Blood Dust
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"Blood Dust"

Blood Dust

By: Furitsune


There was a period of great rejoicing as the legendary Hero of Time returned to his homeland of Hyrule atop his rusty mare, wielding a golden sword and carrying a horde of masks. He was older, wiser, and more learned in the ways of the sword. His cerulean eyes carried a stern glint to them that the Hylians and the Kokiri had never seen before.

But to Saria none of that mattered.

The night of his return he made the journey to the Sacred Meadow, just as he had done for so many years before. He arrived in silence as she lay curled up on her tree stump, ocarina clasped in hand as the spirits of the forest danced around her petite, child-like form. She was in her comfort zone, the place where she felt the safest. Of course, she felt even safer when he was around, but she knew.Saria had known for some time now that the Hero of Time would never love her.

She forced herself to awaken at the sound of his footfalls against the moist grass and looked up to see him standing not eight paces before her. His journey had given his build a slightly more defined edge, had hollowed out his cheeks slightly. He looked a man, and now, he truly was one.

She smiled. "Link.welcome home."

Link smiled in gratitude and went to her. They sat on the tree stump as they had done since they were children and played their ocarinas in harmony with one another.

The forest slept on, as did the Kokiri. As did the Hylians, the Gorons, the Sheikah, and the Zoras.

Hyrule was at peace.

Chapter One

Termina had never suffered as greatly as it did the months after the Carnival of Time. First, the Zoras and the Terminians waged civil war over the rights to the Great Bay waters, then the famine that struck shortly afterward and killed off the crops, and then, as if matters weren't their grimmest, the Dark Cloud began to form.

Kafei first spotted it while on his sail boat, fishing in the Great Bay with his Zora companion, Zau. The clouds rolled in front of the sun, and at first, both he and Zau presumed rain. Then, after hours and hours of waiting for the overcast to pass, and receiving no results, Zau said it first.

" will never leave?"

"Don't be ridiculous," Kafei said. "Of course it will leave. It's only a cloud."

Perhaps the Dark Cloud was a dark omen of things to come, for Kafei had been wrong; the cloud stayed. Crops died, the cows of Romani Ranch refused to deliver milk, and worst of all, the people of Termina began to feud amongst each other.

One little spot of watered soil was fought over amongst family members. Children ran from their parents' wrath for taking a small midnight nibble at freshly baked bread. Thieves ran throughout Clock Town unchecked, stealing what they felt like from the open-air stands. It got to the point where murders were so common that Kafei and Anju were afraid to leave the Stock Pot Inn.

Zau, adopted by both Kafei and Anju from a Zora adoption agency in the Great Bay, was afraid and cold and hungry; there wasn't a fish in all of Clock Town that he could eat without getting sick, and Terminian food made him gag. Kafei worried over him while Anju did her best to heal her ailing grandmother. Her own mother had gone to watch over Cremia and Romani at Romani Ranch.

On this particular evening, Kafei had managed to get a little food from a mutual acquaintance in West Clock Town, and returned home early. He removed his Keaton's Mask once inside the safety of Stock Pot Inn and called out, "Anju? I'm home."

Anju's voice echoed from around the corner, along with a weak cough from Grandmother, "Welcome home, dear. I'm in here with Grandmother. Can you go check on Zau for me?"

"Sure," he replied. He slipped off his brown overcoat and hung it on the coat rack next to the door, then ran one hand through his short violet hair. The rain outside was not the normal, cool, refreshing liquid that he was so used to feeling from Termina. It was hot, searing, and killed the wildflowers.

The inn was without residents other than those who owned it; the only noise besides Anju's soft words and Grandmother's coughing was the endless "tick, tick, tick," of the clock hung against the wall. Kafei trotted up the stairs to the second floor and pushed open the door to his and Anju's bedroom. Zau was curled up on their bed, his fins flicking slightly with each breath. At the sound of Kafei's approach he sat up, brown eyes wide, and whispered, "I told you the cloud wasn't going away."

"We don't know that for certain yet," Kafei told him sternly and sat down on the bed next to the smaller Zora. Kafei still wasn't accustomed to his small, slightly childish form, but he'd grown used to it and so had the other villagers. Or at least, they had before they had turned into the barbarous creatures that they presently were.

"But I do," Zau insisted desperately, "because I can smell it. On the's like a never ending dust. Remember when I told you that the air smelled like the sea, so long ago?"

"Yes, Zau," Kafei said and gently eased the small Zora back onto the sheets. "Don't strain yourself."

"It's not the sea that I smell anymore," Zau continued as if Kafei had never spoken, "It's blood, blood that's like dust, and it's never leaving, I know it." and the little boy began to sniffle and to cry, and Kafei could not comfort him. Deep in his own heart, he knew that Zau was right. That nausea he felt whenever he stepped outside was not from the foul food, or from dysentery in the water. It was a nausea caused by the blood in the Dark Cloud; Kafei felt as if each time he breathed, that he was committing a cannibalistic act.

A rumble like distant thunder shook the inn and dust fell from the roof onto Zau's delicate Zora skin. He cried even harder, but this time he cried from pain and discomfort. Kafei reached out to touch him, but Zau pulled away.

"The clouds are parting. I can feel them. Termina is going to-"

But at that moment, the thunder sounded again, thrice as loud and this time accompanied by a roar, as if from the infernal King Dodongo himself.  The inn shook like leaves, and then one of the pillars holding the roof up was shaken from its place and it collapsed-

-falling directly onto Kafei and Anju's bed, pinioning Zau beneath its heavy weight.

"Zau!" Kafei screamed in fear and felt tears well up in his eyes at the sound of the small boy's cry. The Zora struggled in pain for what seemed like an eternity, and then he looked up at Kafei, his wide brown eyes already filled with dust and tears. He coughed, a tributary of blood leaking out of the corner of his mouth. Blood seeped out of a deep gouging wound from his stomach, obscured by the large pillar.

Kafei clasped the small boy's hand and felt his heart rip in two as he pleaded hoarsely, "Zau, don't." But he might as well have been pleading for a rock to rise up and walk around, for the little Zora's soul slipped away without another word, disappearing into the land of the dead.

As Zau's hand froze in Kafei's grasp, Kafei felt the ground begin to rumble again. He looked up sharply as the wind and rain hurled their wrath against the windows, threatening to break in at any moment, looked up as pieces of plaster and rock fell from the ceiling. He winced as dust got into his eyes and quickly wiped it out. He didn't have much time.

With hands trembling from fear and from sorrow, he unclipped a silver necklace from around his "son's" neck. It was nothing special, just a silver chain with a small conch shells on it. He clipped it around his own neck, gently kissed his son's forehead, and then fled from the bedroom, down the stairs.

He staggered a pace as another pillar fell from the ceiling, this one crashing down through the stairs and sending him sprawling across the floor, along with a cloud of dust and debris. He gashed his head against a house plant and heard Anju's fearful cry as blood coursed down his nose and into his eyes. He scrambled to his feet quickly and shouted, "Anju!? Where are you!?"

The front door had blown open, sending stinging acidic rain flowing inside in sheets like liquid iron on winds that threatened to knock him off of his feet. He squinted through the rain and saw his wife and grandmother making their way through the hallway, wrapped in shawls to keep out the rain. Anju's face was wrought with terror as she gazed at him.

"Kafei, the wind is too strong! We can't get through!" she cried as another gust from behind buffeted her and her grandmother against the wall. The old woman had her hands over her eyes and face, and she was crying out her daughter's name, begging Anju to take her to Romani Ranch.

Kafei, pinned against the wall from the wind, edged along the side of the hallway and reached out his hand to his wife desperately, biting through his lower lip. "Take my hand!" he shouted hoarsely, his fingers outstretched in a desperate attempt to reach Anju. "We'll get through this, I promise!"

Anju huddled against the wall with her grandmother, tears already streaking down her cheeks and reddening her beautiful face. She pursed her lips and gazed hopefully into the determined rose-color of Kafei's eyes, despite his young form. He scooted a little closer to her, still reaching out with his fingertips. Another gust of wind whipped his hair about his features.

"Come with me, Anju!" he pleaded, trembling visibly from terror. "We'll be all right."

"But what about Grandmother?" Anju began, but the old woman shook her head and called over the roar of the wind, "I'm old, Anju my dear, and I'm willing to accept my fate in this old inn. Go with your husband, child."

"Grandmother, no!" Anju screamed, her eyes wide, and vainly protested. But as she did so, the old woman put forth an effort such as Kafei had never seen and shoved her grandmother forward into Kafei's waiting arms.

Without the strength of her granddaughter to keep her in place, the wind was too forceful. The old woman staggered back, and then was flung back around the corner, arms flailing. Anju screamed again and fought against Kafei's arms desperately for all of a minute, then weakened and cried desperately into his shoulder.

Kafei held her gently, nuzzling his face into her hair and whispering into her ear soothingly, but he abruptly stopped as a room literally fell through the ceiling not eight paces in front of him, weighted down by the falling pillars. He shielded himself and Anju from the dust and flying debris, hissing softly as another, sharper gust of wind ripped throughout the inn through the hole in the ceiling. When the dust cleared enough for him to squint, he saw a crumbled bed pinioned to the floor. On the bed, dull brown eyes open and blood covering most of his body, lay Zau, mangled. Kafei felt his throat constrict and he forced himself not to give away his terror, instead grabbing Anju's hand and flinging himself against the wind towards the front door.

Outside, people were bracing themselves against the wind. It seemed as though their malevolent behavior had disappeared in this time of crisis. Village folk were holding each other, women were gathering children to their breasts, and the soldiers were doing their best to keep up the city walls as they tumbled. For as far as he could see, Kafei saw nothing but people of all races crowding to get away from the Clouds.

Kafei and Anju cried out in horror. The sky was as red as the blood that had leaked from Zau's body. Clouds rippled with purple lightning, rain coursed down to the earth, brown in color, and in all the chaos, there was a determined sense of fidelity in the Terminian people on that apocalyptic day. They banded together and put up props to hold up the walls. If there was one thing that stirred pride in Kafei's heart, it was seeing his people fight against the inevitable with everything they had.

But his hopes were crushed as a dark, crimson cloud seemed to billow into existence, building up its strength. The people paused in what they were doing to gaze at it, despite the tearing wind as it pushed at them, groaning from its velocity. It continued to grow, spitting lightning and even more rain, and then from it came what looked like a river of blood. Only it wasn't blood, but dust, and so much dust that Kafei couldn't breath at all.

The townsfolk screamed in fear and pain as the dust sought out their eyes and their mouths, clogged their throats and their nostrils. Kafei saw what was happening and felt a helpless sense of abandon before grabbing Anju's hand firmly in his own.

They raced together through all of East Clock Town, passing by stores that were empty, through play grounds where children were huddled, dying, but he and Anju could not stop. Kafei felt as if he could have run on for ages, and he probably could have if it weren't for the pain in his forehead from where he'd gashed his skull against the wall.

And with a leap down a flight of stairs, they were in the desolate South Clock Town, and right in front of him was the Clock Tower, standing like a majestic barrier against the inevitable.

He and Anju both saw the doors at the same time and raced for them, for the tower might be their only sanctuary against the diabolic storm. With dust in their throats and determination in their hearts, then braced themselves against the wind, arms up defending their eyes, and tore for the doors as they swung open.

Kafei stumbled over a little brown dog as it raced in terrified circles in the street. Without a moment's hesitation, he scooped the dog up into his arms and scrambled to his feet, ("Come on, little guy," he whispered) wheezing as the dust clogged his throat. Anju was already inside the tower, crying and beckoning him to follow.

"Find something to hold onto!" he gasped as he stumbled inside, but he grunted in pain as the wind and dust slammed into him from behind, hurling Anju, the little dog, and himself down the spiraling stairs deep into Termina's earth.

Kafei landed on his back, hard, and flashes of red and white pain dappled in his line of vision. In agony, his back curled upward and he felt the little warmth of the dog in his arms still as it clung to him, terrified. When he came to his senses, he sat up and found himself squinting into a sea of red. The water was beginning to lift from where it was in the little brook beside him, splashing and almost roaring with the wind and the dust.

And clinging in desperate fear to the grate, and in dire danger of being flushed away into a dark abyss of water, was Anju, screaming and crying out Kafei's name, only to inhale vast amounts of the bloody dust.

"KAFEI!" she screamed again, and then gagged, coughed. Her grip on the grate slackened.

Still gripping the little brown dog against his chest, Kafei crawled along the ground towards Anju, pain wrought across his features and in his movements. Anju gazed at him frightfully, reaching out for his hand in tears.

Kafei gasped in pain, then choked on the dust and briefly covered his nose and mouth with his hand, wincing as the wind tore at his clothes, as the rain whipped about and stung his skin. He was barely able to crack his eyes open, and then he reached out with that same hand, fingers barely inches from Anju's.

"Grab. hold."

"I can't reach, you're too far away!" Anju cried out, tears already filling her eyes.

Something seemed to suck the air from the tower's interior like a vacuum. For a moment, even the dust receded, and the water was even shallow enough for Anju to stand in. Both of them drenched from head to toe, they exchanged weak, yet confused glances and looked around, wondering if perhaps this was the end of the storm.

But a sudden, fierce scream of the wind filled the interior just as quickly as it had vanished, flinging layer after layer of the thick blood dust back down upon them, and a monstrous wave of green water exploded from the other side of the tower, flinging bricks and other debris in all directions as it cascaded like rushing death towards where Anju was standing. Kafei's eyes widened and he wasn't even given time to scream in despair before Anju was swept away from him, forever, terror in her eyes.

Suddenly, there was no more use for him to go on. Kafei gazed in limp despair at the place where Anju had been merely seconds ago and found he could not even conjure up the tears to sob for her death. He slumped to his knees, shaking as if he were on the brink of collapsing as a person, and then he found his voice and screamed, for all he was worth.

And as if in response to his scream, behind him a door opened. In the most literal sense of the word, a door opened, right there in the wall, and Kafei had to squint against the brilliant white light that shone from the opening. As if meeting its opponent, the blood dust, roaring wind, and acidic rain receded to the upper levels of the tower.

The little dog in his arms gazed at the light, awed, and began to wriggle in Kafei's grasp. He shushed the creature, and then took a tentative step nearer the light, felt its warmth splash across his face. And in astonishment, it cleansed his wounds and healed his aches, condoled his loss of Anju and seemed to promise him hope if he would only come closer. It offered sanctity, but it also said that if he lingered, this opportunity would vanish. As would his life, and the destiny which he was meant to fulfill.

For all his love of Anju and his despair over his parent's death, his son's death, and his city's demise, he had nothing left to lose. So clasping the little dog in his arms like a talisman of good luck, he raced into the light and marveled at its rapture.

Chapter Two

The warmth of blankets tucked around his body were comforting in comparison to the brutal stinging of acid rain and the feel of frigid cold biting into his soul. Kafei let his eyes crack open slightly to gaze, muzzled, at his surroundings.

He was in a quaint hut of sorts, it would seem, and there was a warm fire crackling not far from his bed. His room had no windows, so he could not tell whether it was daylight outside or not. Curled up at the foot of his bed was the dog he had rescued. Now that he got a close look at the little thing, he found humor in its homely appearance.

It was a terrier with a coarse overcoat to protect its skin and its eyes were covered with bangs, obscuring its vision. When Kafei began to sit up, the little dog sprang to life and looked at him with all the adoration of a child, panting happily and wagging its little tail joyously.

The first thing that Kafei noticed when he pushed the covers back from his body was that he seemed to have grown considerably. He felt as if he was sixteen, as if the light had aged him. The second thing he noticed was that he was naked as a new born babe.

He sat up sharply and gazed around for his clothes. He could not see his classic violet garb anywhere, but on a wooden chair beside his bed was a set of clothing, neatly folded with his conch shell necklace curled on top of them.

He quickly snatched the necklace off of the clothing and pushed his hair away from his neck to clip the necklace into place. He was relieved to still have something of his son's to remember him by. He looked at the clothing curiously and picked up the first garment. It was of a woolen material, lined with what seemed to be deer hide; it was long sleeved and dark brown, with a hood to pull over his head when the need arose. Threaded into the hood was a rawhide string, evidently to tighten or loosen the hood when need be.

The trousers were of similar material, laden with pockets and loops for a black belt, which was hung over the back of the chair. Kafei pulled both of the garments on and slipped the belt around his waist afterwards. He briefly wondered how these clothes fit him so perfectly, but he dismissed the thought. Of course the lady of the house would have measured him in his sleep. It wasn't an uncommon thing to do in Termina, so why should it be any different in this land?

There under the chair were boots for him to slip on. They were nothing special, but designed for forest living, he noted. He pulled them on also and arranged his trouser legs over the tops of them, then quietly whistled to the terrier and pushed the door to his room open. The dog hopped off of the bed and followed him.

The door led to a living room of sorts, and inside two young girls were sitting around the hearth, giggling and speaking to one another. An older woman was in a rocking chair near them, knitting and speaking to an older man, who was simply relaxing by the front door. All of them were dressed similarly in brown clothing with variations of tan and cream. When he pushed the door open, they all looked up at him in curiosity.

The two young girls exchanged glances and giggled, blushing and waving to him meekly. Kafei blushed in response and managed to smile in response, then looked at the older woman. She offered him a kind smile and beckoned him forward.

"Come on, lad, no need to be afraid of us," she assured him with a chuckle. "Where abouts do you come from, eh? What's your name?"

Eased by their kindness, Kafei edged closer and took a seat at a table close to the door to his room. Immediately, the little terrier sprang into his lap and curled up there comfortably. He let his palm rest on its coat and answered, briefly stunned by the maturity of his voice, "I. I come from Termina, and my name is Kafei. Where is this land? What is it called?"

"Never heard of no Termina," commented the older man with a shrug of his shoulders, "but this here land is Hyrule, ruled over by the kind Queen Zelda. Lovely lass that one, just as kind spirited as her late father."

"What's Termina like?" inquired one of the girls with a pleasant smile on her face, but her mother hushed her.

"Alice, don't go picking someone else's cotton, silly girl," she reprimanded, but Kafei smiled and shook his head.

"It's all right." Pause. "Termina was. my home. That's all I can say. But when the Dark Cloud came a few months ago, it." And he trailed off, unable to go on.

The younger of the two girls eyed Kafei critically. She stood up and walked over to him purposefully, squinting at his features. She turned up his jaw and peered at his eyes, at his ears, then said, "Y'ain't from this world, is you, sir?"

"Lori!" the girl's mother snapped sharply, and Lori meekly returned to her sister beside the hearth. Kafei, briefly puzzled by Lori's question, simply shook his head slowly.

"In Termina, just a few months ago, there was another great tragedy. An evil spirit tried to demolish our city by cursing the moon and giving us three days to survive. And out of the blue, a boy came. In the span of three days, he rescued our city, restored lives, and gave my wife and I a purpose to go on. He carried an air about him similar to you folk. Determined and unwilling to stop even in the heat of battle. I think. his name was Link."

At the mention of "Link," the family gasped in astonishment and crowded close to him to peer at him incredulously.

"You met Link?"

"Surely not! He's been in Hyrule for years now!"

"What was he like? Oh, if only I could have met him."

Kafei blinked in confusion and the dog in his lap leapt to the floor, scuttled under the table. How was that possible? Link had only been in Termina four months ago! And then he stopped and looked at his hands.

He had been hardly over thirteen, physically, when he fled from Termina. Now, he felt sixteen again. Had he gone into some sort of hibernation inside that light?

At this revelation, the family around him vanished as if someone had just washed them away with water. They dissolved, as though they were never there, and when they were gone, the dwelling began to vanish until only he and his little dog remained on what seemed to be a floating blackness. In fear, the dog scrambled into his arms, and Kafei held the creature close to his chest.

A familiar white light begin to kindle in the distance, and slowly he felt at peace again. Slowly, he closed his eyes, and then opened them again. The dog in his arms drifted off to sleep. He felt matter beneath his feet again and looked down to find himself standing atop a silver emblem. There it was, in the shape of the Clock Tower itself! And. what was that light ahead of him?

Other blue pillars seemed to shoot up out of the black oblivion below, each carrying a medallion of some sort. Pillars of light shot from each emblem, including the one he stood upon, and they shone brilliantly until figures began to form in each beam of light.

The first one came from a golden medallion, and Kafei found himself gazing upon a man who could have been the maker himself. He was an aging man, but a kindly one as well. He looked upon Kafei and shook his head, smiling once.

"My. this is quite unexpected."

As each of the beings on each medallion gazed upon Kafei, each of them began to chuckle and cover their mouths. They whispered to each other and then, finally, the old man spoke again.

"Silence. all of you. Despite how absurd the situation seems, the test never lies, and thus we have our Knight of Ages."

"But this is ridiculous!" cried a Zora in outrage, and Kafei whirled to gaze upon her. He blushed, for she wore no clothing whatsoever and she didn't seem to care. He averted his gaze politely as she glared upon him. "Our knight is to be female, not male!"

"We don't have control over the situation, Princess Ruto," said a sharp, angry looking woman standing in a pillar of violet light. "As Rauru said, the test never lies. And this young man will be our Knight of Ages, despite what you may want."

The aging man held up a hand for silence, and Kafei felt as though he were suddenly being put beneath a magnifying glass. The eyes of these beings bore into him, eyeing him with scrutiny. When the silence was beginning to grow uncomfortable, the man said in a gentle voice, "Kafei? Do you know where you are?"

"I. how do you know my name?" he said, and he found that he had to shout to even be heard at all by these grand entities. "And where am I?"

"The Sages know many things, child," the aging man assured him, "and you are in our chamber. The Chamber of Sages, to be exact. I am Rauru, Sage of Light." With a sweep of his hand, he gestured to a petite girl standing with her arms folded in front of her. She looked young in appearance, but Kafei saw knowledge and wisdom in her eyes. "This," Rauru said, "is Saria, the Sage of Forests."

And so he introduced Impa the Sheikah, Sage of Shadows, Darunia the Goron, Sage of Fire, Princess Ruto the Zora, Sage of Water, and Nabooru the Gerudo, Sage of Spirit. Each politely bowed to Kafei, even the haughty Princess Ruto.

Rauru crossed his arms over his chest and said at last, "And now, Kafei, do you know why you are here?"

"I. no, I don't. Sir." Kafei finished his sentence feeling rather stupid. But none of the sages noticed, or if they did they said nothing. Rauru nodded once, a slow movement that Kafei felt condemned his life hence forth.

"You have been selected, Kafei," Rauru continued wisely, "to serve as the Knight of Ages. Many years ago, an evil man from the desert named Ganondorf Dragomir came to Hyrule and tried to take over our placid existence. We were not sure what he was after until it was too late, and we could not stop him."

"What was he after?" Kafei asked, curious.

"The Triforce, child," Impa replied, and her sharp voice sent chills up Kafei's spine.

Rauru nodded in agreement. "Impa is correct. Do you know of the Triforce?"

"I have never heard of it," Kafei replied honestly, and that caused all of the sages to exchange glances and murmur amongst themselves.

"If he doesn't know what he's protecting, how do we know he'll be efficient in what he's destined to do?" Ruto stated harshly and glared daggers down at the violet haired Terminian man. "He's a bit frail to be a knight anyway."

"Oh don't go picking him apart Ruto!" Nabooru chastised quickly, then gazed upon Kafei thoughtfully. "He's just a little thing after all. I'm sure he'll grow."

"Silence!" Rauru bellowed, and the sages all bit their tongues. Kafei chewed his lower lip and looked back up at Rauru.

"Tell me about the Triforce," he begged, "Tell me about what it is you want me to do. I promise, I'll do my best, I'll fulfill anything you want me to, but please, don't underestimate me before I've even been given a chance."

Rauru was encouraged by the honesty in Kafei's soul, as he had been while watching him grow. Perhaps he had foreseen Kafei's destiny then; perhaps not. But that honesty, that fidelity, that pure will to go on was always present, even in the grimmest times. Rauru closed his eyes slowly, as if he were the setting sun, and nodded.

"The Triforce represents where the Three Golden Goddesses departed our world for the next after creating Hyrule. The goddesses were Din, Goddess of Power, Nayru, Goddess of Wisdom, and Farore, Goddess of Courage. Its location is not exact, but you can find it by entering the Door of Time in the Temple of Time, which leads to the Sacred Realm.

"When Link first came into knowledge of his destiny and his power, he was told by the adolescent Princess Zelda to retrieve the three Spiritual Stones in order to open the Door of Time. However, when he accomplished those tasks, Ganon attacked the castle and Zelda was forced to flee. She left as a memento the Ocarina of Time, an artifact which helped enable Link to open the Door of Time."

"However," Impa continued for Rauru, and Kafei turned to face her instead, "Link was not old enough to take on Ganon, and so his soul was locked inside this chamber for seven years until he was ready for the task. As a result, Ganon was able to get hold of the Triforce and transform Hyrule into a world filled with evil. Luckily, the little squirt-I mean, Link was able to defeat him and win back our kingdom. Obviously, he had to return to his own time, which is why he was the age he was when you saw him." She wrinkled her nose slightly and exhaled slowly. "You have gone through a hibernation similar to the one that he went through, Kafei, except your period of sleep was only for three years. Your are physically and mentally mature enough to handle your task now."

Kafei felt small despite their words. It was one thing for the legendary Hero of Time to be strong, to go where no man has ever gone before, but Kafei? Surely there was a mistake.

"But Princess Ruto said that the Knight of Ages was to be female," he insisted and looked to the Zora for confirmation. Ruto, seeing a possible ally in this stranger, nodded vigorously and said, "Exactly! This young thing sees wisdom!" At this, Rauru and Impa both smiled sheepishly, and Saria giggled.

"Well, you see," Rauru began, and it became evident after a few moments that he found the entire situation all too amusing. He rubbed his hands together and shook his head, smiling and twirling his mustache. "The Knight of Ages is foretold to be the Hero of Time's destined soul mate. Therefore, we automatically assumed that the one who we would encounter would be a female. But if the goddesses are acting upon Link's supposed orientation."

And Kafei blanched.

"Now don't look at me that way!" Rauru scolded sharply and raised his finger to point at Kafei's expression. "None of us were expecting this turn of events either. But it is clearly evident in your eyes and in your soul that you are the Knight of Ages, and that you are Link's.erm. well you're definitely his something." Kafei, for all his worth, blushed and buried his face in the fur of the terrier in his arms. The little dog yipped once and turned in Kafei's arms to lick his cheeks.

Rauru continued. "Now this is just a minor slip in details. We must now accept that Kafei is our Knight of Ages and that he has a duty to fulfill. Kafei, do you accept this fate? For if you decline, you will surely not be sent back to Termina. You will live out your life, more than likely, a placid farmer in some Sheikah village, possibly marry and have children, and you will be happy.

"However. we strongly advise accepting your fate and help protect Hyrule and the Sacred Realm from conceited people like Ganondorf Dragomir and Majora." He was silent, as if letting Kafei contemplate these choices. "Do you accept?"

Kafei felt so unimportant in his woolen clothes and his humble boots. Perhaps it would have been better to have flung himself into that eerie green water, so he could have died with his beloved wife. He had broken his promise to her; he had promised he would protect her, and he had failed. Now what could he do?


And he caught himself before he declined. If he lived his life as a placid farmer and fell in love again, what if some other malevolent force attacked Hyrule? Would he be torn from his lover as Anju was torn from him?

No, he would not let that fate befall himself again, or any other happy man with children. He would be strong and he wouldn't let Anju's death have been in vain. He swallowed and drew himself up to his full stature, which wasn't very much since he was no pillar of height anyway.

"I accept." And he felt no different than he had a few moments ago, only that now his life from hence forth would be dramatically different.

Rauru inclined his head slowly and beckoned that Kafei come closer. Kafei started, for if he were to come too close he would surely topple to his death off of the edge of the pillar. As if noting his fear, Rauru simply smiled. "Have faith, child."

Kafei found he had little room for anything other than faith, so with his heart clinging to the hope of life, he stepped off of the pillar, his eyes clenched tightly closed-and found a hard surface beneath his feet. As if that was the final test, he felt the dog in his arms wriggle with surprising strength. It gave a little yip and sprang into the air, landing on the invisible surface at Kafei's side. There, light seemed to spring from the matter beneath its paws, light enveloping its small figure. Kafei started forward, but stopped when he saw his little dog was in no danger.

As the light began to fade, in the terrier's place was no small puppy, but a huge wolf, as big as a horse. A snow white wolf, armored with steel gray armor, complete with a helmet with eye slits for the creature's eyes. On either of its sides were scabbards for two swords, each filled with weapons. Kafei was taken aback by his terrier's transformation. There was no way such a large animal could exist! It defied the laws of nature. But then again, this wolf was not natural, but a divine being. Anything was possible when it came down to this sort of work.

Nabooru spoke. "Your power will come with time. You won't automatically become a high level mage, nor a swift swordsmen. This takes time, and lucky for you, you are under no pressure to become a hero or to save any lives like Link was. Just take your time and do your best."

"But. why am I not garbed in armor like the wolf?" Kafei asked. He was in no way envious of the weight the creature had to carry, but he felt somewhat plain next to this creature.

Rauru gave his shoulders a lift. "You've seen Link before, have you not? He's not armored nearly as elegantly as the royal palace guards of Hyrule Castle, and yet he's as eminent as the Golden Goddesses."

"I was just wondering," he replied, somewhat irritated now.

The wolf looked down at him and gave its large ears a quick movement. Kafei returned its stare and scratched the ridge of his nose. This animal had no name.

"Seraphim," he said quite suddenly, and the wolf gave its large tail a brief wag. Kafei smiled and reached out with one hand to touch Seraphim's shoulder. "That suits you."

"You will help Link defend the Triforce, Kafei," Rauru said, as if this was the gravest assignment placed on any one man, "and Seraphim will harbor this force. Your wolf can take care of himself-up to a point. You must never assume that he is invincible, because there are forces that can penetrate that armor."

"I'll be careful," Kafei promised and pulled himself up onto Seraphim's back as if he were riding a horse.

"But Kafei," Rauru warned, "Although he may know of your being the Knight of Ages, Link mustn't know that you are foretold to fall in love with him. If he does, he may try to keep your relationship from occurring. And though it would not change things too dramatically. you would not want to be without the affection he has for you. Do you understand?"

And before Kafei could answer, they were gone, as if he had blinked. Kafei stood completely alone without even Seraphim in the middle of a field of high grass. He couldn't even see ahead of himself, let alone his destiny!

He pushed his way through the tall grass with effort, and five minutes into the labor he was already out of breath and bored of the scenery. He sighed and ran his fingers through is hair, then paused when he heard the trickle of water in the distance. At that noise, he realized how utterly thirsty he was from inhaling so much dust.

The brook was clear, and the trees on either side of it were filled nuts and things to nibble at. Kafei crouched beside the brook and dipped his hands into the water, brought the liquid to his lips, and sipped. What a glorious feeling, to taste fresh water again! Kafei relished in the sensation and drank more, until he felt he should surely burst from so much water. He felt little hunger, surprisingly, and so he lay beneath one of the trees and closed his eyes, anxious to sleep.

Chapter Three

He awoke the next morning before the sun was even coloring the horizon. Kafei sat up slowly and ran his fingers over his face, then rolled over and dipped his hand into the cold of the brook at his side. He brought the water to his face and splashed his features with the liquid. The cold felt like needles biting into his skin, and he inhaled sharply, his eyes widening. He was awake, most definitely, but now he was also cold.

And it was in that moment that he missed both Anju and Zau dreadfully. He bit his lip to keep from crying, but the tears came anyway and he couldn't bring himself to wipe them away just yet. He lifted his hand, trembling, to touch the conch shell necklace around his throat, to feel Zau and Anju one more time-

-and started at the new gem he found there.

He quickly unclipped the necklace and let it drop into his hands. There, amongst the conch shells, was a glowing white diamond, with a star gleaming in the very center. Kafei gazed at it, awed by its beauty, and stroked the stone with his fingertips. Seraphim must be inside there, he decided.

He stood up, a little wobbly on his feet, but stable none the less, and took in his surroundings. In all of this, he was expected to find Link, become friends with him, fall in love with him, and be a knight too? He sighed and slumped back against the tree, distraught.

For one thing, he had never considered himself to be.

'Go on, say it,' he told himself. 'You never thought of yourself as being gay.'

"What have I gotten myself into?" he wondered, bewildered, and then deciding he could do nothing but follow through on his decision, he held up the gem and stared at it.

"Okay. Seraphim.. Come?"

The stone glowed brightly for all of two seconds, and then like a blast of white fire, a beam of light shot out of the stone, hot as lightning, and collected on the ground. The light faded and there stood the majestic wolf from the previous day, minus the armor, awaiting his next command. Kafei took a step back and squinted against the light until it faded, then reattached the necklace to his neck and walked over to Seraphim.

Kafei had never ridden a horse in his life, but for some reason, riding a wolf came to him naturally. He clambered onto the wolf's back and gripped Seraphim's scruff in his hands to keep from falling off. And like a rocket, Seraphim took off across the prairie, relishing in the rapture he found in the speed.

They rode for what seemed like hours, but Seraphim never tired and Kafei never wanted to stop his joy ride. He felt almost juvenile in his glee, but he couldn't help it. The speed was phenomenal!

And suddenly the grass disappeared and Seraphim was speeding along a dirt road. Kafei's senses sharpened and he yelped as poor peasants on their horses screamed and ran in fear as he on his wolf blazed past.

"Watch where you're going!" one man shouted, insulted.

"Sorry!" Kafei called over his shoulder, but he was already too far away from the man to be heard, so he simply gave a jubilant laugh and enjoyed the rest of the ride.

They decided to get off of the public road so as not to scare any other people, and Seraphim loped at a now lazy pace towards the forest line. The trees were like huge natural sky scrapers, reaching up into the sky like jagged peaks. Seraphim slowed to a trot and he too lifted his eyes to watch the trees. But unlike Kafei, he was not gazing upon the trees themselves, lovely as they were.

A large shadow passed over Kafei slowly, and the young man felt his blood freeze. For one wild moment, he feared that the blood dust had followed him to Hyrule. But when he lifted his fearful rose eyes to the sky, he saw nothing but blue skies and the sun, barely off the horizon.


And behind him, startling him enough so that he toppled from Seraphim's back, a gigantic owl beat its wings and alighted on the ground, stirring up dust from the ground and buffeting Kafei with gale force winds. The young man landed on his rump and gave a discomforted wince of pain as he stood up, cringing as he rubbed his back.

"Ow." Beside him, Seraphim pricked his ears up at the owl in curiosity.

The owl turned its head completely upside down as it gazed Kafei up, and then down. It looked as if it found the young man's predicament all too amusing, as if it were informed. With a sort of owlish grin, it chirped, "Well, you're a happy ray of sunshine this morning, aren't you kiddo?"

If his eyes could have popped from their sockets, they probably would have. Kafei gawked at the owl in disbelief, continued gawking even as the wind ruffled his hair and sent violet strands flying out in all the wrong directions. Owls. Did. Not. Talk. But then again, wolves weren't supposed to be popping out of terriers and he was supposed to be in Termina, so who knew what else was in store for him at this point?

"I." 'God I'm so inarticulate today!'

"Man of few words, eh?" the owl inquired with a waggle of its feathery eyebrow. It hooted again and fluffed its feathers as Seraphim tentatively nosed one of its talons. "Bad dog! Go.. chew on a log. Or some such." Seraphim pinned his ears against his head and growled at the insult, but he sulked back behind Kafei.

Kafei said weakly, "How. who. what.?"

"How can I talk? Who am I? What do I want?" the owl filled in and gave a charming hoot-hoot noise. It seemed rather arrogant to Kafei, as though it had gone through this very speech many times before. It drew itself up and chirped, "Well, I can talk because I'm a forest spirit. My name is Kaepora, and what I want is to know why the hell you're riding around Hyrule Field on a. rather large wolf. thing." Kaepora finished his sentence very carefully, wary of Seraphim's sharp fangs.

Kafei, realizing that this owl was definitely not a threat of any sort, relaxed and rolled his eyes. He walked back over to Seraphim and pulled himself back up onto the wolf's back. "I don't have time to talk right now," he said. "I'm looking for someone."

"Yes, yes, quite right," Kaepora agreed and lifted into the air as Seraphim began trotting away. He found pleasure in bothering Kafei by swooping low over the man's head, then flitting back up into the air. He called down lightly, "So who is it that you're looking for, m'boy? Eye of the Sky, they call me, Eye of the Sky. I can probably spot 'em for you."

By about the fifth time that Kaepora's claws nearly clipped the back of Kafei's head, he had had quite enough of the owl's presence. "Look, would you just go away already?" he snapped. "I doubt you can help me find who it is I'm looking for anyway."

"Pah! Doubt! Such a nasty word!" Kaepora screeched and dive bombed Kafei again. He sent more vicious winds to mess up Kafei's hair and quipped, "If you doubt too much, you might just doubt yourself right back into next week! And then where would the present be, eh?"

"Leave me alone!" Kafei snarled and waved one hand at Kaepora, irritated. "I hate mind games, especially ones played by oversized talking birds!"

"Oh, that's hateful!" Kaepora lamented and swooped back over Kafei one last time. However, this time he dropped something from his talons into the young man's hands:  a light brown ocarina with a triangular design on the mouth piece. Kafei inspected it, then looked up as Kaepora swooped away, and called, "What's this!"

"An ocarina, stupid!" Kaepora called back, "Play it and see what happens!" And then he was gone, swooping ahead, probably to badger more lost travelers and drive them mad; such was Kaepora's favorite hobby.

Seraphim heaved a sigh of relief when the owl was out of sight and yawned loudly, pinning his ears back against his skull. Kafei relaxed somewhat and let Seraphim amble on while he inspected the instrument in his hands. It was well crafted, made of some sort of stone that Kafei had never seen before, at least not in Termina. It carried an aura about it that made Kafei feel as if he were one with the forest, although he wasn't quite sure why.

He wasn't sure how long he had been letting Seraphim wander until he felt a sharp pang of hunger in the pit of his stomach. And that was when he remembered that he hadn't eaten in years! Of course, he had been locked in hibernation the last three years, which explained why he hadn't eaten, but now he was as ravenous as a Lizalfos. However, there was the dilemma of having no food to satisfy his hunger, which made him simply tame the pang.

He looked back at the ocarina and traced his fingers over each little hole in the flute. It truly was a remarkable instrument, for Kafei had only seen one other ocarina in his entire life, and that ocarina belonged to Link. Link! Kafei had been dawdling along for so long that he had forgotten his sole purpose for even coming to this place to begin with! He had to find this Hero of Time and. well, he had to find him first.

"Oh Anju," he lamented, but he didn't have time to finish his thought, for rain began to trickle from the sky. Kafei stopped abruptly and turned his gaze upward, shielding his face from the cool liquid irately. The sky was still blue, and not a cloud could be seen.

"What in the hell.?"

And then a clap of thunder seemed to echo right next to his ear, and rain was pouring down in sheets of frigid ice. He squeaked at the sudden feel of liquid dousing his clothes and fled with Seraphim to a more sheltered region of the forest.

He couldn't tell when the rain would end, for it seemed as though the atmosphere itself was suddenly replete with the heavy rainfall, and there was no escape. He felt horror, suddenly, wondering if this was Hyrule's version of the horror bestowed upon Termina. But he called Seraphim to a halt when he heard the gleeful laughter of a child nearby.

He turned his chin up to gaze into the lower branches of the towering Deku trees around him. He was startled to see a child dangling upside down, legs wrapped around a thick branch. The child was a boy hardly older than ten with a head of thick, curly brown hair. He wore the strangest clothes that Kafei had ever seen, and he briefly wondered where it was he had seen those clothes from before. and then he remembered that it was nearly identical to the outfit that Link had worn when he was in Termina.

The child swung back and forth, grinning like an ape, and clasped in his hands was an ocarina. He turned so that he could see Kafei more clearly and inquired, "Hope I didn't frighten you, sir," in a polite, yet giddy voice that only the young could possess.

Kafei wiped water out of his eyes and squinted up at the child. His bangs were slicked from his face from the rain, his cheeks reddened with chill, and he called up, "You had better be careful that you don't fall!"

"Fall?" The child nearly laughed, and it was clear to Kafei that the boy found that statement all the more amusing. He, with little effort, curled back around so that he was sitting on the tree and smiled. "The Kokiri never fall from trees!"

"Kokiri?" Kafei repeated, ambiguously. Beneath him, Seraphim was growing tired, so Kafei slid from the wolf's back. Seraphim retreated to a bit of shelter from the rain beneath one of the denser trees and curled up. "What is a Kokiri?" Kafei called again.

The boy gawked at Kafei in disbelief, then tossed his head back and laughed. It was a musical noise, a gleeful expression of innocence, and Kafei felt uplifted by its sound. The boy hooked his legs around the girth of the tree branch, swung upside down so that his hood dangled with his hair. He looked as if someone had struck him with a bolt of lightening, for his hair stood up on end as he dangled. Then he abruptly let go and turned three flailing somersaults before landing in front of Kafei, grinning.

Kafei noted the rough appearance of the child, the scratches on his face, the scars on his arms and knees, and the grubby little splotches of dirt mixed in with his all too childish freckles. His eyes were a deep greenish hue, speckled with gray and swirling with blue. He had that same glint in those eyes that the Sage of Forests Saria had, as if he had retained his joyous, childhood innocence, but had gained boundless knowledge.

The boy rocked back on his heels, and then leaned up to prod Kafei's forehead lightly with his index finger. "You don't know of the Kokiri? Wow! Even the Gerudo know of the Kokiri. Of course, everyone does since Link used to be a Kokiri." The boy spoke this with such pride that Kafei had to smile. Evidently, these forest folk were some sort of kin to Link.

"You knew Link?" he inquired curiously.

"Knew him? Pah!" the boy crowed and swatted at Kafei, haughtily saying, "We grew up together!" He extended one hand and beamed like the sun. "I'm Patch, elder of the Kokiri village just a few miles back. Who're you?"

'Elder?' Kafei pondered, but he awkwardly took Patch's hand and gave it a gentle shake.

"My name is Kafei. I'm. not from around here, you could say." He looked at his wolf and said, "That is Seraphim. He doesn't bite. at least I don't think he does."

"Wow!" Patch exclaimed and rushed over to where Seraphim was lying eagerly. The wolf gazed at the boy impassively, as if he were just an annoying little squirrel. Patch laid his hands on Seraphim's fur and beamed again. "How'd you tame a wolf, Mr. Kafei? And one this big too! Gosh, this is almost as cool as when my big brother caught a Wolfos. Whew, lemme tell you one thing, we en't never going to do that again. Wolfos would sooner take off your hand than let you feed 'em." He squinted at Kafei through the rain and asked, "You seen Wolfos before, right Mr. Kafei?"

"They have them where I come from, yes," Kafei agreed and ambled after the boy. Patch was a lovely character, he thought, quite comical and not at all afraid of creatures five times his size.

"Where exactly do you come from?" Patch asked, still stroking Seraphim's fur, awed by the wolf's size.

"Termina," replied the purple haired man, but he found that he could no longer concentrate fully on what Patch was saying; rain water had saturated his clothing and he was very uncomfortable. "Say, do you know why it's raining? There are no clouds, so."

"Oh!" Patch laughed and held his ocarina to his lips. "I conjured it. I was bored, so I thought I'd play around with a little tune that Saria taught me on her ocarina. It brings rain. I'll stop it if you'd like."

"Please," Kafei implored and marveled silently as Patch's fingers flew across the little flute with expertise that Kafei could only dream of managing himself.

Music filled the forest, saturating its very spirit with the soul of the song. Kafei felt as though he were being cajoled into a trance, and yet he felt so alive and so awake that a trance could not possibly be where his mind was at that moment. What a paradox!

But the lulling music lasted for only an instant before the strangest thing occurred:  the forest sang back to Patch's ocarina! The wind whistled softly through the trees, stirring spirits that Kafei could not even believe existed. Apparitions blazed into existence from the trunks of the mighty Deku trees, fluttered out of the wings of the birds as they glided through the air, and they sang, full in harmony with one another. They sang, sparkling and glittering with their unconfined joy. And as they sang, the rain began to recede, and rainbows arched through the air like slow tributaries of water.

Patch slipped the ocarina into his pocket and beamed up at Kafei as if showing off for a stranger made his day more complete. Kafei, who appeared half dazzled by the splendor of the show, and half bewildered by its plausibility, simply smiled in a daze and applauded. Patch squealed with laughter.

"My, you are an outsider, en't you?" he laughed.

Eventually, Kafei offered to let Patch ride atop Seraphim's back under the condition that the boy would guide him to wherever it was that he could find a place to sleep. Patch jovially offered his own roof to Kafei without a second's thought, but Kafei did not see how he could accept such an offer.

Patch was confused. "Why not?" he asked.

"It would be rude of me," Kafei replied, "although I am grateful for the offer. How about this:  if there are no rooms for rent in your local inn, then I shall stay with you. Fair enough?"

"Great!" Patch piped from Seraphim's back; Kafei was walking alongside his wolf. "Then you're staying with me, 'cause Kokiri Village doesn't have an inn!" And he laughed even more, despite Kafei's rebuking glance.

Chapter Four

The ride to Kokiri Village took far longer than Patch had imagined, and that ride for Kafei was quite tiring. Interminable walking became drudgery as the scenery never change; only a plethora of plants and little furry creatures that Kafei thought might just be violent enough to gnaw off his big toe came across his path.

He glanced up at Seraphim to see how his wolf was fairing and found Patch sprawled out on the giant animal's back, sound asleep. Kafei wasn't surprised; the walk had taken nearly all afternoon, what with Patch's frequent stops to play his ocarina for spirits and for frogs and deer, along with sharing a meal of vegetation and assorted nuts. It didn't seem like a very filling diet, but it suited the two of them well enough, and they were on their way again in no time.

Dusk was already beginning to splash radiant watercolors of orange and pink across the horizon and Kafei paused in his traipsing to admire its splendor. He couldn't remember Termina ever having a sunset quite so brilliant as the one he was experiencing in his new home.

New home.

Those two words no longer seemed quite so painful. His aching pang for Anju and his despair over her death were waning into little discomforts that would forever haunt his soul. But it seemed as if his hibernation had helped him cope with the lost somewhat, for it didn't seem to hurt him as much as it should have.

This was his chance to start over with a new life, and hopefully a life that might mean something to someone. He'd had numerous opportunities to live his life to its fullest when he had grown up in Termina, but what had he accomplished? Nothing, other than love, and according to the sage Rauru, that had not even been true love.

But what was true love? And how would that old man have known anything about it?

He loved Anju. He knew that much to be certain. She was beautiful and tender, she was charming and sincere, and she wanted nothing more than to make him happy. Kafei was all of those things to her as well. How was that not true love?

Seraphim gently let his chin rest on the Terminian's shoulder and pricked his ears forward. Kafei startled slightly from his hapless gazing into the horizon to smile at his wolf's solemn features. It was time to keep moving.

As they ambled through a glade, Kafei thought he could hear the jubilant cries of laughter and song coming from somewhere up ahead. The night was fast descending upon them and Kafei knew that if Hyrule was anything like Termina that the Wolfos would soon be out, prowling the woods and searching for travelers to feed off of. He swung himself onto Seraphim's back.

"Let's kick it up a bit, shall we?" he asked of the white wolf. Seraphim pinned his ears forward and urged himself into a trot, and then a comfortable lope.

Patch stirred at the change in motion and pushed himself up into a sitting position behind Kafei, rubbing his eyes sleepily. Kafei turned his head slightly to smile at the small boy.

"Did you sleep well?"

"Yup," Patch replied and gave Kafei a dazed grin. He pricked up at the sound of the celebration and looked as though he were about to sing from glory himself. His eyes sparkled and he grabbed Kafei's arm hastily. "Make Seraphim go faster!"

"Do you wish to go to the party that greatly?" Kafei inquired humorously. This little boy was quite fun to be around when he wasn't conjuring up rain at the drop of a hat.

"It's not just any party," Patch insisted, as if insulted. "The Hero of Time is coming from the Palace to visit!"