Link doesn’t talk. Everyone knows that. Zelda—or, well, her emissaries—even specifically lets all of the champions know. Link will be coming to meet you; he doesn’t talk. Be polite to him anyway.
It’s not like being mute is something that has never happened before in Hyrule. Nobody would probably care if it weren’t Link, but one day somebody brings up—if you don’t have soul words, isn’t there a possibility it’s because you’re Fated to the Princess’s very own knight?
Because here’s how it works: before you meet your soulmate, you have soul words, the first words they’ll ever say to you. After you meet the one to whom you are Fated by the Goddess, your words will change with whatever they’ve said to you most recently, and on and on; it’s a connection that brings you close to the person who will become most important to you.
Revali used to dream about the person to whom he would be Fated. Would it be another Rito, like him? Would it be someone nice, someone who would love him forever, someone who would soothe the pain of being the only abandoned Rito in the village, left behind by his parents to be raised by the Elder, left behind to wonder why it was only he that was not wanted?
He asked the Elder about it once the words were big enough to be read, written in steady Hylian on the feathers of his neck.
The Elder peers closely at the writing, then hides his beak behind his wing. “Oh. Oh dear.”
“What? What does it say?” Revali asks excitedly.
“I’m afraid…it’s not exactly complimentary.”
Revali frowns. What does that mean? “Like it’s not nice?”
“Yes, my dear child. Do you still want to know what it says?”
“If it’s something my Fated one will say to me, it’s important,” Revali says stubbornly.
“It says, well… ‘Has anybody ever told you you’re kind of a jerk?’”
Revali knows what a jerk is, has called some of the other kids that before when they’re teasing him. His eyes fill with tears. “That’s so mean!”
“Yes, well. You’ll just have to do your best to prove him wrong, hmm?”
For years, Revali does his best to do exactly that. But at some point, when he’s been nothing but nice and the other kids still bully him, call him names and mock him for the words on his neck, he decides he doesn’t need a soulmate like that, anyway. His Fated wants to think he’s a jerk? He’ll become one, and he’ll be above every word ever spoken to him.
He becomes the best archer in the village, develops an ability that allows him to soar far above the rest. He still doesn’t have friends, but he doesn’t need those. He’s better than everyone else, and when you’re the best you don’t need anyone.
He covers his neck up with a scarf and lets people say what they want.
He doesn’t need his soulmate, either.
When he’s chosen to become one of the four Champions who pilot the Divine Beasts, he spares barely a thought for his Fated, except to think, see? I may be a jerk, but I’m way better than you’ll ever be. He replaces his scarf with the bright blue of the Champions and smirks.
The only thorn in his side is the Princess’s knight. He’s heard so many stories about him by this point in time, about how wonderful and talented he is, and it pisses him off. He’s the best, after all, and that means he’s better than the knight as well.
So, when the knight finally arrives, he decides to give him a piece of his mind.
He also decides to show off a bit by using his ability to get to the landing in a rush of air, but he’s never said he wasn’t dramatic, just that he’s earned the right to be.
“Impressive, I know,” he says smugly after he lands in front of the knight, a small Hylian with a sword strapped to his back. “Very few can achieve a mastery of the sky. Yet I have made an art of creating an updraft that allows me to soar. It’s considered to be quite the masterpiece of aerial techniques, even among the Rito. With proper utilization of my superior skills, I see no reason why we couldn’t easily dispense with Ganon.”
He hops off of the ledge and begins to circle the knight. “Now then, my ability to explore the firmament is certainly of note…but let’s not, pardon me for being so blunt, let’s not forget that I am the most skilled archer of all the Rito. Yet despite these truths, it seems that I have been tapped to merely assist you. All because you happen to have that little darkness-sealing sword on your back. I mean, it’s just…asinine.”
He pauses, then looks at the knight from the side. He has an excellent profile, after all. “Unless…you think you can prove me wrong? Maybe we should just settle this one on one? But where…? Oh, I know! How about up there?” He gestures grandly at Vah Medoh.
“Oh, you must pardon me. I forgot you have no way of making it up to that Divine Beast on your own!”
He begins to step backwards, ready to make his ascent and his point, but then, in a voice gruff from disuse, Link says, “Has anybody ever told you you’re kind of a jerk?”
Revali stops straight in his tracks.
Link covers the distance between them. He lifts his tunic, and underneath there’s an entire paragraph of text in his handwriting, a perfect record of everything he had just said.
“What,” Revali gasps, and the text changes to that word. Then he gets angry. “You?! You’re the one who saddled me with these cursed words!” He shoves his scarf out of the way pointedly. “Look at what I’ve had to grow up with!”
Link raises an eyebrow, then gestures to his chest again as if to say, “You’re the one who saddled me with all that.”
“Say something!” Revali demands. “Anything, just as long as it gets rid of these words, just—say something, you utter swine of a Hylian!”
Link had been smiling, but it drops at that. Enunciating clearly, he says, “You’re a dick.”
Then he walks away.
And no amount of yelling at his back changes the new words now engraved on his neck.
Revali doesn’t like a lot of people, but he’s never really hated anyone before. But he can say, clearly and without a hint of ambivalence, that he hates Link.