and levitated the whole sword out and into Lin's hand. "One faerie reinforced sword. Take care of it."
He sheathed it as he stood, "I will."
Tantari smiled at him. "Be careful, Lin. Ganon is a treacherous enemy and you cannot expect him to fight fair."
"Thank you, Tantari, I'll be careful. Now how do I leave?"
"Up that flight of stairs." She pointed to a staircase carved out of the rock bathed in moonlight from an opening above and watched him go up with a hopeful look in her eyes. "May this end it for once and for all," she murmured.
Lin stepped out into the soft moonlight. A familiar neigh screamed out in the night and Niklar rubbed his muzzle against his chest. "I thought I told you to stay out of the desert. Wait a minute." He took a good look around. "This is where I told you to stay. But then," another hard look around revealed that the stairway had disappeared. Lin peered at his chest, "I have the Pendent of Power; I suppose that's all that matters." He prepared to mount Niklar. "Come on, Boy, let's get out of here."
Raskin stepped out of her home in the heart of Mido-town and took a good look at the stranger. Fathin and his five lackeys watched him from across the street. The Young, brown- haired man was dressed in brown pants and a green jerkin, and rode down the street on a huge blood bay stallion. Fathin leaned against the hitching rail in front of the inn, staring at the stranger.
The stranger stopped his horse in front of the inn and dismounted. He dropped the reins over the hitching rail and turned to Fathin. "I need some information. Can you help me?"
Fathin turned his stony grey eyes to the stranger, regarding him with contempt. "You don't belong around here."
The stranger's smile split his evenly tanned face. "No, I don't, but with some help I can be out of here before we know the difference."
Raskin didn't like the dark look on Fathin's face or the stealthy movements of his friends. She stepped across the cobblestone street. "I'll help you."
"Stay out of this, Raskin," Fathin snarled. "You can't keep yourself out of trouble." He turned back to the stranger, "And he's trouble."
The stranger shrugged. "You could be right. You see, I'm looking for something that has been in Mido-town for a long time."
"What type of something?" Raskin asked eagerly.
"Raskin, you dummy. He wants to steal our heritage."
"Shut up, Fathin. You don't even know what heritage means." Fathin's scowl deepened and he ran his hand through his greasy, dark blond hair.
The stranger gave Fathin a hard, cold stare before turning toward Raskin. "It's not something I feel comfortable talking about in the open. Is there somewhere we could go to talk privately?"
Fathin stepped between them before she could answer. "The only place you're going is leaving town."
The stranger stood his ground. He was just as tall as Fathin, but Fathin was thicker and heavier. "I don't want to cause any trouble."
"Too late," Fathin growled.
"Grow up, Fathin." She turned to the stranger. "He's afraid you're going to be competition."
"I'm not staying."
"Because you never came." Fathin drew his long, sharp, glittering dagger out of its sheath on his belt.
"That would be a real stupid game to play." The stranger pulled out his sword. "I would really hate to hurt you."
Fathin's self-satisfied smirk gave away his answer. "I think you're all talk."
The stranger shrugged again. "Just remember, you're the one who insisted." Fathin's self-satisfied smirk exploded into a self-satisfied grin that was still on his face when the stranger's left fist connected with his jaw. He stepped back from the fallen troublemaker. "You better take him in; he's not going to be to happy when he wakes up." He turned to Raskin. "I'm finished. Are you ready?"
"Yes." She impulsively stuck out her hand, "I'm Raskin."
"I'm Lin." He shook it gravely.
Lin told the girl a condensed version of his story in her home as she pulled out papers and maps on the Mido region. Raskin absorbed the information silently. "So, in a nutshell, you need this third Pendent to beat Ganon. Well, it's about time."
Lin looked up from her papers and maps. "What makes you say that?"
"He's too quiet. Before Queen Zelda and Prince Link restored the Power of Gold to Hyrule, Ganon bothered us at least once a week. History shows that the longer he waits, the more grand his scheme is. He does have all eternity."
"You have a point. But I need the Pendent of Courage before I can confront him. Where is it?"
Raskin pulled a map to her, across the table. "The only place it could have remained undiscovered for so long would be the Isle of Trials."
"Isle of Trials?"
"You spend the night there and you're a man. It's really pathetic. They won't let girls go, which means me since I'm the only one interested in studying the effect."
She hesitated. "The ones who have gone come back in the morning, changed. Quiet, more serious, more humble. The ones who flee back to town in the night become hard and bitter, loathing themselves and taking it out on everyone else. Like Fathin."
"Looks like I need to spend the night there."
Raskin shook her head hard enough to launch her black hair. "Won't work, I have to go with you."
Lin regarded the younger girl with pity, missing Zoe. "That won't work either."
"Yes, it will. One, you don't know how to get there. Two, the boat only listen to special commands that you don't know. Three, I want to go to find out what changes people. Four, I can shoot a crossbow straight and you might need help. Five, I want to show the whole town what fools they've been."
Lin sighed, "Would you try to see where I'm coming from?"
Raskin's dark eyes furrowed. "Do you want the whole town to know who you are? I don't like blackmail, but I'll use it if necessary. History must be preserved."
Lin peered at her, strangely peeved by her statement. "All right, but... never mind! You wouldn't stay out of the way if your life depended on it."
Lin, with the shield he just bought in Mido-town and his sword in hand, stepped off the boat onto the wet sand of the fog-shrouded beach. Raskin looped a rope over an outcropping of rock and checked the boat end as it gently bobbed up and down in the waves. The lithe girl plucked up her crossbow and joined Lin on the beach. "What do we do now?"
Lin looked down at the two Pendants on his chest. "Last time, the Pendent of Wisdom told me where to go. But it hasn't said anything yet."
"We can't wait all night. Let's do something." And with that, she set off in a steady pace toward the center of the island. Lin, shaking his head, followed her.
They weaved their way through the fog and scattered rocks and boulders that seemed thrown into place. Raskin stopped, her dark eyes roving about the darkness. "Did you hear something?"
Lin listened carefully, being far enough away from the ocean for the sound not to be it. A creeping, shuffling sound that soon stopped as the silence grew louder. Raskin raised the crossbow, quickly turned, and fired into the fog. The bright light lit up the night and died hastily with a yell. "Good shot," he said appreciatively.
"Thanks," with nothing bragging in her tone. As they went further toward the center, the way became easier but the foreboding grew darker and heavier. "I don't like it here." Raskin whispered in a small voice.
"You're the one who had to preserve history." Lin stopped in front of an awning mouth in the only real hill on the island. "Wait a minute."
Raskin looked at the cave and turned back to Lin. "Do we have to go in there?"
In an emotionless voice, "Yes, yes we do," and he stepped in.
Raskin gulped. "I have a great feeling about this." She ran in, bumping into him just inside the entrance. "Sorry."
"Are you kidding? This has nothing to do with pride. If I stay here, I'll die of fright."
"All right. Can you see or do you need a torch?"
"I can see fine."
"Good, I have no idea what we'll find in here."
"Is that Pendent-thingy in here?" Lin nodded, so Raskin pulled up her crossbow. "I'm ready."
Lin started forward, breathing in the cool, damp air and noticing the steady drips from the stalactites in his alert watch for danger. The passageway narrowed sharply as they progressed with only the steady light of the Pendants to guide them until it reduced to a crawl-way. Lin sighed and sheathed his sword--lot of good it would do if he tried crawling with it out--and replaced his shield on his back.
Raskin locked the trigger of her crossbow and slung it over her shoulder. Following Lin's example and falling to her hands and knees resulted in a clammy, slimy, and sticky substance covering her hands. "Yuck."
Lin glanced back, briefly. "It's only mud. You've been walking through it."
"Yeah, but my feet didn't know how nasty this stuff is." Lin continued down the tunnel. "You don't try to talk much."
"Me? I'm a regular chatterbox. I just don't think a lot before I say something. I'm working on it though."
"My problem has always been I think too much. And then I try to put my ideas into actions. But I'm the only one who believe they're good ideas."
"I can understand."
"We all have this need to prove ourselves," Raskin said angrily. "It's stupid, pointless, and dangerous."
"But that's what a quest is," Lin explained patiently. "Proving yourself worthy."
"Worthy of what? A girl, to fight evil, to get the best weapons?"
"All of the above."
"Is she pretty?" Raskin asked.
"Oh. Can I go with you when you leave?"
Lin would have liked to see her face then, but had to settle for crawling ahead. "Why?"
"I'm not trying to worm my way into your quest. I just want to leave Mido-town so badly. You wouldn't believe the things I've thought about stooping to."
"Yes, I would. Raskin," he sighed. "Honestly, if we survive this, I'll see what I can do." He peered into the tunnel's forward darkness. "I think it's getting wider."
Raskin gazed at the floor. "And drier. I don't think that means anything good."
"Come on, we can stand up." The room was at least as big as the throne room in the North Palace. Something Lin couldn't make out ate up much of the space above. In the center of the room was a triangular altar with a glowing golden pendent hanging around its vertex.
"There it is," Raskin whispered in awe. She started toward it.
"Raskin, get back here! I don't know what's guarding it!" She didn't hear him and Lin pulled out his sword and shield.
The golden light brightened with her proximity. Her hand reached out in a daze to touch it.
"Raskin!" Lin cried, long and loud. Raskin looked up to see blackness descending as the huge deeler that had cramped itself inside the cave ceiling came down. She yanked her crossbow around and tried to fire off a bolt. Nothing happened and the deeler shot out it's sticky silk. Raskin rolled out of the way as the deeler landed between her and Lin. "Hang on, I'm coming!"
"Hurry up!" Raskin rolled out of the range of another silk spitball. Lin fired a couple magical shots from his sword. They ricocheted off the deeler's hairy hide. "If you're going to do something, do it faster!"
"History has to be preserved." Lin yelled back with extreme satisfaction as he ran forward, flipping onto the deeler's broad, hairy back. He grabbed one fistful of hair and held onto his seat on its neck.
Lin barely heard her, fighting with deeler who obvious didn't give free rides. Backwards, up, forward, down, up--and he thought training Niklar was bad. He gripped his sword tighter and plunged it deep into the monster's head. It shuddered and vanished with a flash. Lin picked himself off the ground with a groan.
"Are you okay?" Raskin asked as she ran to his side.
"Yeah," he straightened out his back. "What were you yelling about?"
"Look." Her finger pointed out a pile of the deeler's silk where part of her crossbow sticking out. "Go ahead and laugh. My first chance to do something really exciting and I blew it."
Lin quickly swallowed his silent laughter. "At least, you have an eyewitness account of this adventure. And you survived to tell it."
"I suppose those are good points, but," she stiffened. "Where are your other two Pendants?"
Lin threw his hand to his chest and looked down. "We have to find them."
They began to poke around the rock-littered floor. "I found them!" Raskin held them over her head. "They were right inside the crawl-way." She started to walk toward Lin and fell to the floor with a jerk.
Lin ran over, "Are you all right?"
Raskin sat up with a dazed expression. "They pulled me down!"
"You try moving them!"
Lin tried to pull the Pendants into the room and they wouldn't budge. "I don't understand."
"See if you can get the other one." Lin slipped the Pendent of Courage off the altar and around his neck. He turned around and jumped; Raskin stood right behind him holding out the other two Pendants."As soon as you touched it, they let go."
Lin took them, holding them carefully, one in each hand. "Maybe I had to prove myself, and it wouldn't do to have them with me." He replaced them around his neck, "No one really knows what rules they have to go by."
"All we have is legends and stories," Raskin replied. "It seems unfair."
"I suppose it is. We have to fight a battle we didn't even start and with next to nothing in information." He sighed, "Let's get out of here."
Raskin looked at the tunnel, then turned her thoughtful face to Lin. "Do we have to go out that way?"
"I can't believe we climbed out of the top of the hill." She glanced up at the bright blue over the main street of Mido-town. The sun was already shinning in the cloudless morning, dispelling the fog of the night before.
Lin ran his hand down Niklar's glossy red side. "Did you want to go back through the cave?"
"Then quit complaining."
Raskin leaned against the side of the building. "Now, that you have all three Pendants, what are you going to do?"
Lin shrugged, "Finish my quest, I guess."
She held out her hand, "Good luck, Lin."
He shook it and left a rupee in it. "Take it, buy a horse, and go to the North Palace. To the east, a few minutes away is a large cottage. Give this letter to the man inside, Cassonn." He mounted Niklar. "Good luck, Raskin."
Raskin opened the letter as soon as Lin had ridden away. "Dear Cassonn, I know you said that I didn't have to thank you for the information, but I still feel bad about taking something for nothing. That's why I'm sending Raskin to see you. She helped me find the Pendent of Courage, so you can get an accurate account from her. Offer her a job as your assistant. If anyone can handle it, she can."
Deep in the silent forest, haunted by ghosts of the past, the clearing's path admitted the coming hero. The flute's music wafted over the still air. Hardened green eyes softened in awe at the sight of the sword buried halfway in the altar. His hand drifted over the ancient runes carved onto the altar, unable to read them.
The hand tightened on the hilt. A violent pull and the Master Sword slid out. Lin brandished it above his head and brought it down in front of his face. "Now Ganon, I challenge your right to lord over the Dark Realm."