A land found on a peninsula, separated from the rest of the world by a range of mountains and a mighty ocean encircling it. A land of forests, plains, deserts, farmlands, villages, and isolated homes. A land chosen to be the focus for the magic of an entire world. A land where a kingdom was created by the creatures of that magic. A land where a legend was born and heroes challenged evil. A land called... Hyrule.
Lissa clucked her horse trying to get closer to a spot where he didn't want to go. She gave up and dismounted. Kilare, the large golden hawk, perched himself on her outstretched arm as she walked into the clearing. With her free hand, she brought up the magic compass. Yes, this was the right place. "What do you make of it, Kilare?"
Kilare screeched out his reply. "I don't know what it is either, but I really don't believe it could have caused that high burst of magic I sensed." The glowing golden arch stood alone in the clearing without any support. Lissa returned the compass to the pouch on her belt. "Shall we walk through it?"
Kilare said nothing, so Lissa stepped through it. The ground gave way and with a yell, she slid down the hillside. Her head cracked against a tree trunk and a bush stopped her rolling body. Kilare, hovering nearby, swooped down and landed near her. He screeched out her name and received no answer.
"No, no, Princess. Your moves are too choppy." Zelda's sword struck the ground four feet away.
Zelda pushed away her sweaty bangs. "I'm sorry, Captain Krin. I just don't have the knack for swords."
"You're right. You know enough of the basics to keep yourself from getting killed, but you lack the skill to feint." Captain Krin mopped his brow.
"Making absolutely crazy or plain stupid moves to confuse your opponents. Princess, you want to go straight to the kill. There is more to swordsmanship than that."
The courier stepped out into the courtyard. "Princess Zelda, the King wishes to see you."
Zelda entered the King's bedroom. He laid on the bed, breathing raspily. "You wanted to see me, Father?"
"Zelda?" the King peered up through glassy eyes, "take my hand." Zelda did so. "Why are you so sweaty? That really doesn't become a princess."
"I was practicing, Father, so I can protect Lin."
"You shouldn't, that's Link's job."
Zelda swallowed hard as the tears sprang up. "Daddy, Link's gone, remember?"
The King unfocused his eyes. "You need to find him, Zelda. No child should grow up without a father."
"I grew up without a mother."
"You had Impa," the King took a deep breath. "Zelda, deny it if you will, but you were your happiest when he was here."
"Oh Daddy," Zelda cried as the King drifted into a restless unconsciousness. The Royal Physician gently pulled her away. "Is there any chance he'll get better?"
"I'm sorry, Princess Zelda. He caught this sickness in his youth and it has been in recession ever since."
A brown-haired, green-eyed boy, barely two-years-old, latched onto Zelda's leg when she entered the hall. She swung him into her arms. "Oh, Lin, what is your mum going to do? Come on, let's go outside."
Nalga, the fox, followed Zelda and Lin to the stream bank. He regarded the young Crown Prince as his personal charge. Zelda knew nothing would happen to him that Nalga could prevent. She thought about the future sadly as Lin wandered about. "I'm not ready to be Queen; I don't want to be Queen. The Crown just drives us further apart."
A black shadow passed and faded away. But it left behind a sparkler. Lin toddled up to the forgotten object. Nalga lifted his head, smelling the evil in the air. Lin picked up the gold statuette of a serpent in his right hand. Nalga ran faster than he had ever run before, but objects animated by evil move faster. The snake's head buried its teeth in Lin's pudgy hand, barely missing the triangular birthmark.
His screams brought Zelda running. "Lin!" she screamed grabbing her baby. The skin surrounding the puncture marks was already turning blue. Lin screamed more agonizingly, as he clung to his mother's neck and tried to shake the pain in his hand away. Zelda blindly ran for the North Palace.
Josh grabbed a sapling and swung himself up the slope as his gaze traveled down it. "What the...?" he ran down the slope. A golden hawk screeched and flew over his head as he reached the bottom of the valley.
A girl was lying at the foot of the slope. Josh dropped to her side. Blood had dried where it had run down her face. Josh checked her for her pulse and pushed her brown hair away from her neck. Her pulse was there, steady and strong. That wasn't all, Josh noticed the strange girl had pointed ears--like Vulcan ears.
Lissa groaned and opened her eyes. A strange boy with black hair and wearing a bizarre style of clothes loomed over her. "Take it easy." His hazel eyes narrowed with concern.
She took a shaky breath, "Where am I?"
"Right now, you're in the woods behind my house. My name is Josh." Lissa tried to sit up. "Careful, you hit your head pretty hard."
"It's throbbing, but I'm okay." She touched her injured skull gently. "I don't think anything's broken. My name is Lissa."
Her accent, I don't recognize it. "Where are you from, Lissa?" Josh asked.
"The kingdom of Hyrule," Lissa stood and stared up the slope she had rolled down. "What happened to the arch?" she gasped.
"The arch I stepped through." Josh appraised the exotic girl that had mysteriously appeared in his life. Hardy boots, dark green tights and a shirt cinched off with a belt to make a skirt, brown hair, a slightly smudged face, and--Josh felt goosebumps run up his spine. One of her eyes was blue and the other was silver.
"Princess?" the Royal Physician stepped out of the nursery. "There is an antidote for the poison, but...."
"But what, Doctor?" The Princess turned in her pacing of the hall to face him.
"You can find it only in the Dark Realm." Zelda fell into the chair, face in her hands, groaning. "I'm sorry, Zelda, I truly am."
Zelda shook his sympathetic hand off her shoulder as she stood and rushed into the room. Lin tossed deliriously in his crib, his tiny face--so much like Link's--flushed with fever. Captain Krin crept in quietly. "Your Highness, I just heard. Is there any way I can be of service?"
She whirled around, an erratic gleam in her green eyes. "You can recommend a good sword for me."
"Princess, you can't be serious!"
"I'm more than serious!" Zelda hissed, "This is Ganon's doing. He's already stole my love; he's not taking my son!" She trembled under her anger, whispering, "I'm going to stop him. With or without your help, Captain."
Krin gazed at her face and his uncertainty cleared. "The Nature Sword could help you. I'll find you a map."
"This is a shower. You step in, close the door, and turn the knobs. This one is for hot water; this one for cold. The water comes out of that weird looking thing at the top." Josh stepped back to let Lissa examine it.
She stared at the shower in disbelief. "You really take baths like this?"
Josh shrugged and brushed his black bangs out of his hazel eyes. "It saves water when you stand up." He stepped out of the bathroom and into the bedroom it was connected to. "This room is my foster sister's. Just take whatever clothes you need." He left the room and shut the door.
Lissa resigned with a sigh and looked in the mirror. The wound on her head had healed, practically unnoticeable now. "At least I can do that much. Where in Hyrule am I?" she asked her mirror-self.
After washing herself, and finding some uncomfortable clothes like Josh's, Lissa walked down the stairs and met Josh half-way. "We have to go out to eat. Come on." He led her out of the relative safety of the house to a maze of long, flat, black ribbons of stone that stretched in any direction.
They went into a crowded building with lots of windows. Lissa examined the package that Josh set down in front of her. He opened his and picked up the bread and meat sandwich wrapped inside. "Haven't you seen a hamburger before?"
Lissa opened hers and took a bite of the thing called a hamburger. It was dry, but good. Josh pushed a glass made of a strange material and filled with a brown liquid that fizzed toward her. "It's Coke, a drink." He took a large gulp of his.
Lissa took a small sip and it didn't taste bad. "By the way, what is your last name?" Josh set his glass down.
"My name is Lissa."
"No, your last name, the name your parents have. It says where your ancestors came from or what they were."
"My family was a long line of knights."
A young man kneeled on the seat behind their booth and leaned over Josh's shoulder. A lock of his greasy blond hair fell across his face and he blew it out of his way. "Hey, Kemper. Who's the chick?" Lissa didn't know why this obnoxious person was calling her a baby chicken, but she didn't like his tone.
"Ah, a new foster kid. Lissa Knight. Lissa, this is Max. We have the same homeroom." Josh's glare shifted from Max to his hamburger as Max shoved him to move over.
"Lissa, that's a very pretty name." Max settled himself into their booth. "So are your parents criminals or just dysfunctional?"
"My parents are dead." It was mostly true. Her mother may be alive, but she would never be a real mother.
"Max, haven't you got anything better to do?"
"Sure," he replied easily to Josh's pointed tone. "Take my advice, sweetheart, don't waste your time with this loser. Not when you're the new girl in town." Max sauntered away.
"Well, we know what to tell Mrs. Porter." Josh commented as they finished their meal. "With the weekend here, we can get away with it until Monday."
"Who is Mrs. Porter?" Lissa wiped her mouth with a napkin made of paper.
"My foster mother. Someone who takes care of you when your parents can't. And now yours. Since your social worker dropped you off this afternoon and will get in touch with her Monday to handle the paperwork."
"By the way," Max leaned over the separating bench, "where did you get a silver eye?"
"It's a contact," Josh jumped and pulled Lissa with him. "We have to go."
Lissa pulled her arm away when they left the building. "Why did you lie to Max? This eye color is part of my heritage."
"Take it from me, Max wouldn't understand. He has trouble following Disney cartoons."
"I don't understand this land. Showers, hamburgers, homerooms, Disney cartunes; are you deliberately trying to confuse me?"
Josh stopped and his bushy black eyebrows knitted together. "You honestly don't know what any of that is, do you? That's taking clueless to a new level."
Lissa started walking, taking the route that led back to the house. "I don't need you to make fun. I need you to help me find a way back."
"Hey, I'm sorry." He jogged to catch up. "I didn't mean anything by it. It's just, well, this is a little weird."
"Apology accepted. Now, why did Max call you a loser? Do you do badly in all that you try to do?"
"Where do you come from, Lissa?"
"You're changing the subject."
"I think I need to know."
"The kingdom of Hyrule and I have to find a way back."
"What's the hurry?" Josh stuffed his hands into the pockets of his pants.
"I'm afraid Ganon may try to harm Lin."
"My nephew. His destiny is extremely important to the future of Hyrule."
He shrugged. "I've never heard of a place called Highrule."
"Hyrule, but I'll look for it in the library tomorrow."
Zelda pushed her way though the underbrush. There, in midst of the clearing, sheath in the ground was the Nature Sword. Zelda took a step closer and thick vines wrapped around her waist and arm. "Let go!" Zelda tried to pull herself away. "Please. I need that sword to save my son." She stretched her free arm out toward the sword. Her fingers touched the hilt and wrapped around it.
The vines released her and Zelda fell, landing on her side. She jumped to her feet and pulled up the sword.
A low rumbling filled the forest. A large, mouth-like gateway rose out of the ground. The group of moblins that poured out of it and Zelda faced off. Her disguise as a dark-haired peasant seemed to work; the moblins didn't recognize her. But they did recognize the sword. With a yell, they rushed for her.
Link sat in the crook of the tree and pulled his cloak about him more. Why had he left Catherine with a friend? Walking through Hyrule was a bit hard on your feet. Why had he even come back? Was it because of the rumors that Zelda had a son or because he was tired of running away from painful memories? Link wasn't about to debate it now. He shifted his back and closed his eyes.
He pricked his ears and leaned forward attentively. The sound of a fight--a sound Link knew well--was nearby. He jumped out of the tree in time to see one girl trying to dodge trees and fight a pack of moblins simultaneously.
He quickly got behind the girl and zapped the lead moblin of the pack. It vanished in a bright light, but another took its place. "Get out of here!" Link shoved her in the direction of a trail that led up out of the woods. "Go on, I'll hold them off."
Moblins hadn't changed, and six wasn't a challenge. Link walked up the trail a few minutes later. The girl--woman--sat on a rock, panting. Doubtfully, he scrutinized her profile. Zelda? No, it couldn't be, but the resemblance was uncanny. This woman had black hair and aged with grief. "Are you okay?"
"Yes, thank you." The voice, too, so close to Zelda's. I must be going crazy, if I want to turn a perfect stranger into Zelda. "I haven't had that much experience with swords."
Link picked up the sword that laid beside her. "The Nature Sword, pretty good weapon, but it won't attack anything made by nature." He laid it down again, careful not to show his face hidden by the cloak. "What's a nice girl like you doing fighting moblins?"
Zelda faced the ground. "Someone poisoned my son, and the antidote can only be found in the Dark Realm."
Was this what Hyrule was coming to? No one willing to help this poor woman? "Why didn't you find an adventurer?"
"The only one I could trust was... unavailable," she replied in a chocked voice.
"Oh," Link was at a loss. "You shouldn't go alone."
Wrong thing to say. She flared up, "I can take care of myself!"
"I meant I would come with you."
Lissa stuffed the magic compass into the pockets of her pants. It wasn't working. She sat down on a log as she glanced around the forest. As far as she could tell, the arch that had brought her here was gone. The birds were gossiping about her. So I still understand what animals say. But why won't the compass work?
She turned and looked behind her. The slope that she had tumbled down yesterday flattened and resembled a bowl--a bowl with a muddy creek meandering in it. It looked so normal, she could almost mistake it for part of Hyrule.
Except for the metal can halfway buried in the leaves and dirt. She sighed. It didn't belong here. She willed the can to fly to her.
It didn't move.
Lissa stared at the can. There was nothing special about it. She wrapped her magical energy around the can and pulled.
She swung bother her legs over the log and stood up. Striding to the can, she pulled it out of the ground easily. She passed it from hand to hand, staring at it in bewilderment.
A large golden hawk screeched a relieved cry and landed on the log Lissa just got off of. "Kilare, I'm glad to see you too. But my magic. It's not working."
The hawk cocked his head and screeched a question. "Yes, I know I lived a long time without it. But if magic doesn't work here, how are we supposed to get home?"
Kilare's reply was sarcastic."Well, I'm glad you think it's nice here. I don't. If it weren't for Josh, I would be in a lot of trouble." The hawk screeched again. "What do you mean it's about time I found somebody? Keep it up and I will leave you here." Lissa started walking up the slope using saplings for leverage.
Kilare screeched apologetically. "Yeah, you better say you're sorry. Come on, you should meet him."
Josh stared at the list of countries and kingdoms printed in the back of the atlas. "Hyrule, Hyrule."
Matt sat across the table from him. "What are you looking for?"
"The kingdom of Hyrule."
Matt laughed, "You're not going to find it in any atlas, Josh. It's part of a video game."
"Yeah, you need to get out more." His red-haired classmate leaned back in the library chair. "The Legends of Zelda. Zelda is the Princess of Hyrule who has this magical Triforce. Link is her hero. They battle an evil sorcerer/monster, Ganon, who wants the Triforce. They've made three or four in the series."
Josh swallowed to keep the cold lump that had formed in his stomach from rising. "There wouldn't happen to be a character named Lissa, would there?"
"Not that I know of. Josh, are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, completely fine. The only thing wrong with me was that I was starting to like someone crazy." He quickly left the library before Matt could ask him any more questions.
Josh found Lissa sitting on the swing in the yard quietly petting a large golden hawk that nested in her lap. "Look who I found, Josh. This is Kilare." The hawk screeched something. "He says Hyrule is nowhere nearby."
"Oh, it's nearby, all right. As close as the nearest arcade," Josh replied bitterly.
"What do you mean, Josh? I don't understand."
"Come off it, Lissa! You know it's just a video game!"
"What's a video game?"
"It's fiction! It isn't real! It doesn't exist!"
Lissa jumped to her feet. Kilare screeched at the sudden movement and flew to the safety of the trees. "But it does exist! I was born there! My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew are still there!"
"Right. And next you'll be telling me Link is your brother."
"How did you know that?"
"Look, Lissa, I don't know where you come from...."
"I told you where I come from!" Lissa stomped her foot. "How do you explain these?" Her hand pulled up her brown hair and uncovered an ear. "You don't have ears like this and neither does Mrs. Porter. Oh Josh, why can't you believe me?" She burst into tears and ran into the house.
Josh didn't follow her, instead he fell into the swing. "I shouldn't have done that." The hawk in the tree screeched. "You stay out of this." He muttered at the tree. "What should I do now? I could tell Mrs. Porter the truth. But she would tell the authorities and they would take Lissa away. That wouldn't be right. What if she is telling the truth? Now, who's crazy; it's not possible." With a sigh, he entered the house.
Zelda sank to the ground, exhausted. "Are you okay?" The Cloak--what Zelda called him in her mind--asked.
"I'm fine," she smiled wanly. "It's been a long time since I've done anything like this."
"Where's your husband? I can't believe he would let you go to the Dark Realm by yourself."
Those green eyes--so much like Zelda's--saddened. "My... my husband left. Almost three years ago."
Link shook his head, "Poor guy." She stared at him in amazement. "What? Did I say something wrong?"
"You're one of the few people who know that sympathize with my husband, the second in fact."
Link looked down at the ground, "I left a loved one before. Everyday has been hell ever since."
Link looked up. She had picked up a stick and drew doodles in the dirt with it. "Do you hate him?"
Zelda dropped the stick, but sighed as she picked it up again. "I miss him. Miss doesn't even begin to describe it. If it weren't for Lin, my son, nothing would matter any more." She turned to him, "Do you hate yourself?"
"Yeah, every minute of every day." Link stood up, "Ready to go?" Zelda nodded and stood.
Lissa held the magic compass in her hands staring at its blank face. Hyrule didn't exist? It had to! And Josh thought she was crazy, what could be worse? "I can't give up. The minute I do, Ganon will have won." Gritting her teeth, she poured magical energy into the compass. It began to glow with green tint. "Hyrule," chocked through her teeth. The arrow appeared, faint but it was there, and it pointed to the northwest. Exhilarated, her concentration fell and the compass went back to its blank self.
There was a knock on her bedroom door. She opened it and slowly revealed Josh's apologetic expression. "Can I come in to talk about this?"
She opened the door and let him in. He pulled the chair from the desk close to the bed and sat down in it, leaning his chest against its back. "I'm sorry I made you cry. I didn't want to do that."
Lissa sat down on the edge of the bed. "Hyrule does exist. It's as real as this world."
He spread his hands in a helpless gesture. "I'm going to need proof."
"And if I can prove everything I say is true, what will you do?"
"Honestly," he looked up. "I'd probably kiss you." He looked back down. "If you'd let me."
Focus on the practical, Lissa! He's probably joking again. "My magic compass points a way to Hyrule. We'll need horses."
"I don't have any horses!"
"Some form of transportation. You can work out the finer details."
"Wait, Lissa," Josh stopped before leaving the room. "What if you can't go back?"
"I have to! Hyrule needs me!" She closed her eyes and bowed her head against the wave of helplessness that rushed through her. She pulled her head back up. "Please help me."
Josh nodded. "I'll do everything I can."
"There it is," Link pointed the rough hewn rock shelf/alter out to his companion, "a magic whistle. You can use it to take you to the antidote and send you back to your son."
Zelda plucked the whistle off the shelf. Why did she feel so tongue tied? She had already told the Cloak so much, why did she feel that much was left unsaid? "How can I repay you?" Even to her ears the words sounded superficial.
"It was nothing," the Cloak replied, then dropped into fighting stance. "Look out!"
Her green eyes flew up as the moblin jumped from one of the surrounding grove's trees. Its sharp spearhead collided with the whistle that Zelda had thrown out instinct, cutting it in half with a flash of light. "No!" Zelda cried agonized, as she drew the Nature Sword and faced the moblin.
Link whirled around, she could handle one moblin, but moblins already spewed out of the gateway's mouth. He held up his sword, the brown cloak billowing out behind him. "And just where do you think you're going?" He asked them with a grin.
Zelda zapped the moblin that had ruined her chance to save Lin, giving herself a view of the gateway. Lin's cherubic face drifted into her mind's view, flushed and twisted by the fever. She ran for the gateway.
"Are you crazy?" Link shouted after her as she started down the stairs. Unheeding, she continued recklessly. He zapped the last moblin and sprinted after her. "I've got this incredible luck of finding fanatical women; that has to be it."
Zelda reached the underground cavern, "The antidote," she murmured. She shook her head to clear it of the glazed feeling. She needed logical thinking.
A darknut prime reached out of the darkness. "Let me go!"
Link ran toward the sound of her voice, but another darknut grabbed him--making sure to knock the sword out of his hands. A goriya scurried away with it.
The darknuts finally managed to bring their struggling prisoners to where Ganon stood ready to receive them. "Ah, Princess. So nice for you to come and visit. There really isn't a need for that foolish disguise anymore." With a careless wave of his hand, Zelda's died black hair returned to its golden hue but her beautiful features remained twisted with cold fury.
"Princess? Zelda." Link feigned shock. His heart had known his girl, but as usual his head hadn't listened. But if Ganon didn't realize who he was maybe there was a chance.
"I knew you would come for the antidote to save your son. I planned for it. Now, with you and your son out of the way, the Power of Gold is mine again!" Ganon drooled, rubbing his hands together gleefully at the prospect. "And you shall become my queen!"
"You monster!" Zelda snarled.
"I hardly call protecting your interest monstrous."
"How can killing an innocent baby protect your interest?" she demanded.
"Don't think of me as cruel, Princess. I like your son; he's an adorable baby," his voice hardened, "and I plan to keep him that way! Take them to the sacrificial chamber."