Leave the Dusk behind
Scenario: Soldiers are coming to Ordon Village. And they are looking for Link. Little do they know that Ordonians protect their own.
Seeing outsiders in their small village was never a good sign. The question they had asked the scared villages went unanswered, tense silence filling the air. Uli held Colin’s hand a bit tighter and pulled him behind herself, her daughter squirming on her other arm. This was not good. Not good at all. Hylians always meant trouble in their little, Human village. And the purpose of their visit sent a shiver down Uli’s spine.
It was another gorgeous day in Ordon Village, the sun high in the sky and a soft breeze carrying the fresh scent of the nearby forest into town. Some women were gathered by the river for laundry, Jaggle was busy helping with the pumpkin harvest and Mayor Bo and Ilia had just finished their weekly rounds, checking in on all residents.
The day was almost too picture perfect, looking back on it now. Rusl had been home from his travels with the former resistance, the group busy rebuilding Hyrule and the relationship between the Gorons, Hylians and Zora after the banishment of Zant and the death of Ganondorf. Stitching the country back together after centuries of civil wars was not an easy task, even without the invasion of the Twili to make things even worse.
Uli’s Link had returned from his adventure to save Hyrule roughly half a year ago. He had been a changed man, and it broke Uli’s heart to see her kind, happy child turned into a cautious, mature man whose smile didn’t reach his eyes somedays. He had never shared much about what he had been through, especially no details, but he had told Uli and Rusl the cold, hard facts of his adventure, devoid of any emotion. Uli suspected it was to protect his parents and to protect himself from painful memories. Only when he spoke of his traveling companion, the Princess of the Twili, did he break down, cry and sob. He did not stop until he had cried himself to sleep in exhaustion. Uli was afraid to ask for more details after that, not wanting to tear open the wound in her sons broken heart again. And Link never spoke of any of it again.
He spent more days in his own hut now, while he had been with Uli and Rusl almost every night for dinner before he had set out to save the land. The growing chasm between them hurt Uli, but she understood her boy would need time and space to heal.
Rationally, Uli and Rusl had always known their little Link was destined for greatness. When Rusl had found him in the forest all those years ago, a glowing symbol of divinity on his hand, they had known his life would be dangerous. They did their best to love him, protect him and prepare him, but in the end the responsibility of saving Hyrule had still worn on him. As a mother, it shattered Uli’s heart to pieces. She was helpless to the fate destiny had placed on her son’s shoulders.
After returning to the village, Link still played with the children, watched them when they went off to explore the forest and taught Colin how to fish or carve wood. Still, he held tenseness in his bones that had not been there before. He seemed to struggle with readjusting to life in the village. His interactions with the villagers, sometimes even Uli, Rusl and Colin, were stiff and awkward, like he had forgotten how to behave. He seemed to try to figure out what people expected of him, not wanting to let anyone down. Uli wished he could see that everyone already loved him the way he was.
His relationship with Ilia had shattered, too. Before his adventure, Uli had often seen the two together, their friendship soft and natural. Now, a sad look entered Link’s eyes whenever he saw Ilia. One time, late at night when sleep wouldn’t come, he had confessed to Uli that he blamed himself for the dangers Ilia and the children had faced, the abduction, the memory loss, all of it. She assured him that it was not his fault, but words didn’t seem to reach him. He gave her a tired smile and she knew she hadn’t gotten through to him.
Hearing of his struggles to readjust, Queen Zelda had offered Link a place in Castle Town as her advisor and knight, but he had declined despite all the honors. When Rusl had inquired as to why he had turned down this great opportunity, Link had only smiled thinly and stated that the hustle of being a hero was not who he was. The rural, quiet life was more in line with his wishes for the future. He still wanted to support the land and the former resistance, but it was obvious he needed time to himself first to fill up his drained energy reserves. Also, pledging his service to the Royal Household would take all control he had over his life away from him. He didn’t want to be anyone’s lapdog taking orders, he had explained. Uli could understand that notion.
To try to cheer Link up, Fado had taken him with him to Hyrule Field for a weekend, saying they needed to find some specific herbs for the goats that only grew there. It was a painfully obvious excuse to get him out of the village to clear his head for a few days, but no one, not even Link himself, called Fado out on it. They were due to return tomorrow morning, but now Uli hoped they would take their time and stay away as long as possible. She missed her son, but he could need some time to himself.
The children had been playing in the woods, when suddenly everyone scrambled back into the town, running to their mothers and hiding in their skirts. When Colin hugged her tight, Uli knew something was wrong, very very wrong. Then the strangers had emerged from the woods.
Meeting the eyes of the smallest soldier head on, Uli tried to conceal her fear. The tall officer went to ask his question again when Mayor Bo’s voice finally boomed down the hill towards the creak. The tense stare-off between the villagers and the soldiers ended. The soldiers attention shifted to the Mayor.
“If you have business in this town, it is with me. I am the village Eldest and mayor here.” Bo’s voice was firm and decisive, though he must have felt afraid as well. Rusl was the only one in town who knew how to fight and soldiers always meant trouble. Old stories from the Hyrulian Civil War still resonated in the village’s tales, stories of soldiers coming, destroying, abusing. When Beth had scrambled up the hill to warn the mayor, the soldiers had already emerged from the woods. No time to prepare or hide their belongings.
Thankfully, it hadn’t been an entire battalion. It was three heavily armed men, all of them clad in knight’s armor bearing the Hyrulian Royal Crest. However, some of the depictions seemed distorted to Uli. Maybe they were imposters, here to demand higher crop taxes, all their riches or worse… With the poor state of the kingdom, crime was not unusual in these times. It had reduced compared to the times of the Twilight Invasion, but people were still distrustful of each other, greedy and desperate. Ordon was mostly spared from plunderers and thieves, as there was simply not much to claim in this desolate village. Still, it was hardly advisable to put their guard down.
Uli was pulled out of her thoughts when the officer turned to Mayor Bo, his armor clinking when he adjusted his scabbard. “Very well, sir. We don’t mean any harm, but it would be gracious of you if we found some place quiet to talk.”
At least the officer seemed aware of the way they scared the children, judging from the way he side-eyed the kids hiding behind their mothers… Bo nodded, motioning for the three to follow him to his house, where most official engagements were dealt with. Without complaint, the soldiers followed him, ignoring the way children and mothers shuffled out of their way in fear.
No, this was not good. Not good at all.
Bo had seen his fair share of dignitaries, soldiers and travelers in his time as the head of Ordon Village. However, three soldiers armed to the teeth, all clad in symbols of the Royal Household, that was new. Queen Zelda had not sent word of ambassadors coming to Ordon, and she was usually extraordinarily well organized. She never failed to inform Link of any ongoings or visits, whether he wanted to be informed or not. The fact that this was unannounced and that these soldiers seemed to carry more weapons than the entirety of the royal army put him on edge.
Ilia, like the good soul she was, quickly prepared tea for the guests. She set down a tray of cups, then quickly scrambled to the corner of the room. Bo wished she would leave the house and spare herself whatever was to come, but she got her stubbornness from her old man it seemed.
The soldier in the middle, strangely not the officer, shot Ilia and Bo a grateful smile. “Thank you. You needn’t trouble yourselves for our sake.”
Getting a closer look at the trio, Mayor Bo couldn’t help but notice what a strange group they were. On first glance, they certainly seemed like mighty soldiers, but on further inspection he noticed more and more oddities.
The knight in the middle wore similar garb to the one the Queen had gifted Link, robes fit for the Hero. Everyone in the kingdom knew Link, it seemed strange to Bo for some scammer or imposter to dress up like him. Anyone would know it wasn’t him. Still, the smile and gentle look in his eyes seemed genuine and understanding, not at all cunning or malevolent. So what was the deal with him? Moreover, the sword he carried seemed familiar to Bo, like he had seen it before… He couldn’t put his finger on where though.
The soldier on the left seemed no older than a teenager, though his tiny size made him look like a child. Nevertheless, he was far too young to join the armed forces. The maturity in his eyes promised him to be older than he seemed, Bo was sure, but still not old enough. His clothes were colorful, the tunic stitched together like it had been made from scrap fabric. The seams were clumsly, like the work of a child, not a Royal tailor. His unconventionally long hair was not fitting to a soldier’s looks. Still, Bo had no doubt he could wield the sword at his side without any problems.
Finally, the officer on the right. He stood out to Bo, for more reasons than his scarred face and his heavy armor. He was clearly the oldest in the group and clearly the commanding officer from the way he had taken charge earlier, but now he sat on the side, leaving center stage to the most harmless looking guy of the group. His armor didn’t seem to fit with the look of the other two either, heavy and plated while the others merely wore chainmail to protect themselves. Mayor Bo was sure he had never seen something like this worn by any of the Hyrulian soldiers he had seen around Castle Town. The sword he carried was huge too, more like it was made for giants or Gorons, not Hylians.
Clearing his throat, Bo went to grab his cup of tea and took a long sip. “Well, what brings you to Ordon Village, sirs?” He asked respectfully, not stupid enough to be openly hostile. Staying friendly might convince them there was no threat and no riches here. Then they’d leave quickly.
The man in the center shot him a smile. His eyes crinkled with kindness. “We are looking for Link. A woman near Kakariko informed us that this is where we can find him.”
Mayor Bo’s insides turned to frigid ice. Ilia dropped the empty tray she had been clutching in her hands, worried gasp escaping her. She scrambled to pick it back up again. The three soldiers watched their reaction with interest. They would need to tread lightly, even if they had already given more away than Bo had hoped.
Mayor Bo straightened his shoulders. “There is no man of that name in this village, I am afraid.” The lie was even, practiced. The village Elders had always concealed it from Link, but ever since Uli and Rusl had taken him in, the village had decided to keep his existence as secret as possible. The divine power promised by the mark on the back of his hand was dangerous, and the travel honed Rusl had reported a multitude of people looking for it, by all means necessary. Rumors went around that a similar divine power had fully obliterated a Hylian settlement in the Gerudo Desert. Needless to say, the village would protect their own, not taking any risks. And Link was their own.
The sword on the back of the center guy seemed so gleam for a moment, reflecting the light that fell in through the window. The soldier exchanged a glance with his commanding officer. “He was here, recently. Fi can feel his presence.”
Bo blinked, unsure who Fi was or how that person knew Link had been here recently when they had clearly arrived after his departure. The officer’s eye hardened.
“Mayor, we need to find Link as quickly as possible. There is no reason to lie to us. We mean no harm to you or him. I give you my word.”
The thing was, taking the word from a stranger looking for their Link was not good enough for Bo. He shook his head. “I can’t tell you anything. He left the village on Friday, he is not here anymore. You can take a look around if you don’t trust me. But please, the children will be scared and the parents are concerned. I’d appreciate it if you took your leave sooner rather than later. Ordon doesn’t want any trouble.”
The tiny one crossed his arms and frowned. His blue gaze was piercing, almost worse than the officers. “Well, if he is not here, where did he go? If you know he left, you surely know where he went.”
Bo swallowed thickly. “I do not.” He replied evenly.
The sword seemed to glow again. Looks were exchanged. The atmosphere grew tense, becoming almost so thick that Bo could no longer breathe. Finally, the officer sighed.
“Fine. Fair enough. That’s too bad. Say, does your village have an inn we could take shelter in for the night?”
Surprised they had believed his lie, Bo shook his head. “It does not.”
Another sigh, tired and worn. “Very well. Then we will have to keep ourselves occupied until nightfall and camp in the woods. Thank you for your… help.”
With that, the group got up. They adjusted their weapons and pouches, sending a sharp thrill of fear through Bo. He held his breath, but none of the soldiers drew their swords. The tea remained untouched on the table. The man with the strange, illuminating sword turned to Bo a final time. “If you so happen to remember anything else, don’t hesitate to tell us.”
And with that, they left to go walk about the town. With a boom, the door fell closed behind them, leaving Bo and Ilia in deafening silence. Ilia bit her lip when her eyes met her fathers. “Soldiers or lowly imposters, they are after Link... Oh Father, what do we do?!”
Bo didn’t have an answer for her, opting for a swift embrace to console her. He could only pray to Ordonia Fado would decide to stay a bit longer on Hyrule Field than intended. Only pray that Link would be safe.
Colin knew these strange men roaming around the village were making his mother uncomfortable. He was scared too, but he had to be strong for Mama and his sister, he decided. His Papa was keeping watch, stationed by the bridge in the middle of town, bravely preparing to intervene should the three soldiers draw their blades. So Colin had to step up and protect his home while his dad kept the village safe.
Beth and Talo had been ushered home and Mama had escorted him home as well, firmly shutting the door behind them. She kept pacing with his little sister in her arms, clearly upset and worried. His sister kept babbling, probably feeling the tense atmosphere in the air.
Before the mayor had come to take over, the strange men had asked the villagers for his brother, for Link. All Colin knew was that if people came looking for his brother, they wanted to come take him away, threaten him or accuse him of not doing his duties as the Hero. Colin hated that. Link was the bravest, kindest man he knew and he had saved not only him, but Ilia, and Beth and Malo and Talo and…
A shout outside interrupted his musing and his Mama’s frantic pacing. Running past her, Colin made for the door, grabbing his wooden sword Link had gifted him on the way. He might be small, but he would not let strangers threaten his community or let his father fight alone. His Mama shouted after him, but stopped in the doorway. Colin halted in his tracks as well, stunned by the scene before him.
In the entrance gate from Faron Woods, Link and Fado stood rooted in place, having arrived back in town a day early. His brother seemed frozen in place, hand loosely placed on his sword. Fado on the other hand seemed agitated, his head spinning between Link next to him, Papa by the creek and the three strangers next to the shop. Slowly, windows and doors were opened as more and more Ordonians peaked out of their homes to watch the scene unfold.
“You’re Link?” The officer asked, his deep voice booming in the deadly quiet valley. Link blinked, eyeing the officer with big eyes. Colin was growing worried. Being frozen in shock was not like his brother at all… Especially when the village faced danger. Link was always ready to take action, to stand courageously against any threat. The one with the purple sword spoke up instead of Link. “Yes, it’s him. Fi says there is a 100% chance he is the Hero.”
The three soldiers made to step towards Link, but Papa dashed in between them and Link, sword drawn. He heaved heavy breaths, as if being shaken out of his stupor had taken effort. No one had expected Fado and Link to return before tomorrow morning and the shock of seeing them had not spared Papa, it seemed. “Back off. You can’t have him. I won’t allow it!” Papa threatened, and Mama drew a sharp breath when the officer’s and the tiny one’s hands moved for their swords. The whole village seemed to hold its breath, tension high.
Before it could escalate, Link quickly stepped forward. His eyes were glued to the officer, unbelieving. “You… it’s you! I… How?!” He asked, face stunned. Stumbling down the hill, he came to a stop next to Papa. Papa reached out and grasped his wrist. Colin wished he could run over and stop Link too. Whoever the soldiers were, they were going to take his brother away again and Link was going to come back sad like before. He wouldn’t allow it. Not again.
The officer blinked, then eyed Link closely. There was something familiar in his eyes, the way his mouth was shaped… It tickled some sort of recognition in Colin’s mind, though he could not say what it was. “Do I know you?” The officer asked, which was quite ridiculous. The group had come searching for Link, so why would he ask that? They obviously knew him to go searching for him.
Deciding to break the tension, Link pulled his wrist from Papa’s hand. The eyes of the entire village followed him when he approached the strangers. “It’s okay, Rusl. Yes, I am Link. It must be urgent if you cause such a stir in the village looking for me.”
Papa looked unhappy, didn’t let the blade sink even when no one else pulled theirs. Link stopped in front of the three soldiers, his hand loosely resting on his own sword’s handle. The one with the purple sword spoke up again. “I am afraid it is, Link. Is there some place we can talk? What we have to say is better kept private. We wouldn’t want to cause even more trouble than we already have.”
Link nodded and eyed them critically for a moment, then waved a hand. “Yes. Come along to my house, we can speak there.” Papa huffed, his sword shaking slightly from the tension in his arms. “You are not taking them out of the village all by yourself, son. Absolutely not.” Only the wind and the quietness of the village made it possible for Colin to hear his father speak at all. He sounded worried and fearful in a way Colin had never heard before.
Link only smiled at their father, patting his shoulder. “I will be alright, Rusl. I’d rather whatever this is gonna be is contained to ma house, not y’all’s village.” And with that he led the strange soldiers away, like it wasn’t unusual or upsetting to find heavily armed men roaming his hometown. He didn’t seem scared or intimidated in the slightest. Like whatever they could throw at him, he had already seen worse. Colin bit his cheek in worry. From the look his Mama and Papa shared, they seemed to feel the same. Still, Mama ushered them all back inside their house. “Come on now, I will make you some soup. Let Link deal with this on his own.”
At dusk, Rusl and Link sat together at Ordonia’s Spring, watching the sun set over the horizon. It was reminiscent of their last evening together before Link’s big adventure and it seemed the young man had intended it to be that way. For Rusl, it made his soul ache to even think about the implications of it.
He did not like to be reminded of those months spent in fear, worrying for both of his sons and pregnant wife, the invasion of the Twili Realm, the dangerous work with the resistance, the sinister atmosphere in the air wherever he went… He wanted none of it back and he didn’t need any reminder of that time. He and Uli might have adopted Link when he was just a boy, but they loved him like their own. Between his three children, there were no differences to Rusl. Thinking of Link leaving again, it filled his soul with deep, deep worry.
When Link had come into Rusl and Uli’s home after hours of talking to the soldiers, he had confided in them. The soldiers were Heroes of times long past, sent on yet another quest to save the land my the goddess herself. And Link was to join them, destiny had decided. He would be gone again, and would risk his life again, all for a better future. The group needed to leave right away and something had convinced Link to trust them, or at least trust them enough to follow them. Uli and Rusl had no choice but to accept it, even if it scared them out of their minds. Colin had cried, bawled his eyes out like he hadn’t since he had been a small child.
Now, sitting close together and seeing Link checking his long-unused gear, once again dressed in his traveling tunic, he couldn’t help but feel a strange sadness. Oh, how that old tale he had once told Link had turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy, he couldn’t help but think. The irony of it was not lost on him.
After a while, Link took a deep breath. “Say, Dad. Do you still feel that strange sadness you used to tell me about?” He reached down, plucked some weeds out of the ground and threw them to the side. “Before, I never understood what you meant by it, I used to think you were just old and sentimental. But I think I get it now.”
Rusl reached out a hand and gently squeezed Link’s shoulder, wondering what had brought this train of thought on. The young man hung his head, pulling his knees up to hug them. “Do you think our world still connects with theirs when dusk falls? Even after they were banished, the gateway destroyed?”
Frowning, Rusl brushed a few strands of hair behind his son’s ear. Long and pointy. He had always been the only Hylian amongst the Humans of Ordon. But it had never mattered. They had raised their boy not to see the differences, but the similarities. Now Rusl was wondering if that way of thinking had caused his son heartache in the end, seeing too many similarities with the Twili when he was the one to banish them in the end.
“You used to say dusk was the only time when we can feel the lingering regrets of the spirits who have left this world.” Link’s voice had grown silent, almost inaudible against the soft evening breeze. “Then why do I feel that regret always, Dad? I succeeded. I saved the kingdom. I fulfilled my destiny. But I can’t shake this sadness. The regrets of wondering if the choice I made was the right one.”
Rusl’s heart ached for his son, pulling him softly against his side. Link seldom shared his feelings anymore, anything to do with his journey, his companions he had lost along the way or his coping with his role in destiny, he kept it all to himself. Seeing their son silently suffer was torture to any parents. Rusl and Uli had always tried to help their boy, but Link kept his hurt bottled away, not yet ready to face his emotions and traumas. His family didn’t even know most of what had transpired, having quickly learned it only hurt Link more if they pried.
“My son…” Rusl started, voice rough with emotion. Hearing it seemed to shake Link to his core. He trembled in his arm, scooting closer. He still didn’t meet his gaze.
“I don’t want to go, Rusl. I’d like to stay here and be a goat farmer like Fado. I want to be selfish and tell destiny to screw itself… But what they told me, I can’t refuse it.” Link seemed to struggle in finding the words, hands fiddling with the fabric on his knees. “I believe them. I can’t tell you why, or what their mission is exactly, but they are Heroes of times past. And I know they didn’t lie. They had the Legendary Sword and the old man, I… I have met him before. He is the Legendary Hero, the one before me. The one you used to tell me bedtime stories about when I was a child. There is no doubt about it. And the gods seem to have one more purpose in store for me, for us. I have to go.” He let go of his knees, grasping his father’s hand.
“They are traveling through dimension portals, Dad. And if I go with them, so will I. I will leave Hyrule. I will come back, but you might not be able to contact me. Tell Uli I am alright. I don’t want her to worry. I don’t want you to worry either.” He licked his lips like he knew that hope was futile, finally raising his head. The look in his eyes was desperate, and a hope so yearning shone in them that Rusl felt his heart give a painful twinge. “But I have to go, Rusl. The old man said they can jump through time and space. Maybe there is a way… Maybe fate will be kind to me and let me…” He swallowed, licking his lips. He turned to meet Rusl’s eyes head on. “I have to try. I have to go and see if I can find a way see her one last time. Travel to her world one last time. This might be my only chance to actually do it. I can’t keep living with this regret, with all the what-ifs anymore, Dad. I have soothe the sadness, extinguish the lingering regrets. I won’t get this chance again.”
The pain in his son’s eyes was excruciating, felt like daggers to Rusl’s heart. He had known his son was hurt. He had known his son regretted. He had known that with the banishment of the Twili, his son’s heart had been shattered into a million pieces. He had known there had been a girl. Someone who had first given his son so much hope, only to leave him crushed when she needed to leave. He didn’t need to know the full details Link couldn’t share. He only knew one thing. He hoped his son would find what he was be looking for. He hoped Link found his smile and hope again. He hoped Link’s hopefulness would not be in vain. He hugged his son as tightly as he could, one last time.
When Rusl and Link got up again, the three Heroes of times past waited at the entrance gate to the spring. Link had composed himself, iron determination on his face. The regret, fear and sadness from minutes ago was buried under a careful layer of calm impassiveness. Seeing it made Rusl miss his expressive, happy boy. There was no time to spare for a long goodbye, for a final evening together. Or maybe both Rusl and Link were afraid of having that, one definite, final moment before months of uncertainty. Rusl grasped Links shoulders and looked into his eyes one last time.
“You might leave at dusk, son. But make sure that when dawn rises, you will have found nothing but contentment and happiness.”